In the early '90s, a sculptor named Mike Biasi sculpted the first Warhammer 40k scale Baneblade tank. The model was eventually produced by a number of companies. If you want more information, the Citadel Miniatures wiki has a complete writeup.
The tanks match the aesthetic of the Rogue Trader era. They're not particularly realistic; a scale modeler in the '90s would clearly classify them as "toys", not the more dignified "models." It's still a glorious hodge-podge of sci-fi tropes, knockoff monsters, and confused lore.
But in 1993, Warhammer 40k gets a second edition. The aesthetic shifts. The Imperial Army becomes the Imperial Guard. Real-world military units, though exaggerated and altered, become the main inspiration. Guns get bigger. Sunglasses disappear.
To keep up with shifting sensibilities, Armorcast released an upgraded "Super Detailed" Baneblade model around 1997.
This kit is interesting for a few reasons. The original kit has a few enormous rivets. The detailed kit has lines of thin rivets, a built-in ladder, and a sort of fleur-del-lis armour texture along the skirts and turret. Realistic features, like spare tracks, smoke launchers, communications aerials, muzzle brakes, and hatches. The Super Detailed Baneblade is clearly meant to evoke the newly released plastic Leman Russ kit. It also makes full use of resin's capacity to hold detail.
The sponsons still feature the "guns in all directions" design, like the Whippet tank or other WW1 or interwar designs. The main hull has become a twin of the turret weapon. The tiny domed weapon on the front hull has disappeared, never to return.
In the early 2000s, GW started to become more aggressive about copyright and licensing. All existing licenses were pulled and concentrated one one local company; Forgeworld.
Warhammer 40k 3rd Edition, 1998 to 2004, encompassed an enormous range of aesthetic changes. By late 2003, Forgeworld had fully shifted to kits that tickle the interest of military modelers, or are at least inspired by "models" instead of "toys." Imperial Armour: Volume 1 is a sort of Jane's Guide to a fictional universe. It presents vehicles, aircraft, tactics, and formations as if they were real, as if actual logistics and camoflauge might apply to a universe with flying space cathedrals.
And the tyrant king of this new aesthetic is the revised Baneblade.
The Lucius-pattern baneblade has a hull-mounted cannon has a round pivot hinge. The turret has a curved plate. The side of each hull has an extra triangular armor plate near the front.
The Mars pattern has a smooth armour block around the hull cannon. The gun mount is also smooth. Just a slight difference.
The RebuildA very kind friend decided to brighten up my social isolation by mailing over a very beat up old Mars-pattern Baneblade. Most of the bits were intact, but needed some work. I tossed it in Simple Green for 2 weeks, scrubbed off most of the paint, and started to fix it.
If you want to see every grimy step, this rebuild thread from 2013 should satisfy your curiosity. I'm going to focus on some oddly specific weird bits. And I do mean oddly specific.
Baneblade TreadsOh lord, the treads. These are the instructions Forgeworld provides. Not exactly Ikea-quality.
Here are the rebuilt treads. The original designers must have cast a set of 4 tracks (3 blanks and 1 with a skull), then built up the full tread set from sets of 4. It's a clever way to do it, but it does lead to misalignments and errors. The gaps in red are mine (and inevitable, even with plenty of hot water resin bending.). The gaps and misalignments between the two red arrows are the kit's. That long straight segment is one piece. It's more obvious in person, but it's in no way from straight and even. Even hot water bending can't help; it's literally cast crooked.
Oh well. Mud covereth a multitude of sins.
Baneblade TurretGreebling is an art. The detail on the FW kits is, by the standards of later kits, a bit primitive, but it's still a leap forward from even the "Super Detailed" Armorcast model.
The coaxial autocannon is a FW original, identical to the Chimera turret model produced at the same time.
The "targeter" on the turret comes straight from a Leman Russ kit, but with a new custom-built front plate. The hatch is also from a Russ. There's a greeble on there that's clearly a heavy flamer cut up, but I'm not sure exactly which heavy flamer was used. It might be one from the FW Chimera heavy flamer turret model, but I can't find a clear picture to confirm.
The turret also includes spare track mounting brackets. I'm not sure if the original kit came with spare tracks or not. I don't plan on adding them, but it's a nice detail.
Hull DetailsThe front hatch is from the plastic Chimera kit. Two side door above the Baneblade's engine are from the Chimera's top access door (and the little triangular door below it is from the Leman Russ targeter). The rear engine access hatch is a side hatch from the Chimera kit. There's another hull vent (not pictured) from the Leman Russ kit. The two hatches on the rear of the hull (also not pictured) are the engine hatch and 2 side hatches from the same Leman Russ kit.
The hull is fairly basic, but you can see that some pieces have sculpted weld lines; a little detail that shows the sculptor was familiar with military model kits and actual tanks.
The three small turrets (two on the sponsons, one on the main hull) have identical bodies but different weapons. Just a handy little way to reduce casting effort. The main hull-mounted cannon is just a plasticard tube with holes drilled in it. The spare road wheels and external fuel drums are nice details not present on the older kits.
The hull also has false flame-cut marks for added realism, as if the top and sides of the mail hull were assembled interlocking slabs instead of being one cast piece. The engine vents or air filters on the top of the hull are charmingly slapdash; they're just bits of straight cut plasticard arranged in lines with highly variable spacing. The many, many hinges on the hull are plasticard rods and dots. It must have been tedious work getting them lined up by hand.
I wonder who sculpted the original model? They probably have some stories to tell.
There are a few casting issues and mold slips. The original assembler tried to fix some of them, but I'll need to do a lot of filing and gap filling to get the tank into shape.
The Baneblade is a ludicrous tank in many ways. It's supposed to weigh 300 tons. 13.6m long, 8.5m wide, 6.3m tall. It's the size of a house. Some internal diagrams show separate rooms; it's more like a submarine than a tank. Top speed of 25kph.
But it fits the setting. It's a gothic land-fortress. Rail or road transport presumably isn't a concern; in the Grim Darkness of the Far Future, railways might be built on a scale designed to accommodate a Baneblade or two on a single car. Anti-gravity transport vehicles exist. Presumably a Baneblade is just skycraned from location to location.
This Baneblade is going to be the secondary command vehicle of my little army. It's like an archeological dig; I'm cleaning off remaining paint chips carefully to avoid damaging the venerable resin details. But that's all I've got for now. Hopefully it'll be painted by the next post. In the meantime, have a distant look at the rest of the army on a bright sunny day.