01 March 2002

Shermans Galore - By José Ventura

Shermans Galore - By José Ventura  (original article formerly on the miniaturezone.co.uk website)

All started when a friend of mine bought some ESCI's M4A1 back in 1978. Being also a wargamer, very soon these 75mm Sherman were exchanging rounds against my Pz.Kpfw. IVs and Vs.

As we used to play 1:1 skirmish (using them Charles GRANT Battle wargames rules, with Tank/Gun tables from Bruce QUARRIES' NW Europe Wargaming from PSL) very soon my friend was asking for a heavier punch -something dejá vu.

After buying Shermans in Action, the despair increases, first the version presented in the ESCI box, never existed (well now we know that it did, but.) and we needed a new turret to mount a heavier gun, nothing like the Firefly: same turret, new gun - wise guys those Brits.

With some searching, the discovery of the Hasegawa Sherman, with a complete out of scale hull, but a right scale turret, saved the day. And so started our conversions.

First, it was simply a question - after improving/correcting the Hasegawa part - of inserting a 76mm turret on an ESCI Hull.



At the same time, the original hull, started to be converted back to a 60º hull, by reinforcing the back of the kit glacis (with Araldite), and with some hard cutting and scratching reverting a 47º hull into that inclination. After that there is only a question of rebuilding the hatches, from a angle opening to a direct side opening, and so on, to be used as a 75mm gun tank.





Next a M4 Hybrid was made, by cutting part of the sides, replacing them with some plastic card, and creating with putty, the angles typical of this version.





The normal M4 version was accomplished by cutting an old Airfix hull, so that it could be inserted in an ESCI kit chassis, with new sides and rear in plastic card, and rebuilding the detail.





A normal M4A3 (dry) could be accomplished by the same method, as Bjorn shown on the Missing Links site , but very soon, the problem of the lousy protection arises. Those 76mm armed Shermans while capable of defeating StuG & Pz.IV and with a lot of luck and skill even Panthers and Tigers, could not withstand the 7,5cm L/48 or L/70 powerful punch, with the same easy as the Germans, so in most cases they were death meat.



So started another Quest, and at first, my friends models started to use Sandbags - using those from plastic boxes as Fujimi, Nitto's, ESCI and even made from DAS Pronto modelling clay - Extra Tracks & Wheels and Logs/Planks, to cover the thin armour.







But some new look on that marvellous in Action book, gives us clues about what now were named Expedient Jumbos (excellent article from P. DYERS in a old MM).

Simply by attach cut out parts from another Shermans, or Tigers/Panthers to the Hull front and Hull/Turret side, they increase the protection.



The present version used a ESCI M4A3, with a 76mm Hasegawa turret, a cut out Hasegawa frontal glacis, glued on the original ESCI ones, and some other bits of plastic. We also discover that some of them even carry US Army Field Issue 1" Armour plates, for the M4A3 family.



A exceptional photo of a M4A1A (W) even carries 2x1" Armour plates - photo in In Action, carrying a pair of boxing gloves and a switched loaders/commander hatches - so another model in the production line...

After some work and reorganisation of the Battle units, a M4A3B (105mm) was made using plans from Bellona Books; looking at the Fujimi Kit; and discovering that they used the same turret, from the 75mm, but with a new mantlet mount.



With some measurement, I discover, that the Fujimi Mantlet is something above the 1:76 scale, while not exactly at 1:72, but as the ESCI turret, is something bellow 1:72, and the thing looks good, Who Cares?

I also included a MR Models Combi Kit - Parts in resin and metal, to convert the ESCI M4A1 - M4A3B (105) so you can compare both things.

My model (made by me, but in the collection of Filipe Cunha) was based on a normal ESCI M4A3 and it have 2 turrets, the normal 75mm and the 105mm so I can swap for the scenario requirements.



More impressive conversion was the M4A3E2 Jumbo or Cobra King - the uparmoured Assault Tanks issued in July 1944, and first used during Operation Cobra - using as basis the "famous" ESCI M4A3.

Cutting the frontal and sides parts from an Hasegawa M4A3E8, using the transmission block from Hasegawa, gluing them over the ESCI kit, after some rework, and making a new turret from Balsa Wood, to the dimensions (in 1:72) of a Bellona plan, did the work. The Commander cupola, is a Hasegawa 76mm turret "clone", moulded using the "Plasticine/Araldite" method (see instructions below), while some bits came from the ESCI model, while others from the Hasegawa ones. And voilá a Cobra King (the name we normally give to this version, reserving the Jumbo one for the 76mm armed Tank) to blast those pesky Krauts (most of them mine).

As in the previous model, a MR Models Combi Kit, to compare - this time I lose, as their model is exceptional, just look at those tracks, with end connectors and the serial numbers on the cast turret.



In the case of the long narrow hood M4, I just presented my standard process of converting them, as I always made versions with frontal appliqué armour. But in the case of anyone interested in making a early long narrow hood, without the appliqué the description is more or less wrong. The corners are not totally round, from top to bottom, but indeed with "taper chambered corners" in the words of Phil Dyer, as the rounding starts on top but the bottom do not have round corners, but the normal angular corners.

Most M4 used by the British & Commonwealth, were late versions, meaning also re-manufactured ones, but all with the 1 piece tranny, most, if not all, with the sharp one.

While some of the British M4, do not have the frontal appliqué armour, all have the ones on the side.

Almost all rolled/welded hull Fireflies Ic were build on late version M4, so a sharp tranny, and a front travel lock (taken from Fujimi kit)

Some Canadian units, from Operation Veritable onwards used a special smoke launcher on their M4 and Fireflies. These "smokers" were installed on turret top deck, more or less on the central axis of the gun, as could be seen from the pictures posted on the Files section in the MiniatureZone Forum. For this just get a suitable brass or plastic tube and made the mounting. Sorry I didn't have any plans of it, perhaps some of the members of the group could help.

Another innovation, used for the first time during Veritable (February 1945) was the All Round Vision Cupola, indeed a improved system to be standardized on all British AFV, associated or not with Tabby (The British Infra-Red Vision system). Most of the cupolas were to be installed on the Cromwell & Churchill, but some of them were also retrofitted in some Shermans (M4, M4A2 and M4A4). For this I intend to used the one from Matchbox Comet (I didn't remember if the Airfix Churchill Mk. VII has one, as I never build any), and insert it on place of the original double hatch commanders ring.

The new cupola must have short diameter, as the original, so an adapter ring should be made from plastic (in reality a simple annulus, like the real thing).


By José Ventura (March-2002)

25 February 2002

Choo-Choo Trains

Browsing in a Toys-r-Us store I found a great bargain, an old-fashioned looking steam train. Not just that, two metres of track, two carriages, a fuel/water tank and even a tractor.



And I'm thrilled with the farm figures and cute horses and cows that come with it.



A railway line, plus train & carriages are just the thing needed to spice up a table.

This train just HAD to be a Russian train too. Once painted black, and with the addition of a couple of red stars and a resoundingly uplifting slogan "death to the fascist invaders" - many thanks to Sveta Thomas, my friend Mark Thomas' wife.





Similarly,the carriages were given a thorough "dirtying"





Below,the tracks after painting and flocking, and the water / fuel tank. I also painted that bright red tractor green and added a couple of stars.



And you know the train actually works on batteries. You can see those wheels spinning like mad, and it also has a little light to see in the dark.



05 February 2002

Smallscale (20mm, 1:72 1:76) Paint Guide for WW2 US Uniforms

Guest Article by Antònio Santos - Smallscale (20mm, 1:72 1:76) Paint Guide for WW2 US Uniforms


By Antònio Santos






We have the idea that the US WW2 Army uniforms were all alike, with almost no variation. This is perhaps because of the primacy in modeling of topics related to the German army, leaving others in background.

US Army Painting Scheme

The examples presented here have been made ​​with the help mainly of illustrations in books or magazines on the US Army (WWII). As for colors, I tried to select the most approximate, carrying out comparisons between the various options (color) brands, and other modelers, or publications related to the topic. Here I used acrylic-vinyl brand colors Vallejo Model color.

They are water-based colors with rapid drying and serve to metal or plastic.

They come in 17ml containers and are neither toxic nor flammable. The indications equivalent to Humbrol and Revell colors are the most approximate, and in the case of not being able to determine equivalence, have indicated a second option (2).

Keep in mind that colors have been chosen for the smaller scales, in this case 1:72.





FIGURES


They are five brands: Matchbox ; Airfix ; Heller / Airfix ; Revell ; Hasegawa.

From these figures half of them have been changed, some more, some a little less .. As I mentioned, I used acrylic and the good results that have contributed paintings are now my favorite, at least for the figures! For the faces and hands, I used the color 845 and once dry apply a wash, in this case with 874 color to enhance the shadows.

The other colors correspond to the instructions given in this article painting. All the paints here are diluted with water or alcohol, and dried pretty fast. Also stressed that when we use the paintings for the first time, you should remove the paint in the bottle with a toothpick. The reason is that, as much as we shake the bottle, the paint stays at the bottom, and so it might be a little more dilute than what we expected .


UNIFORMS

American uniforms had great influence on the military trends during the years following the end of the war, on almost every other army with their steel helmets and canvas equipment Both officers and sergeants all wore the same uniforms as the privates, and from a distance could only be distinguished by their individual weapon: whether it was a pistol, machine gun M3, one Thompson, or M1 carbine.


This first example is considered summer uniform and was used on D-Day . The color of the jacket could also be in olive green. The soldiers of the paratroopers divisions were carried in gliders and they also wore this uniform with the difference that they had the American flag on his right arm, near the shoulder




As a curiosity, because of the prestige of the paratrooper boots, the commander of the 82nd Division authorized the use of these boots for their soldiers. For that, it was only necessary to make a single parachute jump during training (not only did they have the right to use the paratrooper wings ).

This did not please the 505 Airborne Infantry too much and in response, issued a notice that any paratrooper conducting a single glader landing was authorized to wear leggings & boots !


  

  

  

  






Uniform used in the invasion of Italy (Anzio)




Jacket, like the first example, would be olive green. The American army used canvas with brass buckles painted black. Thick canvas was cheaper and more durable than leather during the time of the campaign. 



The belt had a metal rings to fix the cartridge, the canteen, bags and bayonet scabbard.


 




Paratrooper, in this case, of the 82nd Division during the Normandy campaign (1944)


Use the characteristics as a paratrooper boots, special for diving, strongly tied with laces up the shin to protect the ankle while landing on the ground.



They were elite forces, they dropped behind enemy lines, charged with challenging missions, which had to resist until the arrival of the Allied forces (armored and infantry).

Among the paratroopers the usual place for the first aid kit was on the front of the helmet below the camouflage netting.


  

This uniform color, was used from 1942 and during the Normandy campaign, it became clear that it was not convenient for European forests and overnight subsequently it was replaced by the green uniform.

   




The Americans on D-Day also wore a camouflage uniform that was later abandoned to avoid confusion because they could be confused with the soldiers of the Waffen-SS who had a very similar uniform !!



This uniform was not very frequent, mainly used by the Corps in the Pacific, one very similar was used by snipers, or in some special missions camouflage consisted of five colors:.. Base color, khaki brown, dotted with brown and green spots, and two lighter shades of the same brown and green.

 


For these small scales, in my opinion the first three will be enough The helmet (M1) was usually covered by a net, avoiding reflected sunlight.



The tank crew, wore a fiber helmet with ventilation holes



Outside the tank for additional protection it was possible to use an M1 helmet.



Other features of the garments of the armored divisions was a lined jacket with front zipper.It was very popular with the troops and everyone wanted one a design still in style in both military and civil fashion!


 


This is the wool coat of the US Army.




 


With the arrival of winter, not everyone received the right clothes, so many had to improvise.



Before receiving white coats with a hoodfor camouflage in the snow, they took what they had at hand. Here are pieces of sheets. Additionally, some helmets and tanks, were painted white. When winter equipment was distributed, it also included some curious rubber soles (black) with an light edge to be placed on the outside boots the idea was to avoid direct contact with the frozen ground.


  


Turning to the figures, I refer to one that has a white layer This  sheet paper is divided into three parts. Two lower and one for the upper body.The paper I used is plain paper A4 sheets, and each piece was crumpled and rolled in hand to form a small ball, eliminating the stiffness of the paper.

After unrolling, the pieces have sides cut to size and placed and glued individually. With a small knife the paper is fixed in place. Finally to harden the paper it has been soaked in SuperGlue (cyanoacrylate).





The doctor uses a waterproof jacket (1945). On helmets with netting, instead of a cross painted, some used a piece of white cloth, with the red cross placed in front.


   



Pacific Uniform





Marines wore a shirt that was different from those of the other forces. It had only one chest pocket, unwrapped and placed to the left side, where the Marine Corps insignia was printed in black.



  

  




VALLEJO
HUMBROL
REVELL
818  Red Leather
062(2)
382
820  Off White
130
005(2)
830  G. Fieldgrey WWII
066
046(2)
845  Sunny Skin Tone.
061
035
874  Tan Earth
119
087(2)
875  Beige Brown
062
382
886  Green Grey
155
362(2)
893  US Dark Green
117
045
912  Tan Yellow
063(2)
088
914  Green Ochre
072(2)
088(2)+067(2)
922  Uniform Green
098(2)
037
938  Transparent Blue
014
052
940  Saddle Brown
186
380
947  Dark Vermillion
060
036
950  Black
033
008
951  White
034
005
980  Black Green
116
362(2)
982  Cavalry Brown
098(2)
037
984  Flat Brown
160
381(2)
988  Khaki
084
381
992  Neutral Grey
140
077(2)

In this article I have tried to be as accurate as possible , both in the colors and descriptions of the drawings. That does not mean that there are no errors or other possible better options (in this case colors! ) And I am available to receive any correction and / or suggestions, mostly about colors.

BIBLIOGRAFY
  • Tropas Aerotransportadas de Ejército de EE.UU.1940-90.Gordon Rottman. Tropas de élite,17-Ediciones del Prado.1994
  • Desembarco aliado y ruptura del frente. Stepthen Badsey.Batallas de la Historia,1-Ediciones del Prado.1994
  • The US Army 1941-45.Philip Katcher, Chris Collingwood. Men-at-army Serie,70-Osprey Military.1998
  • US Paratrooper 1941-45. Carl Smith, Mike Chappel.Warrior,26-Osprey Military.2000
  • The US Army in World War II(I).The Pacific. Mark R Henry,Mike Chappel. Men at armS,342-Osprey Military.2000
  • Uniformes de la Seconde Guerre Mondiale. Peter Darman.-EDDL.1999
  • 2ªGuerra Mundial-Soldadinhos de chumbo.-RBA.Lusomundo-editores,Lda.1999
  • Modelismo Aplicado.-Graficas Reunidas,SA.1996 -Euromodelismo,109.-Accion Press.2001
Los dibujos han sido basados, principalmente, en información obtenida de estos libros y también en algunos catalogos (Italeri, Revell, Tamiya, Airfix) y revistas de Steel Masters.Antònio Santos,

© Antònio Santos, 05th-February-2002
santonino@net.sapo.pt

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