I actually got the next bit all wrong. What i really wanted was an Achilles Tank Destroyer for my British forces in Normandy. What i managed to buy was an M36 Tank Destroyer which i don’t think was even used by the Brits much. Anyway it was too late once i had clicked the order button on my favourite Ukrainian model store’s web site, and soon a couple of M36 kits were on the way across Asia towards Australia. For a wargamer looking for an Achilles or any other M10/M36 variant 1/72 scale in plastic, the options are very few and far between. In fact i am not sure there are any other manufacturers out there who make versions of this tank in plastic.
But who cares i really liked this kit. The more Unimodel kits i build the more i like them. The link and length tracks work well and the bogey wheels all look great. The kit comes with some excellent photo etched details, which although fiddly, really add to the detailed look of the vehicle. I did struggle a bit with getting the headlight protectors looking right, but nothing wrong with a bit of a challenge! The two piece turret needed some extra sanding and work to fit together and also to fit into the hull. Plus the contents of the turret were also a bit tricky and needed some special handling. But it all worked out in the end. There are some excellent pioneer tools to add onto the back, which makes a nice change to the boring moulded on type deal. I also added some rolled up tarps on the roof. The 50 cal Machine Gun looks good on the open turret, and i will be adding some crew men at some point too to finish the whole thing off.
To add to my confusion i kind of mixed up some British insignia on the tank with some US stars that were supplied with the kit. I like the white and yellow stars on Allied tanks, and i didn’t think anyone would object to my decal mixtures. Hey he can fight for the US or the British forces. Win win i say. Check out the photos below!
Another treat for me arrived in the post from my friends at Pen And Sword Books, a history of the D-Day landings written by David Howarth. First published in 1959, this gives first hand accounts of all aspects of the Normandy invasion from start to finish. Beginning with the training in England, we read many different tales from all ranks of men, all with different stories of bravery and sacrifice. Rather than a very dry, factual account of events from the most important day of World War Two, every man’s and woman’s story is a personal one. Mr Howarth goes into great detail and effort to give each individual a history and a personality, from the British, Canadian and American soldiers, to the German defenders and the French civilians caught in the middle of it all. This makes it a very personal account of the landings, and one anyone with an interest in this huge moment in history should read. We read about paratroopers landing into flooded swamps in the wrong place, British specialized tanks sinking into mud and becoming accidental bridges, and all sorts of other amazing stories of bravery. The first hand accounts cover all the lead up to the invasion, all the different units that had special jobs particular to such a beach landing, and every parachute drop behind enemy lines. There is a at least one account for every beach landing at Omaha, Utah, Sword, Gold and Juno. If you have seen The Longest Day or Saving Private Ryan, no doubt the two greatest movies depicting the D-Day landings, you will soon make connections between the stories in this book and how events were illustrated in those two awesome films.
For any wargamers out there this book will also provide much inspiration for planning any scenarios based on any aspect of the D-Day landings. Definitely worth a read on many levels!!
Nothing to do with the actual battle of Pork Chop Hill, i just liked the idea of calling a post that. But it does have everything to do with hills, and the construction of one. In the good old days (for me that’s the early 1980’s when Adam and the Ants and Duran Duran were wearing frilly shirts) my hills were books placed under random green blankets. These days my green mat is a massive improvement on the old blanket or the green painted ping pong table. But its too rigid to place items under it to create any hills or undulations on my wargaming table. After plenty of research and investigation i decided to have a go at constructing my own hills. This method is nothing new and all sorts of tutorials can be found on the net, but for a balance between value, visual effect and simplicity of construction i don’t think you can beat it!
I bought some polystyrene sheets 25mm thick from my art shop for a couple of bucks, plus some 3mm MDF from Bunnings, again a very cheap material. I cut out my required shape from the MDF, in this case just a simple oval shape. I then glued the polystyrene sheet to the MDF shape with PVA glue and left it weighted down overnight to dry. I reckon you can use any kind of polystyrene or insulation foam or similar. Once it was dry i cut the hill edge level with the MDF base, and then gave it a good sand with sandpaper until the contours were where i wanted them. Make sure you sand this stuff outside so you don’t inhale any nasties. That’s pretty much it. I gave the hill a thick coat of a cheap dark brown acrylic paint and then gave it a liberal coating of green flock. The flock i had is a close enough match to my green mat, well good enough for me anyway. I was pretty happy how the whole thing came out. Now i can make a bunch more of different shapes and heights to cover all situations. I am also going to make a big hill in two halves so it can be one big hill or two smaller ones that sit flush with the edge of the table. I also think grabbing some cork from the pet store and making a hill with a cliff will be a cool idea.
Check out the naked hill below and then the finished result!
Zvezda make some cool kits aimed at wargamers under the “Art Of Tactic” banner. Their Pak 36 Anti Tank Gun is great value and easily the cheapest option in plastic. It is such a tiny little gun there is not much point in spending big on any metal versions when you can pick one up with a couple of crew for less than $5. This kit from Zvezda comes in their usual grey plastic and takes literally seconds to put together. Detail is good, and at this scale i am not sure you could get any more detail onto the model anyway. The two man crew does the job, but i added a third crew man with binoculars. I think he came from another Zvezda kit so he fitted in nicely to make up the trio. It would be good to have a limbered version of this gun so when moving around behind his transport so i don’t have the crew all sitting there on the same base. It looks a bit weird. I might have to buy another kit for this purpose. So here is my “door knocker”, as the Pak 36 was called, covering a wheat field from among the bocage, with his Horch car ready to get him out of there in a rush if things get too hot…….
I had never made a model from German manufacturer Revell before but had read many good reports on most of their kits. The Panzer 3 Ausf M kit has always got rave reviews around the internet. I needed another to add to my two S-Model quick build kits and make a troop of three tanks. So i picked one up from Lucky Models in Hong Kong. Not the cheapest kits out there, but you really get what you pay for and this Revell model is worth every penny, or dollar.
There is nothing to say about this kit but good things. The wheels and lower hull go together nicely and everything is easy to align. The link and length tracks are the best i have made yet, and make it easy to make great looking tracks. I didn’t follow the instructions at this stage as i felt it would be easier to put the tracks on first before adding the upper hull. This was opposite to the guide. The upper hull has lots of detail to add including extra wheels and tow cables. The tank has a great little rear exhaust system and schurzen plates for the hull and turret. Extra track is supplied for the front of the vehicle plus some good decals with a couple of different options. You could leave the schurzen plates off if you wanted to make a less armoured version.
I gave him a black undercoat, a spray in Tamiya dark yellow, then did a two colour camouflage scheme based on the painting suggestion with the instructions. I painted the side schurzen plates separately before attaching them last so i could get the main tank painted more easily. Based as usual on MDF with some greenery he is ready to go with my other panzers! I have a Revell Tiger somewhere in my stocks so i am very excited to get on with building that now i know how good these kits are.
Hope you like the pictures below! Colonel M