This classic British tank was on sale at BNA Model World for $12.50 a few months back so could not resist but pick up a couple of them. That’s just too good a bargain to pass up for a couple of Dragon kits. I needed some more Churchills to add to my Plastic Soldier Company versions and make up a full troop. Now i have four including the large calibre AVRE for support.
These are excellent kits and pretty easy to put together compared to some Dragon kits which can be fiddly. The best thing about them is the running gear which comes in a few pieces for each side but with the wheels already connected in two halves. So you don’t spend hours making and gluing individual wheels and then trying to align them. As we all know the Churchill has as many wheels as a centipede has legs. Well nearly as many. The detail is better and more delicate than the PSC Churchills. You can model the hatches open or closed, which allows you to add some tank crew. In my case i added a couple of excellent fellow from AB Figures, one relaxing against his hatch, the other carrying some kind of map case ready to get on the CB radio.
The only real problem i faced with this kit (both times i made it) was trying to get the upper hull to fit on the bottom hull straight at the back. Either side at the back remained at a funny angle. Not the end of the world and i probably need to get some clamps or something to keep it glued in place for longer. You get some decals with the kit but i used some other PSC decals i had. This gives me plenty of Churchills now. The only ones i had as a kid were from Airfix, and these Dragon models are certainly a great improvement on them. There is an Esci model Churchill out there which i will try and get my hands on too sometime.
These kits from Polish company IBG are just always a total pleasure to build. This is only my second truck from their range but i it was just as awesome as the first one. They come packed in a way oversize box with just a couple of sprues. Detail is great and the kit goes together very nicely with no issues. You don’t get any crew so i added my usual driver from AB figures. Always remember to build and paint the interior of the cab before putting on the roof and the driver in. I have made this mistake before……
Not much else to say. I really enjoyed making this kit. if you want a good range of smaller trucks then look no further than IBG. I painted mine in standard olive green and added some dirt and dust and mud. Great fun. They have some very cool looking US trucks too which i want to get my hands on. You always need trucks and plenty of them. Some lucky officer will get to swan around in this baby.
The Sherman Firefly is a very poorly catered for tank model in 20mm. There very few options for the wargamer in 1/72 scale. Armourfast produce some very basic kits, Unimodel have a firefly i haven’t built, and I think Dragon models do a Firefly which i have never seen available anywhere. The Plastic Soldier Company produce the best option in this scale, and i was lucky enough to pick up a box of these crucial tanks while i was visiting PSC HQ in Henfield in October. They come in the usual PSC style in a box of three and are great value for money costing around $22 Australian per box.
Very easy to build, they come in about a dozen pieces, and can be put together in quick smart time. I like having a change from the more complicated builds. The tracks come in a top and bottom section that glue to the running gear. They have a really nice heavy sag to them on the top, an effect which is hard to get with vinyl one piece and link and length tracks. You need to drill out the end of the barrel for realism. Turret hatches can be open or closed so you can add one or two tank crew and commanders. I used my favourite AB Figures tank commander drinking a cup of tea. It was fun to even paint his army issue enamel tea mug with a blue rim. Detail is nice and chunky as usual from PSC. After building fiddly Dragon models with all their delicate bits this made a nice change for a bit of rough and tumble. I added stowage from various places in my spares box, plus some wire aerials and decals from all over the place. My decals are pretty random as i don’t suppose to adhere to any historical accuracy. I just use what looks good. A light weathering with various browns finishes him off. Its a great little model and i am excited to build the other two. I think some camo netting over the turret and barrel next time will be the plan.
Here is my Firefly taking up a defensive position on the edge of town.
As the British moved forward from the Normandy beaches they managed to grab some small towns ahead of the main invasion force. One of these small towns is a little known hamlet called Camembert, on the road to Rochefort. A worn down British Company from the 17th Durham Light Infantry had taken the German forces by surprise and were just holding on by the skin of their teeth. Colonel Frank Mustard was occupying the town with two platoons of infantry, a couple of Cromwells and a Firefly as armour, plus a 17 pdr and a battery of 80mm mortars. In reserve he had the lumbering Churchill AVRE which was fresh from blowing up some Normandy beach defences. So not an insignificant force. Colonel Mustard had orders to hold Camembert against a possible German counterattack.
Just down the road through the bocage the counterattack was inevitably coming. A much bigger German force was on the way including one troop of Panthers, a troop of Panzer IVs, a company of Panzer Grenadiers, an 88mm and some Pak40 AT guns, plus a dangerous Tiger in support. So outnumbered and outgunned the British had their work cut out to hold on. The British plan was to try and destroy some German armour on the main roads leading to the village and block them up, then bring in mortar fire to further mess up the forces and pin them down.
It all started so well as the Firefly took out the lead Panther on the West road and blocked it up, while the 17pdr stalled the Tiger rolling down the East road. That was as good as it got for the Brits. The mortars never found their range and basically did nothing allowing the Germans to continue to advance. The remaining three Panthers got through the bocage and made very light work of the Firefly and his Cromwell friends. Then once the Tiger survived three direct hits from the 17pdr it took one big shot from close range to destroy the doomed anti tank gun. By this time the reserve Churchill AVRE has spent 5 moves moving about three inches and was already too late
Suddenly the Panthers and the Tiger were in the village. The Brits had no answers to the big cats and Colonel Mustard threw in the towel. So a decisive German victory i think. Next time the British need to be more alert and get those mortars firing early to have any chance. Plus be a bit smarter with some ambush tactics rather than just exposing themselves to the enemy so easily.
I finally got around to painting up some mortar teams for my British Army units for Normandy. These plastic figures are great value as you get 4 complete mortars and a whole bunch of crew, radio operators and officers with binoculars. I think for under $10 a box (i picked mine up from Hannants on line) they will make an excellent mortar battery for your infantry company.
It means that you can vary your set up with each mortar and make each base a little different. The detail is not that great, but, in plastic, and for that price you cant do much better. I think other metal manufacturers will do a sharper job but you will pay lots more. The facial detail is particularly lacking and you end up almost painting features on some of them which isn’t ideal. I based my guys on MDF as usual and mixed up the poses to create four different scenes. Another blogger had given me a good tip for using gauze or crepe bandage as camo netting, so i applied some to the helmets of some of my mortar crew. A few highlights and they look pretty good. Also with my new magnifying glass i was able to paint some maps as the spotter checks his coordinates. I also added some boxes and bits and pieces. Happy the way they came out and i always prefer to have my mortars on the board. I used an officer and a radio man as the forward observer. The only thing i may change is the plastic radio aerial which is way too thick.
Below are some photos of my finished teams. Also i based my Revell Tiger tank and did some more weathering and dirt. He is in there somewhere with his buddy the Zvezda Tiger.
One of the most distinctive and original tanks of World War Two and one of my personal favourites please meet Mr Churchill. Choices to build Churchills in 1/72 scale are quite limited. You can have a go at the old Airfix in 1/76 scale, but that kit is really out of date and probably worth avoiding. Your only other choices are the Italeri model which seems to be very hard to find or a Dragon version or two, which usually end up being overpriced.
So great news that the Plastic Soldier Company have a two tank box of Churchills. You get the option to build four different versions, basically by giving you four different gun barrels. I went with the 75mm and the 105mm support gun. Value wise they are definitely better than buying two Dragon kits. They are just great little models, awesome chunky detail, they really capture the essence of these super cool tanks. As always with Plastic Soldier Kits they are easy to put together, so it doesn’t take long before you can get them into the action. You get some extra track to add on to the sides and the turret plus a commander figure if you want to leave the hatches open. Would be nice to have two different commanders to mix things up.
Painting was easy. A black undercoat, followed by an olive drab top coat. Then a black/brown wash and an olive drab highlight. I used some Plastic Soldier Company decals plus some Airfix numbers i found that looked good down the side of the vehicles. Some dark brown and light brown muddy bits finished him off. Check out my photos below. You can also see the comparison to my other Dragon Churchill in one of the pictures. I think if you need Churchills get a couple of boxes of these, they are better than anything else out there!
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!