8th Army Tanks for What a Tanker – and so it begins…

The epic struggle between the British 8th Army and the German/Italian Panzer Army Africa (which grew out of the Afrika Korps) has always interested me.  In fact, the very first war game I ever owned was a used 1964 copy of Avalon Hill’s Afrika Korps!  I got this in 1972, and still have it.

Afrika Korps
My old Afrika Korps game – still complete!

I played this game many times, and of course it uses cardboard counters to represent divisional and brigade-sized units.  Avalon Hill did publish Tobruk in 1975 as well, and I also have that (second hand), but I never played it (a common fate held by many of my AH games as finding opponents was not easy back then for a teenager).  So I have wanted a tank-on-tank game for a while.

My first game of What a Tanker© at BARRAGE in September was a North Africa scenario, and was just what I have longed for all of these years.  Needless to say, I was a bit hooked on the game – and some of the scenarios for which I have been collecting Flames of War tanks are for North Africa campaigns from 1940-1943.  I wanted to get a blog post in to close 2018 for the first four of these tanks.  This also counts as my submission for Azazel’s December Community painting challenge, “Dauntless-Diabolical December”.  As for the British/Commonwealth 8th Army tanks, these are two A9 Mark 1 Cruiser tanks, and two M3 Stuart “Honey’s.

To research these tanks (and other future tank projects), I bought several books from Amazon that I found very useful as background information and for modeling purposes.  To be sure, many of the images are conflicting, but my guess is that the differences represent actual historical differences in camouflage schemes.  The books I got (and you can find them on Amazon) were:

  • Two by David Fletcher: 
    • British Battle Tanks: British-made tanks of World War II
    • British Battle Tanks: American-made World War II Tanks
  • One by Jean Restayn:
    • WWII Tank Encyclopaedia, 1939-45
  • One by the Smithsonian/DK:
    • Tank: The Definitive Visual History of Armored Vehicles
  • One by Michael Green:
    • Axis Armoured Fighting Vehicles of the Second World War (Images of War)
  • One by Robert Jackson:
    • Tanks and Armored Fighting Vehicles Visual Encyclopedia

I would easily recommend all of these books as good resources, and they will be my sources for this and future tank projects.  Again, these 4 are just the start of my 8th Army tank build (never mind I still need to get to Panzer Army Africa!).

A9 Cruiser Mark I Tanks

The first pair I worked on this month were A9 Cruiser Mark I tanks.  These were involved in the Battle of France and were in the desert in North Africa in 1940-41.  The British tactical doctrine had infantry tanks (to support infantry) and cruiser tanks (to engage other tanks).  That doctrine failed to impress the Wehrmacht.  Still, the British crews fought bravely and eventually better tanks arrived from the UK and the US.  The A9’s were not great, and one of the few that if captured that were not reused by the Germans.  For a camouflage and painting scheme, I used a picture of an A10 Cruiser Mark II with a Caunter camouflage scheme (see below), and differentiated the two with some Battlefront decals.  I wanted to use units that I could identify, but in the end I went with the ones that you see.

1 A9 Mark I's in blister
The pair in the blister

As you can see, I drilled out the crew bases and glued them to toothpicks for ease of painting.  I initially ran out of Battlefront “Crusader Sand” and used Vallejo “Desert Sand” which was too German-looking.  I found a conversion table and switched to Vallejo “Dark Sand” which was a better match.  I mounted the turrets to washers, affixed to magnets, affixed to large screws in styrofoam.  Later, I would switch to using holes in wood for better durability (the styrofoam was not sturdy enough to hold the #14 screws, magnets, washers, and turrets!).

5 A9 MarkI's base coated
On left, Vallejo “Dark Sand”, on the right, Vallejo “Desert Sand” which I thought was too panzer-like.

I drilled out holes for the radio antennae and used 24 gauge wire for the aerials.

The masking I used was a combination of Tamiya tape and Vallejo “Liquid Mask”.  This was my first use of the Vallejo mask, and I will be judicious in its future use.  It does ruin the brush you use, and at this scale (15mm) its not a really useful way to create chips.  Lesson learned – I was able to wash over the patches I put the mask on and it did give the tanks more of a dirty look.

Not a bad match – it was an A10 in the book, but I liked the scheme and I have other plans for my A10’s – stay tuned.  You can see more photos of the A9’s in the eye candy section below!

M3 Stuart “Honeys”

The M3’s came in a box of five, but I only wanted a couple for the North Africa scenarios.  The rest will be going to the Soviets (as a Lend-Lease), the Germans (captured in North Africa), and the Japanese (captured in the Philippines).  The painting scheme was mainly the same except for the grayish Caunter scheme.


I used a different resource for the camouflage, and I like the way it came out.

6 Honey after Caunter scheme with mask removed (spots)
Awaiting spot washes, and decals, and varnishing.

So now they were all done – and it’s time for some glory pics!

Eye candy

It’s eye candy time!

3 A9's in village
A9 Cruiser Mark I’s in the village.
4 A9 front view
Nice frontal view close up – you can see the details pretty well for such a small model.
5 A9's Moving out
Nice view of the left sides.
6 A9's rear view
Nice view of the right sides and the backs of the tanks.
7 A9 in defensive posture
A9 in a defensive position
8 A9's hitting the road
Heading out to find Germans and Italians.
9 Honeys move out
M3 Stuart “Honeys” on the road.
10 Honeys defend
Nice side view showing the grayish Caunter scheme and the decals.  I used different ones for ease of identification on the tabletop.
11 Honey rear view
Patrolling the village.
12 Honey's in village
Tight quarters patrolling.
13 group shot moving out
The four all together head out.

These tanks all served in North Africa, but it was probably rare for A9’s to be alongside M3’s time-wise.  Still, for What a Tanker© games, these will do fine on the ladder.

As discussed, I will be adding more British cruiser and infantry tanks to my 8th Army fleet. 

I am dedicating this post to all my British and Commonwealth friends!

I hope you enjoyed seeing these and reading this post.  Do you have a favorite tank?  I appreciate hearing your thoughts and feedback in the comments section below.  Thanks for looking, and Happy New Year to you all!


  1. Vallejo “Flow Improver”
  2. Vallejo “Airbrush Thinner”
  3. Vallejo “Surface Primer – Black”
  4. Testors “Universal Acrylic Thinner”
  5. Citadel “Imperium Primer”
  6. Battlefront “European Skin”
  7. Battlefront “Skin Shade” (shade)
  8. Vallejo “English Uniform”
  9. Battlefront “Sherman Drab”
  10. Battlefront “Crusader Sand”
  11. Vallejo “Desert Sand”
  12. Battlefront “Worn Canvas”
  13. FolkArt “Champagne”
  14. Battlefront “Black”
  15. Citadel “Agrax Earthshade” (wash)
  16. Vallejo “Dark Sand”
  17. Battlefront “Dry Dust”
  18. Battlefront “Wool Brown”
  19. Battlefront “Boot Brown”
  20. Battlefront “Rommel Shade” (shade)
  21. Battlefront “Bradley Shade” (shade)
  22. Battlefront “Dark Gunmetal”
  23. Battlefront “Dark Leather”
  24. Battlefront “Oxide Red”
  25. Gorilla Glue
  26. Vallejo Liquid Mask
  27. Tamiya masking tape
  28. Vallejo Mecha Varnish “Gloss Varnish”
  29. Microscale Micro-Set
  30. Microscale Micro-Sol
  31. Microscale Liquid Decal Film
  32. 1/8″ rare earth neodymium magnets
  33. Appropriate decals from Battlefront
  34. Vallejo Mecha Varnish “Matt Varnish”


  1. Vallejo Mecha Color “Sky Blue”
  2. Vallejo Game Air “Red Terracotta”


  1. Aleene’s poster tack
  2. Vallejo Model Air “Blue Grey”
  3. Secret Weapons Washes “Armor Wash” (wash)

Thanks again for looking and for sharing your feedback!

Author: Mark A. Morin

This site is where I will discuss stuff that I find interesting and that includes family, friends, golf, gaming, and Boston sports!

22 thoughts on “8th Army Tanks for What a Tanker – and so it begins…”

  1. They look awesome, the camouflage pattern looks spot on. I do like the desert war as a gaming idea. I did manage some 20mm gaming years ago mainly for Rapid Fire. I don’t know if I will get it off the ground again due to lack of club interest. Wishing you a great 2019 and look forward to seeing what you get up to this year.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Great post to finish the year with Mark! You’ve done a cracking job on this bunch. I know just enough about British camouflage schemes to not even try to paint a vehicle in the Caunter scheme, but I really like these, so well done! I’m not sure what my favourite tank is now you’ve posed the question, but the A9 must be near the top of my list – it’s not too bad a tank for its time, but it’s got a bit of a quirky look. A good start to your desert forces. I can maybe see you doing an M11/39 or M13/40 as captured by the Australians at some point because of the markings they carried!
    I like the buildings and ground mat as well. Being able to get mats makes it so much easier to game new periods and locations.
    And despite having a few tank books, I’ve got none of those you listed, so I’m going to check them out!
    All the best for 2019,

    Liked by 1 person

    1. True John, that Caunter scheme is a challenge, especially at 15mm, but I guess I’m masochistic enough to try it. I could do another on one of my two Valentines, but we’ll see. You’ll like the books, got a lot of interesting backstory in the two British ones which are more history than pictures, though with a lot nonetheless. I have several Italians already prepainted including a couple M13/40’s, an Aussie version is an intriguing thought. I probably went overboard on the books, but glad I have them, love to see them help you too. Best, Mark

      Liked by 1 person

  3. These are brilliant, Mark! Love the camo schemes and the vehicle markings on them. I’ve got a trio of Valentines for the desert war that have just completely stalled (for over 6 months, now!) out because I can’t find any proper reference on how to pant the bloody things/what the markings mean/which ones to use. You’ve just powered ahead and through! Bastard!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Azazel – the many resources I cite are not always in sync, but I do believe that markings changed as the war went on and also it was a mish-mash at times. After all, making sure that the tanks could be fielded was likely more important. The FoW decals I used are small, and in agreement with at least one other source, at least in terms of placement. I’m using my resource books to more or less frame my painting, and that’s good enough for me! At this writing I’m finishing a couple of Crusaders and a Kingforce Churchill II, all desert. After this, onto two Valentines and a Grant. For Valentines I have a II and a III awaiting finishing. The II will get a Caunter scheme, and the III more of a camo scheme. I will hopefully finish them all in the next couple of days, and move on to Panzer Army Africa Italians and Germans. The books I cited are awesome, so now you have a way forward! Appreciate the ancestry comment, how did you know? 😉

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yeah, I want to get to the point of “close enough/feasable”, but even that is a bit of a challenge so far. I added a couple of those books to my Book Depository cart that’s waiting for a coupon, but that cart is now over $400, so it might be awhile before they all get ordered now. As for the other thing. Just a lucky guess. Probably.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Great looking tanks, Mark! Love the detail about the camo colors and how you managed to pull it off. Also taking note of that Tanks and Armored Fighting Vehicles Visual Encyclopedia. Pretty sweet. Looks like there are similar books for aircraft, etc.

    Liked by 2 people

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