M11/39 Italian Tanks (and some US Steel for the 8th Army – a Grant and a Sherman), plus an Aussie! For What a Tanker

I have been heavily engaged hobby-wise since December at building out both 8th Army and Panzer Army Africa tank forces.  This blog post describes my last few tanks (well, for now) for What a Tanker© in WWII North Africa.  As I plan on running this scenario at HAVOC in April, my goal was to create a diverse-enough tank list so that the players could have a very fun game that also would reflect the wide diversity of tanks and tank destroyers used by both sides from 1940-1943.  I analyzed my respective armies’ 15mm/1:100 scale tank rosters, and concluded a couple things.  First, my Italians lacked some rivet-laden death traps, also known as Fiat Ansaldo M11/39’s. Second, my British could use another M3 Grant and an M4 Sherman to deal with the German’s Tiger I.  Upon further research, I learned that the Australians captured several of the M11/39’s – so that inspired me to build one for the 8th Army as well.  Therefore, I built 3 M11/39’s, one Grant, and one Sherman.

This overall North Africa project has been documented in this blog in five previous posts, (which you can read about here, here, here, here, and here) and I plan on a summary post as well in the near future.  There I will detail more about the game scenario and how I run it.  These 5 tanks brings me to a total of 46 tanks since December for this scenario.  


The M11/39 designation meant that it was an 11-ton tank, built in 1939.  100 were built by Fiat.  It had a 37 mm hull-mounted gun and a turret with double 8 mm machine guns.  It did not do well in combat, due to its inferior design, especially the turret having no anti-tank capability.  For What a Tanker© games, this means that the tank’s turret is meaningless – it is like having a tank destroyer without the benefits of a tank destroyer.

I decided to try a different source for the tank models, and found that I could get three from Old Glory for $25, which seemed reasonable.  I also bought a few other vehicles for other scenarios.  I was surprised to see that they were completely made of metal – even with a lead warning on the package!  As a metal aficionado, I was pleased.

I did have however a concern with the quality of the castings.  They all had significantly problematic mold lines on the machine gun turret, and the details on the hull were much less clear than Battlefront models.  Still, the price reflected that, so it was up to me to make it work.  Which I did. 

Two of these would be for the Italians, and one would be an Australian-captured M11/39 tank.  While technically not a squad, they certainly could have started out that way in the Italian Army!  For that reason – and because my good friend Azazel runs a fun painting challenge each month (and is an Aussie) – these three will constitute a submission from me for March’s “Squad March” painting challenge.

3 turret mold line
The turrets needed a good amount of surgery and filing.
4 M11 39 assembled and filed
After assembly and a lot of filing.  I glued the machine gun turrets as it made no sense to have them be movable for What a Tanker games..
5 all three M11 39 assembled and filed
The three M11/39’s assembled.

For priming, I went with a brush, as these seemed to be very smooth castings.  I worried that it would be difficult to get the paint to “bite”.  They also were hollow at the bottom, so I needed to devise a way to mount them for painting.  I ended up using a small square dowel and poster tack on small plates.

I did not take as many pictures during the process as I wanted to get these done for a game this weekend, but unfortunately some snow took care of that, and they will get a chance next weekend.  I list all the paints I used at the end of the blog for those interested. 

8 M11 with poster tack
Poster tack on the M11/39’s as they are prepped for camouflage paint.  I use gauze on the spray booth filter to extend the life of my spray booth filters.
9 M11 with poster tack close up
Close up of the poster tack before painting.
10 M11s after camo
This is not a fine Italian meal by any stretch!
11 after pulling poster tack off
After the poster tack was gently removed, I got this result.

Then I used washes, pigments, decals, and other paints to finish them all up.  There will be an eye-candy section following the sections on the tanks.

12 M11's with book
My Italian M11/39’s with the model I used.  I ended up with more green, but I still liked the results.  In any case, I always want my tanks dusty and dirty.
13 Aussie M11
And here is the M11/39 the Aussie’s captured that will join the 8th Army forces.
14 Aussie M11
A nice comparison with a photo of the actual Aussie M11/39’s used.  I love the ‘roos.

I read that the Aussies used these until they ran out of diesel (their tanks had gasoline engines so diesel was rare).  Then they blew them up.  I believe that there are no surviving examples of the M11/39 in the world.

M3 Grant

I already had one M3 Grant painted, but with the Germans having a Panzer IVF2 and a Tiger I in the DAK inventory, I wanted to augment the 8th Army’s later war desert forces with another Grant and a Sherman.

3 Grant painted and washed
Awaiting decals, pigments, and varnish.
4 Grant with book
The completed model with the one I used as a guide.  There was no way I was going to be able to pull off the white and black outlines here on such a small model.   I do like how it came out – again dirty and dusty.

M4 Sherman

The major difference in painting here from the M3 Grant was the camouflage pattern I used.

3 Sherman painted and washed
M4 Sherman awaiting decals, pigments, and varnish.
4 Sherman with model in book
The completed model with the guide in my research material.
5 Grant and Sherman with model in book
Here are the two with images I printed out from Battlefront’s web page.

Please let me know any feedback in the comments section, I do appreciate your thoughts.  Now it’s time for…

Eye Candy

0 all M11's
Here are the three M11/39’s, with the Aussie on the far right.
1 M11 left front
Right front view of one of the Italian M11/39’s.  The main gun is the antitank weapon, and can only be moved with the tank itself as the turret had only machine-guns.
2 m11 left side
Left side view of the M11/39.
3 Italian M11's on road
The two Italian M11/39’s hit the road.
4 backs of Italian M11 39
Rear view of the two Italian M11/39’s.
5 Australian M11 39
The Australian M11/39 with ‘Roo markings so as not to attract friendly fire.
6 Australian M11 39 left side
Gotta say I love the ‘Roo.
7 Australian M11 39 right side
Other side.
8 Australian M11 39 drives by Panzer IV wreck
Aussie M11/39 driving by a wrecked Panzer IVD.
9 M3 Grant front right
M3 Grant with Desert Rat markings.
10 M3 Grant front left
Nice left side view of the M3 Grant.
10 M3 Grant front
Coming at ya!
11 M3 Grant rear angle
Rear view.
12 Sherman left side
The M4 all dusted up.  I also gave the M4 Desert Rat markings.
12 Sherman right front
M4 Sherman moving out.
13 Sherman driving by wreck
I don’t want to end up like Heinz!
14 Sherman rear angle
Rear view of the M4 Sherman.  I had to pin the bustle rack, and at certain angles it looks off, but at a distance its unnoticeable.
15 all 8th Army this project
The 8th Army additions all assembled.
16 all together at the wreck
All the tanks that were completed for this post.


  1. Vallejo “Flow Improver”
  2. Vallejo “Airbrush Thinner”
  3. Vallejo “Surface Primer – Black”
  4. Vallejo “Dark Sand”
  5. Battlefront “Dry Dust”
  6. Battlefront “Army Green”
  7. Vallejo Game Air “Black”
  8. Battlefront “Monty Shade” (shade)
  9. Army Painter Quickshade “Soft Tone” (wash)
  10. Army Painter Quickshade “Strong Tone” (wash) – on Australian version only
  11. Battlefront “Dark Gunmetal”
  12. Vallejo Mecha Color “Light Rust Wash” (wash)
  13. Testors “Universal Acrylic Thinner”
  14. Vallejo “Dark Yellow Ochre” (pigment)
  15. Vallejo “Light Slate Grey” (pigment)
  16. Vallejo “Light Yellow Ochre” (pigment)
  17. Vallejo “Desert Dust” (pigment)
  18. Vallejo “Natural Umber” (pigment)
  19. Gorilla Glue
  20. Vallejo Mecha Varnish “Gloss Varnish”
  21. Microscale Micro-Set
  22. Microscale Micro-Sol
  23. Microscale Satin
  24. Microscale Liquid Decal Film
  25. Appropriate decals from Battlefront
  26. Vallejo Mecha Varnish “Matt Varnish”
  27. Aleene’s poster tack
  28. Sponges


  1. Vallejo “Flow Improver”
  2. Vallejo “Airbrush Thinner”
  3. Vallejo “Surface Primer – Black”
  4. Vallejo “Dark Sand”
  5. Battlefront “Chocolate Brown” (M3 Grant only)
  6. Battlefront “Tommy Green (M4 Sherman only)
  7. Vallejo Game Air “Black”
  8. Battlefront “Monty Shade” (shade)
  9. Army Painter Quickshade “Light Tone” (wash)
  10. Vallejo Mecha Color “Light Rust Wash” (wash)
  11. Vallejo Mecha Color “Dark Rust Wash” (wash)
  12. Testors “Universal Acrylic Thinner”
  13. Battlefront “Dry Dust”
  14. Battlefront “Dark Gunmetal”
  15. Secret Weapons Washes “Armor Wash” (M4 Sherman only)
  16. Vallejo Model Air “Wood”
  17. Vallejo “Dark Yellow Ochre” (pigment)
  18. Vallejo “Light Slate Grey” (pigment)
  19. Vallejo “Light Sienna” (pigment)
  20. Vallejo “Desert Dust” (pigment)
  21. Gorilla Glue
  22. Vallejo Mecha Varnish “Gloss Varnish”
  23. Microscale Micro-Set
  24. Microscale Micro-Sol
  25. Microscale Liquid Decal Film
  26. Microscale Satin
  27. 1/8″ rare earth neodymium magnets
  28. Appropriate decals from Battlefront
  29. Vallejo Mecha Varnish “Matt Varnish”
  30. Aleene’s poster tack
  31. Sponges

Thanks for looking and for sharing your feedback!


As for research materials, I used the same ones as I cited in previous posts plus Google searches and Battlefront’s website.  Here the books are in case you are interested – you can find them on Amazon and I highly recommend them all:

  • Jean Restayn:WWII Tank Encyclopaedia, 1939-45
  • Smithsonian/DK: Tank: The Definitive Visual History of Armored Vehicles
  • Michael Green:Axis Armoured Fighting Vehicles of the Second World War (Images of War)
  • Robert Jackson:Tanks and Armored Fighting Vehicles Visual Encyclopedia

I would again easily recommend all of these books as really good resources for gamers and modelers.  Thanks for looking and for sharing your feedback in the comments section.

Now I might go back to retro sci-fi for a bit!  Still have many more tanks to do, but those will be for other scenarios.

Do you have a favorite tank of the ones here?  Why?  Let me know!


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!

39 thoughts on “M11/39 Italian Tanks (and some US Steel for the 8th Army – a Grant and a Sherman), plus an Aussie! For What a Tanker”

  1. Looking good mate. I am still undecided where to base my games for WAT. I have printed some MkIII’s a couple of 38T’s a MKIV a panther and a tiger 1
    Oh and a Stuart too 👍… Stuart is feeling a little outnumbered so I had better print him some friends 😁

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Can’t have enough tanks, especially when you find them on sale! It depends on what you want to do – with later war stuff you really need something that will play balance. Hopefully I can finish my blogging (I am soooo far behind having just started a new job). Thanks for looking!

      Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks Pat. I found the story of the M11/39’s interesting. It’s not too surprising that none of the 100 survived – the Italians moved on to produce better tanks on the same chassis like the M13/40’s and M14/41’s, etc. All M11/39’s were lost in combat, though I wonder if some hulks are not out in the desert somewhere even now.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. The clear fave for me is the M11. Didn’t know anything about them before now. I love that blew them up haha but it’s a shame there aren’t any left. Nice work all round. Due to my German Ork project I’ve been watching some docos on the campaign in Tunisia during WWII. The M3’s didn’t fair to well so it seemed.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks IRO! Well arrival of the M3 on the desert battlefield marked the first time that the Brits had a tank that was decent against the majority of German Panzer III’s and IV’s on the battlefield. Previous tanks were too slow (Valentines and Matilda II’s), poorly armored (several cruisers), lacking HE to deal with infantry or anti tank guns (especially 88’s), range-limited (Stuart’s), etc. Yes, the M4 Sherman was much better for sure, and the Grant was no match for newer German armor after 1943 ( though it did well in the Pacific mainly with the Commonwealth forces). Glad you like the M11, I love the Roos!

      Liked by 2 people

  3. Cannot say I’m surprised at how good these are are Mark. If I have a difficulty with it at all it’s trying to say something different from simply repeating myself! The tanks look great up against the various images and you’ve nailed the detail, spot on. I think the only change I would make is you need a Kelly, Big Joe and above all an Oddball for the Sherman for no other reason than you should! 😉

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I appreciate that as your modeling is so damn good, so coming from you that’s high praise Dave. Of course, painting 15mm scale soldiers is quite different than 25/28mm in terms of details! The older Battlefront models have crews, but they are relatively poorly detailed and I left those out. The newer ones are a bit better with their resin crews. In any case, this is a Brit like you – so who would be the British equivalent of Kelly’s Heroes?!

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Now that is a good question. Off the top of my head I can’t think of a direct equivalent, I’ll have to check out the actors of the day, you can be sure they would have got the parts had a Limey version ever been made.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Great attention to detail, Mark, both in the research and the finished product. I liked the M4 Sherman – it looks like it has just come off a desert battlefield!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Been away for work and just got back tonight to read your post, so really enjoyed it! I knew you wouldn’t be able to resist doing an Aussie M11/39. I like all of your tanks featured here, and it was difficult to pick
    a favourite, but I think it’s the the Grant! Well done on getting those M11/39 turrets cleaned up – I absolutely hate those mis-cast lines round some parts and I usually have to try Milliput and/or a Dremel to remedy it. The problem’s worse when there are rivets present since they nearly always get removed in the cleaning up process! So well done with this lot!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks John, you know me – I like the obscure. Glad you like the Grant – I like that camouflage scheme better than the one I did previously, and it will stand out better on the table. That M11/39 turret was so tiny I’m not sure I could have used my Dremel without destroying it. Filing was slow but in conjunction with a sprue cutter I got it down. Going to do a scenario wrap up at some point, but now I have 46 for the North Africa scenario, and 104 for all of them. BTW, in October I had zero! I know you’re a tank guy too. I might be switching off to some sci-fi stuff and terrain for the rest of the month before HAVOC.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Finding that 50% off sale certainly got me going. I have a France 1940 scenario with the French and Germans, a North Africa scenario, a 1941 Eastern Front scenario, and am collecting enough vehicles for a Nomonham/Battles of Khalkhin Gol scenario with the Japanese and Soviets in Mongolia in 1939. Still long term I will have the traditional post-D-Day US/UK/Germany Western Front 1944-1945 stuff – but that’s common enough. I’d rather continue with the obscure!
        (and I know you get that!)

        Liked by 1 person

  6. I’ve had tanks sitting around for ever waiting for me to do Nomonhan! For the Russians I’ve got T-26s, BT-5s and BA-6 armoured cars, plus an SU-5 self-propelled gun, all primed but none finished. Japanese tanks are now done after I got my Type 89s painted early last year. So I’ll look forward to seeing your tanks!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Absolutely top notch stuff mark as always!! great idea with the putty masking, super idea! They all came out wonderfully.

    Also a bit late but those flaming smoke/destroyed markers you showed last post are brilliant, one of the best things I seen this year!!!

    Cheers Roger.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Another fantastically epic post, Mark. Apologies for getting to it so late, but as you would have seen, I’ve barely been concerned about blogging lately. As for my favourites, obviously I’m biased..
    Oh, and you’ll probably be a little tickled to know that to this day, the ‘roos survive on the turrets to this day.. (if you didn’t already know it, that is!)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks and glad to have you Aussies represented in my 8th Army group. I know you’ve had a lot of family challenges lately so please, no apologies. I am glad I got the 3 M11/39’s done for the March challenge, as HAVOC prep has basically taken a lot of time this month. Did not know the Roos were still a turret feature still! (And that is great to hear). Hope your family and especially your Dad are doing well.

      Liked by 1 person

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