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.  

M11/39’s

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.

PAINTS, INKS, GLAZES, SHADES, WASHES, PIGMENTS AND FLOCKING USED ON THE M11/39’s:

  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

PAINTS, INKS, GLAZES, SHADES, WASHES, PIGMENTS AND FLOCKING USED ON THE M3 GRANT AND M4 SHERMAN:

  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!

ON MY RESEARCH MATERIALS

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!

 

More 8th Army tanks – A10’s, an A13, Valentines, Crusaders, a Grant and a Churchill!

This week I was able to finish off my 8th Army tank force for What a Tanker© games.  The group was composed of 9 Battlefront/Flames of War 15mm scale tanks – two A10 Cruiser Mark IIA’s, one A13 Cruiser Mark IVA, two Valentine tanks (a II and a III), two Crusader tanks (a II and a III), one M3 Grant, and one Churchill II.  These would add to my previous two A9 Cruiser Mark I’s and my two M3 Stuart “Honeys” tanks that I finished in November (those are discussed here).  Including a  couple of prepainted Matilda II’s that I had bought from Wargames Models in Ohio, my 8th Army force now has 15 tanks.  Noticeably absent from this group of course are the Sherman tanks that arrived in time for the British push at the Second Battle of El Alamein, but I am sure I’ll get to adding them eventually.  I wanted to have a group of earlier war tanks ending with the Grant and Churchill for now, as most folks are less familiar with them.

I did not take as many pictures in the assembly and painting processes this time as I wanted to get these done.  I need to move onto the Germans and the Italians!  My goal is to run these in What a Tanker© games at gaming club meetings and at local conventions.  I do feel that these, as well as my last tank project attempts, have been fun and have stretched my hobby skills a good bit.

I’ll cover each of the types individually, then some eye-candy shots at the end for your (I am hopeful) enjoyment.  Of course, I will list my paints and materials at the end for those interested.  I used my airbrush and standard brushes on all of these.

A10’s and A13

I finished three more cruiser tanks –  two A10 Mark IIA’s and one A13.

I find that cleaning, filing, and general preparation of these models does take a bit of time.  I know that washing the resin parts is very important.  My last step in cleaning the resin involves a gentle brush wash/application of isopropyl alcohol (rubbing alcohol to some of you) to it.  This has been helpful I think – you just need to let that dry before handling or you may leave fingerprints on the resin.  I also added radio antenna aerials with 24 gauge wire if the model would withstand the drilling and mounting process structurally.  Sometimes, I just could not add one without damaging the model.

3 a10 final with book (2)
One of the two A10’s as completed.  I went with a sandy look compared to the Caunter scheme I used on the A9’s, mainly for tabletop identification.  This is what I was aiming for, but of course I add pigments and dirty up my tanks!  Note that either the book or my model has a different skirt, possibly because mine were A10 Mark IIA’s.

During the war, compared to the A10’s, the A13’s were much faster due to the Christie suspension and a better engine.  Combat wise, they were not much better, and are not better in the game rules either.  They are adequate foes for Panzer II’s and some Italian light AFV’s.

On all of my tanks I tried to use different FoW decals that seemed to make sense – they are so small! Of course, getting the decals to look sand-worn was important, and the pigment helped.  Getting the decals to conform to the curved surfaces took many slow applications of Micro-Set, Micro-Sol, and Liquid decal film. Our hobby blog-guru Azazel mentioned using barely-moist sponges to lightly apply pigments, so I gave that a shot, especially on the decals.  While I think I got a darker look, it did made the decals look less out of place, and I liked the effect.

1 a13 final with book
My A13 and the painting scheme that I went with, minus the remnants of the blue Caunter camouflage pattern  – as I thought that bluish tinge would be nearly impossible to see at 15mm scale.

Valentines

I picked up the two Valentine infantry tanks on sale at two different hobby shops.  The track treads were a bit different.  Of note, the Valentine II needed significant reinforcing with green stuff to come together as it was either poorly designed or not well made.

For the Valentine II, I chose a Caunter camouflage scheme that was more bluish than what I had done previously with the A9’s or the Honeys.  That would help on the tabletop as well – and the biggest difficulty was masking the appropriate parts of the tank for airbrushing the blue.

5 valentine ii prepped for caunter
Valentine II masked for airbrushing the blue Caunter camouflage scheme.

I am not sure how effective the blue scheme was in WWII combat, but as the British abandoned it my guess is not very.  Still, it does look striking and different.

6 valentine ii final with book
My Valentine II versus its model in the book.  The red and white markers were too small for me to mask and paint, so I went with decals.  Also, the sides of my model differed a bit as well.  I chose to have a lighter blue – it was tough to bring myself to paint that bright of a blue on a tank!

For the Valentine III, I went with a camouflage scheme that was more brown and sand.  I also added two aerials to this one.

7 valentine iii final with book
The Valentine III and the paint scheme I emulated.  Once again, my pigment use darkened it, but in the eye-candy section below, you can see it better.

Crusaders

I definitely wanted to have a couple of Crusader cruiser tanks in my force.  They do look good, though in combat their armor was not effective enough against their Axis counterparts.

I decided to use two different painting schemes here as well.  The earlier Crusader II would get a sandy look, while the Crusader III would get a brown camouflage pattern.

4 crusader iii ready for camo
My Crusader III awaits the airbrushing of the brown camouflage.  Poster tack works great for this kind of masking.
5 crusader ii final with book
The finished Crusader II and the book version.
6 crusader iii final with book
The Crusader III was for me a mix of two images – first this one…
7 crusader iii final with book
and secondly this one.  Again, I want dirty tanks that look like they have been driving in the desert and not off the show room/museum floor.

M3 Grant

The British were not happy to get American tanks at first.  They did invent the tank after all in WWI, and they were proud of them.  They wanted the US to build British designs, but with the risk of the UK losing the war early on, we Americans balked and said we would only build US designs.  That way, if the British lost, we would not have our factories tooled for non-American designs.  One of these was the light tank M3 Stuart, another was the medium tank M3 Lee.  To placate the Brits, a different and more rounded turret was made than that of the American M3 Lee, and that is the major difference between a Grant and a Lee.  So, my tank is a Grant.  In doing my research, it was interesting to learn that the sponson-mounted 75mm gun was more prized (eventually) because it had an HE round.  That meant that the Grant 75 was far better able to deal with anti-tank gun crews, like the dreaded 88mm, than a solid shot AP round would have been.   In the turret, a 37mm gun was the main anti-tank weapon (though certainly the sponson gun was used in that role as well).

If the chassis looks familiar, yes, it was used as the basis for the M4 Sherman as well.

3 grant final with book
My Grant with its model – the light green was interesting to apply – better pictures in the eye-candy section below.

Churchill Mark II

The Churchill infantry tank made its unhappy debut in the costly Canadian forces raid at Dieppe (these were Churchill Mark I’s).  The Churchill Mark II was first used by the “Kingforce” detachment (6 Churchill II tanks) in North Africa in October 1942, and Churchills were used in that theater and in Western Europe throughout the rest of the war.

1 churchill ii in blister
The Churchill in the blister – I chose to make it a Churchill II as the Mark I was only at Dieppe.
2 churchill turret mounting
How I started painting the turrets – I later transitioned my approach to using drill holes in wooden blocks instead of styrofoam.  That approach worked much better.  The #14 2″ screw held a magnet and a steel washer, and the magnetized turret stayed on top for painting.

I then masked this big behemoth (for 15mm).  The effort on this tank took some doing – I needed a lot of poster tack.

3 before camo
Churchill tank awaits its desert camouflage paint job.
4 final with book
What I was going for – and again more dirty on mine.

Now my force was – as you Brits out there might say – “proper” in terms of game-worthiness.

1 lots of tanks
All of the 8th Army tanks I painted since November.

That concludes the history/what-I-did section – now for the…

Eye Candy

2 a10's right side
Right side view of the two A10’s.
3 a10's rear
Left rear view of the same A10’s approaching the village.
4 a13 side
The A13 patrols a village.
5 the 5 cruisers
Just for fun, I lined up all of my early Cruiser tanks in a convoy.
6 valentine ii by the well
The Valentine II, with its blue Caunter camouflage scheme, guards a well.
7 valentine ii by the wall
Opposite side view of the Valentine II.  I do like the muted appearance of the blue.  The decals were practically microscopic to work with!
8 valentine iii left side
The Valentine III with its brown camouflage pattern approaches a road.
9 valentine iii front facing
Head on view of the Valentine III.  For perspective, the front of this tank is little more than an inch wide, so this image is 3-4 times the size of the model.
10 the two valentines right sides
My two Valentines (soon to be a romantic comedy perhaps on the BBC?).
11 the two valentines facing front
Nice view of the fronts of the Valentines.  I had a bit of a concern with the tracks of the Valentine II on the left .  As you can see they are a slight bit off – and this was the one Valentine that I needed to reinforce during assembly.  Again, these are the things you notice when your picture is 3-4 times the size of the model!
12 crusader ii
Crusader II right side view.
13 crusader ii rear left view
Crusader II left rear view.
14 crusader iii side view
Left side view of my Crusader III with its camouflage scheme.
15 crusader iii rear view
Right rear view of the Crusader III.
16 two crusaders in front of the dune
The two Crusaders, not caped like Batman and Robin though…and this is not Gotham City…
17 grant in front of wall
Frontal view of the M3 Grant.  As a nod to its possible Canadian forces use and/or manufacture, I gave it a Canadian unit marking.  Many of the Grants were made in Montreal, at a locomotive plant.  AND I did this as a Bruins fan (its a hockey thing)!
18 grant side view
The light green camouflage is a little more visible here.  I did not want it to be overwhelming, but it is tough to photograph.
19 grant rear view
Entering the village.
20 churchill right side
My Churchill II, left side.
21 churchill left side
Right side of the Churchill II.  The camouflage painting on this and the others was fun.
22 churchill front side
Front view of the Churchill II.
23 traffic!
For even MORE fun, I convoyed all of my painted 8th Army tanks.
24 parking lot
Is this a motor pool or what?  Nice group shot – my Matilda II’s did not make the shot, but I only touched them up so they hardly deserve to be in this shot.  Still like them though, but they are kind of adopted…

Now it’s onto the Germans and Italians – which I hope to finish soon.  But never soon enough…

Thanks for looking, and I very much hope that you enjoyed seeing these.  Any favorites?  Feedback?  Winning lottery numbers?  Please leave me your thoughts in the comments section!

PAINTS, INKS, GLAZES, SHADES, WASHES, AND FLOCKING USED ON THIS TANK GROUP:

  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 “Crusader Sand”
  10. Vallejo “Desert Sand”
  11. Battlefront “Worn Canvas”
  12. FolkArt “Champagne”
  13. Battlefront “Black”
  14. Citadel “Agrax Earthshade” (wash)
  15. Citadel “Nuln Oil” (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. Battlefront “Tommy Green”
  26. Gorilla Glue
  27. Green stuff (kneadatite)
  28. Tamiya masking tape
  29. Vallejo Mecha Varnish “Gloss Varnish”
  30. Microscale Micro-Set
  31. Microscale Micro-Sol
  32. Microscale Liquid Decal Film
  33. 1/8″ rare earth neodymium magnets
  34. Appropriate decals from Battlefront
  35. Vallejo Mecha Varnish “Matt Varnish”
  36. Vallejo Mecha Color “Sky Blue”
  37. Aleene’s poster tack
  38. Vallejo Model Air “Blue Grey”
  39. Secret Weapons Washes “Armor Wash” (wash)
  40. Vallejo “Dark Yellow Ochre” (pigment)
  41. Sponges
  42. Army Painter Quickshade “Light Tone” (wash)

Thanks again for looking and for sharing your feedback!

RESEARCH MATERIALS

As for research materials, I used the same ones as I cited before – but for completeness here they are in case you are interested (you can find them on Amazon):

  • 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 for gamers and modelers.

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!

PAINTS, INKS, GLAZES, SHADES, WASHES, AND FLOCKING USED ON BOTH TANKS:

  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”

UNIQUE TO THE A9 MARK I CRUISER TANKS:

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

UNIQUE TO THE M3 STUART “HONEY” TANKS:

  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!