Thursday, September 9, 2010

Gotta Love a Pair of Big Jugs...

...but the Jerries won't!

Here is the 761st Tank Battalion so far- with a little help from some friends, courtesy of the Republic Aviation Corporation.  It includes some of my latest acquisitions, prompted by the excellent sale that Hobby Link Japan has been having recently. 

Two ever-so-sexy P-47's, two companies of Sherman M4A3/76's, a company of M4A3/75's,  and an HQ company (including a CS Sherman with 105mm howitzer in white camo).    Most are by Easy Model, with a few ready-made Dragon kits as well.

The Dragon kits are the better models (especially the tracks), but they are also more expensive.  As I didn't want this project to cost an arm and a leg,  I chose Easy Model whenever possible.  And they look just fine for gaming.

The nice thing is that as they stand now, they are ready to game with.  In time, and once I've collected appropriate decals and some bits 'n pieces for stowage, they'll get a uniform coat of paint. But for the time being, this is a force ready to go.

Note the gaps in the second two companies.  These will be filled by the two model M4A3E1 Jumbos; resin kits that I have tucked away on the shelf, as I assemble the courage to put them together.

No M5 light tank company yet- not a lot of choices out there it seems.  RAFM white metal kits in all probability.  These may cost more for a company of three than the rest of the battalion did!

As I mentioned before, I have played around with the actual TOE of the 761st so that it is more typical of a 1944 armoured battalion.  From what I can tell the 761st only had M4A3/76's, but it was more usual to find mixed battalions in the ETO.  I also got an M4A1/76 with VVSS suspension for the HQ vehicle.  This came on the scene towards the end of the war, but I really like the shape of this Sherman, and the Dragon kit was too good to resist.

The P-47's will have their landing gear remodelled in the "up" position, and I'll add a length of tubing into the underbelly so that I can perch them on the same kind of stand that I used for my Soviet Sturmovik.  I'm also thinking of repainting them at some point to- perhaps Mexican or Brazilian?  Not a priority, mind.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

I Love the Smell of Bargains in the Morning....

Five more Shermans for the Black Panthers! 

From Easy Model, three M4A3/75's, and an M4A3/76,  Perched on top is a rather cool-looking M4A1/76 from Dragon.  All for about $6.50 Canadian or so each.

This makes ten Shermans in all.  Apart from the light tanks, all I need now are a close support Sherman with a 105mm howitzer, and possibly one more M4A3/76, depending on how I want to distribute the Jumbos throughout the battalion.

They will be repainted, with an OD and black camo scheme like the M4A1/76 at the top.


Sunday, August 29, 2010

Tanks fer nothing, pal!

Well, if not for nothing at least they were very cheap!

This project has not been a priority, as I have been focusing my energies on what is becoming a very sizable collection of Soviet armour, as the Red Army is the one I've been using in my games so far.

The idea is that my Russkis will make up a mid-war force, while the 761st will be fielded when I want to play late war games set in the western theatre.  But the Soviets have been first in line, and as a result I wasn't planning on expanding on the Yanks any time soon.

However, fate intervened recently in the form of an amazing sale at Hobby Link Japan, where there were selling off excess stock of some of their Dragon and Easy Model pre-built 1/72 armour kits.   As much as 70% off in some instances.

The opportunity of buying a completed model for as low as 450- 690 yen each- that's about $5.00 to $7.00 US- was too good to resist, especially as postage wouldn't bite as would be the case if I was ordering from overseas.

So along with a gaggle of extremely cheap T-34's, I took the opportunity to buy all the Shermans I would need for the battalion.  

These will need repainting of course, and I will work on filling in a few unsightly seam lines, reinforcing the .50 cal to the gun mounts with thin wire for strength, and of course adding liberal amounts of stowage and tarps.  But essentially, I was able to outfit the rest of the battalion for less than thirty bucks!

I already have some Pegasus Hobbies' trucks and some Italeri jeeps, so the only things I need now are a 105 close support Sherman, and the M5 light tanks.  The latter will have to be in metal by the looks of things, and the Rafm models seem a good choice at the moment.

The big gap is a lack of infantry and vehicle crews.  I need to look into what options are available.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

The Jumbos are here!

I just received two M4A3E2 "Jumbo" Shermans from Fine Scale Factory.  These are very well detailed models, cast in resin. I ordered these from Lonewulf Models in the UK.  I was very pleased with my dealings with Adrian; he replied promptly to my enquiries and the models arrived less than a week after I made payment.  I needed two of these beasties, and fortunately he happened to have two kits remaining in stock!


I have to admit that the prospect of assembling resin tracks is somewhat daunting, but this review gives some good advice on how to do it, and the models certainly convey the solid-looking presence that the Jumbo, the most "butch" member of the Sherman family, managed to convey.

So far that gives me five vehicles for the 761st.  Two M4A3E2's, and three M4A3(76's).  

Next on the procurement bill will be another '76, and a 105mm support tank. 

Looking ahead, my eventual goal is to have a BKC campaign  based on the race to the Elbe.  This will include battlegroups based around not only the 761st Tank Battalion, but also the 220th Independent Tank Brigade for the Soviets and the (fictional!) Kampfgruppe Kunersdorf for the Germans.

The British/Commonwealth effort will be represented by my "home team"; the British Columbia Regiment  (Duke of Connaught's Own).  Also known as the 28th Armoured Regiment in WWII, it was part of the Canadian 4th Armoured Division with a distinguished career in the European theatre in 1944-45.  It is also the oldest regiment on establishment in the province.

Many times I used to pass by their home at the Beatty Street Armoury in Vancouver.  It looks like they still have those old Sherman and Ram tanks on display outside!

Saturday, March 13, 2010

First Deliveries to the Field

The liberty ships have unloaded the first shipment of Sherman M4A3 (76)'s for the 761st, courtesy of a hobby shop here in Japan.

This is the Easy Model kit, and as you can see it comes fully assembled and painted.  It is a very well made and detailed model, and would be  ready to go on the wargames table.  The model is weighted, so it has a nice "heft" to it.

A lot of good detail too, including turret attachments, towing gear and the like.  But I think I'm going to have to carefully cut the .50 cal Browning off its pintle, drill out a hole in both gun and mounting and reinforce it with a section of thin wire, as otherwise I can't see it surviving too long on the tabletop.   Unfortunately, the paint job and markings are very well done, and even the weathering is subtle yet effective.  

I say "unfortunately", because at some point I'm going to add external stowage and give the whole lot a repaint.  The markings provided are for the 714th Tank Battalion, which of course I can't use for the 761st. 

I'll also be adding vehicle names, which should be fun- some have been recorded, but with others I can let my imagination run riot.

All in all a good purchase, and it is a nice change not having to worry about assembling hundreds of road wheels together (a reason I still have six Fujimi Pz-IV models sitting in boxes, as I vainly wish for some gremlins to secretly assemble the lot while I am sleeping one night).

I need to think about convincing-looking stowage and markings next, so I'll be checking out decals and resources on what Shermans really looked like in the field.  I want that "gypsy caravan" look to my tanks.

Next on the procurement list are two M4A3E2 "Jumbos" in resin from Finescale Factory.  An email to a specialist hobby dealer got a prompt reply saying that he had two left in stock, so I'll risk going over budget on my hobby purchases this month and order the pair.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Sherman Hunting...

There were a lot of Sherman tank variants used in the Second World War, and an equally bewildering variety of Sherman tank models available in both 1/76 and 1/72 scales.  The problem is that some are better than others (a lot better in some instances), and that they all vary widely in price and- probably most importantly when looking at the number of vehicles I'd be needing- availability.

My first port of call was "The Guild" wargamer's forum.  A plaintive cry for help there got myself lots of good and very helpful responses, as well as some fascinating links concerning what tanks the 761st may have used in '44 and '45.  Most of the tanks appeared to have been the M4A3(76) with some M4A3E2 Jumbos as well.

So I have come up with two options for collecting the battalion (as organized for use with Blitzkrieg Commander) as follows:

Option "A"
  • 3x M4A3E2
  • 7x M4A3(76)
  • 1x M4A3 w/105 (CS)
  • 3x M5 Stuarts

Easy Model's pre-painted M4A3(76) Sherman (above)

For the Shermans my first choice will be for the Easy Model or Dragon kits- The Easy Model M4A3 (76) seems a good bet- already assembled and painted, although I'd probably repaint them to my taste as I don't want the whole battalion sporting the same tank number!

And the price doesn't seem too bad at all; one is listed in a major on-line hobby store here at only 750 yen,  but getting the quantity I need will evidently be a hassle and I'm still waiting to hear about stock levels.

The Dragon kits are likewise proving elusive, at least in the numbers I'd need.  I've emailed a number of online hobby stores to see about availability.

If my search for a Jumbo comes up blank (as it has so far),  I may have to go for assuming an earlier organization and adopt option "B" which would be to "downgrade" the Shermans across the battalion, and use the Easy Models or the Armorfast kits. On the plus side it would certainly be the cheaper option of the two. 

Option "B"
  • 3x M4A3(76)
  • 7x M4A3(75)
  • 1x M4A3 w/105 (CS)
  • 3x M5 Stuarts
The Armorfast models are not nearly as detailed as the Dragon offerings, so I would not want to mix the two in the same unit.  But I'm pretty sure I could tart 'em up so that they pass muster on the gaming table, and they would certainly be robust enough to stand handling.  

Oh, and did I say they're cheap?  Two vehicles to a box, at the same price or less than other companies charge for a single model. 

Figures will probably be AB for the tank crews, and I'll be using Battlefield and Elheim for the "dogfaces".