Miniature Ordnance Review looks at the world of miniatures wargaming with an emphasis on 15mm World War II and Flames of War.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

761st Tank Battalion - Part 1 - Stuart Conversions

So one Flames of War army I've been dying to do for ages is the 761st Tank Battalion, and while there is no perfect list for them at this point, the Tank Company list from Blood, Guts, & Glory (FW220) is a reasonable approximation - as long as you don't take a bunch of mechanized support.  At this point I'm working to assemble enough 76mm M4A3 tanks to form the core of the force.  However, as an aside I wanted to have a few of Dog Company's "Mosquito Fleet" of M5A1 Stuart tanks as well.  Part 1 of my 761st Tank Battalion coverage will detail the Light Tank Platoon.

Unfortunately the 761st didn't get the photographic coverage many other units received, so any picture has to be poured over for as many details as one can glean out of it.  It's clear that the unit had both mid and late production M5A1 Stuarts.  The Battlefront US005 Stuart tank is an excellent representation of a mid-production M5A1, but lacks the characteristic turret machine gun shield seen in the late production models.  So, as seems to be normal with my armies, "some conversion" would be required to accurately represent the unit.

Since at this point I'm only planning one platoon of M5A1s, I decided to go with two "mid" and three "late" versions.  Photographs show a fair amount of stowage on several of the vehicles, so I'm adding some to many of the vehicles.  The first Stuart (shown below) is pretty much "out of the box" with only some extra stowage added. The shovel was slightly mis-cast, but as I wanted at least one vehicle with some extra bags, this one became it.

 
As the 761st was the first African-American armored unit to see combat in the US Army, I want to have more hatches open than I'd typically have to show off the crew.  The next Stuart is another "mid" variant, but this one will have a crewman in the open hatch.  I've substantially thinned the hatch and added detail for the other side of the periscope and hinges to it.

 
The next Stuart is the first of the "late" variants with the gun shield added.  The complex curvature of the shield was a pain in the butt to get right the first time, but the end effect is fairly solid.  The conversion also required sanding off the details on the right side of the turret.  I'm waiting until after priming to add the machine gun to ensure the front puttied area doesn't require additional fill or sanding (which would be complicated by the machine gun).  I'll likely add some stowage to this vehicle, but that's on the "to do" list.

 


Next is another late variant - this one has one turret hatch open - I had trouble getting the hatch to thin properly, so I simply replaced it with styrene and added hinge detail.

 
Last, but not least, is my command vehicle.  I've already started to add some stowage to this vehicle.  As with the vehicle above, the commander's hatch is detailed with hinges and periscope detail. 

 
So what started out as a quick set of conversions, quickly absorbed several hours.  Overall I'm pleased with how well the construction went on the miniatures.  For an older cast, the quality is good, though I did need to sand some of the rough texture off of some of the flat areas.

Next - Shermans!

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Musings on Sherman Variants

So I've been building a metric crapton of Shermans lately as a part of several armies (US and Soviet) and see several gaps in the existing Battlefront range - most of which I think would be easy for them to close at this point.  I like the fact that we have the M4A3, M4A3 (late), and M4A3E8 variants as discrete offerings.  Unfortunately we don't have quite the same options for the M4A2 or the other Sherman variants.  Fortunately, Battlefront already produces most of the required components, so it should be easy for them to fill the gaps if they have the will to do it.

You could, for example, create a late 75mm M4A2 by combining the M4A2 76mm hull with an M4A3 (late) 75mm turret.  You could also create the late 76mm M4A2 by combining the current M4A2 76mm miniature with the M4A3E8 76mm gun with muzzle brake.  Given that there are already multiple track systems available in the online store it seems like it should be easy for Battlefront to offer the hulls, turrets, and guns separately or simply create "package deal" for specific models only available through Special Order.

I don't hold out a lot of hope that I'm ever going to see any direct vision slot hulls, so I'm resorting to conversion and casting to go that route for my Kasserine Pass army.  However, I'm working on an emcha army and want to model some of the very late M4A2 76mm with the muzzle brake, and would love to just be able to pick up the guns separately from Battlefront.