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  1. As I'm nearing the end of my Jagdpanther build, I thought about what I should try next. I had a couple ideas batting around before settling on this one. There hasn't been too much allied stuff in this GB so I figured I might as well. Plus it comes with D-Day markings in the box. They're in there somewhere...
  2. 1:35 “China Clipper” U.S. Medium Tank M4 Composite Sherman Asuka Model Catalogue # 35-034 The M4 Sherman, officially Medium Tank, M4, was the most widely used medium tank by the United States and Western Allies in World War II. The M4 Sherman proved to be reliable, relatively cheap to produce, and available in great numbers. Thousands were distributed through the Lend-Lease program to the British Commonwealth and Soviet Union. The tank was named by the British for the American Civil War general William Tecumseh Sherman. The M4 Sherman evolved from the M3 Medium Tank which had its main armament in a side sponson mount. The M4 retained much of the previous mechanical design but put the main 75 mm gun in a fully traversing turret. One feature, a one-axis gyrostabilizer, was not precise enough to allow firing when moving but did help keep the reticule on target, so that when the tank did stop to fire, the gun would be aimed in roughly the right direction. The designers stressed mechanical reliability, ease of production and maintenance, durability, standardization of parts and ammunition in a limited number of variants, and moderate size and weight. These factors, combined with the Sherman's then-superior armour and armament, outclassed German light and medium tanks fielded in 1939–42. The M4 went on to be produced in large numbers. It spearheaded many offensives by the Western Allies after 1942. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CcVR61Xg8SM The relative ease of production allowed large numbers of the M4 to be manufactured, and significant investment in tank recovery and repair units allowed disabled vehicles to be repaired and returned to service quickly. These factors combined to give the Allies numerical superiority in most battles, and many infantry divisions were provided with M4s and tank destroyers. After World War II, the Sherman, particularly the many improved and upgraded versions, continued to see combat service in many conflicts around the world, including the UN forces in the Korean War, with Israel in the Arab–Israeli Wars, briefly with South Vietnam in the Vietnam War, and on both sides of the Indo-Pakistani War of 1965. Paraguay retired three Shermans from the Regimiento Escolta Presidencial (REP, Presidential Escort Regiment) in 2018, which marked the end of service of the final Sherman tanks in use anywhere in the world. Extract courtesy of Wikipedia China Clipper The kit Asuka Model (formerly Tasca) are probably the undisputed kings when it comes to the M4 Sherman. In fact, this particular 2016 kit has almost SIXTY re-pops to date, from six different companies. There’s little doubt that the kit, in its many incarnations is quite a gem, and this particular release is that of a Sherman Composite with a welded rear hull. China Clipper served with the 68th Tank Battalion, 6th Armoured Division and this specific machine has been recreated down to the stowage that is seen to adorn it in some photos of her. Asuka Model has provided this as a set of resin pieces that I’ll look at later. I can’t comment on kit accuracy, but many dozens of reviews of the sprues in various releases tend to lean towards this being possibly the best range of Sherman kits on the market. This release is packaged into a surprisingly shallow but very full box of styrene, with an overhead view of China Clipper on the lid, providing a great reference for the aforementioned stowage parts that are included. Lifting the tight lid reviews 19 sprues of dark green styrene which are generally packed into separate, stapled clear sleeves, except for where multiples of the same exist, and these are packed together. Two clear sprues are also provided as are four lengths of vinyl track, set of flexible polycaps, a piece of black rubber material, one fret of PE, a single decal sheet, bag of Value Gear Detailsresin parts and two sets of instructions. One thing that is obvious from this release is that Asuka Model/Tasca possibly had no idea about how many different variants of the Sherman would be released, as some sprues, whilst different, have the same nomenclature. It’s quite normal to see every letter of the alphabet used on different sprues over different releases, with no real conflict between the various kits (with exceptions to the rule). The instructions do explain about the inclusion of two Sprue J in the box, and to check that you indeed do use the correct parts from each. I think the overlap here is very small and those parts with the same number are actually entirely different, so you shouldn’t encounter any issues. I’m fairly new to armour and was surprised in the first instance to see vinyl tracks in this release as I’m led to believe that these are the things which most incense armour modellers. I do admit to seeing them recently in a 1/16 Takom kit but thought that it was more common for separate track links, the likes that we are now seeing in Rye Field Models and Takom 1/35 releases. Nonetheless, the moulding of these is excellent with sharp details. Each side is split into two pieces (for some reason) and they appear to assemble easily with CA. Instructions suggest priming them with Tamiya primer. Be careful what you do use in case it attacks this more fragile material. Five of the sprues are given over the drive and idler wheels, roadwheels and the three bogie units on each side of the hull. You will need to mix and match the polycaps with these during construction as these will grip the wheels to the bogies when fitted. As the tracks need to be made to sag slightly, I’m pretty sure the polycaps aren’t there so the wheels can rotate. Being able to rotate them before fitting the tracks will make painting easier though. To set the suspension height of the individual bogies, some rubber material is provided which you can use to custom load-out the individual units and set the height of these. This is all full explained in the manual, You will notice that the typical bathtub style lower hull isn’t present in this kit. This section is built up from a number of plates and an internal former. Two slightly different forward differential covers are supplied in this kit, on Sprue J, and you will need to identify the one you need from construction Stage 7. I absolutely love the depiction of the upper hull with its rough forward casting which looks entirely organic and non-contrived. Of course, the rear hull is welded plate, as are the forward mudguard section. Weld seam detail is also very fine. I’m no aficionado as to which angle of arc this is supposed to be, that seems to be so important to some factions of this hobby, but as someone who can weld themselves, I think the depiction looks excellent. The rear engine deck is a separate entity, and the two forward crew hatches are also separate parts and can be posed open, despite there being no interior to the kit. Realistic textures also stretch to the cast effect of the turret, although they aren’t as pronounced here. I don’t know whether that’s through design or omission. No internal details are supplied here, and the lower ring is a separate part on the same sprue. The gun and mantlet of course designed to be able to elevate and the barrel is a two-part affair that you may consider replacing with a metal, rifled alternative. Inside the turret, there is no gun detail, as befitting a model with no interior included. MG detail for the mantlet is excellent, as is the cupola-mounted gun, but you may also choose to replace this with a brass version for more authenticity. I note that a section of rigid styrene ammunition is included for the MGs. To be able to use this, you’ll probably need to dip this in just-boiled water for a minute or so to be able to properly manipulate it. The commanders/cupola hatch can also be displayed in an open position, but as with the other posable hatches, you’d be best sticking a figure in there to disguise the murky, dark and empty interior. Clear parts are included for the periscope and the clarity is excellent. A single PE fret is included that contains parts for engine grilles, Grouser boxes, air cleaners, etc. Quality is excellent, and the removal tags are small enough so as not to cause any difficulty in removing and preparing the parts. As this model focuses on China Clipper, you won’t be too surprised to know that this is the only decal scheme in the box. After all, that’s what you bought this for, right? I imagine that the decals will be printed locally, and they are simple in execution, all being white markings for this one machine. Printing is sharp and thin, with minimal carrier film. Of course, registration is irrelevant here. I do admit that when it comes to instruction manuals, I would prefer a regular book-format production that sits easy on the workbench, but this is one of those multi-folded, panoramic things that tend to get one confused when you dart between various sequences…very much like the Bandai instructions on some of their kits. Whilst there’s a lot of Japanese on this paper, this is also translated into a very reasonable level of English that is easy to understand. Illustrations are in line drawing format, but the instructions themselves look a little cluttered. Tamiya paint references are supplied throughout the assembly sequences, with a simple extra default options that states using Olive Drab where a paint reference isn’t supplied. Extras Of course, this is China Clipper, and the resin extras are also what help to push this kit. These consist of some superbly cast parts, including tent and tarp rolls, deck stowage 75mm crates, packs and helmets, wooden storage boxes and a stowage board. With the exception of the latter that is cast in brown resin, the rest of cast from light grey resin and look superb. Details are sharp and the mastering of these is first rate, and clean-up minimal before use. Adding these to your model will certainly create a visually interesting and authentic-looking miniature of China Clipper. A separate sheet of instructions is included with a full side printed in English. Conclusion Being an aircraft guy, this is the first time I’ve seen an Asuka Model kit, and it’s been an education in reading through the reviews of the Sherman series on various reputable websites. Apart from the specifics that pertain to this specific release, there’s not really too much more can be said with regards to accuracy except to state that these kits are respected for exactly that. For your money, you get a box that’s crammed with plastic, and with plenty for your spares box, plus the added resin parts to boot. This is a fantastic release of this specific machine and should look superb when finished, even with the vinyl tracks supplied. I look forward to building this as the darker months approach later this year. Highly recommended. My sincere thanks to Asuka Model for the review sample seen here.
  3. Introduction Hi guys, although I'm still busy on the 1/24 Airfix Hawker Typhoon, I also felt that this GB could use some more "vehicular" input. Due to all the Liberation Days (celebrated on May 5th, the day the German forces in the Netherlands capitulated to the Allies in Wageningen) I witnessed in my life I have a keen interest in the liberating forces of my country. That makes for a predominantly British and Canadian interest, although we mustn't forget the Polish 1st Armoured Division and the Polish paras! Of course American forces also took part but on a much lesser scale. The 7th AD in October 1944 near Overloon, before the British forces took over the offensive, of course the paras of the 82nd and 101st AB divisions and the supporting units in the western part of Brabant. So, this WIP will deal with a British 75mm gun tank of the forces that were sent to relieve the paras that occupied the bridges at Eindhoven, Son, Grave, Nijmegen and Arnhem during Operation Market-Garden September 17th -25th, 1944. To read an extensive account of the operation: Operation Market Garden - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia For my purposes, it suffices to say that the 2nd Irish Guards formed part of the ground forces that needed to "race" to the North along a very narrow corridor in order to relieve the lightly armed paras along the route. The Airborne part of the offensive was code-named "Market", the ground element "Garden". The front lines on September 14th, 1944: The plan of attack: The line of advance for XXXth Corps: A short piece of text from the Wikipedia article: At 14:15 hours 300 guns of the Corps artillery opened fire, firing a rolling barrage in front of XXX Corps start line that was 1 mile (1.6 km) wide and 5 miles (8.0 km) in depth. The barrage was supported by seven squadrons of RAF Hawker Typhoons firing rockets at all known German positions along the road to Valkenswaard. The advance was led by tanks and infantry of the Irish Guards and started on time when Lieutenant Keith Heathcote, commanding the lead tank, ordered his driver to advance. The lead units of the Irish Guards Group had broken out of XXX Corps bridgehead on the Meuse-Escaut canal and crossed into the Netherlands by 15:00 hours. After crossing the border the Irish Guards were ambushed by infantry and anti-tank guns dug in on both sides of the main road. Portions of the artillery barrage were refired and fresh waves of Hawker Typhoons were called in. The Guardsmen moved forward to clear the German positions, manned by elements from two German parachute battalions and two battalions of the 9th SS Division, and soon routed the German forces flanking the road. Interrogation of captured German soldiers led to some of them willingly, others after being threatened, pointing out the remaining German positions. The fighting soon died down and the advance resumed. By last light the town of Valkenswaard had been reached and occupied by the Irish Guards. Shermans of the Irish Guards advancing past Shermans that were knocked out by dug-in anti-tank units. British troops meet with a Dutch policeman at Valkenswaard 2nd Irish Guards tanks cross the bridge over the river Waal near Nijmegen.
  4. Asuka (formerly Tasca) 1/24 Bantam Reconnaissance Car In 1940, the U S Army asked 135 tractor and auto manufacturers to design a four-wheel drive, 40 horsepower, 1,300 pound reconnaissance car that could haul soldiers as well as heavy artillery. The challenge? The designer was expected to have a working prototype available for a test run within 49 days. Only two companies responded to the request, The American Bantam Car Company of Butler, Pa. and Willys-Overland Motors of Toledo, Ohio. Because Bantam promised to deliver the prototype in 45 days, they won contract. Bantam’s Factory Manager Frank Fenn, former General Motors Executive Arthur Brandt and a skeleton work crew were feverishly working on the project when Fenn called freelance designer Karl Probst in Detroit and offered him the design job. Probst agreed to design the car in five days and forgo payment for his services if Bantam did not win the Army contract. The Bantam prototype. (blog.hemmings.com) The Bantam prototype was called the Bantam Reconnaissance Car, or BRC. After maintaining a frantic schedule for nearly seven weeks, the Bantam group managed to bring the layouts and spec sheets to life. Ralph Turner of Butler drove the vehicle to Camp Holabird, Maryland on September 23. The Army tested it for 30 days. Unfortunately, Bantam could not meet the Army’s production demands of 75 vehicles per day. The Army gave Ford and Willys the Bantam’s blueprints and they produced the vehicles the Army required. Ford and Willys fulfilled the Army’s contracts for 600,000 Jeeps for World War II. Bantam produced a total of 2,675 jeeps and never produced another vehicle after that. They then produced ‘jeep’ cargo trailers, torpedo motors and other items until they closed in 1956. The Bantam jeep was the first of what would eventually evolve into the World War II US Army Jeeps, the Willys MB and the Ford GPW. (Text taken from www.bantamjeepfestival.com/about/history/ ). About 1000 Bantams were supplied to the USSR under Lend-Lease. Great Britain received 162 examples. The Kit. I received the kit in a neat little box. Every sprue was separately packed to avoid scratches from other sprues. There are 4 olive drab sprues with the parts for the chassis, the bodywork, the engine and the seats and so on. One sprue with clear parts for the windshield, head- and taillights and the instrument cluster, a set of 5 vinyl tires, a little sprue of washers to keep the wheels attached to the model and a decal set with service markings for the engine and the bodywork as well as markings for 3 vehicles, 2 of them for the US Army in the USA and 1 for a British vehicle in North Africa 1942. The instructions are clear and look very well drawn. The Sprues. The first sprue contains the engine parts. The Bantam used the Continental BY-4112, 4-cilinder, 112 cubic inch / 1.8 litre, side-valve engine of 45 horsepower. Interestingly enough, variants of this engine were used until the 1960’s in industrial equipment such as forklifts under the designation Continental Y-112. The fan and fan belt. The battery and parts of the central transfer box. The “cylinder head cover” for want of a better word. Top left you see the right hand side of the engine block with carburettor. Being a side-valve engine, the intake and exhaust ports are located on the same side of the engine. The top part is the exhaust side, attached to the cylinder head cover, the lower part is fixed to the engine block part. The carburetor. Both the basic engine block parts. The radiator parts. The air filter parts and the fuel and oil filters. The real fuel filter. The engine in the vehicle. The next sprue contains the basic body tub, steering wheel, seats etc. The steering wheel and gear levers. The rear side of the steering wheel. Note the ejection pin mark on the steering column clamp. On the right side there are the circular brake and clutch pedal. The throttle pedal looks to be a tiny metal pedal on the real thing. See the tiny part top center. I’ve read on an internet site that the BRC didn’t have a throttle pedal but that the driver used a manual handle in the dashboard to set the throttle? It can be that that was only on the prototype series or that the production variant had both or a combination of both… The seats. Also accurate as the rest of the parts we have examined. The backside of the seats. The lower backsides show some sinkmarks. Here we also see some heavy ejector pin marks on the inner sides of the rear bench backrest. That should be no problem but dryfit to be sure that the parts do fit without a gap. The backrest. The dashboard with the holes for the instruments, although I do think that the ignition lock wasn't on wartime vehicles.... The fuel tank which is located under the drivers’ seat. The basic tub of the body. The underside shows plenty of punch marks. Luckily they’re not deep and a good portion of them will be hidden by the chassis. If you don’t plan on looking at the underside of your model you can even forget about them! J When we shift our attention to the following sprue, we find the sides of the body, the bonnet or hood, grille and wind shield. The tail plate, headlights and hand holds. The rear lights of the real deal. The sides of the bodywork. Fine crisp details. You could try to hollow out the moulded in tie-downs if you feel you’re in a winning mood…!. The insides show slight punch marks. Most of them won’t be seen but check which ones will. Filling and or sanding them won’t be a dramatic chore. The bonnet or hood. The inside also shows some punch marks. These are also very shallow. However, if you want to show the engine and have the bonnet open, you better fill them in. The windshield. The real car had the possibility to open the windshield some to vent fresh air behind it without the driver having to eat all kinds of bugs. The kit doesn’t give this option. It’s either windshield up or down. All the latches and things are provided, however, so the windshield will look accurately busy with fine details. These details, together with the hooks for the windshield in the “down”-position and the bonnet are to be found above of the windshield part. In the right lower corner you can see the handle for the single windshield wiper. These pictures show the fenders, the vented plating behind the front wheels and the tubular front grille. Look at the delicate hollow moulding of the vents! The last of the olive drab-colored sprues contains the parts for the chassis, suspension, wheels and the driveshafts and differentials for the 4-wheel drive. Swipe your sanding stick a couple of times over the hubs of the front wheels. The rear wheels and the spare. The leaf springs. The driveshafts and differentials. The U-shaped rods that connect the axles to the springs. The exhaust, shock absorbers and the inner wheel hubs. The tires are vinyl. I know there are people who hate this medium and there are people who are afraid of chemicals in the tires “melting” the rims or of the tires drying out over time, cracking por breaking in the process. I’m not afraid of this; the problems with melting rims were only noted with the tires supplied with AMT kits in the ‘90’s. The material of those tires was vastly different from the material used by Asuka. The Asuka tires are much more like those found in Tamiya car and motorcycle kits. I have built a few of those Formula-1 and motorcycle kits myself and have yet to find ANY adverse effect of the tires. Not unimportantly; the color is not pitch-black and the tires aren’t gloss, so painting them over isn’t necessary at all. Just weather them together with the rest of the vehicle. So I’ll be using the vinyl tires with confidence. The clear parts look clear enough and free of distortions. As mentioned earlier; the decalsheet contains markings for three vehicles; two Stateside, and one used by British forces in North Africa. One of the finishing options in the kit. The Duke of Gloucester in a Bantam. Note the sun compass in front of the driver, not supplied in the kit. (IWM) What do we think? The details in the plastic parts are very finely molded. The kit does show a lot of punch-marks but that is the natural downside of having a finely molded detail-rich model. While a few of those punch marks do need removal with a razor-saw or a scalpel, most are very fine and easily filled. Besides, a good few will be covered by other parts, so before filling them all in, check if they will be visible… I knew Asuka from their magnificent line of Sherman kits in 1/35 so I had high hopes. And the people of Asuka delivered! I spent some time looking for photos of the vehicle and it’s engine on the Internet and purchased the WWP R059 “Bantam Jeeps in Detail”. The kit looks dead-on accurate when held against these sources. I haven’t been able to find out how the throttle was fitted on the production vehicles, but the model mirrors the photos of the real thing. The prices of the kit I found at the writing of this review were €42,50 from a shop in Poland. And $39,95 from a shop in the USA. Very highly Recommended! We like to thank Asuka Model for providing us with the review sample. A Sherman II next to a BRC Willys MB jeep (IWM). I must've been cross-eyed when I attached this image to the review... Sorry! But it's a seriously nice photo, so it stays in! Here is an interesting walk-around (external link): http://militarymodels.co.nz/2011/11/21/bantam-brc-40-jeep-photo-walkaround/
  5. 1/35 Sherman Antenna and Periscope Guards Accessories from Adler's Nest and Schumo Kits Introduction Just in from Tasca I have three upgrade sets for the Sherman in 1/35. The first two are from Adler's Nest, whilst the third is a brand which is new to me – Schumo Kits. Sherman Five Piece Command Antenna By Adler's Nest #ANM-35034 The Sherman radio antennas were made up of sections, each one three feet long with threaded connectors at each end, all except the last one. Most tanks has three sections screwed together, whereas command tanks could have five of these sections, making for an aerial some 15 feet long. Each section had a numbered designation – "MS-xx", and the connections were colour coded, with the connections of the same colour being joined together. This set from Adler's Nest enables you to model pretty much whatever configuration you want. Inside its protective tube, I found the five sections which are machined so that they can slot together, pretty much like the real thing. The parts are tiny, as you might expect, but on close inspection you can see the hollowed out end sections. Test fitting showed that these have been machined to very tight tolerances – either an extremely keen eye or a little fiddling around will tell you which aerial goes where in the sequence. For those interested in painting instructions, a full description can be found here. This antenna set is specifically designed to be used with the base, below. Sherman Flexible Antenna Base By Adler's Nest #ANM-35033 This accessory set represents the MP-48 flexible antenna base. It is designed to be used with the aerial set above, but can also be used as a standalone upgrade on your kit if desired. It comprises turned brass parts at either end, a metal spring fitting between the two, and a piece of what I presume to be lead wire. With the wire inserted inside the spring, you can bend the aerial base to whatever angle desired, and it will stay in place. Simple, but quite ingenious I think. When compared to the Tasca kit part – which I think is quite good in its own right – the Adler's Nest base looks in a different class. I found I needed to widen the hole in the top of the Tasca turret by a fraction for the base to fit in, but once mounted, it should look superb. My only complaint about this set is that it should really come in the same type of tube that the antenna are supplied in – the spring and wire are quite delicate, and I'm not sure a small plastic bag is really enough. Sherman Periscope Guards By Schumo Kits #3500-10 The set comprises five periscope guards which are suitable for the M4 Sherman, M5 Stuart, M26 Pershing series of tanks. Note that not all Shermans used these, so check your references. The guards are made from white metal and are an alternative to the photo-etch guards often supplied in kits The photo-etch guards as supplied by Tasca The Schumo parts certainly have a more three dimensional look – the real things are quite chunky. However, I am still undecided on whether I would be better off giving PE guards a heavy coat of Mr Surfacer 500, or to go with the Schumo option. The casting in white metal is not that sharp, and I will probably have to clean up one or two of the guards in my set. Here is one of the guards on a Tacsa turret so you can judge for yourself. Packaging is an issue: they come in a plastic bag and really need a small box or tube of some sort. Given Schumo products are quite hard to get hold of, it would be a shame to have these damaged in transit. Conclusion Five Piece Command Antenna & Antenna Base Nothing more to say apart from top quality, great engineering, and a real difference maker. Highly recommended Periscope Guards The more I look at them, the more I think I like them, but the casting is not as crisp as it could be. Still probably more realistic than photo-etch. Worth consideration With thanks to the team at Tasca for the review sample. The products reviewed here are available at Tasca's online shop.
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