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Monday, July 29, 2013

Bolt Action - Review: JTFM SU-76

Before Historicon, I ordered some SU-76s from Jeff, proprietor of JTFM's Die Waffenkammer line. I'd ordered from Jeff before, and I was not disappointed with his latest offering.

Good ol' CH (Chris Hecht for the uninitiated) hit me up before the Historicon Tank Battles tournament, looking for a partner. I'd already planned on bringing whatever German stuff I had (Sturmtiger would've been included, LRDG Brad!) until CH asked for the team-up. I agreed, CH being a hard rockin' amigo and all, and within a few minutes it occurred to me that he only had Soviet stuff. I had no Soviets.

JTFM to the rescue!

He and I chatted about a list, and since he had generously left me a few points after buying his IS-2 and OT-34 for the event, and I had an unreasonable fascination with the SU-76, the decision became clear. I would buy one of Jeff's very reasonably priced three packs of tanks.

Within a couple weeks, I received a perfectly packed box from JTFM. Inside, three SU-76 kits lay ready for me to put them together.

As I'm now accustomed to, all three tanks came perfectly packed. These guys know how to ship a kit. After minimal cleaning - we're talking five minutes per tank - they were ready to assemble.

The pieces of the kit were very clean, of course, and easy to assemble. Each tank came with a baggy of stowage and crew, which is always a plus. Truth be told, an open topped vehicle like an SU-76 needs to have some crew come with it. They really make the difference. Forgive me for getting the one and only negative out there this early, but my least favorite part of these kits were the fact that they included only two crew figures. Each set was identical. Normally, when we're talking about bed rolls and gas cans and random stowage, copies are fine. Since I was building three of these tanks to run side-by-side, I had to get as creative as I could to make them appear different when near each other. The majority of you won't be buying more than one.

These crew members were relatively easy to manipulate into different set-ups. I assume there's one "right" way to get these two crew members into the cabin, but I'll be damned if I could figure it out. Luckily, I was looking for variation, so chopping legs where they needed to be chopped was not a sacrifice. Given the fact that I'd picked up a three pack, I was pretty satisfied with what I was able to come up with.

I'd recently started brush coating a few German tanks, and I was not interested in repeating this effort. After reading an article from WWPD's own Jon Baber, I decided I'd try a Krylon spray. This came out extremely light, but given the Soviet Union's propensity to have paint coats of varying quality, I didn't mind too much. I knew there was a wash in the future of these models.

Even with some colors added to these, I was still not satisfied. The models themselves were, as far as I was concerned, everything I could have hoped for; but the colors were still lacking. I went for a good black wash to darken these SU-76s up as much as I could. Some Company B decals would hopefully help as much as possible as well.

As you can see, these tanks never really came out as dark as I had hoped. This is probably the worst picture I could have posted, since CH's tanks may just be darker than they should have been, making the light green stick out even worse that it had before. At first, I was shocked by how they looked. Over time, I've grown to love my too-bright-green SU-76s. The whole process took about eight hours, so for the time invested, I'm very satisfied.

All painting aside, these models are fantastic. I think that the models are the best on the market. Clean up was almost non-existent. Even with "only" two figures provided for each tank, I felt like I was able to make a passable variety with their poses. Anyone thinking about buying a 28mm WWII AFV, I'd suggest Die Waffenkammer. These are the best kits I've put together.

Anyone thinking about painting Soviet tanks, I would not suggest the Woodland Light Green Krylon spray. Wash or not.

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