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Thursday, November 21, 2013

Review: M-51 Isherman by Battlefront

By Throckmorton

Unless you've been living under a rock somewhere in the Sinai (see what I did there?) you've already heard that Flames of War is expanding into more modern conflicts. First up was V3 of Vietnam and now, for something especially close to my academic heart, they've headed into the desert to produce models for the Arab/Israeli Wars, starting with the 6 Day War in The Fate of A Nation supplement out now in Wargames Illustrated Number 312. 

The 6 Day War was one of a number of major conflicts that flared up between Israel and its neighbors since its founding in 1948 through the 80's. Unlike the modern limited actions that make the news today these fights were full on field armies fighting field armies. And, much like Vietnam to the east, served as a testing ground for both WARSAW and NATO war-fighting equipment. 

I won't go too deep into the history here but it has some interesting parallels to World War One, at least in their inceptions. In the Spring of '67 a build up and mobilization of Egyptian forces in the Sinai (that were more political maneuvers and posturing than a real step towards war) coupled with multiple Arab defense treaties, home front political considerations in every country involved, insurrections and border incidents lead to what some historians have called a "creep towards war."

To make a long story short, the "creep" went hot on June 5th. Israel engaged in preemptive strike against Egypt culminating in a lighting series of battles against Egypt, Jordan and Syria. The whole thing ended by June 10th with Israel winning a decisive victory and taking control of the Sinai, Gaza Strip, West Bank and East Jerusalem setting up much of the modern political issues the region faces today.  

During the conflict Israel used a myriad of different tanks. They were constantly in search of more, better and different armor to use. But one of the mainstays, used all the way into the early 80's, was the M-51 Isherman. Sporting a 105mm gun, it really proved you can, in desperate situations, take a tank and push it well beyond its original design concept. 

So, what does all this mean for us gamers? It means we get a sweet looking Sherman, with a ginormous gun that can handle the competition without costing an arm and a leg (points wise anyways)

Here's the Easy Army breakdown:

Light armor but plenty of MG's and a big ole gun make this one of my favorite tanks of the 60's and 70's. 

Alright, let's build and paint these beasties. 
You'll get 2 in every box, a platoon is 3 or 4 and you can take one as your command tank. 

All the pieces and parts. It may not look like it here, but that gun is HUGE. 

It comes with a set of magnets for each tank. (Thanks BF!)You absolutely must use the turret magnets. You'll see why below. 

A better idea of the scale of the guns here in the build. They were heavy enough that I had to support them on something while the glue dried. This is mostly because of that large muzzle break. 

A muzzle break so heavy that you literally cannot sit the turret on the tank without magnets. 

OK. Here's my one and only gripe about the kit. The MG's simply do not fit in the post provided for them. Why make a nice little hole to place the MG in if you're not going to sculpt the gun accordingly? In my attempt here I actually broke off the mount. Blerg.

All built up, it really is an epic looking tank. 

It was raining outside so I did a brush on white primer. 

Next up the base coat, Vallejo Green Grey in 3 thin, wet layers. 

Like this. 

I use Vallejo Black Grey on all the metal and the bogey wheels and English Uniform on the mantlet cover. 

Next up is a pinwash with Citadel Athonian Camoshade.

Once it dries (it takes almost no time) I start working out the rest of the details. 

And end up with this. 
Decal time! I use an undercoat of gloss varnish and then use Microsol to set. 

Next up I'll add in some wear and tear. 

Taking a small corner of sponge, which comes in like every box and blister you buy, and some Vallejo Black Grey I'll lightly stipple the tanks focusing on areas of heavy wear and tear (edges, the front glacis and around hatches) 

To end up with something like this. 

It's my first time really trying this and I think it turned out pretty well!

Now, I could stop with this but... NAH! Let's bring out the pigments! Before you do the pigmenting you've got to do your matte varnish. 

Here I've got my special dry earth blend pigment, pigment setter and my varnished tank!

Tap or brush dry pigment into the tracks, edges and other places that would get dirty, then lightly layer the setter over top and then, for extra chunky results, tap an additional layer of pigment overtop of the setter. 

I also added antennae to my dudes for the first time. I saw them on some of Dirty Jon's Cromwells at Guns of August and he explained to me how to pull it off. I think it looks really great! Thanks Jon!

 After painting the tracks and MG's Vallejo Black Grey I do a dry brush of Vallejo Gunmetal Black to give them a bit of wear and shine while retaining the "gun black" look. (This happens before the pigment but I forgot to take a shot of it.)
Once the pigment setter has completely dried (I leave it over night) I spot highlight all the chipping with a 2 to 1 white to Green Grey mix. Normally, this is just a dot on one of the longer sides of the chip to give it depth. Check out the engine deck on the right for a better example. 

And that's it! Mr. Meaty Gun is all done. Have some pics.


This is a sweet kit. I had planned to maybe base my army around the Isherman before, but now I'm sold.

Detail, 4.5/5: Great all around. The M-51 Turret and Gun really shine. The one thing that kind of bummed me out is that both tanks look the same. I was hoping for a little visual diversity in a box set.

Build, 3.5/5: Those freaking MG posts always irk me. That combined with the massive gun make the build a little more complex than the average tank.

Value, 4.5/5: Come on! This tank is sweet. 2 for USD $26 puts them right in line with other like box sets. And as I'll be using these as the centerpiece of my army I'll certainly be buying more. For those of you not sold, it's cheap points wise with a solid gun, I'd recommend a platoon of 3 or 4 if you've got the points.

Overall, 4.25/5: This is a really swell tank. I normally find Shermans pretty boring but all the gubbins, the uprated turret and the monstrous gun make this Shermy a real looker. On the table I bet it will perform admirably, if it weren't for those darn build issues this would have scored 4.5 or even higher.

"Throckmorton is a reclusive cactus farmer living somewhere in the frosty northern climes of Alberta, Canada. When not pricking himself on pointy caryophyllales, he occasionally deigns to climb down from his northern 'Cactus Throne' to play some Flames and very occasionally writes about his adventures on Throck Of War, his personal blog."

Models provided by Throckmorton's wallet. 

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