I have recently had the chance to put together and paint up a couple of smashing tanks from Rubicon Models. First was the A15 British Crusader tank MkVI, which I assembled as the AA version. Second was the M5A1 Stuart, which I turned into a Free French unit thanks to some excellent choices on the decal sheet!
Rubicon have been around now for only a short time but have developed an excellent name in the 28mm WW2 wargaming community for a number of reasons. First, they produce excellent quality plastic kits at a reasonable price and second, Rubicon have become masters of giving the gamer choices within the one kit.
A prime example of choice is the A15 Crusader kit where Rubicon has included enough parts to make the MkI/II and III models, a Close Support version with howitzer and the Anti-Aircraft MkI and II. I was painting this one up for a friend and was under instruction to build the AA version so it made the choice easy. The construction of these tanks is really basic (which I will put to the test with the Stuart, more later on) with easy to follow instructions and taking your time, it can be done within an hour or two at the most.
In Bolt Action terms, the Crusader AA is listed on page 52 of the Armies of Great Britain book and has the following stats:
Cost: 88pts (Inexperienced), 110pts (Regular), 132pts (Veteran)
Weapons: 1 Heavy autocannon in open topped turret
Damage Value: 8+ (Light Tank)
Options: May replace the 40mm heavy autocannon with paired 20mm light autocannons in enclosed turret for +25pts (This is the only option this model supports)
Special Rules: Flak and Open topped
I have not seen the AA version with dual light autocannons made anywhere else and this would provide your late war British force with some considerable firepower.
The second kit is the late war M5A1 Stuart light tank and this was particularly exciting for me as I have been building a late war Free French force and the extensive decal sheet provided, had these markings! (They are almost non-existent in 1/56 scale). Now this kit gives the option of the M5A1 Stuart or the open topped reconnaissance version and seems to have a entire companies worth of machine guns for our use.
I had chosen the M5A1 Stuart version as this was most suitable for my Free French and to challenge how easy the kit was to build, I asked my wife to do it. She has no interest at all in my hobby and has never put anything like this together before but this one time she was willing to give it a go. With a little help from me she put the bulk of it together before she got bored and I had to finish it. The point was though was that she could follow the instructions, which proves that these kits are suitable for hobbyists at all levels.
The M5A1 can be found on page 36 and 37 of the Armies of the United States.
Cost: 124pts (Inexperienced), 155pts (Regular), 196pts (Veteran)
Weapons: 1 gyro stabilised turret-mounted light anti-tank gun with co-axle MMG and forward facing hull mounted MMG
Damage Value: 8+ (Light Tank)
Options: May have additional pintle-mounted HMG on top of turret for + 25 points and may have a Culin hedgerow cutter for + 10 points.
Special Rules: Reinforced armour: parts of the tanks front armour were comparable to that of medium tanks. Against all shots hitting the from of the vehicle it counts it damage value as 9+
A special note on both these kits is that the decal sheets provided are just top notch with so many options and are very easy to put on the vehicles, they are a real plus to these kits that are making the Rubicon kits stand out.
Overall I am a big fan of Rubicon kits, they are offering great products and versions of tanks that you may not be able to find elsewhere at competitive prices. If you are looking for a Crusader or late war Stuart, I would highly recommend these two kits.