The Sherman in 1/72: A Firefly Named “Carole” in Normandy, Part 2 – “Brewing Up”

This is Part 2 of A Firefly Named “Carole” in Normandy. For a description of  the actual tank and a review of the Dragon model, please refer to the previous post.

The Crew of the “Carole” in Normandy

I was intrigued by the photo of the four young members of “Carole’s” crew in front of their vehicle “brewing up” at Gosport just before leaving England on their way to Normandy. The human interest value of the photo is immense, as we know the fate of at least two of these young men — Commander Fred Scamp perished soon thereafter, while Gunner Douglas Kay survived into old age. This type of photo where you look into the faces of men who will soon face their fate is always touching to me, whether the soldiers are American, British, Russian, German, Japanese, or any other nationality.

At any rate, I wanted to recreate the aforementioned photo, or something that evinced its feel. However, the fact that the photo was taken while “Carole” still had the wading trunk made it a non-starter as the Dragon model is of “Carole” after the trunk was removed. In addition, recreating anything that even looked like the background in the scene was beyond my meager modeling capabilities. The only avenue available to me was to depict the scene after “Carole” and its crew arrived in Normandy.

The aforementioned photo is on the left in the triptych below. (See previous post for a larger, uncropped view of this photo.) The middle photo shows “Carole” in Normandy. Note the high grass, the stone wall behind the tank, and the destroyed buildings behind that wall. The photo on the right shows a similar scene of a British tank crew with their Sherman. An interesting feature of the photo is that it includes tankers wearing different clothing. Click on the photo to enlarge it.carole-triptych-blue-lineThe Diorama

The diorama below is a composite of those three photos. The modest effort depicts the crew taking a break in front of their tank somewhere in Normandy. Note the tall grass and stone fence present in some photos taken during the Normandy campaign. I’m not unaware that the stone fence is inexplicably intact while the building is in ruins and the tree next to it is completely charred. Still, I concluded that carving rocks out of the wall to simulate damage would not be worthwhile as it could not match the picture in my head anyway.1-008-best-bwBelow is the same photo in color. Ever the philistine, I’m convinced that color photos are infinitely better than black & white photos. To me, continuing to film in B&W in this day and age, as was done in The Good German, which is actually an excellent film, is as silly as would be continuing to film silent movies even though we’ve mastered sound.

Note that the six tankers sport different uniforms, with the 1st, 4th, and 6th (from left) wearing standard British battledress serge while the 2nd and 3rd figures wear denim overalls. The 5th figure is dressed more casually, reflecting the motley nature of clothing in units throughout the war. These Milicast figures are nothing short of cromulent*. Click on the photo to embiggen* it.1-008-bestNote that all the men wear a black beret, the hallmark of a WWII British tanker. According to Military Modelling Vol.30 No.11, the design of the distinctive black beret was inspired by French berets used during WWI. The unstiffened crown allowed it to be easily stowed in the tight spaces within the tank while the dark color helped hide grime and stains inherent in working inside a tank.

This is not an idle observation as knowing that Brit tankers wore a black beret and Brit paras a red one would greatly enhance the casual viewer’s enjoyment of a A Bridge Too Far, as a red beret would immediately signal that the action is taking place at Arnhem. 🙂 By the same token, recognizing the “Screaming Eagles” patch versus the “All American” patch immediately reveals whether the action is taking place at Eindhoven or Nijmegen.3-032Note that the animals move from photo to photo. The tan horse with a white blaze, in particular, had trouble staying on its four legs so every time it tipped over I placed it somewhere else. 🙂 The photo below is my favorite out of the dozens I took of this diorama, though I’m uncertain why.4-030

“Everyone has a backstory and deserves a guess in the absence of facts,” Ara Hagopian.

For the first time in writing these posts I had an urge to create a backstory for the cat I whimsically placed just behind the turret number. Do my fellow German bloggers, who seem to be cat lovers, or any other readers have any ideas? 5-015The cattle and horses are Preiser HO scale prepainted figures, which at first blush appeared to me to be the same size as the horses and cattle in the unpainted Preiser 1/72 scale 72511 Horses, Cows, and Sheep set. 

An indolent man at heart, I opted for the prepainted figures to avoid: 1) clipping the 72511 figures from the sprue; 2) cleaning the flash and seams; 3) gluing the two halves of each figure together; 4) priming them to ensure the paint adheres; 5) painting them; 6) detailing them; and 7) being disappointed with the results. I learned afterwards, upon actually placing the two sets side by side, that the 1/72 scale figures were proportionately larger than the HO scale figures. Alas, Preiser is a German company, after all.6-066Note the tarps and blanket rolls on the rear hull of the tank. These are Value Gear pieces and they are superb. The stone fence is a Pegasus product that surprisingly looked the part with a simple black wash. 7-060Below is a fairly clear shot of the ruined building, which I had trouble bringing into focus at the same time as the tank and crew. Again, a photographer I am not. The realistic building is from the PMA Stalingrad set. PMA diorama pieces are really quite nice, though difficult to find.8-067“Brewing Up”

Much has been written about the British soldier’s expectation of regular tea breaks to the detriment of achieving the objective. Some have offered explanations of this phenomenon cloaked in scholarly terms. Nonsense. The Brits may love their tea, but as their opponents have found out throughout history, they certainly achieve their objectives.british-drinking-teaFor those of us non-British subjects, the 1977 film A Bridge Too Far was in some respects a formative reference on the peculiarly British affinity for drinking tea. The star-studded film has two important tea-related scenes that left an indelible impression on this blogger. 

The first scene, with Sean Connery, perfectly encapsulates how the British perceive drinking tea:

Major General Urquhart:

“Hancock, I’ve got lunatics laughing at me from the woods. My original plan has been scuppered now that the jeeps haven’t arrived. My communications are completely broken down. Do you really believe any of that can be helped by a cup of tea?”

Corporal Hancock:

“Couldn’t hurt, sir,” as he hands Urquhart a cup of tea.

YouTube link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LKr9eja-1cwa-bridge-too-far-2-bigThe second — this time heated — exchange features Robert Redford, and is more a reflection of how Americans perceive the British love affair with tea:

American Officer:

“I don’t understand, why aren’t you moving, what’s the matter with you guys? Those are British troops at Arnhem. They’re hurt, bad. You’re not going to stop, not now.”

British Tank Officer:

“I’m sorry, we have our orders.”

American Officer:

“We busted our asses getting here. Half my men are killed. And you’re just gonna stop . . .  and . . . drink tea? “

YouTube link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i1EsDkm_r3o

At the risk of belaboring the point, I believe ABTF was simply propagating an incorrect — yet widely held — belief among American soldiers that tea time was fairly important to the British. Still, at least in this case, let’s not blame Hollywood as this was a joint British/American production. ABTF was written by Cornelius Ryan, an Irishman; the screenplay was written by William Goldman, an American; and the film was directed by Richard Attenborough, an Englishman.

(Incidentally, what a cast! Laurence Olivier, Sean Connery, Ryan O’Neal, Anthony Hopkins, Robert Redford, Michael Caine, Gene Hackman, Dirk Bogarde, Edward Fox, Elliot Gould, and James Caan, just to name the Allies. Only Is Paris Burning?, Tora, Tora, Tora, and Midway come close. Also, those were real C-47 Skytrains/Dakotas in the film — eleven of them in total, borrowed from various countries, including Denmark, Djibouti, Finland, and Portugal. Sorry, I couldn’t resist. 🙂 )

Irrespective of how it came to be, or whether it’s a fair or accurate characterization, it is undeniable that tankers-teaBritish tankers are now firmly entrenched in the modeler’s psyche as soldiers with a strong love affair with tea. Thus, regardless of the scale, they are often depicted “brewing up” with a “cuppa” in hand. The photo triptych at left, showing tanker figures in different scales, makes the point clearly. At left is the Milicast 1/76 figure used in the diorama; at center is a Dartmoor 1/48 figure; and at right is a Dragon 1/6 figure. The first two photos are from their respective manufacturer’s websites; the third I scanned from an article in the French magazine Steel Masters #58.

List of Diorama Pieces

For those interested, below is the source of each piece:

  • Tank: Dragon 60250 Firefly Vc, 13th/18th Royal Hussars, 27th Armoured Brigade, Normandy 1944;
  • Tarp and Blanket rolls on hull: Value Gear Allied Tents, Tarps, and Crates;
  • Crew: Milicast 061 British Squaddies and Milicast 054 British Troops;
  • Animals: Various Preiser HO and 1/72 sets;
  • Trees: Various Woodland Scenics;
  • Building: Precision Model Art PMA P0204 Stalingrad;
  • Stone Fence: Pegasus Hobbies 5202 Stone Walls;
  • Spoked Wheel: Hat 8260 WWI German Field Wagon;
  • Meadow: Woodland Scenics Grass Mat;
  • Tufts of Grass: Noch Scenemaster, Spring Grass Tufts; and
  • Backdrop: Silk poster ordered on Amazon from China.

I hope you enjoyed this simple diorama of “Carole” and its crew. Again, if something looks amiss, please let me know. I would be delighted to correct inaccurate information so that this may be useful for other 1/72 scale collectors and wargamers. As always, comments, questions, corrections, observations, and backstories for the cat are welcome.

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Once again, I’d like to thank my friend and fellow collector J. Buccellato of NY for his incredible skill and patience in painting the Milicast figures. He’s the sine qua non in creating these dioramas. His “therapy” is my joy. *For those not familiar with the two neologisms in this post, I highly recommend Season 7, Episode 16 of the Simpsons on the episode’s 20th anniversary. 🙂

The Elephant with a Broom: Cleaning Up During the Blitz

With all available resources dedicated to the war effort, there was a relative dearth of heavy equipment for cleanup during the Blitz. Always at their best in the face of adversity, the enterprising British enrolled the services of an unlikely ally — the circus elephant — to help them dig out of the rubble, harnessing the immense strength of these beasts in lieu of cranes or tow trucks. The photo below perfectly illustrates the point.CIRCUS ELEPHANTS USED IN WWII FOR HAULING AFTER BOMBING RAIDS

Here’s the recreation.

1/72, 3D, A Line, Blitz, Classix, Dapol, Dragon, Elephants, Imex, Italeri, Matchbox, PaleoSculpt, Pegasus, Verlinden

Here is a photo in full color.

1/72, 3D, A Line, Blitz, Classix, Dapol, Dragon, Elephants, Imex, Italeri, Matchbox, PaleoSculpt, Pegasus, Verlinden

Here’s a close-up photo with lots of light to show more detail, including the burnt tree and the jagged edge glass on the window.

1/72, 3D, A Line, Blitz, Classix, Dapol, Dragon, Elephants, Imex, Italeri, Matchbox, PaleoSculpt, Pegasus, Verlinden

Here’s a bird’s eye view of the whole scene.1/72, 3D, A Line, Blitz, Classix, Dapol, Dragon, Elephants, Imex, Italeri, Matchbox, PaleoSculpt, Pegasus, VerlindenFor those interested, here’s the source of each piece:

  • Elephant: PaleoSculpt Realistic 3D Models, printed in 1/72 scale with a 3D printer;
  • Elephant Harness: Made from scratch with thin aluminum and staples;
  • Chain: A-Line 29217 Brass Chain, HO scale (27 links per inch);
  • Vehicle: Classix EM76622 Ford E83W Thames Van;
  • Figure: Dapol C002 Railway Workmen;
  • Building (Left): Matchbox PK85 Sd.Kfz 232 Armoured Radio Car with Diorama Battle Display;
  • Building (Center): Dragon 60347 Ferdinand with Diorama Buildings;
  • Building (Right): Italeri 6087 Walls and Ruins;
  • Cobblestone: Verlinden 2066 Cobblestone Street (made mold and cast pieces w/ hydrocal plaster);
  • Tree: IMEX 533 Southwestern Alamo Accessories;
  • Debris: Pegasus Hobbies Bricks 5199 (Red) and 5196 (Gray) crushed with a hammer;
  • Other Debris: Broken matchsticks and dirt from my backyard sifted with my wife’s kitchen sieve. Very Happy

Here’s the original notional photo.  Note the 3D printer horizontal lines on the elephant, which had to be sanded.

1/72, 3D, A Line, Blitz, Classix, Dapol, Dragon, Elephants, Imex, Italeri, Matchbox, PaleoSculpt, Pegasus, Verlinden

Here Comes The Cavalry: WWII Horses in 1/72 Scale – Part 2 Update

Waterloo 025 WWII German Cavalry (Set 1)

I was working on posting Part 3 of this Cavalry series but I couldn’t reconcile myself with the alien face on the officer in Part 2. As PSR pointed out, “there are a few areas of unwanted extra plastic where a separate arm or head would have been a better approach.” This is one of those flaws in a set with otherwise “excellent sculpting.” I tried to paint the top of the left side of the face to make it look like hair but the result was still unsatisfactory so I reworked it with a hobby knife — my first plastic surgery (lame pun intended).

Before:

1/72, Animals, Cavalry, German, Horses, Soldiers, Waterloo, Waterloo 025

After:

1/72, Animals, Cavalry, German, Horses, Soldiers, Waterloo, Waterloo 025

While I was at it, I gave the horse a white blaze and painted the stirrups.

1/72, Animals, Cavalry, German, Horses, Soldiers, Waterloo, Waterloo 025

I’m much happier with it now.

1/72, Animals, Cavalry, German, Horses, Soldiers, Waterloo, Waterloo 025

As I indicated previously, Part 3 will cover German cavalry odds and ends.

Here Comes the Cavalry: WWII Horses in 1/72 Scale – Part 2

Waterloo 025 WWII German Cavalry (Set 1)

As promised, this second installment on WWII cavalry is the Waterloo 025 “WWII German Cavalry (Set 1).” Happily, the title implies the existence of a Set 2, which – not so happily – has yet to be released. Plastic Soldier Review (PSR), the most authoritative 1/72 scale plastic soldier website, described this set as follows:

“The general standard of sculpting is excellent, with great proportions and all the detail you could want – the sculptor has even gone to the trouble of including a watch on the wrist of the man signaling from the saddle.” PSR concludes: “[T]his is a really nice set with excellent sculpting and almost flawless accuracy, so apart from our comments on avoiding excess plastic there is really nothing to dislike about this attractive set of figures.” http://www.plasticsoldierreview.com/Review.aspx?id=2045

First, here’s a photo of the unpainted figures from PSR. I note that the set came with three other dismounted cavalrymen, which I did not photograph as I intended to focus on those with horses.

1/72, Animals, Cavalry, German, Horses, Soldiers, Waterloo, Waterloo 025
Photo used with permission from Plastic Soldier Review.

This first photo shows all three cavalrymen from a distance. Please keep in mind that the figures are greatly magnified, which reveals all their flaws. To the naked eye, they look far better.

1/72, Animals, Cavalry, German, Horses, Soldiers, Waterloo, Waterloo 025

Yep, those are apple trees. I don’t know whether they can coexist in the same terrain with pine trees but, oh well, there you have it. Note the feedbag hanging from the neck of the officer’s horse. Note also that the soldier with his right hand up is supposed to have a map in his left hand.

1/72, Animals, Cavalry, German, Horses, Soldiers, Waterloo, Waterloo 025

1/72, Animals, Cavalry, German, Horses, Soldiers, Waterloo, Waterloo 025

Note the watch on the figure with his hand up – likely the only watch in 1/72 scale (at least with respect to WWII figures).

1/72, Animals, Cavalry, German, Horses, Soldiers, Waterloo, Waterloo 025

Here’s a close-up photo of the officer.

1/72, Animals, Cavalry, German, Horses, Soldiers, Waterloo, Waterloo 025

I’m unhappy with the left side of the officer’s head and plan to rework it at some point.

1/72, Animals, Cavalry, German, Horses, Soldiers, Waterloo, Waterloo 025

I clipped the bases on these figures but, unlike the Revell figures, it was a monster to get them to stand. I had to use a log to prop up the horse of this soldier.

1/72, Animals, Cavalry, German, Horses, Soldiers, Waterloo, Waterloo 025

I hope you enjoyed the photos. The next cavalry installment will be of German odds and ends.

“By Joining the Tail to the Trunk, You Get the Whole Elephant” (Indian Proverb): The Elephant in 1/72 Scale

Nope, this is not a post about the Panzerjager Tiger Sd.Kfz. 187 Elephant. This is about Elephas Indicus, the Asian elephant, which can be domesticated, unlike its African cousin, Loxodonta Africana.

I have had my sights for some time on recreating several WWII photos that feature Asian elephants enlisted in the war effort, so I set out to find the perfect elephant in 1/72 scale. As always, my primary resource was the Plastic Soldier Review (PSR) website, where I instantly learned that there were seven 1/72 scale elephants. The photo below is a graphic summary. 

1/72, animals, elephants, Airfix, Coates and Shine, Hat, Lucky Toys, LW, Zvezda
Photo used with permission from Plastic Soldier Review.

I immediately dismissed the Airfix African Elephant (#2) since it’s the wrong species and the LW (#6), which PSR described as a “real mess” with characteristics from both Asian and African elephants. I also discounted the Zvezda (#7), as it has armor molded onto the body of the elephant. It’s impossible to determine the relative size of the remaining four from the picture so I bit the bullet and ordered all four, hoping one would fit the bill. Here they are, shoulder to shoulder, from largest to smallest.

1/72, animals, elephants, Airfix, Coates and Shine, Hat, Lucky Toys

I was unconvinced, as they didn’t look particularly realistic and, in addition, were out of scale. The typical Asian elephant is about 9 feet tall at the shoulder. As the photo above graphically demonstrates, the Lucky Toys figure (far left) is way overscaled (about 10 feet 6 inches), easily towering over its brothers from another mother, while the Airfix figure (far right) is significantly underscaled (about 5 feet 10 inches) — a pygmy elephant, if there were such a thing. The two others just don’t look the part. The Coates & Shine figure (second from left) looks rather cartoonish, while the legs on the Hat elephant (second from right) appear to me too long and wooden. So the search continued.

Enter PaleoSculpt Realistic 3D Models, a company I found on the internet that sculpts anatomically accurate models for museums. As it turns out, the company can print their models in any scale on a 3D printer. To my delight, the cost of a 3D-printed elephant in 1/72 scale was actually less than the price of any of the various figure sets I had previously bought to pilfer the elephant. I ordered it and when the figure finally arrived it exceeded my expectations. Scaling out at 8 feet 10 inches, not only is it virtually the perfect height, but it very much looks like an elephant from trunk to tail. 

1/72, animals, elephants, Paleosculpt

Here he is — painted and sanded to get rid of the 3D horizontal print lines — with his brothers. What a difference! You’ll be seeing this baby in a photo recreation soon.

1/72, animals, elephants, Airfix, Coates and Shine, Hat, Lucky Toys, Paleosculpt

Here Comes the Cavalry: WWII Horses in 1/72 Scale – Part 1

Although cavalry charges were virtually a thing of the past by the start of WWII, the horse continued to be used extensively for transportation of materiel, artillery and, of course, troops. It is estimated that Germany and the Soviet Union employed 2.75 and 3.5 million horses, respectively, during the war.

Given these significant numbers, it is quite surprising that so few 1/72 WWII cavalry sets have been produced – about six, by my count – plus some odds and ends. I’ll attempt to present each set, one at a time, during the next few weeks.

We’ll start with what is probably the best set that includes horses produced thus far – the Revell 02515 German Artillery set.  

Revell 02515 German Artillery of WWII

First, here’s a photo of the unpainted figures from Plastic Soldier Review (PSR), the fabulous 1/72 scale plastic soldier website. I note that the set came with seven other figures firing the artillery, but I did not photograph them as this post focuses on those with horses.

02515, 1/72, Artillery, Cavalry, German, Horses, Revell, Soldiers
Photo used with permission from Plastic Soldier Review.

This first photo is of the set as it was intended, with six horses pulling the limber, which in turn pulls the 10.5 cm le FH 18 Light Field Howitzer.  

02515, 1/72, Artillery, Cavalry, German, Horses, Revell, Soldiers

PSR described this set as follows:

“Revell have consistently shown that they are the masters at producing artillery sets, regardless of era, and this one does them proud once again. The Revell trademark quality runs right through these pieces, with good detail, excellent realism and almost no flash. The mounted figures could even be of some use portraying German cavalry. . . . [This is] an outstanding set which is well loved and rightly so.” http://www.plasticsoldierreview.com/Review.aspx?id=443

In fact, as PSR suggests and as many collectors have concluded, I found the set more satisfying with the three mounted soldiers as cavalry separated from the limber. I do realize that it’s unlikely that the two horses alone could pull such a heavy load but the mounted figures are so beautifully sculpted that it’s a shame not to have them as stand-alones.

02515, 1/72, Artillery, Cavalry, German, Horses, Revell, Soldiers

Note that while I removed the bases from the horses, Revell engineering is so precise that the horses stand without any problem. They’re a joy.

02515, 1/72, Artillery, Cavalry, German, Horses, Revell, Soldiers02515, 1/72, Artillery, Cavalry, German, Horses, Revell, SoldiersI should point out that the set came with two guns, one with the trails closed for hitching to the limber, and one with the trails open ready for action. As mentioned, I also note that the set actually comes with seven other figures engaged in the act of firing the Howitzer. I may do a post on the five 10.5 cm le FH 18 Light Field Howitzers that I have in 1/72 and may display them at that time. For those interested, the fawn came from the Merten 2410 set.  

02515, 1/72, Artillery, Cavalry, German, Horses, Revell, Soldiers

02515, 1/72, Artillery, Cavalry, German, Horses, Revell, Soldiers

I hope some of you found this interesting. I intend to present the Waterloo 025 WWII German Cavalry set in Part 2.

Planes, Camels and Donkeys: Transport in North Africa

This photo is from George Forty’s Afrika Korps at War, a serendipitous find years ago at the Strand Bookstore “18 miles of new, used, and rare books” in New York City. Anyone who has not been there should put it on their list when visiting New York. The contrast in this photo between modern transport and centuries-old transport in North Africa during WWII is striking.

Hobby Master HM HA1812 1/72 DAK Afrikakorps Afrika Korps Bf 110 & Camel and Donkey

Here’s the recreation.

Hobby Master HM HA1812 1/72 DAK Afrikakorps Afrika Korps Bf 110 & Camel and Donkey

Here’s the color photo.

Hobby Master HM HA1812 1/72 DAK Afrikakorps Afrika Korps Bf 110 & Camel and Donkey

For those interested, here’s the source of each piece:

  • Aircraft: Hobby Master HA1812, Bf 110E-2, ZG 26 “Horst Wessel,” North Africa, 1941;
  • Arab: Hat 8250, Taaishi Camelry;
  • Camel: Airfix 01719, Arabs;
  • Donkey: Matchbox P5008, ANZAC Infantry.

At some point I intend to reshoot this scene with an unsaddled camel and more Bedouins.

According to PSR, the “donkey” in the Matchbox set may actually be a mule.  Here’s a close-up to help settle the issue. 🙂  22 Donkey L (800x553) - Cropped

“You Know a Donkey by Its Ears” (Arab Proverb): The Donkey in 1/72 Scale

The donkey has from time immemorial served man as a pack animal. A number of WWII photos I intend to recreate include donkeys, so I set out to find what was available in 1/72 scale. Of course, I went to Plastic Soldier Review, the best plastic soldier website on the web. Here’s a compilation of what I found: 

1/72 Donkeys
Photo used with permission from Plastic Soldier Review.

I actually have a number of these already and will be using them in future posts.

sPzAbt 505: Charging Knights on Metal Chariots, Eastern Front 1944

This 1944 Bundesarchiv photo is of Tiger No. 312 of the famous Schwere Panzer Abteilung 505, with its distinctive charging knight.

Easy Model EM 336220 1/72 Tiger Tank sPzAbt s.Pz.Abt. 505 horses

Here’s the recreation.

Easy Model EM 336220 1/72 Tiger Tank sPzAbt s.Pz.Abt. 505 horses

Here’s the scene in color.

Easy Model EM 336220 1/72 Tiger Tank sPzAbt s.Pz.Abt. 505 horses

For those interested, here’s the source of each piece:

  • Tank: Easy Model 36220, Tiger I Late Type (s.Pz.Abt.505-Russia, 1944);
  • Soldier: Forces of Valor 83091, German SS Cavalry Division (Eastern Front, 1942);
  • White Horse: Revell 2514 Soviet Cossacks;
  • Log on the hull of the Tiger: Well, that’s from my backyard. Very Happy