Softskins of the Afrika Korps in 1/72 Scale

The German Afrika Korps (Deutsches Afrikakorps) arrived in Libya in February 1941, following Mussolini’s appeal to Hitler for assistance in light of Italy’s dismal performance fighting the British in North Africa. Within weeks of arrival, Rommel’s Afrikakorps had reversed Mussolini’s fortunes, handily defeating numerically superior British forces time and again in rapid succession, and in the process becoming a source of fascination for many a WWII buff despite their eventual defeat in 1943.

Countless books have been written on this subject and the reader is directed to them. This post is merely intended to provide collectors a survey of Afrikakorps-specific prebuilt softskins available in 1/72 scale. The reader should note that major manufacturers such as Dragon and Panzerstahl have also produced more than a dozen prebuilt Afrikakorps tanks, but information on these is readily available and not the subject of this post.

By my count, there are approximately 20 prebuilt Afrikakorps softskin vehicles. Photographs are provided below. To provide perspective on the size of the vehicles, included in the photos are figures from six of the eight different Afrikakorps sets released thus far. They range from the Airfix set released in 1973, more than 40 years ago, to the Caesar set, released in 2010. The name provided for each of the vehicles and soldier sets is the one given by the manufacturer, thus the lack of consistency in the use of “Afrikakorps,” “Afrika Korps,” “Africa Corps,” and “DAK.”

1. Altaya Opel Blitz 3.6-36S (Kfz. 305), 21.Pz.Div., Medenine, Tunisia 1943. Other than the lack of weathering and fake window flaps on the canvas cover, this is a neat little piece that would greatly improve with a simple umber wash.

Figures: Zvezda 6143 German Medical Personnel set. In my view, Zvezda is now producing the best 1/72 scale figures on the market.

1/72, Afrika Korps, Afrikakorps, Airfix, Altaya, Atlantic, Caesar, DAK, Desert, Deutsches, Dragon, El Alamein, ESCI, Flak 38, German, HM, Hobby Master, Horch, Italeri, Kubelwagen, Libya, Matchbox, Nikolai, North Africa, Opel Blitz, Panzerspahwagen, Revell, Roden, Sd.Kfz. 11, Sd.Kfz. 7, Softskin, Soldiers, Steyr, Tunisia, War Master, Zvezda

2. Left: Hobby Master HG3903, Opel Blitz German Cargo Truck, 21st Panzer Div, North Africa 1942. This little truck is a beauty. Note the crispness of the DAK palm tree. The divisional and tactical markings on the fenders are an added plus.

3. Right: Hobby Master HG3911, Opel Blitz German Cargo Truck with 20mm Flak 38, DAK, WWII. The Flak 38 anti-aircraft gun is metal and is detachable. About the only quibble with this piece is the lack of divisional markings on the fenders and rear.

Figure: Matchbox PK35 Sd.Kfz. 232 plastic kit. This is one of two figures included in this 1/76 Matchbox kit. The figures themselves are actually 1/72 scale, however.

1/72, Afrika Korps, Afrikakorps, Airfix, Altaya, Atlantic, Caesar, DAK, Desert, Deutsches, Dragon, El Alamein, ESCI, Flak 38, German, HM, Hobby Master, Horch, Italeri, Kubelwagen, Libya, Matchbox, Nikolai, North Africa, Opel Blitz, Panzerspahwagen, Revell, Roden, Sd.Kfz. 11, Sd.Kfz. 7, Softskin, Soldiers, Steyr, Tunisia, War Master, Zvezda

4. Left: Hobby Master HG4501 Horch 1a with 20mm Flak 38, DAK 1941. This vehicle came with a Flak 38 anti-aircraft gun worthy of comment in its own right.  Regrettably, I did not photograph it.

5. Right: War Master Steyr 1500 A/01 + 20mm Flak 38, 10th Panzerabteilung, Tunisia 1942. I failed to include the Flak 38 on this vehicle as well.  Though War Master gets credit for including the swastika on the palm tree, they managed to place it facing left, which is incorrect. One wonders whether the “error” was by design to get around laws in various countries that prohibit Nazi symbols.

Figure: Revell 2513 Africa Corps. This particular figure in the Revell set is one of the most ubiquitous in Afrikakorps dioramas, probably due to its casual pose as the vast majority of a soldier’s time is spent not in battle but performing pedestrian daily activities.

1/72, Afrika Korps, Afrikakorps, Airfix, Altaya, Atlantic, Caesar, DAK, Desert, Deutsches, Dragon, El Alamein, ESCI, Flak 38, German, HM, Hobby Master, Horch, Italeri, Kubelwagen, Libya, Matchbox, Nikolai, North Africa, Opel Blitz, Panzerspahwagen, Revell, Roden, Sd.Kfz. 11, Sd.Kfz. 7, Softskin, Soldiers, Steyr, Tunisia, War Master, Zvezda

6. Left: Dragon Warbirds 50120 Me 109G-2 Trop & Kubelwagen, III./JG 77, North Africa 1942. This hard-to-find Cyber Hobby exclusive aircraft model included this kubelwagen. Of note are the balloon sand tires, designed specifically for the desert campaign.

7. Center: Altaya Kfz. 15 Horch + 10.5cm le FH18M, Art.Reg. 119, 11.Pz.Div., Kursk USSR 1943. Admittedly, this model is not marketed as an Afrikakorps vehicle, but given the wide use of the Kfz. 15 Horch in North Africa and its dunkelgelb base color, the straightforward application of DAK palm tree decals would easily do the trick.

8. Right: Dragon 7434 Sd.Kfz.181 Tiger I Mid Production w/Zimmerit & Kubelwagen. This vehicle, which was included as a plus in a Dragon Tiger kit, is identical to the one in the Dragon Warbirds 50120 set described above except for the standard tires and darker desert yellow.

Figure: Airfix 1711 Afrika Korps. Despite its release 43 years ago, the Airfix Afrikakorps set remains one of the most beloved among collectors, for obvious reasons — this was Airfix sculpting at its pinnacle.

1/72, Afrika Korps, Afrikakorps, Airfix, Altaya, Atlantic, Caesar, DAK, Desert, Deutsches, Dragon, El Alamein, ESCI, Flak 38, German, HM, Hobby Master, Horch, Italeri, Kubelwagen, Libya, Matchbox, Nikolai, North Africa, Opel Blitz, Panzerspahwagen, Revell, Roden, Sd.Kfz. 11, Sd.Kfz. 7, Softskin, Soldiers, Steyr, Tunisia, War Master, Zvezda

9. Left: Dragon 60514 Sd.Kfz. 223 Leichte Panzerspahwagen, 21.Pz.Div., North Africa 1941.

10. Center: Dragon 60498 Sd.Kfz. 222 Leichte Panzerspahwagen, Unidentified Unit, North Africa 1942. A quick comparison of this Dragon piece with its Altaya counterpart to the right immediately reveals why Dragon has been king of the 1/72 scale hobby. There is absolutely no comparison in terms of detail, finish, and weathering.

11. Right: Altaya Sd.Kfz. 222, 10.Pz.Div., Tunis, Tunisia 1943. Given the existence of the vastly superior Dragon 60498, this Altaya 222 model is only for the hardcore collector.

Figure: Atlantic 88 German Afrikakorps. This hard-to-find set was maligned from its release almost 40 years ago (1977). Today, it’s highly sought-after by collectors.

1/72, Afrika Korps, Afrikakorps, Airfix, Altaya, Atlantic, Caesar, DAK, Desert, Deutsches, Dragon, El Alamein, ESCI, Flak 38, German, HM, Hobby Master, Horch, Italeri, Kubelwagen, Libya, Matchbox, Nikolai, North Africa, Opel Blitz, Panzerspahwagen, Revell, Roden, Sd.Kfz. 11, Sd.Kfz. 7, Softskin, Soldiers, Steyr, Tunisia, War Master, Zvezda

12. Left: Altaya Schwerer Panzerspahwagen (8 Rad), Sd.Kfz. 232, 5.le.Div., Agedabia, Libya 1941. Dragon has produced an Sd.Kfz. 232 that is immensely superior to this piece. Unfortunately, Dragon has not released one in an Afrikakorps desert livery.

13. Right: Altaya Sd.Kfz. 250/5, Afrikakorps, Tobruk, Libya 1942. Desert campaign enthusiasts will immediately recognize this vehicle as Rommel’s “Greif.” In retrospect, it would have been more appropriate to use a Rommel figure for the photo. As is Altaya practice, neither vehicle has swastikas on the palm trees.

Figure: ESCI 206 Afrika Corps Soldiers. This ESCI set, their second effort at producing Afrikakorps soldiers, was summed up by Plastic Soldier Review (PSR) as a “perfectly solid effort.” The first set, now extremely hard to find, was somewhat unattractive.

1/72, Afrika Korps, Afrikakorps, Airfix, Altaya, Atlantic, Caesar, DAK, Desert, Deutsches, Dragon, El Alamein, ESCI, Flak 38, German, HM, Hobby Master, Horch, Italeri, Kubelwagen, Libya, Matchbox, Nikolai, North Africa, Opel Blitz, Panzerspahwagen, Revell, Roden, Sd.Kfz. 11, Sd.Kfz. 7, Softskin, Soldiers, Steyr, Tunisia, War Master, Zvezda

14. Left: Dragon 60294 Sd.Kfz. 251/10 Ausf. C Unidentifed Unit, El Alamein 1942. Photographs exist of the actual vehicle upon which this model is based. Unfortunately, the actual vehicle was an Ausf. B, rather than an Ausf. C, which is immediately apparent by the location of the hull side lockers.

15. Right: Dragon 60281 Sd.Kfz. 251/2 Ausf. C, Eastern Front 1942. Despite Dragon’s “Eastern Front” label, this piece is actually from the DAK, as can be easily concluded from the 21.Pz.Div. formation marking on the vehicle’s front plate. The actual vehicle upon which this model is based was an Afrikakorps 251/1 Ausf. C, rather than a 251/2 Ausf. C. To make it accurate, one need only remove the mortar from the back of the vehicle.

Figure: Caesar H070 German Afrika Korps. This 2010 release is the most recent Afrikakorps set on the market. According to PSR, the figures have “well-defined detail and faultless proportions” and the use of modern molds allowed Caesar to produce figures that are appealing from every angle without resorting to multiple pieces, as Preiser often does. 

1/72, Afrika Korps, Afrikakorps, Airfix, Altaya, Atlantic, Caesar, DAK, Desert, Deutsches, Dragon, El Alamein, ESCI, Flak 38, German, HM, Hobby Master, Horch, Italeri, Kubelwagen, Libya, Matchbox, Nikolai, North Africa, Opel Blitz, Panzerspahwagen, Revell, Roden, Sd.Kfz. 11, Sd.Kfz. 7, Softskin, Soldiers, Steyr, Tunisia, War Master, Zvezda

16. Left: Hobby Master HG5104 Sd.Kfz. 11, 33d Pz.Art., 15th Pz.Div., North Africa. This vehicle carries an interesting but non-standard Afrikakorps palm tree.

17. Right: Altaya Sd.Kfz. 11, 15th Pz.Div., El Alamein, Egypt 1942. To my mind, this is not a bad effort by Altaya and the difference in quality between it and the HM piece is not that great. Note again Altaya’s failure to include the swastika on the palm tree on the port-side front fender.

Figure: Caesar H070 German Afrika Korps. See comment in previous photo.

1/72, Afrika Korps, Afrikakorps, Airfix, Altaya, Atlantic, Caesar, DAK, Desert, Deutsches, Dragon, El Alamein, ESCI, Flak 38, German, HM, Hobby Master, Horch, Italeri, Kubelwagen, Libya, Matchbox, Nikolai, North Africa, Opel Blitz, Panzerspahwagen, Revell, Roden, Sd.Kfz. 11, Sd.Kfz. 7, Softskin, Soldiers, Steyr, Tunisia, War Master, Zvezda

18. Hobby Master HG5002 Sd.Kfz. 7 German 8 Ton Semi-Track, Luftwaffe, Africa 1942. While this is, in fact, an Afrikakorps vehicle, HM neglected to include the distinctive Afrikakorps palm tree. I pilfered the palm tree decals from the Airfix A02303 Sd.Kfz. 7 Tractor half-track kit.

Figure: Italeri 6099 D.A.K. Infantry. As can be seen in the photo, the detail on this figure is superb. In PSR’s words “detail is everywhere clear and sharp, while clothing looks natural and human proportions are spot on.”

1/72, Afrika Korps, Afrikakorps, Airfix, Altaya, Atlantic, Caesar, DAK, Desert, Deutsches, Dragon, El Alamein, ESCI, Flak 38, German, HM, Hobby Master, Horch, Italeri, Kubelwagen, Libya, Matchbox, Nikolai, North Africa, Opel Blitz, Panzerspahwagen, Revell, Roden, Sd.Kfz. 11, Sd.Kfz. 7, Softskin, Soldiers, Steyr, Tunisia, War Master, Zvezda

Finally, here’s a lagniappe photo of an Opel Blitz bus, widely used by the Afrikakorps in North Africa. 

19. Roden 721 Plastic Kit, Opel Blitz Omnibus (model W.39 Ludewig-built, late). This model is not available as a prebuilt. I commissioned this piece from a master modeler in Poland.

Figures: Various Afrikakorps Sets; Nikolai ARB04 Arabs in the Streets 2 resin set. Without a doubt, resin figures allow more detail than plastic ones as exemplified by the three wonderful figures from the Nikolai set. However, the short runs and resulting high cost of resin sets often present an obstacle for collectors. 

1/72, Afrika Korps, Afrikakorps, Airfix, Altaya, Atlantic, Caesar, DAK, Desert, Deutsches, Dragon, El Alamein, ESCI, Flak 38, German, HM, Hobby Master, Horch, Italeri, Kubelwagen, Libya, Matchbox, Nikolai, North Africa, Opel Blitz, Panzerspahwagen, Revell, Roden, Sd.Kfz. 11, Sd.Kfz. 7, Softskin, Soldiers, Steyr, Tunisia, War Master, Zvezda

I hope you enjoyed the photos. As always, comments, suggestions, and questions are always welcome.

A Tank Named “Besposhadniy”: Russia’s Illustrious KV-1 Tank

I have consistently and unabashedly stated my somewhat juvenile affinity for tanks with distinctive markings or colorful artwork. I’m hardly alone in this view, as the KV-1 “Besposhadniy” – meaning “Merciless” – is one of the best known Russian tanks of the Great Patriotic War. Its vaunted kill record – 12 tanks plus numerous other vehicles and guns – certainly contributes to its mystique, as does the fact that artists, poets, and dancers, whose names appear on the sides of the turret, donated the funds to purchase it. The patriotic poem carried on its turret undoubtedly adds to its celebrity, and its skipper, ace Lt. Pavel Khoroshilov, further augments its fame. Yet, I submit that it’s the distinctive and irresistible artwork on the sides of its turret that sets it apart from others, for who could forget a cartoon depicting Hitler being blown to smithereens by volleys from a tank with a red star? The cartoon is an apt metaphor for the resolution of the German-Russian conflict in WWII.

The Actual Tank

The “Besposhadniy” belonged to the Soviet 12th Tank Regiment, 1st Moscow Motor Rifle Division, and fought the German 9th Army Group Center in what was for the Soviets the Western Front, in the winter-spring offensive of the Red Army in early 1943.

Below is a photo of the “Besposhadniy” from the Polish publication Stalin’s Tanks, Wydawnictwo Militaria 212. Note that this photo is from the early days of the “Besposhadniy,” as its occupants had yet to paint kill marks on the sides towards the back of the turret.1 ActualThis photo, from Stalin’s Heavy Tanks 1941-1945: The KV and IS Heavy Tanks (Concord 7012) by Steven Zaloga et al, provides a clear shot of the geometric kill marks added by the crew as their victims accumulated.2 Merciless Kill MarksAccording to Soviet Heavy Tanks (Osprey Vanguard 24) by Steven Zaloga and James Grandsen, the stars, disks, and triangles represent 12 tanks, 10 trucks, 7 armored cars, 7 mortars, 5 motorcycles, 4 anti-tank guns, 3 artillery pieces, a staff bus, and a partridge in a pear tree. :-)

This photo of Paul Khoroshilov, the tank commander, taken from the “Paul Khoroshilov” entry (“Хорошилов Павел”) of the Russian Wikipedia, provides a clear view of the patriotic poem on the side of the “Besposhadniy.”

П.М.Хорошилов

According to Zaloga and Grandsen in Soviet Heavy Tanks, the Russian inscription on the front part of the turret side is a poem that translates thus:

Storming through fire goes
Our KV heavy tank
From the heartland it rolls
To smash the Nazi flank

Crewed by heroic men
Never showing fear
As they carry out commands
Of their homeland dear

 

 

 

 

 

 

This front-view photo of the “Besposhadniy,” shows that it carried its name on the upper glacis plate. I found references – though no photo3 Merciless Namegraphic evidence — that claimed the tank also carried its name on the rear part of the turret.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Although the markings on this last photo of the starboard side of the “Besposhadniy” are barely visible and almost indiscernible, the photo does provide an excellent view of the drive sprocket, idler, and later-type road wheels. Note also the sharp angle of the rear of the hull.

Merciless Starboard Side

The Hobby Master Model

Even a passing glance at the following photos of the Hobby Master HG3010 quickly reveals that HM has produced a beauty of a model. The finish is superb, with very subtle shades of the base color throughout the tank. You will also notice a very finely applied wash on the turret that brings out the bolts on the mantlet. Note also the realistic tow chains on the front plate that extend to the middle of the hull. They’re as realistic as can be found in 1/72 scale. Note also the silver dry brushing on the tracks that make the detail pop out. On the down side, note that the name of the tank is missing from the glacis.4 HMThis profile shot shows off the artwork and markings on the turret well. The road wheels used by HM are the earlier road wheels found on KV-1s and are clearly incorrect, as can be easily seen in the starboard side photo of the actual tank above.5 HMThis photo of the starboard side of the model shows that HM used the mirror image of the markings on the port side. Note that there are no kill marks on the starboard side, which looks to be correct from the photo above.6 HMThis last photo from the rear shows that HM used the KV-1 hull with the gently curved rear. Again, the side photo of the actual tank conclusively reveals that this is incorrect. The rear of the hull should have been sharply angled. 7 HMHere’s a close-up photo of the HM turret. The two columns of text just below the Hitler cartoon constitute a list of artists, poets, and dancers who pooled their resources to donate the tank, naming it “Besposhadniy” to distinguish it from other tanks. Interestingly, among them is Sergey Mikhalkov, commissioned by Stalin in 1944 to write the lyrics of the Soviet National Anthem, and almost 60 years later, in 2001, by Putin to write the National Anthem of Russia.Merciless Turret GuideIt’s plainly evident that the HM “Besposhadniy” is an awesome little model – a proud little replica of the original.

The Rub

So what’s the rub? And there’s always a rub! Well, in addition to using the wrong rear hull and road wheels, HM used the Model 1941 initial turret, rather than the Model 1941 up-armored turret. The three-way comparison below graphically demonstrates the problem. On the actual tank the bottom part of the turret goes straight back and then turns in behind the turret ring at a sharp 90-degree angle, whereas on the HM model it curves around the rear of the turret ring. The Easy Model version, on the other hand, used the correct turret, as discussed in the comparison section below.

Merciless Turret ComparisonSecondly, as indicated above, HM used a mirror image of the port side graphics on the starboard side — literally — without regard to the fact that the name “Besposhadniy” would be backwards — as in a mirror. Thus, the port side carries the inscription “Беспощадный”; the inscription on the starboard side, Besposhadny Backwards 2, is gibberish — unless, like Da Vinci, you’re adept at mirror-reading.

Hobby Master / Easy Model Comparison

Let’s compare the HM version of the “Besposhadniy” with the Easy Model 36288. Here are five equivalent photos of the EM version.9 EMLike the HM, the EM lacks the name on the front plate. The EM also lacks the tow cable included on the HM. The EM version has a much darker shade and lacks any kind of dry brushing on the tracks. Here’s a portside view.

10 EMNote that the turret is the correct Model 1941 turret, with the skirt of the turret going straight back and then turning in at a sharp angle, as opposed to curving around the rear of the turret ring. Note also that EM did not make HM’s risible mistake in using the mirror image of “Besposhadniy” on the port side of the turret. 11 EMNote also that, unlike HM, EM used the correct later type of road wheels. In defense of HM, the wheels could have been changed in the field; a turret swap, however, would be highly improbable.

Here’s a rear-side view. Note that EM also used the correct hull with a sharply angled rear, as opposed to HM, which used the curved rear.12 EMHere’s a close-up photo of the EM turret. While EM used the correct turret, note that the tampo-applied markings are not as well defined as those on the HM. Though they’re not out of register, they’re simply not as crisp.13 EM TurretFinally, here are some side-by-side photos of the two, with the HM on the left and the EM on the right. 14 3-4 Port Comparison15 3-4 SB Comparison16 Front Comparison17 Top Comparison18 FacingHere’s a lagniappe photo of the EM version to show off the Hat 8263 WW2 Russian Tank Riders.19 BonusThe Upshot

While I’m tolerant of most imperfections in a model, I agonize where the inaccuracy lies in the use of a wrong turret or hull – characteristics that I consider immutable. By that standard, the HM “Besposhadniy” — with its incorrect turret, rear hull, and road wheels — is fatally flawed. The absurd error in using the mirror image of “Besposhadniy” on the starboard side exacerbates the problem.

The EM version, on the other hand, is accurate throughout, though the lower quality of its finish and markings leave something to be desired. Thus, we’re left with a difficult choice: HM’s inaccurate high quality versus EM’s accurate but lower quality. I leave that choice to the reader as I love them both; they both represent an illustrious tank with a fascinating origin, outstanding combat history, patriotic slogan, and striking artwork.

Final Thoughts

Collectors often forget that these models represent vehiclesekipaj crewed by young men who fought and often died together. As a reminder, here’s a picture of three members of the crew, though I was unable to identify them. I would appreciate help in doing so.

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’d like to leave the reader with a first-hand account of the “Besposhadniy” in combat from the memoirs of Yegor Sergeyevich Tsarapin, the mechanic-driver of the tank, taken from the aforementioned Russian Wikipedia entry. The passage vividly illustrates the tremendous courage of the crew:

In February of 1943, defensive fights started in north of Zhizdra. Blazing like a torch, “Besposhadniy” rushed towards the enemy artillery gun. The crew caught on fire, but continued attacking, ignoring the pain from their burns. Twenty meters, ten meters, and now the enemy artillery gun is being crushed under the heavy tank treads. Only then did the crew begin to put out the fire. I had a burnt back, a broken leg, and three fractured ribs. Egorov [the radio operator] could not feel his right hand. Filippov [senior mechanic-driver] wanted to help me out and take over the driver’s seat, but he was not able to as his lower back was badly burnt. We barely extinguished the flames on ourselves. You could see the crew members’ poorly dressed and still bleeding wounds through their ragged overalls, torn and burnt. We shouted to Fateev [the gunner], “you’re quite charred,” and he replied: “start the engine/move forward!” Collecting the last remnants of our energy, we once again rushed forward, knocking a Nazi tank along the way. By the time we reached our troops, Fateev [the gunner] was dead as well as Paul Khoroshilov [the commander]. We buried them together.

The “Besposhadniy” lasted just over nine months, from late May 1942 to early March 1943, before it was sent for repair. During that time, the tank crew shot down 27 enemy tanks, 9 mortars, 10 guns, 17 machine guns, 30 vehicles, and 13 units of armored vehicles, according to the Russian Wikipedia (though Zaloga reports different numbers). After the war, “Besposhadniy” was transferred to the Kubinka Tank Museum in Moscow, where, sadly, it was melted at the “Hammer and Sickle” Moscow plant in 1948.

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I want to thank Tim L., friend and fellow collector who provided invaluable research, photos, and observations. Sincere thanks also to my colleague Elmira B., who translated the first-hand account of the “Besposhadniy” in battle. Thanks also to my friend Joao S., of Cascais, whose incredible painting skills brought the Hat figures to life.

Cheesecake Pin-Up Girls on U.S. Sherman Tanks in WWII

As I previously mentioned in a more general post, I’m fascinated by cheesecake pin-up art on WWII vehicles, particularly armed fighting vehicles. (Please see: http://ww2in172.com/?p=534.) The M4 Sherman being one of my favorite tanks, I searched extensively for pin-ups strictly on such tanks. After poring through numerous websites and books — I have two dozen books specifically on the Sherman — I could locate only eight WWII Sherman tanks with pin-ups. Here they are, with information on the moniker the crew used for the tank, the type of Sherman hull, the unit and location where the tank served, the source of this data, and information on available 1/72 scale decals. To date, none of these tanks has been produced by any of the manufacturers of 1/72 prebuilt models.

I would be grateful for corrections or additional information on these or other tanks — Sherman or otherwise — with pin-up art. Please don’t hesitate to post a comment.

1. “Trooper”

  • Hull: M4 Composite
  • Unit: 175th Tank Battalion, Philippines 1945
  • Source: Sherman in Action (Squadron 2016), by Bruce Culver, p.31; Profile at p.26.
  • Notes: The Sherman just behind “Trooper” also appears to have pin-up art but it’s not included on the list because of uncertainty.
  • 1/72 Decals:
    • Included in Peddinghaus EP785, US Fahrzeug Beschriffungen;
    • Included in Out of the Blue EP785, US Army Vehicle Numbers & Slogans (appears to have same content as Peddinghaus under different name) (photo of decal from Modeling the Sherman Tank in 1/72nd Scale website);
    • Included in UM 370, Medium Tank M4 kit.

1/72, AFV, Aleran, Annabelle, Black Orchid, Brownie, Cheesecake, Decals, Fight or Frolic, Lightning, Marines, Peddinghaus, Pin-ups, Sherman, Tanks, Trooper, U.S. Army, UM 370, UM 376, USMC

1/72, AFV, Aleran, Annabelle, Black Orchid, Brownie, Cheesecake, Decals, Fight or Frolic, Lightning, Marines, Peddinghaus, Pin-ups, Sherman, Tanks, Trooper, U.S. Army, UM 370, UM 376, USMC1/72, AFV, Aleran, Annabelle, Black Orchid, Brownie, Cheesecake, Decals, Fight or Frolic, Lightning, Marines, Peddinghaus, Pin-ups, Sherman, Tanks, Trooper, U.S. Army, UM 370, UM 376, USMC1/72, AFV, Aleran, Annabelle, Black Orchid, Brownie, Cheesecake, Decals, Fight or Frolic, Lightning, Marines, Peddinghaus, Pin-ups, Sherman, Tanks, Trooper, U.S. Army, UM 370, UM 376, USMC1/72, AFV, Aleran, Annabelle, Black Orchid, Brownie, Cheesecake, Decals, Fight or Frolic, Lightning, Marines, Peddinghaus, Pin-ups, Sherman, Tanks, Trooper, U.S. Army, UM 370, UM 376, USMC

2. “Annabelle”

  • Hull: M4A1 with T-34 Calliope Rocket Launcher
  • Unit: 48th Tank Battalion, France 1945
  • Source: The M4 Sherman at War: The European Theater 1942-1945 (I), by Steven Zaloga, p.60; Profile at p.38.
  • 1/72 Decals:
    • Included in Aleran Miniatures US-3, US Sherman Markings (NW Europe 44-45) (1/76 scale);
    • Included in UM 376, Rocket Launcher M4A3 with T-34 Calliope kit. (Note that UM censured the pin-up, giving the redhead a matching red bathing suit, though the pin-up on the actual vehicle clearly had none.)

1/72, AFV, Aleran, Annabelle, Black Orchid, Brownie, Cheesecake, Decals, Fight or Frolic, Lightning, Marines, Peddinghaus, Pin-ups, Sherman, Tanks, Trooper, U.S. Army, UM 370, UM 376, USMC

1/72, AFV, Aleran, Annabelle, Black Orchid, Brownie, Cheesecake, Decals, Fight or Frolic, Lightning, Marines, Peddinghaus, Pin-ups, Sherman, Tanks, Trooper, U.S. Army, UM 370, UM 376, USMCAleran Mins US-3

1/72, AFV, Aleran, Annabelle, Black Orchid, Brownie, Cheesecake, Decals, Fight or Frolic, Lightning, Marines, Peddinghaus, Pin-ups, Sherman, Tanks, Trooper, U.S. Army, UM 370, UM 376, USMC

3. “Lightning”

  • Hull: M4A1 Wading Tank
  • Unit: 767th Tank Battalion, Kwajalein Atoll 1944
  • Source: Armored Thunderbolt: The U.S. Army Sherman in WWII, by Steven Zaloga, p.303; Profile from Wojna na Pacyfiku Daleki Wschod 1938-1945, by Janusz Ledwoch, p.24.
  • Notes: “Lightning” has a pin-up on the barrel itself. The Sherman to the right of “Lightning” also appears to have pin-up art just behind the star on the hull side but it’s not included on the list because of uncertainty. Note that the pin-up is missing from the barrel on the profile, which may be correct. Absent a photo of the port side of the actual vehicle, it is impossible to ascertain the profile’s accuracy.
  • 1/72 Decals: None available, to my knowledge.

1/72, AFV, Aleran, Annabelle, Black Orchid, Brownie, Cheesecake, Decals, Fight or Frolic, Lightning, Marines, Peddinghaus, Pin-ups, Sherman, Tanks, Trooper, U.S. Army, UM 370, UM 376, USMC

1/72, AFV, Aleran, Annabelle, Black Orchid, Brownie, Cheesecake, Decals, Fight or Frolic, Lightning, Marines, Peddinghaus, Pin-ups, Sherman, Tanks, Trooper, U.S. Army, UM 370, UM 376, USMC

4. “Black Orchid”

  • Hull: Possibly M4A2
  • Unit: Unidentified unit, Pacific Theater
  • Source: They Called it the Sherman: The M4 Tank, by Scot Laney and Gary Mortenson, p.44.
  • Notes: Japanese flag kill marks indicate Pacific Theatre, which implies USMC, which itself implies an M4A2 hull. Still, this is only conjecture.
  • 1/72 Decals: None available, to my knowledge.

1/72, AFV, Aleran, Annabelle, Black Orchid, Brownie, Cheesecake, Decals, Fight or Frolic, Lightning, Marines, Peddinghaus, Pin-ups, Sherman, Tanks, Trooper, U.S. Army, UM 370, UM 376, USMC

5. “Fight or Frolic”

  • Hull: M4A4 Sherman 
  • Unit: 1st Provisional Tank Group, Burma 1944
  • Source: http://www.cbi-theater.com/1ptg/1ptg.html
  • Notes: “Fight or Frolic” had different pin-ups on each side of the hull as shown in the two photos below. In addition to the pin-ups, the tank carries the triangular insignia of the Armored Corps on the turret port side and a skull on the turret starboard side.
  • 1/72 Decals: None available, to my knowledge.

1/72, AFV, Aleran, Annabelle, Black Orchid, Brownie, Cheesecake, Decals, Fight or Frolic, Lightning, Marines, Peddinghaus, Pin-ups, Sherman, Tanks, Trooper, U.S. Army, UM 370, UM 376, USMC

1/72, AFV, Aleran, Annabelle, Black Orchid, Brownie, Cheesecake, Decals, Fight or Frolic, Lightning, Marines, Peddinghaus, Pin-ups, Sherman, Tanks, Trooper, U.S. Army, UM 370, UM 376, USMC

6. “Brownie”

  • Hull: M4, M4A2, or M4A4
  • Unit: Unidentified, but photo was purportedly taken in Italy.
  • Source: Found on some obscure corner of the Internet, never to be found again.
  • Notes: Hull type unknown but welded hull rules out M4A1; early glacis angle of hull rules out M4A3.
  • 1/72 Decals: None available, to my knowledge.

1/72, AFV, Aleran, Annabelle, Black Orchid, Brownie, Cheesecake, Decals, Fight or Frolic, Lightning, Marines, Peddinghaus, Pin-ups, Sherman, Tanks, Trooper, U.S. Army, UM 370, UM 376, USMC

7. Unreadable Name

  • Hull: M4
  • Unit: 6th Armored Division, Europe
  • Source: The M4 Sherman at War: The European Theater 1942-1945 (I), by Steven Zaloga, p.27.
  • 1/72 Decals: None available, to my knowledge.

1/72, AFV, Aleran, Annabelle, Black Orchid, Brownie, Cheesecake, Decals, Fight or Frolic, Lightning, Marines, Peddinghaus, Pin-ups, Sherman, Tanks, Trooper, U.S. Army, UM 370, UM 376, USMC

8. Unreadable Name

  • Hull: M4A? with M1 Dozer Blade
  • Unit: Unidentified
  • Source: Internet
  • 1/72 Decals: None available, to my knowledge.

1/72, AFV, Aleran, Annabelle, Black Orchid, Brownie, Cheesecake, Decals, Fight or Frolic, Lightning, Marines, Peddinghaus, Pin-ups, Sherman, Tanks, Trooper, U.S. Army, UM 370, UM 376, USMC

Please forgive the poor photo quality of the decal sheets. Those of you who have worked with decals appreciate the challenges of differentiating white decals from a light background in photography.

It should be readily apparent to the reader that decals are only available where an artist has produced a color profile of a tank. Artists are the sine qua non of our hobby, as without their “translation” of black and white photographs into color representations most modelers and hobbyists would have little idea about the colors, camouflage schemes, or markings of the actual tanks.

If you have corrections — particularly on the type of Sherman hull of “Black Orchid,” “Brownie,” or the dozer — or additional information on any of these tanks; or if you know of additional Shermans or other tanks with pin-ups, please contact me. I would also be grateful for information on the source of the original internet photos so I may provide proper attribution. Once again, thank you for your indulgence and I hope you enjoyed the peep show.   :-)