Cheesecake Pin-Up Girls on WWII Vehicles in 1/72 Scale

I have always been fascinated by the way U.S. airmen decorated their aircraft during WWII. I have a fairly extensive collection of WWII 1/72 scale aircraft and those with elaborate nose art are some of my favorites. It’s not the art per se that interests me – a lot of it could be considered amateurish and sometimes crude by professional standards – but the fact that the art was created by young men going to war. That art is a reflection of their state of mind, their optimism, their interests, and sometimes, their loved ones. How did the crew come to name the vehicle? How did they select it? Who painted it? Did the young artist have a preference for brunettes, or blondes, or short hair, or long, or . . . . ?

The following quote from Nose Art, by Cary M. Valant, succinctly captures the essence of this issue:

The origin of nose art goes back to some ancient time when the first proud charioteer decorated his vehicle so that it would be distinguishable from the other. The desire to personalize an object, a machine, to make it unique among the multitude, is basic to man’s nature . . . . A thousand B-17s, identical in every way, roll off the assembly line and fly to an uncertain fate, but each one can be different. The difference is not in the tail number. Those are for record-keepers and ribbon clerks. The difference is in the imagination and talent of the crew. 

It is this “imagination and talent of the crew” that Valant refers to that interests me. The Germans didn’t have a similar practice and must have been dumbfounded by what they saw as the lascivious, promiscuous, immature Americans and their nose art. This quote from Luftwaffe Emblems 1939-1945, by Barry Ketley, considered the textbook on WWII German aircraft emblems, explains the German perspective:

There are two types of emblems that rarely, if ever, appeared on Luftwaffe aircraft: those featuring women (totally unlike Allied forces, particularly the Americans) and presentation aircraft markings. The non-appearance of women, clothed or otherwise, is probably due to the influence of Nazi ideology, which greatly idealized the role of women as the subservient wives and mothers of soldiers and, officially at least, frowned upon anything remotely prurient.

Like soldiers from any other country, U.S. soldiers suddenly found themselves in a world populated only by men, resulting in many men inevitably longing for the women in their lives. Unlike other soldiers, Americans had pin-up art to help fill the void. To its credit, the U.S. Army Air Forces (USAAF) wisely issued Regulation 35-22 authorizing the decoration of Army Air Forces equipment with individual designs to help morale, although a “sense of decency” was expected. Pin-up art thus became widespread in the USAAF but was rather uncommon in the other services, such as the U.S. Army, Navy, and Marines.

I wondered whether the phenomenon manifested itself in allied fighting vehicles, as opposed to aircraft. In particular, I wanted to find cheesecake pin-up art similar to that found on allied aircraft. Although books on aircraft nose art are abundant, I immediately discovered that books on AFV art were nowhere to be found. Despite perusing numerous WWII books and countless websites, I identified less than a dozen tanks (6 Shermans, 4 Stuarts, and 1 Hellcat) with pin-up art. I also found four softskins (3 trucks and 1 jeep). I intend to do a post specifically on the six Shermans in the near future. In this post, I only want to present those vehicles available in 1/72 scale. 

WWII Vehicles with Pin-ups in 1/72

To my knowledge, there are only two 1/72 scale vehicles with pin-up art, both from the U.S Army, of course. One is the Hobby Master Hellcat “I DON’T WANT A” and the other is the Altaya Dragon Wagon “545592.”

1. “I DON’T WANT A”

  • M18 Hellcat
  • 705th Tank Destroyer Battalion, Company A
  • Brest, France, August 1944
  • Hobby Master HG6002

Here’s a photo of the actual vehicle from Steven Zaloga’s M18 Hellcat Tank Destroyer 1943-97. According to Zaloga, the name “I DON’T WANT A” is a joke because the crew was required to name the tank starting with the company letter, in this case “A.”

1/72 40145192 464th Ordnance 545592 705th AFV Altaya Dragon Wagon Hellcat HG6002 HM Hobby Master M18 M25 Nose Art Pin-ups Softskins Tank Destroyer Tanks U.S. Army USAAF

Here’s the Hobby Master HG6002. 

1/72 40145192 464th Ordnance 545592 705th AFV Altaya Dragon Wagon Hellcat HG6002 HM Hobby Master M18 M25 Nose Art Pin-ups Softskins Tank Destroyer Tanks U.S. Army USAAF

Note that the model is missing the Rhino hedge cutter welded to the bow seen on the photograph of the actual tank. Note also that the pin-up was not repeated on the port side. I wonder if HM got the “643TD” on the front starboard side wrong, since, according to Zaloga, the tank was actually from the 705th Tank Destroyer Battalion. 1/72 40145192 464th Ordnance 545592 705th AFV Altaya Dragon Wagon Hellcat HG6002 HM Hobby Master M18 M25 Nose Art Pin-ups Softskins Tank Destroyer Tanks U.S. Army USAAF

Here’s a close-up that provides perspective on the size of the pin-up. This may very well be the smallest pin-up on any 1/72 scale model — aircraft, AFV, or softskin.1/72 40145192 464th Ordnance 545592 705th AFV Altaya Dragon Wagon Hellcat HG6002 HM Hobby Master M18 M25 Nose Art Pin-ups Softskins Tank Destroyer Tanks U.S. Army USAAF

2. “545592”

  • M25 Dragon Wagon
  • 464th Ordnance, 9th U.S. Army
  • Geilenkurchen, Germany, December 1945
  • Altaya gift to “Panzer” subscribers

Here’s a photo of the actual vehicle pulling a wrecked Panther tank, from Dragon Wagon, A Visual History of the U.S. Army’s Heavy Tank Transporter 1941-1955, by David Doyle and Pat Stansell.

1/72 40145192 464th Ordnance 545592 705th AFV Altaya Dragon Wagon Hellcat HG6002 HM Hobby Master M18 M25 Nose Art Pin-ups Softskins Tank Destroyer Tanks U.S. Army USAAF

Here’s the Altaya model. Other than the soft detail, Altaya models also suffer from a total lack of weathering but their markings are usually excellent.

1/72 40145192 464th Ordnance 545592 705th AFV Altaya Dragon Wagon Hellcat HG6002 HM Hobby Master M18 M25 Nose Art Pin-ups Softskins Tank Destroyer Tanks U.S. Army USAAF

Note that the pin-up was also present on the starboard side.

1/72 40145192 464th Ordnance 545592 705th AFV Altaya Dragon Wagon Hellcat HG6002 HM Hobby Master M18 M25 Nose Art Pin-ups Softskins Tank Destroyer Tanks U.S. Army USAAF

Here’s a close-up for perspective.

1/72 40145192 464th Ordnance 545592 705th AFV Altaya Dragon Wagon Hellcat HG6002 HM Hobby Master M18 M25 Nose Art Pin-ups Softskins Tank Destroyer Tanks U.S. Army USAAF

I hope you enjoyed the peep show. 😈 I would respectfully ask that anybody who knows of other pin-ups on 1/72 models or photos of non-aircraft WWII vehicles with pin-up art post a comment. Perhaps at some point in the future someone will use our collective research to write a book on the subject — a book that is sorely missing at the moment.

Dreaming of a White Christmas

Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, Season’s Greetings, and Happy New Year

The Tiger in Winter: To celebrate the season, here are photos of 1/72 Tigers in winter camouflage.  

Front Row, L to R: Dragon 60001, Dragon 60410, and Dragon 60097.

Back Row, L to R: Dragon 65004, War Master TK0031, Easy Model 36214, and Easy Model 36208.

The Santas and hot Santa Helper chicks are made by Preiser.

1/72 AFV Altaya Christmas Dragon Easy Model German Hummel Nashorn Preiser Tanks Tiger War Master Winter

Here’s a portside view.

1/72 AFV Altaya Christmas Dragon Easy Model German Hummel Nashorn Preiser Tanks Tiger War Master WinterWhite Rhino and Bumblebees: Here is a photo of a Nashorn and a couple of Hummels.

L to R: Altaya Nashorn, Dragon 60288, and Dragon 60190.

1/72 AFV Altaya Christmas Dragon Easy Model German Hummel Nashorn Preiser Tanks Tiger War Master Winter

Other German Winter Vehicles

1/72 AFV Altaya Christmas Dragon Easy Model German Hummel Nashorn Preiser Tanks Tiger War Master Winter

Cheers!

Luftwaffe Flakartillerie 88mm Flak Gun Crew in Action in North Africa in 1941

This photo is from Waldemar Trojca’s 8.8cm Flak 18-36-37, Katowice-Speyer 2005. Erwin Rommel used the 88mm Flak gun extensively as an antitank weapon in North Africa, having learned its value in that role in 1940 at the Battle of Arras, in France. Some mistakenly claim Rommel was the first to use the 88mm as an antitank weapon. All that can be said with confidence is that he was among the first.

1/72 88043 ACE Afrikakorps Airfix Almark Altaya Artillery DAK Desert Deutsches Flak Fujimi German Hasegawa HG5002 HMX Hobby Master Italeri Kinetic Sand Luftwaffe Meyer Cap North Africa Panzerstahl Preiser Revell Rommel SHQ Softskin Soldiers Thor ValueGear Waba Fun

Here’s the recreation. The original photo doesn’t depict the detail or disarray surrounding the gun but photos of other 88 guns do. Thus, as you will readily notice, I took lots of artistic license.

1/72 88043 ACE Afrikakorps Airfix Almark Altaya Artillery DAK Desert Deutsches Flak Fujimi German Hasegawa HG5002 HMX Hobby Master Italeri Kinetic Sand Luftwaffe Meyer Cap North Africa Panzerstahl Preiser Revell Rommel SHQ Softskin Soldiers Thor ValueGear Waba Fun

Here’s a view directly facing the gun. The 88s could take out enemy tanks a mile away but you first had to spot them. The soldier up front has a range finder, while the officer on the right has binoculars. At the far right are scissors binoculars, which are sometimes present in these scenes. I “borrowed” them from the Revell German Armoured Infantry set.

1/72 88043 ACE Afrikakorps Airfix Almark Altaya Artillery DAK Desert Deutsches Flak Fujimi German Hasegawa HG5002 HMX Hobby Master Italeri Kinetic Sand Luftwaffe Meyer Cap North Africa Panzerstahl Preiser Revell Rommel SHQ Softskin Soldiers Thor ValueGear Waba Fun

Here are a couple of photos of the gun itself. The gun suffers from several inaccuracies, which I’ll cover at some point in a separate review.

1/72 88043 ACE Afrikakorps Airfix Almark Altaya Artillery DAK Desert Deutsches Flak Fujimi German Hasegawa HG5002 HMX Hobby Master Italeri Kinetic Sand Luftwaffe Meyer Cap North Africa Panzerstahl Preiser Revell Rommel SHQ Softskin Soldiers Thor ValueGear Waba Fun

Here’s a close-up of the gun.  Note the awesome kill rings.

1/72 88043 ACE Afrikakorps Airfix Almark Altaya Artillery DAK Desert Deutsches Flak Fujimi German Hasegawa HG5002 HMX Hobby Master Italeri Kinetic Sand Luftwaffe Meyer Cap North Africa Panzerstahl Preiser Revell Rommel SHQ Softskin Soldiers Thor ValueGear Waba Fun

I converted the Altaya Flak 37 from its traveling position to a stationary gun and then pilfered the trailer. The trailer is plastic with metal axles that had to be cut from the metal base of the gun. I painted the trailer desert yellow, applied decals, and gave it a wash. The detail on the trailer is quite nice as it is plastic and compares well with the Airfix and Hasegawa kits, though it’s not as detailed as the Revell kit.

Note the detail work on the towing bar and on the “forks” to which the gun attaches. Because the plastic is very hard, it was actually easy to carve them out. For the first time in many years, I reluctantly applied decals using Microsol on very old Afrikakorps palm trees from Almark. The result exceeded my expectations and I cursed myself for not having tried decaling sooner.

This photo also shows the brass ammunition and wicker ammunition baskets well. Note that I drilled out two holes in one of the baskets. It turned out to be easier than I expected.

1/72 88043 ACE Afrikakorps Airfix Almark Altaya Artillery DAK Desert Deutsches Flak Fujimi German Hasegawa HG5002 HMX Hobby Master Italeri Kinetic Sand Luftwaffe Meyer Cap North Africa Panzerstahl Preiser Revell Rommel SHQ Softskin Soldiers Thor ValueGear Waba Fun

The crew was included in the Italeri 8.8cm Flak 37 AA Gun kit. Of note is the soldier with a Hermann Meyer cap, to my knowledge one of only two modeled in plastic. (The soldier talking to Rommel also wears a Meyer cap but that figure is made of white metal.) Plastic Soldier Review (PSR) described this set as follows: “All the figures are crisply sculpted and crisply moulded, and while some of those handling ammunition have a little excess plastic, no one has any flash and these are very good quality figures . . . . At an average 24.5 mm the height of the men is good, so with the very good detail these are excellent.” (See PSR’s review at http://www.plasticsoldierreview.com/ShowFeature.aspx?id=48.)

While I had the figures painted previously, I decided that I would paint shoulder straps, buttons, belt buckles, and other details. This is a Luftwaffe Flakartillerie regiment so shoulder straps are silver on a red base. I developed a headache as I focused my eyes on these suckers. If you’re over 50, don’t try this at home. 🙁 

1/72 88043 ACE Afrikakorps Airfix Almark Altaya Artillery DAK Desert Deutsches Flak Fujimi German Hasegawa HG5002 HMX Hobby Master Italeri Kinetic Sand Luftwaffe Meyer Cap North Africa Panzerstahl Preiser Revell Rommel SHQ Softskin Soldiers Thor ValueGear Waba Fun

The Rommel figure came from the ACE Desert Fox’s Kfz.21 kit. I have several different painted Rommel figures in 1/72; this is the best of the bunch. As previously mentioned, the officer talking to Rommel wears a Meyer cap, clearly identifying him as Luftwaffe. He comes from an SHQ white metal set that includes a Rommel figure leaning over a map. This vignette is based on a well-known photo of Rommel talking to Generalmajor Hermann-Bernhard Ramcke, wherein he wears a Meyer cap.1/72 88043 ACE Afrikakorps Airfix Almark Altaya Artillery DAK Desert Deutsches Flak Fujimi German Hasegawa HG5002 HMX Hobby Master Italeri Kinetic Sand Luftwaffe Meyer Cap North Africa Panzerstahl Preiser Revell Rommel SHQ Softskin Soldiers Thor ValueGear Waba Fun

The half-track is Hobby Master’s Luftwaffe Sd.Kfz.7 8-Ton Semi-Track, with decals poached from the Airfix half-track kit. Disappointingly, Hobby Master lazily released it without markings despite the promise implicit in their pre-production photos, which included the DAK palm trees. I had intended to apply divisional markings to the half-track as well but held off because I wasn’t sure to which division the gun belonged. Trojca attributes the gun to the 1./Flak Rgt. 33, which was attached to the 21.Pz.Div., while Panzerstahl attributes it to the 1./Flak Rgt. 43, which was attached to the 15.Pz.Div. In retrospect, I wish I’d given the half-track a wash to bring out its details. The tarp and Jerry cans are from ValueGear.

1/72 88043 ACE Afrikakorps Airfix Almark Altaya Artillery DAK Desert Deutsches Flak Fujimi German Hasegawa HG5002 HMX Hobby Master Italeri Kinetic Sand Luftwaffe Meyer Cap North Africa Panzerstahl Preiser Revell Rommel SHQ Softskin Soldiers Thor ValueGear Waba Fun

Note the faded Luftwaffe marking on the helmet of the soldier with the dark tunic. To my old eyes, he came out better than I expected.

1/72 88043 ACE Afrikakorps Airfix Almark Altaya Artillery DAK Desert Deutsches Flak Fujimi German Hasegawa HG5002 HMX Hobby Master Italeri Kinetic Sand Luftwaffe Meyer Cap North Africa Panzerstahl Preiser Revell Rommel SHQ Softskin Soldiers Thor ValueGear Waba Fun

Finally, this bird’s-eye view shows the entire layout well. Note the tracks in the sand. Kinetic Sand is simply amazing.

1/72 88043 ACE Afrikakorps Airfix Almark Altaya Artillery DAK Desert Deutsches Flak Fujimi German Hasegawa HG5002 HMX Hobby Master Italeri Kinetic Sand Luftwaffe Meyer Cap North Africa Panzerstahl Preiser Revell Rommel SHQ Softskin Soldiers Thor ValueGear Waba Fun

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

  • Gun: Panzerstahl 88043, 8.8cm Flak, 43rd Flak Reg., 15.Pz.Div., Deutsches Afrikakorps, 1942; 
  • Trailer: Altaya 8.8 cm Flak 37, 2.Pz.Div. Moscow Area 1941 (cut out from metal base) (decals from Almark T1 Afrika Korps Palms);
  • Half-Track: Hobby Master HG5002, Sd.Kfz.7 8-Ton Semi-Track, Luftwaffe, Africa 1942 (decals from Airfix 2303 kit, 88mm Gun & Sd.Kfz.7 Tractor);
  • Crew: Italeri 7512 kit, 8.8cm Flak 37 AA Gun with Crew;
  • Field Marshal Rommel: ACE 72289 kit, Desert Fox’s Kfz.21 with Rommel Figure;
  • Generalmajor Ramcke: SHQ DK20, Rommel Command Group;
  • Dog: Preiser 14165, Dogs and Cats;
  • Scissors Binoculars: Revell 02511, German Armoured Infantry;
  • Ammunition Baskets: Hasegawa 31110 kit, 88mm Gun Flak 18 (4 baskets); and Fujimi 76026 kit, 88mm Flak 18 (4 baskets);
  • Ammunition: Thor Hobby A7203, Brass WWII German 88mm L/71 Gun Ammunition (Set 2);
  • Sandbags, Crates, Fuel Drums, Jerry Cans, and Tarp Roll: ValueGear, various sets;
  • Grass: Noch Scenemaster, Spring Grass Tufts;
  • Sand: 150-101 Kinetic Sand by Waba Fun. Had to wrest it from my kids. 😈 

I hope you enjoyed the post. Please forgive the long-winded narrative and thanks again for your indulgence and encouragement.

The Sherman in 1/72: M4 “Cannon Ball,” 70th Tank Battalion, Utah Beach 1944

I had intended to write a brief review of the Dragon 60369 Sherman “Cannon Ball,” a wading Sherman that landed at Utah Beach on D-Day. However, as I tried to understand where it fit in within the framework of the D-Day landings, I found that my knowledge of tank warfare on D-Day was quite limited. I had no real sense for how many tanks landed at each beach and how many were lost. I decided that, at the very least, I would get a rudimentary “big picture” grasp of tank landings at Utah Beach and try to understand the other four beaches at a later time. For those not interested, please skip to the photos below. 

Sherman Tanks at Utah Beach

On D-Day, June 6, 1944, approximately 100 U.S. Army Sherman tanks attempted to land at Utah Beach in support of the 4th Infantry Division. The U.S. deployed two tank battalions at Utah Beach, the 70th and 746th – each consisting of 48 Sherman tanks.

The 70th Tank Battalion was comprised of three tank companies, each with 16 Sherman tanks. Companies A and B were equipped with Duplex Drive Shermans; Company C was made up of 16 wading Shermans, including 4 dozers. “Cannon Ball” was one of the wading tanks in Company C. (Note: Each tank battalion also had a D Company made up of Stuart light tanks.) 

The 70th lost 9 Shermans during the landing — 5 DD Shermans and 4 Wading Shermans, including “Cannon Ball.” Throughout the day, the 70th lost another 7 tanks, for a total of 16. Thus, by the end of D-Day, the 70th had lost one third of its Sherman tanks.

The 746th Battalion, on the other hand, did not have Duplex Drive Shermans, and all 48 Wading Sherman tanks landed safely, though the Battalion did lose two Shermans throughout the day.

It bears mentioning that by the end of D-Day, all objectives at Utah Beach had been achieved and the area was securely under control of the Allies. This is in sharp contrast with Omaha Beach, where the Allies suffered tremendous casualties and did not reach all objectives.

The chart below provides context regarding how “Cannon Ball” fit within the organizational framework of the 70th Tank Battalion at Utah Beach on D-Day. (I made the chart for learners like me who want to visualize where a small piece fits into a larger whole. I’m just an amateur so please use at your own risk.)

1/72, 60369, 70th Tank Battalion, 70th Tank Btn, AFV, Cannonball, Cannon Ball, D-Day, Dragon, M4, Normandy, Peckerwood, Sherman, Tanks, U.S. Army, Utah Beach, Wading

The 70th Tank Battalion

Before we get to “Cannon Ball,” here are a few bullets on the storied 70th Tank Battalion, to which “Cannon Ball” belonged:

  • Formed in July 1940, the 70th Tank Battalion was the first independent tank battalion in the U.S.
  • The Battalion fought in every major U.S. campaign in WWII, beginning with North Africa, through Sicily, Italy, and France, and finally in Germany itself.
  • While in Algeria, the 70th trained the Free French soldiers who later formed the 2nd French Armored Division.
  • The 70th was called the “soixante-dix” (meaning “70”) by the French, a phrase that later appeared on the sash of their mascot, Joe Peckerwood.
  • Among other achievements, the 70th participated in the D-Day invasion, the Battle of the Bulge, and eventually crossed the Rhine to see the end of the war in Germany.
  • In Normandy, the 70th supported the famous 101st Airborne Division during combat at St. Mere Eglise.
  • Considered the most experienced U.S. tank battalion, the 70th was one of the most decorated of the war and received a Presidential Unit Citation for its role in the invasion of Normandy.

The Actual Tank

Unfortunately, there isn’t much information specifically on “Cannon Ball,” other than a well-known photo of it stuck in a shell hole at Utah Beach (see photo below). Nonetheless, here are a few bullets on what little I could gather from books and various corners of the internet:

  • On D-Day, “Cannon Ball” was one of 16 Sherman wading tanks in C Company of the 70th Tank Battalion.
  • It landed at Utah Beach but got bogged down in a shell hole.
  • “Cannon Ball” was pulled out of the hole and put back into action.
  • The tank had been previously fitted with a T4 Whiz-Bang Demolition Rocket Launcher in advance of D-Day. Following tests, the U.S. Army concluded that the launcher presented a risk to the crew and decided to remove the launcher prior to D-Day.
  • “Cannon Ball” is one of very few D-Day tanks with wading trunks for which we have reliable marking information. But beyond that, it’s representative of the hundreds of amphibious tanks that fought the waves to reach shore at Normandy. Numerous DDs failed to make it, particularly at Omaha, while most wading tanks made it to shore.

I searched numerous books and the internet and, as far as I know, the two photos below are the only existing photos of “Cannon Ball.” If anyone knows of any other pictures, I’d love to see them.

1/72, 60369, 70th Tank Battalion, 70th Tank Btn, AFV, Cannonball, Cannon Ball, D-Day, Dragon, M4, Normandy, Peckerwood, Sherman, Tanks, U.S. Army, Utah Beach, Wading

1/72, 60369, 70th Tank Battalion, 70th Tank Btn, AFV, Cannonball, Cannon Ball, D-Day, Dragon, M4, Normandy, Peckerwood, Sherman, Tanks, U.S. Army, Utah Beach, Wading

Of interest are the two mounting attachments on either side of the top of the turret. As mentioned, prior to D-Day “Cannon Ball” had been equipped with the Whiz Bang rockets (see profile below). The photo with the red arrows was posted by Steve Zaloga on another forum.

Note: Subsequent to publication of this article in December 2015, the photo of “Cannon Ball” below appeared in Armored Strike Force: The Photo History of the American 70th Tank Battalion in World War II, by Charles C. Roberts Jr., published July 1, 2016. It is posted here for discussion purposes under the fair use exception to the copyright laws.Though somewhat grainy, this photo is important historically in that it provides clear evidence that “Cannon Ball” survived the landing at Utah and lived to fight another day. It is similarly important for the modeler in that it confirms that the markings on the starboard side of the tank were symmetrical to those on the port side — an assumption usually made but often wrong. Note that the wading stacks were removed once the tank left the beach.

D-Day Shermans: Only “Cannon Ball” and “Carole” in 1/72

As far as know, the only two D-Day Shermans in 1/72 scale are “Cannon Ball” and “Carole,” a Firefly with the 13th/18th Royal Hussars of the 27th Armored Brigade (Dragon 60250). 

Dragon produced another Normandy M4, the 60370 “Tonto,” representing the U.S. 37th Tank Battalion, but that battalion didn’t arrive in Normandy until July 13, 1944, incidentally, at Utah Beach. 

Dragon also produced another Normandy Firefly, the 60251 “Velikye Luki,” representing the Northamptonshire Yeomanry, but the unit didn’t arrive until June 12 at Gold Beach. 

The Dragon 60369 “Cannon Ball” Model

  • This is the only U.S. tank in 1/72 representing D-Day and makes a fine pair with “Carole,” its British D-Day counterpart.
  • “Cannon Ball” is something of a unique tank in 1/72, as it’s the only tank with wading trunks that represents an actual tank. (Note: Dragon included a 75mm M4A1 with its LCM(3) but it has no markings and did not represent any particular tank.)
  • The markings on “Cannon Ball” are colorful – and distinctive. The turtle is “Joe Peckerwood” the Truculent Turtle with a tanker’s helmet and the sash carries the words “soixante-dix” meaning “70” in French. (See inset in the profile.)
  • The model is missing the T4 Whiz Bang brackets and gun sight pointed by red arrows in the photo above.

And finally, here are the photos:

1/72, 60369, 70th Tank Battalion, 70th Tank Btn, AFV, Cannonball, Cannon Ball, D-Day, Dragon, M4, Normandy, Peckerwood, Sherman, Tanks, U.S. Army, Utah Beach, Wading

Note the dark band around the turret. Mastic glue was used as a sealant to waterproof the tank over the opening of the turret ring and hatches.

1/72, 60369, 70th Tank Battalion, 70th Tank Btn, AFV, Cannonball, Cannon Ball, D-Day, Dragon, M4, Normandy, Peckerwood, Sherman, Tanks, U.S. Army, Utah Beach, Wading

Note the red number with white trim, a distinctive feature of the 70th. Note also the applique armor on the starboard side of the turret.

1/72, 60369, 70th Tank Battalion, 70th Tank Btn, AFV, Cannonball, Cannon Ball, D-Day, Dragon, M4, Normandy, Peckerwood, Sherman, Tanks, U.S. Army, Utah Beach, Wading

Note that the stars have been obscured. The black and white photo towards the bottom of this post graphically illustrates why.

1/72, 60369, 70th Tank Battalion, 70th Tank Btn, AFV, Cannonball, Cannon Ball, D-Day, Dragon, M4, Normandy, Peckerwood, Sherman, Tanks, U.S. Army, Utah Beach, Wading

1/72, 60369, 70th Tank Battalion, 70th Tank Btn, AFV, Cannonball, Cannon Ball, D-Day, Dragon, M4, Normandy, Peckerwood, Sherman, Tanks, U.S. Army, Utah Beach, Wading

Here’s a close-up of Joe Peckerwood the “Truculent Turtle” and the waterproofing label.

1/72, 60369, 70th Tank Battalion, 70th Tank Btn, AFV, Cannonball, Cannon Ball, D-Day, Dragon, M4, Normandy, Peckerwood, Sherman, Tanks, U.S. Army, Utah Beach, Wading

The U.S. Army began to obscure the white stars because they made excellent targets for German tank crews.

1/72, 60369, 70th Tank Battalion, 70th Tank Btn, AFV, Cannonball, Cannon Ball, D-Day, Dragon, M4, Normandy, Peckerwood, Sherman, Tanks, U.S. Army, Utah Beach, Wading

The Profiles

For those who love profiles, this is what “Cannon Ball” looked like on D-Day, from Zaloga’s Sherman at War (2): The U.S. Army in the European Theatre 1943-45.

1/72, 60369, 70th Tank Battalion, 70th Tank Btn, AFV, Cannonball, Cannon Ball, D-Day, Dragon, M4 Normandy, Peckerwood, Sherman, Tanks, U.S. Army, Utah Beach, Wading

This is what “Cannon Ball” looked like before D-Day, when it still had the Whiz Bang rockets, from Steve Zaloga’s U.S.  Armored Funnies: U.S. Specialized Armored Vehicles in the ETO in World War II.

1/72, 60369, 70th Tank Battalion, 70th Tank Btn, AFV, Cannonball, Cannon Ball, D-Day, Dragon, M4, Normandy, Peckerwood, Sherman, Tanks, U.S. Army, Utah Beach, Wading

For those interested in what a wading dozer looks like, here’s a profile of the “Double Trouble,” also from the 70th Tank Battalion. The profile is also from Zaloga’s Funnies.

1/72, 60369, 70th Tank Battalion, 70th Tank Btn, AFV, Cannonball, Cannon Ball, D-Day, Dragon, M4, Normandy, Peckerwood, Sherman, Tanks, U.S. Army, Utah Beach, Wading

Here’s a lagniappe photo of the “Cannon Ball” with “Carole” (Dragon 60250), its British D-Day Sherman brother (or sister).

1/72, 60369, 70th Tank Battalion, 70th Tank Btn, AFV, Cannonball, Cannon Ball, D-Day, Dragon, M4, Normandy, Peckerwood, Sherman, Tanks, U.S. Army, Utah Beach, Wading

The Upshot

The Dragon 60369 M4 Sherman “Cannon Ball” is almost flawless.  Other than the two mounting attachments for the Whiz Bang rockets missing on either side of the top of the turret, the 60369 is a fine and faithful representation of the actual Sherman tank that landed at Utah Beach on D-Day.

I hope to do a review of the Dragon 60250 Sherman Firefly “Carole” in the near future.

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