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. 🙂

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.