Tamiya Israeli Tank M51, 1/35 scale, Kit 323 

There is one armor subject that keeps popping up on my workbench – the Sherman tank.

The Sherman embodies the American war effort in WWII.  More than 50,000 were produced between 1942 and 1945.  (Google)   They supplied our military as well as our allies.  It was designed to be easily produced and easily maintained in the field by hurriedly trained mechanics who worked under often horrific conditions.  It was constantly improved throughout its service life.  

It was not the best tank of WWII.  Those honors go to the Russian T-34 and/or the German Panther.  (This comment might start an argument.)  But the Sherman did its job.  

Jonathan Trigg, in his book D-Day Through German Eyes: How the Wehrmacht Lost France (Amberley Publishing, 2020) notes a comment from a German soldier in a POW cage on Omaha Beach amazed at the enormous volume of equipment being landed and how the Americans would simply shove a broken down tank to the side of the road and get another one so they could keep going.  We were allowed to do that thanks to the Arsenal of Democracy and the Sherman tank.

The story of the founding of the State of Israel and its military is one of the great stores of the 20th Century.  Surrounded by well armed enemies vowing its destruction, the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) had to prove over and over again they could take on all comers and win.  And getting the weapons they needed and could afford was a constant problem.

After WWII, the world was awash in surplus arms, and the IDF made good use of them.

An excellent article at The Online Tank Museum (https://tanks-encyclopedia.com/coldwar/israel/m51_sherman.php) contains a detailed description of the M51’s development and use by the IDF and is well worth reading.

Some interesting facts about the M51:

The M51 was a joint development project of the IDF and France.

The M51 retained the original Continental R-975 radial engine because a better engine was not easily available and the IDF needed the M51 right away.

The gun used was the 105mm cannon used in the French AMX-30 Main Battle Tank.

The M51 served in both the Six Day War in 1967 and the Yom Kippur War in 1973.

The Kit

I completed this model late last year, and it appears on my “masthead” here.  I am really quite pleased with the results.  

The radio antenna is a piece of Albion Alloys Nickel Silver Rd 0.33mm purchased from SprueBrothers.com, my favorite domestic supplier of model products.  This is 10x better than my usual stretched sprue.  It actually looks like the real thing.

Aside from the .50 caliber M2 MG on the turret, the model was newly molded throughout.  The tracks are vinyl, which is fine as the suspension system holds the track tight with no sagging.  

Two figures are included, a loader and a commander.  The commander is molded wearing a US helmet.  I could not find a photo of an IDF tanker wearing a US GI helmet in the Six Day War.  There may have been one, but not in any photo I could find.

So, I got into my spares box looking for a new head for the commander, one wearing an Israeli tanker’s helmet.  This was my first attempt at figure modification.  

I found a suitable head, performed the transplant operation, but when I mounted the commander, he was looking down as if he were talking to someone standing in  front of the tank.  It looks like he is telling someone to get off the road.  Maybe he was.  Or giving some orders to a hapless private and pointing in the direction he should go.

My research came up with a formula for an appropriate paint for a correct period color.  Israeli Sand Grey was created with Tamiya Acrylic paints mixed  50% XF-60 Dark Yellow and 50% XF-57 Buff.

The model was primed in Stynylrez black primer. I painted it with some light coats to let the dark primer show through accenting contour and shadow, and I finished the upper surfaces with some Tamiya Buff to lighten them.  

I have always wanted to add the M51 to my collection, and I am pleased with this kit.  No flaws with the kit were noted.