U. S. M41 Walker Bulldog, 1/35, Tamiya MM-55

Almost as soon as WWII ended, the U.S.Army was looking at a replacement for the M24 Chaffee Light Tank, which had served well in the European war, and later in the Korean War.

Wikipedia has an excellent article on the Walker Bulldog’s history, and there are many others just a Google search away.

Here a few things I found interesting.

The tank did not prove to be up to what the U. S. Army wanted, i.e., a small, easily transported, light tank with a gun that could kill any tank it encountered.  Various issues got in the way.  The stereoscopic sight was not successful, the turret rotation system was not what was wanted and there were some engine issues.  The tank was eventually given to allies such as the nascent German and Japanese reconstituted militaries in the 1950’s. 

While there have been some claims that early models of the Walker Bulldog were taken to Korea for combat testing, there is a lack of evidence that ever happened.   

As the war in Vietnam boiled over, the U. S. gave many of these tanks to the ARVN’s (Army of Viet Nam).  It proved a great hit with the Vietnamese whose small stature fit comfortably in this tank which had proven to be cramped for American soldiers.  Since armored formations slugging it out was not a feature of the Vietnam War, there is not much history left behind of even ARVN use.  From what I read, these tanks were widely used as patrol vehicles as well as infantry support.

And, finally, the U. S. Army was falling in love with the M551 Sheridan which was under development in the 1960’s and had a main gun/rocket launcher that could destroy anything on tracks, and it was deployed to Vietnam along with the M48 Patton tanks.

The frank fact seems to be that while the Walker Bulldog served in combat with some of the countries the U. S. sold the tanks to, there is no evidence it ever served in combat with the U. S. Armed Forces.

The kit was first produced by Tamiya in 1973.  A half century ago, it was battery powered like almost all the Tamiya 1/35 scale armor kits.  The sprues are marked “1973”.  The hull bottom is marked “1973 2019”.  I think that Tamiya reworked the hull bottom to get rid of most of the battery power necessities, probably c. 2019.  There are few parts compared to modern kits, but I submit adequate detail.  I do wish Tamiya had provided some clear lenses for the driver’s viewing ports.  The figures supplied were WWII American Infantry and a generic commander.  An ARVN commander or driver would have been nice, but one cannot have everything.

Sadly, the Walker Bulldog was less than successful, but still an important tank at the beginning of the Cold War.  And it contributed to successfully preventing the expansion of communism during the Cold War, as did the millions of Americans who served the country  in our Armed Forces during that not stressless period.

And now to the workbench to get the build under way.

These are all the styrene injection molded parts. In the upper left is the hull bottom. This is a single piece. Not like modern armor kits with hundreds of parts, is it?
This is the rest of the kit, i.e., vinyl tracks and caps, a small decal sheet. There are two Japanese markings and one U. S. Army marking (probably the occupation army in Germany).
Sprue A with the date engraved on it.
And, Sprue B dated.
The two dates along with the remnants of the battery configuration of long ago.

The Arma P-51B/C Mustang – Painting

I selected the color scheme depicted on the kit box top – “Ding Hoa!” The main colors will be Olive Drab and Neutral Grey, both of which will be Hataka Orange Line (Lacquer) colors. Hataka lacquers airbrush like a dream when thinned with Mr. Color Leveling Thinner. The thinner prevents paint drying on the airbrush tip and allows the application of the paint wet and not drying before it touches the model (a problem with some paints).

The white stripes were applied first with Stynylrez white primer. I find that stripes like this are best applied first as this minimizes the amount of masking one has to do. If I paint the stripes last, I find myself doing a lot of masking to protect the rest of the model finish from overspray.

Lastly, I like to paint canopies separate from the model. It is easy enough to fill the cockpit with damp tissue or some other filler to protect it. No matter how hard I try, somehow on some models some overspray gets on the inside of the canopy. It is like a dust setttling and sticking there. I find doing them separately yields a much clearer canopy, at least it does for me.

The grandchildren are arriving next week, and my hobby room is needed for an adult guest room, so I may not be able to complete this project until they depart.

I was thinking of starting a recently acquired Tamiya Supermarine Spitfire Mk. IXc in 1/32scale. However, I would first like to add an aircraft from the Korean War, i.e., the Forgotten War, and a Hobby Boss F-80C Shoting Star I have will fill the bill nicely.

It is high time to start adding some Korean War aircraft, and I was able to purchase from Sprue Brothers the excellent 2022 IPMS Convention decal sheet “MIG Kills of the Forgotten War”. If you have any interest in the Korean War, grab these before they are gone. You get two F-86 one F-80, one Twin Mustang and two F9F Panthers, and they are presented in 1/48 scale and 1/72 scale. To top it off, they are printed by Cartograph.

The clip holder above from Sean’s Custom Model Tools has become an indispensable tool on my workbench. It is so handy mounting smaller pieces on sticks and keeping them out of the way yet handy to be worked on and painted. The CCI 22LR plastic cartridge box is a good size to apply some tape to and mount flat parts to be painted.

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.

British Crusader Mk.III Cruiser Tank, 1/48 scale (Kit 32555)

Crusader Mk. III (Public Domain Photo)

The Crusader was a result of interwar British amor doctrine that produced tanks known as “cruiser” tanks and “infantry” tanks.  The cruiser tanks were designed as modern armored and mechanized cavalry, while the infantry tanks were designed to support an infantry attack.

The Mk. III Crusader was fitted with a larger gun than its predecessors, i.e., a 57mm or 6 pounder gun.  This larger gun cramping the inside of the turret necessitated the elimination of the gun loader whose duties were taken over by the tank commander.  This seems to have been less than satisfactory when the action started, i.e., the commander being occupied with duties other than commanding during an engagement.

And therein seems to be the story of all the tanks on either side in WWII.  There was a constant race to fit larger and larger guns to tanks to defeat the more heavily armored tanks with every bigger guns being fielded by one’s opponents.

The Crusader served fairly well in the Western Desert, but once that campaign was over they had reached the point where they were not holding their own with German armor.  Many were converted to anti-aircraft carriages, gun tractors and other uses.

I always liked the shape of the tank with the highly angled turret and large road wheels.I also wonder how the crews faired when hit with shots that broke some of those bolts loose and sent them ricocheting around the tank’s interior. That may have been unpleasant.

The kit is typical Tamiya quality.  I wish a figure had been included since my search for a British armor crewman in desert garb proved fruitless.  Armor models need a figure.

Here are the paints and weathering materials used:

Tamiya XF-61 Dark Green

Tamiya XF-69 NATO Black

Alclad Aqua Gloss Clear

Matt Lucky Varnish by Ammo

Track Base Coat (Tamiya Mix)

Vallejo Air 71.080 Rust

Vallejo 71-143 UK Light Stone

Ammo Oilbrusher – Dust A.Mig 3516

Ammo Enamel Wash “Dark Brown for Green Vehicles” A.Mig 1005

Ammo Streaking Effects – Dark Streaking Grime A.Mig 1206

Tamiya Weathering Master Set A

The model was finished with the Dark Green XF-61 that was glossed for decal application and weathering. Next, came the Ammo Wash for Green Vehicles followed by the Ammo Oilbrusher dust color and some Ammo Streaking Effect Wash for Dark Streaking Grime.  Finally, I applied Tamiya Weathering Master Sand color to unify things.  All in all, I am satisfied with the look.

After all, the Crusaders arrived in the Western Desert painted a Bronze Green and went into action.  I tried to duplicate that by starting with a straight-up green tank (see photo below) and then making it look dusty.

While my weathering work does not qualify me as an “elite modeler”, I am getting better at envisioning how to get where I want to go.  Trying to imagine a tank fresh from the garrison and then planning on what layers of dirt and tear descended on it in the field helps me put together a combination of effects producing a realistic whole.  At least that is what I am trying to do with my weathering.  More than any other aspect of model building, weathering calls for extreme patience.