Friday, 14 April 2017

15mm scale tanks

I'm scooting around all over the place with my project scales at the moment (mostly thanks to my involvement with the Scarborough Games Society, who have been introducing me to all sorts of different and interesting war games).

I've just bought GF9's 'Tanks' tabletop skirmish game, and that comes with some 15mm (1/100) plastic tanks which you have to build, so there's a bit of modelling/gaming crossover there.

Now, this isn't my first encounter with 1/100 tanks as I have used examples of Zvezda's range of WW2 armour in this scale as 'test' platforms for painting experiments before. I have to admit that enjoyed these simple little models and remember thinking that I would like to do more (particularly as they do a nice range of early-war British BEF tanks, like the Matilda).

A Zvezda 1/100 T-34/76 that I did as a painting test. It turned out quite nice.
Anyway, I now have an immediate reason to tackle 1/100 scale armour as I need to get the game's little tanks together so I can get some practice in and learn how to play.

Cat and Mouse..Or Meeses!
The game comes with four sprue sets which allow you to build three tanks - two Shermans and one Panther. I should explain that, although this might seem a little unfair (depending on how much or little you know about these tanks) the game allows you to add upgrades to you tanks in the form of crew cards so the Panther - in theory - should be a match for two Shermans. (But I won't go into the game mechanics here, instead, you can pop over to my gaming blog to find out more: Milgeek - GF9 Tanks.)

Here's are the sprue sets...



Now, although, for the game, the basic suggested set of tanks that you could make up are an M4A3 Sherman 75mm gun tanks, an M4A3 Sherman 76mm gun tank and a Panzer V Panther, the sprues do include a selection of optional parts for variations.

There are four Sherman turrets included so you can make two 75mm M4s or two 76mm gun versions, or - as suggested - a mix of one of each. And, on the Panther sprue, you have an extra upper hull with which you could build the Jagdpanther tank destroyer variant of the tank! Not bad value.

Although you can only make up one Panther tank model - the sprues only
come with one set of tracks - you have the choice of 'turrets' to apply to the
model - the standard Panther or the Jagdpanther tank destroyer version.

Kit quality and detail
Now, I do not know who make these plastic kits for GF6, but they are quite nice little models. Obviously, they are the usual 'wargame' quality models - as they are intended for play - and so are somewhat simplified and have all the detail like tank furniture moulded directly onto the main hull...

This is on par with the simplified models done by Plastic Soldier Company or Armourfast, but is reasonably sharp and, of course, more than satisfactory for a game piece.

One thing that particularly impressed me - bearing in mind my experience with Armourfast models in the past - was the quality of the models' one-piece tracks...They have track tread detail...

Take note Armourfast...If these guys can do it so can you!
Not the worst detail I've seen.
Perhaps injection moulding techniques have come on, but I think Armourfast can no longer excuse their very poor track tread detail, they really should be looking at these examples as reference points of what should be the acceptable standard for wargame quality tank tracks!

Anyway, moving on, the panther deck isn't quite as well done, in my opinion, but is certainly up to the standards of Plastic Soldier Company in its chunky style of detail...

As I mentioned, you do get more options with the Sherman sprues which allow you to build two models of two different versions, because they have included the additional tracks and turrets.

The 'normal' rounded 75mm Sherman gun turret is accompanied by the more straight sided 76mm gun turret. Both types were used by several Allied armies, including - naturally- the Americans, but also the British (who used the 76mm version in Italy), the Polish, the French and via 'lend lease' the Soviets, so you have plenty of decal and painting options with these. (Incidentally, 1/100 decals are NOT included, so you will have to source these yourself, but here's one source:

This brings me to a bit of a quandary, with all these available build options which tanks do I make?

The 'stock' M4 75mm, M4 76mm and Panther Panzer V variants are the suggested combination to get started and learn the game, but what about after that...That Jagdpanther looks very tempting and having a duo of 76mm armed Shermans does give you a more formidable Allied combo.

I began to wonder if I could make the parts interchangeable, or swappable. I have read about the use of small magnets to attach turrets for wargames purposes but I have no experience with adding these to plastic models. But, I figured it was work a try, so I ordered some...

These tiny - but very strong magnets - measure 6mm diameter by 3mm thickness and are available from Amazon at a cost of £4.99 for 20 (I'm sure you can get a better deal if you shop around on eBay though).

What I will experiment with - which assembling my model tanks - is how to incorporate these magnets into the models so I can attach and detach the turrets and, in the case of the Panther, the complete upper hulls. Fingers crossed!

While the models are designed so you can use them unpainted, naturally, a
wargame miniature always performs better if it's been given a lick of paint!

Next: 1/100 tank assembly!

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