Tonight I put the finishing touches on a few lingering partial assemblies; an Artizan Pak38, a French civilian truck from Warlord and an eBob Miniatures Opel Blitz. All were straightforward builds and paint jobs. Not much else to report so following a short narrative, here’s a short gallery.
A while ago I purchased these 30mm outside diameter/25mm inside diameter colored plastic rings to use for status markers for 28mm miniatures. The majority of my singly based 28mm miniatures are on round 25mm bases with steel bottoms. With this in mind I took 30mm bases, attached self adhesive magnetic sheet to the tops, and then glued the rings on. This ended up working well as the magnetic attraction is enough that the markers won’t fall off when the minis are moved, yet they are still easy to disconnect without fouling up the basing. Hopefully I’ll never need more than ten as I cannot recall where I purchased them…
Recently Fall hit and the humidity dropped considerably, so I was able to get out the airbrush and finish up the Rubicon Sherman.
I began by brush priming the metal parts with Gunze Sangyo Mr. Metal Primer. I then primed the entire model with AK Interactive Grey Primer, shot straight from the bottle through an Iwata Eclipse HP-CS at ~18 psi. The AK Interactive primer is, by far, my favorite. It binds, coats and levels better than any other primer, acrylic or otherwise, that I’ve used.
Once dry I pre-shaded the model with Vallejo Model Air #43, Olive Drab, thinned at 3 parts paint to one part Liquitex Airbrush Medium, one part Vallejo Airbrush Thinner and one part Vallejo Satin Varnish shot at ~15 psi. In hindsight, I probably could have gone with a darker shade here.
Next I applied a base coat of Vallejo Model Air #44, Light Grey Green thinned as above.
After the base colors had set completely I applied the markings. The turret stars are from Archer Fine Transfers, the differential dashed circle star is from I-94 Enterprises and the serial numbers are from the kit sheet. I then brush painted over the turret stars with Vallejo Model Color #889, US Olive Drab.
Post-markings I added some shadows using a thin wash of MIG Productions 502 Abteilung Wash Brown oil paint. This was followed by highlighting with some light dry-brushing of Vallejo Panzer Aces #322, US Tanker Highlight.
Following this I painted the remaining accessories and details with various Vallejo Acrylic and Humbrol Metal Cote paints.
I then started working on the tracks, bogie wheels and return rollers. The bogies and return rollers were painted with Vallejo Panzer Aces #306, Dark Rubber, given a wash of acrylic black, and lightly dry-brushed with Vallejo Panzer Aces #305, Light Rubber. The tracks were painted with Vallejo Panzer Aces #304, Track Primer given a wash of acrylic black, and lightly dry-brushed with Vallejo Panzer Aces #305, Light Rubber. Earlier on in the build I had mentioned that I believed the tracks we’re supposed to be the steel chevron type, but because of the ambiguity I chose the easier route, for me, and painted them as rubber. The track end connectors were given a wash of True-Earth Burnt Rust R. Once this was dry I painted the raised details of the end connectors with Humbrol Metal Cote Aluminum. These metal cote paints dry to a matt black and then can be buffed. I used my finger and a micro-brush to gently buff the end connectors.
Once the tracks were complete I started weathering the kit. In trying to keep it moderate, I started with an overall thin wash of MIG Productions 502 Abteilung Light Mud and then added some subtle vertical streaking with MIG Productions 502 Abteilung Engine Grease. I then added some staining around the filler caps with AK Interactive Fuel Stains.
After the oils and enamels were dry I started to weather the lower hull using a product that was new to me – Mud-in-a-Pot from Reality in Scale. Mud-in-a-Pot is an acrylic based textured mud that can be used straight from the jar. I used a lighter shade on the majority of the lower hull, and used the darkest shade closer in towards the running gear. I really like this product, but need to spend some more time with it to fully realize its potential.
Then when the “mud’ had dried (exceptionally hard by the way) I attached the tracks to the lower hull. This was followed by a light application of some MIG Pigments to harmonize the mud colors.
As a final touch I gave the tank commander a map and a pair of binoculars from the scrap box.
To finish the kit off, I sprayed the entire model with AK Interactive Matt Varnish. Here are a few photos of the finished kit, and some pics alongside a JTFM Sherman that I built in parallel.
To summarize, the Rubicon Sherman is an excellent kit that was a really fun build. If you’re looking for Shermans to add to your arsenal, I highly recommend this model. I will certainly be checking out their other offerings in the near future.
- Easy Assembly
- Clear Instructions
- Provides Multiple Main Gun Choices
- Plastic – My Favorite Medium
- Excellent Detail
- Good Part Fit
- One Piece Tracks
- No Marking Guide
- Decals Slightly Thick
- Track “Identity Crisis”
- Lack of Extra Turret Ring
I was going to break this up into two parts, but the rest of the assembly went so fast I decided on a combined post.
The tracks and suspension for the Rubicon Sherman consist of five parts; the tracks and outside suspension/bogies, three inner bogie assembly halves and an inner drive sprocket piece. The assembly of these was straight forward. I sanded the seam along the part of the tracks that would be visible, and then glued the inner parts to the outer track/suspension assembly. While I understand the need to simplify the suspension, especially for a wargaming model, the design did result in a visible seam in all of the bogies. I decided to not fill these as the difficulty of sanding them didn’t seem worth the effort. Also of note, the track pattern is greatly simplified as well. I believe that they are supposed to be the steel chevron type, but I am unsure.
I set the track assemblies aside and began working on the lower hull. The lower hull is split into two pieces, and Rubicon cleverly hid any visible seam by incorporating it into the engine doors and hiding it with the trailer hitch.
I like my wargaming models to have a little heft and wanted to add some weight to the hull. I affixed some Pinewood Derby Chassis Weights using CA glue.
I then attached the idler wheel assemblies.
The next step was attaching the differential cover to the lower front of the hull. I dry fitted this piece with the upper hull, and discovered it was going to take a little coaxing to fit correctly. I cemented it, strapped it down with some rubber bands and let it dry overnight.
Like the turret, the differential cover was a cast piece. I applied the same technique as I did with the turret to try and give it that texture.
The bulk of the upper hull is one piece that fit perfectly on to the lower hull.
The next steps called for attaching the rest of the upper hull parts – headlights, exhaust deflector, hull MG, etc. These parts went on without issue. During these steps I drilled out the front and rear hull lift hooks.
To finish off the kit I added the Culin hedgerow cutter and some stowage. The Culin device had some clear injector pin marks that I tried to fill with putty. I plan on covering up my poor work with some weathering.
As the kit did not include any stowage, I added some from the space parts bin.
As a final step, I made an air recognition panel using foil from a wine label (no shortage of this material at the Emmett Estate), some painter’s tape and thread. After I affixed it to the tank I brush painted it with matt medium to stiffen it up.
Next in Part IV I’ll begin painting and applying the markings.
The Rubicon Sherman kit includes parts to build a version with either the 75mm, 76mm or 105mm main gun. The 75mm and 105mm main guns use the same type of turret (and essentially the same model mantlet), and the 76mm has dedicated turret and mantlet parts. Unfortunately there is only one turret ring – the part that allows the turret to be attached to the upper hull – included. This means that, unless you are feeling creative, a commitment to one of the main gun types will have to be made. I decided to build mine with the 75mm. As an aside, Rubicon has stated that for their upcoming US tank destroyer releases they will include enough parts to make swappable turrets.
The turret assembly started with affixing the pistol port, the lower bustle and the turret ring. The fit of these parts was fair and I needed to sand all of them to get a better fit. Even then there was some seam filling to do in a later step.
As Sherman turrets were cast, I wanted to try and texture the plastic to differentiate it from the welded hull. I used an old technique of coating small areas of the parts with liquid plastic cement and then “tapping” the surface with my finger. As the cement dissolved the plastic, the action of rolling and tapping my finger gave the turret a slightly rougher feel.
Between this step and the next, I added the commander’s cupola and hatch but neglected to photograph it. The 75mm turret comes with the older split commander’s hatch with the rotating ring and a pintle mount for the .50 cal. The way the part is notched it only allows for the pintle to face the rear, which was where I wanted it anyway.
I filled the seams around the pistol port and the lower bustle and sanded them somewhat smooth. I then applied a rough line of putty along the seam created by the lower bustle part. Sherman turrets had a very noticeable weld here that I was trying to represent. After the putty dried I used the liquid cement technique over any areas that were sanded smooth.
As before, I neglected to photograph the next steps of mounting the mantlet and the main gun. I applied the same cast texturing technique to the mantlet, and used a pin vise to drill out the gun barrel. The elevation of the gun operated, however due to the length of the barrel it depressed to its minimum elevation. Rather than try and counter balance it I plan on gluing it in place once the kit is complete.
I decide to add a tank commander and chose a half-figure from Warlord. In order to facilitate mounting it in the commander’s hatch, I affixed a LITKO 15mm base to the inside of the turret. I then cleaned and mounted the TC.
I removed the antenna base on the left rear of the turret and countersunk a 1/16″ x 1/32″ magnet in the antenna mount. Using the plastic antenna base I fashioned an antenna using brass rod and another magnet so the antenna would be removable for storage.
Using the same methods as with the antenna, I mounted magnets on the pintle and .50 cal so it could be removed as well.
Adding some final details I drilled out the front lifting hook and added a stowage pack on the rear. The strap on the pack was made with lead foil from a wine label, and the pack is from a Tamiya kit.
Coming up in Part III I’ll begin working on the running gear and the lower hull.
The M4A3 comes packaged in a sturdy box with some attractive cover art on the front (although if I’m not mistaken, the chevrons on the tracks are reversed), and some historical details, side view art and image of the decal sheet on the back.
Inside the box are three sprues containing the upper and lower hull, running gear, two turret options, three main armament options and, much to my delight, a Culin hedgerow cutter.
Additionally there is a four page instruction booklet and a decal sheet that contains markings for the Sherman and their upcoming M3 halftrack kit. I suspect the same sheet will be used for the forthcoming Stuart release as well.
At first blush, the parts seem to be molded very well with minimal if any flash, the decals are vibrant yet thin, and the instructions appear to be clear and concise.
Coming up in Part II I’ll begin tackling the turret.
Recently Walmart Photo temporarly reduced their price on their fleece photo blankets, so I had another large one printed from a cobblestone street map I had previously purchased at Wargame Vault. My wife and I squared it up and trimmed it to 4’x6′, and while I had it out I set up a town with my Grand Manner buildings to see how it would look. Here are the results.