Monday, March 21, 2011

Trumpeter 88mm PaK 43

Built by Tom Moon for IPMS National reviews.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Book Review Building and Detailing Realistic Sherman Tanks

This is a review of James K. Wechsler's book: Building and Detailing Realistic Sherman Tanks Scale Modeler's How To.

The book is published by Fine Scale Modeler Books, Kalmbach Books.

Having become familiar with Mr. Wechsler's work through the internet and the pages of Fine Scale Modeler magazine, I was excited to hear he was putting out a how-to book on building the Sherman tank. Once the book became available on, I ordered it without hesitation. Having read it, I can only say now that I wish I had hesitated to add this book to my shopping cart. My only solace at this point is that I paid less than the cover price.

The book consists of 103 pages on glossy, high quality paper. Initially, the book is divided into roughly two equal halves. The first half, running 51 pages in length, details Mr. Wechsler's builds of four different Sherman tanks. The second half, 52 pages long, showcases a gallery of 48 different Sherman tanks previously built by Mr. Wechsler. This organization and content is my first major complaint about the book. I bought the book to learn about Mr. Wechsler's methods for building, painting, and weathering tank models. But, for my money, I got only half a book with thay type of information with the rest of the book taken up by photos of previously completed models. In a nutshell, that is not why I bought the book and not what is advertised by the title.

The heart of the book is found in the first half. This half is broken down into four separate chapters, each detailing the build of a different Sherman model.

(1) Perfect Starter Sherman. Here Mr. Wechsler builds Tasca's M4A1 Sherman Late Production kit (35012). He adds some resin pioneer tools from Formatons Models and Cyber-Hobby DS T48 tracks with extended end connectors (or duckbills as they were commonly known). As near as I can tell this set of tracks is now out-of-production. Due to the cost of a Tasca Sherman kit, I must quibble with Mr.Wechsler's definition of a starter model as well as his decision to include aftermarket parts, which a beginning modeler is unlikely to do.

(2) Aftermarket Parts Simplify a Complex Kit. In his second chapter, Mr. Wechsler builds Dragon's M51 ISherman Premium Edition kit (3539). He uses a slew of Tiger Model Designs Aftermarket resin parts.

(3) Maximum Details Improved Groundwork. In chapter 3, Mr. Wechsler builds a USMC M4A2 Sherman using Dragon's M4A2 Tarawa kit (6062). Once again, Mr. Wechsler uses numerous aftermarket parts, this time from Tiger Model Designs and Tank Workshop.

(4) For the Most Accurate Sherman Reach for a Resin Kit. In the final chapter, Mr. Wechsler builds a late war M4A3(76) with sandbag armor. Here, Mr. Wechsler used numerous aftermarket sets from Formations, Legend, and Panda Plastics. The finished model went on a very eleaborate base with several other vehicles, ruined buildings, and figures.
In each of these chapters, Mr. Wechsler produced very nice Sherman models and places them on increasingly complex bases. He also attempts to explain what he did in each build. This brings me to my second group of complaints about this book. First, there are not enough pictures of the model builds. As a result, I often found myself getting lost amongst all the verbiage that Mr. Wechsler resorts to in an effort to explain what he did. Unfortunately, I found myself continually thnking that this process he is trying to ecxplain through words could be shown very simply and clearly with a few more well-captioned photos. Second, gthe pictures that are in the four build chapters are too small and frequently taken from such a distance from the model that it is almost impossible to discern exactly what he did. This is especially true in the parts of the book discussing the painting and weathering of the tanks. To be totally candid, looking at many of those pictures, I could not tell the difference between the tank at point "A" in the process versus point "B." Don't be thrown off by the picture I have included with the review, that is a close-up taken with my digital camera and they reveal details not visible to me while I was reading the book. I think I am safe in saying that a consumer should not be forced to take digital photographs of the pictures in a how-to book to make out what is being done! Finally, I wish Mr. Wechsler had included the cost of the builds in each of the chapters. As a modeler on a budget, that is information I would like to know.

To say the least, I was disappointed by this book. I cannot in good conscience recommend that anyone purchase this book because it just does not accomplish what the title announces it will do: show a modeler how to build and detail a realistic Sherman tank model.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

My 1/48th Tamiya Jagdtiger and Pzkw III

Gotta give Drew credit for turning me on to these great Tamiya kits in 1/48th! I'm a relative beginner, but am having a blast with these. My current project (just started) is the Jagdpanther. Next up are the Pzkw IV and the Tiger I.

BTW, once upon a time I was a home brewer and as such I have a cylinder of CO2 that I used to use for artificially carbonating my brews. I'm thinking now of converting it for use with my Badger airbrush. Has anyone done the CO2 cylinder thing and have any words of wisdom to offer?

Mark Warnack

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Ground Work and Diorama Bases

Ground Work and Diorama Bases

At our last meeting night, Jorge asked if I would start a conversation about ground work. There are so many people with different experiences in our club, so I will get this started and see if others can throw in their ideas. I know that I have learned some tricks from others.

The fist item is the base. Most of us use a wood platform. There are expensive hardwoods. If you have the means to cut and polish your own, are a good woodcrafter, that is a great start. Knowing how to trim, sand and seal wood is important.

I have had bad experiences with the simple and cheap Pine bases that you find at Hobby Lobby or Michaels. I like to trim the base with a squared basswood. This helps me hold the groundwork in place. The trick with gluing that on, is that you have to be sure you sand off all of the glue smears before you try to stain the wood. This is a lot of work unless you are just going to use paint instead of sanding.

You also need to be sure that you have sealed the inside of the trim completely with an enamal paint or varnish. This will help prevent the wood base from absorbing the moisture of the Celluclay or Sculptamold and warping.

I am going to leave it there and see who else can add to this part of the discussion.