Sunday 29 October 2017

1/72 Armourfast Shermans

Armourfast themselves sell these kits for £7.50 per box; I recently acquired four of their several different Sherman variants at Euro Miniature Expo, for £6.75 each. Considering you get two tanks per box I think that's pretty good value, in terms of cost per tank.

However, these are most definitely wargaming models; Dragon or Trumpeter they ain't. If you're buying tanks for a wargaming army, as indeed I am, the fact they're cheap, simple to build, and - due to their simplicity and lack of fine detail - robust enough to withstand frequent handling, are all potential pluses.

Simple kits = easy/quick build.

Assembly line in production!

'Finescale' modellers, looking for display-case suitable single vehicles should look elsewhere. For myself, I don't mind - in fact I quite enjoy - the detailing and/or conversion of my models. Fabricating my own detailing for these Armourfast Shermans has been a fun project. 

I started by adding all the 'eyelet' type rings; I think these are for lifting the tanks during transportation, but possibly also they're for mounting cables/stowage, etc. After that I made the 'wire-frame' style doodads that I suppose are for covering/protecting the headlamps. This was harder, and more time consuming. I'm currently pondering how I might add track-tread detail, to the visible fore and aft portions of the tracks.

Wire eyelets added.

At the rear of the turrets I opted to use styrene for the final eyelets.

The models not only lack detail, but come without decals. Armourfast sell some suitable stuff by Black Lion via their website. They also stock/sell numerous add-ons, such as stowage and the like, for detailing their tanks. The extra costs in these areas, plus the time you might choose to spend working on these very basic kits to enhance them, make them more costly in real terms than the box price might suggest. But they'll still come in cheaper per tank than the more high end models.

Headlamp protection, attempts #1 and #2: left, too big/thick; right, too fiddly to mass-produce.

Left, nigh on invisible, right, too big!

Attempt #3, using plastic-card. Much better.

I also recently purchased a box of Plastic Soldier Co. Shermans. These come three to the box (this said, my box - bought at local charity shop for £5 - only had two!), and are slightly more detailed, with more pieces to assemble: of particular note, the Armourfast running gear (wheels and tracks) are one piece castings, lacking tread detail (which can be a nice aspect of the various Sherman types), whereas PSC are three piece, with much better detailed track. But, in the end, the PSC kits end up costing the same per tank, roughly, as Armourfast models.

Tow-cable eyelets added to all six U.S. Shermans [1].

Scrtach-building a pair of sirens.

The sirens in situ.

Rear lamps were also added.

The M4A2 75mm variants got several tools added at rear.

The M4A3 105mm (centre) have less rear detail; M4A3 75mm (right) sport large stowage bins.

So, if you're looking to build quick/cheap larger forces, Armourfast are, economically, a wise choice. If you find the fun of kit building resides in off-the-shelf hyper detail, buy a different brand. If you like detailing stuff yourself, as I do, then the limitations of these models present an interesting challenge. All told, balancing the lack of detail against value per model, I'd rate these at four stars/balkankreuz.

Halfords matt grey undercoat.

Viewed from the rear.

Humbrol acrylic olive Drab aerosol sprayed on.

And from behind...

So, that's how they look at present. The losing of my Images of War reference - I bought a book dedicated to pictures of Shermans in WWII at the recent Expo, specifically to help me detail these kits - is very galling. I'll return to these at some point soon, to add more stowage, populate them with some figures, add decals, and then, finally, weather them, etc.


[1] I've built the Armourfast Sherman Firefly variant, a British type, but they're not covered in this post.

No comments:

Post a Comment