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  1. M3 Lee/Grant ISBN: 9780993564680 AFV Modeller Publications via Casemate UK In the years before WWII America realised that they were lagging behind in respect of armour, a fact that became especially clear when Germany came out from under a veil of secrecy to throw off the shackles of the Versailles treaty to show off and then use their new tanks and Blitzkrieg tactics. The M3 Lee was conceived in 1940 as a medium tank carrying a powerful 75mm gun, partly for manning by their own crews, but also because Britain had requested a large number of tanks to make good their losses from Dunkirk. The Lee was a decent tank but suffered from a high silhouette and limited traverse of the sponson-mounted 75mm gun, but was still widely used. In British service it was known as the Lee if it was fitted with the original American turret, or the Grant when using the lower-profiled British specification turrets. The Lee was used primarily in Africa and the Pacific theatres where the 2nd line equipment seemed to be fielded (for the most part) by the enemy, and against the Japanese who were far behind with their tank designs and tactics. It underwent some substantial changes including cast, welded and back to riveted hulls plus changes in the power pack and loss of the side doors to stiffen the hull. The riveted hulls suffered from rivets popping off and becoming projectiles when hit, which could be just as lethal as a penetrating round and was never fully eliminated. Lots of oddities and projects used the basic chassis, even after the Sherman supplanted it in general usage. The Book This is a new volume from AFV Modeller Publishing, and it is a weighty tome in a hard back binding with 471 real pages inside and a couple of blank ones in the rear to even things up. On the front is a stylised version of a wartime picture of a crew posing with live rounds in front of their tank, plus a small pile of “lightly used” spent brass in front of them. At first glance it appears to be a model, but later on I stumbled on the original picture at which time the cogs started turning and I took another look at the cover. It’s really well executed, I have to say. The pages are a satin finish and almost all of them are printed with contemporary photos, which are predominantly black and white, although a few are in colour. The best way to describe the book is an M3 Lee/Grant bible, as it covers the type from before its birth back to the T5 prototype that… well, let’s be frank, looks hideous and outdated even viewed through a mid-30s lens. The book is broken down as follows: Chapter 1 - Setting the stage, the T5/M2 3 Chapter 2 - Preparing for war 4 Chapter 3 - An overview of the M3 Medium Tank series 15 Chapter 4 - The radial engine tanks – M3, M3A1 and M3A2 30 Chapter 5 - The Diesel tanks – M3A3 and M3A5 38 Chapter 6 - The Multi-bank tanks – M3A4 116 Chapter 7 - Production and modification 138 Chapter 8 - M3-based conversions 148 Chapter 9 - North American use 247 Chapter 10 - The M3 in the British Isles 340 Chapter 11 - Combat debut – North Africa 366 Chapter 12 - The M3 in the Far East 420 Chapter 13 - The M3 in Australia 430 Chapter 14 - The M3 in Soviet service 442 Appendix - Tabulated data 452 The book is a goldmine of information, with every photo having an informative caption, with the main text expounding the history and major events of the tank’s development, from a rather angular beast to the shapelier M3 Lee and Grants that we know and sort-of love. The photos have been drawn from a number of private collections, and include many that are likely new or rare to print, with tons of pictures from the development, building of the tanks in the various factories and foundries that made the type, and at the proving grounds during tests. The depth of information in the pages is amazing, and some of the pictures are posed, while others are more candid both in the factories and in service. There is a great deal of inspiration for dioramas of course and so much detail that it would be of great value to modellers and history buffs alike. Conclusion You can imagine from the page count that the amount of information held within is comprehensive, and the photographs are of excellent quality both in terms of sharpness and content. If you’re interested in the type, you really should consider this book a must-have. Very highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of
  2. BMW R75 Escaping from the Falaise Pocket ISBN: 9780993564666 AFV Modeller via Casemate UK This book is an education for us mere mortal modellers as to what can be achieved with massive amounts of skill and ingenuity. The theme is to recreate a picture from the closing days of WWII that depicted four German soldiers riding a heavily laden BMW R75 motorcycle and sidecar in an attempt to escape through the gap left by the enclosing Allied forces that were to create the Falaise Pocket, encircling a large number of Axis forces after the Allies broke out from the Normandy beachhead and moved through France toward Germany and ultimately victory. The author, Robert Doepp is an award-winning modeller, and this is evident on every page of the book, so be prepared to spend most of your time with your jaw dropped wide open, drooling gently in awe of the skills demonstrated here. I know some modellers are discouraged by exceptional modelling, but if you treat this book as a level of skill to aspire to by making little improvements to every successive model you make, you’ll soon be making progress. It is a comprehensive book that runs to 111 genuine pages with a blank one at the end for obvious reasons, and is perfect bound in a matt-finished card cover. It is broken down into chapters as follows: Introduction Construction Painting Figures Figure Painting Base Wartime Restored Gallery It begins with some history of the author, and covers some of the events that both inspired and led up to the germination of this project in Robert’s motorcycle-loving mind. There are some gorgeous photographs of previous projects, plus a few shots of the finished model R75 against the photo that it is based upon. It also discusses the base kit for the bike, which is a rather old 1:9 kit from ESCI/Revell that brought many additional tasks along with it in order to make the model more accurate. The work on display is truly staggering, from the genuine spoked wheels to the individually cut and laminated cooling vanes on the engine, it offers everyone a masterclass on how to improve their own models, and at the very least lodge some ideas in the deepest recesses of your mind that will help you one day when you have a scratch building or repair issue with one of your models. The painting of the bike is almost as amazing as the construction, showing how much thought has been put into it, and how the model was broken down into subassemblies during the build to enable painting and weathering to proceed smoothly. The figures are all built up using armatures that are custom made by the author, and at 1:9 scale they’re fairly large. The basic shapes are determined then fleshed out with tubular shapes and extremities. How to sculpt faces is just one of the useful techniques discussed. Robert is clearly highly skilled as a sculptor, which is evidenced by the sheer volume of detail down to the stitching of the material sculpted into each figure. They are each individually dressed to match their photo, and custom parts are made up from scratch, even down to the small differences between the standard stahlhelm and the Fallschirmjäger pudding basin, with one of the crew wearing a hybrid that must have been specifically tooled to meet the requirements of its wearer for unknown reasons. The figures are painted in great detail both in the book and for the project, with attention paid to achieving a realistic camouflage pattern by using references of the real thing to guide you. Face painting is also studied, and with that the sub-assembled figures are put into position. An interlude shows the construction of the base, which has a muddy road bordered by a double line of cobbles as textural relief. The completed model is placed on the base, after a section devoted to some very interesting pictures of various bikes during WWII, a gallery of the finished model is shown to round things off. Conclusion Robert Doepp is most definitely one of the few genius modellers that excel beyond all imagination, and is an inspiration to us all. The book is full of lavish photography and detailed explanations of the techniques used, so even if we can absorb a fraction of what’s there, we should benefit immensely. Highly recommended. At time of writing, this volume is on offer at Casemate, and you can visit by clicking below Review sample courtesy of
  3. David Parker’s Crew School (9780993564673) AFV Modeller via Casemate UK Building and painting AFVs is a subject often covered in books on modelling, but figures and their integration with a model or diorama isn’t all that frequent. This book is one such tome, and covers the process of painting existing figures of many scales to adapting them to better suit your model, and then taking it a step further to build your own figures using just resin heads that are available and an armature - plus some sculpting medium of course. It is a comprehensive book that runs to 112 genuine pages and is perfect bound in a matt-finished card cover. It is broken down into chapters as follows: Introduction Basic Face Facts Uniform Approach Strike a Pose Switching for Effect Creating Creases Factory Fresh Armed and Dangerous Holt, Who Goes There? One Step Beyond Working with Mannequins Communication Breakdown Panther Personnel Charm Offensive Shell Slinger Ardennes Advance Appendix It begins with some painting techniques to give your models additional depth and quality by improving your skills in “lighting” your figures by painting them with highlights and shadows, including how best to depict camouflaged clothing and adding translucent shadows without obliterating the shape of the camouflage swatches. The basics of painting faces is explored too, showing how to create realistic shading and how depict eyes without using whites and making them look like escapees from a Marty Feldman film – we’ve all done it. It also shows additional techniques that can be useful for larger scale figures and busts. After describing the importance of posing your figures on and around your model, there is a section on simple changes you can make to better fit your figures to the task in hand, switching parts and re-building changes with armatures and putty. This of course requires a basic understanding of how fabrics move with the human body, which is the next step in the discussion, showing how creases form in various poses using pictures to illustrate the effects further. It further shows the kind of tools that you will need in order to consider sculpting your own fabrics, figure parts and so forth. More radical alteration of figures is shown through the next chapters, including repurposing figures from a different genre or country by adding details to correctly tie them into the desired theme. When you’re comfortable with altering figures, it’s the logical next step to create your own, and here a very clever approach to ease your progress is brought into play. Mannequins. David has had 3D mannequins printed to use as a basis for his figure sculpts, and having now seen them, they’re a rather impressive way to get consistent anatomical proportions for your figures, and they would probably sell well if they aren’t available already somewhere (which they don't seem to be). Some awesome sculpting follows, with many tips and tricks of the figure sculptor exposed to assist us novices, taking us from the basic pose using an armature and resin head, through fleshing out (pun!), clothing, buttons, badges and insignia, as well as describing which types of modelling materials are useful for certain tasks. More tricks and techniques follow along with plenty of painting hints, culminating in an impressive figure build for a 1:16 Schwimmwagen crew, taking inspiration from an actual picture taken during the war. The appendix at the rear of the book lists the tools and materials that are suitable for figure work, and which ones work best in certain circumstances, reinforcing the general theme of the book. The very last page shows a few shots of the projects just to round off the tome. Conclusion I’m a little terrified of figures, even though I used to paint Warhammer 40K in my 20s. This book really assists with the various techniques and would be a help to most figure builders/makers, save for those few genius modellers that excel beyond all imagination. Highly recommended. At time of writing, this volume is on offer at Casemate, and you can visit by clicking below Review sample courtesy of
  4. Building Trumpeters 1:16th JagdTiger AFV Modeller Publications I’m usually pretty sceptical about books that tell you how to build a particular model as it’s an individual hobby and the modeller should build their models as they wish or see fit. That said, having read through this book, Sam Dwyer hasn’t written it like that. He goes through the build from start to finish telling the reader how he’s built it step by step over 129 pages. The more interesting, and to me, useful sections, are where he’s showing how to make the kit more accurate, what materials he’s used and where he’s had some parts 3D printed or obtained resin parts. Sam has certainly put in a lot work in building this huge kit and the results are splendid. It shows that he has put in a lot of research and/or really knows his JagdTigers. After the build there is a thirty one page reference section with photograph of a preserved machine. Ok, while they say it’s preserved, it’s still rather dilapidated and while they would be good at having a go at extreme weathering it would have been nice to see photos of a machine that had had some restoration, like the one in the Tank Museum at Bovington, although the colour of the engine bay may be a bit dubious. IF you use the references in the book along with your own, the positions of equipment and their colours can be confirmed. The last two pages show the updates, correction sets and accessories you can buy for this kit, from AFV Modeller themselves, and very nice they are too, also new to this modeller. Conclusion Once I’d got over my scepticism, and read through this book, the more I got into it. Sam Dwyer certainly has modelling skills and he does a lovely job in building this awesome kit, and he writes in a straight forward, non-patronising way, which I find quite refreshing. If you have this kit and want to get the best out of it, you need this book. It will also be useful for those modellers who build in smaller scales and would like to add or modify the interior, or would just like to get the exterior right. Review sample courtesy of
  5. Scrapyard Armour AFV Modeller Publications via Casemate UK At the end of any military vehicle's life, there's one place where most of them end up, whether they're worn out, destroyed, or somewhere in between. The scrapyard. This is a scene of rust, damage and decay that is seldom topped for extremity, and an ideal example to demonstrate severe weathering, which is the intent of this book. Using a set of photos as a guide, which are reproduced in the middle of the book, three modellers take the challenge and build an example of a tank in its final phase. The book is from AFV Modeller Publications, from the magazine people of the same name, and consists of 116 pages in a portrait format bound in a thick card jacket. The projects are arranged around the central photo shoot of the Russian armour scrapyard, which is a bit of an eye-opener in itself, showing rows of dilapidated and broken T-62s amongst other types, some of which have been torch-cut in places, some haven't. Many of them still sport their ERA blocks around the turret and hull, which can only mean that these are the inactive blocks used for training, unless health & safety in Russia has slipped a little bit! David Parker builds a T-62 that has been cut into three equal sections across the hull, and had its turret removed and laid upside down next to it. He takes you through the process of creating the detailed interior using scratch built parts and some parts from a Verlinden set, as well as using some ET Model fenders to get scale thickness on those areas, which had been cut off in prelude to the main hull cuts. This intricate build takes up a substantial part of the book, and finished on page 47. The photos then take up to page 89, and after that another build from Mark Neville shows a relatively complete T-62BDD model 1984, which is minus its tracks and little else. His article concentrates on the exterior weathering, and the addition of dust and grime in all the right places that lend a realistic feel to the whole thing, finishing off with some minor diorama details at page 101. The final article is by Andy Taylor, who models a Georgian T-55, which has been converted with the addition of cheek armour on the turret. Although the AM is now available from Takom, he used an update set from CMK as the bones of his conversion, and goes further with the weathering due to the old age of the machine, showing panels that have been ripped from place and the interior raided, as well as the ravages of the elements. The level of grime around the hull really is a sight to behold. Conclusion The book has a high quality feel to it, and the content is interesting, with lots of techniques and tips on display for you to refer back to, or aspire to if you have never tried them before. The photographic section is entertaining in its own right, but a few captions to enlighten us to what exactly we're looking at would have been useful to those of us that don't know these beasts intimately. Overall a good read, and a reference work that you can keep coming back to for inspiration. Highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of
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