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M-51 Super Sherman/Isherman Build


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Hello ladies and gents!

As you can probably tell by my lack of posts I'm about as green as they come when it comes to composing build threads (or posting on the forum in general!) so apologies in advance for any strange formatting/elementary errors!

That being said I'd like to share with you all my latest project. No aftermarket (for now!), just a plain and pure build of this beauty: 



Which is of course Tamiya's 1/35th offering of the lean yet mean M51 Sherman! also popularly called the Super Sherman or the Isherman (names that ironically the Israelis never used!). Introduced in 1965 the M-51 was basically a fusion of the reliable and (at the time) widely available Sherman chassis with a monstrous 105 mm Modèle F1 French tank gun - the same type that would be used on the AMX 30. Seeing action in both the Six Day War and the Yom Kippur War, the M-51 was by all accounts a pretty decent machine and even held its own against the more modern soviet supplied machines it faced in the latter conflict. The IDF kept the M-51 in front line and later reserve service until the late 70's/early 80's when they were either retired or sold to the Chilean Armed Forces who kept them in operational service until the late 1990s. Quite the run for a tank that was essentially designed in the 1940s!

Right, obligatory historical blurb over- what about the kit itself???

It will come as no surprise to those that are familiar with Tamiya offerings that this kit is an absolute dream to build. The Tamiya hallmarks of good design, crisp and blemish free moulding and attention to detail are all prevalent in this kit which has, so far, almost fallen together on its own. For those of you out there for whom details are important be aware that OOB this kit might not be suitable for a later (post '67) M-51 mainly due to differences in the engine deck and the uniforms of the provided crew figures (or so I'm told).

Anyway- to the build!

Here is what everything looked like before I horribly mangled it with glue and tools  started to put it all together:




And here is what it looked like after I got stuck in



Nothing to report from the lower hull assembly aside from reiterating how easy this thing is to build! there are a few minor sink holes on the lower plate but as most of it is going to be hidden behind wheels, tracks and bogies I doubt anyone would notice if you didn't get rid of them. The eagle eyed amongst you will notice a small line of filler where the upper rear wall meets the lower plate. Again- not really a essential issue to be addressed as it will be hidden once the upper hull is fitted but as I am always on the lookout for 'low risk' opportunities to practice filling and sanding gaps I had a go at them (along with the aforementioned sink holes).




TA DA-  lower hull all done! but before I go on I do have a helpful hint for those of you reading this who are planning on building your own:

Before sticking the sides on I would recommend that you fit and glue part G2 (see where the pen is pointing below) onto the floor before you put the side panels on. This way you have something to align and support them on rather than trying to get them to stay upright on their own.






Well- I reckon that's a good note to end on! I hope you have enjoyed these first few steps and I'll have part two up as soon as possible



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I echo that....it's a great kit even out of the box. Probably one of the few things that need changing are the headlight and infra red light brush guards. The kit ones are a bit over scale. Tamiya's Shermans have come a long way since the early M4/M4A3 kits.

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I've got the Dragon M.51 in my stash, and personally, I will just use it for conversions. Since the Tamiya one came out, it's put both the Dragon and Academy versions in the shade. I used the Tamiya kit along with Dragon and Academy parts to build a batch 4 vehicle, one of the last models. At least with Tamiya, you don't have that over size muzzle brake. 

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Thank you everyone for your kind comments, encouragement and positive feed back! I hope this thread comes to some use for any of you that should crack the box on one of your own! To be honest before I brought the Tamiya version I was trying to find the Dragon one - glad I didn't now. Although I think I would still be tempted by a decently priced premium version!

Anyway, here is what she looks like now:



Quite the leap from the last time!

Once again, no problems with any areas and everything went together perfectly. I even didn't mind doing the wheels! :shocked: Barmy I know, almost doesn't feel like I'm getting the full AFV modelling experience!!! 





Speaking of wheels- here they are. Clean up was minimal and to be honest didn't take nearly as long as I thought it would. Just a quick few passes with a medium grit sanding stick to a ) get rid of the seam line around them and b ) simulate wear on the rubber plus a few drops of glue to get the bogies in one piece and I was good to go.

Next up was the main hull:




I drilled out the muzzle of the hull MG with a combination of a heated pin (VERY carefully!), a fresh xacto blade and a little bit of patience which gave me a result that passed inspection. Also care needs to be taken when attaching the small supports that run along the side of the hull (see the above photo) as it would be easy to glue them on crooked if you weren't paying attention. Not that I would know anything about that . . . . :whistle: 

If one was looking to detail this kit I would recommend, along with Bullbasket's suggestions about the light covers, that some of the smaller handles around the drivers/radio operators hatches and the engine deck be replaced with wire as they are moulded solid.


Next was the turret- my favorite part of any AFV kit! :



It's hard to get a shot with the whole gun plus turret in!

The barrel itself is cast in two separate parts but with a few rubber bands, a little glue oozing action and a few passes with the Flexi-File (which is a great piece of kit) to ensure the surface remained round this was easily overcome. I kept the commanders hatch open and closed the loaders hatch. Although Tamiya supply you with figures for both, after a think I decided to only go with the one figure. More on that later! Again if anyone out there wanted to detail this kit further there are a couple more handles here that could do with the wire treatment. But since I'm not too bothered by 100% accuracy when it comes to the smaller details and already glued everything in place (making slicing and dicing a bit tricky) I decided to give it a pass.

That being said, there is something that has been bothering me in regards to missing detail on the kit - this: 



Looking at reference photos it appears to be some sort of modification made after the Sherman hulls were acquired by the Israelis as it doesn't appear on any photo of a late model US or British Sherman that I can find. As far as I can tell (again from period photos) it was used to secure coils of wire- presumably of the barbed variety- to the front of the hull. Strangely enough Tamiya has included the arm which was used to hang said coils from. Usually I wouldn't worry about this, but since on the real thing breaks up the otherwise bare expanse of the lower front plate its omission is a little glaring to me at least.



Hmmm... time to break out the plastic rod and scrap photo etch? :hmmm:

All this and more in the next update!!!



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You've got it spot on with regards to that missing clamp. The barbed wire hung on the arm which Tamiya supply, and was clamped by the one that they left out. To be fair, they probably left it off because to do it in plastic, it would have been chunky. You should find it easier enough to do using scrap etched brass.

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Thank you everyone for your kind comments and my apologies to those of you watching this build for the extended delay! Various life events, including interviews/training for a new job and a ongoing odyssey with BT's technical department, has well and truly sapped my mojo over the past few weeks. Nevertheless- I promise another update in the next few days! 


On 10/3/2016 at 10:36 PM, Sgt.Squarehead said:

Shame you already started:  http://www.britmodeller.com/forums/index.php?/topic/235006939-sherman-tank-stgb/


Mind you.....You can never have too many Shermans!  :poke:  ;)


Drat! I didn't think to check the GB section before I started!

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It's not for another year at least, so plenty of time to pick another subject.....I shall enjoy watching this one progress in the mean time.  :coolio:


I'm planning on doing the Israeli 90mm M-50(?) in 1/72, alongside an Egyptian Sherman AML for my own entry into the STGB. 

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As promised - here is the next installment!

So what has been done since last time?


Well I am happy to announce that bar a few minor jobs, she is finally ready for painting!


Firstly all details that will not be attached to the hull prior to painting have been glued and cleaned up. My only real gripe with these - in fact, the only gripe I had throughout- was that the nozzles and handles on the jerry/water cans are separate pieces and therefore very fiddly and hard to clean up. Great care is needed when working with these as to prevent anything from pinging off into oblivion!

Next is the excellent .50 cal. Should you be so inclined you could probably leave the ammo box open and add a belt of ammunition via an appropriate aftermarket offering without too much effort.



And then there is the commander. I always like to include at least one figure in any AFV build I do as I feel it adds a point of interest to the model and helps to give the impression that the subject is a 'living' machine rather than a static model. Therefore, Tamiya's habit of including nicely tooled figures in their kits is a big bonus for me :D


Technically if you look at the instructions/box art this is the figure for the loader but I decided to offer him a quick field commission. Mainly because although standing straight up out of the hatch and pointing at some distant landmark (as the provided commander is doing) is an undoubtedly heroic pose to strike, in reality it would be decidedly unhealthy behavior on a battlefield as you would no doubt attract all sorts of unwanted attention.  Plus the loader figure is the only one modeled with an intercom/radio set, something that it would make sense for a commander of any vehicle to have. 



Last off plastic-wise is the scratch built clamp ( made out of plastic card and a small bit of stretched sprue) located on the front transmission cover - thanks to Bullbasket for confirming my suspicions as to what this thing actually was!




Probably not 100% accurate but as my first attempt (ever) of scratch building I am very happy with it. Although I would recommend using strips of appropriate width plastic card rather than trying to cut things out of a single sheet like I did- It will save you a lot of time!

And now, to the question of what paint to use to do this thing up as a Six Day War era M-51 . . .

. . . Oh boy.

Those of you who are familiar with modelling IDF subjects of any era will not doubt be aware of the great controversy that comes with addressing the question of 'exactly what color were/are Israeli vehicles?'. For those of you who are interested in trying to come up with your own answer there are many resources both online and in print that discuss this very subject. But for simplicity sake, here are the main points I took away from my own research:

  • It is highly probable the IDF never really standardized one scheme or colour for AFVs in it's earlier (1950s-70s) years. Various shades most likely existed across its fleet of vehicles
  • True colour (aka: non-Polaroid), quality photographs from said early eras are either non-existent or extremely hard to come by
  • Tamiya's colour call out is probably not correct! To be fair they do say that it is an 'approximate' one
  • Environmental conditions and the time of day definitely played a big part in what colour vehicles would appear to be to the naked eye
  • A good rule of thumb is Olive Drab for Suez Crisis era, Sand/Sand Grey for 1967/maybe 1973 and Sinai Grey for the 1984 Lebanon War era. Modern vehicles use an updated version of the '82 Sinai Grey.

Again, anyone who is looking at this build to get ideas for their own please take all this with a grain of salt! I am by no means an expert on the matter and your own ideas/preferences/findings may be completely different to mine. That being said, here is an good resource that I found particularly useful http://idfmodelling.free.fr/article01.html

Now - enough research! time to crack on and see what I can come up with

Using the aforementioned article as a guide, I chose to experiment with a mix of Tamiya XF-60, XF-57 and XF-59. Although the guide suggests X-60 and XF-57 for the vehicle I'm going for, I wanted to add the XF-59 to have something to compare it too. Here is what I got by mixing XF-60+XF-57 (on the left) and XF-59+XF-57 (on the right): 



For me the XF-60+XF-57 (50/50) mixture is a clear winner. The other seems just too brownish for me. Now I don't like brush painting Tamiya acrylics (Yep, guilty as charged- I am a hairy stick wielder! Ironically I do own an airbrush but I a ) haven't particularly warmed to it yet and b ) due to a recent long distance move it is still sitting in storage hundreds of miles away along with a few other unessential personal belongings) but seeing as the only acrylic call outs I have are for Tamiya (Lifecolour is far too expensive for me and I like to support my local model stores by sourcing as much paint as I can from them) I think I will just stick with what I've got.

And on that note I leave you with a final shot of everything before it gets a coat of paint. Next time I will try to not leave it so long before I update the thread!




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Looking good! Very clean work.


Since you are mixing Tamiya, a better approximation would be XF-57 and XF-20, 50/50. Lighten to suit with white or better yet, XF-55.


The actual color had a gray tint to it.


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You've made a good job of the barbed wire bracket, but if you ever had to do it again, scrap etched brass is much easier, and more in scale.

Bare in mind when using that Tamiya mix, that it's probably ok for a factory fresh finish. You have to take into account the effects of very strong sunlight. Also, just because it was on the IDF Modelling site, doesn't make it gospel. They also quote using Tamiya XF-62 olive drab for the '56 war finish when in actual fact, it was a much browner colour, similar to the olive drab used by the French post war.



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Hello all, Unfortunately progress has slowed down on this project once again but I have set myself a personal deadline: complete the entire thing before Scale Model World. Don't hold your breath though!

However, the M51 does now have some colour on it



Step back in time for a bit and here is the results of priming. I use Tamiya's grey surface primer for the 'upper' surfaces and Citadel's Chaos Black primer for the 'lower' surfaces (eg. the areas that would realistically be in shadow). I never done priming this way before, I usually just spray the whole thing either or, but I fancied a go at an artistic experiment.



Now- the observant among you will no doubt notice that the texture on the surface of the armour has changed somewhat since last time. In attaching the wire bracket on the front of the tank I had  
clumsily managed to fudge up the initial placing and, after re-positioning, had to sand the offending glue marks away. Unfortunately this meant that Tamiya's finely moulded casting texture was destroyed in the process! Several attempts with plastic putty and an old paintbrush produced acceptable, but not great, results. After the first coat of primer it was clear that the difference between the added texture and the moulded texture was glaring and really needed addressing. So cue the brush and putty once again... :doh:


On the bright side the painting side of things has gone very smoothly. After reading suggestions from this thread and looking once again at references I decided that a change of ideas was needed in regards to colour choice. So after a few experiments I was happy to go ahead with this mixture: 6 drops X-57 + 8 drops with 4 drops of XF-20 (or half the amount of XF-20) and a few drops of Windsor and Newtons flow improver to help thin the paint and eliminate as many brush marks as possible.


As par my usual set up for brush painting I used Windsor and Newton's Sceptre Gold 2 series brushes. A little pricey but for me the results are worth the extra pounds you pay for a branded sable brush and if you take good care of them (I use Abteuling 502 products to do so) they will last for years. Droppers and paint mixers are rinsed/soaked in a separate jar than the brushes and disposable gloves are always used when handling the model itself.




And that's all for now. However I do have a question for those of you in the know: what colour should the mantlet dust cover be? I can't seem to find the answer anywhere and every picture of other completed models/photos seems to give a different answer!

Well, thank you for stopping by and thanks once again to everyone who has very kindly offered their advice and knowledge on this build. Happy modelling everyone!






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Looking good!


Brand new, as delivered the canvas was an olive brown color. The color was nearly indistinguishable from the tank (US Olive Drab) at a distance. Now I do not know if the Israelis manufactured their own as the originals wore out. You cannot go wrong with some shade representing faded olive brown canvas. I would use use a khaki color lightened with a pale tan. 

I found one color photo on the web, but Photobucket isn't responding right now. I'll post it later. It shows a khaki canvas color. 



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