Today I'm looking at something new for me, although the kits have been around for quite a while, some 1/72 scale US armour from Plastic Soldier Company (PSC), namely their M4A1, M4A1 76mm, and M5 Stuart sets.
I've been tempted with some 1/72 (20mm) stuff for a while now as the sheer nostalgia associated with the models from building the likes of Airfix and Revell kits in my youth was a pretty strong pull, and after speaking with Piers Brand on episode 3 of The Brit the Yank and the Hobby Podcast I decided to pick up a few bits at Salute. Naturally a few bits turned into a mountain, but anyway, at least it's quick to paint...
Apologies for no sprue shots of each kit, I got these built and done too quickly to get pics, though there are plenty around, and even on the PSC website. Each of these sets contains 3 vehicles, and I enhanced them all with some scratch built stowage and some antennae made from 5 amp fuse wire. All the kits come with instructions, but no transfers, and (obviously), are plastic.
This set features the M4A1 Sherman, and with the fantastic looking cast hull is my favourite Sherman variant. Each tank is cleanly moulded on one sprue, with a tank commander in Commonwealth uniform, and optional parts including a .50 machine gun, a run of spare tracks, a spare wheel a jerry can and sand skirts.
Assembly couldn't be simpler and took about 15-20 minutes for each vehicle. Fit is great, and the only thing I'd say to be mindful of is a few sink marks, mainly on the mantlet and just below the travel lock, I missed a few but it's not desperately noticeable.
Both this set and the M4A1 76mm mention on the box that they come with parts to make both the 75 and 76mm gun turrets, however I think this must be a carry over from the 15mm boxing of the set and this is not the case.
M4A1 76mm Sherman
Unsurprisingly this set is very similar to the above, again containing 3 tanks, with the same stowage options, but coming with the later turret type containing the 76mm gun and this time including a commander wearing a US style tankers helmet.
All the comments relating to the M4A1 carry over here, and again was a very nice, simple kit to build.
This set features far more options than the M4A1s, and with each tank contained on one sprue comes with parts to allow you to build early, mid and late production variants.
You get a lot of spares, notably a full set of tracks and upper hull. Also contained is a choice of Commonwealth or American tank commander figures, so you certainly get a lot of bang for you buck with these little tanks.
Assembly was even quicker than with the Sherman's once I'd decided on variants and laid out the parts required, and again assembly was a breeze.
I primed each tank with some cheap grey automotive primer and then airbrushed them with Olive Drab Base from the Mig Ammo range. On top of this I sprayed a mix of Olive Drab Base and Vallejo Pale Sand, to pick out the edges of armour panels and raised areas. I didn't go to far with this as I knew I'd be weathering these pretty heavily, and I didn't want the tanks to have too high a contrast either. I picked out tracks, tyres and tools and then set the models to one side. At this stage I also added some transfers from my spares box, and added a disruptive pattern to the 76mm armed Shermans using Vallejo Black Grey.
I've had the paint react badly to the next stage of using enamel washes if it's not left to fully cure. Once a couple of days had passed I first up painted AK interactive dust and dirt deposits over the entire model, letting it pool in the recesses and leaving it to become touch dry for an hour or 2.
The beauty of enamel washes is you have plenty of time to work on them so I came back with a large brush dampened in white spirit and worked back some of the dust and dirt so it had a streak, irregular finish, and then painted a load of Wilder European Terrain Pigment onto the lower areas of the model.
After using some pigment fixer and leaving the tanks to cure for another day or so I finished them off with a wash of Mig Ammo Dark Brown Wash for Green vehicles into the recesses, applied some streaking with Mig Dark streaking grime, and added a few chips of paint with sponge.
With that the stowage and commander figures were painted, and that was my US armour done.
I'm thoroughly impressed with these kits, and am now decided whether to expand them to a full company's worth of Shermans, or to branch out and perhaps do some British armour, as the PSC Churchill and M4A4 sets look especially enticing. With an average price of about 15 a box, these are excellent value, and I recommend them to anyone looking for some 20mm Shermans or Stuarts.
As ever you can see more of my work at Volley Fire Painting Service, and you can browse Plastic Soldier Company's to see what treasures they have to entice you.