In the aftermath of the Second World, the Israeli Defence Force found it difficult to source modern armour, mainly due the west’s reluctance to potentially destabilize an already volatile situation in the Middle East by giving any one side an advantage in military hardware. Because of the scarcity of new equipment, the IDF was forced to develop their own armour on existing platforms, In this case the venerable Sherman tank.
Initial supplies of surplus French sourced standard M4’s proved adequate until the 1950’s, when countries such as Egypt and Jordan began to receive more modern armour from the likes of the Soviet Union. In order to counter this development, the French initially offered to supply the AMX 13 tank, which was dismissed due to its inadequate level of armour . The IDF took the decision to use what it regarded as the best elements of the AMX 13, most notably the VVSS suspension and 75mm high velocity gun and fitted these upgrades its own fleet of Sherman’s. The resulting M50 model was, initially somewhat underpowered, this was later rectified by the installation of the more powerful Cummins diesel engine.
In the 1960’s A number of these tanks were fitted with a modified version of the 105mm Modèle F1 gun, complete with a reduced barrel length that utilised smaller shells and a rather imposing muzzle break . This rather impressive piece of armour was designated the M51 and saw action in both the Six Day war of 1967 and the Yom Kippur conflict of 1973.
Having had the pleasure of looking at several Legend productions
after market sets over the past few months, it came as no surprise to find that they had observed the same attention to detail and quality in this stowage set. The box contains 41 resin parts consisting of:
- 1 large rear deck tarpaulin
- 1 large tent canvas
- 1 Engine deck Tool box/MG/Tripod/tarpaulin
- 1 Turret Helmet/Tool box/ tarpaulin
- 2 flack helmets
- 3 water bottles
- 2 wooden crates
- 3 Ammo boxes
- 2 water drums
- 4 small kit bags
- 4 medium Kit bags
- 3 large kit bags
- 5 bed rolls
- 2 attachment points
- 5 shell casings
- 2 turret unit marking covers
From water bottles to large items of kit, all these parts are very well rendered and most importantly, very convincing when placed on the tank. one single piece that covers the engine deck was a particular favourite, containing a Gal SMG stock, Tripod, tool box, kit bag and grounsheet! The realistic and weighty look to the tarpaulin, including what I assume is a rather large tent canvas, is especially well moulded. It also fits beautifully to the contours of the model, even though the set is designed for the Tamiya Kit and not my Academy version.
Top quality resin is the order of the day, with intelligently placed moulding plugs that do not compromise or force the removal of any detail. Furthermore, I encountered no air bubbles what so ever on any part of the set allowing the modeller to concentrate on making the best of the items rather than having to spend time making up for any shortcomings in the kits manufacture.
Contemporary reference pictures of the M51 show them laden down with the crews gear and although both the Tamiya and Academy kits have a reasonable amount of stowage included, this set really finishes off the build. Legend
have obviously done their research to make this set as comprehensive as possible with a good variety of large pieces obviously designed to go in a particular area and smaller items which when taken together give a very weighted and natural look when placed on the model.
Removal of the plugs from the parts was very straight forward. As I mentioned before the mouldings are very well thought out to avoid the loss of any detail, making what is often a rather fraught experience, quick and straightforward. Once the parts were prepared, I test fitted the items onto my finished M51, trying a number of different positions for the parts using both reference pictures and simple experimentation. Straight away and even before they had been painted, it improved the overall look of the tank giving it a very laden down and lived in appearance.
Once the parts were primed, the larger pieces were sprayed with a mixture of LifeColor dark green mixed with varying ratios of sand grey, the base colour of the tank itself. This not only allowed me to make subtle differences in shade of individual items, but also gives everything a unity so as to blend in with the vehicle. Highlights were then added and details such as ropes were painted. A random selection of the pieces were painted in a similar shade of Citadel paint to give a little more variety. Finally straps were added to relevant items with lead wire.
Some parts such as the wooden crates and Flak helmets were first painted green, as many of these seemed to be initially supplied by the U.S.A in this colour. To try and mimic the rather hasty re painting of these items by the IDF, a layer of chipping fluid was sprayed over the top and then sand grey was painted on. Once this was dry the top coat was ‘distressed’ by a dilution of water followed by a vigorous scrub with an old brush.
I used MIG Brown wash for general weathering and then for some of the more complex pieces, I used black oil wash to pick out any details. Once this was done, I then dusted over a coat of very diluted Tamiya XF57 to provide both a key for the pigments and to unify the colour with the rest of the tank. I then used Pinnacle Pigments Desert sand to add a dusty appearance. Once the items were secured onto the kit with white glue, I used ‘EZ line’ to make the tie downs and then gave some areas a final dusting with pigments to blend them in with the rest of the model.
As I said in the introduction, having used a number of Legend Productions
products, I have come to expect very high production values and attention to detail. This set does not disappoint, with a great mixture of different sized parts that can be configured in any number of ways to provide a realistic looking stowage configuration for your M51 build.