Below is my half-track with a Hasbro Jeep, these two vehicles make up the acting recon unit of the task force.
If you follow me at all, you probably know that it was some time ago that I put out the first issue of COMBAT PATROL, or TASK FORCE COMBAT as I am now calling it. You would also know that I have been pretty busy modeling Shermans and Half-tracks and putting together troops. Thought it might be time to pull all those efforts together in one post and show where I currently am with the project.
At some point in time my good friend Phil Ball (Gray Ghost) got interested in the project and asked if he could be a part of building this unit. Which got me to thinking that maybe other members of the SSCC Ohio club might want to be a part of working on Task Force Combat. So with that in mind, I created the above manual and maps as a sort of "membership kit" for those club members who were interested in participating. The manual briefly shows the historical use of the Task Force concept as employed by the 4th Armored Division and outlines how I am borrowing it for the online comic. Once I finish this post, I will create a button below that will take you to a page where the manual pages and maps are displayed. It might be interesting to some (or not) to see where I am going with it.
In the meantime, thought I might spend the remainder of this post talking about what we have accomplished so far in building up our TASK FORCE. You will be able to see the composition of the Task force on one of the manual pages which lists the various units be vehicle number and serial number.
Below is my half-track with a Hasbro Jeep, these two vehicles make up the acting recon unit of the task force.
Below are the first two vehicles that I put together for the unit. Two M5 Stuarts that I have had for years. I basically just started over again on them adding new periscopes from castings that I created, periscope guards from brass and brass tie-downs. One of the Stuarts received a tool box and on the other one I just redid the tools, tying them down to the tie downs with leather straps
I didn't go as crazy as Robert Steinbrunn, who did that fabulous book on re-doing an M5 in 1:6th, but I did what I could on the cheap. Both of these vehicles belong to 1st Platoon, Company D, which is a light tank company. Phil has two more Stuarts and SSCC member, Eric B. the fifth tank, which would complete the unit.
The next vehicle in my 37th Motor Pool is this Dodge Weapons Carrier. It was converted from a 21st Century Command Car. It is one of two that the unit currently has, though Phil's is in need of major repair after taking a tumble off of a shelf. The vehicle has room for a squad of eight. During the rebuild, I articulated the front wheels so that they could turn left and right for photography purposes.
By the time that American forces arrived in France, the White Scout Car was already obsolete, replaced by half-tracks and armored cars such as the M8. French and British forces continued to use the ones that America no longer wanted, but in U.S. service they were mostly used by MP units and engineers. This particular one has survived finding new life as a Task Force Command Vehicle. It has been highly modified with added resin seats and a scratch built radio. The gun ring has been lowered to look more correct. The doors reworked, tie downs added and more. Oh yeah, the front wheels were articulated on this one as well. I believe Phil has another White Scout Car which would be used as an Engineer unit vehicle.
Of course there is no end to the number of Jeeps that club members own, both Dragon and 90's Hasbro. These two versions are fairly compatible in size and with just a little bit of work, the Hasbro Jeep can look really good. This particular one below is the Dragon pre-built version. I have four Jeeps total, 2 Hasbro and 2 Dragon. Phil has a number of Jeeps as well and I am certain that participating club members have additional ones.
This was my first Sherman, the Dragon M4A3. I got this one from a former club member and after making a few repairs and adding some details, such as plate armor on the hull and turret, it got a paint job and markings for the 37th Tank Battalion. We now have four Shermans in the unit and they are all part of 2nd Platoon, Company B.
Below are the other three. Two of the three were made from kits. I think Phil and I are in complete agreement that they were the worst model kits we ever put together. The instructions were horrible and there were many things about the parts themselves that made me wish I had never started it. The hull was terribly warped and many of the locating holes for the tools and other small parts had never been drilled (or cast... or however they do it). Don't get me wrong, it will make into a nice model when it is all said and done, I'm just saying that you need to be aware that there will be some problems along the way. All that said, here is the rest of 2nd platoon.
Probably the vehicle what will make our Task Force unique is our collection of three M2A1 Half-tracks. By the time the Allies landed in Normandy the M2 was already going the way of the Scout Car, being replaced by the new M3. But there were plenty of M2s in France and they continued to be used in a variety of rolls. Our Half-tracks are based on the WHITE CO. M2A1. The lure for me of building the M2 vs. the M3 was that I knew we could use the Front of the White Scout Car as our starting point. I also knew that the M2 was only about a foot longer than the Scout Car and that scaling the model off of the 21st Scout Car would allow us a little bit of wiggle room, using the Hasbro running gear from their half-track. Because we went that route, the steps on the back of our half-tracks is far from correct, but it allowed us to use the smaller running gear.
As you can see from this construction photo, even with some of the compromises I had to make in the build, our M2 is much larger than the Hasbro half-track. It's wider, longer and higher (no it can't leap tall buildings).
And that's pretty much where we are at this point in time. Once the winter weather warms up a bit, I am hoping that the members of the 37th can get together and do a first photoshoot, which will then be put into comic form. The Maps will be used to create the story outline and from that I will determine what scenes we need to tell the story. A little different than a typical SSCC photo shoot, but it should be a lot of fun to work on the story together. Hope you enjoyed this behind the scenes.
The LT is still trying to get info out of those French woodsmen. I spent the day yesterday putting together my crew for the halftrack. I changed out the LT for another figure that I liked better. I really like the first generation body that Dragon. did because it is slender and looks good in my opinion as a WWII era soldier. My sergeant, Big Joe, the driver and the LT were already done, as well as one rifleman and my BAR gunner. So I set to work on 3 more riflemen. When I had them completed I went to place them in the HT, only to find that their legs would not bend sufficiently to allow them to sit down... Argggggggggh!!
The M2A1 half-tracks that Phil and I built were constructed using the driving compartment from the 21st Century White Scout Car. And the dimensions for the fighting compartment were based on the same 21st vehicle. The M2A1 was about a foot longer than the Scout Car and when the models were sitting next to each other I wanted them to look "correct". Mind you, that was done knowing full well that there was some selective compression here and there on the Scout Car and neither vehicle would be truly scale, but they are close enough to look "right". The issue however is that the fighting compartment is a little tight for figures that don't have a very flexible articulation.
I started digging through the nude figure box that I keep and found three Dragon figures that were a little more flexible, flexible enough that their legs would allow them to actually sit down on the seats. I need to redo five figures, so the last two were done with smaller super articulated GI Joes sporting Dragon headsculpts.
Once you get uniforms and gear on them, the compartment is pretty tight, but they fit and I am calling it a win. The radio man is standing in these shots but he will sit down in his little space as well.
I spent today reworking the five figures and took these shots when I got them finished just a little while ago. I wanted to have the finished HT and crew ready for the SSCC monthly meeting this coming Wednesday and I accomplished that goal. Thinking about trying to have some simple scenery for my display; some grass mat and a stretch of road.
This has been a long project, though a good bit of the time that it has taken to complete the vehicle and crew since I began in August has been spent waiting. Waiting for detail parts, uniforms and gear and finally, a decent day to spray paint my weathering.
All in all, a satisfying project. I never thought I would have a half-track and it came out better than I could have hoped for. I know that it doesn't compare to some of the M3 models that are out there, but if you sit it next to a Hasbro half-track, the size difference blows you a way. For me, it is a great addition to my 37th Tank Battalion. Thanks for looking - PM
Well... winter has come to the midwest. The last couple of days has been a good time to stay indoors and work on projects. I decided that my project would be to weather and detail my M2A1 Half-track and my Dragon Sherman. Actually, I did the weathering over the weekend before it got so cold. I've spent the last couple of days working on detail. This first picture is of the afternoon that I spent casting ammo cans and small crates. I had made a couple of different sized crates for the half-track out of styrene and I thought it would maybe be worth it to make a mold of the smaller crate. The ammo can was one that Phil had and was originally made by 21st Century. I cut the can in half with a Dremel since the piece was hollow. I just figured I might not have a terribly clean casting, but I would probably get more pulls out of the mold.
Here are the assembled ammo cans and the crate castings prior to painting. There was a lot of cleanup on the ammo cans, but since most of them are sitting in the side rack on the outside of the vehicle, they are good enough for government work.
Here are the painted cans and ammo crates that are going to be used on the half-track.
Here is BIG JOE standing next to the half-track. The crates on the table are the styrene ones. Since they are light, they will be used up on the windshield screen. The crate sitting up there now is one that was made from bass wood. You can see the weathering that I did on the half-track is fairly light and is on the lower half of the vehicle. I wanted to simulate fairly light "road dust" as compared to some of the heavy weathering that folks do on some of their armored vehicle. I have just never been able to pull off that look.
I got the idea of tying some poles and rope from a picture of a reenactment half-track that I found online. They had looped rucksacks over the pole and then tied the whole mess to the side of the vehicle and I really liked the way it looked.
I decided to add 30 caliber machine guns to my half-track. One of the guns is tied down and the carriage attached to the hull is empty. The other one is set up and ready to go. The Dragon air-cooled gun would not fit in the 21st Century carriage, so I cut the barrel off of one of the Dragon guns and replaced the 21st barrel. The Dragon barrel was attached to the 21st gun and it all worked out.
Here are some of my details waiting to be placed in and on the vehicle. I ended up not using the 37mm ammo crates, but I used everything else seen here and a bit more.
Here, you can see the crates have been added above the windshield, and one crate between the bumper and the roller.
Here are the ammo case castings in the side stowage rack. Thank goodness they fit, honestly... I didn't measure ahead of time when I did the racks.
My driver is ready to go... or he's bored; I'm not really sure.
Yes, I know it's a little large, but I thought the rabbit's foot in the cab was pretty funny. Fred had it at the last meeting in his sales stuff and I had to have it. Well, they have pretty big rabbits in some parts, so maybe this came from a really big bunny.
There is a tarp and a 30 cal. tripod tied down on the right front fender. That was a detail I saw in another online picture and I wanted to include it.
I only filled one of the Stowage racks on the back of the vehicle. I could have made and found more stuff and filled up both I suppose, but I kind of liked the contrast of empty and full. Those are cast crates, a cast U.S. fuel can, a Dragon German fuel can and hand made bed rolls.
Inside details include; cigarettes, rations, a Yank magazine, Stars and Stripes, French francs, a Michelin guide and more. I think the soft details give the vehicle a "lived in" look, especially once you get some troops in the vehicle.
The weathering on the Sherman was also light "road dust". The wood beam on the front hull was made from styrene and was "painted" with oil paint, which was rubbed off after the application to get a grainy wood appearance. The beam and the extra tracks are not glued down as I might change up the details later on. I've though about sandbagging the front of the vehicle.
A couple of the cast resin crates were added to the back stowage shelf to fill in between the gas cans. I really don't need any more detail back here as I have a squad of U.S. Infantry to ride the back of this Sherman.
On the commander's side of the turret I added a rail and hung some rucksacks off it. Once again, don't need a whole lot because that back deck is going to fill up with infantry and there will be enough going on.
And that's about it. I have some more infantry to complete for the half-track, but other than that I'm calling it a wrap. Took a while to get around to finishing these off, but they went pretty quick once I got into it. Thanks for looking! - PM
Well, it's the start of a new year and I've just finished a big project for myself and Gray Ghost. These three Shermans are part of 1st Platoon, B Company, 37th Tank Battalion. They were painted and weathered last week, just in time for the January SSCC Meeting in Cincinnati.
Big Bad Betty below is one of my two Shermans and the two behind her in the picture above are Phil's. All three, plus the one not shown in these photos are part of our fictional TASK FORCE COMBAT unit. The 37th Tank Battalion had a B Company full of Sherman tanks, but as far as I know they did not look like the ones on this table.
Last summer when Phil and I were building our M2A1 half-tracks, he decided that he wanted to letter his vehicles for the same unit I was doing so that he could participate in photoshoots for my TASK FORCE COMBAT online comic. So far our unit includes four Shermans, four Stuarts, 3 halftracks, a couple of Scout cars, weapons carriers and multiple Jeeps; and about 60 some infantry figures. I'm sure that there are probably larger units out there, but we are pretty pleased with what we have been able to put together thus far.
Here, a couple of infantrymen try to get some information from French citizens about what lies on the road ahead.
A majority of my vehicles have been weathered and detailed, but this new Sherman and the half-track both need to be weathered and kitted out. I've got quite a bit of gear for the half-track already and as you can see uniforms and gear to create a squad to go with it. I still have a few crates and bedrolls to complete for the vehicles.
One of the things I did as I worked on putting the unit together was to create a Handbook that describes the unit and some sector maps that will provide an outline for creating future stories. So far, only the initial episode has been completed and placed on this website. I know it seems like it is a long time between episodes in my various comics (it is). Creating vehicles and building units unfortunately takes quite a bit of time and then on top of that, weather conditions effect what can and cannot be done (it's snowing here today). I am hoping that before too long I will be able to do a couple of small indoor shoots that will allow me to move the story along just a bit. And I need to do the same with THE BAR AT THE END OF THE UNIVERSE as well. Just thought I would let you all know where I am with all of this - PM
Wow... seems like life has sort of spun out of control since the last time I posted anything here. My wife's mother had a bad fall and broke her back and four ribs. She's 91 years old, so it was pretty touch and go for a while. A week in the hospital, two weeks in Physical Therapy and we had to get her moved out of a independent living situation and into assisted living. In the middle of all that, family descended upon us to "help" and I had to have a root canal and have a broken tooth pulled. Somewhere along the line, this last month, things have sort of stabilized and I started thinking about the hobby again. My last post was back on September 10th and Phil and I had just finished up the Half-track project. I can't believe that much time has passed. But about a week before the November SSCC Ohio meeting, I dug my Dragon Sherman kit out of the storeroom and started working on it. Amazingly enough I was able to get it built in time to take it to the meeting as a work in progress.
These top three shots were of the tank as I had just finished the basic build and was just starting to add some of the detail to it. I wish I had good things to say about this model, but I thought the build was a pain. If you have one of these in a box, or are thinking about buying one, be forewarned, it is not an easy build. The instructions are terrible. They show you where most of the parts go, but do not adequately explain sub assemblies, nor is there really a logical sequence to the steps. It is my experience that if you start adding detail parts before you complete the basic assembly, you are going to break things....especially if your lower hull turns out to be as warped as mine was.
I had to go out and buy some screws to fasten the lower and upper hull together, I would never have been able to us glue alone to straighten the fit up. Other issue included the fit of some parts, the fact that locator pins on detail parts didn't match up to locator holes, or there were no holes at all. Probably the worst thing on mine was the fact that the space between the sprockets on the driver wheels were too tight to allow my track to seat properly. I had to put them back apart and add a spacer ring. Phil, who is working on his own Sherman at the same time has encountered many of the same issues.
Here's my Sherman with crew, prior to adding a 50 caliber MG on the turret.
Here's my tank on meeting night, pretty much ready to be painted. You can see Phil's tank in the background of the second shot. I had just added those armor plates on his and he was going to take it home and start working on his detail.
We are supposed to have several days this next week where the temperature is going to climb back up into the 50's. I am hoping to not only get my Sherman painted, but get my M2A1 Halftrack weathered as well. That's about it for now. PM
Well... now that the Half-track project is "finished", it is time to look down the road at some of the other outstanding projects that I have been ignoring forever. And I say that tongue in cheek, because the half-tracks are far from done. They still need to be weathered and detailed, but I only have one on my plate at this point because Gray Ghost will detail his own as suits him. Mine will get a light dusting of a variety of colors to simulate road dirt and you can see in the picture above, I have already been collecting items to detail with. I have a few crates to make and some soft details for the interior, but this is most of what will go on it. It's about a two session job when I get around to getting around to it.
So.... what's next? Well, there are a couple of projects that are perhaps more immediate than others. The first is the Daimler Dingo. I did the initial build last summer and it has been pretty much sitting around for a year, waiting for me to take it up again. (below - project no 01)
I have been getting ready to start again. I have actually created the mold for the correct wheels, but have not poured one yet. I have also printed out a set of photographs to help me prepare detail parts for interior and exterior. I am pretty much ready to go, I just need to start. What's stopping me, well... there is quite a bit of sanding to do and I hate sanding. Yes, it all comes down to that... I hate sanding. I know I shall have to do it and I was prepared to do it this week. My wife and I had planned a camping trip this week in our RV and I was going to work on the Dingo while she did her scrapbooking. It did not come to pass though, her mother fell in the wee hours of Friday morning and was severely hurt, causing everyone's plans to go out the window. So I keep promising myself that the sanding will happen before this week is out... keep your fingers crossed.
(above - project no 2) "What is that?", you say. It looks kind of like a Dodge command car, only smashed. And that's what it would be. The above belongs to Gray Ghost and is another one of my projects. This is a Command Car that was converted to a weapons carrier by CK2 some years ago. It made it's way to the collection of Gray Ghost where it tumbled off a shelf and destroyed it's self. I am going to do my best to restore it to it's former glory (and it better stay away from high shelves if it knows what's good for it).
(above - project no 03) Well... this one has been sitting in my basement storeroom for a year and a half. I bought this Dragon Sherman kit from Cory Lord at the 2017 SSCC Figurecon. It is my goal that it is completed before the 2019 Figurecon in March. I'm not planning to take it to the show, but it would be nice to have it completed and that deadline is better than the 2020 show. I am hoping to get to this by December of this year. I would need a warm, dry day to paint it when the assembly is done and you can usually get one of those in Central Ohio even that late in the year (I usually do my last grass cutting the first week of December if you can believe that). I intend to finish this one similarly to my first Sherman and it will have markings for the same unit. I will use the 75mm gun and mantle, rather than the 105mm.
Okay, well those three things are definites. What comes after that. Gray Ghost has two vehicles he really wants us to build and I have one that I want to build (so we'll start with that).
PROJECT no. 4 - GMC 2-1/2 Ton Cargo Truck
Above, is exactly the model that I want to build. I have eight of the ten wheels required and Gray Ghost says he has the other two. The only part of the project that I am concerned about is the rounded hood and I am pretty sure I can figure that out. I have been collecting pictures of the GMC and this is the one that grabbed me. I really like the soft top, open door look of the later two and half ton truck and what appeals about this picture is the way the tarp has been rolled up on the sides. It is a little ridiculous to fill it up with troops if you are going to hide them under a tarp. This is sort of the best of both worlds set up in my mind. Other than the hood, I think this is a fairly straightforward project.
PROJECT no. 5 - Panhard Armoured Car
I created some plans for one of these years ago and build a 1/12th scale cardboard one just to make sure the templates worked. At the time, I thought about building a 1/6th scale one and finishing it as a German captured vehicle. But I lost interest and the project never went any further. Gray Ghost has some French Tanker figures and is very interested in building a French version of the vehicle. It is not a hard build, so I will help him do it (as long as we are only building one - I never want to build three of the same vehicle again at the same time... I still have bad dreams). Anyway, that is project number five
PROJECT no. 6 - HUMBER MK II Armoured Car
Okay, when I first started working on the Dingo, I thought this might be a cool companion piece because it has a turret and all kinds of cool lines, etc. and I've got some additional British Tanker figures that would be perfect for the crew. Then as I scaled it out, I realized that we are talking about a vehicle that is somewhere between the size of a Stuart and a Sherman and I don't have room for it. Gray Ghost wants to build it, but I am less enthused about it than I was at one time. We'll have to see on this one, but if it gets built, it is not residing here.
So... that is all the building projects that I know about at this time. Mind you there are photography and comic projects galore on my list and I don't seem to have time for any of them. Who knows when I will fit all that in. Anyway, that concludes our project update. - PM out!
I like to go camping and usually take projects with me to work on. Mind you when I say "camping", I don't mean in a tent; I have an RV (which means I can take projects with me and have a place to work on them). Camping to me is more like a modeling retreat. Anyway, we went camping this week and I had the opportunity to work on a couple of projects. Now that the Humvee is mostly done, I can thinking about adding details to the MRAP. With that in mind, I printed up a bunch of paper details the day before we left so that I could cut them out and assemble them at the campground.
Above, a war photographer takes a quick picture of a trooper attempting to climb up into the MRAP while a Special Forces Operator looks on.
Above, one of two Special Forces figures that I took on my retreat to "complete". Actually, I don't really know if he is complete or not. I keep finding things here and there that I change out on these guys.
Here's my photographer from another angle taking that picture of the trooper climbing into the vehicle.
Here is the stuff I made while at the campground. Coca Cola boxes, Dasani water cases, MRE cases, cigarette cartons and packages and last but not least, candy bars.
Here's a couple of closeups of the cigarettes and candy bars. We've got Reeses. Butterfingers, Baby Ruths and Crunch Bars. My troopers will not go hungry.
Here's a close up of my other Special Forces gut that I worked on. I still have a little more to do to him to consider him complete. And below, one more shot of the trooper getting into the MRAP. I've been collecting a bunch of gear as well as the packages that I have been making to detail the vehicle, but I have a little more to go before I will be ready. There is a certain amount of radio gear that goes in this thing and I haven't really locked that part down yet.
The other project that I worked on was a five man figure bash that has been a long time coming (two years). These are my Korean War era American Infantry Soldiers. One thing that has been missing in our SSCC Figurecons each year is a significant display of Korean War soldiers. Both Gray Ghost and I are both trying to address this situation by modeling enough guys for a serious diorama. I was able to find the Coats, fur hats, boots and cold weather gloves at War Toys to make my guys, but all of my webbing is World War Two stuff that had to be repainted. That actually took quite a while to do and was the biggest part of the project.
The top picture is of my team with a Photoshop background. The rest of the pictures show that the figures were actually positioned on a couple of rocks by my patio. The figures are not nearly as detailed as the original Korean War Soldier, which I think was offered by Soldier Story, but they came out pretty good and definitely represent the look of wintertime soldiers during the Korean War.
I took some pictures of my MRAP and my HUMVEE at the last (6/6) SSCC Meeting down in Cincinnati. Thought I would share them here since there were actually more than what I posted in the club meeting report. The image above is one of those shots, but clipped and a Afghanistan street scene thrown in as a background.
The Humvee is about 98% done. I have a couple more Gas/Water cans to complete and I want to make a couple more ammo cans for the grenade launcher. Also both vehicles could stand a little road dirt type weathering. The MRAP needs to be detailed with all the soft details I like to throw in for that lived in look. I will get around to that eventually. Thanks for looking - PM
Well... Here are my Humvee and my MRAP (part of it anyway) all crewed up for this Wednesday's SSCC meeting down in Cincinnati. Last time I was there was the April meeting and I had not started on the Humvee at that time.
The last two components for my Humvee were the Water/Gas Cans and the Ammo Cans for the grenade launcher. I haven't started on the ammo cans yet, but the gas cans are well under way as you can see.
Here's a close up of the cans I have done thus far. There are four water cans and two gas cans. I still have two more to make; one of each.
Like other folks with an interest in modern vehicles. I waited around forever for the gas/water can set that is in the photo on the desk in the picture below. The set would include two really nice cans for about $30. These have been on pre-order forever. I decided to make my own can. I started with a 21st Century Toys can (from the White Scout Car I think) and did a little surgery on it. From that I made a mold and then began casting my own cans. I use Alumilite to cast pieces and it is about $40 for a starter set with a coupon at Hobby Lobby. The resin included in the set yielded eight cans. My cans are not as nice as the ones that GO TRUCK will eventually release, but are definitely cheaper (do the math). I'm quite happy with the way they turned out. - PM
POINT MAN'S PROJECT