We’re a bit spoilt for choice in 28mm armour right now. Besides the traditional resins we’ve got loads of plastic vehicles coming onto the market, with Warlord teaming up with Italeri and newcomer Rubicon jumping in with both feet. So instead of one tank in today’s review you get two. Well actually three!
I need Shermans to represent the Polish 1st Armoured in France and the Low Countries, and NZ 2nd Division in the Italian campaign, so we’re talking fairly late-model tanks here. The Rubicon kit is an M4A3, while the Warlord one looks like an M4A2. In reality the Poles used mostly M4A4s and the Kiwis mostly M4A2s, but I’m not going to split hairs. The differences are pretty minor, both are visually-similar welded hull versions. The main differences seem to have been choice of engines (and therefore intakes/exhausts) and some detail on things like the driver and lap gunners hatches. Not a biggy IMO.
I’ve built both as 75mm-armed tanks, but the Rubicon kit does allow you to choose the 105mm howitzer variant, and actually includes a whole spare turret for the 76mm. Unfortunately there’s only one turret ring in the kit, so you can’t actually build up both turrets and swap them, although you could magnetise the 75mm and 105mm guns, as these both use the same turret with a different mantlet and barrel. Put an extra turret ring on that sprue Rubicon, you’d make a lot of folks happy!
Building the Rubicon Sherman
This kit is an absolute doddle and basically falls together. The tracks and running gear are a single piece, so there’s no farting around getting multi-part tracks to marry up.
Everything came off the sprue cleanly, even some of the fiddly bits like headlights. The only hatch that opens is the commander, he’s got an option for a 0.50cal, but from the photos I’ve seen they just weren’t fitted on Polish and Kiwi tanks, so I’ve left that off.
The only part that gave me any trouble was the rounded lower part of the glacis (the transmission I believe?). It wasn’t a great fit, but I’ve covered the gap at the top of mine with stowage and left it, as the crews always piled their junk on the front anyway.
The sides of the vehicle do end up with a visible seam along the bottom edge, but that seems to have been a mount for the skirts that ran along the side of some vehicles, so I haven’t bothered filing it off. It may well be intentional, as they could easily have hidden the seam.
This kit doesn’t have the extra armour plates welded over the ammo stowage that the Warlord one does, but from the photos I’ve got that’s actually bang on for both the Poles and the Kiwis fielded them with and without. If you wanted them on your kit a simple bit of plasticard stuck on would do the job.
The kit doesn’t include radio antennas, so if you want those you’ll have to make them.
Building the Warlord Sherman
Based on what other people have written I was expecting this one to be more fiddly than the Rubicon one. Luckily it wasn’t. They’re both nice easy kits.
One of the main differences is that the Warlord tank comes with separate tracks, with each track having an upper and lower section fitted onto the suspension. While at first thought this might seem more fiddly it’s actually worked out better when it comes to painting. Separate track pieces mean you can basecoat from a spray can. With the Rubicon kit you’re going to have to paint either the bogies or the tracks by hand. On the Warlord kit you can just attach the bogies to the hull and spray the lot green, then spray the tracks in your preferred base colour. A quick drybrush or two on the tracks and you can attach them. This actually saves a lot of time and is worth the faff of getting the track ends to match up IMO.
One minor bummer on the Warlord kit is the number of visible seams. There’s a seam around the back of the turret and one on the front of the hull.
Driver’s and commander’s hatches both open. I opted to build it buttoned up, as I’ll be using it for Chain of Command where it’ll generally be within a hundred metres of enemy infantry. I’ve built the Rubicon one with the commander head out to represent a senior leader.
Included in the kit are a 0.50cal and radio antenna. I’ve again dropped the 0.50cal and I cut off most of the antenna, as it sticks up from the turret. It would just get snapped, and make storing the tank more difficult (I like putting everything in stacking foam trays for transport).
I’ve added the obligatory stowage to the model, and another nice point on the Warlord kit is that it includes a notch in the inside of the front mudguards to fit the plank crews used to stow gear on the glacis.
I painted all the tanks together and using the same techniques, as I want them to look like a unit and hide any slight differences in the models.
Basecoat was Army Painter Army Green. I like the Army Painter sprays because they do the exact same colours as brush-on so you can do touchups without worrying about the colour match. I did toy with the idea of painting them in a disruptive camo scheme, as the Kiwi tanks spent much of the Italian campaign painted that way, but eventually decided not to as it would look odd for Normandy games representing Polish tanks. I did go for Kiwi unit markings, but they’ll do for Polish tanks if you don’t inspect those too closely.
For transfers I managed to scrounge up several big air recognition stars, tac signs and hull numbers from various kits, but I made my own divisional/unit signs for the front and rear. It took loads of coats of MicroSol to get the large star on the Rubicon tank’s rear deck to dissolve down into the engine grills.
I bought an excellent book with loads of pictures in it that shows a lot of variation in paint and markings, and to be honest much of it on the real tanks looked pretty amateurish, so you actually don’t need to worry about making things too neat (phew!). The big hull numbers on the tanks in Italy were all drawn freehand in different styles and colours, I used yellow transfers with blue painted freehand over the top to make an outlined number (and because I only had blue tac signs and had to make them match…)
Everything got a wash of Army Painter Strong Tone Ink and detail got blacklined and I gave it a drybrush of a lighter green, then I got stuck in with some Tamiya Weathering Powders. I was using one of GW’s pots of mud, which has great texture but is really orange. The actual tanks seemed to pick up a lot of really light brown dust so I’ve gone for that look.