Ah, those rivetty early-war death-traps, gotta love ’em!

We’ve been playing some early-war “What a Tanker” at the club lately, duking it out in 1940 France. Soon it’ll be time to move the action out of the lush green lands of Europe and into the dusty arena of the Western Desert.

So far the action has mostly been hosted by Bob’s existing collection of 20mm BEF and German tanks. For the desert I’ve volunteered to put together the scenery and some starter tanks and have opted for 15mm.

The starting tank for the Italians in 1940 is the slightly odd M11/39, a typically strange pre-war machine with the main gun in the hull and only some MGs in the turret.

The Fiat-Ansaldo M11/39. Named so because it’s an 11-tonne medium from 1939. It had a decent 37mm gun but terrible armour and automotively dodgy. They tried to fit the main gun in the turret but couldn’t make it work and so stuck it in the hull instead. Not a great idea.


Battlefront do them in 15mm so I bought a few. They’re a resin and metal kit in six parts (hull, 2x tracks, turret, commander and the gun and turret hatch). Assembly was easy and the casting was pretty clean, with only minimal cleanup required around the tracks on one of the tanks.

The only slightly fiddly part were the main gun barrels. These don’t fit very well into the matching hole in the hull, you might need to cut and file a bit to get a good solid fit. I didn’t bother magnetising the turrets as they don’t need to be rotated for WaT since they only have MGs in them. I just glued ’em on.

I didn’t add any of the commander figures and kept the paint job fairly simple. I did add a few bits of stowage though, from Debris of War.

After a spray basecoat I painted the tracks and exhausts in a dark rust colour, then applied decals and picked out all the rivetty panelly goodness of the early war design with black ink. On the sand-coloured basecoat this immediately makes them pop and is an essential step IMO.

To tone down the harshness of the contrast I applied a thin wash and highlighted in a lighter sand colour (plus a bit of gunmetal on the tracks). After adding some dust from my set of Tamiya weathering powders I call it good enough.

It’s been an interesting little diversion. I haven’t painted 15mm in years and have done a lot of 28mm armour since. I was conscious that your style has to change a little and you need to be putting in more contrast at the smaller scales. Subtle doesn’t work on tiny tanks.

Next up is some British cruisers to battle against them!