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Book Review: Osprey’s Modeling US Armor of World War 2

Osprey's Modeling US Armor of World War 2

Drew Hatch shares his thoughts on a new armor modeling book. You do know armor is not Corsairs, don’t you Drew? 😉

Whoa! Hold everything – Stop right there! What the heck is this crazy airplane guy doing reviewing an armor book? Has the tide changed or celestial bodies become reachable through warp drive? Nope – but you’re getting close. This book was given to me as part of the Agape Models Forum’s Secret Santa Fellowship Build this year (I swear I’m being set up for something) as I was sent so many armor subject references to get me moved over to the dark side – all that was left out was the infamous chocolate chip cookies. Probably swiped by Cookie Monster again no doubt.

Ospreys Masterclass series has many fabulous titles and this one is no exception. If you are familiar with some of the many armor publications out there then you have heard of Steven Zaloga, the author of this book. His works are well documented through the specialty magazines and Ospreys other fine armor books. The 192 page hard cover book left me with a sense of ambition to learn what some of the tricks of the trade are for armor builders. The book features several how to features and many step by step instructions to some very much over looked and under appreciated techniques. The spiral binding is a fantastic touch allowing the reader/builder to have the book open for easy reference on the bench without being in an awkward pose. My kudos to Osprey for that! Now how about the binding in the rest of the series?

The first chapters are listed as construction and painting. In reality they are more about uber detailing, casting numbers and rivets than general construction. There are some great tips in there that are very usable to the average modeler. The chapter on painting includes a 12 page narrative on what is the correct shade of Olive drab for US armor in WWII. Although rather bland and boring to the non-conformist, it has some great research for the purists of the hobby. The weathering techniques outlined are fantastic to say the least. This was the first instance I have seen using light colored washes and filters to weather a tank and the results couldn’t be more realistic! This technique goes into the tricks bag for sure! The chapter on stowage was lengthy and drawn out in my mind. It lost the effect after the fourth page. The small but detailed section on canvas dust covers was superbly done with fantastic details photos and concise how-to’s each step of the way. The chapter on figures was very picture heavy. The author went for the “here’s figures – lets’ make them look right on a model or diorama” more than how to paint them. A one page brief was spent on face painting. To me this was the lacking in the book – such detail and well done figures with the reader left to guess on how to achieve that result. It does not surprise me that the author and editor did this since there are such a vast variety of other how-to books on painting figures on the market.

Osprey's Modeling US Armor of World War 2 (back cover)

The final chapters of the book deal with ideas of how to incorporate a model into a diorama setting in a respectable way. Some great thought tips are outlined so your next Sherman doesn’t look like it was just air dropped onto the street! The final section deals with photography. An area that modelers dread and fear. Since we all share our pictures with one another this section is worth the cost of the book if you want to take some decent pictures to share with your buds! This is the first time I have seen the three essentials for model photography published in one book – settings, lighting and distance! Nothing bothers me more than seeing a modeler with a camera 3” from a model.

This book is a fantastic reference to any modelers collection. It should be seriously considered to anyone who has a high level of interest in US WWII armor. Take from it what you will, leave the rest. Some of the authors views border on the harsh side as a purist and do not need to be taken as how you should build your models.

My special thanks to Jeff Jones for his friendship and this book!

(When I get my cookies I will build a tank – cookies up front tread heads!)

Drew Hatch has been an avid modeler since he was a teenager. Taking a modeling hiatus while flying in the Canadian Armed Forces, he picked it up again when he met his wife. They’ve been married ten wonderful years. Drew’s interests are naval and Canadian aviation, with an emphasis on the Pacific War. (Along with the slight detour into N. Africa during WWII.)