While the durable US M4 Sherman gets most of the glory in the annals of WWII Allied tank history, the M3 Stuart also played a significant role in providing valuable infantry and reconnaissance support throughout the war. The Stuart was originally supplied to the British ahead of the US entry into the war, but American tank crews would eventually use them throughout the European, African and Pacific war theaters. Armed with .30-calibre machine guns and a 37mm main gun, the Stuart proved itself to be a finicky yet effective part of many of the war’s major actions and campaigns, including the D-Day Normandy campaign of 1944.
Most of the US armor I use in Flames of War gaming comes directly from Battlefront, the makers of the popular 15mm WWII wargame. Battlefront manufactures beautiful models but the company is often criticized for its prices. I already own a fair number of Battlefront’s M4 Sherman tank models. With so much of my armor tied up in the sameness of my Sherman platoons, I’ve long wanted to add some diversity in my force with a light tank platoon option.
Coincidentally, the Plastic Soldier Company has recently been expanding its small but growing line of 1/72 and 15mm WWII hard plastic infantry, vehicle and armor sets. At nearly half the price of the FOW offerings, the 15mm Plastic Soldier Company boxed sets look to be a legitimate bargain alternative. As luck would have it, among their new releases from the past month was a 15mm Allied Stuart set containing five models which make up a perfect light tank platoon for my FOW force.
Despite the relative low cost, I approached my first go-around with the PSC with a critical eye. The Stuart set comes with enough parts for five tanks from the early, mid or late WWII periods. The flexibility of the modelling is fantastic, but it does result in a bunch of unusable waste parts left on the sprue. Gluing the models up for the late war was fast, with the finely-detailed casting going together smoothly. A relectuant criticism of these otherwise excellent models is the way in which the turrets fit to the hulls with tabs which were a bit tight for my liking. I wound up cutting the tabs off so the turrets move more freely, but this extra step did destroy the other strong points of the PSC models.
After the glue dried, the models got a coat of green armor spray followed by some black and metallic paint brushed on the treads. Tools and stowage attached to the hull were picked out in detail, and then all the tanks got a watered-down brown wash. I applied some appropriate US decals I had left over and then the tanks got some splattered mud details in a lighter mud color.
The result of my Stuarts and my first experience with the Plastic Soldier Company is entirely satisfying. Not only can’t I wait to roll these fast, deadly tanks onto the table in my next game, I likewise will be anxiously awaiting what new releases the company has in store to further build-out my forces.
- Flames of War: Metropolitan Wargamers Summer 2013 FOW Day (brooklynwargaming.com)
- Flames of War: Fielding the Guards Armoured Division (brooklynwargaming.com)
- Flames of War: Fielding Easy Company (brooklynwargaming.com)
- Flames of War: Barkmann’s Corner Scenario (brooklynwargaming.com)
- Flames of War: Hunner Park 1944 Scenario (brooklynwargaming.com)
- Flames of War: Foy 1945 Scenario (brooklynwargaming.com)