Quality Castings 1/100 M6 Heavy Tank
KIT #: 6001
PRICE: $11.00 MSRP in 2005 
DECALS: None provided with the kit.
REVIEWER: Jeff Simpson
NOTES: I-94 US Army decals used

HISTORY

 

 When it became clear that America was likely to get drawn into WW2 rapid development of tanks was initiated. A family of tanks was proposed, including a heavy tank, impervious to 1940 anti-tank guns. The M6 prototype was made public on 8 Dec 1941 it weighed 57 tonnes and was armed with a 3” high velocity gun and a coaxial 37mm and numerous machine guns. For comparison in December 1941: the Russian KV tank, 43 tonnes had been in service since mid 1940, the German Tiger 1 was half way through its accelerated development from a 36 ton project into a 55 tonne tank, the British Churchill early versions, 38 tonnes, were in production.

As it happens the M6 was elbowed out of American production plans by the M4 Sherman which seemed to be able to do the job and, at half the weight, could be produced and shipped in vast numbers. The M6 addressed many issues in a sensible manner, it used the proven vertical volute suspension as used in other American tanks, it had a massively powerful engine and a transmission capable of handling the power was developed in time for the prototype unveiling. The frontal and side armour was sloped and offered better ballistics than Tiger or Churchill. On the other hand it would require significant effort to develop and production was stopped after only 40 units had been made.

 

THE KIT

 

Quality Castings make a series of “15mm” scale wargame kits. Their interpretation of this “scale” results in models averaging about 1:100 scale. An advantage of this scale is the vast number of different types of soldiers and vehicles and buildings that are kitted. The M6 kit is a bit small, scaling out at 1:108 on length, the height and width looks to be in proportion. The kit is simple: 4 metal castings, comprising a turret including guns, hull and two separate track assemblies. I don’t have a photo of the parts, just the partly assembled model.

Straightaway we hit a problem: the hull is supplied with the external exhaust system of the early prototype, the turret however has the low cupola of the production tank. My guess is that this casting is based on the WW2 recognition models produced by Comet. In fairness I should note that this sort of problem is not typical of all of the tank kits made by Quality Castings.

The next problem is the gun barrels are straight sided, whereas the 3” gun in particular has a noticeable taper.

 

CONSTRUCTION

 

The first decision I made was to model the production M6 tank, so I chopped the exhaust pipes off and filled the damage to the hull, I also applied big blobs of filler to the hull and pressed the track units in, to make good seat to glue them to, and adjusted the amount of filler so that the track units looked even.

I filled and smoothed the rear engine deck, accepting that it is a bit too high, one of the problems with metal kits is filing down large areas takes a lot of effort if you are using hand tools, as I am. I put a flat plasticard plate over the exhaust at the rear.

I scribed hatch details in the deck, cut out two disks of plasticard to represent the crew hatches. I also found a piece of Photo-etch mesh to represent the engine intake grille. All these bits were glued to the hull and smoothed.

It then turned out that the turret was too close to the hull top and so used bits of plasticard glued to the turret ring to lift it up high enough to rotate. This was not a neat job, but it doesn’t have to be since it is hidden by the turret.

I made up boxes out of square-section plastic rod to represent the rear storage on the tank. The turret as supplied is more-or-less correct for the production variant, except the barrels, I glued strips of plasticard around the 3” gun barrel and applied filler to built it up and sanded the filler to taper, also trimmed the 37mm barrel to taper.

           

I painted the tracks and underneath the hull sides and then glued the tracks to the prepared filler seats. However you can see from the photos that I missed one or two recesses in the tracks that now catch the light and glint to show what a bad painter I am. I did not fit any machine guns, the outfit varied as the tank was developed, it appears that often none were mounted.

COLORS & MARKINGS

 

Most of the photos of these tanks have no visible markings, others have a number on hull and turret like  903 or 12, some are emblazoned with lettering saying something like “ordnance department test operation”. I decided to go for overall faded olive drab, with a yellow "US Army" decal applied either side. I used Aeromodeller acrylic applied with a brush, and an I-94 decal sheet for US 15mm vehicles.

I painted the tracks with a mix of grey, and various rust browns, although I didn’t manage to cover all of the white metal, as given away in the photos. Having a few high spots show through as bare metal looks plausible to me, but next time I would be sure to force dark coloured paint into all the recesses to prevent the unwanted “glint”.

 

The “3 tanks” photo

I thought it would be fun to re-create the publicity photos that were released in late 1941 showing the M6 dominating its smaller brothers the M3 Medium and M3 light tanks. As it happens this is difficult to do. The M3 Medium is such a tall tank that the photographer must have got down on the ground and photographed upwards to fake the impression of the M6 towering over everything else. The closest I could get was shooting more or less along the table top, which gives a more realistic impression of the relative sizes of the tanks.

 

CONCLUSIONS

 

The kit castings were a bit of a disappointment, I assume it is probably an old master. However it responded to persistence, it is nice to have an M6 in the collection, one of WW2’s “what-ifs”.

There is quite a lot of information about this tank and it would be possible to make a more accurate model than I have done.

There are a several possible variations: the prototype, the T1E1 with electric drive, a version with 90mm gun. However it would be a lot of effort to convert this kit into a model of the M6A1 with the welded hull. Ditto the proposed 80ton version with a 105mm gun.

 

REFERENCES

 

Bellona Military Vehicle Prints No. 19, 1969

RP Hunnicutt, “Firepower”, 1988 Presidio Press ISBN 0-89141-304-9

Wikipedia.org

wwiivehicles.com

 

Jeff Simpson

March 2009

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