Today Paul has a look at the new starter set for Midwar US.
Battlefront have sent us the new US tank boxset to review. It is no secret that the desert is my favourite theatre of WWII and I was very excited to get my hands on this box. What in it? Lets find out…
The box contains 5 M4A1 Shermans, 3 M3 Stuarts and 2 M10 Tank Destroyers. Also included is a mini rule book, a tank commander frame, 3 decal sheets, an instruction sheet and 6 unit and formation cards.
The first thing I noticed opening the box is that all the vehicles are made in an Olive Drab colour plastic. This is the first time I have seen this. Whilst I don’t like the look of unpainted tanks on the table, these would at least be the correct colour. I like this idea. No more Grey Shermans!
The second thing I noticed is that there are some new things here. The Shermans are brand new sculpts and look amazing. Likewise the cards are all new and ready for V4. The M10s are not new and are the current plastic frames that have been around for a little while. Finally the Stuarts appear to be the same excellent frames available for the recently released British Honey Stuart boxes.
So lets look at each component in detail.
5 M4A1 Shermans.
Each of the 5 frames contains a single tank. Despite the model’s parts being packed in a small frame, there are still a few options here. Firstly there are two different mantlets, guns and glacis plates. This allows the choice between the early thin mantlet and ribbed glacis plate and the later wide mantlet and plain glacis plate. Next there are 2 sand skirts included. It seems to me that this frame will eventually do double service and be used for British desert Shermans, something that has yet to make an appearance for British commanders. Thirdly, there are are several pieces of stowage to allow customization of each vehicle and provide some variety. This to me is one of the best aspects of the new Battlefront plastic kits.
Otherwise Battlefront have well captured the rounded hull of the early Sherman. Like all the new BF plastic kits, the tracks are well detailed, one piece moulds. Due to the number of nubs on the tracks, they can only attach to the correct side of the hull. For clumsy modelers like me, there are 2 50cal MGs. Allowing for some assembly breakages. Finally I like the turret configuration. Aside from the cupola, there is only a top and a bottom, this means the clean curves of the turret are not marred by joint lines. A simple but welcome design strength.
3 M3 Stuart
Like the Shermans, there are 3 Stuart frames, each for one tank. The frames however are packed with options. Again there are a pair of sand skirts included to allow you to run the vehicle as a British tank. There is also a British CS barrel. There are 2 upper hulls included. I suspect one is to match the sand skirts. However I will confirm this when I review the tank and assemble them. Included is both the US and British turret. The US turret has 2 different inserts to allow for the commander to be buttoned up or not. Optional fuel tanks are provided to be placed on the rear. Finally, the frame comes with 2 MGs. Always nice to have a spare.
Like the Sherman, this frame includes some stowage. Battlefront have again done a good job here. Some of the pieces are different to the Sherman stowage. This will allows some mix and matching to further increase model variety. For example the wooden crate.
I really like this model. The square, boxy hull really contrasts with the curves of the Shermans. BF have captured the rivets well and I think these will really pop when painted.
2 M10 Tank Destroyers
As I said earlier, this frame is not brand new but it is excellent. I assembled the box set of 4 as British Achilles earlier this year and wasn’t disappointed. This frame is bigger than both the Stuart and Sherman. It allows assembly of a US or Soviet M10 with a 3 inch gun, a US 90mm M36 or a British Achilles with a 17 pounder. Again there are lots to like here. There are turret covers, stowage, spare MGs, a choice of counter weights and a choice of weapon systems.
BF have again engineered in some failsafe assembly features. The tracks can only be assembled on the correct side. There is also a different mating fitting for the 17 pound gun, the 3 inch gun and the 90mm gun to prevent matching up the wrong barrel with the turret assembly.
All three tanks are crisply cast and there are no moulding issues for the models I have.
The box contains 3 frames of tank commanders and crew. This is more than enough to crew your M10s with 3 crew each, A commander for the stuarts, a Sherman platoon commander and 2 for the Sherman HQ.
The box comes with 6 cards. There is a Sherman HQ and a Sherman Platoon card. Straight out of the box you could run 2 models in the HQ and a platoon of 3 or 1 in the HQ and a platoon of 4 or even a platoon of 5 as a unit in one of the other formations.
There are also a Stuart Platoon card. Given there are only 3 Stuart models, there is not the option to run a HQ unit. So it makes sense that there is only a platoon card included.
Next up is an M10 card. This can be a support unit or a core formation unit in a Tank destroyer list.
Finally there is a formation card and a movement order card. The movement order card is a quick reference card and can be handy to reference during games. The Formation card simply shows the various US formations possible.
There are three sheets included in the box. The first is the classic stars and tank number sheet for the M10s. The other 2 sheets are new. One for the Stuarts and one for the Shermans. The decals contain the cool early desert period yellow stars, company markings and stripes. Also included are the flags and tank numbers. BF have posted up a great decal video as part of their Fighting First launch. Here is a link to the page containing the video.
Not too much to say here. There is a mini rule book included.
It is nice to see an assembly sheet included. Not everyone is an intuitive modeler and this can really help. A minor niggle is that the instructions don’t detail the parts needed for each option. Or even which pieces are used for the US builds. I think with a good study of the pictures, you should be able to work this out though.
I think this box is ideal for a player starting out or for someone wanting to start a US Tank company. There are a good variety of usable models and a copy of the rules. In Australian dollars, the vehicles work out at about $10 each with a free rules book. This is excellent value.
In game terms, the box contains 62 points worth of vehicles. This is nearly two thirds of the points required for a 100 point game. I think all these models are a solid base for a Sherman company. As an example, adding 2 more M10s, 2 more Stuarts, 3 Priests with an OP Stuart, 3 T30 Assault guns and Armoured Recon Patrol would bring the force up to 100 points.
I hope this article has given you a good overview of what to expect in the box. I am off to start assembling and I will bring you a review of each of the 3 vehicles in the box.