Large Scale Armor Modeling: Building a 1/6 Scale Stuart Tank

Published: April 16th, 2012     
Product Image
Author: Robert N. Steinbrunn
Reviewed by: Bart Cusumano - IPMS# 31882
ISBN #: 978-0-7643-3953-0
Other Publication Information: Hardcover, 168 pages, 230+ color/bw images
Price: $45.00
Product provided by: Schiffer Publishing

I have always been a fan of Bob Steinbrunn's model work over the years, seeing his many works in the pages of FineScale Modeler. Accordingly, I jumped at the chance to review this, his latest book, which involves the construction of a 1/6 scale (that's right, one-SIXTH) M5A1 Stuart Light Tank, using a 21st Century Toys running model as a starting point. As usual, Bob's model work does not disappoint.

Although you may not be able to find a similar "start kit" of an M5A1, the book is filled with valuable information on not only building large-scale models in general, but also for the M5A1 Stuart itself. Bob's research is meticulous and his attention to detail is absolutely astounding - the thing that I found most amazing in this work. I personally plan to use this book as a guide when I build my AFV Club 1:35 M5A1. Coincidentally, I just finished a Mirage 1:72 M3 Stuart and I wish that I had had this book as a reference guide at the start of that project.

However, the book itself should not be considered a reference guide or a walk-around, but rather a 14-chapter journey on the construction of a large-scale Stuart model. It is the large size of every aspect and detail of this work that, in my opinion, lends itself to the average armor modeler as a good construction guide for the Stuart, regardless of the scale. The author had to get it right, down to just about every foundry mark, nut, and hex-bolt. I feel that gives modelers in smaller scale work a detail-laden illustration on the details of this tank and, as a result, provides us with a basis for super-detailing and for taking it as far as you want to go on your own project.

All of that being said, I still enjoyed the book for its very purpose and marveled at how the author got down and dirty in creating what is actually a very detailed and accurate scale model of an M5A1. I have to believe that he did not miss a thing and that the finished model is an exacting replica of the real thing. For example, he scratch-built the vehicle's front fenders from brass sheet and then attached them to the model in the same fashion as the actual, full-size M5A1, in this case using scale hardware.

The book is also filled with tips and techniques for everything from basic construction to painting and weathering: all things that can be put to good use by us modelers in all scales of model work. I think the thing that I appreciated the most was the author's no-detail-is-too-small-to-be-reproduced approach to this project.

The book begins with an overall look at the project and takes us on a ground-up journey through the build, starting with the hull and suspension and ending with the turret and final details. There is an excellent source section and bibliography (which I always enjoy adding to my current source and research list) to help you get what you need in supplies and information. You will find many useful pieces of information in this book, from forming metal parts to working with epoxy putty, to making, applying, and using stencils for markings. The usefulness of a punch and die set is illustrated throughout the book. The author's painting and weathering techniques are explained well and, while maybe not to everybody's tastes, I feel give a sound basis for further experimentation and use. Just reading how he created his custom made tracks (chapter 8) was an amazing example of resourcefulness and patience.

Quality of the over 230 full-color photos is superb and the author's writing style is easy to follow. The photos themselves do an excellent job of illustrating the author's written points. The format of the book is in a very logical sequence and, again, makes for an enjoyable read. The paper stock of the book itself is heavy-duty and features a nice smooth shiny finish, appropriate for a book of this type where it will have constant page turning and flipping. The book also comes with a full-color dust jacket which will offer up some protection to the actual cover. The finished model gallery is a delight to behold and gives an excellent all-around look at the finished model.

In the end, it all comes down to your own personal modeling tastes. I enjoyed the book and would recommend it to my fellow AFV modelers. I think that it has a lot to offer - especially if, like me, you're a big Stuart enthusiast - and I know that it will be useful to me in my own future modeling projects. My only concern is the price, which at $45.00 (US) MSRP, may put off a few potential buyers or place it out of budget reach. However, the book is a high quality offering and the price does reflect that; you will get what you pay for.

Many thanks go to the folks at Schiffer Books for providing the book and also to IPMS/USA for allowing me the opportunity to review it.

  • Back cover
    Back cover
  • Sample pages 1
    Sample pages 1
  • Sample pages 2
    Sample pages 2
  • Sample pages 3
    Sample pages 3

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