Saturday, 19 March 2016

ByronM - 15mm M1 Abrams Main Battle Tanks (36 points)

As I said from the start, I had a plan for painting this year, but it would be highly unlikely that I would actually follow it.  I have actually been doing better than I thought I would, but then a little while back I saw Greg's excellent post on the Team Yankee figures, and more specifically the American M1 Abrams tanks.

The M1 has always been my favourite tank out there, as it was one of the first modern tanks I saw and learned about as a kid.  It has all sorts of things about it that make it great, and horrible all at the same time.  Seeing some cool 15mm plastic kits available for them got me on board.

However, rather than using them specifically for Team Yankee, I have done them up as tanks for the Gulf War.  Here is my take on three M1's and three M1A1's.

I knew I didn't want them shiny and new, and do not buy the line that "American tanks don't get dirty or chip", so went looking for some images to work from.  While seeing nothing out there that shows them chipped up (I blame American propaganda and censorship of the intrawebz) I got some good ideas for weathering.

Due to the scale I started out with a base colour and then modulated it around the edges and center.  I did not use a chipping medium under them this time though as at 15m I was a bit worried about pulling too much off, so decided to paint them on after.

Once base coloured, I put on the decals, then chipped and highlighted edges.  I copied Greg's style of using broken highlights instead of highlighting a full edge, which he apparently got from TacoBat who I went and checked out as well.  I like the look a lot as the small highlights look more realistic than the traditional full highlight I am used to since I learned to paint the GW method originally.

After that I started applying powders to weather the tracks, wheels, and body.  Then added more powder around the engine and exhaust vents. Then went on to clear coat the tank and then added rust streaks and rain (fluid) streaks to give some more variation.  Lastly I painted the lens flairs in a purposely bright colour scheme to add some high contrast to it.

I also stole Greg's idea of using bristles for antennas instead of wire after seeing his as they allow you to be less careful with the models while playing.

I wanted to base them all as well, since I think 15mm vehicles look better based, and did up one base as a trial run (which I like) and just sat the vehicle on it for a picture.  I would do bases for all of them but this was all I had kicking around.

I hope to get the Cobra's that came with the Team Yankee box done before the end of the challenge as well, but have a ton of overtime work to do this weekend and a pile or 28mm terrorists and zombies to finish, so no promises.

Since I have referred to Greg a few times here, I will do so one last time.  Greg likes to complain about fiddly kits, especially plastic ones, and his lack of patience or skill with them.  Normally I bug him about them and say they really are not that bad and then pick on him about complaining (that's what friends are for after-all, right?), but I have to admit this time he is spot on! The kit is lovely, with great details, but the instructions are horrible, lacking part numbers, sequence, clear directions, or even indication on what all the extra parts on the sprue are for. Top that off with super thin pieces that are just asking to break and you have a pretty poor kit that could have been a great kit. 

The hull, tracks, and turret are all great, but all the small or thin parts (guns) are way too fiddly at this scale.  It would have been far better to provide the guns for the tanks and the rear rotor and main rotor center assembly for the helicopters in metal.  As it stands right now, I know that eventually those pieces will break since they are plastic.

Anyway six 15mm tanks should net me 36 points for my total and towards my modern challenge. Hopefully I can add some more to that soon.

Holee Cow! These look great Byron. Frankly, I find the design of the Abrams a bit boring, but you've made them come alive with your weathering techniques here. I also like the little additions you've done, like the long aerials and the amber reflection on the optics.  I too am a big fan of basing smaller scale vehicles and I think your test base looks very nice, especially with the added texture of the brown and golden tufts. Well done Byron!


  1. Great work Byron! Funny enough with you saying that finding pictures of chipped tanks proved troublesome, I just realized I don't think I've ever seen a picture of Abrams with much more than mud on it. Still thinking about it I don't think our vehicles ever really had much paint chipping going on in the army either. Probably more maintenance on them nowadays and better paints as well if you compare to WW2 stuff etc.

  2. These are real beauties Byron - well done!

    The paint chipping on the big beasts, particularly on the smaller scales, is about overdoing it to make the right impression from a distance. Even more, it's a bit about imagining the tanks in a real fight...once M1s start rolling through urban areas, or get caught up in a firefight and hit multiple times by RPGs, heavy small arms etc it starts to mark like to see tanks that are well used :)

  3. Superb brushwork Byron! The weathering is amazing mate.

  4. Stunning! I love the antennas you've added. Great touch.

  5. Brilliant armour Byron and he weather is spot on.

  6. Nice work on the armor beasties, Byron! I like em a lot as they look like genuine sluggers with the weathering!

    It is true that you don't see the paint chips and even rust much on the American vicks, but it is just got to stand close like an American platoon daddy would to find it so the troopers can fix it! ;)

  7. This is really quality work. Great to see these tanks in other than European Cold war colours. Fiddly as they may be to build they look very good. Great job. cheers