Here is the start of a new project. I'm working on a small force to represent the Canadian Army in Sicily. The genesis of this project actually came from my discontent with the figures being produce by Warlord Games, which are of course the most readily available! Unfortunately, I just don't like them, at least not the plastics. After attempting to build German infantry, and being dissatisfied with the results, I picked up a pack of Perry Desert Rats and was much more impressed. My original plan was to build a relatively generic platoon of British infantry for the North Africa campaign. However, on looking at the figures I realised that they would be suitable for the 1st Canadian Division for Operation Husky, the invasion of Sicily.
On doing some more research, I came to the understanding that the busiest Canadian armoured regiment in Sicily was the Three Rivers Regiment, of the 1st Canadian Army Tank Brigade (soon to be renamed the 1st Canadian Armoured Brigade). I did some digging, looking for clear evidence of which particular Sherman they used (Sherman III (aka M4A2) or Sherman V (or M4A4)), and what colour the tanks were painted. There was a limit to what I could figure out using my untrained eyes, squinting at old black and white photos, and trying to puzzle out orders and dates for painting of vehicles. Ultimately, I decided to go with the diesel-powered Sherman III, and to paint it desert tan with dark splotches. I'm quite likely to be wrong, but at the same time I'm not ready to repaint this beauty!
For starters, here are some of the photos I studied. Canadian tanks in Sicily did not yet use the allied white star that was to be used universally in NW Europe, instead you can see the red-white-red identification patch on the side of the tank. Photo lifted from canadiansoldiers.com.
Tanks carried loads of stowage, to the extent that if you can still make out the silhouette of the tank under all the crap piled on the deck or strapped to the exterior, you haven't added enough stowage! I was particularly impressed by this photo, which I found on the Juno Beach Centre website, showing a Three Rivers Regiment tank entering Regalbuto, Sicily in August 1943.
This particular model is the Sherman III from Rubicon Models. This kit is pretty amazing. It includes two different turrets and two different upper hulls, so with a bit of cleverness, one can almost build two tanks from the same kit, all that's missing is the tracks and lower hull for the second tank. I gave the extra bits to a wargaming buddy, who intends to build a hull-down tank using the other hull and turret.
So here she is! If you kinda squint at the first photo above, it looks like the tank is named 'Cobault' or 'Cobalt'. I understand that in the TRR, tanks in C Squadron were named after towns in Ontario, so it should be COBALT, but it seems that both spellings were used at different times.
I decided I wanted to copy the bicycle that can be seen in the second photo, so I went through my bits box and found a bike from Eureka Miniatures that I got some time ago for street furniture in Kandahar.
The tank number above is a decal from the sheet provided by Rubicon. There were two provided, but I made a mess of the second one, so Cobault only has a serial number on the right hand side!
I was quite pleased to find that Rubicon provided a decal for the 1st Canadian Tank Brigade (on the left), but I had a bit of work to make the '174' unit sign for the Three Rivers Regiment. I painted a blue box, then added the brown bar on the bottom. Then (after the paint dried) I carefully cut out individual digits for the 1, 7 and 4 from the decal sheet and set them in place.
And again, same markings on the front of the tank.
I had fun placing the stowage all over the tank, but I did take care to ensure that the turret could still rotate through a full 360 degrees!
Tank commander is from Die Waffenkamer.