U.S. Tank Crew NW Europe
Modeling the U.S. Army in WWII


For a long time, U.S. AFV modelers have had few resources for tankers in plastic. There were the old blobs in the early Tamiya kits, slightly refined with the M4 Sherman release, and the early 1990s DML set. In the meantime, resin figs from Warriors, Verlinden, and Nemrod provided better quality at a steeper price.

MiniArt came to the rescue in 2011 with the first of two sets of styrene soldiers. This one offers a five-man crew in winter apparel, namely the ubiquitous tanker combat jacket and trousers with the offset fly (I've often wondered if the placement of that fly was based on a scientific survey....). The men also wear the winter overshoes, which were late in arriving for infantry in the harsh winter of 1944-45; I don't know if tank crews were rated higher for delivery or not. They all wear gloves, which helps minimize the flesh-tone painting. The commander, with his pencil-thin moustache and Colossus of Rhodes stance, is wearing the winter mackinaw, which adds variety to the style of outerwear if not so much to the clothing colors.

The separate pieces for the cloth "helmets" that gave added warmth to the steel pots provides a better sense of realism, as do the addition of the cords dangling from the tankers helmets that connected to the vehicle's communications system. The M1 steel helmets, however, are quite a bit larger than those on heads from Tamiya or Hornet; they're a bit more in line with DML and Warriors versions. So mixing and matching might be a challenge. The faces are fairly expressionless but are more distinctive that the usual DML heads. There's a bit more flash to the figures than I've been accustomed to with MiniArt's offerings. You might need a dab of filler where the torso and legs parts join. The box art provides a good representation of colors and listing of various paints to ease the process.

Overall, I like this kit a lot. While the detailing is not as sharply defined as with resin figures, the uniforms are accurate, the poses are natural, and the price is relatively economical—although the $19 retail I paid reminded me that you could pick up the old DML set for less than $8 when they came out nearly 20 years ago! Certainly much of the pricing has to do with the Ukrainian provenance of this set, the value of the dollar, etc. But it also could force modelers to buy only one box, when in years past they would have picked up two or more.



Modeling the U.S. Army in WWII © Timothy S. Streeter