I have struggled for several years to find just the right shade of gray?, green?, tan? for my modern IDF forces. My Google-fu reveals scores of pictures from Al Gore’s internet depicting IDF vehicles in a wide array of colors. It is difficult to account for differences in sun angle, unit location, or whether the vehicle was photographed on a parade ground or during an actual combat operation. No clear winner as far as color goes. Strike One!
So… I move on to step two: check the fora. The Miniatures Page, Arab Israeli Wars, GHQ, and four or five others were not much more help. Lots of opinions but little consensus. ‘It Depends’ was probably the most common response. What year? Which unit? Which front? Which operation? Well at least the diversity of opinion matches the diversity of photographic evidence. Strike Two!
There was one positive development out of all of that however. Several forum members suggested hobby paint manufacturers, such as Life Color, that offer pre-mixed IDF colors for specific time periods. Progress!
But here’s the thing. When the Lord gives with one hand watch out he doesn’t smite you down with the other. In spite of the fact that I live in Italy, where I’ve been told Life Color paints are made, I can’t easily get my hands on them. There are precious few hobby shops in my area and those I have managed to find don’t carry Life Color paint. Damn! And for the double whammy military postal rules seem to scare online stores away from shipping hobby paint to APO/FPO addresses.
All of that is pretty disappointing. Maybe there is a hidden silver lining. Given the fact that there are so many different opinions and so many different photos out there it is possible there isn’t one right way to do it. Perfect! I Can now use one of my favorite modeling approaches… TLAR (That Looks About Right)!
Here are my Namers and my Magachs (with turret magnets) in my own version of IDF gray/green/tan. The white chevron decals are from GHQ and the white barrel stripe decals are from an unknown source.
1/285 scale IDF Namer Heavy APC. Model and white chevron decals by GHQ
1/285 scale Magach 6B Gal. Model and white chevrons by GHQ.
Just to show that it isn’t all naval all the time here’s an update on my IDF forces. I picked up a pack of GHQ’s new release, the Magach 3. As with most of their offerings I liked this one right off the bat. I’ve always loved the classic M48 lines, the boat-hull bow, the beefy tracks and suspension, and the big cast turret that says ‘I dare you to knock this off’. Yes, yes, I know that in actual combat they suffered from a number of serious flaws… but they look so cool!
The rare earth magnets worked so well on the GHQ Magach 6b Gal that I put these models through the same process. I made sure that they all had the same polar orientation this time. Here are some shots of the process.
Underside of turret with turret pin.
Existing turret pin removed.
Turret pin drilled out to accept 3mm magnet.
Undersife of hull showing existing turret pin hole.
Hull turret pin hole bored out to accept 3mm magnet turret pin.
5mm magnet glued to underside of hull.
Completed hull and turret. Now fully rotating but removable.
The Magach 3 and Magach 6b Gal side by side.
Now it is just a question of getting them primed and painted.
Well as promised I’m back with the IDF Magach 6B tanks from GHQ to modify them with rare earth magnets which should hold the turrets securely but allow free rotation. Prior to my introduction to these magnets I had always glued the turrets of my tanks. It wasn’t as visually appealing on the game table but it was a much more secure way to store and transport them. Moving every couple of years to various far-flung military assignments that was an important consideration. In fact these tanks had their turrets glued in place before I started this modification. Here’s a cool tip I learned on the GHQ forums – if you use CA glue (crazy glue) you can weaken the bond to separate the turret by placing the miniature in the freezer. It worked very well on these tanks and the Canadian Leopard 2A6AM tanks which will also undergo modification.
The first thing you have to do is decide how you want to employ the magnets. The GHQ forums have several different suggestions. Some place the magnet in the turret peg and glue a piece of ferrous metal under the hull. Some place the magnet under the hull and glue a piece of ferrous metal in the turret pin. Others use magnets in both the hull and the turret. That is the method that I will be using here. As always it is critical to make sure you glue the magnets in place with the proper polar alignment. Another important tip – while the glue for the magnets cure don’t move any other magnets anywhere near the model or it will cause the magnet to flip, fly out or otherwise dislodge itself. Don’t ask how I know this.
To use two magnets I decided to use 3mm x 1mm magnets in place of the turret peg and use 4mm x 1mm magnets under the hull. Why those sizes? Its what I had on hand. Since this is my first attempt there are some lessons learned. For series production I would choose 3mm x 1.5 or 2mm for the turret peg. This would give enough depth of recess in the turret to hold securely while still providing some ‘peg’ to insert in the hole in the hull.
First step is to remove the existing turret peg and drill a shallow hole in its place to recess the magnet in the turret.
If you look close you can see the CA glue residue on the bottom of the turret. I should have been more careful and removed all of it. I learned in the next step that when gluing the magnet in place the CA glue bonds to the residue not the metal and as a result the magnet was not secure and took much longer to cure. Of course cure time might be because I was using crap glue.
With the turret complete its time to work on the hull. The hole for the turret peg has to be bored out to 3mm to accommodate the magnet serving as the turret peg. I use a pin-vise drill with a 3mm Dremmel bit. The Dremmel bit is meant for high speed operation so it doesn’t bite very deep and it takes a while to grab hold and drill into the turret. This is actually a good thing as it gives you a great deal of control on how deep you actually go. Test fit often to ensure the recess is deep enough to hold the magnet but still leave some exposed to act as the turret peg. This is why I would use slightly longer magnets in the future. Here’s the hull drilled out.
On the underside of this particular model there is a small depression around the hole as you can see. Using 4mm magnets they just bridge over this gap to cover the hole but there is limited purchase for the glue. If I had it to do over and I had different magnet sizes I would use 5mm magnets under the hull. The GHQ forum members report great success just gluing a bit of ferrous metal under the hull. I tested a couple of different items but found they were more trouble cutting them down to size than it was worth. Your mileage may vary.
With the glue dry on turret and hull its time to test fit. Turns out I didn’t follow my own advice and one of the turret and hull combos have their magnet poles reversed with respect to the others. The turret and hull match each other but the turret won’t work on the other hulls and vice versa. Maybe I’ll just make it a command tank or something like that.
The magnet to magnet bond is strong enough to lift the miniature by the turret or barrel but I definitely don’t recommend this as standard practice.
Here is the lot of them complete and ready for the paint shop!
I wanted to shift gears a little bit and go back to 1/285 micro armor. I have some of the 2012-13 model year vehicles from GHQ that I would like to share. Some I think are quite good and others just aren’t. All of them are high quality and ultra detailed, which you would expect from GHQ. But one in particular just seems too big. So why not start with that one. Before the reveal however, I want to say that I’m a huge Bundeswehr fan. I have all the models currently available and have scratchbuilt or kitbashed numerous others. So I eagerly awaited the release of the Puma, which is to replace the Marder in active service. Unfortunately this has been a marketing nightmare for GHQ. If you’re interested you can read all about it on the GHQ forum but in a nutshell here’s what happened. Initial release have five roadwheels and the reaction from the forum experts was highly critical. That’s the proto-type we want the real deal. So GHQ called a do-over and released a model with six roadwheels. But when the first ones reached customers hands the forum lit up and sales went to all stop. This thing is huge! Much larger than the Marder it is replacing. Much larger than the Leopard 2A6 tank it will serve along side. Debate raged over what the actual dimensions are and what the scale error is etc. etc. The debate was complicated by the fact that no online sources had the same data because there are modular armor packages that change the dimensions considerably. What is the real baseline height and width? I don’t know and neither does GHQ but they’re sticking to their guns and aren’t going to change the design again unless proven wrong. Well until I know how far off it is or even if it is off scale I’m not buying any more of these. If you’re a Sci-Fi fan however these are fantastic.
Puma IFV – GHQ Miniatures
With this next item GHQ redeemed themselves. Following the global trend of making lighter, easily transportable wheeled APCs the Bundeswehr has also adopted into service the Boxer. This eight wheeled vehicle is broadly similar to the Stryker family of vehicles now in use in the U.S. More of these are definitely on my shopping list.
Boxer APC – GHQ Miniatures
Staying with German manufacturers for a moment the next model is the Canadian version of the German Leopard 2A6 main battle tank. I ordered this when it was first released but before any catalog pictures were available on GHQ’s website. I had hoped that the additional slat armor was etched brass similar to the kits available for GHQ Stryker vehicles. I was a little disappointed when I received the product and it was an integral part of the mold. My main issue is how to paint it. Can’t really show the camouflage pattern behind the slats so I guess I’m going to have to go with O.D.
Leopard 2A6M CAN – GHQ Miniatures
Staying with the heavy metal theme I’ll move along to one of my favorite models of recent years, the Magach 6B Gal. The Israeli army comes up with some wacky and wild upgrades to old favorites. The designs show a healthy respect for the dangers of fighting in built up terrain, lots of reactive armor and machine guns for personnel suppression. This M-60 upgrade is no exception. These tanks will be featured in a future piece on magnets and rotating turrets.
Magach 6B Gal – GHQ Miniatures
The last model I want to talk about is the Nayla RG-31. The RG-31 is one of many MRAP vehicles that have proliferated throughout the U.S. military. GHQ has a large range of MRAP vehicles which I think are pretty cool in general. The RG-31 is also a favorite for NGO’s and UN workers so maybe I’ll have to paint up a couple of these in UN white and blue.