Thursday, July 5, 2012

More 15mm Golan WIP - Israeli Centurions

Centurion Sh'ot, 15mm scale model from Peter Pig
While the Syrian stuff continues to mass ominously for my 1973 Golan Heights 15mm project, preparations are under way for the defenders as well. The defence of the Golan in 1973 centered around some heavily outnumbered Israeli tank brigades equipped with upgraded Centurion tanks.  I have seen them referred to as "Shot", "Sh'ot" and "Sh'ot Kals" - I don't know if these various terms refer to specific upgrades, or are simply various different references to the same word meaning the same tank.  I have seen online that "Sh'ot" means "scourge", but don't know if this is true or not.

It is a testament to the design of the Centurion that it could be upgraded to an extent where it would be seeing frontline service so many years after it was introduced. If you play a lot of WW2 gaming, you are used to assuming British tanks are terrible (typically an underpowered engine, a door-knocker for a main gun, or both) at least until the Chieftain came along, but I believe the Centurions played an active role in the IDF armoured forces from before the Six Day War through the the war in Lebanon in 1982 all the way until the 1990s, when they were finally retired from service.  Clearly a durable tank design.

The Centurions "Sh'ot Kal" had received new engines, new 105mm guns, better armour, fire control and other improvements. These were the tanks that occupied the thin line of IDF firing ramps and bunkers, and which fought desperately in the darkness along the TAPline road in the early hours of the 1973 war on the Golan Heights, so they are key to this project.  The manufacturers of 15mm Sh'ot Kals are somewhat limited - QRF has a Centurion (and I'm not sure it is upgraded), Old Glory has one (or seemed to), but Peter Pig appeared to have the best one. No surprise there.

The only issue is that the Peter Pig ones I acquired - from their line of IDF figures - appear to be on the modern end of the Sh'ot Kal's range of service. These models have extra MGs, some kind of sleeve over the main gun, and sections of armour that is either applique or even "Blazer" type ERA.  I believe these were the Centurions which saw service in Lebanon - these were not the sorts of enhancements on the tanks that fought on the Golan in 1973.  I'm not even sure ERA armour was in use at that point. On the other hand, these tanks look really, really cool, so screw it - I can at least paint these up as test models.

Centurion Sh'ots or Verizon cell phone towers? I'm not sure....
I may have gotten a little carried away with the aerials, however. Emboldened by the ease of adding the aerials to the T-55s and T-62s, I figured it would be easy to add them to all the locations on the Centurions.  Well, it was easy....except now they look like mobile cell phone towers or something.  I will paint them up, and see how it turns out...can always pop them off if they look too silly (which they do, a bit, at the moment). 

At any rate, these tanks will serve as a test bed for attempts to try and match the colours of the IDF tanks from 1973.  I have ordered other Centurion models from the Peter Pig range that I expect will match up much more closely to the Sh'ot Kals from 1973.  If those arrive soon, I might even turn around and paint these up as tanks for the Khurasan Sci-Fi marines or something (with the ERA, aerials, smoke launchers and other bolt-ons they have a near-future vibe).  Or we'll just game Lebanon at some point :)

Close up showing the open commander's hatch, awaiting a figure from Peter Pig
I also left the commander's cupola in one of the tanks open, and I will fill it with some tank crew figures from Peter Pig.  In wargaming it is common to do something like this to represent a command tank in platoon or a company, but for the IDF tanks I am thinking I should do this for most of the vehicles.  I have seen many references to the battle for the Golan in 1973 indicate that Israeli tank commanders in particular suffered very high casualty rates. It seems the standard IDF practice was for tank commanders to direct the battle from an open hatch for maximum visibility.  The IDF tank commanders were hit by artillery, air strikes, snipers and fire from other tanks - they were vulnerable, and suffered accordingly. So to truly represent the IDF tanks, my next round of models for them will all feature exposed commanders in the hatches.


Anonymous said...

Good call on the commander hatches. The Centurions on my blog are the OG15s Sh'ot Cals. and they are a nice little tank themselves.
I've been tossing up whether to repaint my Israeli vehicles as Sinai Grey (the greeny colour). They are Light Sand at the moment, which seems to be appropriate for some units in the Sinai. The problem is finding a paint that matches and that I like using. Apparently Testors actually make an Israeli armour colour paint. The colour almost looks like a field grey mixed with sand. I'll be interested to see what you come up with.

Greg B said...

@ Nate - thanks for the comments.

I've not seen the Old Glory Sh'ot Cals for myself, but my concern quality wise is that they would be like the T-62s, which are not inspiring, as opposed to the BTR-60s, which I think Old Glory did very well.

Testors paint? Wow - THAT takes me back. Do Testors have acrylic paints? I was going to look for Tamiya paints, but I think those are mostly for the needy, whiney airbrushes and not for "real" painting :)

DaveV said...

AFAIK, Testors ModelMaster Sinai Grey is an enamel paint, not included in their Acryl line of acrylic airbrush-ready paints.