Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Golan Heights Project - First Attempted Centurion

Israeli Centurion from 1973
After finishing various bits of Syrian kit and some Syrian infantry, I wanted to get started on some test models to represent the Israeli side of the conflict on the table, namely the iconic Centurion Sho't tanks. Here are some WIP pictures, and some pictures of a first finished tank.  I just don't know about the colour...
Generic upgraded Centurion from Peter Pig. Base from Litko.
Thin lines of these tanks, in the hands of elite and determined IDF crews, held against the incredible tides of Syrian armour on the Golan Heights for 100 hours.  With precision gunnery and strong defensive positions, the IDF Sho'ts exacted a frightening toll on the advancing Syrians - who kept coming and coming despite the losses.

Some extras from Peter Pig - Jerry cans on the turret, a .50 cal MG and a tank commander
I am using models from Peter Pig.  The first Centurions I ordered were from Peter Pig's IDF range, but the tanks are actually more appropriate for the invasion of Lebanon in the early 80s.  They have ERA armour, extra MGs and a thermal sleeve on the barrel - upgrades that were not present on the Sho'ts which held out against the Syrians in 1973.

Centurion platoon waiting for primer...
I was thinking "screw it", but I checked through Peter Pig's listings and saw they had a more generic upgraded Centurion in their modern product line, and ordered some test models - and they arrived just in time to join me on vacation.   These models do not have ERA, and the gun is correct. They also have smoke launchers on the turrets, and the engine seems different (either upgraded again from the original version, or not yet upgraded - I don't know).

The photos I have seen from 1973 have very few tanks with smoke launchers, so I clipped those off the turrets.  As for the engine...well, close enough.  It will work for me.  To add a little more character to the tanks, I ordered some spare .50 cal MGs from Peter Pig as well.  The MGs came with some spare Jerry cans, so I glued some to the turret to give a bit of feel for extra stowage.
This picture from Osprey's "The Yom Kippur War - 1973 (1) - The Golan Heights" served as my paint guide - you can see the engine deck on this Centurion Sho't is different from the Peter Pig generic Centurion - but close enough for gaming - you can also see the tactical number "hung" on the rear of the turret
The Israeli tanks used a tactical number/letter system, but painted them on to panels that the crews would just tie on to the back of the turrets.  To capture this, I cut out a little piece of thin card and glued them to the back of the turret.

Card was cut out and glued to the rear of the turret
The trickiest part of this project overall is to try and get the colour right for the Israeli armour.  I have found many references to the colour of Israeli tanks as "Sinai Grey".   This is confusing to me for a couple of reasons, because the colour is for the Golan, not the Sinai, and also because it doesn't look grey at all.  The few colour photos I have found seem to be either a light sand colour - almost like a western desert tank colour from WW2 - or a yellowish green.  But no grey - even though the colour is apparently "Sinai Grey". Time for a test model, to see what happens.

Another shot of the card chunks intended to mimic the tactical number cards/tarps Israeli crews attached to the turrets
I based the tanks, primed black (as always) and then applied a base coat of "Death World Forest" from GW's new paint range (I think this is the wannabe "Catachan Green" from the previous range - FWIW Catachan Green is better).  Then I applied "Zandri Dust" from the new GW range, and then hit the tank with a wash of GW "Agrax Earthshade". Have I mentioned how awful the new paint names from GW are? Good lord...
Finished Centurion from the front.
These tanks only got one antenna - the other tanks looked a bit too bristly for the table. On this tank I used a sponge to try and simulate chips in the paint.

In this photo you can see the engine deck is different from that of the Sho't tank - I'm not sure if it is an older engine, or a different new version of the engine
I painted on some Israeli tactical markings (basically copied from the Osprey book) and did the usual weathering (dust, exhaust etc) and painted the "windows" (view ports etc).  The result looks OK for a tank, but I don't think I got the colour right.  Doesn't look green enough - looks like a tank for the Sinai (which, strangely, did not seem to be painted "Sinai Grey").  But what effect would storage in a depot, then the intense sun, then rain, then wind, and even snow in some instances in the Golan, followed by dust and use in heavy combat have on the paint colour in the first place?
The rings on the turret indicate battalion number, and the chevron is the company number - in this case, third company, second battalion
This is tank "Bet 1" - I think "B1" or "Beta 1" is the translation.  I also scribbled a unit symbol on the rear of the engine
Is this "Sinai Grey"? Maybe after a long time in service....I will have to try again...
I have two more primed tanks, so I will try some other concoction of paints and see what I can come up with. I think the colours I am working with are the right ones, but I need to work them out in a different combination. If anyone out there has suggestions or tips, feel free to share!


Peter Douglas said...


Lovely job on the tank.


Curt said...

Excellent work Dude. I think you're right, you may want something with a touch more green/olive in it. Nonetheless, it still looks excellent.

Samulus said...

Could try a green filter perhaps to give it a tinge?