Television is rather a frightening business. But I get all the relaxation I want from my collection of model soldiers.
Peter Cushing

Sunday 27 November 2016

"A Sherman can give you a very nice... edge."

"We see our role as essentially defensive in nature. While our armies are advancing so fast and everyone's knocking themselves out to be heroes, we are holding ourselves in reserve in case the Krauts mount a counteroffensive which threatens Paris... or maybe even New York. Then we can move in and stop them. But for 1.6 million dollars, we could become heroes for three days."

Kelly's Heroes is one of the greatest war movies ever made. I mean, yes, it's not what you would call totally accurate in every little historical detail but my god, it's a fabulous picture.

One of the things that makes the biggest impact on you is, of course, Donald Sutherland's peerless performance as Sgt. Oddball. Converting a Sherman into Oddball's ride has long been on my 'to do' list but when I noticed that Warlord had made a kit... well, it was a no brainer.

Here's a warning ahead of time; I put a lot of effort into this so you're going to have to deal with a lot - and I mean a lot - of pictures.

The kit itself is resin with a few lead additions; pretty easy to slap together. Clean up and assembly took about an hour. 

Crew wise, I decided to leave out the Driver and just do Oddball and Moriarty. I'll probably add The Turk later on.

Because it's a biggish piece of kit, I decided to crack out the airbrush. I decided early on to treat this as a model kit rather than a miniature so I used all the preshading techniques I've talked about before.

 I airbrushed it Olive Drab and then mixed in some green ochre to spray a little highlight.

And then shot a final coat of Olive Drab over the whole thing to bring it back to the natural colour leaving the highlights inteacT

And then a little brown to start on the weathering of the tracks. 

This gives us a final Sherman that looks like this which is damn near perfect for ww2. 

The only problem is, Oddball's tank looks nothing like this. I don't know if it's because the tank belonged to the Yugoslav army or if the production team simply painted it wrong or what, but in the film Oddball's ride is green. Really, really green:

Now, Ok, some of that will be down to the processing of the film stock. It's been quite heavy on the bleach and the blues are strong - look at Sutherland's eyes - but still: you cannot deny that Oddball's tank is not Olive Drab; it is green. 

So, do I keep it historically accurate or go screen accurate? I asked this question on the Bolt Action facebook group and the best answer I got was: "What would Oddball do?"

So I ate some cheese, dranks some wine, caught a few rays... and painted that bad boy green.

This was done with simply drybrushes of an intermediate green/green ochre mix with increasing amounts of green ochre. The base colour of Olive Drab is still there and the highlighting already being done meant this was more about just laying down some pigment over the top. 

I picked out all the baggage - which required a lot of stop-starting of bits of the film and looking on the interweb for stills - and painted the posters on the side. 

So here she is with Oddball and Moriarty on board awaiting decals and weathering.

And the quick daylight colour test:

A quick shot of Klear and then decals. You can't really see here but once the decals were on I then had a good scrape at them with a scalpel to wear them off a bit. 

And then I hit it with some ground up pastels for dust and dirt and various weathering:

And finally I added some mud:

And here she is with Oddball and Moriarity in situ. I'll get some proper final shots next weekend when I have some light. 

As a final thought I really enjoyed this. I really must consider doing some more World War 2 stuff, either in 15mm or 28mm. I have been looking at the new Bolt Action starter set with interest recently...


  1. A great looking tank and photos

  2. It's a mother beautiful tank! (I know that was about a different tank, but it applies here as well)

  3. Truly a labour or love to get a beautiful result. Very beautiful. Kind of ... calms me down.
    KH is one of my top ten films and you nailed it, my friend.
    True story: I once served in a church where there was a stained glass window, ca. 1900. It showed what I called "Stoned Jesus", looking up to heaven with an unfocused expression, very blond - looked eerily like Donald Sutherland in that film. Wish I had a photo of it.

    1. I would've loved to see stoned Oddball Jesus. Thanks for the kind words.

  4. Certainly one of my all time favourites too and will have this on the 'must own' list now - wonderful job.

    1. Thanks Mr A. Sorry for having cost you money!

  5. It's awesome! I think you did the right thing going for the movie look.

    1. Thanks. I really wasn't sure until the last moment.