Sunday, June 16

Tank Art 2 - WWII Allied Armour - no more words just have a look at this review...

WWII Allied armour – often overlooked by many modellers but really it is half of the story isn’t it – even I get sick of building Panzers after a while – but so many  of us are caught up in Grey and Gelb that we do not know how to model the olive drab styles so well. Step in Rinaldi Studio Press with their second part of their excellent “Tankart” books – this time the spotlight is firmly on greens of Allied armour..

Tank Art 2 - WWII Allied Armour
By Michael Rinaldi
Soft Cover; 8.5" x 9.5" format;
208 pages.
English Text
USD$29.99 + shipping online from Rinaldi Studio Press
Shipping: (single book orders) US $4.95/$7.50, Canada/Mexico $12.95, and International $16.95.

A few months ago we were blessed enough to get the first volume of this book to read (TANKART Vol. 1 WWII German Armour review) - concerning WWII German armour it was a real top-quality product and a great informative read. This is the second book in this series of eight books on armour subjects so after the highpoint of the first book we were hoping for good things.
Shipped nice and safely ( mine was autographed) the book is in a nearly block-like (1cm thick at least) landscape softcover format 8.5" x 9.5" in dimensions and weighing in at 208 pages there is a lot of it. The text is isn’t a very easy to read and plain English style with the text in a clear font black on white pages. There are some extra information boxes in white print on orange but more on those later. There are ten chapters in the book all penned by Mr Rinaldi that centre on allied armour and the techniques you need to master to get the best out of your allied tank, the last chapter is a nice little chapter on figure modelling – this is added as an extra and kind of like ice-cream after my peach desert.
Before I go onto what is inside the book I must credit the modelling skills of the author – but more so of the photography and layout prowess shown here. The book flows with great pictures with text to complement it in close proximity and little circles to highlight but not get in the way of what is going on. The photos are insightful, in focus and also in context to what is being shown. There is a hell of a lot of them and they all help illustrate the story being told really well.

The binding of the book is very strong and it allows you to hold the cover open whilst looking on and working from your modelling bench. I like this a lot as it is a bugbear to have to hold your pages down and maybe to turn them easily. You need no force to open them and to keep them open and the spine of the book is not ruined or showing any damage after you do this.
We get a good understanding of what this book is about from the introduction and forward of the book. A large focus of these books is to show modellers techniques but also for them to question and ask WHY a certain model needs to look that way or have this medium or that applied. Ever thought to yourself “why am I weathering this exhaust like this? “ I know I have and this book challenges you to think of why you do something in a certain way and what you could bring to it to make the finished product more realistic.

The author explains in the book his personal philosophy of modelling, called –“Artistic Scale ism” - right through the book’s chapters we see Michael recreating each part of the model in scale, piece by piece. This is a longer process no doubt for any modeller – but if you do aspire to achieving these types of results you better get readin’ this book!
We got through each of the mediums of painting in the opening part of the book – Lifecolour, Tamiya, Vallejo, primers, washes, oils, airbrushes  - practically everything the author needs to make these models is talked about, including their plusses and minuses. I like the honesty of the discussion here and the non-partisan approach to using lots of different product here. I think most modellers will see a lot of stuff they use and relate to the stories here from their own personal experiences with them.
Talking of mediums, we go into a discussion about the “hairspray technique” which is very popular right now. “OPR” or Oil Paint Rendering is discussed as well as a good way to apply pigments and the proper painting of olive drab. Not being much of an allied modeller usually this was of great interest to me.
We break into the individual chapters of the models which are the star of this book. There is a Russian Mk III Churchill from AFV club that is winterised and dirty, A heavy M 26 Pershing tank. This large tank killer has some really distressed surfaces which caught my eye and some good work on the stowage. The discussion about tracks helped me with the tracks I am painting on my current project actually.
We go French next with the venerable Tamiya 1/35th Char B1-bis and it’s unusual wavy camouflage and lovely weathered engine deck and exhaust as well as the excellent Tasca M4A4 Sherman Firefly which is just loaded with tracks as extra armour. It is great that with this kit and the others in this magazine you are shown from constructions and the rendering of textures through to the paint and weathering. It sure helps the rest of improve our end product. Out of the box is not ignored though , as the last tank in this book, a KV-1s is pretty stock standard but the outcome is far from run of the mill.
Another feature of these books and of each of these builds is the quick reference section at the end of each build to show where each of the skills he used to finish the model were in the book. What a great feature this is - a step by step guide of how he did it with a picture of the details of each step to help you learn the processes – it is easy to find something you need to catch up on by a glance at the end of each part. It is to me smart thinking and very helpful feature of these titles.
As usual in this series we go slightly non sequitur at the end and look at work by the talented figure modeller Radek Pituch. This the last chapter of this book concerns the modelling of figures and this one specifically shows a 1945 scene in which two German “Volkssturm”  soldiers are surrendering to a Russian soldier with a PPSH.
These soldiers and their scenery are made from scratch and just like the previous models we see the reasons WHY the model builder selected the subjects and the materials to make – pretty much from scratch – this excellent diorama. It is a great addition to the book. Maybe we will see a figure book in the future – but as all of us need figures to bring our armour to life I like the quality of writing and work and the fact that these are included in the book.

I like the fact that you can pick out what type of scheme you want and go to the end of that chapter and find the page on which the skill you want to brush up is right there. The layout, feel and look of the book are first class. I can say the only thing I did not like about this book was I made me want to start modelling before I had finished reading it! This book is a truly inspiring title for modellers and an essential workbench tool or treasured reference.

I am looking forward to the six other of these eight books in this series – both on modern and older vehicles from all of the main AFV protagonists in this century – but first I want to go and start re-reading this book - just like the fist title this has impressed me no end.

Recommended wholeheartedly to all modellers and AFV fans.

Adam Norenberg

Thanks to Rinaldi Studio Press for sending us this book to read and review