M6 Heavy Tank "Black Label Series"
The 57-ton M6 was designed as a tank able to respond to Germany’s all-dominating Panzers that had previously swept through Europe in the Blitzkrieg, and approval to produce four prototypes was given in February 1941. The type proved unsatisfactory in testing, however, and in the end only eight M6, twelve M6A1 and 20 M6A2 tanks were built by Baldwin from 1942-44. The M6 had a crew of six and was armed with an M7 76mm gun, M6 37mm gun and no less than five machine guns. The M6 was distinguished by its cast hull. (From Dragon USA website).
The parts for the M6/M6A1 kits are completely new molds and carry-over no parts from Dragon’s previous M4-family of Sherman kits. You will find the following inside the box:
- 289 gray parts on 13 sprues, including one piece upper and lower hull parts.
- 1 piece of wire rope.
- 4 pieces of Smart Track
- Tri-fold instruction sheet has parts map, warning chart, color chart for Mr. Color paints, and a paint and marking guide for two vehicles. There are 15 construction steps. There is no history of the subject.
Pros: It is a styrene model of the M6 Heavy Tank. Slide molds reduce number of parts and provide excellent detail. A beautifully molded M2 cal .50. Smart Tracks are excellent and easy to use.
Cons: No clear parts for headlight lenses. Cooling air grill is “see-thru” into the empty hull. The prominent weld beads on the turret and upper hull are not represented. The radio antennae mounts and antennae are fantasy. I replaced them with after-market products. No photoetch is provided (if you want more detail).
Overall: The detail of the parts is exceptional with no flash and only a couple exposed ejection marks, on bottom of front fenders. The construction of the dual suspension and side armor plates is fiddly and takes this otherwise simple build out of the beginner’s category.
I did not follow the construction steps as I tend to paint as I build. Plus I got tired of painting all the road wheels! Because of the double suspension system and side armor I found painting after construction not feasible. I prefer to paint vehicles before mounting pioneer tools, spare track, etc.
The only interior items are the gun mounts and guns for the 76mm and 37mm cannons mounted in the turret and the two .50 cal machine guns mounted in front glacis. A blanking plate will be required if you don’t want to see the empty hull through the cooling air intake grill.
Hull and Suspension
The hull bottom includes sides and sponson bottoms. The lower glacis and rear hull are separate. The hull sides have mounting points for the suspension and there is full detail on hull bottom. The components for the suspension are exceptionally molded and assemble easily, with patience. The mounting of the suspension bogies to the hull and the side armor is not as strong as found in most Sherman kits. The front-mounted idlers and the pair of wheels in front of the first bogey, on each side, are metal wheeled, although the instructions do not indicate this detail. Color photos of the sole remaining M6, found on the web, confirm the all metal wheels. I secured the side armor plates to the front idler mount, the side boxes and rear A-frame, then inserted the support roller axles into mounting point on inside of armor plate. I then turned over the hull and aligned the four pairs of bogies on each side. There are two pins for each pair to assist with this step, although it is not explained in the instructions.
Dragon has provided four sections of Smart Track. Two sections are required for each of two track runs. The tracks have excellent detail on both sides and the end connectors are excellent. You will to consider how you will align the track to hide the two joints for both runs.
The upper hull is one piece. Molded onto the hull top are all drive train access panels, cooling air intake grill, and four fuel filler armored covers. The modeler adds upper hull front, radiator water filler armored covers, driver/radio operator hatches, hold downs for tow cable and fire extinguisher handle cover, and several grab handles. Wiring conduit is included as separate parts for the head light and horn. The headlight bodies are hollow, but only solid lenses provided. I used white glue to represent the clear lenses. Prominent weld beads along bottom edge of upper hull have not been represented. I attempted to add the weld bead with plastic strip and liquid glue. My effort is a more prominent than is probably required. Reference pictures showing the weld bead can be located on the web.
The turret is a two part assembly like most American armor kits. A little filler and minor sanding removed any seam between the parts. I added the prominent weld bead around the lower edge of the turret. Complete mounts for the 76mm main gun (minus breach block) and 37mm coax are provided, however, that is the extent of interior detail. Part B23 (76mm barrel collar) is incorrectly listed in step 12 as C23 in the instructions. Turret hatches have interior detail and separate periscopes. Part B24 (periscope mount) is also incorrectly listed in step 12 as part C24
I painted the olive drab as I built. Suspension parts were painted while still on the sprue and touched up after construction. The pioneer tools were also painted separately. This is an easy vehicle to paint. The track was assembled first then painted. I first connected two sections of track, and then I painted the entire run. I used Polly Scale Model Railroad Colors stainless steel paint to prime the tracks. Other acrylic paint and enamels that I had on hand would not stick to the track. Once the track was primed I could used any of my paint to detail the track. The track runs have just enough slack to allow me to wrap the track around the suspension then glue the final connection.
There are unit markings for two vehicles, both stationed at Fort Knox in 1942. They are opaque and adhere well once dry. I did not use a gloss coat before applying the decals. I use a cotton bud to polish the spots where the decals were to be applied, then used Micro Set and Micro Sol to move and secure the decals. I did not have any issues with the decals.
I weathered my M6 based off my experience while stationed as an armor office at Fort Knox, where these vehicles went through testing. When dry the maneuver areas are extremely dusty, and when it rains or snows they become very muddy. I wanted to try some new products for weathering with this build. For the tracks I used the following paints over the primer, mentioned above, to try and replicate the color of the track after field use. I tried a couple products from Citadel; base colors Leadbelcher and Ironbelcher to darken the track. In addition, I used Vallejo Model Color #179 Gunmetal Grey in the low areas and recesses to get closer to the color of the manganese steel used in the tracks. Polly Scale Stainless Steel was used on the grousers to show wear. For dust I used pastels, and I tried Citadel Texture Armageddon Dust to replicate mud. Finally, for the stains left by vehicle servicing I tried Lifecolor Tenscrom TSC #210 Fuel, TSC #207 Oil, and TSC #208 Smoke. I based the fuel spill and oil stains upon a photo I found on the internet
I have not measured the kit, but it sure looks like the photos I found on the internet.The detail on the parts of this kit is outstanding. As stated above, there are no PE parts. Someone may produce a PE set, but I like the results straight from the box. I found that Dragon provides a 95% solution with only the additions of missing weld beads, clear headlight covers, realistic radio antennae and possibly two hooks and tow pintle for an excellent replica of the M6 heavy tank. I highly recommend this kit for builders with a few kits under their belt because of the build process for the suspension.
I would like to thank Dragon Models USA for this review kit.