M24 75mm Gun Combat Tank
'Chaffee'

Italeri #244 M24 Chaffee Light Tank

Copyright
2001, Jim Lewis/GunTruck Studios
All Rights Reserved Worldwide

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Like the Tamiya M41 Walker Bulldog, I delayed building the Italeri M24 Chaffee Light Tank mostly because of how many "experts" complained about the model kit's shortcomings. After having so much fun with the M41A1 Walker Bulldog, I set out to finish a Chaffee the following month. I did so in the same time frame - two weekends - and had as much fun with the miniature as I did with the M41A1. Some of these oldies are diamonds in the rough, and if you give it some careful attention you'll get a miniature as fine as any available on the shelf today.

I chose to use On the Mark Models' M24 Chaffee brass detail set, plus a Jordi Rubio turned-aluminum barrel (because my kit's example was warped beyond usability). I made the lift rings and grab handles with solder. Aber brass Narrow Weld Beads and Grandt Line bolts came in handy. I also made hex bolts by slicing off the ends of Plastruct styrene .040" hex rod.

Modeling a Korean War Chaffee, I relocated the .50cal tripod mount to the front of the turret. And, lastly, I replaced all the molded-on tie-downs with On the Mark Models and Kendall Model Company brass tie-downs. Verlinden Productions resin Antenna Mounts and Minimeca Modelismo Antenna Wire would come into play here too, as well as MV Products Lenses for the Headlight/Blackout Lights.

Lastly, but certainly not in the least, I fitted Fruillmodelismo metal T72E2 individual track-links, Drive Sprockets, and Idler Wheels to my M24 miniature.

This is an expensive, and time-consuming addition to the model, but the result is well worth the patience and effort. I was punch-drunk enough after "knitting" them together to purchase another set to complete my M19 Motor Gun Carriage conversion of a spare Italeri Chaffee model kit. Since I was at it - I replaced all the molded-in tie-downs on the little Chaffee model kit too. Not visible in the below photos are the brackets for the sand skirts. I would mount these after painting and attaching the tracks and running gear. These flimsy sheet metal items quickly got torn away from the tank during the normal course of duty, but I applied them because I didn't remove the molded-in attachment runners on the sides of the Italeri fenders. Also, I like the look of the detail to make this miniature unique. Neither did I attach my scratchbuilt External Interphone Box to the right rear fender, nor the scratchbuilt Spotlight to the Turret Roof in front and to the left of the Commander's Cupola prior to painting the rest of the vehicle. I was concerned that these delicate subassemblies would get knocked off the miniature during the painting process. Likewise, Skybow's .50cal Machine Gun and associated equipment, Jerry Cans and their holders, and a spare .50cal Machine Gun and its equipment were painted and finished separate from the main miniature to be attached in the end assembly.

At right are in-progress shots of the miniature glossed for decaling. The National Insignia are Italeri wet-decals, which are thin and went on without a problem. The Unit Codes are Pre-Size dry-transfers applied to clear decal trim film and applied like a traditional water-slide decal. The M24's Registration Numbers comes from Railroad Scenics dry-transfers, again applied to clear decal film for application as a water-slide decal. Here, I'm modeling a M24 as deployed with the 25th Infantry Division, 25th Reconnaissance Company in the summer of 1950, accounting for its near-pristine condition. It hasn't been bloodied yet.

Like the model itself, the stowage and equipment for the M24 Chaffee are little projects in themselves. Next, I'll DullCote the model and begin applying them. The M24 Chaffee had little to no room internally for the crew to stow their gear - so it lived on the tank's exterior. I spent nearly as much time on the stowage and external equipment as I do in finishing the principle miniature. I believe this makes a big difference in how a completed projects comes out - as no amount of extra "stuff" will make a poorly constructed miniature look good, and no excellent miniature can overcome shoddy external stowage and extra equipment.

The miniature's Registration Numbers were made with Railroad Scenics dry-transfers. These are so small, I applied them to clear decal trim film first - as lining them up from the dry-transfer sheet itself would be ludicrous. Once the dry-transfers are applied to the clear decal film, I mist a light coat of GlossCote over them. Let it dry, then trim and apply them like traditional water slide decals.

The equipment and personnel gear for my miniature came from digging deep into the spare parts box(es). I used a couple of the marvelous resin AP Bayardi Jerry Cans and placed them into On the Mark Models' brass Jerry Can Holders. Paper straps made from painted 3M Sticky Notes and On The Mark Models' brass buckles finished them off. Verlinden .50cal and .30cal resin ammo cans are stowed on the fenders. I make my own rope bundles out of nylon string, dipped in a thin solution of Ivory Black oil and Turpenoid. For want of putting these things, I stowed them behind the spare track links on the front ends of the bumpers. The Tow Cable is painted nylon string too.

I revised the normal stowage pattern for the Pioneer Tools and I relocated the Camouflage Netting Bag to drape over the front glacis plate. Pre-Size C4 and C5 Rations are stowed to either side of a scratchbuilt Vehicle Equipment Locker I made for my imaginary crew. The C Rations are bound with .0075" gauge black wire. All the tarpaulins are made from Facial Tissue. The headlights for this model are MV Products #LS19 Lenses. The additional nut and bolt details are a combination of punched disc, "salami-sliced" styrene round rod & hexagonal rod, Verlinden resin nuts, and Grandt Line nuts, bolts, and wing nuts.

The Vehicle Equipment Locker, as I call it, was a simple box made from sheet styrene and detailed with Eduard stainless steel hinges and On The Mark Models' Latches. I made the hasps out of .015" solder bent around my needle to unclog the liquid cement applicator. Little details like this are fun to add leisurely to the miniature. Especially so, as the small overall size of the Chaffee Light Tank lends itself well to the "little things" modelers can to to it. The tiny details don't get lost on a large miniature. Lastly, I added an On The Mark Models Padlock to one of the hasps on the Vehicle Equipment Locker.

The spare .50cal Machine Gun and its associated equipment would be stowed in the traditional place on the rear right side of the Turret. Again, early Korean War, and my Reconnaissance Company would field a quite heavily armed M24 Chaffee. Verlinden's resin .50cal MG from the old #372 set would be used here. I assembled the kit per the instructions, however, I cut the barrel away from the cooling jacket - as the MG was stored broken down. I drilled out the face of the cooling jacket. I used a spare .50cal MG barrel for the old Tamiya WW II US Infantry Set - you know the one cast in the icky silver plastic! I cleaned up the plastic part and drilled out both ends.

My M24 Chaffee is finished in Tamiya Acrylics - my usual. The Olive Drab is custom mixed. The lower hull and running gear is sprayed with a "dirty" mixture of Acrylic Flat Black with a touch of Buff, thinned 80% with used Acrylic Thinner. The mud on the sides of the lower hull between the running gear is Hudson & Allen's excellent Mud mixture. To this I added a lot of clippings of Hudson & Allen's Fall Grass - as I envisioned my M24 Chaffee has having run through muck and rice paddies before coming to rest on the earthen "road" depicted on the simple display base. To make the mud on the lower hull appear wetter than the dried mud on the tips of the fenders, I simply over-sprayed areas of it with my "dirty" road gear mixture. I have patches of dried mud along with wetter mud in different areas of the hull. This really is easy to do - and the Hudson & Allen mixture is so thin - if you're careful you will not obscure hard-worked detail. I do not go for the caked-up mud look on an AFV. This product is wonderful for finicky modelers like me.

All in all, I strove for a vehicle to reflect the early days of the Korean War and the typical pattern of stowage on the M24 Chaffee Light Tank - without going overboard and overloading the miniature with "stuff" just for the stake of adding extra gear. The M24 Chaffee, though an excellent design and performer, was outclassed during the Korean War. Having the punch and a variety of ammunition it could bring to bear on an enemy, it didn't have the armor plating to stand up to the T-34 Medium Tank - though I have difficulty imagining anyone seriously thinking it could take on the Russian Heavy on equal footing. The M24 was replaced by the M41 Walker 'Bulldog' - which my miniature is here posed with the Chaffee. These are just two of the wonderful American Light Tanks from our military history. When complete, this portrait will include the M551 Sheridan (the last member of this family) and the Stuart Light Tanks M5 and M3 (the father's of this family) to show the evolution of this design concept from World War II to the Modern Era.




Above two photos taken by Rodney Williams



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