Backdate/Conversion of ESCI/ERTL/AMT M60A1 Model Kit
combined with Chesapeake Model Designs M60 Turret

Special Thanks to Joe Daneri and Gary Kato
for permission to use photos, references and assistance with the details put into this miniature

Copyright 2006, 2010 & 2011, Jim Lewis/GunTruck Studios
All Rights Reserved Worldwide

Page Two


Awards & Honors

How Close Does the Miniature Measure Up to the Real M60 MBT?

Technical Manual 55-2350-215-10-15 provides transportability drawings that I used to check the overall dimensions of the assembled model miniature - more for fun than anything else. I had already gleefully charged into building it and wasn't about to go back and take it apart again. The Technical Manual information is useful for future projects though - who can build just one M60 series model tank?

The assembled model M60 tank looks pretty nice from all angles and that got me curious to investigate how close it matched the real vehicle in overall scale.

Measured from Fender to Fender (minus the Mud Flap) the model falls some four scale inches short (3mm) of the posted 273.5 inch length. In comparing the rest of the model Hull dimensions, the measurement from the centerline of the Drive Sprocket to the centerline of Road Wheel #6 falls some 3.5 inches short in scale as well. The Angle of Departure and Angle of Approach do come very close to the TM drawings and the distance between the Idler Wheel and Road Wheel #1 matches.

The TM drawings suggest that the Hull length is 257 inches - which the ESCI/ERTL/AMT Hull matches in scale. To correct the distance between the Drive Sprocket and Road Wheel #6, and maintain the proper spacing between the rest of the Road Wheels and Idler and Return Rollers, would call for more work than most would consider warranted to gain a couple of millimeters. The model kit's basic assembly looks very nice and the shortage is not noticable in the final product.

Vertically, the ESCI/ERTL/AMT model comes out better. The Hull sits above the posted Ground Clearance of 14 inches - by a couple of scale inches. The overall height, measured from ground to the top of the Sight Housing on the Commander's Cupola is 126.3 inches - which my finished miniature matched despite using an aftermarket Turret and Cupola from another model kit.

Ground to top of Bustle Stowage Rack at 98.6 inches matched, Ground to top of Return Roller/Bottom of upper track run at 54.2 inches matched, Ground to top of Fender Stowage Bins at 69.1 inches and Ground to top of Air Cleaner (side-loading) at 72.2 inches matched as well in miniature.

The model miniature's width matches up with the TM drawings, with a scale overall width of 143 inches, Road Wheel track (outer wheel edge to outer wheel edge) of 130 inches and Track center to Track center of 115 inches. The Academy poly-vinyl track runs I fitted to my miniature are narrower than the 28 inch track span posted in the drawing by 2 scale inches - but look fine in place. All in all, the measurement exercise was fun and I didn't feel compelled to mess around with the Road Wheels and Drivers this time around. The model kit captures the look and feel of the M60 MBT.

Finishing the M60 MBT Miniature - Painting, Weathering and Markings

I left all the Road Wheels and as many minor subassemblies removable for painting as I could - as most modelers do.

Desiring to finish my M60 MBT in the dark olive colors (FS595a) of that time period, I made a custom mix of Tamiya Acrylic paints. One ounce XF-62 Olive Drab + .8 ounce XF-1 Flat Black + .2 ounce XF-9 Hull Red to give a hint of a brownish tone - but not so overpowering of a hint in 1:35th scale. The tint lent to the paint finish by adding the Hull Red becomes apparent in strong lighting conditions. Unit Commanders ultimately decided to keep their tanks in these dark colors though the specification and mix changed. In consulting photos from the time period I noted the finishes varied in tone from near-black to chocolate-colored and I attempted to come up with a paint mix to give me different tones depending on the lighting conditions too.

I would apply the color coat over a primer of XF-1 Flat Black. All of this created a suitably dark olive finish over which to apply markings. In the top photo at left, there's little tonal difference between the dark olive drab and the flat black of the tracks and Mantlet Cover at this stage of painting.

I let my painted parts dry overnight before proceeding to the next step. Wanting to begin weathering before attaching the Road Wheels and Tracks, I decided to perform initial weathering on the lower Hull and Tracks with an airbrushed coat of Polly Scale Dirt (#505208). I thinned this 90% with distilled water so that I could apply subtle coats and control the buildup throughtout the finishing process. Note: this is an extremely thin paint mixture - subtle and slow to build up - especially on a dark finish like this one. It is thin to allow multiple coats without making the mistake of overdoing it. Be patient if you attempt to apply this mixture and allow a few minutes between coats for the distilled water to evaporate so that you can see the paint deposited on the model.

In this stage, I sprayed the lower Hull between the Suspension Arms, backs of the Road Wheels, the Track Runs and the insides of the Drive Sprockets in uneven and cloudy patterns. These areas would be finished in the darkest shade of "dirt" to lend more depth to the final finish, breaking up otherwise uniform and uninteresting road wear. I used Vallejo Acrylic Game Color #51 Black and #994 Dark Grey to pick out the surfaces of the rubber track pads that come in contact with the ground. I sparingly used Vallejo Acrylic #864 Natural Steel to pick out wear points on the track Guide Horns, End Connectors and Drive Sprockets.

Attaching the tight Academy track runs proved a bit tricky - as it always does after painting and weathering - because you don't want to mess up a good thing. Here, I used White Glue and an assembly jig to get things lined up properly. The White Glue was used to glue all the wheels onto their axles, and give me enough time to coax them into place for alignment. The alignment jig is a steel plate with a grid etched into it.

Once the tracks and wheels were put into position and adjusted - I weighted the Hull down on the alignment jig and used Armor Research Company 1:35th scale rulers to set the vertical alignment of all the Road Wheels on both sides and used the etched grid to square everything else up. My paintbrush cleaning tank worked out fine as a weight to place on top of the Hull. Since I was using White Glue for this bond, I left the Hull in the alignment jig to setup overnight for strength.

I wanted to keep the weathering subtle for my "Slick 60" - so as not to obscure the details. I treated each item added as a small model onto itself - and made notes on materials used to make sure they all blended together properly. The first piece of equipment I set into place happened to be the two Tow Cables. These were painted in Tamiya acrylic XF-1 Flat Black and slightly weathered using VLS Corp's Figment Powder #2 Burnt Umber and Graphite - before attaching them to the Turret with a set of tweezers.

In the interim years, I added a cover for the Searchlight and some Stowage around the miniature - just enough for interest, but not so much as to obscure details. It seemed like a great deal of modeling effort to result in so simple looking a tank in the end. If you weren't familiar with the details of a "Slick 60" - you wouldn't likely be impressed with it at all on a display table with other scale military miniatures. I like this series of tanks because of their size - standing next to one you feel quite dwarfed.

In September 2010, I decided to revisit my miniature to change some aspects of the finish. I felt I flattened the overall sheen too much when I completed the miniature, so I sprayed a light coat of Minwax water-based Polycrylic Satin finish on the Hull, Turret and Road Wheel faces. Then I followed up with drybrushing with a 50-50 mix of Vallejo #882 Middlestone and #889 US Olive Drab acrylics. Underneath the sponsons, I applied a light accumulation of MiG #P232 Dry Mud to mimic areas of drier dirt in contrast to the earlier VLS Figment weathering. I had to pickout the Vision Blocks with a bit of Future Floor Finish again, but that was all that was needed to add some life to the finish again. Constructing a new Display Base breathed new life into an old miniature.

The above photos show the initial weathering - with the Road Wheels and Return Rollers press-fit into place for contrast. The first pass of acrylic gel medium is usually enough to simulate this level of accumulated mud and dirt. I decided to apply another thin coat ahead of the Idler Wheel to eliminate that pesky joint between the upper and lower halves of the Hull. It would be hidden after the tracks were set in place, but it bugged me being left unaddressed...

I primed the track runs with Tamiya XF-1 Flat Black and then oversprayed them with a coat of Polly Scale Dirt. After setting overnight, I picked out the outer Track Pads with Vallejo acrylic Game Color #51 Black. This dries within a few minutes, and I then picked out the End Connectors, Guide Horns and Guide Rings on the Drive Sprockets with Vallejo acrylic #864 Natural Steel - taking care not to get it one what would be rubber potrions of the track runs. When dry, I went back and picked out each of the inner track pads with Vallejo Black. This took awhile but was worth it in the end. With everything fitted together, I then completed the joining of the track ends underneath the Fenders and weathered some underside areas before moving on to applying markings.

In the end, using the poly-vinyl Academy tracks didn't save me any time or effort over using the AFV Club individual track links. Though I tweaked and messed around with them a fair bit, the track end connectors still stick out from underneath the Fenders - a small amount but still do nonetheless. They do not do so on the real tank, but in miniature this doesn't detract from the model's overall appearance. The track runs should also rest on top of the Return Rollers, and will need to be glued down. I used clamps and 5-minute epoxy for this task and the result was okay - but I shortly decided to fit AFV Club individual track links to this miniature. I was much more satisified with the result, despite the end connectors extending out from underneath the Fenders.

For this minature, I designed and printed my very first set of dry-transfers. I decided upon modeling a vehicle belonging to the 3rd Infantry Division in the mid-1960's. Using a color plate drawing from Squadron Signal's M60 in Action reference book as a guide, I made markings for Company "B", 3rd Battalion, 64th Armor. I liked the look of the large red numerals on the turret sides, red outlined with white and the small tank silhouette in what I envisioned as chrome yellow. The bright markings of this time period hold the same fascination for me as do the Normandy Invasion chrome yellow codes used on American tanks in World War II. 64th Armor at that time had the combination of markings I was keen on modeling.

Here is a scan of a section of a page from Jim Mesko's M60 in Action reference book published by Squadron Signal. I have always found these color plates very inspirational when it comes to armor modelling - I hope they don't mind me reproducing a portion of that page here. As I have not seen a "B" Company tank from 3-64, I took some liberty in assigning a Registration Code, Platoon Number and dubbing my miniature "Babs". Every five years, I like to model an AFV named "Babs" one of my wife's nicknames in celebration of our wedding anniversary. I can always dream that one M60 MBT out there might have been dubbed "Babs"...

References & Acknowledgements

Modeling the M60 MBT is challenging - as there's little detailed coverage of the tank in a single book to really answer all the questions a scale modeler comes up with. I leaned heavily on US Army Technical Manuals and Bulletins to flesh out the finer details of this variant of the M60 Series. I used Technical Manuals:

55-2350-215-10-15 for dimensions and measurements.

9-2300-378-35P/1-2 Change 1 and 2 for Hull details and fittings.

9-2300-378-20P/1, 9-2300-378-35/1 and 9-2300-378-14 for details on Hull fitings and equipment like the various types of Air Cleaners, etc...

11-2300-361-15-4 for Antenna and Radio Installations on the Turret.

It often isn't enough just to rely on books for details in modeling a military vehicle. What I love the most about AFV's is equally found in the veterans who crewed them - they're all unique and add a certain flavor to the subject. I photographed details and measured fittings on the M60 MBT in the Military Vehicle Technology Foundation collection in Portola Valley, California. Former M60 Tanker Joe Daneri provided photo details and technical assistance in supporting details I modeled for my miniature.

Though I didn't yet have this volume in my personal collection of R.P. Hunnicutt reference books, borrowing it or checking it out of your local library is recommended for modeling any of the Patton series of main battle tanks. It commands several hundreds of dollar from Used Book Retailers still today. One can always hope for another printing in the future. Special thanks goes out to Gary Kato, who upon learning that I was modeling this conversion, offered me his copy of this volume - and has given me nearly endless inspiration to continue modeling tanks from this volume.

Jim Mesko's reference produced by Squadron Signal Publications is a good reference for modeling the M60 Series of main battle tanks. It provides general coverage of the development of the variants and some in-service photographic coverage.

Osprey Publications' coverage of the M60 Series of main battle tanks also provides some developmental history and service photographs of the variants produced generally useful for the aspiring modeler.

AFV Weapons Profile #24 - The M48 - M60 Series of Main Battle Tanks by Robert J. Icks is another good, but rare, source of information for modeling this series of tanks. In all the listed references, the Interim Standard M60 isn't covered in depth, and calls for more than one reference to suit the modeler's thirst for knowledge and detail.

All content Copyright 1998 - 2018 Jim Lewis, guntruck.com, guntruck.us, guntruck.org, guntruck.net and GunTruck Studios.
All Rights Reserved Worldwide.

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