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Reference, Blue Steel 4, M50 Sherman Tanks and APCs in South Lebanon

September 9 2007 at 8:15 AM
Frank V. De Sisto  (Login zappa93)
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Blue Steel IV, M50 Sherman Tanks and APCs in South Lebanon. By Moustafa El-Assad. Soft cover, 8.5 x 11-inches, 70 pages. Contains one B&W and159 color photos plus several cartoons.

The scale modeling community is spread throughout the world and with the advent of the Internet, we have become more “connected”. Where once local model club chapters were called “home”, now, vastly more people congregate on the world-wide web. So, one gets to “meet” fellow “model geeks” that you’d never before be able to. One such person, often heard from on this site, is Moustafa El-Assad, who hails from the embattled nation of Lebanon.

With war raging all around him, as a confirmed modeler, he has found the proverbial silver lining to the cloud that covers his land, by being able to (often at serious personal risk) bring images of the AFVs in use, almost literally, all around him. And the rest of us, especially those with an interest in modeling AFVs used in the Middle East, benefit from that.

His latest title provides photographic coverage of the various M4 Sherman-based conversions that were armed with the post-war French 75mm gun, itself apparently based on the German L/70 gun first mounted on the Panther medium tank. Other types covered include the version that mounted a 160mm SOLTAM mortar, another de-turreted type that was converted into an APC, and a recovery tank. Finally, there are also some photos provided depicting several Sherman VC Fireflies, seen at a dump.

While there are a fair number of overall views of complete, in-service vehicles, the majority of the images provided depict wrecked and derelict M50s. This is not a bad thing when one considers how much small details can be seen when, for example, we see the entire transmission/final drive housing from a Sherman laying on a warehouse floor. Likewise, where a tank has lost its tracks, the suspension system can more easily be seen, as can the details on the tracks themselves. So, from a modeler’s point of view, all of this stuff can be considered to be quite useful.

There are also several pages depicting the author’s scale models, with the emphases on the APC conversion. While the photos themselves certainly “tell the story”, there are no captions whatsoever to accompany them. This is a shame, since the author knows the subject first-hand and could better share his techniques with a few properly placed words. While we are on the subject of the captions, in general, they are useful and informative. But they do contain the odd error, probably because (I assume) English is the author’s “second” language. However they are nothing to be concerned about. In a couple of places, I believe the author has misidentified the tank type or hull type (in one case calling it a “Jumbo”; another calling an M4A3 hull a “Firefly”). Again, this is no big deal.

Spread throughout the book are several “caricature” drawings created by Jose Aos Garralda and Roberto Flores Yoldi, which although nice to look at, are of limited use to modelers.

Overall, this is a fine effort and a useful modeling tool. A copy should certainly be on the shelves of anyone who is serious about modeling subjects from the conflicts in the Middle East. We have a new title coming any day, devoted to the ubiquitous M113; this reviewer looks forward to seeing it.


Frank V. “Curley Stooge” De Sisto

Blue Steel books are available from select mail order and retail outlets. They can also be acquired direct from the author/publisher through his web site at: www.blue-steel.info, e-mail: mass@blue-steel.info.

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