I have a thing for Israeli equipment. It is more a retro thing I guess. How so, well look at the vehicles used in Lebanon in the 1980s or on the Golan in 1973. The Merkava, right out of Flash Gordon, was used next to the Centurion 105. There were the traditional M113 (with and without bed spring armour) and towards the end even heavy APCs.
By far one of my favorite retro tanks has to be the M51. Known in the west as the Super Sherman or Isherman, this is a Sherman that is married to French 105. While there were changes, including a massive counter weight and muzzle brake, this is a modern AFV able to fight above its weight from the 1960s to the 80s.
Now this vehicle is limited to a number of Israeli conflicts but was never exported in its original form so while the M50 can be used by PLO (captured), South Lebanon Army (exported) and militias (stolen?) the M51 is used on the West Bank in 1967 and a number of actions on the Golan in 1973.
Anyone interested in the M51 will have a hard time digging up information. Information on building models is more common than their combat use or even what units they were assigned to. Recently I found a book on the Israeli Northern Command for 1973 that has helped fill-in the gaps, more on orders of battle latter. Knowing Hebrew does come in handy for research as most online translators return interesting results.
|From top to bottom Gaming Models, FOW, SHQ|
My renewed interest is that I have now found a new source for the M51 at Gaming Models. This is a company that is little known in the hobby, a niche in a niche hobby, that offers many unique vehicles. The costs are also low enough that if I want to try a new period or theater it is easy. I mean how many R35s does a guy need in German colors. Do not answer that.
So here are my thoughts on the M51 in 15mm from four different suppliers. I was at first surprised that the number was that high for a tank that only 180 were built. Three of the models I own personally, and a gaming chum offered the fourth. I am keeping this simple, basing it on cost and appearance.
- Flames of War $27 for 2
- Gaming Models $5
- Quality Casting $10
- QRF $6.87 (with today’s currency conversion)
|FOW to the left, Gaming Models to the right|
Flames of War – A good casting and fine detail with heft to the model. It will not be easily knocked around. Paints up well and overall a good model.
Gaming Models – Good casting and detail. It is a resign so it is not overly heavy. Can be purchased primed and is easy to paint up.
|Gaming Models left, QRF to the right|
Quality Casting – I am reviewing this after see a friend’s miniature and also looking for references online. This was a disappointing model that is not true to scale in height of the body or the turret. Made of white metal and has heft.
QRF - A fair and older design that needs attention. The turret and body seems like it was pushed down, not true to scale. Also made of white metal.
The Flames of War and Gaming Models are the best of the lot. The M51 is not a vehicle that is not big demand for gamers today or for arms merchants in the past, although it could show up in the arms bazars of some imagination. If you want to fight on the Golan, they are both great looking models and either are worth having on the table based on appearance. But if you are looking to fight on the Golan once or twice a year go with the Gaming Models, they look good and are great for the price.