Building the Pershing Korean Tiger by Lance Mertz
This kit has intrigued me since I saw a picture of it online. As a tanker the thought of painting my tank with the face of a tiger, bright yellow and all,
was crazy, until I took the context into account. We had taken horrendous losses in Korea and the end was not in sight when the Pershing M-46 tank was deployed. With its 90 MM gun and good armor, it was more than a
match for the T-34/85â€™s that the Chinese put up against it.
It was the year of the tiger, so they thought, what the hell, letâ€™s scare the hell out of the Commies. The Pershing â€śTigerâ€ť was the
result. Though the painting on the tank had little result, it is a classic. In my recent researching of armor in Vietnam I have found at least one case of the painting of a large cat or tiger face (it is
hard to tell) on the front of an M48-A3.
The Dragon kit was the only one around until the Tamiya kit came out, but is a great kit and full of good details and is finely molded. I had some problems with the
separate track links, but I got them on OK. The running gear is quite detailed and went together without a hitch (note that I have also built the T-26E5 Dragon kit, which helped with this). I then assembled
the deck and put it on the chassis. The fit was not perfect and I had to super-glue the hull together at the front. The turret was next and I ended up gluing the hatches shut as there is no interior other than
the gun breach and I was building it stand-alone without figures. I filled the seam on the turret a little and sanded it down and you cannot even see the seam on the finished tank. The rest of the turret went
together alright except for the fit of the gun and the mantlet. It was a little funny but I finally got it all to hold together after some adjustments.
The kit has a lot of small details and I put them on
next. There are separate sponson cover handles and grab-rails too. The headlights are small and there are 3 pieces, which caused me all sorts of grief, since the connecting spots are hard to find and align. The
guards went on well, considering their flimsy appearance. I missed the rear fender braces and had to add them after painting, but they are easy to do. Be careful taking these off the sprues as they are
very thin. I broke one and had to fix it.
The big thing was the tiger face. I had a copy of the Fine Scale Modeler article, so I followed the authorâ€™s advice. After first painting the kit a nice, flat Testors
OD green (my choice of base for all US tanks) I masked off the portions I did not want to paint and air-brushed on two coats of acrylic white as a base. I had found the perfect yellow at a local hobby shop and
after some thinning air-brushed that on over the white, putting on 2 thin coats. To my surprise it came out looking like it should, a sort of faded, to scale color. I then painted over all a coats of Testor Clear
Flat and let it dry overnight.
Now the tough part started. I had to decide whether I would use the decals. After some soul searching I decided that I would try to hand-paint the face, except for the eyes.
First I removed all of the masking and cleaned things up. Using a silver pencil I then outlined where I wanted the stripes. Next I got out my Games Workshop Chaos Black, a very thick, good covering flat paint with a
nice consistency and picked out a good brush. After taking a deep breath I began painting the stripes. It worked better than I could have hoped and soon I had my stripes, shaking hands and all. I let those dry and
touched things up a little, including some overspray and leakage under the masking. The mouth was next. I painted it all, knowing that the tool mount would cover part of it, as this allowed me to get the proper
proportions. Using the decal as a guide and visual pattern I painted the white outline, then the red, then the teeth. The claws on the fenders were next. I used Bone White of the same brand as the black. It covers
very well and dries quickly and thoroughly. After letting all of it dry I used a very thin brush and did the black outlines and a little more touching up.
Letting it dry I put the tool bracket on and painted that. More touchup and it was pretty much done.
I had neglected to weather the muffler the way it should have been so that was next, using a combination of
Testors Jet Exhaust and an old tin of Humbrol Rust I made them look over-heated and corroded. I painted the headlights and taillights next, the center hubs of the road wheels and a little silver on the ends of the
Minimica antennas filled it out. I may do more weathering and put some tarps and boxes on the beast, but the tank is as done as it ever will be. I even have a base made for it and intend to mount it for
posterity. It was a fun kit, requiring all of my meager modeling skills and planning. I recommend it to anyone wanting a modeling and artistic challenge. With the new Tamiya kit out, which I have not seen, we
should be seeing lots more of this uniquely painted Korean Tiger.