Friday 19 March 2021

Bolt Action: Italian tanks in Sicily 1943


I needed a rest of XVII c. painting, so I took a couple of kits from the pile of lead (or resin, or plastic) for my Bolt Action growing collection.  As an ex modeller and current wargamer, I love painting WWII tanks and planes, and I am also a fan of rare vehicles or not so well not tanks, so here you have my Italian tank force for operation Husky,  Sicily July 1943.

left: Semovente 90/53  right: Renault R35

I have built a small force of German Panzer force of Hermann Göring division (Panzer III and Panzer IV in plastic, Warlord and Rubicon) and now I need some Italians.   Italian armoured forces in Sicily in 1943 were very weak after their defeat in Africa, and most armor was in the Italian Peninsula, with their amoured divisions being rebuilt... So no M13/40 or Semovente 75/18 medium vehicles in Sicily, just light tanks and obsolete vehicles like old vintage Fiat tanks from 1920's or ex French  Renault R35, but also brand new Semovente 90/53 tank hunters.

 I have used both R35 and Semovente 90/53,  Warlord Games and Blitzkrieg Miniatures respectively. None of them is of great quality;

R35 from Warlord is just ok, it does its duty, not a bad model but not great either.  But I expected more from Semovente 90/53 from Blitzkrieg Miniatures, is my first vehicle from this company, and in the web I saw a nice render with smooth finish and crisp detail.... It was not like that in the flesh, although it had no flash, the sculpting was a little crude, and the gun shield seemed 3D printed in resin but the rivets were not properly printed so I had to clean and remove some of them :(   anyway, and despite those setbacks, both models were nice enough for me and when painted, they look good in my opinion.

The semovente 90/53 was a 90mm gun mounted on a tank hull, basically. 24 Semovente 90/53s saw service against the Allies in the 10° Raggruppamento Semoventi, which was stationed in Sicily during the Allied invasion in 1943. Following the Italian surrender in September 1943, the few surviving Semoventi da 90/53 were seized by the German Army, but were of little value in the mountainous terrain of Northern Italy where they operated. As a result, most finished their careers as long-range artillery.

French Renault R35 light tank was captured in huge numbers by the Wehrmacht in 1940, as it was considered obsolete by 1941, The Germans sent the Italian Army 124 R35s, with which the 4th Tank Infantry Regiment formed two battalions. The two battalions were assigned to the 131st Tank Infantry Regiment, which was deployed in January 1942 to Sicily. There, the regiment's CI Tank Battalion "R35" was assigned to the XII Army Corps defending the island's West, while the regiment with the CII Tank Battalion "R35" joined the XVI Army Corps defending the island's South. It used some of its R35s in defence of Gela on Sicily against US Rangers and British troops, with little success.

The painting process of both was the usual with tanks: airbrushing the colors, giving them some cenital highlights, then gloss varnish,  decals  (Warlord Games), and varnish again in order to protect the previous work, and then all the weathing with enamels and oils from Ammo Mig or AK interactive; filters, oil dots, pin washes, chipping, rust, streaking grime, dust effects, mud, and then matt varnish, spilled grease/oil and finished!

I like to base my tank models in order to give them some protection when using them on the gaming table.

Finally, although they were featured in an other post in this blog, I want to show you my full Axis tank force in Sicily.

My Hermann Göring division Panzer III ausf.M and Panzer IV ausf.G from Warlord Games and Rubicon Models respectively!

As always, I like a pic of me with the painted models. Sadly I have not been (yet) in Fort Sill (Ok, USA),  where the last Semovente 90/53 is kept, but I have seen most French tanks in Saumur Tank Museum in France.



  1. Fantastic work Jose. I love weathering and grime on tanks and vehicles and yours is perfect.

  2. Nice looking tanks...and yes, Saumur Tank Museum is rich!

  3. Lovely looking tanks Jose..
    The R35 is quite petite isn’t it...

    All the best. Aly

  4. Many thanks Aly, yes... I would'nt go to war inside that can :S (I prefer a Königstiger haha).

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