Home > Reviews > USA > Osprey Modelling Masterclass. Modelling US Armor of World War 2 by Steven J. Zaloga

Modelling US Armor of World War 2
by Steven J. Zaloga

Reviewed by Al Bowie



Modelling US Armor of World War 2



Media and Contents:

Hard cover; Ring Bound, 192 pages  Superb Colour Illustrations



Review Type:

First Read


A thorough guide to modelling techniques used by Steve Zaloga as applicable to US WW2 Subjects


 Only 192 pages


Essential guide those who model in OD (and even Dunkelgelb)





Many years ago a landmark title for Armour modellers first graced bookstore shelves which was a Master Class of modelling German Armour Subjects by Tony Greenland whose series of articles on the subject in the UK Military Modelling magazine inspired many a modeller in the 1980s. At the time I thought this was a magnificent and essential reference for armour modellers regardless of preferred genre or ability. It was a complete title and appealed to all levels of modelling skill. My modelling genre was allied subjects and I longed for a similar tome dedicated to my preferred subject, alas this was not to be at that time.

In the mid-1990s, a series of excellent build articles of Allied (mainly US WW2 and Russian) subjects started to appear in Military Modelling by Steve Zaloga, a name I was familiar with through his many books on US and Russian subjects in the popular book ranges of the 1980s. These were complete articles covering exquisite builds with much conversion and enhancement. They were backed by historical data and photos with great descriptions of the techniques used. Down the track, Steve released Osprey titles on modelling certain US WW2 subjects such as the M3/5 Stuart, Tank Destroyers and the M4 Shermans. These were well received and great references to the US Armour modeller. Whilst devoted to modelling particular subjects they also covered Steve’s proven techniques, which he has shared freely on the Missing Lynx website Allied Forum.


  • MOdeling US Armor of World War 2 by Steve Zaloga: Image
  • MOdeling US Armor of World War 2 by Steve Zaloga: Image
  • MOdeling US Armor of World War 2 by Steve Zaloga: Image
  • MOdeling US Armor of World War 2 by Steve Zaloga: Image
  • MOdeling US Armor of World War 2 by Steve Zaloga: Image
  • MOdeling US Armor of World War 2 by Steve Zaloga: Image
  • MOdeling US Armor of World War 2 by Steve Zaloga: Image
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Whilst ordering a book on the web I saw a pre order for a new title by Steve on Modelling US Armour of World War 2 and promptly pre ordered a copy based on my previous experience of his Modelling guides. The book arrived this week and I have spent my free time over the last few days reading it intently.

It is not a compendium of previous articles and modelling guides as summised on various modelling but a full on guide to the techniques and considerations in modelling, enhancing, displaying and photographing the genre of US WW2 subjects. Having all the Military Modelling articles by Steve and his Osprey Modelling Guides I wondered if there would be much new information to offer and the answer is a categorical yes.

The book is a hard bound edition with ring binding and high quality colour images throughout in the normal format for a Masterclass title. It packs a lot of information into its 192 pages and this is supported by photos of the tools, techniques and Steve’s superb models. It doesn’t offer a shoppers guide but will leave most modellers devoted to the subject matter with a good size shopping or wish list.

It is a thorough guide encompassing everything from construction through to painting, enhancement, display and even photography. Following Ospreys normal format, the layout is in colour coded chapters covering:


  1. Construction tips and tricks

  2. Painting techniques

  3. Battle Bits – Stowage and tools

  4. The Human Factor

  5. Setting the scene

  6. Photography

  7. Further Reading


The book begins with a very readable and philosophical introduction which leads into the first chapter on Construction tips and tricks which addresses basic construction problems faced by modellers of US WW2 Armour. It covers rivets (In detail), cast appearance and numbers, weld beads, individual track construction, glues, handles, photo etch etc. It is thorough and offers sensible and more so, achievable approaches to these construction issues.

Following on is a chapter on painting which address paint types, primers, tools, techniques and the most controversial of subjects: Olive Drab covered in 7 complete pages. Weathering and markings get ample and detailed coverage within this chapter supported by excellent photographs of Steve’s models in progress, the real subjects and tables. Steve even dedicates a section to soil accumulation, a subject rarely discussed and an area not often well done by modellers, a fact as a former AFV crewman I can attest to. This chapter is applicable to any period or subject of armour modelling and is not just related to US subjects.

Any Western armoured vehicle in allied service during service during WW2 tended to look like a gypsy caravan with the crew's stowage adorning almost all available surfaces and nooks on the vehicles exterior. This title devotes a chapter to the subject and offers great techniques for achieving realistic representations. Tools and air recognition panels are covered in detail alongside techniques for the manufacture of your own stowage. Even representation the use of natural foliage gets a turn at bat with techniques to produce extremely realistic scale foliage and how it was attached to the vehicles.

An AFV is nothing without a crew and Steve devotes chapter 4 to these crews. The chapter covers modifying existing figures, posing them in realistic ways and is rounded out with their painting including faces and insignia.

I have always found Steve’s models standout due to how he presents them whether it be on a scenic or a presentation type base. The fifth chapter covers commercial and homemade bases and the examples given cover a variety of terrain, seasons and topography. Small scale dioramas and enhancing bases are followed by painting techniques, ground cover and scenic ideas. This chapter leads us into photographing models which is another area Mr Zaloga excels at. Covering the beginner’s needs through to advanced post processing this chapter offers a lot for models who wish to get more out of the hobby. A thoughtful reading list and index complete this most thorough title.
What I wished for all those many years ago has been delivered – a quality, comprehensive guide to modelling US Armour. The labels definitive and essential are often attached to titles but in the case of this one they are accurate descriptions. This will be a treasured and oft used book in my growing library and I am certain my abilities as a modeller (as mediocre as they are) will be enhanced through attempting the techniques covered. The standard of German Armour modelling was raised significantly after Tony Greenland’s excellent book and I see a similar raising of the bar for US (and Allied) as a result of this title. Unless you have a modelling ego the size of Siberia this is a must have title for armour modellers and I give it an essential recommendation.

In closing I am reminded of a phrase popular on a promotion course I attended in the whilst in the Army in the 1980s:

“Today Dog Paddle – Tomorrow the English Channel”

A lot of modelling titles follow that theme in my opinion and I am pleased that this title is not that type of book. The information presented supports the techniques presented which are achievable to the average modeller. I’m not saying it will turn you into a Steve Zaloga (who legend has it has a trained band of oompah loompahs to aid him in his predigous output) but if you can’t improve your skills with the aid of this title I would be very surprised. The inspiration the photographs in this book engender should have you reaching for the nearest Sherman and Jar of OD paint which to me is a great thing. The photographs alone are worth the price of the book covering a lot of Steve’s models I have never seen published before. Unless you have a modelling ego the size of Siberia this is a must have title for armour modellers and as such I give it an essential recommendation.