Wednesday, 5 February 2014

A Question of Scale II: How Big Is A Sherman Anyway?

Wargame miniatures of 28mm size are 1:56 scale, right? Well, um sort of.

I searched the 'net and found this photo of GIs from the 60th Infantry using a Sherman as cover in Belgium. The photograph was taken on the 9th September 1944 according to the caption and the tank still has the Normandy hedge cutter fitted.

The infantry are standing upright and right by the tank so there is no perspective issue. The lead GI is just shorter than the top of the highest point on the tank hull.

The above photo shows a couple of Warlord Bolt Action plastic British Infantry against a Corgi 1:50 diecast Sherman. In terms of height, the figures are about right - when they are on their stands. Off the stands they would be a couple of mm too short.

In terms of bulk, the 28mm miniatures are too big for the 1:50 tank. Compare the soldier's waists with the Sherman's running wheels in both pics.

The bulk issue really comes out when you place a figure inside a scale vehicle: see two examples below.

Here's a couple of Perry 28mm plastic figures with a 1:50 diecast Jaguar car. In theory they should be dwarfed by the car, except they're not.

Two Warlord Bolt Action 28mm plastic figures with a 1:48 plastic Kubelwagen.

Scale and size in wargaming is not so straightforward as one might think.

Next post I will line up some 28mm models from different manufacturers against each other.


  1. I believe 28mm should be the same as 1/56 scale. That could explain a bit of the size disparity

  2. I know 28mm figures have bulked up over the years as a result of the GW influence. Then there are the issues of mould flow in the tools, making rifles and the like bigger so that they are no so easily broken etc.

    1. I think it goes right back to Minifigs in the 1970s.

  3. I think the biggest disparity I have found is when you have a particular vehicle from mulitple manufacturers. As I usually have in mind to build a troop of vehicles I will also tend to purchase the quantity needed to at least avoid this issue.
    Alas scale will never be an easy resolution. Maybe going all 15mm with FOW figures would be the best bet!

    1. 15mm? Shudder!. Way too small for me. :)

  4. John, why did you have to use that photo? ;-) I know it is often used in the scale discussion since it looks so convincing at first and I think it is one of the worse actually to use.

    The problem with it is, that while the soldiers are all upright and appear close to the tank, the photo was taking from a photographer that was either on a lower of terrain than the soldier or kneeling. This makes the soldiers appear larger than they are due to forced perspective. At the same time some of the soldiers are actually closer to the tank than others which distorts it even more.
    Which is why many people say that since the soldiers in the pictures are almost as high as the tank deck in the picture, a based mini should be taller than the tank deck with the models. Therefor a lot of people are advocating smaller scales for tanks than realistic.

    Anyway I have been using 1:50th and 1:48th scale models with my 28mm minis for over a decade now, and I have always been more than happy with the looks.

    1. Maybe. Perspective is a funny thing. I am am fairly agnostic on scale using 1:56/50/48 depending on what I get my hands on at the time.
      The thing is 28mm is a size, not a scale. More on this later. :)