All posts by fossiljellyfish

I'm a biologist who enjoys building scale models... I write popular science articles in my spare time, play World of Tanks, and publish scale model reviews in Armorama. I have decided to start a blog to show the work I've been doing; any comments are welcome. Please subscribe to the blog, and give regular feedback; this would greatly help me to improve both my skills and my blog.

W-model: Pantsir-S1 Tracked part 2.


First part 

The painting was reasonably simple. Since there is no painting guide nor decals provided I simply chose an attractive scheme, and used a couple of leftover Modelcollect decals.

The priming was done with Vallejo’s German grey primer; I really like this product as it provides a really good surface for the paint, it can be sprayed without diluting it, and it sticks to any surface. I sprayed a Tamiya buff with some green mixed in as a base, and applied a somewhat darker green free-hand with an airbrush (I used the base coat to lighten Tamiya’s Russian Green). The demarcation lines between the colors were painted on using a very dark grey (representing black) with a brush. I also painted the tracks and the rubber rims of the roadwheels by hand.

Using a 00 brush and Vallejo’s German Black Brown I painted discreet chips and scratches on the tank. I tried not to go overboard; in this scale no chips would be visible, but they do give some visual interest to the model. I also used sponge chipping on larger surfaces.

I added a couple of ochre and brown filters to tie the colors together a bit, dark pin washes, and some dust and mud using pigments. (I did not want to go overboard with the weathering.)

Overall it has been a really nice build, and the model is a pretty unique. It certainly stands out of all the Braille-scale tanks in my collection. Apart from the minor issues I mentioned it should be an easy build for everyone who has a little experience with resin already. The only real downside of this model -as with most resin models – is the price; 52 EURs are pretty steep for a 1/72 kit. This is, unfortunately, the cost of building rare and unique vehicles.



W-model: Pantsir-S1 Tracked part 1.



The Pantsir (SA-22 Greyhound) air defense system is a very impressive combination of anti-aircraft missile and cannon systems, assisted by both radar and optical targeting. Technically the Pantsyr S1 is classified as a SPAAG-M (Self Propelled Anti-Aircraft Gun – Missile). It entered service in 2007, and have been exported to several countries in several different setups. This compact system can be mounted on wheeled and tracked vehicles as well as on ships, and can engage a wide range of air targets from helicopters to ballistic missiles and guided bombs (!). There are several wheeled platforms offered: the Ural5323, KamAz-6350, MZKT-7930, BAZ-6909, and MAN SX. The tracked version is essentially the development of the Tunguska AAA platform, and it is the subject of this review.

The first part of the air defence system is a dual 30mm cannon with a 4km range, and 5000 rounds per minute rate of fire. They cannot be fired when the vehicle is in travel mode, unlike the missiles. The guns can be used against ground targets, and there is armor piercing ammunition available for them for this purpose.

The target acquisition and tracking system combines several ways of detecting and tracking targets. The radar array consists a Passive Electronically Scanning Array (PESA) S-band target acquisition radar with a 360º coverage, and an X-band fire control radar (FCR). They can search and track aerial targets over 50 km away and engage them at a distance of 20 km.  Apart from the radar, it has optical and thermal trackers as well.

The missile system provides a high altitude, long range defence capability complementing the guns. It consists of 12 57E6 SAMs (surface-to-air missiles) in protective tubes. They are two-stage solid rocket-propelled missiles with a range of 20 km. The missile travels over Mach 2 and can engage targets up to an altitude of 15 km. The fire control radar needs to continuously illuminate the target, but alternatively the passive IR and optical sensors can be used to guide the missile.

The wheeled Pantsir system from Armory was recently reviewed on Armorama; it is a quite nice coincidence that I was building the tracked version for review.

The model

W-model has several really interesting and unconventional vehicles in their catalogue: mobile radars, engineering vehicles, ICBM missiles on mobile launchers, to gigantic SPGs.

The model arrived in a sturdy cardboard box, well protected in bubble wrap. It consists about a hundred resin parts, and comes with a PE fret which is essentially remains untouched during the build. (There are two parts for the missile launcher that you will use. The rest goes to the spares box.) The PE is somewhat thick; it is not easy to cut smaller parts out. You also get a small wire mesh which will be necessary for the hull. (Advice: first measure and cut out the largest bit you will need.)

The detail is pretty good, and it was very nice to work with the resin. There is almost no flash, and absolutely no bubbles or imperfections; the quality is first-class. The attachment points are well-made: the parts are very easy to remove from the casting block. I had no need for the fine saw, which, to me, is one of the worst part of working with resin. The tracks are supplied in rubber-like soft sections. I’m not sure if they are some sort of a flexible resin or if they are actually made of rubber, but they are certainly easier to work with than the “traditional” resin ones. (You don’t have to heat them before wrapping them around the running gear.)

The instructions are clear, and by large they are OK. There are some issues that they don’t mention which makes assembly a bit more difficult than it should be; more on that later. (That said it was not a difficult model to build.)

The construction went fine. The chassis had some fit issues, though. It is assembled from several flat parts (as usual with resin models), and the back panel did not actually fit on flawlessly; a little filing, cutting and fiddling was necessary to make everything click. Again, it’s expected from resin models. I did have to use some filler here and there -most prominently where the lower and the upper hull sections meet in the nose. I also used green stuff from the inside of the hull to strengthen the attachment points. (I have this recurring nightmare where the CA glue suddenly gives off the ghost, and the model falls apart; I like to use either two-part epoxy or green stuff as an additional way of gluing the model together.)

There are three air intakes on the hull which need to be covered with a metal mesh. The longest one is on the top left side of the hull, and as I said it’s best to cut it out first from the supplied wire mesh to make sure you don’t run out of it. (I did; it’s slightly shorter than the intake, which necessitated the turret being turned slightly off-center to cover it up.)

The hull’s turret ring is slightly smaller than necessary; the turret will not fit. It’s quite a simple matter to enlarge it with an X-acto knife, though.

The swing arms for the running gear have little square pegs which should fit into the corresponding square holes on the suspension. Unfortunately the holes are too small; I had to enlarge them a bit. This is a shame because the square shape of the peg would have ensured the correct angle of the arms. As they are now I suspect they sit a bit too low on my model. I had a little problem determining how to glue the double road wheels together; the holes were too small for the swing arms, and I was not sure which faces of the wheels should face each other. (See photo.) I think I managed to assemble them in the correct way; the holes for the swing arms had to be enlarged and deepened a bit, though. Once assembled, the wheels stood a bit criss-cross; it was difficult to align all the swing arms perfectly. I simply put the model in hot water (about 60C; hot but not too hot) for two minutes, then placed it between two blocks to cool down, forcing the roadwheels to line up in the correct position. You may use a hairdryer as well, but it’s riskier as you can actually melt the resin with excessive heat.

The tracks were easy to fit, but I found the sections to be a bit too short; it is not easy to depict the correct sag between return rollers when the ends of the individual sections meet up between them.

The business end of the vehicle, the radar/missile/cannon assembly was a simple build. It is important to first attach the guns to the mount, before it is glued to the rotating turret base. The instructions unfortunately do not advise on the correct sequence. If you glue the the turret base in place first, there is no room left to install the guns. There is also a lack of information on how to build the model in different configurations: you have an option to build the model in either travel mode or deployed. This is where online photos come handy; there are quite a few depicting the vehicle in both configuration. The gun can obviously be positioned at different angles, but the large tracking radar can be folded up and down, too. The missiles can also be positioned at different angles, however I don’t think it’s possible to position the inside and outside missiles differently. (You can see on reference photos that the two columns -inside and outside- can be positioned independently from each other on the actual vehicle.) The instructions are quite vague at his part: it was not clear at first where all 12 missiles should go. The instructions only show the placement of the middle ones.

The missile racks are the only assemblies that use any PE- two small parts from the extensive PE sheet. The metal is quite thick, so it is not easy to cut the parts away. The thickness comes handy once installed, as they form an important structural element of the missile launchers.

The only difficulty building the turret was the positioning of the missile tubes. They should be parallel to each other but it is not a simple matter gluing the top and bottom ones onto the rack in a way that they line up perfectly. In retrospect tiny blobs of green stuff could have been used to position them. Otherwise the build was quick and simple; and as I mentioned before you don’t use most of the PE you get with the model, which simplifies matters.


DML 1/35 Sd.Kfz. 250 Neu with Royal Models set part 2



Part 1.

Finally, painting.


This was a relatively straightforward affair, considering. OK, some parts were sticking out of the crew compartment, so I left them out – technically, the building is not finished. But it was straighforward compared to the previous decade of on-and-off efforts of finishing this model.

Anyhow. As usual, Vallejo’s German Grey primer was applied to provide a good basis for the paint on the resin, metal and plastic surfaces.

A day later this was followed by Mig’s Dunkelgelb. I’m still warming up to these paints; they are somewhat finicky, but give great results -and can be sprayed without diluting them. The only problem is the application: if you spray too much the paint will not spread out evenly. How much is too much you ask? Well, precisely my problem. So you need to be careful, and just layer it on once the paint dried (which is quite fast to be honest). An advantage is that you don’t actually need to dilute them, making them simpler to use. But overall they are not as forgiving as Tamiya’s paints; I’m still in two minds about them.

The paint dried in an hour, so I added some free-hand olivegrun stripes by Testors. The vehicle looked OKish, but pale; even though I planned to have it only in yellow/green, I added some Tamiya red-brown as well (lightened with tan). The dunkelgelb sections were “reinforced” with a second layer once the brown dried.

This was my very first freehand camouflage I may add; I’m happy with the results.


The next steps were routine as well. I removed the masks, and finished off the interior, adding the binos and whatnot.

Since I wanted to try different techniques I decided to use this model as a test-bed; my problem is that towards the end of a build I become very conservative of what techniques I’m willing to experiment with, not wanting to spoil the work done so far. Not any more, I won’t! I decided to be bold, and add dust and mud using several techniques; to make this halftrack totally and utterly covered with mud.

Neither dust nor mud is easy for me; I’ve been looking for “the” product that will make them super simple and very convincing; no such luck so far. Unfortunately there are no short-cuts; dedicated products will be just as useless as hard-core, old-school modelling tricks using nothing but pigments if you don’t put in the time and learn to use them; and if you already have to learn something, why not save your money and use the old-school techniques? Case to the point: I bought Vallejo’s industrial mud in a large set; it’s a grey product which will need to be mixed with other colors, applied carefully and in specific ways to make it look good. I also got a Dead Sea mud masque product from my wife who does not like to use it as it’s too harsh on her skin. The color is a nice, well, mud color. The cost is about a fourth of the Vallejo’s mud color. And how does it hold up? Well, I’ve used it as a base color for this vehicle so you’ll be the judge of that…

I used Vallejo’s German black brown to add chipping: both a 00 brush and sponge were used in the process. Obviously a four inch armor plate will have different chips and will oxidise differently from thin sheet of metal; I tried to show this difference from my usual tank subjects. 

I applied very faint green and yellow filters to blend the colors together somewhat on the exterior.

The next step was to use some oil dot filters. I put a few blobs of different shades of brown, yellow, blue and green oil paints onto a small piece of cardboard. In about an hour or so the linseed oil seeped out into the paper; this is important if you want flat finish. I added random dots on the surface, and then blended, removed them using a wet brush with downward motion. This produced very faint streaks, and modulated the base color somewhat. Yellows, greens, etc will give a slightly different tint to the underlying color. I focused the darker browns towards the bottom of the chassis. Truth be told very little can be seen of all this work, but the keyword is patience and layers.

I used a light rust color to form streaks: I prepared a dilute wash using a rust colored oil paint, and applied it with a thin brush. The excess was removed with a flat brush as usual forming faint streaks. I added this mixture around larger chips as well, and let it dry. If the effect was too strong, I adjusted it with a wet brush.

I left the model dry for a couple of days, and then proceeded with adding dust to the superstructure using pigments. I dabbed some earth shaded pigments onto the model from a brush, and then “soaked” the surface with white spirit (or rather, with the alternative -ZestIt- I use). With a flat brush I “adjusted” the distribution of pigments: concentrated them in folds and crevices, created streaks, and created uneven patches on the flat, horizontal areas. Not a lot is visible, again; as soon as the white spirit dries, the intense brown color disappears. (Water has a very different effect on pigments, though. It’s worth experimenting with different carriers.) I repeated the procedure, trying not to disturb the previous layers; obviously the white spirit will re-suspend the already dried-on pigments.

Once I convinced myself the engine deck was dusty enough, I added some wet spots using the white spirit, and touched a brush loaded with some “engine oil” from AK Interactive. I wanted to create large, barely visible oil spots around the engine hatch. After they dried, I added more concentrated, more visible spots over them; the key again is layering. Pigments obviously got re-suspended in the white spirit, but in this case it’s not an issue: after all, old oil spills do have a lot of dust in them.
The next steps were more pronounced streaks using AK’s streaking products, and after that dried I sealed the whole model with a flat varnish.

The wheels and the lower part of the chassis/superstructure got a faint  Tamiya”Flat Earth” shading with an airbrush as a base for the mud.

I have a neutral wash by Mig which I can’t really find a real use for as a wash; I use it for creating mud. Its grey color helps to tone down the brown pigments I add. I mixed up a slurry of different brown pigments, plaster, static grass, and added this mixture to the underside and lower portion of the model. I left it there for about an hour and then used a wet, clean brush to adjust it. I tried to keep this layer relatively light, representing older, dry mud. Once it dried, I repeated the process using a darker, thicker, water-based mixture prepared from the Dead Sea masque, on a much smaller area. I also created speckles and kicked-up mud patches using an old brush: loaded it with the mixture, and using my finger I flicked mud over the lower superstructure. I made sure I covered the upper parts with a sheet of paper to limit the area where the mud gets to. I also have a bottle of Vallejo’s splashed mud effects paint; unfortunately it’s really dark, although the photo on the bottle shows a relatively light mud color. I used some of it representing very fresh mud splatters.

And with this I finished muddying up the half-track. I would be very interested reading constructive comments on the results; I have the Trumpeter trench digger in my stash, and that thing will be so muddy you won’t be able to see the metal underneath.

I have to say it feels great to have it finished finally. It is by no means a flawless model, but it turned out to be better than I expected, and most importantly: it’s off my conscience. I have put it next to its big brother, and there it will stay until I find a permanent place to live. Now I can start thinking about new projects without the knowledge of this thing sitting in a box – especially now that I have a Rye Field Model Panther to review and build. (I was considering a side-by-side build with the Takom kit, but it’s way too much investment in time and money. I got Trumpeter’s high speed trench digger instead, so I can expand on my experiments with mud even further.) I have a couple of more builds to finish off (an ICM Speedster, an Airfix Bentley, the Zvezda Panzer IV, and some Warhammer figures), and then I can honestly say I do not have any ongoing builds to bother my conscience. I will be free.

For a time.

Modelcollect T-80UE part 2.

Well, the painting phase arrived finally. (To be honest I always have several models stuck in this phase because it takes time to set up the paintbooth. This is the bottleneck of my model building process.)

There was also an accident involving this tank. Do you remember I talked about the necessity of gluing the turret in place in the first part? Well, it was not glued in at this point -and I successfully knocked off all the PE shields from the front of the turret on one side. My most valued and cherished wife found three of them; I replaced the fourth with a part I fashioned from aluminium foil. (I can’t tell how much I appreciate my better half, by the way. She tolerates my hobby without a complaint, and even helps me finding parts that flew off into the big empty.)

Once the disaster was averted, I sprayed dark grey Vallejo primer on the model. I gave a day for the primer to dry, and then sprayed Tamiya Buff. I looked at several photos and this color looks very close to the actual vehicle’s basecoat. The green patches were sprayed on free-hand. The green was lightened considerably with the base color. I was contemplating using masks, but the model is full of tiny protruding details -something all masks love to pull off in my experience. I used a relatively low pressure, and kept the gun close to the model; I found the process pretty easy to control, and simple to do. There was minimal overspray; the demarcation lines between the colors came out pretty good.

The last step was to paint the black lines and patches by hand. I used a dark grey color rather than pitch black to account for the scale effect.

As usual, a couple of layers of ochre filters helped to blend the colors together, and I sprayed Future on the model to provide base for the decals.

There is also a very extensive decal sheet provided; the painting guide only offers one option with minimal decals, so it’s probably a comprehensive sheet that Modelcollect uses with all their Russian armor. (Will be useful for my W-Models Pantsir build.)

Once the decals dried, I sealed them with Future, and applied a dark pin wash to the model. After about a day of drying I used a wet brush to remove the excess, forming good-looking streaks in the process. Wherever I felt there was too much wash left on the surface of the model I used a flat dry brush to remove it.

I gave a week for the wash to dry, and sprayed a flat coat over the model. I’m always a bit anxious at this step as this is where you see what the model will look like; the flat varnish makes the colors lighten a bit. I painted the tracks and the rubber rims of the roadwheels with a fine brush- again I used very dark greys instead of black. Using a 00 brush I painted discreet chips on the tank: the side-skirts got heavier black chips (since they are made of rubber). I also used the base color on the green parts for light damage, and Vallejo’s German Black Brown for deeper chips. I tried not to go overboard; in this scale no chips would be visible, but they do give some visual interest to the model. I also used sponge chipping on the barrel and larger surfaces – again, trying my best not to overdo the effect. I added some rust washes on the larger areas where chipping was more prominent; once dried I adjusted the effect with a wet brush.

I applied dust-colored pigments to the lower parts of the hull a very diluted dust mix on the top part; again I readjusted everything once dry. The exhaust got a tiny bit of black; I tried not to go overboard.

As a final step I rubbed a silver pen on the tracks and the edges of the model to simulate the shine of worn metal as usual.

Overall the model is excellent; I can wholeheartedly recommend to anyone.

ACE Model 1/72 FV4005 Stage 2 – part 2.

Part 1


Well, the painting of the beast has arrived.

I’ve chosen a tricky pattern which I already attempted with my Cromwell (not to much success). This is one of my favourite World of Tanks camo schemes from the British branch.

It took a while to figure out the best way to replicate the pattern. After priming (Vallejo German Grey) I painted everything in the pale greenish color which will be forming the large patches (a mixture of Tamiya JA Grey and dark green). Once it dried I added patches of silly putty, and painted everything in Tamiya JA grey – this will form the thin line between the green and the black.


After it dried, I carefully squeezed the sides of the putty patches to spread them out a bit- this covered the thin areas of the grey color. Then I sprayed the model with the priming color lightened with Tamiya JA Grey. (Using the same color to lighten all the camo colors tie them together well.)

I have to say the results turned out to be better than I expected; although I did have to touch up on some of the patches.

As usual, a couple of layers of green and ochre filters helped to blend the colors together, and I sprayed Future on the model to provide base for the decals. (There were only three decals provided; apparently there should have been a “Spud” marking, too, according to the instructions, but it was missing.)


Once the decals dried, I sealed them with Future, and applied a dark pin wash to the model. After about a day of drying I used a wet brush to remove the excess, forming some good-looking streaks in the process. Wherever I felt there was too much wash left on the surface of the model I used a flat dry brush to remove it. I repeated the same process with dot-filters; the browns, yellows and blues formed nice, faint streaks on the sides of the vehicle.

Using a 00 brush I painted discreet chips on the tank. The color German Black Brown by Vallejo is great for deeper chips where the metal is showing through. I tried not to go overboard; in this scale no chips would be visible in reality, but they do give some visual interest to the model. I also used sponge chipping on the barrel and larger surfaces – again, trying my best not to overdo the effect.

This is when I painted the tracks and the rubber rims of the roadwheels with a fine brush- again I used very dark greys instead of black.

I rusted up the exhaust: on a black base I deposited a bright, rust colored pigment (Humbrol Rust), which was treated with various dark colored wash unevenly to create patches. The end of the exhaust and the mud guard below it got a tiny bit of black to represent soot; I tried not to go overboard. The thin metal sheet that forms the exhaust guard got a really heavy chipping treatment. Because of the constant heat coming from the exhaust pipes this thin piece of metal would be constantly heated, which promotes heavy oxidation.

I made a very light slurry of a reddish rust colored wash, and applied it over the larger chips on the barrel and the exhaust covers; once dry I could adjust the effect using a wet brush. (When I use the term “wet brush” it means a brush dipped into the appropriate solvent dabbed onto a piece of rag.)  I added extra heavy layers on the exhaust guards. Later I adjusted the effect with different rust colored paints to make this piece look even more oxidated.

I always liked the dusty look of some of the tanks in World of Tanks: a very light colored dust layer covering the lower parts, which gets fainter and fainter as we go up the hull/turret. I dabbed “Dust Effects” by AK Interactive onto the upper part of the superstructure and the turret with a brush; this product has a very light color – too light for an European setting I think, but very close to the color from the game. I left it dry overnight (it looked horrendous, causing me no small worries), and in the morning (during my morning coffee) I adjusted it with a wet brush (using white spirit). It formed a layer similar to the effect seen in the game, but I could not make the transition completely smooth; for this I would have to airbrush the product. (I know it’s possible, but I’m reluctant to airbrush non-water based paints.)

The lower chassis got slurry of light brown pigments suspended in Mig’s neutral wash. (I have no idea what I should be using this product for, so I use it for making mud).  It creates a dark grey/brown effect used in conjunction with the brown pigments, which is very similar to actual mud in many parts of the world. The excess was wiped off once the mixture dried, and I repeated the process with a darker mixture on a smaller area to form layers of dry and fresh mud. I covered the upper parts with a sheet of paper, and created some mud splashes flicking a brush loaded with the mud-mixture. The tracks got some extra treatment of mud.

To lighten the colors a bit -and make the model look more realistic- I sprayed flat varnish onto the FV.

As a final step I rubbed a silver pen on the tracks and the edges of the model to simulate the shine of worn metal, and called the model finished.

To honest I’m quite happy with the results; despite of the issues coming up while building the model, it turned out to be a good project at the end. Let’s hope the in-game tank will also prove to be a pleasant surprise once I get there. Which should be about 200 more games…

1/35 Takom Turtle


This weird looking vehicle got into my collection because I took my wife to the local hobby shop, and this was the only vehicle she liked. It has a relatively low part count, but it’s surprisingly large: it’s bigger than a panzer IV… (I expected it to be only slightly bigger than a car. Nevertheless I’d love to do my commute in this thing; London drivers are horrendous.)

This is my second Takom model (the first being the Ratte). The detail is OK, but not very subtle (I found the panel lines a bit too deep), and the model lacks any interior details. The hatches cannot be opened, either, so scratch-building (or using aftermarket sets if there ever will be one later) is going to be even more difficult. The quality of plastic, the presentation, the instructions are very, very professional. There are rubber tires provided, but they are quite unnecessary; plastic would be perfectly fine (with the appropriate sag moulded on, of course.) The fit is, again, OK but not perfect; the joint between the bottom and top of the hull needs some filling. (The bump on the top is assembled using four quadrant, and it’s a bit of a shaky exercise.) The model is very easy to build: it took about 2 hours to have it ready to paint.

I wanted to go all-out with the painting and weathering. First, I always wanted to try the complex camo with the black dividing line; and I wanted to do some experimenting with scratches, chips and dust. (Since it’s a city-car, only a little mud is used.) If you want to, you can go with the whole “captured vehicle in German service” cliche, but that version looks rather bland and grey.


The model was primed, and then the acrylic primer sealed with Testors Dulcote (as I wanted to experiment with some windex-chipping) later. The multiple colors were sprayed on in light patches. Although it’s an unconventional way to paint I painted individual patches, applied silly putty, added another set of patches with a different color, another application of silly putty, and so on and so forth. I did not want to paint the entire model with all the colors- it would have added too many paint layers. When doing scratches with windex I did not want to work through six individual layers of paint to the primer.

The results are actually pretty good; I was pleasantly surprised when I removed the silly putty.


The dividing lines were painted on using a black sharpie.

A few layers of light brown and ochre filters were added, and after a couple of days of drying I covered the model with Future in preparation for the washes. This is when I applied the decals, and sealed them with a further layer of Future.

I used Mig’s dark wash- applying it with a thin brush. It looked bad (as it always does), but I managed to wait an hour or so before attacking the wash. The excess was wiped away with a wet, flat brush in several steps (I kept adjusting it days after the application of the wash). I moved the brush in downwards motions; the wash created faint streaks which I kept adjusting. It also served as a sort of filter as well.

This is the point where I realized that the layers of Future will interfere with the windex-chipping technique… so I added paint chips using a brush and a sponge.

The next step was to use some oil dot filters. I put a few blobs of different shades of brown, yellow, blue and green oil paints onto a small piece of cardboard. In about an hour or so the linseed oil seeped out into the paper; this is important if you want flat finish. I added random dots on the surface, and then blended, removed them using a wet brush with downward motion. This produced very faint streaks, and modulated the base color somewhat. Yellows, greens, etc will give a slightly different tint to the underlying color. I focused the darker browns towards the bottom of the chassis. Since I was there I used a light rust color to form streaks: I prepared a dilute wash using a rust colored oil paint, and applied it with a faint brush. The excess was removed with a flat brush as usual forming faint streaks. I added this mixture around larger chips as well, and let it dry. If the effect was too strong, I adjusted it with a wet brush.


I left the model dry for a week, and used a similar technique to further add mud and dust onto the vehicle: I added small dust/mud colored paint on certain areas, and blended them in using a dry brush. It’s important that you have to use very small amount of paint.

I layered everything: on top of the thin, translucent dust/mud I added thicker pigments (mixture of flat varnish and pigment) of different colors; concentrating on the lower parts, of course. The very last couple of layers were splashes of different earth colors using a very stiff brush and a toothpick.


The next steps were more pronounced streaks using AK’s streaking products, and after that dried I sealed the whole model with a flat varnish. The inside of the headlights were painted using  liquid chrome by Molotov (great pens).

At this point my wife expressed her displeasure that the previously colorful, clean car became dirty and muddied up, so I decided to stop here.




The tale of two Panthers: an in-box comparison of the Rye Field Models and Takom models

It seems like we are living in a Golden Age of model building: more and more “mainstream” companies come out with models with full (or reasonably full) interiors. Back in the days we had the old Academy Tiger I, MiniArt came out with their excellent tanks with (almost) complete interiors, and now Meng, Takom and Rye Field Models (among others) issuing their excellent models with interiors from the FT-18 to the M1 Abrams. We even have 1/72 scale models with interiors included. I yet to have to finish an old build, a DML Panther ausf G with a resin Tank Workshop interior, but these kits really, really made me excited.


Two companies tackled the famous Panther with full interior: Takom and Rye Field Models both issued their versions in early 2018 making the choice between them particularly difficult. I purchased the Rye Field Model version immediately, and then I realized there is a competitor in the form of the Takom kit. Amazingly both models are quite reasonably priced for what they are (but still not cheap), but I could not justify the investment in both time and money to build two very complex models of the same vehicle. (Yes, I know, they are not the same: one is an Ausf A, the other is an Ausf G.) A friend very graciously lent me his Takom kit so I could take a look at the differences between the two.



The aim of this review is not to evaluate the models with regards to accuracy; there are many other people who are more qualified to do so. I merely took a look at them as models, put them side-by-side, and tried to figure out how they compare with regards to ease of build, detail, instructions, etc, before handing the Takom kit back to its owner. (Frankly it would be an interesting side-by-side build, but as I mentioned the costs in both money and time are a tad too high. That being said if I can get a Takom kit cheap I will do a side-by-side build.)


If you are interested in sprue shots and individual in-box reviews, both have been covered by other modellers; the Takom model was reviewed here,
and the Rye Field Model here.

In this review I’ll use [R] wherever I refer to the Rye Fields Panther, and a [T] wherever I refer to the Takom one. (Would have been interesting to put the Meng Panther next to these ones, but that would have really broken the bank.) I took photos of key areas: welding lines, cast and rolled armor surfaces, ammunition, track links, etc. I also scanned the instructions (apologies for the quality; my scanner is not the best), and created side-by-side images for easier comparison of certain sub-assemblies (and of course the quality of instructions themselves). Since a picture tells a thousand words I do not comment on all of them; I also kept the text reasonably short. I also took a look at photos of the Meng Panther kit online to see how it measures up to these two, but obviously I can’t really draw conclusions based on this.

I’ve uploaded all the photos on a google drive (with the instructions included) here.


Without further ado, the comparison:

Both kits come in huge boxes. The sprues are placed in resealable plastic bags in both kits; the packaging looks very similar. (I would not be surprised if both kits were produced in the same factories…) The plastic is really nice to the touch in both kits, although the colors are different. There is no flash in either case. The clear parts in the [R] kit are protected by an additional small box, but the turret was broken off the sprue regardless in my model.

[R] is an Ausf G, [T] is an Ausf A (duh). If you absolutely want an Ausf G, go with the [R], and vica versa – in this case the choice is clear, and you can stop reading this review. The painting options are appropriate for the versions in question, although it is slightly annoying that no Panther kit available provides markings for the country that kept the Panther in service for the longest period of time: France. (


None of the models has Zimmerit. If you build an Ausf G produced after 4th September, 1944, you should not add it; tanks produced before should have it. But then again, the clear hull makes it a bit pointless to cover it up. Most Ausf A versions had Zimmerit applied; Takom, if I’m not mistaken, is going to issue a Zimmerit decal for this tank.

[R] is moulded in light brown, [T] is light grey plastic.

Overall impression: [R] seems like it’s massively more overengineered than the [T] kit: subassemblies are built using significantly more parts, even if they are not strictly necessary. (Example: engine cooling fan unit assembly: [T]: 3 parts/each side; [R] 15 parts/side. Step 66 shows the assembly of the transmission final drive: all gears are provided, even though none of it will be seen once completed.) Although both are incredibly complex, the [T] kit seems like it’s significantly easier to build. Meng looks like a more traditional kit, so that’s probably the easiest (apart from the tracks -more on that later). It features prominent structural elements inside the hull, so if you want to use an aftermarket interior with the Meng kit you will have some difficulties. (But then again, if you want a tank with interior, it’s easier to get either the [T] or [R] kit.)

[R] instructions

[T] instructions

Instructions: both are clear; personally I like the [T] computer generated version better than the more traditional line-drawing of the [R] one. [R] does have some issues with the instructions (more on that later). One of the most vexing issue is that no real painting/decaling guide is provided for the ammunition (but plenty of decals). [T] provides a guide to that. Neither of the models provide the interior stenciling that tanks normally have. (There are aftermarket sets available, though.) Overall the instructions are clearer with [T]. Neither gives a guide to the wiring of the radios or other electrical equipment, which is a shame.




Talking about decals: both are very fine; if you look at the macro shots, they are actually legible. (It was more difficult to photograph the [T] one as it was white against a light blue background. I tried to crank up the contrast as much as I could to show them off.


[R] The wheel assembly is a bit strange (this is an issue about the instructions). Steps C37, C41 each show the assembly of one roadwheel pair with rubber rims -actual rubber-, but then they are not shown anywhere else. (I’m not clear why we get rubber rims for two of these, but the rest is simply moulded on. It is not clear where these roadwheels are supposed to be going. The alternate steel rimmed wheel option is not shown as a clear alternative; it is in the painting guide though. At step 66 we are shown the assembly of the steel rimmed wheels (C36), but no information of what they are used for. We only see the rubber rimmed wheels installed. At step 70, 71 we see the steel rimmed wheel option in the assembly sequence without explanation -it’s never made clear that you can use either of these options (and more importantly what these options are). The tank can be built with an optional engine heater, but it’s not actually shown where it is (or what it is); just how the firewall and the air intake should be built for that particular option. The [T] Panther can be built as a commander’s tank with the extra antenna, but no additional radio or other interior detail is provided.


Size: both are very similar; essentially all major dimensions are the same. The interior is basically the same -both models are quite accurate as far as I can determine. (I’ve built the DML Panther G with Tank Workshops interior about ten years ago, and have a lot of reference material; I am by no means an expert, though.)

[R] Transparent hull and turret parts (only in the limited run version, though) [T] no transparent parts, the interior will have to be displayed differently. (Cutaway, assembly line, maintenance… there ARE options.)


Plastic detail: amazing on both. The “Continental” marking can be clearly read on the roadwheel of both; the bolt heads, and other small details are very sharp and well defined; overall the fine detail is just amazing in both models.

Casting texture: [R]: has nice casting texture on mantlet, and on the exhaust protectors; no texture on engine deck covers and on the hull/turret. Looking at photos (and seeing an actual Panther in Bovingdon) I have to say the engine deck covers do not really have a cast texture, but the ventillation openings do. The omission of rolled armor texture on the hull and turret is understandable: any texture would make the astonishingly clear parts, well, less astonishingly clear. However, if you plan to paint them over, you will miss the rolled armor texture. (But then you should buy the [T] kit, as one of the main advantage and selling point of the [R] kit is the clear hull and turret).

The [T] kit has very nice texture on the engine deck covers, the air intakes, etc; fine texture on the hull and turret. The texture seems a bit deeper than on the [R] kit. The texture in both kits is very discreet.

Weld seams and welding beads: [R] and [T] both have very nice detail in this regards – even on the clear parts. I have to mention the engine deck covers on the very nice welding lines on the air intakes on the [R] kit.

[R] Lots of slide moulding (muzzle break is single piece, MG’s hollowed out; [T] also uses advanced moulding technology, but it features a two-piece muzzle break which is less ideal.

PE: [R] has extensive PE provided; lots of sub-assemblies require PE, especially the lower part of the hull, where the ribbing is formed by PE parts. (It looks like a problematic part of the build.) [T] solves most of the detail issues with plastic (even the springs on the back of the seats are moulded on); only the crow’s feet antenna and the air intake covers are provided as PE.

Suspension: [R] has optional workable torsion bar suspension system, while [T] does not have workable suspension.


Running gear: [R] uses polycaps on the middle row of wheels (8 in total), making them removable for painting. I’m not really sure why they did not go with the polycaps for the rest; this solution does not seem to solve anything, really.


Tracks: [R] features workable tracks, and the horns are moulded in place thankfully. (They are hollow, too.) However there is a prominent ejector pin mark in the middle of each link. On the other hand [T] provides link and length tracks. They have no ejector pin marks, however the horns have to be glued on separately using a rig system allowing you to do it in sections instead of one by one. I wonder how this system works in practice; it remains to be seen. (The Meng kit in this respect is the worst: all horns have to be glued on individually.)


Gun: [T] has some missing detail (guiding wire mesh from the R kit for example); [R]: gun is incredibly detailed, and the recoil can be operational. I have to say gun recoil by a spring is not really an important feature, though. The gun lock can be built engaged/disengaged on the roof of the turret in the [R] kit. The turret roof looks slightly different in the two kits (see photos); I’m not sure it’s the differences between the versions, or accuracy issues.

[R]: mine thrower can be rotated, depicted open/closed, while the [T] has only one option (closed).


Turret basket floor: [T] features a one piece floor. [R] has two pieces, with an alternative option of having it in three if you cut the folding part in half as shown by the instructions.

Panel with drivers/radio operator’s hatch: this panel can be removed in both kit (Meng’s Panther does not have it as a separate part). This may be useful for showing off the interior, or depicting the tank undergoing maintenance. (This was the only opening big enough to remove the parts of the disassembled transmission and final drive if they needed some work…)

Ammo storage: on the floor units [R] kit uses full length ammunition; [T] provides only the protruding tips which make it a simpler assembly.

Ammo: neither has stamped bottom provided as PE disks. The base is moulded on, which is nice, but obviously the patter on the bottom is missing. [R] provides little circular decals which I suspect are to be placed on the bottom of the ammunition to remedy this issue. No real difference between different ammo types; no actual color guide for the different types in either instructions. (The projectile parts are different for each type.)

This picture shows the different kinds of ammunition the Panther carried, and a good painting guide. [T] provides a guide to paint the shell cases in the green-laquered steel color late-war shells were equipped with instead of the usual brass; it’s up to you if you want to equip your Panther with this sort of ammo. (Due to copper shortages the Germans were forced to switch to the less-than-ideal steel version late war; it does add a visual interest to the model.)

[R] has prominent ejector pin marks on the back of the engine firewall; if you plan not to install the engine they will be visible.


The jack in the [R] model can be shown in storage and in-use configuration.

[R] Alternative option for back storage bin: there is a night vision option provided -but no further explanation is given. I assume if you buy an IR aftermarket set, you should install the alternative bin.


[R] Step 70: some sort of track maintenance option is shown but not explained. It would probably be a good diorama subject, though.

[R] two headlight options but no explanation

[R] has an option to install ice cleats

So what are the conclusions of this comparison? There are marginal differences between the models. Both are very complex, state-of-the-art kits featuring an accurate depiction of the actual vehicle. The [T] model is more “user-friendly” both in instructions and the way it is assembled. It lacks the clear hull and turret, which is a big selling point, but it has nicer textures. There are some shortcuts (the one-piece turret basket floor for example), some drawbacks (two-piece muzzle break), but overall the quality and complexity is very high. The [R] model is way more ambitious: it is way more complex, it uses a lot more PE, and it features the clear hull/turret parts which ultimately sold it for me over the [T] model. (A word of warning: the clear parts will be only included in the anniversary edition. One can only hope that the non-transparent version will have a textured surface.)


Both models will be a challenge to build, but the [T] kit has less of a skill-floor – it’s friendlier to the average Joe such as myself. The [R] kit will be appreciated more by people who like to go “all-out” with their build, and prefer to have as much detail as possible. They will find the assembly easier, too, since they will not be dumbfounded (and confused) by the huge number of options which are not clearly explained by the instructions. If you know your Panther intimately, you will be able to get the most out of the [R] model. The [T] is “just” an extremely impressive model with full interior, while the [R] one is a more special, one-of-a-kind kit. Honestly I still can’t decide if I made the “right” choice buying the [R] one- they both are stunning models, and the differences are not so big as to make one a clear winner over the other. Anyone willing to purchase one should weight the issues that matter to them most to decide which model is the right one for them: individual tracks vs link-and-length, workable suspension vs static, one-piece muzzle brake vs two-piece, clear hull/turret vs conventional one. As I said I’m still on the fence even though I already bought one. I hope this short comparison will help others to make their choice, though.


ACE Model 1/72 FV4005 Stage 2 -part 1.


This has been one of those vehicles I would never have learned about had it not been for World of Tanks. It looks weird with the giant turret, which immediately makes it attractive. This and the fact that it has recently been buffed in-game made me decide to grind it out (a long commitment, and my first would-be tier X tank). In the meanwhile I’ve got the model to build.

There are not many models available of this vehicle, which is not surprising. British armor has been neglected by companies, and experimental British armor doubly so. Apart from this version, there’s a Cromwell Models resin kit out there, and that’s it as far as I know. It was really good to find a plastic version available -it’s both cheaper and easier to obtain than a limited-run resin model. Since Ace has a line of Centurions, it was not a big investment to make this weird-looking tank destroyer into a model; and good for them (and us) I would say.

The model is by no means perfect, but it’s OK. The detail is soft at places, and the fit is, well, hit-and-miss. The instructions could use some improvement, and the sprues are not always labelled correctly. The model also has rubber-band style tracks, which are less than ideal; I prefer the plastic alternative. On the other hand these issues are not deal-breakers; it is just a warning that it’s not a shake-and-bake model.

The kit does come with some PE, and it considerably improves the model. Once you’re finished it’s not a bad kit when it comes to detail; in fact I am quite happy with it. (I did take a short-cut: because the side skirts hide most of the running gear and the tracks, I was not very careful building them -which considerably improved the building time. Since it’s not visible, no-one has to know, right?) The tow-cables are not very good (the moulding is not perfect), but I’ve decided to use them for the review.

Most of the gaps were easy to fill in with putty. The one in the front, however, is a contentious issue; and this is the one issue I did not like about the kit. I tried to fill it in completely so it would blend the top of the hull and the frontal plate together, but the step between the front glacis and the top was too big. The hatch detail on the top was too close to the edge so I could not trim it to shape it to the front armor. Unfortunately there is still a visible step remaining (which kind of looks intentional, so if you don’t know the type you may think it is a design feature). The other big fit issue was the mudguard: the front parts just could not be fitted without a major surgery, so I just left them off. Battle damage.


Now the model is finally done and ready for the paint. The only question remains: which non-historical camo pattern I should pick from the game?


Modelcollect T-80UE

In the last couple of years Modelcollect quickly gained a reputation for producing good quality models of Cold War Soviet vehicles -and “1946 Alternate History” type of German panzers. (E-75, weird walking tanks, hypothetical AAA tanks based on the E-100 chassis, the P-1000 Ratte in 1/72 (!), etc.)

I always liked how busy modern(ised) Soviet armor looks; since they are quite small, the exterior is really busy with all the equipment could not be fit inside, and the constant modifications, extra armor and sensor equipment also add to the unique look.

This is my third Modelcollect build; and the first one that does not depict a somewhat esoteric vehicle (meaning: it actually exists).
The build was an easy and quick one. Since there are several versions of the T-80 offered, the model is full of extra parts; I was very happy to see an armored shield for the commander’s hatch included, which I will add to an older T-72 build.

The only issue with the turret is that it’s quite loose in the turret ring; this combined with the heavy metal barrel means you’d better off gluing it into place because it will rotate quite violently when the model is moved. The rubber protector flaps for the turret ring are made of PE, which is very nice: you can fold them a bit to make them look more realistic. (They are best installed after you fixed the turret in place; there is very little clearance between the hull and the edges of these flaps, so you can knock them off easily if you move the turret.)

The lower hull went together fine, since the fit is very good, and the running gear is actually easy to assemble. I chose to add everything -tracks, return rollers, idlers and drive wheels- before painting. This means I will have to be careful to paint the rubber rims and the tracks with a brush, but it also simplifies the assembly. The tracks are very good – the pieces fit together like a dream.

The two mudguards are pretty elaborate pieces of plastic; most of the detail is moulded-on. It’s not readily apparent that the rubber side-skirts are, in fact, made of rubber. They looks like massive armored slabs. The 1/72 Revell T-72 has very well done side-skirts in this respect; and to be fair to Modelcollect, even newer 1/35 scale tank models have these side-skirts moulded straight as if they were made of metal plates.

The PE engine grilles are excellent, and really improve the look of the model; and the PE lamp guards are also pretty impressive. (And, more importantly, easy to assemble.)

The holding brackets for the external fuel tanks are somewhat flimsy (it’s difficult to determine what goes where), but using a little patience and checking a few reference photos it’s not hard to install them correctly. The un-ditching log has a very nice wooden texture.

And that’s it – the building was a breeze. (I was watching documentaries with my wife while building the tank; it took me two evenings altogether- about four hours total.) Right now I’m contemplating the best way to go about painting it, but since it looks really impressive with all that shiny brass, I decided to leave it like this for a while.

DML’s Sd.Kfz. 251/2 Ausf. C mit Wurfrahmen 40 – 3-in-1 kit – finishing at last


Another ghost from the past. I was really into the 251 series; the angular form of the halftrack looks pretty futuristic and the endless modifications make it a very interesting platform to model. For two or three models; after it does get a bit boring to assemble the same base over and over again. This was one of the reason I’ve switched to 1/72 scale when building these vehicles; the other was that I moved to the UK into a student housing, and had no access to my compressor and airbrush. The results of my formative years in grad school were posted in three posts (first, second, third).

However, this was the very first Sd.Kfz 251 I’ve built. It was still back in Florida, and since I really liked how the Bellowing Cow looked like, I wanted to start with it. There were several vehicles the Wurfrahmen rockets were launched from; the 251 was the most prominent one. (I’ve built two others: a captured French tank and a small tankette.)

Most of the build was finished in Florida; however life interfered with my plans, and I had to pack up and move. The model went into a box, and stayed there for almost a decade. Only lately did I unpack it, brought it to the UK with me, and finally finished it for good.

This DML kit has been an great experience to build. I can wholeheartedly recommend these Dragon kits to anyone. I merely needed to finish the paintwork, attach the rocket launching frames and other small parts, and weather the whole thing; a couple of hours max.

I used silly putty to mask off the dunkelgelb areas, and applied green and brown lightened with the base color in succession; I have to say I’m pretty pleased with the results. I applied streaking, filters and washes as usual, and then went on adding various layers of dust and mud. The interior also received a lot of dust, and I added small pieces of equipment to make it look more lived in. Unfortunately back then I did not add the rifles into the racks, so they remained empty.

And with this I declare this halftrack done. I was itching to finish it for years now, and I can finally put it in a display case; the experience was the polar opposite of what I had with the Sd.Kfz250 Neu I’m also finishing. One more down; two more to go. Time is pressing; apparently another cross-continent move is in the plans in the near future.