Category Archives: american

Armory/S-models: 1/72 152mm T49 gun tank

I promised I will post finished models as well… so here is number one. (There are others lined up, I promise.)

Well, this is the actual reason for building the Armory Walker Bulldog and the S-models Sheridan… the 152mm T49 gun tank. I always wanted to build one, but did not feel like making the investment to buy two 1/35 scale models; so when Armory came out with their Bulldog, I knew I finally had the opportunity to build one in Braille.

I did not even know this tank existed until it was introduced to World of Tanks. It provided a very interesting gameplay of speed coupled with an inaccurate 152mm derp gun, so it became one of my favorite tank. The hull is the Walker Bulldog‘s, the turret was used later on the Sheridan -so putting the two together will yield you this oddity.

The conversion was quite simple: I had to cut off the turret ring from the S-model turret, and installed rare earth magnets into the models to make the switch easier. (The other option was gluing the turret to the hull.) This way I can use the same hull for two different models.

There are not many photos available of this experimental tank, so I used Citadell’s airbrush ready olive drab -a pretty good looking olive drab color, and easy to spray. I did not want to repaint the Bulldog and the Sheridan in a WoT scheme, because then I would have two tank with the same fake camo pattern (even though I do like the look of these camos). I decided to depict a battered, older Walker Bulldog hull being used as a test-bed for the prototype. This way we would expect a more pristine turret painted sitting on a relatively run-down hull. (I am sure they will repaint the prototype once the trials are over, before presenting it to the top brass, don’t worry.)

I wanted to give a shot to the AK Interactive weathering pencils for this build -dust has always been a weak point for me. These pencils are essentially the same as the aquarell pencils you can get in art stores, but the colors are developed for the modeller.

I will do a review of it, but in general, the first impressions are, well, they are OK. The best way to apply it I found was to pre-wet the surface, and then smear the pencil onto the wet surface. To see a noticable effect, you have to add a LOT – lot more than you would expect. Because of the water, the pigments tend to gravitate towards the edges (see the commander’s cupola on the photo), forming a thin, bright line, but this can be adjusted using a darker wash later on. It allows you to make mistakes, since it is very easy to re-adjust it, or just remove it (just wash it off with water), but this also means you can’t layer the effects using the same method -unless you seal everything with varnish first, which will alter the effect. I think this will be used as a last step adjustment of the overall effect. All in all, they are fine products.

And basically, that is it. Now I just have to pray for a 1/72 Object 416 and a BT-SV…

S-models 1/72 M551 Sheridan part 1

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Since I want to build a 152mm gun tank T49 I needed a Walker Bulldog and a Sheridan. The Sheridan was never an issue since S-models had one; I just did not know what to expect. After all, cheap, Chinese model, basic cover art, two models per box… it does not suggest high tech, high detail model to me.

Boy was I wrong. The model is simple, builds up in an hour or so, but the detail is crisp and fine. All in all, a neat little kit with some PE added. It is missing a few details, but since this is a short project I am not fussed about it,

I only needed one Sheridan model for the T49 (the turret is fixed with rare earth magnets, so I can switch it between the Bulldog and the Sheridan), however since I had another model, I decided to build it, too. There are two 152mm gun tubes provided, so I built this with the shorter one. (I have no idea about the difference between the two.)

Now I just need to figure out what camo I want to paint it, so on it goes to the unfinished project pile… (I am working on these half-done models I promise. Apart from the Markgraf most everything is done, just need to do the photos and whatnot.)

Dusting it up -Vallejo wash and AK Interactive pencil

We talked about the issues of gear acquisition… I can’t help myself, apparently. (OK, chalk it up to natural curiousity; it is not as bad as if I bought the entire range of both products on a whim, right?) While I am still trying to finally apply some paint to the Markgraf, I can do smaller projects. (Seriously; getting time to do some airbrushing is impossible… and since smaller projects will end up at the stage where airbrushing is required, it is getting more and more impossible as models pile up on the “to be sprayed” pile.)

So I have Vallejo’s dust wash (which I was playing with before), and I bought an acrylic pencil by AK Interactive, to see how it compares to my “normal” acrylic pencils bought in an art store.

 

 

I have chosen two tanks from my shelf – it is actually quite good to keep working on older models (as I have done previously). This was Cromwell’s T29 and OKB’s UFO tank (Object 279).

What I did was to first apply the dust wash on the fenders and wheels, then adjusted the effect with a wet brush. This I did several times until I got a nice blend. Then I used the pencil (wet the tip, first), deposited some on the tank (only on a small area), then adjusted the effect with water. Sometimes I found it was better to make a “wash” in situ by adding a lot of water; sometimes I just feathered the edges to form a natural-looking dust deposit (on the sides of the fenders on the T29, for example.)

Here are the comparison photos -the before and after shots.

The dust did improve the look of the tank, but I found the Vallejo wash to be more useful in this regard. It made the stark contrast on the lower hull and the fenders much better looking.

The pencil has a very light color, which is not necessarily realistic (it looks like the tank drove through a cement factory), and it does produce tide marks when used with a lot of water (problem with water-based products; the high surface tension drags the pigments on the side), and overall does not cover the area as smooth as an oil paint-based (home made) dust would do. It did make some very nice dust streaks on the vertical surfaces, though.

A little bit browner, darker color might be better for dust, but overall, not bad.

 

 

Well, the photos definitely need some improvement (the new light box does not seem to be very good), for one.

 

Let me know what you think of the results.

Armory 1/72 M41A1/A2 Walker Bulldog p2.

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Part 1

And the published review. (It’s probably worth checking it out if you want to build the model; I pointed out some issues with the model, and gave some tips for the build.)

Once the model was primed, I sprayed Citadel’s olive green (from the airbrush-ready range) mixed with Gunze’s yellow. The first coats had no yellow added, the subsequent coats had more and more stirred in, and I made sure I only lightly misted these on, focusing on the top of the vehicle. So the bottom of the chassis has no yellow at all, while the top received the most.

The model was fully assembled, so the tracks received some green paint; I simply went over with a black/antracite color to correct these oversprays. I found that it is quite simple and easy to paint models with tracks and all already installed, rather than trying to install the tracks on a fully painted model. The dark primer provides a very nice “shadow” to areas where the green paint did not get to.

I added the decals (one “Deliquent” decal was lost in the process…), and this is where I realized that there was not enough room between the grab handles to add the number… Something to look out for in your build. (I am not unduly worried about the turret, since I will use a different one.)

After a brown pin wash, followed with a black pinwash on the engine deck, I covered the model with semi-matte varnish.

I used Tamiya’s weathering sticks for dust and mud – again, this is not the end manifestation of the model, so I kept weathering minimum. (I found that using a wet brush to apply the product to the model, and then using a clean, wet brush to adjust the effect works wonders.) I painted the muffler cover using several rust tones, and used a silver pencil on the edges to give a metallic shine to the model.

That’s pretty much it. I am thinking about magnetizing the turret so I can just switch it (a’la KV-220, T-150) once I finish the actual model I wanted to build using this kit.

 

Armory 1/72 M41A1/A2 Walker Bulldog p1.

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Well, I decided to buy Armory’s new injection molded model, the Walker Bulldog. I have written a review of it on Armorama; when it comes live I will link it here.

My aim with the purchase was to do a conversion, I was not particularly interested in the Bulldog itself.

 

As I wrote in the review, the build was pretty nice; I found no major hurdles -apart from the tool rack which I just left off. I also did not install the gun lock since I will be using the chassis for a different vehicle with a different gun. There are some minor issues with the model, but none of them are deal breaking (and at least the gun is not assembled from two halves…)

 

There’s an awful lot of PE coming with the kit; the smaller parts were glued on using white glue. The sink marks on the tracks are somewhat annoying but they will be filled with some mud at the end.

 

Next up: painting and weathering.

 

And then – when I buy the necessary supplies: THE CONVERSION.

ICM 1/24 1913 Ford Speedster

 

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“I will build a car for the great multitude. It will be large enough for the family, but small enough for the individual to run and care for. It will be constructed of the best materials, by the best men to be hired, after the simplest designs that modern engineering can devise. But it will be so low in price that no man making a good salary will be unable to own one – and enjoy with his family the blessing of hours of pleasure in God’s great open spaces.”

Henry Ford

I admit I do not have much experience with ICM. I’ve built their Panther-based artillery observation vehicle years ago and found it to be an excellent model; I was really curious how this will build up.

The Model T was introduced in 1909, and was affordable for your average working family at a price of $450. It was in production until 1927 (!), and millions were sold during these two decades. It is a truly iconic vehicle; it was the first mass-produced, easy to maintain and reliable car sold.

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ICM has already issued several versions of the Model T. This version is a stripped-down and modified version of the trusty family car, built for speed by independent companies as an alternative for the expensive, custom built race cars of the era. And when I say they were built for speed, I mean 80km/h, according to the sources I found (and the short history section of the instruction). It may not sound much, but it is actually terrifying if you look at the car. It has the bare minimum to work: an engine, suspension, wheels, seats and a fuel tank. It lacks such luxuries as a seat belt or even a proper body. (Although there were versions with streamlined bodies available.) You really had to love racing (and had to be slightly mad) to drive this car at its top speed. The Speedster versions had other modifications, too: the chassis was generally lowered by four inches, and the wheel bases extended. The car got “wire wheels” instead of the stock (and heavy) wooden wheels. The engine got a RAJO Overhead Valve Conversion (OHV), a hot cam, balanced crankshaft with pressure oiling, and side-draft or up-draft carburettors. I have not seen the other T model kits by ICM, so I cannot comment if all these changes were replicated in this kit or not.
The model is quite simple, and has only hundred parts. There are some extras provided which are necessary for other versions, and we get a nice set of white rubber tires as well. (I’m still on the fence on rubber tires in car models. I think there’s a good argument for full-plastic ones.)

The engineering is very “traditional” (or old-school if you like); there are several round parts (prominently the fuel tank) which need to be built from halves, necessitating the filling and sanding of seams. It’s a less-than-ideal solution, but something that we were all very used to until recently with all the manufacturers spoiling us with slide-moulded parts.
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The quality of moulding is excellent: the detail is sharp and there is no flash to be found. The fit of the parts is also very nice; I did not have any issues during the build -it may be old-school, but it is an excellently made model. ICM really did well designing and producing this model.

The assembly is quite quick and simple. The instructions have 55 steps, but this is quite deceptive, because unlike most manufacturers ICM’s instructions show (almost) every single individual sub-assembly as separate steps. (So gluing parts B1 to B2 will be one step on the instructions.) They are clear and very easy to follow; this model will not be a problem even for a beginner.

The assembly took me about two hours; it really does not take long.

The mounting of the front lamps and the two headlights is a bit of an issue. If you first glue the mounting brackets/holders in place, and add the lamp/headlight bodies later, you will have alignment issues. The best advice I can give is to attach the lamps and headlights to their holding brackets, and glue this whole assembly to the chassis to make sure that they line up correctly. I did not do this with the headlights (because I prefer leaving larger sub-assemblies off until I finish painting and masking), and you can see that the car is somewhat cross-eyed as a result. The lamps on the side, as mentioned, have similar problems: the holding arms tilt up if you fit them into their corresponding slot on the chassis. You will need them glued to the lamps before attaching them to the car if you want to make sure they look straight.
The build itself was quick, but I had trouble choosing an attractive paint-scheme. The green-on green is quite traditional, but I’m not particularly fond of it, and was not looking forward to painting the raised lines on the mudguards. I found a really good-looking black-yellow option, but the tires of that particular car were black, and I despise painting yellow. The red also looked nice, but it resembles a fire truck (also available from ICM by the way). In the end I asked my wife which scheme she liked best and went with that.

The chosen paint scheme also required black tyres, and fortunately the rubber took the black Vallejo metal primer well. I sprayed the whole model black, using this paint, and after masking I sprayed Vallejo gold on the appropriate areas. To be honest it would be better painting these parts before assembly, but I wanted to have photos of the assembled, unpainted model for this review so I had no real choice in the matter. The red further complicated matters; it’s just not an easy color to spray (similarly to yellow…). I ended up using a brush and Khorne red by Citadel mixed with Lahmian medium in several layers. The gold was touched up using AK Interactive’s True Metal gold paint; while it is still not the perfect metallic paint (there is no such thing in my experience), it is extremely good, gives a smooth finish, and moreover it is very easy to use. It’s wax based, so it’s quite thick, and has a very good coverage. With a fine brush I managed to paint the thin raised lines on the mudguards; any mistakes could be easily cleaned up with a brush moistened with white spirit (or ZestIt, which is a friendlier alternative). I used some Citadel black ink on the black areas to make them even deeper black and give a shine to the model, and well, that was it. The model looks really nice, and frankly it really stands out from the usual green and brown tanks on my shelf. Absolutely recommended even if you are not a car enthusiast.

 

 

 

Sniper (1/35)

 

 

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Well, this guy has been sitting in a box forgotten, for years. (OK, not forgotten. I did think about painting it a lot.)

 

Well, after a short time building and painting, he is done. One more long-bought kit off my conscience.

 

 

Addendum: I found something interesting. The figure is based on the photo of a real person- Carlos Hathcock, aka “White Feather“.

Flyhawk 1/72 M1A2 SEP tank

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The M1A2 SEP (System Enhancement Package) is an updated version of the Abrams featuring depleted uranium reinforced armor, updated ballistic computers, fire control and other systems. This is an upgrade package that can be applied to any M1 variants: several older M1A1 were updated to the M1A2 SEP levels. (A good summary of the vehicle can be found here.

I was quite interested in Flyhawk’s M1A2 SEP model; all their kits I’ve built so far looked like miniaturised 1/35th scale models with regards to detail (and sometimes complexity), so there’s quite a reputation to uphold.

(In short: they do.)

The packing of the model is exceptional: all the sprues placed in the same bag are fixed together with a thin rubber band; and the delicate parts for the turret baskets are wrapped in packing foam to prevent damage.

The PE fret has a circular mask for the wheels; it is a really welcome feature.

The plastic is exceptional quality, all the ejection pin marks are in inconspicuous places, and the sprue gates are very small. There is virtually no flash to clean up. The detail is simply speaking incredible – the best example is the subtle but very realistic anti-slip surface on the turret and hull, or the single-piece gun barrel. The machine guns are pretty amazing, too: the barrels are hollowed out, and the ammunition belt running from the ammunition box is modelled, too. (Something 1/35 scale kits sometimes do not have.)

The instructions are provided in a booklet for the tank, and as a fold-out page for the mine plough. Interestingly the assembly of the mine plough has as many steps as the tank itself (although it’s obviously less complex.) The booklet is very well designed; the English is not very good, but understandable. (Being someone whose English is not perfect either, I should not be throwing stones, though.) The instructions make very good use of colors to help with the assembly process, and also provide several views of the more difficult steps to aid the modeller. Flyhawk also provided tips and some useful pieces of advice, which is very much welcome. The instructions, and the fact that the whole model was designed to be as user friendly as possible, makes for a very pleasant building experience. (The design is excellent: it is very difficult to mistakenly attach something upside down or on the wrong side – even the gun barrel is moulded in a way that it only fits into the mantlet in one way.)

As far as I could determine the model is accurate. The size is spot-on for 1/72, but I’m not really familiar with the M1- people who are better acquainted with the type are more qualified to judge the accuracy of the model.

The lower hull is assembled from four parts: a bottom, two sides and the back. This is somewhat of an old-school approach, but the fit is good, so there is no problem here. The hull already has the swing arms for the road wheels attached; this makes the build simpler, but you won’t be able to position them to conform to an uneven terrain, should you wish to build a diorama. This is going to be made more difficult because of the unique track assembly: the tracks come finished; they are assembled from two halves, but these join longitudinally. It’s very welcome due to the simplicity of assembly, but it limits the modellers options. The running gear assembly is actually quite innovative: you attach the inner row of road wheels to the hull, add the inner halves of the tracks, and then glue the outer set (and the drive wheel) on, and finally add the outer halves of the tracks. Even though the instructions suggest you glue the side-skirts on before you even add the top of the hull to the bottom, they are probably going to be the last things to be installed – well after the painting stage is done. They are provided as single pieces; you cannot open them up. The fit to the hull is OK, but not perfect, though.

The hull has a lot of PE grilles provided, which is great; there are some very fiddly PE parts, though. (The PE casting numbers on the turret are a bit over the top in my opinion. I could just about to manage the cables running to the headlights.) In general, there are a lot of tiny parts -both plastic and PE.

The turret is a pretty straightforward assembly. The hatches can be positioned open should you wish so -although there is no interior provided. The loader’s hatch has a bit too many parts I feel – Flyhawk does have the tendency of giving multi-part sub-assemblies that would shame a 1/35 model. Unfortunately the instructions only detail how to assemble the hatch in a closed position.

The vision blocks need to be tinted (reddish), as the instructions advise. It’s probably a good idea to paint the back of their slots black before inserting the transparent pieces. You get some PE welding numbers for the turret, but seriously? I took a look at them and after a brief, amused chuckle I just left them untouched; I feel these numbers should have been moulded onto the turret. I appreciate the fact that they are individual for each and every turret, but here there was a decision to be made: either satisfy the purists (I think the term “rivet counter” has acquired somewhat of a negative overtones lately), or make the build reasonably simple. I think a generic casting number would have been sufficient; if anyone was unhappy with it, they could have just sand it off, and use the PE alternative. Unfortunately Flyhawk did not mould numbers on the turret sides, and so instead of incorrect detail I ended up with none.

The other, somewhat challenging part to build was the racks/baskets on the back of the turret. These multi-part plastic/PE contraptions were not easy to build at all; some patience will be necessary.

The mine plough is somewhat of a fiddly assembly (OK, it’s an understatement: it is a VERY fiddly assembly). In fact this is probably the weakest point of this model. The instructions are not very clear in some crucial steps; it is hard to decipher what goes where. A drawing of the finished sub-assemblies would have helped out tremendously. The tiny parts are difficult to handle without launching them onto the carpet. The other issue is that the attachment point of the dozer blades is quite flimsy, and you can easily break them off during handling.

Flyhawk provides a very fine piece of chain that you will have to cut into five parts to be attached to the plough. Once you are finished the results are pretty impressive: the plough has movable skids, and the locking arms on the frame can be disengaged, too. I’m not entirely sure of the advantages of a non-static mine-plough. I guess the plough could be made to conform a terrain feature in a diorama, or shown being installed, but I’m not certain this option is worth the effort that comes with building it. I would have preferred to have something simpler to assemble – or have better instructions. Either of these would have been nice.

The overall building was done in three quick sessions -this is not a very difficult or long build. The mine-plough was the most time consuming part of the build the truth be told. The painting steps took a tad bit longer. I’ve applied a German grey primer to the whole of the model, followed up by the desert brown in several thin layers to keep the shading effect of the dark primer. I’ve decided to go with the brown desert scheme with the plough painted green- I really liked the contrast of the two on the box art. (I originally wanted to build it in three-tone NATO colors.) Even though it’s not authentic, I kept the “Captain America” decal from the three-tone option, simply because I liked it better. My model, my rules I guess. I gave a try to the PE mask provided for the wheels, since the outer wheels were not attached to the model yet. (In retrospect I should have just left the inner row off as well; I painted their rubber rims by hand.)

Once the basic colors were on, I installed the tracks and the outer row of roadwheels, installed the skirts, and went on to weathering the model. The lower part of the hull received some light pigment dusting. I added some filters to modify the tones somewhat, and sprayed Future over the model to prepare it for the decals. Once the decals were dried, another layer of Future sealed them on, and provided a good basis for the upcoming wash. I used the wash to create some streaks as well in several layers; I also used a couple of AK Interactive streaking products, too, to give some subtle variation in color. The front ID panels have black corners; since there are no decals provided, and I did not trust my hands with a brush I used a permanent marker to paint them.

After it dried I sprayed a matte coat over the tank. That’s about it – the model was finished.

Overall I have to say the build was a pleasant one, although the sheer number of tiny plastic parts (especially in the plough assembly) was sometimes a testing my patience. The results are spectacular for sure. I’ve built Revell’s M1A2 a couple of years ago, and I have to say it’s difficult to decide between the two kits. (Long-long time ago I’ve built the old 1/35 Trumpeter Abrams. This 1/72 gem easily trumps it -bad pun intended- when it comes to detail.)

The Revell kit has excellent detail for the scale, but Flyhawk easily surprasses it in this regard. You do feel like you have a premium quality model in your hands when you build it. On the other hand the Revell M1A2 is a much simpler build. It boils down to preferences I think: if you don’t want to be bothered with tiny parts and PE, the Revell is a good alternative; if you want to go all-out, there’s the Flyhawk model for you.

Plus Models C4-32 (C-432) Electric Mule 1/35

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 AM companies are great at finding the gaps in the modelling world; and this vehicle was definitely something that has not been covered by anyone yet (to my knowledge). The C4-32 mule (which was designated as C-432 in reality) is a hardy little veteran of the US Army, but it has avoided the limelight so far. Even though the vehicle flew under the radar so to speak, and there are no webpages dedicated to it (it did not even get a nickname like “Yellow Tiger” or “Electric Lightning”), it was widely used by the US Armed Forces, and this makes it to be a very eye-catching little detail in any diorama that depict hangars, warehouses in military or in civilian use. (In this respect I would consider this model a diorama accessory rather than a scale model.)

So here is the Mule in all its glory:

(Yeah, it looks kind of silly.)
 

What’s in the box?

 The kit comes in a small box, usual to plus model, with a photo of the assembled model on the front. The model is placed in a Ziploc bag; some parts were already detached from the pouring block, and the handle for the driver was broken. There is a small PE fret, a decal sheet, and instructions included.

The resin is good quality and easy to work with. The detail is excellent in general. There is not much flash to clean up, but some care will be needed when detaching parts from the block. The parts are numbered on the pouring blocks, which is very helpful during the building process.

There are a couple of PE parts included; mostly for the drivetrain of the cart, and the logo for the company that produced it. Since I did not find much in the way of reference, so I have to assume the dimensions are correct.

The instructions are overall not bad, but there are a couple of minor issues. On step two the part number of the fork that holds the wheel is not written (12), as on step three the number for the logo for the front of the vehicle (part 3 on the PE fret).

The building

 The building took about two hours and it really did not pose much of a challenge. Some parts of the assembly are a bit fiddly, but not impossibly hard. The little pins holding the front wheels and the main suspension comes to mind, mostly. The rest of the build is straightforward. You can build two versions of the vehicle, both in US Army service; one version has extra protective bumpers in the front and around the back.

Painting

I’ve left off the seat and other parts which were black before starting on the yellow paint. I’ve painted the whole model rust brown as a base which was sealed with Dullcote, and used the hairspray technique to create a battered, well used look. (I think I might have gone overboard with the scratches…) The next layer was the hairspray, and then came a mixture of Tamiya’s yellow and orange paint (about 3:1 ratio). Once the paint was dry to the touch I used a toothpick to “nick” the paint for the scratches, and then a wet brush to “expand” these areas. On some places on the model I had to retouch with the brown paint as the paint came off completely. Once I was happy with the results, I sealed the model with Dullcote again, and attached the seat, the pedals and other small bits. Since I did not expect the vehicle to operate in a dusty, muddy environment, I did not add dirt. The headlights were first painted silver, then I used Citadel’s red technical paint on the back headlight – these paints allow for an easy way to simulate lenses and gems. (They are not as good as the painted gemstones in miniatures, but they’re perfect for headlights.) The orange caution light that sits on a pole received similar treatment, only the base color was yellow. The result is pretty nice, I have to say: the paint does give a sense of depth.

So that’s pretty much it. The build was enjoyable -and short-, and the model is smaller than most 1/72nd scale tanks I’ve built.