Category Archives: dragon

Going deep down- the world of 1/144 armor

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This is an interesting part of the armor model world: the 1/144 kits by DLM. They are small little gems; it’s a shame that they disappeared from the market. If you have a chance, grab as many as you can. The presentation, the level of detail, the ease of assembly are all just top-notch; these kits provide a nice break from the 1000+ part 1/35 monsters I sometimes get involved with. For this scale you still get moulded-on detail that rivals some 1/72 kits, and also PE, and slide moulded gun barrels with holes in the muzzle breaks. Thankfully you don’t get individual tracklinks.

 

I’ve built several of these kits in the past: a Leopold railroad gun, a
15 CM S.I.G 33/2 (SF) Auf Jagdpanzer 38(T) Hetzer, two Tiger Is, and a Jagdpanzer IV. I’ve also built Takom’s P1000 Ratte, and the two Maus tanks that came with it. Since the Maus was not featured here before, and it finally resurfaced from the storage box it’s been languishing until now, I thought I’ll give it some time in the spotlight.

All the display boxes were bought from Ebay; they are brilliant for small 1/72 or an average 1/144 armor model.

And since I was taking photos of older builds, I took some more of the Tiger Is; hopefully the macro lens brings out their details a bit better.

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DML 1/35 Panzerkampfwagen II Sd. Kfz. 121 Ausf F. with interior

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Another build long in the box, waiting to be finished. The same story, really: I moved over to the UK from Florida, and had to box everything up; this guy was waiting six years to be finished. (And some parts are still missing- like the wooden block for the jack-, since I can’t find the box I put them. Yet.) I was in the same box as the Pnz I, so it was fitting to put them into the same display box as well… With the Panther, that’s three tanks down with interior, and a lot more to go.

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The DML kit is amazing; I can wholeheartedly recommend it to anyone. The detail is just great, the model is easy to assemble; if you want a 1/35 PnzII ausf F with interior, this is the kit you want to buy.

 

I only really had to take care of the weathering: pigments, washes, filters. I did not want to go overboard; I liked the relatively clean look of the tank.

I used the usual German Grey by Tamiya back in the days, but a little blue filter really made the color look good.

 

Now I only have the Tiger I, Tiger II, Panzer III, Panzer IV, Panzer 38(t) to finish and I’ll have all the German tanks of the war with interior…

DML 1/35 Panzerkampfwagen I Ausf A with full interior

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Well, this is one of those old projects, too… I started this model back when I lived in Florida, about 2007.

If you follow this blog you’ll know I have a fetish for interiors – and I was ecstatic that DML issued a bunch of models with full interior, so obviously I had to buy them. (I decided to get all the German tanks from the war with complete interiors. The Panther is done -sort of-, Pnz I-II are done, and I have the rest waiting. I’m also building as many world war and cold-war Russian tanks with interiors as possible, too.)

(Tristar had issued a couple as well; most of them I have waiting in my mother’s attic.)

This and the PnzII was mostly finished by the time I had to pack everything up and move back to Europe to do my degree. A couple of months back I picked up the box containing these kits, and brought them back with me to the UK to finish them up. Some parts are missing regrettably, but hopefully they’ll come around.

Regardless I declared them finished.

 

DML 1/35 Marder III Ausf H – finishing up old projects

 

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Well, this is an old build as well. Or rather, the finishing of an old build.

I bought this model in Florida, back in 2007, and after doing a minimum amount of work on it, I just boxed it up. It stayed in a box for a long time along with a Tamiya T-62 -soon to be featured-, and a DML Sd.Kfz.250 -similarly soon to be featured.)

Anyhow, it came with me through my years doing my PhD, but I never got to work on it. I had no airbrush, no space, so I focused on 1/72.

 

Well, no more.

 

I finished the beast.

(Another confession… I just realized that there were not two, but three Marder III variants. I was under the impression this kit was a Marder III (Sd.Kfz. 139) -it goes to show how long ago I saw the instruction manual-, and I am still planning to build a Marder III Ausf M. Well, apparently, this is the third one of the two I wanted to build…)

 

Anyhow, since it’s a DML kit, it went together well; I experienced no problems with the build, aside the poor fit of the gun shield into its place on the upper hull. The detail is great, and the kit came with PE and metal gun barrel- things that made me love DML in the first place.

I got most of the sub-assemblies ready, painted and muddied up the sides of the hull so I could install the running gear and tracks, and proceeded with the painting of the rest of the vehicle.

 

I wanted to try the new (well, for me at least) Mig Ammo paints, so I got the Dunkelgelb and Olivegrun from them. I did not look up how to use them, so I did experience some problems with the paints. Before I dismissed them as crap, I found a good tutorial which highlighted the differences between these paints, and the acrylics I’ve been using. This was the first ever free-hand camo painting I’ve done; any mistakes were covered up by a layer of the base color.

Too late for this build, but still useful to know.

 

I’ve used brown filters in several light layers to blend the camo colors together; it also made the very pale base color a bit warmer and darker. Managed to break one of those backward pointing rods on the gun shield, so I replaced it with a styrene rod (I just noticed I forgot to paint it and the antenna before taking these photos).

Paintchips were painted using the base color and a dark brown color to stimulate light and deeper scratches; the metal parts were painted with AK Interactive’s True Metal paints. I left the painted parts to dry for a day, and then carefully polished them with a cotton swab. I painted some oil marks onto the large wheels; I’ve been looking forward to paint these ever since I saw how everyone else paints these wheels on the Hetzer and other Pnz 38 based vehicles; unfortunately the next layers of mud and dust covered these lovely marks up. Next time.

After washes and filters, I’ve added a copious amount of mud. It was mixed using pigments, plasters and static grass, and used a stiff brush to create splash marks.

 

Even thought I did not exactly feel inspired to do this build, and I rushed some parts of it, I feel the results are much better than I anticipated. This is the problem with backlogs- you want to get them over with, so you can concentrate on new projects. I really envy the people who have the self-control of only buying a model at a time; I still have three-four half-built models I need to finish. This one took its place next to the MiniArt SU-76 I’ve finished not long ago (also a historical build); but the other two Marder III variants will be done in 1/72 to fasten things up.

Bergetigers

I’ve built two of DML’s Bergetigers. The first one is based on the Tiger I (P) chassis, and was a legitimate “berge” vehicle: it was modified for battlefield engineers for recovery and other tasks where you can’t work in peace and quiet without someone taking shots at you. It’s a pretty good model with PE and high level of detail; the build was quite enjoyable.

In this model I’ve used silly putty to prepare the net-like camouflage I liked from the painting guide. As a green base I used Tamiya’s German grey – with scale effect and subsequent weathering considered it gives a quite nice olivegrun base.

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Adding the silly putty… it’s quite relaxing and surprisingly fast.

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Yeah, I forgot to say. We’ve got a link-and-length track here, which is surprisingly easy to assemble. (As opposed to some models I could name.)

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Once the camo was done I could dirty up the lower chassis, and finish the running gear. This was followed by some some light weathering (mostly washes and filters; I did not go overboard).

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Bergetiger I -second vehicle.

This Tiger is somewhat of a mystery. It appears to be a field-conversion, and only two were ever produced (or perhaps only one). The crane fixed to the turret is definitely not strong enough to actually lift a vehicle out of anywhere (any vehicle; I’m not talking about Tigers -it would be difficult to get a Beetle out of a driveway with it), and it’s also hand operated. From the outside. Not a very healthy place to be if you need to modify a tank to be able to do whatever you want to do with it.

The most convincing explanation I’ve found was that this vehicle was used to drop demolition charges in front of barricades and minefields; however, it still does not explain why the crane operator had to stand outside of the vehicle.

Anyhow, it has an unique look, so I was very eager to build one. You can get several conversion kits in both 1/35 and 1/72, and there are some dedicated kits as well you can occasionally fetch up on Ebay. DML did come out with their own version years ago. The model is sub-par when it comes to other Dragon models. Looking at the sprues it’s quite obvious that the different parts were scavenged from different Tiger models, which make the quality wildly diverse (this is an issue with some other DML Tigers as well).
So it’s not a good model. Even though it’s not up to the expected DML standards, but it’s not a bad model, either; it’s just a bit disappointing to get something like this from Dragon. The bottom of the hull is metal, by the way; it must be one of the really, really early 1/72 kits by DML. (Or perhaps they wanted to have a realistic weight; who knows?)

 

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Turret with the crane… I’ve used some copper wire for the cables.

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I’ve had some fun with the mudguards, to make them a bit more varied: I’ve cut up the long piece into sections, and attached them slightly disjointed, with some sections left out -after all, this is supposed to be an already battered vehicle that was converted into a different role.

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The tank is painted in Dunkelgelb -no special camo added.

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The Tiger has pre-moulded Zimmerit added; it’s a bit too accentuated for this scale, but hey; at least I did not have to do it myself. After covering the model with Future, some light washes with burned umber (the most used oil paint color in model building) helped to bring out the details.

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And the finished tank… It does not look bad, once done. And it’s mighty heavy due to the metal parts.

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DML 1/72 Mil Mi-28

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This is also a very, very old build -and an even older model that I’d been dreaming about when I was 13.
As many others, I’ve started scale models with airplanes: old-school Czech, Polish and Russian models, with an occasional Airfix thrown in. (Mind you, this was in the ’80s, behind the Iron Curtain.) These models came in smallish cartboard boxes with drawings as box art (at best), and they lacked the polish, professional look of the Western (and Asian) kits.

I still remember the first Airfix model I’ve got: a Hawker Typhoon in 1/72. The model was in a bag, with the artwork printed on a cartoon to which the bag was stapled to… and it’s still in circulation.

 

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But I digress. After 1989 the first “Western” models appeared: Revell, Tamiya, Hasegawa, and the rest; beautifully printed (and very light) boxes, which forever seemed to be out of reach, as the incredible increase in price made it sure I could not afford them on my pocket money. (An “Eastern bloc” model cost about 60-130Ft; the new ones vent for 1200-2000Ft at the time. The minimal wage was 4000Ft, and my allowance was 20Ft, just to give you a context.)

This particular model, the Mil Mi-28 was a particularly attractive one due to the looks of the helicopter. Back in the days I -as every other kid my age- was all over American military hardware; the Apache, the F-15, and other aircraft were the pinnacle of all that is cool, so the attraction to this particular helicopter was out of character for sure. I remember see a box of this model was sitting on a shelf of a stationery/toy store in the neighbourhood for years…

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Fast forward to 2004, the price of this model was much more agreeable, and I promptly bought it when I was living in Boca Raton. (I have to admit I really felt guilty spending money on it, as I was still a student living under the poverty line.) Additional motivation to buy this model was the Commanche vs Hokum game, which I played a lot back then (although never in a serious, campaign mode, as I still have not mastered the whole game -or any sim game, for that matter- yet.)

I have not made photos of the build itself, unfortunately, but it went together quite well. The cockpit was very sparse (which is a shame), but most of the details would be hidden by the small, thick windows, anyhow.

I used masking tape to cover the transparent parts and the gun, which needed to be attached to the model before painting if I wanted it to be positionable. (It goes between the two fuselage halves.)  The model was sprayed using Surfacer 1000.

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The bottom of the helicopter was sprayed in the light blue/grey characteristic of Russian aircraft, and masked using tape.

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The three tone camo was applied with an airbrush and I used silly putty for masking out the different areas; the results were spectacularly nice (for my expectations).

 

 

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As usual when using masking, some areas were not perfect, and had to be retouched using a paintbrush.

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Once the camo was finished, I’ve attached and painted the small details, did some very light weathering, and considered the model to be finished. The yellow band on the rotor was also spray painted, using masking tape to get a straight line. (This was my first experience in trying to achieve an even coverage with yellow. It took lots of fine layers.)

This model is from the earlier DML offerings, but it has no major flaws (no fit issues, no warped parts), and the level of detail is very good even by today’s standards.

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DML Flak 88 1/35 -act 2.

I’ve sung a lot of praises about the DML Flak 88 gun. I’ve shown my very first build of it -the model that has pushed me over to the armor models from airplanes-, and here is the second I did. I rarely repeat a build; normally I’d rather spend the time building something different. This is one of those kits that you MUST build, even if you prefer race cars or H0 Railroad stuff…
With this kit I wanted to depict the gun in a very different position than my first build. Whereas the first model was build showcasing the gun in a deployed state, with the gun shields attached, and in a German grey paint scheme, the new build was going to be an Afrika Korps gun without shield, still in transport mode (in which state the gun could still be fired I might add).

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The build was unremarkable. It’s a very complex model, but it’s still relatively easy to build.

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The detail and the inclusion of extras simply make you feel like you’re working with the supercar version of scale models. Luxury in a box.

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Functioning gun elevating mechanism…

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Limbering up… the model is fully functioning in this respect as well -although you’d have to be careful about the delicate plastic parts.

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Unfortunately, these are the photos I could find. As with the rest, all my US-built models are in storage, so I cannot show the finished product. (With the wheels on. If you can imagine the wheels, you’ll be set, though.)

 

On thin ice (DML 1/144 15 cm s.I.G 33/2 (Sf) auf Jagdpanzer 38(t) Hetzer)

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I’ve seen a brilliant little diorama somewhere about a sinking tank; this was my first attempt of creating something similar. (Mind you, I was not ready to immerse myself- or the tank- into cold water yet. I just wanted to show a tank riding over cracking ice. The water is quite shallow apparently, as the tank is not sinking into it. Let’s call this a “study in ice”, shall we?)

Anyhow. All I needed was a small model (the 1/144 DML was perfect for this), and a small base. The display case is made for displaying golf balls; I’m not really sure why you would want to do that, but I’m not playing golf, so who am I to judge? It was the perfect size for the tank, though.

The creation of base was easy. I got a diorama-making set that allowed me to model water. I simply had to underpaint the surface with the desired color (deep blue), and layer the transparent resin over it. I used some blue tac to make sure it does stay in place.

On top of it came a sheet of plastic cut up into small parts -modelling the breaking ice. That was it.

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Placement of the modelWhile it was setting I lightly pushed the tank into it, so that it would not sit completely flat on the surface.pb3yyjtnfhdjj3

 

The tank was given a quick white-wash using the hairspray technique, and glued into place… and there you go: a quick and dirty diorama of a brave tank driver.

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DML Panther Ausf. G. and interior

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I have gotten the new “Smart” DML Panther Ausf. G. a long while back; it was, in fact, a 2007 Christmas project. Because it looked very sad and empty inside, I’ve gotten my hands on something I’ve hardly dared to try: a Tank Workshop complete interior… (As I mentioned before, I have a fetish for interiors… they do make the model much, much more interesting by letting you peek under the “hood”.) It made me understand how torsion bars work, how the torque was transferred to the front gearbox, where the ammo was stored… it made me understand a bit better how a steel monster, like the Panther, was assembled. Having finished a couple of other German tanks with interior detail, it also made me appreciate the similarities and differences between the different German tanks from the light Panzer I to the enormous King Tiger. (Interestingly the basic layout did not really change from the Panzer III.)

So… the first steps were the bottom parts and the torsion bars. The torsion bars were created from evergreen plastic. Two things were incredibly frustrating: removing the bottom from the casting block (it was one huge flat block), and removing the plastic pegs from the inside of the lower hull…

For most of the time I’ve either used Gorilla Glue, or two part epoxy. I wanted to make sure the joints will hold. Forever.

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At least the bottom of the interior fit into the hull.

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Fitting everything together… with some paint already applied.

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The turret

The turret basket is -obviously- a multiple part affair…  not an easy one at that. The detail is quite nice; you get all the motors that are rotating the turret, the gun cradle, equipment stored on the base of the turret. There’s even an ammunition pouch on the side.

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The gun’s breech is entirely resin; the kit did not have one.u8xflpn

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The turret basket is finished; with the seats installed it is quite apparent that even the relatively large Panther had a very tight turret.

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Painting

The assembled hull was sprayed with Surfacer 1000.

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Once the mistakes were corrected, I’ve used a light cream color for the typical German interior color.

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Once it was dry, the interior surfaces were masked with tape, because I needed to do the lower hull. I’ve decided against the typical primer red; every modeller uses it, but the Germans did not necessarily leave everything red. A lot of the tanks had a light blue-ish basecoat on the bottom of the inside.

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Kind of like this. I might sound a bit strange to do the blue second, but I was conscious of the fact that light colors are very difficult to paint well. I was not sure how hard it would be to achieve an even coat with the light cream over the darker blue. The neutral grey primer was a much more forgiving surface for painting it.

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Adding details… the tank’s interior looks more and more busy.

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I’ve collected some reference photos online; I tried to replicate the larger cables and wires, but overall I was not concerned with absolute authenticity. To be honest, as this was my very first resin interior, I was happy it was coming together nicely, and that I managed not to mess it up.

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Painting the turret was a similar affair: it was spray painted to the interior color, and I’ve used a brush to paint the rest.iwnv8rk

Weathering was done very lightly. Some metallic wear-and-tear only. Unfortunately I have not taken photos of the turret’s interior; Tank Workshop has provided everything to dress up the frankly quite plain kit turret interior.

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Even more details were added and painted.ygazy5msuf6fre

 

Finishing the interior by adding the ammo racks, radios, seats, and other small details.4rfoxxbjjbqgfa

 

Painting the exterior was done after some extensive masking. I’ve chosen the two-tone color scheme from the box art.

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Camouflage was done with silly putty.

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Practically ready.3yn6104d6q2zwzgtkehl3

 

The tank is unfinished as of yet. Mostly because it’s in storage still (I’ve built it in Florida), and because I have no idea how I should display it… I do not want to close up the hull. Perhaps I’ll cut a couple of holes on it, or display it somehow with the upper hull “levitating” over the lower. Some weathering will be also in order; the interior needs some scratches, some dirt; as does the exterior. Anyhow; the main parts are done. On to the next German tank with interior.

Churchill GC (1/72 Modelltrans conversion)

 

 

I’ve learned about this tank the first time when it was introduced into the online game World of Tanks, where it acquired somewhat of a hipster tank reputation. (It was so underperforming that certain people felt compelled to play it…) The looks sold this vehicle for me: it definitely looks unique. (Too bad about the in-game stats…)

It’s really difficult to find much information about this tank destroyer online. About fifty Churchill tanks were converted into tank destroyer roles (the numbers vary between 24 and 50) between 1941-’42. The increase of firepower in case of the Churchill was always problematic as the turret was too small to significantly upgrade the gun it can house. The largest guns they could fit was the widely used 6 pounder, and the 75mm gun derived from it. By going the usual tank destroyer way, the tank has lost its turret, but received a larger, more effective gun in return. The 3 inch anti-aircraft gun was housed in a thick boxy superstructure (frontal thickness 3.5inch) using a ball mount. Not one of these conversions saw combat, and were used later on for target practice… as you can see it on the example remaining in Bovingdon.(A shame, really. It would be nice to see this tank restored.)

 

 

 

 

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The Conversion

The conversion comes in a ModellTrans blister pack as usual, which is quite an effective way to protect the parts from damage. Quality of resin is good, so the cleanup is relatively straightforward. The detail is also very nice for this scale. We get a new upper chassis for the Churchill, the boxy superstructure, the gun, and two tool boxes.

One issue with the kit is the track covers. Modelltrans has included the blast covers at each ends; they were only fitted to turreted tanks to protect the covers when the main gun was fired. The reason is probably simple: Modelltrans simply used a mould of an existing upper hull section without any alterations.

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(Just ignore the T18. That’s the topic of the next post.)

The conversion is really easy. It is designed for the DML kits, so I’m not sure if it fits the Airfix, Hasegawa or Italeri offerings, but knowing their quality in comparison to the DML one, it’s probably better to use the DML kit anyway. The resin upper chassis fits very well onto the Churchill model; it can actually be snapped into place. The superstructure’s fit is also quite good, although there were some gaps where putty had to be used. Overall there are no real issues with assembly at all. The conversion essentially builds itself if you shake the box hard enough… One detail is missing: the vertical tubes next to the boxes mounted onto the superstructure. These should not be very difficult to scratchbuild, but I still would have preferred to get them.

 

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The painting went the usual way: black primer spray was followed by a dark green colour. I tried to get it as close as possible to the dark green #24 used by the British forces, but I also needed to lighten it to take the scale effect in account, and to pre-plan for the subsequent weathering steps.

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Highlights were added using the usual Citadel snot green colour… 🙂 (I love their names; bestial brown and vomit brown especially.) I’m always worried these will stand out, but by the end of weathering they usually blend in quite well.

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Weathering went relatively fast. I started with the usual filters -both pre-diluted, and the oil paint-dot methods-, but then wanted to try something quick and fast. I have bought a couple of those Tamiya make-up kits (weathering products that look like a compact make-up kit for women), and tried the sand, light sand and mud colours as filters. If you use light sand and sand in a very thin, irregular layer, it looks like armour discolouration and dust accumulation; a pretty convincing effect when you think about how you achieve it. (By petting your model with a small sponge, essentially.)

These colours went on thicker on the lower chassis to simulate dirt; gunmetal was added to the edges, and the tracks with the same method. I have to say, the results were quite satisfactory, and more importantly: easy.

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Since finally I have bought a new camera (a Nikon D3300), I was playing a little with the aperture settings, and how they affect the field of depth. The difference between large and small aperture is pretty apparent. (Not strictly relevant to our, but an interesting comparison.)

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