Category Archives: german

Takom Sd.Kfz. 171. Panther Ausf A with interior part 4. (plus testing AK’s streaking grime and dark wash)

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Now the hard part. I have been building the model now and then, adding bits here and there, but avoided to address the main issue: creating a cutaway.

I decided to can the idea.

I know, it is anticlimatic, but I realized that this should have done before even touching the glue – I am too way ahead in the building process to start cutting, unfortunately. Well, live and learn. The Tiger I and II will be handled differently. For now I will do an “exploded drawing” style model, like with the SU-122 or the E-75. I know it’s a coward’s way out, but there it is.

Anyhow, I have been working on the interior, adding parts and decals that were missing; right now it is ready for weathering.

I did some experiments with AK’s winter streaking grime and dark wash; I think the grime works better on both horizontal and vertical surfaces. (Well, the vertical surface should not really be a surprise, I think.)

I applied the wash/grime, waited fifteen minutes, and then started to blend the bands/spots with a wet brush (using turpentine, of course). The effects can be modified, refined for a long period of time, to make them subtler if one wishes so. Pretty straightforward and simple, really.

I also added the ammunition, beefed up the engine compartment, and applied the Zimmerit.

Let’s start with the ammo.

You get a lot. I mean a LOT. Do NOT paint them up, add decals all at once; you will need about third of it. What I did was to spray all of them gold using Vallejo’s gold, then painted the tips according to the type (not sure about the painting guide provided; online you can find very different colors for Panther ammunition), and added the brass/copper ring. Then I chose about ten of the painted ammunition, and removed the seamline. The paint was touched up with AK’s True Metal gold/brass, and added the decals. These were the “front-facing” projectiles: placed on areas where they would be seen (front of the ammo rack, bottom of the hull). This saved considerable amount of work on things that will not be seen once the hull is closed.

There were some parts not yet painted, installed into the hull; I finished these, and did some hand-painting. (Lack of foreplanning, I know.)

I also tried the Meng Zimmerit. Generally I do not like Zimmerit, and the only good, workable solution I found was the resin one. (Don’t even get me started on PE… and doing it by hand -well I ain’t got no time for that.) Only resin is quite expensive – so I tried Meng’s decal solution provided for their own Panther model.

Well, once the model is painted up I will write up a short review of it, but for now: it generally fit. It is extremely fragile (no problem with battle damage, I guess), and it does not work without adhesive. I used white glue; much better than CA.

I added some decals, where it was necessary, and now the interior is ready to be weathered. I am not sure how heavy I want it to be, but we will see. I will post some better photos later on. But the main thing is: finally I am working on both Panthers, almost after a year. I did some progress on the RFM one, too…

 

Upcoming models…

This blog is not in the news business, but three upcoming models really caught my eyes…

 

It seems like MiniArt widens its interior kit series to the German tanks as well- the Panzer IV ausf J, more specifically. (There is an upcoming T-34/85, and, of course, there are the Grant and Lee tanks, which I still need to get.) And this when I was just about to finish my own with resin interior. (One thing I can say even without seeing the MiniArt kit: it is going to be better than the one I am doing right now -although I have not touched the poor model since I moved from the UK… I will need to finish it soon.)

 

Just when I thought I had enough of T-54/55s with interior, here comes this thing. I do not know what it is, but it looks great. And I still have their T-55 mod 1981 waiting to be built…

 

And finally this, for Takom. I am intruiged by the Cold War British armor (do not know much about it, but learning), and having readily available 1/72 kits is a great thing. I do have the Centurion (in the form of ACE’s Shot Meteor, and I am planning to get the Challenger 2 from Dragon. The 1/35 Super Conqueror from Amusing Hobby is also on the list, unless someone issues a 1/72 version. (Too many tanks to build… and 1/72 is more economical both financially and time-wise.)

 

And I have not even mentioned IBG’s upcoming British releases of Crusider tanks…

(One of the many coming out this year.)

 

So, next step:

W-models Object 775. It’s just a weird looking oddity that makes it a must-have. (Not to mention their radars and the Kondensator I also would like to have.)

 

And apparently Armory is working on a T95.

 

So there you go. New things on the “must-have” pile.

In this hobby you need unlimited funds and time to build everything you wish.

 

 

Trumpeter 1/72 IS-7

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Well, another tank I would have not known about had it not for World of Tanks.

There it is a top tier Soviet heavy tank; in real life it was, well, a Soviet heavy tank. The last heavy tank, in fact, in service, ever. It is a fairly obscure vehicle, so it was a very welcome surprise seeing it in plastic. (Normally you would expect small companies producing a resin version for a literal arm and leg.)

The Trumpeter kit is simple to assemble, and has pretty good detail. The whole running gear and track assembly comes as one unit, which, I have to say, was not a bad solution. It did make building quick, for sure.

After the Vallejo primer I layered citadell olive green with increasing amount of yellow onto the tank – it produces a pretty nice looking green for the tank.

I did some sponge chipping, a filter with Tamiya transparent yellow, and some blending with oils, a ton of filters, and acrylic pencils for the streaks and dust. The mud was Vallejo’s industrial mud mixed with different pigments. I think the results are not half bad.

Let’s hope Trumpeter does some other esotheric tanks, like the IS-6, T57, ELC-AMX, T-10, AMX-50 in plastic, too. All in all this is a neat little kit, worth picking up. Also, check this build out, too.

Modelcollect 1/72 Waffentrager Ausf. E-100 with 128mm gun

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Modelcollect seems to specialise in two types of Braille scale vehicles: post-war Soviet-Russian wheeled and tracked vehicles, and the increasingly esoteric WWII German what-ifs, paper panzers and artillery (rockets and guns). Some of those were actual plans, like the E series of tanks, but a lot of them are just pure fabrications, like the walker-type tanks, and the different modifications based on the E series. They also make a 1/72 scale P1000 Ratte.

 

The topic of this review is a fictional vehicle, albeit a fictional vehicle from the online game World of Tanks. In the game it was a game-breaking tank destroyer with a four (or six, depending on the gun used) shot autoloader.

Eventually it was removed as it was overpowered as heck, but I was really happy to see it in plastic form. (Never had a chance to play it, but it sure was satisfying catching one in reload…) It is essentially a 12,8 cm Kw.K. 44 L/55 gun mounted on an E-100 chassis in a large, open turret and an autoloader. It is very interesting to see the effect of a massively popular game on the modelling world; I do hope more models will follow. (Amusing Hobby seems to follow a similar pattern; they have issued the same model in 1/35.)

The instructions do have some sort of a history for the type, but as the type itself it is absolutely fictional, it is not something to be taken too seriously.

 

The kit

The box is your typical Modelcollect box, with a nice painting of the tank destroyer on the front. The plastic is good quality, although there is flash around certain parts; especially the drive wheels needed a little cleanup. The detail is OK, and we do get some PE for the engine deck screens. We do not, however, get a metal barrel, which is a shame, especially considering that the massive gun needs to be glued together from two halves; it’s quite an old-school kit in this regards. (I really like Modelcollect’s Russian MTBs; they are true gems with all the PE and metal barrels provided. This model is definitely a bit more of a ‘budget option’ compared to them.)

 

At first glance the part number is quite high, but this is somewhat deceptive. Since the model is made out of several other Modelcollect products, naturally there will be a lot of leftovers after the construction.

 

The assembly is not very difficult; beginners will find no real challenge putting the model together. For some reason the roadwheels require you to glue little plastic rings between the wheels, similar to the 1/35 polycap style wheels, which is somewhat puzzling. (There are two caps fewer included than would be necessary, but they are not actually needed for the running gear’s assembly; the wheels can be glued to the swing arms without them without any problems.)

The large gun-shield is an elaborate piece of plastic; due to the injection moulding process a few moulding lines will need to be sanded off. The bottom part, however does not fit perfectly to the top; it’s not a huge issue, but I definitely needed to fiddle with it.

The tracks are the rubber type vinyl tracks, so installation is simple, although I do prefer the link-and-length option that is provided with other Modelcollect German superheavy tanks. (It is a personal preference, admittedly.)

Since the large gun shield covers quite a lot of visible detail, you will have to do most of the painting before final assembly.

After priming and applying the base coat of dunkelgelb (Mig Ammo), I messed up the free-hand camo, so I decided to give a try to the Mig Ammo washable white… Nobody will know I am covering up a mistake, will they?

After wearing the white down a bit with a wet brush, I started weathering. I wanted to do a really heavily weathered tank… a tank that is going through the longest winter ever – a tank from Westeros. Streaking dirt, mud and everything you can think of… I just piled it on. I used oil paints, mud products and pigments by Mig Ammo and Vallejo, filters of different color (even green – interestingly it gave a depth to the white color), acrylic paints, acrylic and a silver pencil. The results are pretty nice; I now have a weathered, battered veteran on my shelf.

 

 

ICM 1/350 Markgraf part 3

First part

Second part

I started the painting process.

Everything was primed using Vallejo’s primer -or in case of the wooden deck, AK Interactive’s sand primer. I used oils -straight from the tube- to create a wood-like effect, and a dark wash.

 

The superstructure was painted light grey, the hull a darker shade- tried to mix up the necessary colors representative of the German navy during WWI.

I also tried to mix the linoleum color for the upper decks.

Rye Field Models Sd.Kfz. 171. Panther Ausf G with interior Part 3.

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Part 1.

Part 2.

Since I started both Panthers (RFM and Takom), I will add some observations to help with the comparison of the two kits.

Engine and transmission

These are pretty straightforward bits; nothing major. The detail is nothing sort of amazing.

The central rod which holds the controls (handles and pedals) is somewhat awkward to assemble, since the central rod is made up by tiny sections. Due to the small sections it is kind of difficult to make a straight rod. Not to mention the narrowness of the hull makes it difficult to keep it straight. (It bent further when I dry-fitted -or rather, attempted to- the transmission into the hull. Tried to straighten it out but I was worried it would break.)

 

Issues with the hull

Well, there is one issue, which kind of causes a whole subset of issues. The hull is too narrow. Simple as that. This causes the torsion bars to not to fit properly (as mentioned in part 2 of the build), and it means the PE brackets on the floor of the hull will also not fit.

The torsion bar issue could be solved with a simple sanding. Tedious, and a bit annoying, but doable.

The hull brackets, on the other hand, are a whole different matter.

The PE is thin, and bends easily -it also warps easily. And this is not a good thing when you are trying to install a delicate, multipart PE bracket system into a too-narrow hull. I did my best, but the results are far from perfect. At places the cross-brackets had to be trimmed to fit them into the hull, which threw some of the alignment of the longitudinal brackets off a bit. This caused further cascades of misalignment. The model has been engineered to such a tight fit, even the smallest deviations will make it difficult to install further parts (such as seats, the cabin floor, ammo holding bins). See the above photo: the seat of the driver sits on molded-on bars which had to be trimmed so that the platform fit into its place due to a tiny bit of deviation of the placement of the underlying PE brackets. At this point I was seriously feeling the model was actively trying to fight me.

Filling up the hull…

Where to start? This is where the lower hull starts to look kind of complete.

The tight fit caused further headache. The instructions would have you install the ready-bins first, and then add the sqare-shaped floor panel which holds the rotating turret floor. Take a good, long look at the panel itself: it has all the space for the read-bins pre-cut; mostly just on the sides, but one is completely enveloped by the floor panel.

The fit, as I said, is extremely tight; test-fitting the bins on their own showed how difficult it was just to push them into place. (Perhaps some sort of a lubricant would make it easier…) However, when these bins are attached to the bottom of the hull (and PE brackets), it means you have to push several of them through the panel at the same time, while the panel itself is a tad too wide to fit inside the hull comfortably, so you have to keep pressing. It is not the case of “just drop it straight down”. Without some serious pushing you cannot install the the panel in its place even when the hull was bare without anything installed yet. The fact that there are things in the way complicates matters tremendously.  You have to install the floor “sliding” (=pressing hard) through five bins, and the side of the tank -plus the firewall. Oh, and the bins are a tiny bit misaligned as the PE brackets made it difficult to attach them exactly to where they were supposed to go.

I ended up removing the bins, installing them into the floor panel, and cutting off the pegs that supposed to attach them to the bottom of the hull. After this I pressed the panel down in its place while trying to pry the walls of the hull apart to create more space for it, and once this was done I tried to force everything in its place. Needless to say this sort of manhandling is not exactly what you want to do to a delicate model… I did manage to damage the paint on the side of the tank.

And there it is. This was finished in August, but I did not have the strength to touch the tank again. Will have to plow on soon, I guess. Not looking forward to painting the ammunition for this and the Takom kit…

ICM 1/350 Markgraf part 2

In the first part I reached a stage when I could make a diorama, something like the sunken Hindenburg, and call it a day…

This would be an interesting diorama idea, however, I have a ship to review. So I went on to working on the turrets.

I cut away the same length of plastic from the kit barrels as the metal barrels were, and I fixed the metal barrels onto the resulting stump. Carefully filed away the moulded-on ladder detail from the turrets, and used PE instead. The bases of the turrets also were a bit improved with PE replacement ladders. The turrets remain movable, however they do not fit snugly, and there’s a little play in the movement; I think I will glue them in place once I decide on their position on the model.

I also built the boats; they are fine as they are, but the PE set provides some serious improvement. (Rudders, oars, propellers, railings…)

 

Due to the peculiarities of battleship building, you build and paint in sub-assemblies. Now I need to paint… which requires me to set a big chunk of time aside. Until then the ship building is suspended.

(The next steps will be the painting of the decks, the hull, and the superstructure. Once that is done, I have to add the small details, the boats. the boarding ladders, the railings, etc, and paint a lot of this by hand… I think armor will stay my favorite subject.)

ICM 1/350 Markgraf part 1… opening the box and starting the build

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ICM has sent me their 1/350 Markgraf kit for a review… so here it is – the build itself. Once done I will submit it to Modelshipwrights as an article with more information, photos of the sprues and a lot of research. Ships last a long time, so they undergo several rounds of refits, renovations and repairs –  if you want absolute accuracy, you have to do a lot of research. Fortunately WWI German battleships have not much information available, and even that is often contradictory. I say fortunately because this allows me for some leeway while building… I did a lot of reading, but ultimately I build for fun, not for absolute and total historical accuracy. (I have had enough of the two Panthers for now. I will go on with the builds, but I felt increasingly like the RFM one was fighting me. The Takom needs to be cut up for a cutaway, and it that is also a major source of stress.)

Since PE is necessary I also review  (and use) two sets. One is Tom’s Modelworks, and it’s pretty basic, the other is the GMM set.

The model itself is surprisingly simple, but well detailed; a lot of surface detail is so fine it takes a while to actually notice it, but it’s all there: hatches, portholes, covers, everything. I wonder how this will look after painting and washes.

I started with the superstructure and funnels. Since I decided to try my hands on rigging, the kit masts are too thin and weak; I replaced the thinner parts with brass rods (Trumpeter sells sets which are useful if you need brass rods in various thickness.)

While the kit is nice, it really is in a need of upgrade: the funnel grilles, the hatches, the ladders and staircases are all in dire need of replacement. Now I have something that looks like a half-sunk ship.

Interestingly the TM grilles are very much different from the GMM ones: the GMM grilles are very simple affairs, and I think they might be incorrect (although I found no photos of the actual ship, only models done by others…). I used the TM ones based on personal preference.

The nature of ship models is such that you need to do sub-assemblies separately: assemble, paint and weather everything, and then put them together.

The superstructure came together really nice. The columns holding the different platform are supposed to go through very fine holes, and the fit is so nice, they actually work. You have to be very attentive because the instructions are not very clear about which holes they should be going through. (The tiny holes sometimes are covered by flash, so observe the parts carefully, and you will be fine.) You can also replace these parts with brass rods, but I found it unnecessary – and I wanted to use as many kit parts as possible. All in all, the detail is great, especially with the PE improvements. The detail on the headlights is quite basic, but in this scale they look fine.

There were some fit issues as can be seen on the white putty; nothing major came up.

One word of advice: the splinter shields on the small platforms were all-chain railings pre-1917, and were later replaced with the solid splinter shields -but not on the aft funnel’s decks… Which I did not realized while building. Now it would be a bit difficult to change them, so they will stay like that. (And the PE railings will stay on the sprue.)

This -and the fact that I do not like the look of the anti-torpedo netting- decided that I will build the ship in a post-Jutland configuration.

More coming up later: turrets and the rest of the small details.

Takom Sd.Kfz. 171. Panther Ausf A with interior part 3.

Part 1 of the build

Part 2 of the build

Since I started the RFM Panther as well, I will add some observations to help with the comparison of the two kits.

Let’s get the tracks out of the way. Last week we assembled the RFM Panther’s tracks; let’s see how the Takom version compares.
Short answer: not so well… The idea is not bad. In order to get great detail, hollow guide horns and all, you are to glue the guide horns on individually. Fortunately they do not force you to do it one-by-one, like Meng does with its Panther, but provide you with a little setup where you can glue sections of horns onto the link-and-length tracks in one go. This sounds good in theory, however in practice with this method not all horns are glued on securely, and will detach when you try to clip the sprue away. Which means gluing individual horns on anyway. Not as many as you would if you had to do it with all links, but still.

 

 

The assembly of the engine was simple but the detail is astonishingly good. Cudos for Takom for getting the balance between detail and complexity just right.

 

 

First step painting the interior: white. After priming the tank with Vallejo primer (I probably should buy a lighter color, too… it helps with preshading to have a dark grey primer before the light colors, but it also makes painting a bit more tedious.) Anyhow, I used a creme color specifically made for German interiors by MRP’s Mr Paint. This is supposed to be a ready-to-use airbrush paint, which does not require thinning.

 

I had some troubles with it. I did shake it for over 5 minutes, I used a nail polish shaker, yet the paint came out as if it was overthinned: it hardly covered anything, and it went on patchy and runny. Obviously I’m doing something wrong, but I could not figure out what- and MRP did not respond to my inquiry. Since I am somewhat short on time, I had not inclination to experiment further; just used an ivory color by Testor’s which I had for over fifteen years to cover the area in two passes. Old school is best, apparently. (Don’t get me wrong; Mr Paint might be the greatest thing ever, but they really should include pointers how to use them… or respond to emails asking for help.) I did not give up on the paint yet, but to proceed with the build I put it aside for now.

Primer red coat… I used another new brand for me, AK Interactive’s acrylic paint. This paint needs to be diluted for airbrushing, and it went on great for the first try. (This is a flat paint, as opposed to the gloss Mr Paint one. I found that flat paints go on better and smoother than gloss ones; this could be a factor.)

Advice, again: before adding tid-bits, suspension and whatnot – paint the interior first. It was very tedious to mask off all the protruding parts. (With the RFM Panther I assembled the lower hull first -just the three main parts- and painted it before adding anything else.

 

Once the base color was done, I lightened it with some buff for some highlights, and went over the edges and other outstanding details with a brush. I used some Vallejo weathering products on the bottom (engine oil, soot and whatnot), and then added the torsion bars to the sides, and put the hull together.

This is where I went wrong a bit… I deviated from the instructions because I wanted to paint several subassemblies separately before putting them togheter; after all, painting the torsion bars after they are installed under all the hull ribbing, and painting the transmission glued in place seemed like a pain in the bum. Little did I know. I added everything to the hull bottom and the sides that were to be painted primer red, and then proceeded with painting and assembly.

 

Important things to remember:

1. Do NOT attach the hull sides before installing the transmission. The transmission needs to go in first.
2. Also: do NOT install the torsion bars before the transmission.
3. Do not attach the torsion bars to the sides as the instructions show (you are supposed to slide them in place when attaching the side) . I found it really frustrating to do so since the side does bend a bit, and it makes sliding the torsion bars into place really tedious. I think inserting the torsion bars before adding the sides would simplify this issue tremendously.
4. I messed up a bit with adding all the details onto the hull bottom; they shrouded the attachment points for some of the torsion bars, making installation a bit more difficult than necessary.
5. Do not attach anything to the sides before painting. It makes masking a nightmare. (But you will have to paint the smaller parts by hairy sticks…)

6.Do add the batteries before installing the drive shaft and the firewall. Do not ask me how I found out the order.

Keeping these pointers in mind, you may modify the order of assembly.

Rye Field Models Sd.Kfz. 171. Panther Ausf G with interior Part 2.

Part 1.

Since I started both Panthers (RFM and Takom), I will add some observations to help with the comparison of the two kits.

Let’s get the tracks out of the way. They are workable tracks, which is a first for me (unless you count MiniArt’s clip-together tracks as workable.) I have to say they were a very pleasant surprise. The links come detached, with hollow guide horns already moulded on. (You pay for this with an ejector pin mark in the middle of the links.) The assembly was kind of finicky, but nothing to worry about, and the results are pretty good. The rig functions well; I glued the pins in with extra thin cement, clipped the sprue off, sanded the pins lightly, and presto, a section is finished. Honestly, I would keep doing these tracks if I had some left over.

Further work on the interior: breaks, turret rotating motor and other small items. The kit does feel over-engineered, which can be seen demonstrated on the high number of parts that make up the turret rotating motor. On top of this, they still managed to engineer a seam line onto the part… (Same issue with the turret turning mechanism. They could have mated the two sides in a way that does not leave a visible seamline…)

On the other hand the detail is just amazing- see the weld lines on the lower hull.

The painting sequence was a bit different than the suggested assembly sequence – I did not want to try to paint the torsion bars with everything installed. I came up with the idea of first painting the PE ribs, the lower hull and the torsion bars separately, and then assemble the whole thing. It remains to be seen if this strategy worked. (I ran out of superglue.) I did make a couple of blunders with the Takom Panther for sure… (More on that in the Takom post.)

Painting the hull… I used Vallejo’s primer as usual, then the base blue color mixed from different Tamiya paints. Once that was dry, I masked off the interior, and sprayed the ivory color of the interior. I tried MRP Paint’s creme, but despite of shaking the bottle for over 5 minutes, the paint came out really diluted. (It’s a ready-to-spray paint, but sprayed like an over-diluted gloss acrylic paint.) The coverage was spotty and not very satisfactory at all. RPM has not responded to my question about this -it is perfectly possible that I did something wrong. However, the 15 year old Testors acrylic ivory paint worked like a charm… (And one can ask the question what use of a great paint if you can’t actually use it correctly?)

A little bit of annoyance: the horizontal part of the sides are joined to the lower hull with two prominent ‘flaps’. Which leave enormous and visible seams, necessitating filling and sanding. (See third photo.) I would expect a superbly engineered model not to make me to these tasks, to be honest; on the other hand it is a bit difficult to make a secure and invisible attachment, I admit. (Takom has not solved this issue, either; their solution is rather flimsy -although invisible.) The last photo shows both hulls side-by-side… (And the topic of the next post will be the Takom Panther.)

Suspension… Well, that’s another issue I ran into. The instructions instruct you to use the firewall during the assembly of the lower hull to make sure the distance is correct. Which I did. The firewall sits inside its slot quite nice and tight even without glue. So the distance is right.
However why are the torsion bars bent, then? I tried to ask around in forums , but I received no response if others ran into this as well. From where I stand the torsion bars are a bit too long; simple as that. It takes little time to trim them to size, but it is still something you would not expect from a model of this quality. (Just to make sure I mention that the torsion bars are only dry fitted on the photos…)

The suspension can be made workable, by the way, which is great. (Takom’s static.)

Well, this is where we are now with the RFM Panther. Due to the small human in our household my hobby time decreased drastically, so the progress is slow. Keep tuned in – the next post will be about the Takom Panther, and then we’ll see how far we got with this one. I am a bit anxious about the metal ribs on the bottom of the hull, and so far did a great job not doing them… You can always find all sorts of other, more pressing things to finish, right?