Category Archives: plastic

1/35 Trumpeter 1K17 Szhatie Part 1.

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The term "laser tank" evoke images of alien skies, gigantic space ships, Astrates, and the rest of the delightful Warhammer 40k universe.
In other words: this guy.
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source: http:/warhammer40k.wikia.com/wiki/Shadowsword

The 1K17 tank will not melt metal and evaporate hordes of heretics and Titans; however it does have a gigantic set of solid-state lasers mounted on a tank chassis. These were intended to blind the optics of missiles, airplanes, and other enemy weapon systems. I have not been able to find analyses of this laser-weapon’s efficiency, as the production of these vehicles was hindered by some serious practical issues. One of them is right in front of you: the optical elements of these lasers were made out of 30kg artificial rubies – each. This obviously increased the production costs somewhat, which essentially made sure that these vehicles were not built in sufficient numbers.
 The project was based on the MSTA self-propelled artillery. They kept the hull, and changed the turret so it could accommodate the solid-state lasers. The hull itself is based on the T-80, but the engine installed is a 840hp diesel engine from the T-72.

As it was already mentioned, the costs themselves were enough to doom this project; the two vehicles built were mothballed. They still can be useful, however; after all, they are perfect if you need a gigantic laser pointer to distract some invading mutant tiger army.


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The plastic is good quality, and easy to work with. The detail is crisp, and very fine. Some of the parts will need to be handled with care, as they are really thin. The wire guards for the headlights look especially fine. The PE fret included has the mesh covering the engine cooling hatches, and some extra small parts that could not be produced using plastic, like the clamps for the storage boxes. The transparent sprue contains the vision blocks, and a part for the remote controlled AA machine gun. The way some of the periscopes are attached to the clear sprue is also a bit problematic: one side has almost no space for the cutter between the part and the sprue’s frame. 

The decal sheet includes a LOT of numbers so you can customize your tank (not that you have many options if you want to be historically accurate), and a set of Soviet-era crest.

Since this kit is built on the Trumpeter MSTA kit, you get a lot of extra parts –the gigantic gun included.

The build was really straightforward and relatively quick; I have not run into any difficulties. The assembly starts with the hull, as usual. Right in the beginning, there are some issues with the instructions. In the first page it is indicated that you should not glue the towing hooks; I believe the symbol should be next to one end of the unditching log’s holding straps. (This realization was a bit late for my build.)

 

 

 

 

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The headlights are somewhat difficult to glue, and mostly because of the engineering of the kit. On the real tank they are attached directly to the metal guards (which are essentially metal frames) using one little peg. Unfortunately the model headlights are constructed the same way. You’ll have to attach the headlights with this peg, and position them perfectly while doing so. This is a tricky proposition, and some other solution that would have helped with the positioning while drying would have been nice. (I used silly putty to position the lights, and superglue to fix them onto the frame –see photos. This method worked surprisingly well.)

 

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The fenders, the storage boxes and the side-skirts are assembled as separate units. All the clips for the storage boxes are provided as PE parts; it takes a while to attach each and every one. (I can imagine how practical this setup is in real life… “hurry, get the tools!” “Yes, comrade, give me half an hour to undo these straps!”.) While I was taking the photos, I realized one clip was left out on a box– which was attached after the photo session. (This demonstrates why it’s worth taking photos of your models while building them.) The greatest issue with how the kit is designed are the side-skirts. The side-skirts of Russian tanks are usually thick rubber painted over with the camouflage colors. If you look at photos of T-70s, T-80s, etc, you’ll see that the side-skirts are readily deforming, they separate from each other, and they are obviously not rigid. Unfortunately Trumpeter did not give any impression of the flexible nature of the rubber: they are rod-straight. They could be made out of thick metal for all we know. (I say “unfortunately”, because it’s not an impossible task: Revell has managed to capture these rubber side-skirts amazingly well in 1/72 scale.) There’s also no obvious method of leaving them off. If you choose to display the tank without the side-skirts (as the 1K17 is displayed in the reference photos available online), you’ll have to saw them off. (And thus display the incorrect suspension…) It’s such a simple thing to do, which, nevertheless, would dramatically improve the look of the tank. The rest of the vehicle has been so meticulously reproduced; I have no idea why Trumpeter got lazy on this issue.

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Before the fenders are attached you will have to assemble, paint and weather the running gear, tracks and most of the hull. Once the side-skirts are in place, you will not be able to get to those areas. The turret is well done; some of the panels do not fit perfectly, so filler will need to be used. (The welding lines are very nice touch on the edges of the armor plates.) There is some crucial missing detail here, however. Looking at photos you can see that the lenses are protected by lens protector flaps (which are provided), but there is also a rubber band around each lens assembly that enables these flaps to close weathertight.

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source: Gizmodo

These rubber bands are missing, which is a shame. The instructions also fail to give you options for leaving the middle lens covers in an open or closed position. Again; photos are available, and can be used as reference, but the instructions should highlight the options available nevertheless.

 

 

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The lasers are housed in a separate box, which is attached to the turret. Before closing it in, I’ve painted the back of the transparent lenses red (Ruby red from the Citadel paint range), and the inside of the box was painted black. There’s an awful lot of free space inside the turret, so someone with a little patience and a small LED light can actually make a pretty cool modification lighting up the lenses -although it would not be a set of coherent light beams, of course. (I might just do that, actually.)

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The fit of the assembly containing the laser with the turret is not perfect; it forces the sides of the turret apart visibly at the attachment points. (This can be remedied if you cut the holding pegs, and glue the part into place.) You’ll find the opposite is the problem with the long, protecting strip on top of the laser-weapon: it is supposed to be movable, but it just does not click into place easily. The attachment between the parts is flimsy, and it falls off quite easily; you would be better off gluing them fixed.

 

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One serious technical gripe I have with the kit is the tracks. The guide teeth will need to be glued onto each and every track link. To compound this issue, the teeth are attached to the sprue right where the track link and the guide teeth are joined; this means you will have to clean up each and every one of the 174 or so guide teeth with a scalpel before you can assemble the tracks. This is when you wonder why they could not mould these parts together, or even better yet, use a link-and-length solution.

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Dryfitting… the model is taking shape nicely.

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The turret, interestingly, “sits” on the hull; the usual pins, that are making sure the turret stays in place, are missing. I’m not sure why this is the case. Most of the time it should not be a problem, as the fit is quite snug, but this could be an issue during the transport of the model. (Alternatively you can just glue it in place.)

 

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More dryfitting…

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The AA heavy machine gun turret is a subassembly on its own right; it is a very nice representation of the real thing. After this we’ll just have to glue the millions of grab handles in place, and the model is essentially done.v

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Well, that’s it for building. Next part -painting

 

 

 

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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Sturmtiger (Tamiya 1/35, Eduard PE+ resin)

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The Sturmtiger always fascinated me; an over-the-top tank equipped with an even more over-the-top artillery piece that shoots over-the-top rockets. (A full grown man can fit into the stubby gun tube.)

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What else can you ask for? Since the boxy superstructure has hidden the whole intriguing interior, I wanted to build my model with the interior somehow exposed. The best I could come up with was to simply cut the side open, as you can see it in the Imperial War Museum with their JagdPanther. The Tamiya kit only comes with a rudimentary interior; it’s sufficient if you only leave the hatches open, but it will be very poorly looking indeed if you open up the side as well. Solution: an aftermarket transmission (the very first resin AM part I’ve used, I think), and an Eduart PE set, aftermarket, turned metal rockets, and some resin Zimmerit. (I honestly cannot say where everything came from; I got them from Ebay a long, long time ago… this tank was built when I was still in Boca Raton, about 8 years ago.)

It took quite a lot of time to collect enough reference photos on the interior; and I’ve found out some interesting things about this monster. For example the whole superstructure is fixed to the hull only with those gigantic rivets on the side of the vehicle. If you ondo them, you can just lift the top off.

First I glued the resin Zimmerit to the hull; it went on much easier than expected. I only had to cut out the appropriate shapes, and use two-part epoxy to affix them to the model. It was simple as that; just make sure you don’t leave any bubbles when you place them onto the plastic surface. Any mistakes can be corrected using putty.

Anyhow; the interior was quite a big challenge for me at that stage of my model building life, but it started me down on a ruinous path: tanks with full interiors.

The transmission was a resin aftermarket item; since the Eudard PE set offered a really nice, PE replacement for it, the end part had to be removed.
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The interior was dressed up using the Eudard set: the floor was improved considerably using the no-slip surfaces, the railings on the superstructure were added (as they were completely missing from the Tamiya kit), straps, radios, etc were added. All in all, they really improve the look of the interior.

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The painting was done using airbrush: the lower hull was given a primer red color, while the rest of the interior the typical German cream interior color.

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Once everything was finished, I’ve added the rockets. I am not certain about it, but I think Tamiya has not provided a complete set of plastic rockets; I’ve bought some aftermarket ones made of turned aluminium, with PE rings on the bottom. (I think they were Tamiya made, by the way… the details are quite hazy after so many years.)
I’ve put the plastic ones where they were least visible, and the metal ones into the foreground.
I made sure that the rocket placed onto the loading rack has the fuse fitted.

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The superstructure was also a very interesting, very busy affair. There were a lot of extra parts added to make it look realistic.

 

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(I still don’t know what those tubes are on the front wall…)

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Once everything was finished (and very slightly weathered) I masked the openings with tape, and glued everything in place. I’ve decided on light weathering after looking at the photos taken by the US Army: the captured Sturmtigers were also spotlessly clean. They simply had no time to get worn down before being taken by the Americans.

 

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The roadwheels were steel rimmed; it was easier to paint them than the rubber rimmed varieties. Simply fix the wheels to a toothpick using blue tac, and touch them to a paintbrush loaded with metallic paint, roll, and you’re done.

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Masking was done with blue tac. I simply traced the outlines onto the hull using a pencil, and then filled them in with blue tac. It worked surprisingly well…

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The camo is almost finished. The mistakes were touched up using a paintbrush.

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The last step was to add the dots onto the tank… not very entertaining, but it’s done pretty quick.

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I sprayed a layer of Future Floorwax onto the model before applying any washes.

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The tank in it’s full glory after weathering… some washes, some drybrushing, and some pastel powder.

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Since back then (~2005…) not many people (meaning: myself) heard of filters yet, the weathering feels a bit incomplete: as I wrote washes, drybrushing and pigments (chalk dust) were used primarily. As soon as the SturmTiger comes out of storage, I intend to remedy this issue. (And probably take another couple of shots, as the crane for the rockets is not finished yet on these photos… this is what you get when you use archive material.)

 

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I have no idea what that small thing next to the tank is

Flak 88 (DML 1/35)

This was my very first step into the world of armor modelling, back when this kit came out.
It was a revolution of some sort. DML, which was already a respected model maker, suddenly burst into the market with a stunning model of the famous Flak 8.8. You had everything in the box to build the model, AND it cost as much as the only other game in town, the Tamiya offering from the 1970s. And when I say everything, I mean everything. Previously you had to buy metal barrels, PE, figures, individual track links (well this particular model does not have one, but the upcoming models did), etc; aftermarket parts which pushed the total cost of an armor model into the stratosphere. And now DML came, and started to issue newly designed kits using a (then) new technology of slide-moulding, with all these goodies already included – all these for lower prices than the overpriced (and antiquated) Tamiya kits. (I know I’m committing sacrilege here, but seriously: most Tamiya kits were/are reissues from the ’70s, and still show signs of motorization…)

So this was the first shot fired by DML, which was followed by their incredible Tiger series.

As I said, the model was a joy to assemble, even though it was by far the most complex I’ve ever built at that point. DML has found the perfect balance between detail, complexity and ease of build; the model does not feel overengineered or unnecessarily complex. Even the carriage worked the same way as it did in real life – you can actually put the gun into travel position once built. (The gun also has a recoil feature, which I do not understand the need for, but there it is.) I have built two of these kits: one with gun shields and unlimbered, and one on the carriage, without shield, ready to use. (These guns were designed to be used before unlimbering them; it took 8 minutes to do so, and sometimes it was not an option. So you just dropped the supports, and started shooting while still attached to the carriage.)

 

Well, this was the first of those boxes which were so full you could not closet them again upon opening…

 

You can’t help but admire the presentation.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

30th Post: a Teaser – Flyhawk Panzer II.J., Panzer I. F., Armory MS-1 (T-18) and the Tankom 1/144 Landkreuzer Ratte

This is the 30th post of this blog, and since I’d like to have regular readers, feedback, comments, and all that jazz, it is also an unashamed attempt for getting people to visit… There are several new and old builds waiting to be published in the draft section, but here are four amazing models I am reviewing for Armorama this month… and these three will also be featured in this blog. So… subscribe and keep coming back here already!

(If this does not work, I’ll be posting the third page from The Sun from now on.)