Category Archives: plastic

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

T18 75mm Howitzer Motor Carriage (1/72 Modelltrans conversion)

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There is not much information floating around about this vehicle. It was a self-propelled gun that was designed for close infantry support in 1941 using a 75mm howitzer. The gun was built in using a gun mount adapted from the M3 Grant. Two mild steel prototypes were built on the M3 chassis, but they were not successful during their trial on the Aberdeen Proving Ground. They had a high profile, and they were nose-heavy, which meant their performance suffered considerably. These issues lead to the cancellation of the T18 project. The successor of the vehicle was the M8 where the howitzer was placed into a rotating turret.

While the SPG did fail its field tests, I think we all can agree it would have passed based on looks – it is probably one of the cutest armored vehicle I’ve seen (if you can use this word about a weapon of war). It used to be an extremely overpowered tank destroyer in World of Tanks, which was used extensively for seal-clubbing. Now they turned it into an artillery piece, with is historically more accurate.

The conversion

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The conversion set is marked as designed for the Stuart models by Mirage Hobby –but it does not specify which type of the many Stuarts from the line. I made a mistake -the first of several in the duration of this build-, and ordered the wrong one. This meant scratchbuilding the two mufflers and the boxes behind the mufflers which sit on the mudguards… not very successfully, I might add.

The kit comes in the usual Modelltrans blister pack. It consists of exactly two parts, so the conversion itself is not very difficult. We get the superstructure and the gun itself. The details are very nice on the parts, but the attachment point to the casting block on the main superstructure is at a very delicate place. The problem is that it’s very thick, and it’s right at the very delicate and fragile mudguards; extreme care needs to be taken when sawing it off. (And as usual: be very careful when working with resin. It’s best using a wet-sawing, wet-sanding technique to minimalize dust production, as the fine resin dust is quite bad for health.) There were some casting issues on the superstructure: at places the resin was flaking off, or were downright cracked. You can also see how the superstructure was cast: as if Modeltrans had used a strip of plastic to make the armor thicker, but did not bother enough to hide the outlines of this plastic strip. This can be easily dealt with some filling and sanding, though, unless you forget about it until you put on the camo already, at which point you decide to just ignore the issue. (As I did. As I said: long line of mistakes during the build of this small tank.)

 

 

 

 

building

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The assembly is dead easy: the superstructure needs to be mated with the plastic lower hull, the gun needs to be attached, and various kit parts glued to the superstructure.

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The superstructure’s fit onto the hull of a Mirage Hobby Stuart is not perfect; I needed to doctor the base kit a bit with a scalpel.

I could not find good scale drawings about the vehicle, so I used World of Tanks as a reference. It helped me to decide where to place the fuel tank caps onto the model, and it was useful for determining where to put the tools and other plastic parts coming from the Mirage Hobby kit. The machine guns barrels for the side-mounts can be adapted from the kit machine guns.
As I said I have chosen the “wrong” Stuart version: the M5A1 has the whole back of the chassis covered with armor plates, while the T18 was based on an earlier M3 chassis. The main difference for us is the mufflers were exposed, and there were two storage boxes mounted on the mudguards behind them. I’ve cobbled together some sort of replacement for these, but they are far from satisfactory.

The painting was quick. I wanted to replicate a camo scheme from World of Tanks: a very light green/grey base with darker green areas. I applied black primer, then covered it with neutral grey. I figured the green hue will be added by the subsequent filters. The green patches were added using an airbrush: with the paint flowing, I simply moved the parts of the model I wanted to paint into the way of the pait spray…

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The details were painted with a thin brush and using Citadel’s paintsl; I’ve also glued the tracks on. As you can see they’re not the best fit; I find these rubber band tracks hard to install, unless I can hide the ends under a mudguard, where they cannot be seen.

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I always liked the rubbed-off paint on metal effect on models (and real vehicles). Since I was less and less inspired to finish the model, I was ready to experiment. I simply -and carefully- rubbed the edges of the superstructure against a piece of cloth, until the black primer was exposed. This really made the tank look like it’s been through some tough times.

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The next steps were the filters: green filters did make the grey look greenish… (No big surprise, but still: big relief here.)
Some light brown and blue filters further modified the colors, and I had to use some yellow as well, as the blue made everything look very cold.
Pin washes were used on the recessed details.

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The last steps were to use Tamiya’s weathering set to add yellowish hues to the superstructure (I used the light sand colors, but only in a very light layers, as in this case I wanted to show discoloration, and not dust). I have to say, this last touch bought the model alive; suddenly it became realistic-looking.

I used mud to simulate dirt on the chassis and the suspension. The obligatory soft lead pencil was used to make the edges look metallic -which looks really convincing on the worn areas, where the black shows through.

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I’ve tried AK Interactive’s fuel stains as well on the fuel caps; I’m sure you don’t get as much spilled fuel on any tank, but at least it makes it look more interesting.

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All in all, apart from the mistakes I’ve made through this project, the result looks nice. I just have to make sure it’s not displayed showing its “bad” side.

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.)

Panzer IV Schmalturm conversion (Revell-CMK)

 

This is one weird-looking tank. As usual, the Germans were thinking the looniest ideas, trying to make a difference in the war, instead of doing, you know, the rational thing. (Well, rational people don’t start world wars, and most certainly do not engage in ethnic cleansing, or if they themselves do not take part in the above mentioned activities, do not work for people who do, so there’s that.)

Well, back to the tank. The PnzIV was already approaching the limits they could squeeze out of the chassis; the ausf J was an attempt to remedy this issue. The ausf H was already overstressed in several areas: it was, for example, so nose-heavy, the front suspensions were constantly under pressure. They simplified a lot of things (the turret traverse was manual only, they used all-steel return-rollers, changed the side-skirts into wire mesh, etc). The next “logical” step was to put the Schmalturm designed for the Panther onto this overstressed chassis to give it some extra firepower (kind of like a poor man’s Panther). Perhaps the turret-ring issue was not that big of a deal (the Schmalturm’s diameter is somewhat larger than the pnzIV turret’s), but the additional weight would have certainly made this tank immobile.

Anyway, it’s a cool looking tank; it looks like someone stuck a Darth Vader helmet on it. (It’s not my analogy. A popular WoT one.)

CMK makes a pretty cool little conversion set, which should be used with an ausf J model, but unfortunately, the only available ones are ausf Hs. You shall have to live with this, if you want to have a model of this tank.

The conversion is simple, the casting is nice (I like the turret armor’s texture), and you get some extras (like metal mudguards -only for the back side, though).

The side-skirt is made of wire mesh. Its role was to explode shaped-charge shells before they get to the side armor of the tank; this would decrease the efficiency of the molten copper jet that is supposed to melt its way through the armor, incinerating everyone inside. (Pleasant thoughts.)

The conversion uses some parts of the model’s side-skirts; I would have preferred to have the mounting brackets made of metal.

The build is a pleasant one; you build the chassis, and stick the turret on top.

 

First red-brown layer -it looks more red on the photo. It simulates the red-oxide primer for the metal. It will give some nice modulation to the subsequent layers.

Dunkelgelb. The photo is way too pale, but it IS yellow, I promise. I mixed quite a lot of  tan to simulate the scale effect (colors look darker on smaller objects, so they need to be lightened to be realistic).

I used masking tape to mask the different colors; I chose the camo pattern from my premium tank in WoT.

I only wanted to do some light weathering; after all, this is a never built, hypothetical tank. Some filters, a little bit of scratching, a light pinwash, and some dust (pigments). I used a pencil on the edges of the model; this gives a metallic look for the tank.