Category Archives: russian

Modelcollect T-80UE part 2.

Well, the painting phase arrived finally. (To be honest I always have several models stuck in this phase because it takes time to set up the paintbooth. This is the bottleneck of my model building process.)

There was also an accident involving this tank. Do you remember I talked about the necessity of gluing the turret in place in the first part? Well, it was not glued in at this point -and I successfully knocked off all the PE shields from the front of the turret on one side. My most valued and cherished wife found three of them; I replaced the fourth with a part I fashioned from aluminium foil. (I can’t tell how much I appreciate my better half, by the way. She tolerates my hobby without a complaint, and even helps me finding parts that flew off into the big empty.)

Once the disaster was averted, I sprayed dark grey Vallejo primer on the model. I gave a day for the primer to dry, and then sprayed Tamiya Buff. I looked at several photos and this color looks very close to the actual vehicle’s basecoat. The green patches were sprayed on free-hand. The green was lightened considerably with the base color. I was contemplating using masks, but the model is full of tiny protruding details -something all masks love to pull off in my experience. I used a relatively low pressure, and kept the gun close to the model; I found the process pretty easy to control, and simple to do. There was minimal overspray; the demarcation lines between the colors came out pretty good.

The last step was to paint the black lines and patches by hand. I used a dark grey color rather than pitch black to account for the scale effect.

As usual, a couple of layers of ochre filters helped to blend the colors together, and I sprayed Future on the model to provide base for the decals.

There is also a very extensive decal sheet provided; the painting guide only offers one option with minimal decals, so it’s probably a comprehensive sheet that Modelcollect uses with all their Russian armor. (Will be useful for my W-Models Pantsir build.)

Once the decals dried, I sealed them with Future, and applied a dark pin wash to the model. After about a day of drying I used a wet brush to remove the excess, forming good-looking streaks in the process. Wherever I felt there was too much wash left on the surface of the model I used a flat dry brush to remove it.

I gave a week for the wash to dry, and sprayed a flat coat over the model. I’m always a bit anxious at this step as this is where you see what the model will look like; the flat varnish makes the colors lighten a bit. I painted the tracks and the rubber rims of the roadwheels with a fine brush- again I used very dark greys instead of black. Using a 00 brush I painted discreet chips on the tank: the side-skirts got heavier black chips (since they are made of rubber). I also used the base color on the green parts for light damage, and Vallejo’s German Black Brown for deeper chips. I tried not to go overboard; in this scale no chips would be visible, but they do give some visual interest to the model. I also used sponge chipping on the barrel and larger surfaces – again, trying my best not to overdo the effect. I added some rust washes on the larger areas where chipping was more prominent; once dried I adjusted the effect with a wet brush.

I applied dust-colored pigments to the lower parts of the hull a very diluted dust mix on the top part; again I readjusted everything once dry. The exhaust got a tiny bit of black; I tried not to go overboard.

As a final step I rubbed a silver pen on the tracks and the edges of the model to simulate the shine of worn metal as usual.

Overall the model is excellent; I can wholeheartedly recommend to anyone.

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Modelcollect T-80UE

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In the last couple of years Modelcollect quickly gained a reputation for producing good quality models of Cold War Soviet vehicles -and “1946 Alternate History” type of German panzers. (E-75, weird walking tanks, hypothetical AAA tanks based on the E-100 chassis, the P-1000 Ratte in 1/72 (!), etc.)

I always liked how busy modern(ised) Soviet armor looks; since they are quite small, the exterior is really busy with all the equipment could not be fit inside, and the constant modifications, extra armor and sensor equipment also add to the unique look.

This is my third Modelcollect build; and the first one that does not depict a somewhat esoteric vehicle (meaning: it actually exists).
The build was an easy and quick one. Since there are several versions of the T-80 offered, the model is full of extra parts; I was very happy to see an armored shield for the commander’s hatch included, which I will add to an older T-72 build.

The only issue with the turret is that it’s quite loose in the turret ring; this combined with the heavy metal barrel means you’d better off gluing it into place because it will rotate quite violently when the model is moved. The rubber protector flaps for the turret ring are made of PE, which is very nice: you can fold them a bit to make them look more realistic. (They are best installed after you fixed the turret in place; there is very little clearance between the hull and the edges of these flaps, so you can knock them off easily if you move the turret.)

The lower hull went together fine, since the fit is very good, and the running gear is actually easy to assemble. I chose to add everything -tracks, return rollers, idlers and drive wheels- before painting. This means I will have to be careful to paint the rubber rims and the tracks with a brush, but it also simplifies the assembly. The tracks are very good – the pieces fit together like a dream.

The two mudguards are pretty elaborate pieces of plastic; most of the detail is moulded-on. It’s not readily apparent that the rubber side-skirts are, in fact, made of rubber. They looks like massive armored slabs. The 1/72 Revell T-72 has very well done side-skirts in this respect; and to be fair to Modelcollect, even newer 1/35 scale tank models have these side-skirts moulded straight as if they were made of metal plates.

The PE engine grilles are excellent, and really improve the look of the model; and the PE lamp guards are also pretty impressive. (And, more importantly, easy to assemble.)

The holding brackets for the external fuel tanks are somewhat flimsy (it’s difficult to determine what goes where), but using a little patience and checking a few reference photos it’s not hard to install them correctly. The un-ditching log has a very nice wooden texture.

And that’s it – the building was a breeze. (I was watching documentaries with my wife while building the tank; it took me two evenings altogether- about four hours total.) Right now I’m contemplating the best way to go about painting it, but since it looks really impressive with all that shiny brass, I decided to leave it like this for a while.

W Model, 1/72 1S91 SURN “Straight Flush” Radar for SA-6 Gainful

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To be honest I did not know much about this vehicle; I picked it up because it looked cool and I wanted to see how W models’ kits look like. This Lithuanian company specialises in Soviet era missile launchers, radars and other unique-looking vehicles in 1/72. I’ve known about these models for a long time; even when I was still living in the US I had my eyes on them. Back then I had very little disposable income, and the pricing took these models out of my reach; things have improved (somewhat) since then, so I took the plunge, and got one to see how they measure up as models.

The 1S91 vehicle is a part of the 2K12/SA-6 Soviet mobile surface-to-air missile system to provide medium to low level defence for ground forces. The system itself typically consists of four missile launchers carrying three missiles each, four missile transports, and the 1S91 SURN vehicle. Interestingly there are several 1/35 and 1/72 options available for the missile launcher platform, but the mobile radar has not received much love from model makers, even though if I may say so, it does look wicked.

The 1S91 (SURN, NATO designation “Straight Flush”) mobile radar is based on the GM-568 tracked chassis developed by MMZ (Mytishchinskiy Mashinostroitelniy Zavod). It is a 25 kW G/H band radar with a range of 75 km, equipped with a continuous wave illuminator, in addition to an optical sight. The vehicle has two radar stations – a target acquisition and distribution radar (1S11; the lower radar station) and a continuous wave illuminator radar (1S31; the upper radar system), in addition to an IFF interrogator and an optical channel. The two radars can turn independently.

The model comes in a typical cardboard box with the boxart printed on top. The parts are placed into zip-lock bags, and cushioned with newspaper. The system seems to work; even though the model has several large and delicate parts, nothing was broken. Some parts were detached from their pouring blocks, though.

The quality of resin is excellent, no bubbles, flash or imperfections. The radar dishes are thin, and very nicely done. On the back of some larger, flat parts you can see the ribbing left over from the 3D printing process, but none of it is present on the visible surfaces. The PE sheet is really well done; it’s just the right thickness. This is an important point, since the PE has structural functions in this model. I built kits that had PE so thick it was really difficult to cut even with pliers, and other sets had PE that was so thin it crumpled when you touched it. All in all, the detail is really good; W Models seems to have a very high standard of production.

Unfortunately the parts are not numbered on the casting block, but despite the relatively large number of parts, finding the right one was not much of an issue during the building stage. The instructions are (mostly) clear and computer generated. Overall they do help a lot during the building process, but there were some issues which were difficult to sort out, and I could only do so with the help of reference photos found online. Henk’s webpage has photos of the model and CAD drawings; they certainly helped a lot as well. It would be useful to show the different sub-assemblies once finished from several angles; the attachment of the optical sight to the side of the 1S31 radar was especially problematic. (The instruction has an arrow pointing to the middle section of the structure that holds the radar dish; the part should go to the bottom, however, where there is a small notch already.)

The assembly is relatively straightforward. The first steps detail the assembly of the hull. The lower hull needs to be assembled from flat parts. The fit is overall OK, but there were gaps between certain panels; this is why I prefer the “tub” style resin hulls. In this case I needed to use filler to fill these gaps. To make sure the attachment points of the hull sections are as sturdy as possible once the CA glue set I used some green stuff on the joints from within. It also served as filler for the larger gap on the back of the hull.

The holes for the swing arms for the road wheels need to be enlarged so that the locating pins fit; it’s also a bit unfortunate that there’s nothing to help setting the arms at the correct angle.

The tracks are the typical straight resin pieces. You need to put them in warm (~50C) water to soften them, and then gently wrap them around the drive wheels/idlers, and form the appropriate sag where necessary.

The drive wheels have very well defined teeth, but the fit to the tracks is a bit problematic; the drive wheels were a tiny bit wider than the distance between the corresponding parallel holes on the track. It’s possible with a very careful application of force to push the teeth into the holes in the track, but one has to be cautious not to break them off.

The second big assembly is the radar itself. As mentioned the two radars can rotate independently from each other, so it does not really matter how you orient them. Regardless, it is a good idea to actually decide before starting. The orientation of the radar dish will be determined by the first steps (step 7), so make sure you understand what part goes where, and how it will look once finished (mine is quite random, since I did not realize this in time). Another thing to mention: the service plank next to the top radar dish has a collapsible handrail. The instructions show the vehicle with the dishes in forward position, handrail erected. If the top dish is in use, the handrail would be in its way and is folded down. The instructions do not mention this possibility, and if you- like me- you build the model with the dish off-center, it will be an issue. (Some illustrations bellow of what I’m talking about: on the photos you can see the handrails folded; on the model and CAD drawing you can see how it gets in the way. Obviously further down you will see my model as well.)

http://www.alamy.com/stock-photo-1s91-surn-vehicle-nato-designation-straight-flush-with-the-radar-for-71629833.html

The travel configuration of the vehicle is pretty interesting, too; it’s a shame it’s not an option with the kit.

2K12 Kub air defense system - 1S91 SURN

(It shows how the complex metal guard system on the front of the hull functions to protect the radars during transit.)

Once the radar assembly is complete, some further details are added to the hull, such as the already mentioned guards, and we’re done. (The guard system seems to be consisting of two independent curved rails; one fixed, and one movable. They should be touching in the folded position (when the radars are erected and are in use); yet part 34 is shorter, and does not reach the others. Since it’s literally just a curved piece of resin rod, it should be easy to fashion a longer replacement piece. I kept this parts for the purpose of this review.

The model is actually quite complex, but not immeasurably so. It can be built with a reasonable amount of experience; even the PE handles well.

Painting

Vehicles like this do not get banged around as much as tanks and other armored fighting vehicles, and if they do get to the wrong end of the enemy’s guns, they usually end up a mangled, smoking wreck, so excessive chipping and other weathering was not really an option. They also tend to avoid heavy mud, and are kept in pristine condition by their crew. Since I wanted to depict a non-derelict vehicle, I kept the model reasonably clean.

I decided to put everything together before painting; that meant the tracks as well. I kept the radar installation detached for ease of handling but everything else was fixed.

I washed the model in warm, soapy water, and let it dry for a couple of days.

The model received a German Grey primer coat (Vallejo) to provide a good, stable base for the subsequent paint coats, and also to pre-shade the model. There is an argument for not using primer: modern paints adhere to almost any surface. With resin I found that it’s still a good idea to prime first.

Once the paint cured (about 24 hours) I misted a couple of coats of Tamiya OD dark green onto the model, following with subsequently lighter shades (lightened with tan and yellow). The lighter shades were concentrated on the areas which would be exposed to more light if the vehicle was standing outdoors – the top of the hull, the lower interior curve and the top of the radar dishes, etc. I decided to highlight a couple of protruding details: hatches, top of storage boxes, etc, with a slightly lighter green. (I used tan to lighten the base color; if you use white it makes the resulting color look faded. Sometimes it is the look you’re going for, but in this case I wanted a more natural variation.)

The lower part of the hull was treated somewhat differently. The roadwheels got a small spray of green each, and I went over the rubber rims with dark grey using a very fine brush. I also corrected the oversrpay on the tracks using the primer. The color was pretty good for the tracks; I used some rust wash to give them some variance, and a silver pencil to simulate the worn down, shiny parts.

I diluted earth colored pigments in white spirit, and after leaving the mixture on the roadwheels, and the bottom of the hull for half an hour, I wiped the excess away with a damp brush. I repeated this step with a couple of earth colors going from lighter to dark.

True Earth has a couple of filters in their product lines; I bought them a while ago, but had no luck with them so far. (I did work out you needed a very flat surface to apply it; the surface tension tends to pull the filter into droplets.) I sprayed some dark aging and light aging filters on some selected areas without diluting the product: around the turret, on the lower part of the turret, on the bottom of the tank; the effect is not as smooth as I wished it to be, but it does produce an interesting discoloration here and there.

I used some yellow, light brown and yellow filters on the model in several coats; the lighter ones were focused on the top parts, the darker on the bottom. As further filter I used Tamiya’s transparent yellow sprayed from above; it provides an interesting brighter highlight. Once the model dried, I gave it a coat of semi-gloss varnish, and applied pin washes to make the details stand out. (I usually don’t use black; dark brown is a good color for a wash.) This was a good time to add some discreet streaks using oil paints as well.

I printed out some Hungarian signs a while ago on decal paper; I’ve used these to give the vehicle some sort of identity.

A matte varnish was used to seal everything, and give the final sheen of the model, and I applied a couple of layers of dust using Tamiya’s weathering sets (the makeup-sets), and different dust colored pigments straight. I used the pigments dry, and rubbed them on using a rubber brush -something I saw on Armorama. Since I only wanted a moderately dusty vehicle whatever is left on it would be sufficient.

That’s pretty much it. I have to say the model is quite impressive, both in quality and in appearance. If you don’t mind the scale and the price, it is highly recommended.

 

I would like to hear your thoughts- please let me know what you think in the comment section.

1/35 MiniArt T-54-1 build review p.4

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Part one

Part two

Part three

Well, the last part of the review has arrived… painting and weathering left.

I’ve glued the turret together using white glue; at this point I was not sure how I wanted to display the tank, but I did want to show the interior somehow.

The tank was primed using a grey primer, then used a mixture of sand yellow and tan (Tamiya) to cover the whole vehicle. I’ve used silly putty to mask the subsequent colors. Olive green (lightened with tan), and red-brown (again, with tan added) were applied.

At this point the tank looked very toy-like: the colors very flat and artificial. This is the point when panic is not the right emotion; filters, washes and the rest of the weathering steps will blend everything together, and create a (relatively) realistic finish.

So this is what I did.

First, several layers of dark yellow filters by AK. This was followed by True Earth’s Dark Aging product, applied by an airbrush. This is a water based filter-like product, and so far I have not been very successful using it: even on the flattest surface it forms little beads. I probably need to try to use some mild surfactant to break the surface tension up.

The unditching log was painted back, then drybrushed using tan, and finally I used some washes to make it more realistic; the result is pretty convincing I think.

This was followed by oil-dot filters using several different browns, yellows with some blue and white added.

Once done, I’ve pried the turret halves apart, and used some evergreen rods to mount the top. ( I could not decide how to cut the turret for a cutaway, so I settled with this solution.) I’ve attached the rest of the missing parts, and gave a nice coat of dust using my airbrush and some pigments.

With a couple of small issues (like the thick viewing port for the driver’s rain-protector), the model by MiniArt is really excellent.

(Reviewing the photos I just realized I forgot to add the windshield wipers…)

 

 

 

 

 

 

1/35 MiniArt T-54-1 build review p.3

The first part of the review

Second part.

Exterior

The engine deck consists of several subassemblies that form a somewhat complex set of hatches. The cooling flaps can be positioned open or closed, and they are protected by a very set of nice PE grilles.

I did not even bother to try to clean up the thin plastic rods (c1, c2) required for the engine deck; I simply used them as a template to fashion replacements from wire.

Smoke canisters are installed similarly to how the real thing was: the PE straps hold the tiny plastic rods that are fixing them to the back of the hull, along with the mechanism that allows to them to be released. The assembly is finicky, but pretty impressive.

The unditching log looks pretty convincing; normally I switch them for an actual wooden stick, but in this case I kept it. Primed it black, and then spent some time drybrushing Tamiya Tan on top. The whole thing was then painted with Agrax Earthsade by Citadel.

Mudguards

As mentioned the external fuel tanks are provided as two halves. They are typical WWII type ones, although they are somewhat narrower than the ones used on wartime tanks. They are held down by PE strips – when building make sure you do the fuel tanks first, and add the storage boxes after, because in several cases they obstruct the tie-down points for the straps. Another important piece of advice: do not install the fuel tank on the left back mudguard. The flap (C9) protecting the exhaust port should be fitted first. (In my case the fuel tank was placed too forward, which interfered with the correct placement of the flap… Annoying.)

The towing lines were provided as plastic parts; MiniArt is being very optimistic about the chances of being able to bend and fit them into their places. Better get some picture hanging wire, and use the plastic eyes of the cables only. Make sure you cut a wire half a centimeter longer than the plastic part; it’s too short otherwise.

The AA machine gun is a complex multimedia assembly of plastic and PE parts; normally I buy aftermarket barrels (or even resin guns) to replace this part, but in this case it’s perfectly suitable.

The turret interior is pretty busy; it’s actually not as tall as the T-44 turret, and have a lot of things crammed into it. The turret originally was cast as a two-part hemispherical shape with welded roof consisting of two rolled armor plates 30 mm thick. The model’s turret is designed the same way: it’s built up from two parts (top and bottom), and the roof plates are added separately. The roof plates are considerably thinner than the sides; I suspect they are all scale thickness.

The 10RT radio and the TPU-4-bis-O-26 telecom systems are placed on the commander’s side, and there is a ready rack on the back of the turret.

The gunner’s MK-4 periscopes, and the low profile commander’s cupola with three observation TPC-1 prisms are replicated very well.

The gun is a very delicate assembly, so once it’s finished care needs to be taken not to break the thin plastic parts off.The gun breech has a seam in the middle, which needs to be filled in; to be honest it will be very difficult to see in the model. The gunner’s sight and the coaxial machine guns are complex little models of their own; once they are glued on, they tend to break off easily… (An important point for further handling.)

I have primed the interior using a primer red color, sealed it with varnish, and used the hairspray chipping method on the top color (blue grey on the bottom of the hull and white everywhere else). To make the vehicle look used, and to decrease the contrast of the pure white with the chips, I mixed up a burnt umber filter, and applied it unevenly to create patches of darker and lighter discolorations, and some dark, almost black brown washes to bring out the finer details. Finally I used different shades of rust brown oil paints to create some discreet streaks. Some rust and dust colored pigments were used to add a little more depth to the weathering, and I used a silver pencil on the edges to make them look metallic.

The gun got a similar treatment, only the cover color was green, rather than white, and for obvious reasons I did not add any streaks to it.

Coming up- final instalment: finishing the tank.

Tamiya 1/35 T-62 with Verlinden damage set p4.

The first part of this build can be found here, the second here, and the third here.

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Well, the small dio is finally done. It’s been a long, long build. It took me more than a year back in the US to find the conversion set; I was lucky to grab it cheap from someone who gave up on it. It then sat in a box for the next couple of years, then brought back to Europe, and finally ended up in the UK. The actual build time was a couple of months; quite quick, really, but I did take a lot of shortcuts. These were mostly done out of necessity (of preserving my sanity); the set is not exactly user-friendly. The fit is poor at places, the instructions are horrid, and some parts are just plain impossible to do (like the installation of the turret ring). I’m not even mentioning the warped parts, like the gun barrel. (Wait, I just did…) So to save time, my already thinning hair, and money, I just rolled with what I had (with the exception of the gun barrel).

Anyhow, when all is said and done, it built up into a very inaccurate, but quite nice tank.

I tried to show a gradient of colors from back to front: burned out engine compartment dominated by rust colors, to the greenish hues of the frontal hull.

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The figure also took a LOT of time to hunt down; unfortunately it is long out of production, so my best bet was to get lucky and buy one from someone. (This is a really good reminder of buying things when they are available. However, it also is a sure way of building up a stash that would shame a hobby store, so there is a delicate balance to be achieved here.)

And one final word about the photography, before the pictures. I’m using a Nikon D3300 with either the kit lens (when the subject is relatively large), or a Tamron 90mm macro lens. The models are placed in a collapsible light box, and lit up using two LED lamps from the side. The whole contraption is in the kitchen, with fluorescent overall lightning, which explains the difficulties to actually getting the colors right on the photos- the camera, no matter how smart it is, is having trouble with the white balance. I did take some photos during the day using the same setup, and the sunlight as an overall source of illumination; the difference is visible. I will set the white balance manually next time. The other issue I dislike is that the figure looks a bit glossy; when you look at it in real life, it is much more matte.
It’s a learning curve of taking photos, and it’s also a matter of convenience. Living in London means I have absolutely no space dedicated for model building, so everything needs to be set up in the kitchen when I build/take photos. Not very convenient.

So without further ado, here’s the finished STALKER diorama:

Tamiya 1/35 T-62 with Verlinden damage set p3.

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The first part of this build can be found here.

Second part here.

With the major building and painting finished, it was time to put the tank into context. Well, into a scene, that is.

I buy large plastic cases to keep my models in; they are excellent for display, protection against dust and curious fingers, and also make it easy to transport the models. In some cases I use them as small dioramas.

In the second part the tank was reasonably finished, but it was still somewhat uniform, despite of the layers upon layers of paints, paintchips, oil paints, filters and pigments. Now was time to bring out the sponge…

The technique is reasonably simple: dab the sponge (or the scrotch brite) into the paint, dab most of it off on a piece of paper, and then keep dabbing it against the surface you wish to cover with paint/paintchips. (Depending on the amount you cover you can depict paint chips or flaking off paint.)

I’ve used the external fuel tanks to experiment; unfortunately the box was not long enough for these to be mounted onto the tank…

First, I’ve used the sponge technique to make the uniform brown surface into a rusting, multicolored one.

Second step: using light green I repeated the process. (This color is excellent for paint chips, too.) It’s not a problem if it’s too light at this stage; in fact, it’s actually necessary- the subsequent washes, filters will darken the color anyway.

And finally, the result: I’ve used overall brown washes, which created a grimy, used look. Some more green was dabbed onto the barrels in a much smaller area, and voila – we have an interesting, rusting surface with different shades and colors.

The tank was glued onto the base using two part epoxy (it’s quite heavy because of all the resin and metal), and then I used Tamiya’s soil Diorama Texture Paint. (I’ve got it discounted when the largest hobby store chain in the UK went bust a couple of years ago.) The color is not exactly great, but we’ll help it a bit later using the airbrush.

Using the sponge method I’ve added green patches onto the turret and the front part of the tank- I wanted to achieve a color difference between the front and the back.

The paint was toned down with some brown filters.

I’ve used the leftover tracklinks from the MiniArt T-54-1 for the tracks; a lot of them don’t have teeth, since they are the special links for the ice-cleats, and they are also narrower than should be, but to be honest I did not want to spend money on extra tracks. Nobody will notice, unless they read the text.

I’ve bought some AK Interactive products online cheap (six bottles for twenty quids) – rust, different colored streaking products, washes, and one that simulates algae streaking… so I used this tank to try them all.

I’ve used more rust pigments on the turret and the side of the hull, and used a dark brown filter to tone down the contrast a bit. Black pigment was used sparingly to depict soot (my fiancee’s insistence)  The way I use these pigments is to load a brush with Tamiya’s flat varnish, dab it into the pigments, dab most of it onto a piece of paper, and then dab it onto the surface of the model. You want to have some in the brush, but not too much; kind of like a heavy drybrush.

 

I’ve used some wine by Eduard to depict a creeper growing out of the driver’s compartment. The fallen leaves were made using the actual seed pod of a tree. Unfortunately I can’t figure out what it’s called; it looks like a fat caterpillar, and when you grind it up between your fingers, it falls apart into Marple-leaves like parts, and seeds. I mixed some white glue and water, added this plant material, and distributed onto the tank.

 

 

 

Last part is coming next week with the vegetation and the STALKER dude added

1/35 MiniArt T-54-1 build review p.2

The first part of the review can be found here.

So the hull interior is reasonably finished, but I had to add bits and bobs (fire extinguishers, ammunition for the main gun and for the machine guns, etc.). Once I put the driver’s periscopes in place, I could close down the hull. The top part is really thin; I suspect it’s quite close to scale thickness.

 

Fitting the mudgards was not straightforward: the locator pins did not fit into the corresponding holes on the sides, so there was a tiny gap between the mudguards and the tank’s hull. I simply shaved the pins off. The plastic mudgards are quite thin, and the long parts had a slight bend; the solution was to glue them in place in two steps, straightening them out in the process.
The drive wheels have very small attachment points to the swing arms; since it’s a static model it’s not a real problem, but I still prefer a bit more robust connection.
The tracks are -correctly- narrower than what was used on the final production version of the T-54 (as a comparison I’ve used an individual track link from a Trumpeter kit on the photo). You need 90 per side (the resources I’ve read specified 91 for the actual tank), and you have an option to use a special link for every 20th track link. These links don’t have teeth, and are specially designed to mount the cleats that allow the tank to get better traction on snow or other difficult terrain. Unfortunately it’s not specified in the instruction, but that’s what you can use them for. (The instruction manual shows the cleats in a stored position on the mudguards.) The cleats in their storage position require some really thin plastic pins to hold them in place: first, the holes on the cleats are too narrow, second it’s almost impossible to clean these pins of the sprue gate… so I just used some thin evergreen plastic to replace them.
The headlight has an option to attach a protective wire cage around it; the plastic was very thin, and snapped the second I tried to remove it from the sprue, so I chose the other option.

 

Parallel to the work on the hull, I was working on the turret as well. As I mentioned I’ve been doing a lot of painting and weathering before ataching all the necessary parts, so only time will tell if they will stand out or not after all is said and done.

I have some serious decisions to make at this point. I would like to present the interior open somehow. Either I show the turret tilted up, with the gun being installed, or I simply make a “cutaway”. (I saw a photo on the T-54, T-55 group’s facebook page.)

The first version would be the most attractive solution, but the problem is I’ve installed everything already: ammunition, equipment, etc. A tank would be stripped out before the turret is lifted, so it would not be very realistic.
The second option would be to simply leave the top of the turret off- held up by a couple of plastic pegs, showing the interior off. (This way I don’t have to cut and saw into the plastic. With the King Tiger and other large tanks there are parts you can cut away easily; with the T-54 I would be taking a lot of detail away if I cut parts of the turret away. Since the driver’s position and the engine compartment are not very well detailed regrettably I will not cut into the hull, as there’s not much to display… But MiniArt has made the turret halves join up as they did in the original tank.

 

1/35 MiniArt T-54-1 build review p.1

Well, the long awaited MiniArt T-54-1 is here finally. I’m in the middle of several builds -somehow I ended up reviewing and building a lot of kits at the same time. Nevertheless this model got priority when it arrived, since it was something I really had an interest in.
I planned to build the Tamiya kit in my stash with the CMK interior set parallel, but until I can finish up the ones already started, I do not want to begin to work on new builds. Too bad, I guess. (I did start on the Tamiya last night, since I finished two out of three OKB kits, and the all Luchs as well -some left to be published at a later date.)

I would not start an essay on the tank itself; I’ll put it into my review to be sent to Armorama. I’ve used the references available on the T-54, T-55 research group on Facebook; I would like to thank everyone there for putting together such a comprehensive resource.

Short version of the review: the model looks really, really good. (I’m not trying to be a fanboy; it’s honestly a great kit.)

A slightly longer version:

Opening the box we are faced with a bewildering number of small sprues. MiniArt, as usual, followed its philosophy of modular kit design, which does help creating multiple versions of the same vehicle easily, however it does present a problem finding the sprues you need during building. Add to this the tendency of having to use several sprues during sub-assemblies, searching for sprues was a constant activity during the build. If you have the space it’s probably best to have them out and labelled visibly.

Fortunately there are only few of the notoriously thin plastic parts that are impossible to be cut off the sprue without breaking. One of the handholds for the turret was already broken in my sample, but I normally replace them with wire anyhow. It’s much easier than trying to clean up these extremely fragile and thin plastic parts.

The placement of the gates are sometimes a bit unfortunate: instead of having to clean off one edge, they sometime overhang, and this necessitate cleaning (cutting or sanding) two or three surfaces. This is especially notable in the case of the individual track links, where you will need to clean multiple sprue attachments from three faces (bottom, top, side) on all the track links… (I really, really like magic tracks, to be honest; they come pre-cut, ready to assemble. I have to confess: the assembly of tracks and the painting for ammunition are the two least favorite parts of model building for me, so anything that makes my job easier is welcome.)

The plastic is nice quality; soft enough and easy to work with. The detail is astonishing. From the texture of the turret to the casting numbers on the suspension units, everything just looks like a miniaturized version of the real thing. The torsion bar suspension is working, but I’m not sure how useful it is since the tracks will need to be glued together to make sure they are held in place. (The different panzer III variants by MiniArt had a workable track solution; it would have been nice to have this utilized on the T-54-1 as well.)

The interior followed the usual T-44 layout – that is to say it’s still closer to the T-44 than to the T-54 final version. The driver’s compartment sadly lacks a lot of instruments and whatnot… not that it’s going to be visible, but still. At least it’s there, unlike in the T-44 kits, so you have something to work with should you wish to improve the area. I have decided to use the rain cover for the driver’s hatch, which is something I’ve never seen before.

The turret interior, on the other hand, is really well done; most everything is in place.

I’ve left the engine unassembled for now- I’ve built a couple of these from the SU-122, SU-85, T-44, so I’ve decided to leave it out for now. I might finish it later and display it in front of the tank as I’ve done with the other kits. (There are differences between the V-34, V-44, V-54 engines, but they are not apparent immediately.)

The interior was painted and weathered the same way as I did with the T-44. In short: a dark brown basecoat with hairspray applied was oversprayed with Tamiya white for the sides and a grey-blue color for the bottom of the hull. A stiff brush and some water helped to create some moderate chipping I applied a light brown filter to make it more dirty and used. I’ve only added the smaller parts after I did the basic weathering; with the turret it might have been a mistake. (There are a lot of smaller bits that are white, and they might stand out if you paint and weather them separately. Time will tell.)

I tried to keep weathering restrained; after all the amount of chipping and rusting was normally minimal while the vehicles were operational. Maintenance does take care of these things normally.

The ammunition was painted using Vallejo’s new acrylic gold paint; the results are pretty good. I did not bother painting the tips for the ones that were placed into the rack. I’ve used photos for reference found in this website for painting.

The mudguards were finished separately before attaching them to the hull. One thing to keep in mind: do the PE straps first, and then add the toolboxes. I glued the boxes in first… In some cases the boxes were in the way, and it made attaching the straps difficult.

The AA machine gun is a pretty complex assembly, but the detail is really great. Cleaning up the sprue attachment points on the barrel is not easy, but possible. (There are aftermarket barrels available, but it would be a shame to throw the plastic out; it is very well detailed.)

The engine deck features some of those notoriously thin and fragile plastic rods MiniArt loves to include with their kits. I did not even attempt to cut them off the sprue; it was easier to fabricate similar parts from wire, and use those. (Added benefit: you cannot glue them accidentally to the plastic mounts, since the plastic glue does not work on metal.

The smoke canisters, as I said, were moulded as one piece, and the PE/plastic contraption that holds them in place are kind of fiddly to assemble. (The mechanism that allows ejecting them is modelled in great detail… sometimes I feel less is more.)

The model is certainly complex, and it’s easy to burn out; especially if you work on a review. What I did was to pace myself: once the larger assemblies (turret interior, mudguards, hull interior) was done, I just kept coming back to the model to add the smaller details a few at a time. I did the machine gun one night, “dressed up” the engine deck the next- it’s easier to make progress one step at a time.

Object 279 (1/72 OKB Grigorov)

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I have written a review of this kit for Armorama; most of the introduction is reused for this post.

There are three 1/35 kits available for this tank, all of which were issued in recent years -so officially there are more models than actual vehicles in existence. (Something only the Tiger I has achieved to this day.*) Before the styrene versions came out almost at the same time (which makes me wonder how companies decide on what to work on next and why they always seem to decide on the same vehicle**), there was a 1/72 resin version by OKB of this extraordinary-looking tank. Frankly, it looks like the tracks were only an afterthought; you’d expect to find anti-gravity propulsion installed. (Perhaps the subcontractors were late with that project.)

*~ducks~

**these days we can all anticipate the incoming new King Tiger kits with full interiors… it’s an interesting choice to flood the market with something that someone already is producing instead of coming out with something new. This enigma, along with the tendency of Hollywood to do the same thing with movies, will always perplex me.

The tank was designed in the Kirov Plant in 1957 to resist HEAT ammunition and have good off-road capabilities (the ground pressure was less than 0.6 kg/cm2). The weird shape would also ensure that the maintenance would be a nightmare for the crew -especially if the tank threw a track. Surprisingly it was able to reach 55km/h, and had a range of 300km, which is pretty good for a heavy tank-  even more so for one with four sets of tracks. (Decreased air resistance due to the shape of the hull might have something to do with this…)

The shape of this tank was due to a second layer of shielding which covered the hull. It served multiple purposes. First of all it was supposed to make it harder to flip the tank over (nuclear blasts do tend to have some strong shockwaves). It also worked as a protection against HEAT and APDS projectiles, and against shaped charges. (I really would like to crawl into the prototype displayed in Kubnika to see what the interior looks like.) The tank was obviously equipped with CBRN protection. The main armament was a rifled, 130mm gun (M-65) with 24 rounds of ammunition, the secondary armament was a KPVT coaxial machine gun; they were stabilized in two planes.

The history of the tank was not very illustrious. Once the prototype completed all its trials (which showed a couple of problems with the track system), the program was axed by Khrushchev himself, as it was way too heavy for the requirements set for new tanks. (In short, the Soviet leadership viewed heavy tanks as outdated, and were obviously blind to the propaganda value of a weapon created apparently using alien technology.)

It took me some serious deliberation to purchase the Braille scale version of this model by OKB as it costs about the same (or more in some cases) as the 1/35 versions. In the end I’ve decided to go with it as I prefer this scale in case for large vehicles. I have a constant space shortage at home, which is the main reason my 1/144 Dora stays in her box for now.

Interestingly as I was progressing with the build, Wargaming just came out with a video on the tank itself.

The model comes in a small, sturdy cardboard box. The box art is a photo of the vehicle displayed at Kubnika; however it was seriously faded in my kit. In it we find several small Ziploc bags, and some pieces of bubble wrap which make sure that the kit arrives unharmed and undamaged.
The instructions –which are a rare thing indeed in resin model circles- are clear and computer generated. The only problem is that it’s difficult to see the images as they were pretty faded. (OKB will email you a set of instructions if you ask them ASAP, so this is not an issue.) Since the model is relatively simple, even using the faded instructions does not impact on the assembly process.

The model is made up by about 70 resin pieces and 30 PE parts. The parts are very well detailed, the flash is minimal, and the fit is excellent. One of the swing arms of the suspension was miscast, but generally the quality of resin is excellent.

The tracks are given as sets of straight resin pieces, which need to be warmed up before being shaped to fit the running gear. (I prefer hot –not too hot- water to a hair dryer for this job. Hairdryers can be surprisingly hot, and damage the resin.) The hull comes in one piece; most of the small parts make up the running gear. The muzzle break on the gun is something to be seen: it’s quite a complex shape with several openings and it’s moulded in one piece; A pretty impressive affair. The photoetched fret is very thin and very delicate; it’s very easy to bend (even crumple) the parts, which makes working with them a bit difficult.

Putting the running gear together was not very difficult; the swing arms fit into their slots remarkably well. (The small wobbling unfortunately will show when you attach the wheels, as they will be somewhat misaligned. When the suspension units are done, it’s best to use some hot water to warm the whole thing up, align everything between two rulers, and wait for the resin to cool down.

I would have preferred to put the tracks on while the assembly was off the hull but the drive wheels are separate units. This means you’ll need to glue both the running gear and the drive wheels onto the bottom of the hull first, then add the tracks. To make your life easier you can add the front section of the tracks on the suspension while they are off the hull.

Now, there was a little issue at this point: one of the sections holding the running gear did not fit into the groove on the lower hull. After a little fiddling I found the reason: it was a couple of millimeters longer than the other. Some trimming had to be done to make it fit. Another issue I’ve already mentioned: one of the suspension arms had a casting error, so it was too short to add a wheel. I made sure this section was turned inwards so it would not be seen.

The face of the drive wheels is made out of PE. As I said the PE bends very easily, so assembly was not exactly easy. (They bend readily even to the small pressure needed to push them in place.) Since the resin axles were a bit thicker than the holes in the PE parts I needed to trim them a bit using a knife. I used epoxy glue for most of these parts, since I wanted to make sure they will hold strong; this is important especially when you install the tracks.

Once the drive wheels and the whole running gear was on the tank, I added the tracks. (Warm them up, wrap them around the running gear, wait.) There are some tight fits between the running gear and the bottom of the hull, but all four sections went on eventually.

The hull is not a difficult affair to assemble: you need to add the towing hooks, the PE tiedowns for the external fuel tanks on the back, and the PE handholds. These handholds were a bit problematic: you need to fold the legs down, but there is no marking where to fold; these markings usually make it easier to fold the part in a neat right angle. Use a plyer or a hold-and-fold. The metal is very thin, so it is extremely easy to distort its shape while working with it.

The travel lock is made out of PE (not sure if you can make it functional; the gun barrel is made out of several pieces, so technically it should be possible.) The headlights and the guards for the headlights are pretty easy to install. I noticed that the metal strips for the guards are somewhat longer than necessary, so I trimmed them, and made a little fold at the ends so they stick better to the hull. The exhaust has a rectangular metallic guard around it.

The gun barrel made out of several sections, and it’s kind of hard to make all the pieces align perfectly straight. The muzzle break, as I said, looks really great.

The turret is also a simple affair There are two PE squares on the top (I think this is where they are supposed to be- it was hard to see on the instructions and the photos were not very good for that angle). The IR headlight is fixed next to the gun, I’ve prepared a couple of handholds using wire, and attached the gun barrel; that’s it. (Obviously I only primed the tank so far; it will be finished after the Christmas holiday.)

Once I had the rust-brown base coat on, I’ve sprayed some Tamiya Nato green lightened with tan, and mixed with some AK Washable agent as a test. The test was a partial success – some vigorous brushing did manage to remove some of the paint. Clearly more experiments are needed with different paint/agent ratio. Once the paint was dry I fixed everything with some varnish and added some decals from the leftovers. The decals were fixed with some Dullcote.

 

 

 

I proceeded to add oil washes, and some light ochre filters, and went on to see how I can make the tank look dirtied up without overdoing the effect.

I picked up some Tamiya weathering sticks in HobbyCraft at their latest sale, so that was the first stop. It’s a strange, almost lipstick like product (pen shaped), and direct application only deposits some non-realistic smears. Using a stiff brush to add the paste and adjusting the pattern after application with a wet brush seemed to work well, though. I used the mud version to add mud on the lower chassis and the running gear, along with the edges of the top of the tank; and I used dust to add deposited dust/dry mud onto the top. With downwards stokes I tried create a perpendicular pattern to the edges as if they were marks made by the water pouring/tickling down from the hull. I repeated the process on the turret as well although much more subtly.

Since it did not look enough (only two colors do not look very convincing) I’ve mixed up some darkish (almost black) brown mixture of pigments and matte varnish, and flicked it onto the hull with a brush and toothpick to simulate fresh mud splashes.

I’ve used some weathering effects (oil stains and diesel stains) on the running gear and the external fuel tanks, respectively), and called the tank finished.
The build was not a challenging one; in fact it was easier to build than most resin models I’ve built so far. This is the third OKB model I’ve built, and I have to say they are very well engineered models: clear instructions, good detail, and no major issues to remedy. The only real drawback is the price- for most people this would make the 1/35 offerings more attractive.