Category Archives: Trumpeter

Hotchkiss 39(H) with Wurfrahmen (Trumpeter 1/35)


Again: time to revisit an old build, since the previous posts covered a new Trumpeter kit.

I’ve already mentioned the tendency of the Germans to stick an 88 on anything that could carry it; they had a similar affectation towards Wurfrahmen rockets as well -they went on anything that moved: captured tanks, personnel carriers, half-tracks, anything. (I think the only combination they have not considered was sticking the Wurfrahmen rockets onto an 88…)

The H39 was an excellent platform for modifications, since they captured a lot in France. They were small, and quite inadequate in both armament and armor for the modern (a.k.a 1940) battlefield, however, they could be modified to no end, as they were well-made, and easy to maintain. I’m not aware of any report on the effectiveness of this weapon platform; in theory, it should have worked relatively well. After all, the tank is fast, well armored to be protected against small-arms fire and shrapnel, and had a small caliber tank gun, which could be used to defend itself if need came be. These tanks could -in theory- get close to the enemy, let loose a volley or rockets, and hastily depart with relative impunity. Then again; I might be wrong.

Well, this kit brings up some memories… An old-school Trumpeter model, when they were still kind of mediocre, but very cheap, but after their “not-so-good” (Type 59, anyone?) phase. Since then a lot of water has passed under the bridge, and Trumpeter became a serious competitor to Tamiya, Dragon and all the other “big ones”… (This can also be seen in the price of their kits.)


The model had no real issues, and went together like a charm. After assembly I used Surfacer 500 to roughen up the hull; this gave an impression of the cast metal surface of the armor.



After the usual primer coat, the tank was painted with Tamiya Panzer Grey, the seams and some casting imperfections filled, and painted again.



I think the track is slack a bit… we get enough vinyl tracks for two tanks.



This is where I wanted to experiment a bit. I just got my airbrush recently back then (well, the compressor, to be honest; I’ve had an airbrush since I was 14, but I never had any means to use it). Ten years later, I got the chance, when some old lady in Boca Raton sold her unused compressor for peanuts. What I did was to dabble on different colors, which -I hoped- would show slightly through the next layer of panzer grey -kind of like a proto-pre-modulation technique. Had it worked, it would have looked awesome. As it was I went in with way too much paint for the next session, so everything got (almost) covered up. When you look at the tank in a good light, you kinda see the differently modulated grey. One thing is for sure: I’ll have to do some more experiments with this.


It does look impressive, though.


The final coat and subsequent filters prepared from oil paints, made the model look very dark; back then I was not aware how much filters and washes darken the model…



The rockets are held in disposable wooden frames, which are held in place by a light metallic frame. Again: there were no issues with construction; the results are actually quite good.



1/35 Trumpeter 1K17 part 2. Painting and Weathering



I’ve elected not to paint the vehicle into the three-tone camo scheme that the surviving 1K17 has; I simply don’t like it much. However, I did like the Soviet crest that came with the decals. Since I found a very hazy black-and-white photo of the prototype which displayed it sporting only one color, I jumped to the (not unreasonable) conclusion that it was painted in good ole’ Russian green. My model, therefore, depicts one of the 1K17s in its original green camo, during the last years of the Soviet Union. (I just had to use the crest to be honest.)

The running gear had to be assembled, painted and weathered before finishing the hull.


All the lenses and periscopes were masked, the tracks covered with tape, and on with the green paint.




The hatches, grab handles, and other protruding parts were highlighted with a lighter version of the same green color. (The contrast has been decreased by the subsequent filters later.) At this stage I added the decals, as I wanted them to “blend in” with the weathering steps. Dullcote was used to fix the decals, and after a day of waiting (to make sure the lacquer coat sets properly), I carried on with filters.

Two layers of yellowish filters, and some streaking later the model looked quite close to finishing… I thought.



I’ve always found it ironic to work on an even, smooth paintjob, and then spend the rest of the weathering to make it uneven… but this is what we do I guess.

After the filters I’ve used a burnt umber and black oil mixture to create very light streaks; I’ve repeated this process about three times, making sure the different hatches, etc are streaked differently than the background. I’ve used the same color for some light pin washes. And then came the dirt.



As with everything, the key here is patience. You have to build up layers and layers of very subtle dust, rust and mud; even if you think you cannot see the bottom layer, it will add to the complexity of the weathering -hence it will look more real. (It’s a different question, of course, if it really is real -after all, most armored vehicle look quite dull and boring compared to their scale models. No dramatic rust streaks, no artistic paint chipping… but it’s a discussion for another time.)


The top of the turret got sprayed very lightly with Mig’s washable dust; I thought I’d give it a try. (It’s actually quite nice, but to be honest, does not give much more than your average pigments/chalk dust suspended in water.) I used the same method to carefully “dust” the side-skirts as well. (I held the tank at angle, and made sure only the lower part of the sideskirts got the paint; I’ve did the same with the lower part of the turret as well.)


The next couple of layers on the side skirts were some darker brown pigments, and some black at the exhaust. I’ve carefully added them using a brush; what sticks, sticks – this way you can build up the effect in a controlled manner.


At the very last step I’ve flickered some AK Interactive Earth Effects (again: an impulse buy which I wanted to try) using a stiff brush and a toothpick. The results were somewhat transparent mud splashes, which blended in with the rest of the layers underneath. (I’ve tried to use this product as “mud”, but it just painted everything a suspicious brown color. The best mud effects I’ve done are still the ones where I used different colors of brown mixed with water and talcum powder. Alternatively I’ve used actual mud as well. I suspect I’ll need to find out how the AK product is supposed to be used.)


I’ve used lighter brown pigments on the upper part of the chassis, and on the sides of the turret to depict dust deposits and streaks. I’ve used some Mig Washable dust to make sure the crevices and nooks have some dust as well. Metallic surfaces were depicted using metallic pigments; Tamiya has those little make-up kits, which are brilliant to apply these. (The gun especially needed some treatment, but all the edges, the hatches, and in some areas, even the sides got some pigment. Essentially, you rub some filter on where you expect the surface to be worn.)


The last step was to add a couple of leaves to the splashguard in front; these come from some tree in the backyard (shamefully as a biologist I have no clue about plants). The dried seed-pod falls apart into seeds and these little leaf-like structures, which look like maple leaves.


And that’s it -here’s a real-life laser tank, courtesy of the Soviet Union.

1/35 Trumpeter 1K17 Szhatie Part 1.


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.
source: http:/

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.


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.)






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.)





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.


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.


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.




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.)


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.



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.


Dryfitting… the model is taking shape nicely.


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.)



More dryfitting…



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



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