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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.

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Grim Skull Miniatures: Chaos Rotten Plague Rhino conversion

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I quite like the Warhammer 40k universe and regularly paint the odd figure here and there. The cost of larger vehicles unfortunately is very high, especially the resin Forgeworld offerings; when it comes to decide between a small Imperial Knight or a 1/35 T-54 with full interior that is considerably cheaper, not surprisingly I go with the latter. (Let’s not even mention the $4001200 battle titans.) It’s a shame, really, because there’s an awful lot of interesting stuff out there by both Games Workshop and Forgeworld.

There are alternatives, though. Mostly Ukrainian and Russian companies started to produce “alternatives” for the miniatures; they are cheaper, and more importantly, a lot of times much better than the originals. (I’ll paint a not-quite Abaddon and not-quite Mortarion figure soon, too.)

I’ve done a review of the set on ModellGeek some time ago; since then I have been working on and off on the painting of this model.

This particular conversion is for a (not quite) Death Guard Rhino, which is corrupted by the Lord of Decay- hence the pustules and blisters and cysts (not to mention the tentacles, horns, talons and other… things that stick out of this vehicle). The price is reasonably low, and it requires a Games Workshop Rhino or Chaos Rhino as a base vehicle. (I bought a built one on ebay quite cheap, and just cut it to pieces.)

The model arrived in a very nice black box; quite professionally packed. It does not contain many parts, and the assembly is really straightforward. You essentially need to replace the side, the top and the front armor plates, and the folding door on the back. (You can buy tracks separately from the company if you feel like replacing the kit tracks as well.) The fit is relatively good, but filler will be necessary between the side and top panels; fortunately in this case you can be creative, and form additional horns, protrusions, etc. to mask off the seams. The right side- where the open hatch is with the skeleton inside- is quite deep, which necessitates some surgery on the interior side wall. You will need to cut the metal door with the frame out, so that the resin piece can fit into its place.

The victim

Some of the original kit is still visible, and the contrast between the old and the new parts is quite large. Perhaps texturing these regions with some putty would help; this is what I did on the lower front plate. There is so little of the original vehicle still visible, and the contrast is so large, I can’t help to think it would have been better just to make the whole vehicle out of resin, instead of creating a conversion.

The set does not provide a commander’s cupola; I used the plastic parts that comes with the Rhino. This is not an ideal solution; the cupola that came with my kit did not fit because of all the tentacles and whatnot on the top. It also looks quite out of place since it is not visibly corrupted like the rest of the model; you would expect every part of the Rhino to be uniformly touched by the Warp. I simply reused the hatches only, and made a couple of tentacles and cysts out of green stuff.

The folding door is also somewhat weird. In a vehicle like this you’d expect that most internal space is taken up by indescribable horrors spawned by the Warp -after all, a lot of it is sticking out from every opening. Yet the inside of the folding door s perfectly clean, not to mention the crew compartment, which is unchanged from the original vehicle. Interestingly the door has the exhaust pipes on them, which are apparently open into the crew compartment.

The assembly took about an hour. I have base-coated the whole tank with Tamiya Hull Red, and then went on creating as convincingly rusty hull as I could. Yes, I understand that it’s made out of adamantium, but when it comes to a fictional metal vs demonic corruption, I think the demonic corruption wins. The Rhino is rusted and that’s that.

The painting was a long process; mostly trial and error. As I’m mostly painting armor vehicles, I definitely need to learn the “miniature style” painting with high contrast and nice blending of colors. My WH40K models tend to be painted and weathered like a scale model of a real vehicle.

First step: the base color of the ATC. Obviously it needed to be rusted. I realized very long time ago that painting something with a color named “rust” will not give a realistic result; what you need is layers upon layers corresponding rust colors, making sure they are positioned where you would expect to see them. To begig with thick armor plats tend to have deep red/brown colors; thinner parts and the edges tend to have lighter rust colors, like orange or even yellow. So this is what I did.

And what colors did I use exactly? Well, what can be more realistic than actual rust? I ordered actual iron oxide pigments available in three colors -deep brown, red and yellow (Ochre), and using these I mixed up various shades of rust. I used a sponge to apply the mixture: dab the sponge into matte varnish, dab it into the pigment mixture, and into a cloth so that most of the pigment actually comes off, and then use this on the surface of the vehicle. It’s important you don’t add too much at a time, but build up the effect gradually. I used mostly the darker shades; yellow directly only was used on edges. As you can see it from the photos the contrast between the yellow and the rest is pretty high; this was taken care of later. This was deliberate; I wanted to have some contrast left after I finished the weathering, and subsequent steps had the effect of lessening the contrast. I used several brown and yellowish filters on the hull to blend the colors together, and then rubbed metallic pigments onto certain areas. (Focused on the edges mostly, but I rubbed pigments onto the “wounds” where the metal opened up as the horns were pushing out, and also on parts of large, flat areas.)

The tusks were pained with buff first, then ivory was blended towards the tips, making a nice, soft transition between the colors. The boils and whatnot were first painted with blood red, then using brighter and brighter red and orange colors mixed with lahmian medium I added somewhat translucent layers on top. At the very end I put a yellow dot off-center onto each, then a final layer of very translucent orange to blend the colors together. Once everything was finished I went over the boils with a clear, shiny varnish to make them look wet.

The bones were first painted by white (to make then stand out), then went over them using a yellowish white (well, bone-colored) paint. The effect was further helped using dark brown washes with diluted Citadel inks, which acted both as filters (modulating the bone color), and as washes (forming shadows on the surface).

The top of the vehicle looked like a gigantic wound, so I used bright reds and orange to make it look like raw flesh. The underlying areas were painted a deep, angry red, with brighter and brighter reds (later oranges) layered on the protruding areas. Since the organic matter seemed to sweep over the metal parts, it was painted in a more brownish red to provide some transition. I accentuated the effect using bright red inks; some of the overhanging tissue was only tinted with this mixture (applied in several coats).

I was not sure what the spikes were representing, so I kept them rusty.

There were tiny, oblong shapes all over the hull; I took them as mites or other parasites, and painted them bright green- to give some contrasting color to the model.

The tentacles were somewhat of a dilemma. After considering green and flesh colors, I decided on purple. The base was dark purple (tentacle purple by Citadel’s nomenclature; the actual inspiration for the paint scheme), which was highlighted using pink purple mixed with lahmian medium to blend it in easier, to make the color somewhat translucent. Some of the thicker tentacles had suckers on them, similar to an octopus’; these were painted carefully with bright pink. Once everything dried, I covered them with heavily diluted purple ink in several coats until they looked as if the brighter colors were underlying tissue showing through a translucent skin. The effect was surprisingly good considering I was improvising.

The triple-skull mark of Nurgle was painted first with a light, bright green, that represents heavily oxidized bronze, and I added some very dark metallic bronze colors on some areas somewhat randomly. (I tried to make sure mostly the parts that are jutting out would be painted; after all we’d expect these parts to be rubbed clear of the oxide.)

The holes on the exhaust on the top were painted with a very bright green, again, to provide some contrast. The exhausts on the back were blocked with some run-off. Since we’re talking about plague and Nurgle here I decided on a green paintscheme; I tried to emulate how other paint lava and other hot materials which seem to be emitting light on their own.

The goo was first painted with the lightest, brightest green I had, and darker and darker greens were blended onto this surface, making sure that the original bright green was still visible in the deep crevices, and that the color gradually darkens. The idea was that as the goo cooled, the colors darken; hence the large dark green surfaces. The rims and the interiors of the exhaust pipes were pained bright green to simulate the green light they reflect from the radioactive/infectious goo.

Well, pretty much that’s all. I really enjoyed the painting process although it took an awful lot of time. I’ll get a couple of Death Guard marines, I’ll paint up Mortarion, and I’ll have a little happy family of plague bearing Space Marines on my shelf in no time.

 

Going deep down- the world of 1/144 armor

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This is an interesting part of the armor model world: the 1/144 kits by DLM. They are small little gems; it’s a shame that they disappeared from the market. If you have a chance, grab as many as you can. The presentation, the level of detail, the ease of assembly are all just top-notch; these kits provide a nice break from the 1000+ part 1/35 monsters I sometimes get involved with. For this scale you still get moulded-on detail that rivals some 1/72 kits, and also PE, and slide moulded gun barrels with holes in the muzzle breaks. Thankfully you don’t get individual tracklinks.

 

I’ve built several of these kits in the past: a Leopold railroad gun, a
15 CM S.I.G 33/2 (SF) Auf Jagdpanzer 38(T) Hetzer, two Tiger Is, and a Jagdpanzer IV. I’ve also built Takom’s P1000 Ratte, and the two Maus tanks that came with it. Since the Maus was not featured here before, and it finally resurfaced from the storage box it’s been languishing until now, I thought I’ll give it some time in the spotlight.

All the display boxes were bought from Ebay; they are brilliant for small 1/72 or an average 1/144 armor model.

And since I was taking photos of older builds, I took some more of the Tiger Is; hopefully the macro lens brings out their details a bit better.

OKB Grigorov Batignolles-Chatillion Char 25T (Batchat) 1/72

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One of the positive things of the game World of Tanks is that it introduced a lot of obscure vehicles to the wider audience. I’m not sure how many of us have heard of the Batignolles-Chatillion Char 25T aside from for French armor enthusiasts… and now at least 45 million people know of this vehicle. The fame did not come with scale models flooding the market (yet), so I was really happy to see that OKB issued this model in 1/72.

The Char 25T was developed by the Batignolles-Chatillon company (hence the name). Interestingly the company produced trains and locomotives; tanks were a new frontier for them. It was to be a main battle tank, designed around similar principles as the AMX-13: oscillating turret, a 90mm F-3 gun with a magazine/drum type autoloader, low silhouette, and sloped armor (80mm on the front). It featured a hydraulic suspension with six road wheels on each side. The tank was very small (5.67 meters long, 3.16 meters wide and, 2.37 tall), very light (25 tons), and not surprisingly it was highly mobile (65km/h top speed); also somewhat unsurprisingly armor was not exactly strong. It had a crew of four: a commander, a driver, a gunner and a radio operator. The design lost to the more conservative AMX-30, and hence never entered into production. Reliability issues, the oscillating turret, the autoloader (the tank needed to stop and the crew had to exit to reload the gun), and the lack of NBC (nuclear, biological, chemical) protection all played a part in the failure of the prototypes in the trials.

The only reason I know about this tank is World of Tanks; it is one of the best end-tier medium tanks in the game. (Well, was. It’s been nerfed not long ago.) It also looks quite unique, so obviously it was one of my first ever purchases from OKB. (Their models tend to be expensive, so it’s not something I do every day. Every purchase is being considered and mulled over for several weeks.)

The model is made up by over a hundred resin pieces and ten PE parts. The parts are very well detailed, the flash is minimal, and the fit is good (when I attached the side to the main hull I needed to use some filler in the front though, so it’s not perfect). The headlights come as transparent pieces, which is something I’ve never seen before in a resin model.

The tracks are given as sets of straight resin pieces, which need to be warmed up before shaped to the running gear. (I prefer to use hot –not too hot- water.) The hull and the turret come as one piece (each); most of the small parts make up the running gear. The photoetched fret is very thin and very delicate; it’s very easy to bend (even crumple) the parts; this is something to look out for. (It would be better if they were a bit sturdier) There is very little information available on this vehicle, so I cannot really comment on the accuracy of the kit; it measures up to the published measurements I could find quite well.

Normally with resin models the suspension is moulded as one part; in this case the elaborate suspension is made up by several small parts (most of the parts of the model are parts of the suspension). The assembly is not very difficult but a fine pair of tweezers is a must have. The fit is surprisingly good, but I ran into a small problem with the road wheels. Due to small misalignments in the suspension arms, the road wheels did not align perfectly; they were a bit wonky. I put the model in some warm (~50C) water and set them straight between two rulers; once the resin cooled the alignment was much better.

The tracks were also warmed up using warm water, and wrapped around the road wheels, drive wheel, return rollers and idler. Since one section will only cover about 2/3rd of the required length, two will need to be used per side.

Once the tracks were installed I glued the sides of the hull on. There was a small gap on one side which needed to be filled; nothing major there. The front part of the mudguards are PE parts which need to be gently bent. It would be nice to have a larger flap that goes under the hull to help gluing them in place.

The lights on the back and their PE covers were a bit difficult to install as the PE kept bending to the slightest touch. (The lights need to be pushed into the holes in the PE covers.) A couple of small PE parts (towing hooks, etc) were attached to the back of the hull and the resin gun lock to the front. (I managed to lose the top part of the gun lock, and somehow the headlights… We’re in the middle of moving right now, and parts do get misplaced, unfortunately.) The thinness of the PE is an issue, as it is very easy to bend or distort the pieces during handling.

The turret was pretty easy to finish: top of the fume extractor, the smoke grenade launchers, a rectangular piece of unknown function and the gun barrel had to be attached, and the tank was essentially done. The gun barrel is slightly crooked; I tried to straighten it using hot water, but gave up eventually; I did not want to make the issue worse.

 

The painting and weathering did not take long- after all, it was an experimental tank. I chose a hypothetical camo using World of Tanks as an inspiration, and used an airbrush to apply it free-hand. I did a couple of light-brown filters to blend the colors together.

I covered the model with varnish, applied the leftover decals from Trumpeter’s B1 (the subject of the very first post of this blog). I’ve used these decals for other French tanks (ARL-44) before; my French markings are now officially depleted. Another varnish layer sealed the decals (this time I used Matte). Washes, some dust applied using pigments, and some mud (again with pigments); that’s pretty much it.

The model, overall, is quite easy to build, even for beginners. The running gear/suspension is a bit difficult to align, but there are ways to correct smaller problems. The price is a bit high, but there is no other alternative of you want to build a Batignolles-Chatillion Char 25T in any scale, so there you go.

The ultimate 1/72 Luchs showdown: thoughts on the Armory, ModellTrans, Maco and Flyhawk kits

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So now I have finished building all four offerings: Armory, Flyhawk, Maco and Modelltrans; it’s time to take a stock of what I’ve learned. I would not really go into accuracy, as I could not find any books on the Luchs; all kits differ slightly from each other with respect to location of the exhaust, tools, tool boxes, Jerry cans, and so on. As I could not find the time and resources to get to the bottom of these differences I merely comment on the models themselves.

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The Modelltrans kit is an old resin model of the Luchs; it’s a bit undersized, has very few parts, good detail, and has some issues with bubbles in the resin- in other words, your average garage company resin model. It’s fast to build, but it’s quite expensive for what it is; plastic models will always be better priced. It builds into a respectable depiction of the Luchs, but it’s kind of “rough on the edges”, and does not come with the aerials.

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Hands down, the Flyhawk kit is the most detailed and the most complex model of the four; it’s essentially a miniature 1/35 model. This, of course, comes with a price: it’s also the most difficult to assemble. The crow’s feet antenna is not very convincing; the PE offered by Armory is a much better representation. (But this is the only one that comes with width indicator rods.)

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Armory’s plastic Luchs is a new kid on the block; the company only recently started to make its way into the plastic scale model market. The plastic base is somewhat basic, and the engineering is not the best; however once you get through the filling and sanding, and add all the PE, you will have a very nice, detailed model in your hands. It does require experience building models and using PE- it’s not one of those “shake the box, and the built model falls out” type of kits. However, the results are worth the effort.

Maco’s offerings are the exact opposite of the Flyhawk models: they are very well engineered and very simple models to build – in other words, they are one of those “shake the box” models. The details are still pretty good, and Maco offers a good alternative if you want to build more than one tank quickly, or if you’re still new at building 1/72 models. (Or just want to have a quick weekend project.) One thing that I need to mention is that the shape of the turret seems to be somewhat off, and you’ve got my bane of small scale models: the moulded-on tools. On the other hand you get some beautiful metal gun barrels and antennae.

All in all, the plastic offerings have things going for them; choosing one really depends on your preferences and your purpose. How much challenge do you want to face? While the Flyhawk kits can be adjusted in difficulty using the alternative options (PE vs plastic vs molded-on detail), a lot of the tiny parts cannot be avoided. The Flyhawk offerings are definitely not for beginners. It also takes considerably longer to build. Another aspect to decide is: how much the lack of PE matters for you? The details on the engine deck grille are good enough in plastic on the Maco kit, and in this scale there is an argument that it does not make much difference. (Talking about PE: only the Armory kit has the wire mesh protecting the engine grilles.) You might also want to have a metal barrel; this is not an option in the Flyhawk line of Luchs’, but you get them in the Maco kits… and so on and so forth. I’ve tried to showcase the strengths and weaknesses of all four models; it really depends on the individual builder which one he or she wants to choose.

Armory 1/72 Luchs

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This is the fourth Luchs in this series… and the third plastic one.

Let’s see…

Modelltrans Luchs
Flyhawk Luchs
Maco Luchs

Introduction -Armory’s plastic kits

The instructions are clear and easy to follow; the one gripe I had with them is that the parts are not numbered on the sprues: you get a sprue layout on the cover of the instructions, and you have to find the parts on the sprues based on it. It’s not that difficult to do, but it still is a hindrance during the build.

 

The model came in an “envelope-type” box, which opens on the top (and bottom). I personally don’t like these boxes because they aren’t very resistant but it’s a personal preference. The sprues were sealed in plastic bags alongside with the PE fret, decals and instructions. The cover image shows the tank in the middle of an engagement. The back of the box shows a set of computer generated images of the model, and the different build options.

The model is a 3-in-1 type of kit: you can build three different versions of the Luchs: early, mid, and the up-armored late versions.

Inspecting the plastic parts I found a lot of flash, and the detail was somewhat soft, and in some places missing. (Most notably one of the armored protectors for the vision slots is smooth, although it was ribbed in real life.)

The PE parts are thin enough and detailed; I liked working with them. The tank is really brought to life by the PE additions; the plastic itself only gives it a basic shape, really, and the PE gives it detail.

The decals are well printed and thin; there were no issues during application.

 

The build was relatively quick. The lower hull does not come as a single “tub”: you have to glue it together from four parts (bottom, sides, back). The top of the hull comes as one large part. Unfortunately it goes onto the sides rather than fitting into the opening on the top, which means there will be a seam-line around the superstructure that needs to be filling.

Before installing the tracks I’ve first finished most of the hull with all the PE details, added the roadwheels, and painted the hull and the mudguards in the base color (primer red) following the base color (RAL 7028 Dunkelgelb 1944). I added the tracks at this stage, attached the mudguards, and added the remaining details to the hull. These I painted with a brush.

I carefully painted the pattern using Tamiya olive green lightened with deck tan (for scale effect) with a brush. I was not particularly concerned about how even the patches were, since they would not be prominent after the whitewash; only small parts of the underlying camouflage would be visible. I did use a light brown filter to tone down the contrast a bit. The decals were added this point, since the whitewash was applied on the field, onto a vehicle already in service.

Once the basic painting was done, I sealed the paint with Testors Dullcote to protect it from the subsequent steps, and covered the whole model with AK Interactive Heavy Chipping Medium. This was followed by Tamiya flat white, and after about ten minutes of waiting I went on creating chips with a wet brush and a toothpick. The paint was nicked carefully at places using the toothpick, and I used the wet brush to enlarge these chips.

Once I achieved a decent amount of chipping and cleaned off the model with some running water, the contrast between the white and the underlying colors was really stark.

Sealed everything with Dullcote again, and picked up MIG Ammo’s washable white. I covered the model with it using an airbrush, and after it had some time to dry I created a transparent, uneven white layer over the whole tank using a wet brush. Moving the brush with a downward motion I blended everything together nicely; the paint left a translucent white layer on top of the model.

The weathering part is always a bit difficult, especially in 1/72; it’s really easy to overdo in this scale. One thing I’ve noticed is that the camera and the eye sees differently. It’s probably the trickiest part of the whole process to make sure the model looks good on screen as well as with the naked eye. As a general rule if by eye the model looks good, on photo the effects will appear somewhat overdone.

I used some heavily diluted winter streaking grime from AK Interactive as stains on the lower chassis. Different brown pigments mixed with white spirit and “splashed mud” from Vallejo was used to simulate the mud thrown up by the tracks onto the lower chassis and the road wheels. A silver pencil helped to create a worn, shiny metal look on the edges of the tracks, and gave a metallic sheen to the gun. (Normally I use it on all edges, but in this case the whitewash made it unnecessary.) I’ve used a guitar string -E string- for the whip and the crow’s feet antennae.

Well, pretty much this was it. The model was not very difficult to build (some experience with PE required), and the detail looks good when finished. The crow’s feet antenna looks especially good compared to most of the other offerings in this scale.

Interestingly all 1/72 Luchs kits have minor differences from each other: the location of the Jerry cans, the combination of changes, the shape of the mudguards, even the turret are all slightly differ from each other. Unfortunately I cannot really comment on the accuracy of these; there are not many photos available, and they might -or might not- be representative to all the tanks produced.

How to open stuck paint jars

This is going to be a short post: this is how I open the paint jars that are hopelessly stuck.

It happens with most paints which come in glass jars with metal or plastic tops: paint gets between the top and the glass, and glues the jar shut. I know I’ve picked an alternate color several times simply because I could not be bothered trying to pry a certain paint open. It’s quite prominent with Testors and Gunze paints, but Tamiya is not immune, either. (Tamiya has a better grip on the top, so it’s easier to force open.)

The solution is simple. Glass and metal/plastic have different expansion coefficients. So we’ll use physics.

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Get a small, shallow cup, and fill it with hot water to about 1-2cm deep. (The water should not be boiling; 60-70 degree Celsius should be fine.

Put the paint jar into this water upside down. Only the cap needs to be submerged.

Wait for a minute or two.

Pick it up (carefully), turn it back (obviously), and using a piece of cloth, open it.

It’s as simple as that.

 

The only drawback is that this tends to remove the label as well, since you can’t make sure nothing else but the cap will get wet during the process.

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.

Making Rust p.4 – the sponge

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An ongoing project of exploring the creation of rust.

Here are some previous posts:

  1. Lifecolor’s rust washes
  2. Iron containing paint and oxidizer
  3. Windex chipping, hairspray chipping

And now the good ole’ sponge method. I’ve used it on the T-62 wreck I have just finished.

The method is simple: get a piece of sponge/the green stuff on the top of the sponge, dab it into the paint, dab most of it off on a piece of paper, and then apply the sponge in a dabbing motion onto the surface of the model.

This can be used in several ways. Either, as I did here, you depict a badly rusted object with some paint still clinging on the surface. In this case the base coat is a mixture of rust colors (which, incidentally, were also applied using the sponge).

There are a couple of things to keep in mind: use a lighter shade of the color the item was supposed to be painted with; the sun fades everything over time (after all the vehicle in question had to be sitting there for a long time to rust like this), and the final color will darken anyway, since you will be using filters and washes on the vehicle. It’s also a good idea to use several tones of the base color -green in this case. Start with larger patches of the lightest, and use consequently darker shades with smaller and smaller patches.

You can do it the other way around as well: depict some rust spots/chips on a painted surface. In this case you use rust colors (and make sure you use different tones, along with the lightened version of the base color) over the base color of the model. In this case make sure you have hardly any paint left in the sponge, and also be sure not to use it in the same position (so that the created spots are not uniform). I’ve used this method with the SU-122 and SU-76.

If you want to make it a step even further, use a lighter color of the base to create somewhat larger chips, and use a brush (or keep using the sponge) to fill them in with much less rust color -this way you can depict a moderately chipped surface easily. (The method used on the mudguards of the T-44 -a combination of sponge-on-sponge -for the mudgards- and brush-on-sponge -for the smaller chips.)

 

Of course, you can just let go of the sponge, and do everything with a fine brush; you get more control, but you have to be careful about being random, just like in the case of this T-55.

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All of these techniques should be done sparingly, and in several sessions. (It’s useful to come back and take a look at what you’ve achieved with a fresh eye.)

 

 

 

Obviously, these techniques are better used combined; with the T-62 I used the hairspray technique, the sponge, filters and brush. I’ve also used rust washes (with an airbrush), pigments mixed with Tamiya’s flat coat (coming up later), and oils blended with brushes. And yes, I did use some dedicated AK Interactive products, too, like different dark washes, and the light rust wash. (I’m turning to the dark side here.)

 

 

Addendum…

 

I’m making a difference! Awesome 🙂

Someone got inspired to try this technique based on this post.

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