Category Archives: world of tanks

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

Well, the long awaited 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.

The tale of the four Luchs’ – the Maco Pz.Kpfw. II Luchs

Modelltrans’ Luchs

Flyhawk’s Luchs

…and still to come: Armory’s Luchs!

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These years seem to be the golden years of scale models. Vehicles that have not been available or only available in the form of limited resin kits suddenly get a lot of attention. The Pz.Kpfw. II. Luchs was one of these vehicles. I’ve built the ModellTrans version five years ago, inspired by the online game World of Tanks, and now, in a very short span of time we get not one but three Braille scale plastic versions of the tank.

I have reviewed Flyhawk’s 1/72 Luchs offerings before, and I was really curious what the other Luchs kits are like. This review will be about the up-armored Maco offering; I’ll comment on the differences between this kit and the Flyhawk kit here and there during the review. (The up-armored Luchs is essentially the same as the basic Maco Luchs with a small fret added; anything I say here is relevant to all Maco kits.)

The breakdown of the model is quite old-school: we have a “traditional” lower hull assembly from four parts (two sides, a bottom and the back). The suspension units and the swing arms holding the roadwheels are already moulded onto the sides. There is an interesting solution for the last pair of braces on the mudguards: they are moulded onto the back panel. The mudguards will need to be slid under the brackets. Be careful not to cut them off; first I thought they were some sort of plastic overflow during the moulding process. As most of the finer details, the back light is moulded onto the left brace.

The added parts are on a separate sprue: the tool box from the back of the mudguards, the jerry cans for the turret sides (these were moved to the back of the tank in the Flyhawk up-armored Luchs kit), smoke grenade launchers, some extra boxes on the back of the turret, a metal armor plate for the lower hull on the front, the perforated vision block protector, and additional track sections protecting the frontal hull. Without this sprue you can build the early version of the model easily.

The interweaving road wheels are done the same way as DML handled them with their kits: the two inner rows of wheels form one part each, onto which you’ll have to attach the outermost row as individual wheels. This solution makes assembly much simpler, and it’s a great solution to avoid any misalignment. The pattern on the road wheels is very well replicated, and the wheels are very thin, which is probably quite true to scale. (Although it’s a conjecture on my part since I have no access to a real vehicle, and neither have I found any information on the thickness of the wheels anywhere.)

The drive wheel is nicely detailed, and the plastic is a tad thicker than the Flyhawk kit’s- this is actually a good thing, because it can easily bend when you are trying to install the tracks on the Flyhawk model. The tracks come as link-and-length, and they are very easy to assemble. (They are probably the easiest I’ve had so far in 1/72.)

The upper hull and the mudguards come as one piece. The model is really “traditional” in this sense as well: the sides of the hull will need to be fitted as separate parts due to the details (viewing ports) that need to be there; no slide-moulds for this kit. The fit is remarkably good, though, so no problems there.

The model does not come with many PE parts: we get the top of the German “crow’s foot” antenna, and that’s it. We also get a couple of brass items: the rod part of this antenna, another whip aerial, and a turned barrel. (The thin metal aerial with the “crow’s foot” looks much more convincing than Flyhawk’s version of plastic rod combined with the metal top.)

The tools -with the exception of the jack, the fire extinguisher, and the shovel- are moulded onto the mudguard; this is something I’m not very keen on. (I prefer painting them separately before attaching them onto the model.) The shovel is a pretty simple affair; it’s probably better to replace it from the spares bin. The model does not have a width indicator; you should get a PE one (Dan Taylor modelworks does a set), or fashion one from stretched sprue. They were too fragile in the Flyhawk kit that I just used PE aftermarket ones instead of trying to clean them up. The tool boxes are slightly different than in the Flyhawk kit, and their locations are not exactly the same, either- again, these could be simply because the models were based on different production versions.

The turret is made out of five parts; the plastic barrel is molded on the top section. Interesting solution (both the assembly of the turret and the gun barrel), and it works. You have an option for a metal barrel, which is nicely detailed. The only imperfection I found with the kit was the grab handle on the back: it was broken and bent during transit. (I ended up not changing it.) The other issue I have with the turret is the almost perfectly rectangular shape of the top of the turret; I think it’s a bit larger than it should be- it’s certainly larger than the Flyhawk’s turret. (Which is also smaller than the ModellTrans turret). The shape is not the same, either. The Flyhawk kit’s turret is more hexagonal: the back and the front are a bit narrower than the middle. In the Maco kit it’s more rectangular. It also looks like the top is a bit larger than on the drawings I found online. The big question is which one is correct. I don’t have access to an actual tank to check, and the photos I found were taken mainly from eye level -for obvious reasons. (If there’s one in Bovingdon I’ll keep an eye out next time I get there.)

The top turret hatch (the commander’s) can be opened. The hatch has interior details, but the rest of the turret does not; it’s probably best to put a figure in it if you leave it open. The back large, rectangular hatch cannot be opened.

The assembly was about two hours -tops; it’s a very well engineered, easy to assemble kit. I tried something new (for me) in this build, and made the whole running gear/track assembly as a single sub-assembly; the whole shebang can be removed for painting and weathering. (I think I’ll use this approach in the future more often.)

The painting was a bit more difficult, as I am not really good with spraying 1/72 freehand camo. I’ve base-coated the model with primer red, and used Mig Ammo’s Dunkelgelb. Obviously neither my airbrush nor my skills were up to the challenge of making thin sprayed on lines, but here I had an idea of pure genius. (If I can be as bold as to call it that.) The Ammo acrylic paints form a cured surface; they are very different from the Tamiya paints. And, as we know from experimenting with the Windex chipping method, Tamiya paints are dissolved by ammonia… I simply made up a 2-3% ammonia solution, and used a brush to carefully clean up the overspray.

Job done.

This is something definitely worth remembering; as long as the base layer is different (either enamel, or, in this case, Mig’s Acrylic paint), you can clean the Tamiya top layer up easily. (I did not take a photo after applying the green, but imagine the yellow areas having a greenish oversrpay all over.)

The weathering steps further helped with the camo issues. Some dust (pigments mixed with water and some surfactant sprayed onto the model), washes all made the base color a bit darker, and helped to fade the green patches a bit. The silver pencil really helped making the model look like a chunk of metal.

I’ve used different colors of mud (in this case I used Vallejo’s and AK’s sets, not pigments). The key is to first use the lighter colors on a larger area (both flicking it on, and by applying with a brush directly), representing the dried under-layer, and then add the darker shades, representing the still wet mud. With a brush moistened with the appropriate solvent (water in case of Vallejo, white spirit with AK) you can -and should- adjust the effect before the layer dries.

Conclusion

The Flyhawk kit is an incredibly detailed, albeit complex model, which will challenge the model builder. The Maco kit is a very well detailed, well engineered, easy to assemble model. Sure, it does not pack as many PE parts and tiny plastic bits, but it does make the build less of a challenge, and the results are still nice. The moulded on detail is convincing, and it is nice to have a model that is a breeze to build. In my subjective opinion it is on the same level as the Revell 1/72 Famo in the quality of plastic, ease of assembly and level of detail. (In other words: pretty darn good.)

It comes with a metal gun barrel, and two metal aerials -things the Flyhawk kit lacks. On the other hand it does not have a PE engine deck grille unfortunately.

In short: if you want to go all-out, and have a challenging build, go for the Flyhawk one. If you want a good, easy to build model, which builds fast, choose the Maco model; in this fortunate case we have an abundance of choice when it comes to this vehicle.

Coming up: Armory’s offering.

DML 1/35 Panzerkampfwagen II Sd. Kfz. 121 Ausf F. with interior

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Another build long in the box, waiting to be finished. The same story, really: I moved over to the UK from Florida, and had to box everything up; this guy was waiting six years to be finished. (And some parts are still missing- like the wooden block for the jack-, since I can’t find the box I put them. Yet.) I was in the same box as the Pnz I, so it was fitting to put them into the same display box as well… With the Panther, that’s three tanks down with interior, and a lot more to go.

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The DML kit is amazing; I can wholeheartedly recommend it to anyone. The detail is just great, the model is easy to assemble; if you want a 1/35 PnzII ausf F with interior, this is the kit you want to buy.

 

I only really had to take care of the weathering: pigments, washes, filters. I did not want to go overboard; I liked the relatively clean look of the tank.

I used the usual German Grey by Tamiya back in the days, but a little blue filter really made the color look good.

 

Now I only have the Tiger I, Tiger II, Panzer III, Panzer IV, Panzer 38(t) to finish and I’ll have all the German tanks of the war with interior…

Flyhawk Luchs 1/72 part 2.

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Well, it’s been a long time coming: I just realized I’ve forgotten to finish the Flyhawk Luchs build review I started a while ago. My bad.

So, as a reminder, here’s the kit:

 

And here’s the building process:

 

OK, now onto painting.

I managed to snap the width indicator rods, so I replaced them with a PE set by Dan Taylor Modelworks (I got them from the Milicast website if interested).

The first layer was a primer- simply used a spraycan of grey primer. While they are easy and fast to use, there is always a danger of flooding the details with paint; I think from now on I’ll use my airbrush to apply primer. (Primer is not strictly necessary: modern acrylic paints are pretty good at sticking to the surface without it, but I still prefer it as it will provide an uniform surface. If you use dark primer, it serves as a pre-shade as well.)

I used Mig Ammo’s dunkelgelb, and this time I followed the instructions. The first time I used these paints I assumed they’d work like any acrylic paint I used before, and was frustrated when they did not. After seeing their youtube tutorial, I was able to actually use it correctly. Well, read the manual is the take home message from this. I’ve found these paints to be really good, by the way. Right now I’m torn between these and the trusty Tamiya paints. (Tamiya gives some amazingly flat finish, so there are definite advantages.)

I added some pigments mixed with plaster to the lower chassis to simulate mud, installed the running gear and the tracks, and proceeded with the camouflage. (Well not strictly in this order, but for the narrative’s sake let’s pretend.)

Anyhow. This step was fine; the next, however, was a fateful one.

I hand painted the camouflage.

And I failed to lighten the camo colors to a suitable level… Disaster struck, in other words.

The issue was that I, for some reason, failed to appreciate the scale effect: namely that the same colors look much darker on a small model than on a large vehicle. I also use the base color normally with the darker colors to lessen the contrast; otherwise you’ll end up with a very strongly contrasting, very unrealistic paintjob (don’t even get me started on the obvious brushwork; the spots should be airbrushed, but in this scale it’s a tad difficult).

Which I did. (Apologies for the wildly varying photo quality -living in a small London apartment makes setting up the photobooth a choir, and sometimes I just skip it if I only have to snap a photo or two.)

As you can see the results are toy-like; on a real tank these colors would blend in with each other. Filters are an excellent way to blend them together, but if the contrast is too high, they will not be as effective. On the photos with a incorrectly set white balance (the yellowish ones) you can see the effects of several light dark brown filters; some of the contrast disappeared.

 

At this point I put the tank in a box and scrubbed its memory out of my mind. The Flyhawk kit is really a feat of model kit engineering, essentially a shrunken 1/35 model, and it was not a pleasant thought that I made a mess of the paintjob.

The next breakthrough came with an idea: use some washable dust (again by Mig Ammo). Since I had nothing to lose at this part. A very light mist of the paint actually brought the whole camo scheme together: suddenly the tank looked much better (something I dare to present in front of others).

 

ModellTrans 1/72 Pnz.Kpfw II Ausf L Luchs

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Well, here’s to a Luchs bonanza… Since I’ve been reviewing some of the latest Luchs offerings in plastic, here’s a trip to memory lane, when the Luchs was only available in resin…

(I just noticed I did not finish the Flyhawk review… it shall be done in the next post, I promise.)

 

I fell in love with the tank playing World of Tanks; it’s a ridiculously overpowered little terror of a tank in the game. It was natural to try to get it in a scale model as well. Back then, in 2011 the only available version was the ModellTrans in 1/72. (Come to think of it Armory might have had one, but I’m not sure.) Little did I know that three company will start churning out plastic versions as well -more on those later.

The assembly was pretty easy: the tank had approximately five pieces altogether. I’ve changed the resin gun barrel for a metal one, but that was my only improvement on the model. The kit sadly does not come with the crow’s foot antenna, and has no width indicators, so I’ll have to get those fixed once I find the model again. (It’s in storage right now.)

The detail is OK, a bit on the rough side. There are some bubbles; nothing unexpected in a resin kit.

 

 

I went with the German grey version, and painted it by hand. I’m not very happy with how the paintjob turned out to be, but it is what it is; I was improving. I painted relatively large paint chips with a lightened version of the base color, and used some rust to show wear-and-tear.

Some pigments were used to depict dust, and I declared the tank ready to go. I mounted it onto a cheap base (with a plastic cover to protect it from dust), and the little Luchs went into the dark depth of a cardboard box.

DML 1/35 Panzerkampfwagen I Ausf A with full interior

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Well, this is one of those old projects, too… I started this model back when I lived in Florida, about 2007.

If you follow this blog you’ll know I have a fetish for interiors – and I was ecstatic that DML issued a bunch of models with full interior, so obviously I had to buy them. (I decided to get all the German tanks from the war with complete interiors. The Panther is done -sort of-, Pnz I-II are done, and I have the rest waiting. I’m also building as many world war and cold-war Russian tanks with interiors as possible, too.)

(Tristar had issued a couple as well; most of them I have waiting in my mother’s attic.)

This and the PnzII was mostly finished by the time I had to pack everything up and move back to Europe to do my degree. A couple of months back I picked up the box containing these kits, and brought them back with me to the UK to finish them up. Some parts are missing regrettably, but hopefully they’ll come around.

Regardless I declared them finished.

 

Mirage Hobby (72627) 76,2mm “Leningrad” SPG

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Ever since I started to play World of Tanks I have been partial to the SU-26. It is tiny little Russian SPG in the game with considerable fame (until they nerfed it). It had a fully rotating tower, it looked funky, and it had an amazing rate of fire- what’s not to like? Since I liked the in-game vehicle, I was trying to find it in scale model form. The SPG itself is quite unknown (only 14 were built on the basis of the T-26 light tank), but I was delighted to find something similar in polystyrene…

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Enter Mirage Hobby.

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The SPG looks somewhat similar to the beloved SU-26, although the gun shield is most definitely not the same. I debated if I should build it out of the box, or modify the kit to resemble the SU-26, but the forces of caution won- I did not modify the kit.

The model went together without any problems; no major fit issues. The detail is reasonably good -better what I expected, in fact. The tracks are rubber band style, and the suspension is surprisingly good for this scale.

The painting was done with brush only. I used Citadel paints, since back then I was living in a tiny room surrounded by all my possessions in boxes. The mud and dust was applied using the good old drybrushing technique and the different earth shades offered by Citadel. (I was writing up my thesis, and rented a very small room to save on money. This meant most of my modelling equipment, paints and pigments were packed away.)

This is the finished product in a display case:

I’m seriously thinking about ordering another kit to do the necessary changes for an SU-26.

1/72 Pz.Kpfw.VII Lowe (Armory)

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Well, this has been a long, arduous trip. It was one of those models where you lose inspiration, you make mistakes, and it feels more and more frustrating to spend time on, rather than on a more rewarding project -and not because of any fault of the model itself. It was just one of those builds I guess. I had no clear conception where I want to end up, I made some mistakes, and it felt like a choir trying to push forward. The end result however, was surprisingly nice. So this is the story of the poor, neglected Lowe.

The Löwe was a 90 ton super heavy tank, which was planned -but never built- by Nazi Germany. It was superseded by the even heavier Maus- which actually did get built. Along with the super heavy members of the Entwicklung series, these gigantic tank design programs demonstrate some of the lunacy of the direction WWII tank design took to in Germany during the second half of the war: embarking on even more and more ambitious tank projects in search for a war-winning superweapon, consuming valuable resources and manpower, while the fronts were collapsing all around them. It did give us some nice-looking tank models, though, so there is some silver lining.

Disclaimer: I’ve used my review in Armorama for some of the text.

 

 

 

The plastic parts are well done, apart from some minor problems. Overall I found the quality of parts, the detail, etc. on par with the Eastern Express/UM/Roden offerings: not very good, but not bad, either. The detail, in general, is good; certainly not soft, but don’t expect DML quality. There is very little flash. The model could use some extra detailing; one of the things I would have liked to do was to replace the periscope covers with photo etched ones. (They are simple molded-on blocks. Armory produces excellent quality periscope covers for the King Tiger, which would probably serve well as substitute.) The one thing I really missed is the depiction of the interlocking armor plates on the upper hull. The hull was (to be) originally constructed by welding slabs of armor together, and the points where these armor plates meet should be visible (you can see this on the hull of the Tiger, and Tiger II, for example). It would have been nice to have these details molded onto the hull. It’s possible to carve them out, but I decided not to bother with them. Some parts you will have to create yourself; you will need some wire for the towing cables, for example. (You can get some wire used to hang pictures from art stores.)

 

The only real problem I found was the engine deck. The grills have several casting imperfections (see photo above), where plastic got into the perforated parts; if you want to open them up, you will have to work very carefully with a very thin scalpel. I attempted, but quickly decided to leave them as they were- did not want to risk the delicate plastic detail. I assume the vehicle would have had screens over the engine deck, just as the Tiger I and Tiger II did; these would have been great additions to the model. (I tried to find aftermarket 1/72 scale Tiger II grille screens, but the only one set I managed to find was sold out everywhere.)

The tracks are flexible, and made out of several segments. The detail is somewhat soft on the inner side; again not a big problem. This solution of segmented flexible tracks is an interesting combination of the link-and-length plastic tracks and the “rubber band” style tracks. It makes it easier to install them, but alignment is a problem – in fact it is kind of a nightmare. A set of PE tracks would have been really nice (although this is a bit too much to ask for this price I admit), or at least some plastic alternatives. All in all, the kit could use some more brass. As for tracks and engine deck grilles I’m happy to report that Armory has came out not long ago with an updated version of this kit, which alleviates all these issues.

Finally, the modeller gets an option of building a “historical” model (whatever it means in this context), or the World of Tanks version of the vehicle (you get the very characteristic muzzle break from the game, and a different engine hatch on the back panel).

Assembly issues

Instructions are well done, and easy to follow, but the first part of the build is a bit challenging if you follow them. The hull has to be assembled from multiple parts (as usual in these kits). The issue is that if you follow the instructions, the hull parts will not fit. Once you assembled the “tub” that makes up the lower part of the hull, you are supposed to glue the fenders onto the sides, and finally place the upper part of the hull on top of this. The plastic parts are on the thick side, and the guiding ridges are not perfectly placed onto the fenders. Despite of how small these differences are, they do add up. When you put the lower and the upper part of the hull together, there will be a gap on the front where these two halves should meet.

The best –and quite easy- way to get around this problem is to do some surgery first, and to deviate from the instructions. First, thin the sides of the top part of the hull from the inside a bit (for an easier fit into the grooves molded onto the mudguards). Glue the back panel, the top and the bottom parts together first (parts 1, 24, 35), creating the overall shape of the tank (see photos) without the sides.

This way the top and bottom will touch in the front. This is the time to use some filler to make sure the attachment points on the back and the front are smooth, and there are no seams anywhere.

Sand off the guiding ridges from the side parts (parts 34, 36) of the hull, and glue them in place. Cut away the guiding ridges from the sides of the fenders (parts 23, 25). It is necessary, as they are supposed to go on top of the side panels, locking together with the ridges on those parts, fitting between the two hull halves. Unfortunately there is not enough space. The fenders themselves are not thin enough to fit, but this will not be an issue if you remove these ridges. (It would have been more fortunate if the fenders were made of PE.) Glue the fenders in place, and you are almost finished with the build.


The other issue I had with the kit was that the attachment of the back panel is a bit unfortunate. Usually the top of the hull goes over the back panel, covering it. This follows the original way of construction, and does not break the upper surface with an extra seam. In this kit, however, the back panel is placed behind the top part, creating an extra seam on the top of the hull. This, unfortunately, needs to be eliminated with filler.

 

The turret has a strange, round shape, which is very uncharacteristic of the usual angular German designs. It is made out of three parts: the main part of the turret (part 2), the frontal bit under the gun mantlet (part 6), and the bottom part, which will not be seen (part 17). This bottom part has two invaginations which should fit with the two little pegs molded onto the smaller, frontal part of the turret, but they are too small for the actual parts. You will have to enlarge them with a scalpel. It’s not a major surgery, and as it will be hidden under the turret, it will not impact on how the model will look. The rest of the kit falls together without any problems whatsoever.

I have finished the model to the point of weathering for this review. A couple of details are missing (the towing lines, for example, as I will need to fashion one later). Photos of the finished model will be posted in the World of Tanks campaign forum.

 

Painting

I’ve given the tank an uniform German grey color, before attaching all the equipment, tools, etc to the hull.

 

 

 

At this point I kind of lost my motivation to go ahead. I had other projects, and I felt a bit stalled; I was not sure what direction I would like to take the model.

After spending a year in a box (I’ve moved to London, I’ve had other worries) I dusted the Lowe off, and gave a hard thought of what sort of a paintjob I wanted to give it. I settled with the octopus-pattern, which I’ve seen on some fictional 1946 designs. The build stalled even further as I had no idea how to achieve this finish…

The next breakthrough was when I spotted a punch set in a charity shop; I managed to make little rings out of masking tape. They were not exactly good, but I went ahead, nevertheless as I wanted to get the painting over with.

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The results were disappointing to say the least. The masking tape rings were not good enough, and I’ve used Mig’s paints for the first time without reading about them. I assumed they are to be used the same manner as Tamiya paints; well, I was wrong. Nevertheless  at this point all I saw was that the paint behaved weirdly, and I really, really hated it. (Since then I actually learned to use it properly.)

The other thing I’ve failed to consider in my rush to finish the build was the scale effect: the model had a really bad, very strong contrast. (The colors should have been “toned down” in this scale.) Needless to say I went on working on more successful projects; nobody likes to be reminded of mucking things up.

The next step -after standing like this in my “half-finished” box, I’ve decided to give it a winter whitewash; to use the model for practising -and to finish it finally; and this I did. I’ve covered the Lowe with dullcoat, and used Tamiya white in several light, irregular layers. About 30 minutes later I’ve brought out my ammonia-containing cleaning product, and proceeded to do some practice on the Windex chipping method. This relies on the fact that ammonia dissolves Tamiya paints, and by preparing a 2-3% solution you can carefully remove some of it with a brush. (It’s a process that can be controlled surprisingly well.) It creates much subtler chips than chipping solutions/hairspray technique.

Weathering

Once the whitewash was on and made look worn, I was in the finish. The model finally looked like a proper model, all past mistakes corrected or hidden away, and even the octopus camo pattern looked good under the whitewash. The emotional roller-coaster was high again. Some white pigments (chalk ground up) in water was used on the fenders and the back of the engine compartment to simulate accumulated snow.

Since it was a winter vehicle I wanted to make it looked dirtied up. Winter slush is dark, almost black. I’ve used oil paints as a slurry, and to make it look even dirtier and disgusting I’ve put some green in the mixture as well. I’ve used MiniArt’s painting guide to the SU-122 as an inspiration: the winter camo (“Rudolph, the red topped SPG”) option is quite dirty and covered in this dark, blackish much.

I dabbed the oils on using a large brush, and used a clean, wet brush to “wash back”, and remove the excess from the top part of the hull, and other regions where I judged the dirt to be too much. The brush then -since it had some pigments trapped in it already- was dabbed onto the turret and other “lightly” soiled areas.

Essentially this was it. The moral of this story is essentially this: despite of all my efforts to mess it up, I managed to make something resembling a presentable tank out of this model.

 

 

Cromwell Models T29 Heavy Tank 1/72

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I have a confession to make: in the past I did not know much about post-war US armor. (I hope my sins can be forgiven.) I thought it was all Pattons, and they did not look particularly interesting, and the designations were confusing. Little did I know. The number of experimental, light, medium and heavy tanks produced before, during and after the war by the US is a largely untapped source of amazing-looking models. World of Tanks has helped to popularize these vehicles, which, I suspect, is the reason for recent plastic releases of the M6 and T54E1 (I know they are not perfect, but they are steps in the right direction). Most of these tanks are still only available by small resin manufacturers working in Braille scale, if available at all. Once I’ve realized that the T29 actually exists, and thatCromwell Models is producing a model of it, I had to get one… Considering the size of the tank I’d probably not buy a 1/35th scale offering even if there was one available apart from a really expensive resin version.

The T29 project was started in response to the appearance of the German heavy tank, the Tiger II. US planners wanted something that could be used against these gigantic, heavily armored and armed tanks, as nobody knew back then exactly how big of a threat they’d pose once the US engaged the German armed forces in the Continent. As it turned out not much, since they were never produced in sufficient numbers.

The T29 was based on the T26E3: the hull was lengthened; it was given a thicker armor (279mm at the thickest points), an upgraded engine, and a new turret with a 105mm main gun. The turret featured a very prominent coincidence rangefinder, which protrudes from both sides, giving the tank a very unique look. The weight of the new tank was 60 tons.

After the war ended, the T29 (and its brother the T30) development and production was put on hold, and it never entered regular service. Even though the tank was not really a successful design, it wins in my opinion just based on looks alone: it is one of the best looking tanks ever made.

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The T29 came in a simple Ziploc bag; despite of this, nothing was broken. The moulding quality is fine, even though the details are incredibly delicate. (I’m really impressed with how the suspension, road wheels and tracks are molded as one unit with the hull.) There is some flash to trim, but this is to be expected in every resin model, and easy to deal with. The moulding quality is good; no bubbles or imperfections were apparent on my model. (Only on the bottom of the hull. These can be easily removed, but since they won’t be seen I did not bother.)

The model does not come with instructions, which makes the identification of most of the smaller bits quite difficult. (I admit since I don’t have proper references -books-, I have given up after a while. I looked up walk around photos and as a last resort I used World of Tanks, but I still have a lot of parts left over I could not place.

As mentioned the hull comes as one piece, with the suspension and the tracks already mounted. The tracks are very delicate, and really detailed; be sure not to break the extremely thin cleats handling the model. There is some clean-up necessary under the tracks, between the road wheels, as the complex mould means there will be imperfections in the hidden areas. I’m not even sure how you can prepare so complex assemblies in one piece.

You also get a lot of spare track sections; should you break one or two of those cleats, you can always replace them using the extras. I’ve managed to break some as I handled the model. I did leave them like that when I took the photos of the finished kit but I’ll fix them up later before the model is placed into a display box.

The model looks accurate, and measures up against the dimensions I have found online (this is where proper references would be indispensable). It also measured it up to a 1/72 scaled picture printed out from Blueprints.com very well. In short the basic size and proportions seem to be fine.

The building

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The building is simple; after gluing the main parts together, you add the small bits (that you can identify), and you’re done. The fit is perfect, so I did not have to perform major surgeries. I decided to glue the turret in place almost in the beginning, as it is a heavy piece of resin, and managed to drop it a couple of times. (The blue tac I used to fix it onto a paint jar kept giving way…) This is when the commander’s periscope broke in half; this was the point when I gave up and just glued the damned thing into place.

All the hatches can be positioned open, but since there is nothing underneath, I elected to close them. (It would be too much to ask for an interior in this scale. But it would be awesome nevertheless.) I’ve suffered another minor accident during the build, and one of the covers of the rangefinder optics has disappeared; this is somewhat embarrassing in a review… the carpet monster has gotten its due in sacrifice.

When you look at the reference photos available online from the Patton Museum, the tank looks brown and faded from standing in the open for decades; however I wanted to show a newer tank that has been in heavy use in the field.

Painting

I used a pale yellow color (dunkelgelb, but the color is really not important) over the initial grey primer coat, and then misted several coats of lightened Tamiya olive drab over it to give a faded, used look. This has given it a more greenish color. (“Olive drab” is really a generic term, as there were a lot of variations depending on the manufacturer, the conditions of the vehicle was operating in, the age of the paint, etc. There’s a great article about this issue)

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Filters, chipping and weathering

So now we have a green tank with nice tonal variation on its different parts. To make it more brownish, the color was modulated using a brown filter- and now the tank looks a faded olive drab color.

The kit does not come with decals (as usual with resin kits), and lacking US decals/dry transfers I left the tank unmarked. I added chips using a sponge and dark brown paint, and pin washes using burned umber oil paint. I applied a black wash to the engine deck grilles to give them depth. The mufflers were painted using different rust colors and a sponge over a black base.

The lower part of the chassis was treated with different shades of earth colored pigments using white spirit. Once they dried, I used a brush dampened with white spirit to remove some of the pigments. As a final I added some dust on the top part of the turret as well using Tamiya’s “make-up” set, and I used a graphite pencil to rub around the edges and the tracks to give the model a metallic shine.

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Miniart’s SU-76(r)

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This model has been a shelf-queen for a long time. When I moved to the UK I was living in a ~very~ temporary student housing, so I became severely limited in what tools I could use; among other things I was forced to give up on my airbrush. (It took me five years before my living conditions changed so I was able to get another one.)
This, and the lack of space meant I had to switch to 1/72 scale… a decision which I did not regret ever since. I quite like this scale, and I think I’ll stay focused on it in the future. However, there are models which make me stray from this scale into the world of 1/35. This one, particularly, sold itself with the box art. I liked the re-painted flaking dunkelgelb camo, and the relaxing German crew -even though I ended up not using the figures for the build. (I don’t like figures on models to be honest.) Originally it was a much more ambitious project; I wanted to make a partial interior, since the driver had nothing to sit on.
I bought the kit in 2011 in Norwich, and started work on it immediately; I thought I’d progress as far as I can without an airbrush, and then just put it away until I can finish it.

Well, I stopped a bit earlier than that.

The kit is not bad, let me say this. It is, however, not a very good one, either. There are some peculiar issues with it. For one, the parts are only numbered on the instruction sheet; the numbers are not on the sprues. This forces you to constantly check for parts on the instructions showing the sprue layout, which is really, really annoying.
The other problem was the wheels. The swing arms do not “lock” in place, where they are supposed to be when the tank is on a level surface. It’s nice if you want to position the tank on uneven ground on a diorama, however it makes positioning them on a level surface difficult. The vehicle cannot sit too low or too high; knowing what the proper height is is not easy. I’ve ended up building a rig to position the wheels using an armorama topic dedicated to this issue.
And there were the fit issues. Some parts were oversized -these had to be sanded thinner. The sides of the fighting compartment had fit issues, too, so they are slightly bent- a necessity when I needed to make sure it is glued on properly.

Nevertheless, the detail is excellent; if you accept the shortcomings mentioned, the kit builds up into quite a nice representation of the vehicle.

So… without further ado, the build.

When I got the model out of its box after sitting there for years, the first thing I did was to cut the swing arms with the wheels off, and built a little rig to help me reattach them appropriately. (As you can see I painted parts in a very funky shade of green back in the days… the reason was simple: I used up a batch of paint that was mixed for a Braille scale model. Fear not: it was not intended as the actual color of the vehicle.)

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The gun was almost finished when I got the kit out of the box, so there was very little work left to finish it. I did a silly thing, and added the muzzle break before putting the gun into its sleeve. This meant I had to cut the gun in half, attach it to the sleeve, and then glue it together again. No biggie, but a beginner mistake.

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The lifting hooks had a good amount of flash around them; it was simpler just to use a piece of wire instead. (I did clean one or two, before giving up.)

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The build was quite straightforward after I took care of the wheels. Once they were on, I painted the sides of the hull with green, and did the whole mud and dust routine. After that I added the tracks, and then proceeded with the rest of the build. (Once the mudguards are on, the tracks are near impossible to add.) This section had to be masked, of course, for the rest of the build, although a little overspray of Dunkelgelb and brown actually adds to the weathering effect.

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I’ve left the sides green, figuring that the Germans would not bother cleaning and painting the areas under the mudguards. You’d have to take the tracks and wheels off, and scrub it clean before doing any sort of painting -and the results would not be visible, anyhow. This meant that the mud and dust was going on over Russian green color. The tracks were assembled without any problems; the individual links were excellent. I painted the rims black (to represent rubber), but did not worry particularly about neat lines; the wheels were about to receive quite a heavy layer of washes, mud and dust. (Yes, I was lazy.) The surface of the return rollers that rubs against the tracks was painted steel.

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The finished gun, and the sides of the fighting compartment.

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I’ve decided to leave the fighting compartment in the original green color. (I reasoned that the vehicle was adopted to German use in a field shop, so they did not strip everything to be repainted. They would probably be content on leaving the interior of the fighting compartment untouched.) This made the painting a bit more tedious (had to finish and mask the fighting compartment before proceeding). The fighting compartment itself was painted along with the rest of the model in green, and the dust/accumulated dirt added using pigments.

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The painting of the ammunition was a bit boring to be honest. First, you have to remove the mould seams, and then paint them one by one… not very entertaining if you ask me. I’ve used Citadel’s bronze and gold colors on the casings. I cut a couple of the projectiles off to create “used” casings, which went onto the floor of the fighting compartment, under the gun.

 

Attaching everything to the hull… the parts of the model are in various stages of painting.

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The gun installed… I’ve used the kit’s tow cable, which was a straight plastic part; you are supposed to bend it around the holding pins. Well, I decided to be bold, and try it, instead of using a metal tow cable. (You also get the ends of the cable as two extra separate pieces should you decide to go this route.) As expected, the plastic broke; hence the somewhat angular look.

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Once the sub-assemblies were reasonably done, I’ve used Russian green as primer.

I wanted to depict flacking paint as I mentioned already. Since the vehicle was captured, I decided I would not only show the underlying original colors, but the rust/scratches that the vehicle has accumulated before its capture. Once the SU-76 was painted green, I’ve used dark, rust colors on edges, and other areas where heavy wear and tear was expected. The idea was that removing the Dunkelgelb from these areas would expose the base metal, while on other areas only green would show through.

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As soon as the green dried, I applied hairspray, waited an hour, and added the Dunkelgelb coat. (Tamiya paint, lightened with tan to account for the scale effect.)

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Yes, you can see the numbers still…

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Since Tamiya paints dry really fast, I could add the red-brown pattern right after the yellow base. It was necessary to add heavy layers at regions where the permanent marker showed through… I thought I was smart when I wrote the part numbers onto the plastic with a permanent marker, until the point where I realized that it showed through on everything… Some of these numbers only disappeared after the brown color was added in heavy layers. There you go: an important lesson. Don’t use permanent marker on exposed areas.

By the way, this was the first ever free-hand camo I’ve done with an airbrush.

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The chipping was done with a brush, and with a toothpick- depending on what effect I wanted to achieve. I added water to the surface with a brush, waited a bit, and then used a stiff brush/toothpick to carefully. It’s difficult not to overdo it, so it’s worth stopping now and then for a while, and put away the model for a day or so. With a fresh eye it’s easier to gauge the effect.

Once I was satisfied with how the model looked like, I sealed everything with an acrylic varnish, and applied the decals. I took some of the decals from the MiniArt T-44 set; after all, they looked good, and I liked the name on the gun.

As soon as the decals dried, I applied another layer of varnish, and started on filters. I used yellow and dark yellow colors. While the surface was still wet with the diluent, I used some dark pin washes (the wet surface ensures that the capillary action can work unimpeded even on a semi-matte surface). The same filters and washes were used in the fighting compartment as well.

Everything was sealed with varnish once again, and I started on the dust and mud. The dust was simple light colored pigments (chalk ground up) added mixed in water. Once it dried, I just brushed away the excess, and sealed it with pigment fixer.

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The rolled up canvas cover was a very underwhelming affair; it did not look like cloth at all. (I was not even sure what it was until I checked in the instructions; it was very symmetrical and smooth.) The cloth effect was added using oil paints. I painted the plastic with desert tan first, and then used burned umber directly from the tube to add the folded cloth look using a brush, and rubbing some off after letting it dry for a day. I’ve even painted the sides with oils to give an impression of it being rolled up. I have to say the canvas given for the T-44 is a much better affair.

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All in all, it was a pretty good result considering how this model looked like when I got around to finally finish it. The model itself is not bad, but I think the new Tamiya offering probably supersedes it in quality. Nevertheless, fear not; it was not an unpleasant journey.