Category Archives: world war II

MiniArt 1/35 SU-122 build review p3.

I’m continuing the MiniArt SU-122 build and review- you can find the previous parts below:

Part 1

Part 2

You can find the photos of the parts and the instruction manual on armorama in my review, and you can find a comparison with the non-interior version of the same kit here.

If the gods will it, I should be ready in two more posts -and about two more weeks. (I hope.)

I had some constructive feedback which mentioned photo sizes. In further posts I’ll be experimenting the different options WordPress offers- thumbnails, galleries, etc. Please let me know if you have any suggestions -length, number of photos, quality of photos, style, anything. (I also would love to read comments on the models… after all, this is one of the reason for the blog.)

So, without further ado, onto the build:


The gun is not really difficult to build -except for the broken recoil guard, which I had to fix with glue. It was whole when the model came, but it snapped into three parts sometime during the build. I suggest you put this part aside before you touch the model, because it’ll break as you move the sprues around during the build. The hydraulic tubes elevating the gun are working (the two parts can move), however the way they are attached to the gun (glued to a PE holding bracket) makes this feature more like an option to fix the gun in any position you desire, than to make it adjustable after the gun is in place. In other words decide what position you’d like the gun in, put the it in place, and then glue the hydraulic tubes into place. Alternatively you can just forget about them, as they would not be visible, anyhow, and this would leave the gun movable. (In the non-interior version of this kit they are not included.)

A side-note: the wheel controlling the elevation of the gun is on the right side, between the gun and the wall of the fighting compartment… ergonomics was not a main concern when the vehicle was built.

I painted the gun in the “Russian” green color I’ll paint the whole vehicle with, and weathered it with oil washes, filters to make it look used and less uniform. Some wear-and-tear was simulated with painted chips (both black-brown and some metallic). The gun shield (not sure what it is- the fat protective shield around the base of the gun) is a three part assembly, with a prominent seam going along its length. Because the lifting hook is molded with one of the parts together, the filling and sanding requires a little care.

As you may notice the gun barrel is missing still- it is added once the gun is in its place. The plastic barrel has rifling on the inside; a pretty cool feature. One thing to mention: attach the gun barrel before you add the gun shield protecting it…


Engine and transmission

The building of the engine is pretty straightforward affair. The detail is pretty good, although no wiring/cabling guide is provided (which is a shame, really, but there is available reference material online). The transmission looks exceptionally well detailed; it is quite easy to see how the real thing worked once you assemble the model. The fit is really good; things snap together once in place. I painted the engine in a dark aluminium color, dry brushed it with brighter metallic shades, and weathered it using oil washes and Vajello’s engine grime product (I could not resist to try it). Some of the cabling was done using thin solder wire or Champagne bottle wire painted black (I used it to simulate cabling in the fighting compartment as well).


And the finished engine with the radiators attached.


Since I “dirtied up” the engine compartment, I added the transmission at this point because I wanted to display the model with the back folded down. I left the engine out so that it’s not going to be hidden once the model is done. (It’s a shame only the very top of it would be visible once the engine compartment is finished. Because I could not figure out how to create a realistic-looking cutaway of the engine compartment, I’m going to display it in front of the model like I did with my Hobby Boss T-34/85, and the MiniArt T-44.)


Some other parts: a really bent cover of the transmission… (Only my sample, apparently. I’m reviewing another SU-122 kit and the SU-85 by MiniArt, and they seem fine.)


The cooling flaps on the engine deck are positionable; it’s a pity only the back ones will be visible; the rest will be covered up by plastic parts covering the engine deck.


Well, that’s it for now. Next steps: putting the interior together.


MiniArt 1/35 SU-122 build review p1.



And here it is: another multi-part review of a 1/35 kit… and one with a complete interior, no less. This is a model by MiniArt I’ve been waiting for since it was announced last year. I’ve written review on Armorama – now let’s see how it builds up.


I have deviated from the instructions – I would much prefer to first do the basic shape, and fill it up with the details after. The instructions go the opposite way: you first build all the sub-assemblies (engine, transmission assembly, the complete interior, etc.), then put them together. This makes painting and weathering a bit awkward (the two firewalls, for example, are installed separately: one goes in the middle of the build, and at the very end), and it also makes correcting small fit issues more difficult.

The build starts with the bottom of the hull, which is also the floor of the interior; it’s a pretty big change from the usual “tub” scale models come with.

As a first step I did all the interior parts that are painted in the blue-gray base color. This meant that I attached most of the supports for the engine and the transmission, the last four sets of suspension units (mistakenly I glued in an extra one), the swing arms’ holders, and the driver’s controls, and control rods. The model is very well made – everything lines up remarkably well. The swing arms that hold the road wheels fit exactly where they should, and the control rods attach to the central rod accurately. (We’re talking about tolerances of less than a milimeter here.) The instructions, for example, would have you attach the parts supporting the engine glue to the engine block -which means they would have to be painted and weathered separately. Easier to glue them in place and add the engine later.


The controls and the connecting rods are very delicate and the cleanup is difficult. Astonishingly everything lines up perfectly (part C38 is the central, connecting rod, and all the others attach where they supposed to).


Same story at the back: tiny parts which can disappear easily. 2016_07_02_004


First mistake: I glued a suspension unit in place that is supposed to be white… (background). This meant some serious masking later.2016_07_02_005


The basic hull is made out of the bottom and the two sides; the engine compartment is painted in the blue-grey color, the fighting compartment is white. I glued everything together that was to be painted in these base colors. The seat holders are -not surprisingly- very delicate.



Front glacis- lots of stuff can be finished before gluing it in place.


The gigantic spring are actual springs -they are hollow, and would work exactly like springs do if they were made out of metal. I’m pretty impressed by this feat in injection moulding. The cleanup, however, is brutal. (And yes. I did glue the instrument panel the other way around…) I’ll have to look up the wiring- although I suspect it’ll be semi-fictional.


The armored flap in front of the driver is made out of several delicate pieces; pretty impressive affair.kquofqq

Top of the fighting compartment.


The outside cupola  and the flaps have some impressive casting texture.6thkvet


Painting begins – base blue-grey mixed from Tamiya XF-25 and XF-18.



Masking and the dreaded white white color… Due to the impatience I had to do some real elaborate masking so I could paint the suspension unit on the front… it worked, though.

Advice: do not glue these in place before painting. Another relevation spraying Tamiya’s flat white: do not dilute it. I sprayed it undiluted, and it was incredibly nice. (Additional insanity: I did not undercoat it…)

As you can see there were some elaborate masking steps necessary about the suspension unit using masking tape and tissue paper… such is the fate of the impatient.


Assembly of the hull…

The hull’s sides are essentially held in place by the swing arms of the roadwheels. Make sure you cut the sprue at the right spot – and not cut off the small peg that holds the arm in place. The suspension is not workable (since the springs are plastic), but they, in theory, can be positioned however you like – but you’ll need to adjusted the springs holding them, too. It looks a bit overengineered to assemble the swing arms from three different parts, but it allows for some customization: depicting them in various states of disrepair.


Putting in the firewalls – first things first. (The back of the second sets of suspension units should be painted blue-grey… this is why I prefer to do the build this way. It would be pretty inconvenient to repaint everything once the weathering is done.)



Part Ca33 is pretty warped as you can see- however, when glued in place, most of it gets straightened out.



You can see that part Ca33 is still somewhat bent.


So far this is it. There is work being done on the engine, and the gun as well – keep tuned in. (I’ll be going on a leave, so the next part will be in two weeks.)

MiniArt T-44 Build review p4. Coming together


Well, this is when the tank is starting to take shape, and resemble an AFV. The top of the turret was glued in place finally, hiding a lot of the details in the interior. (I was tempted to do a “cutaway” version, but I could not find a part I was comfortable cutting away; the whole of the interior is crammed with things.) The turret roof is a very thin piece of plastic; I think MiniArt made it pretty close to scale thickness. (I don’t have the instruments to measure it accurately, though.)


The interior of the turret is quite busy, and frankly brilliant. The fume extractor, the small lights, the radio, the turret cranking mechanism, all the other details are just great. You do get the fan for the fume extractor, but it will be hidden by the PE cover. The periscopes are made out of transparent plastic. The commander’s cupola has the very fine teeth where the cupola’s turning mechanism is meshed to; small details like this make the model really shine. I was worried about installing the PE holders for the pistol gun port plug, but they snap on surprisingly easy (considering how small the pieces are). I think there might be a chain holding the plug itself in the real tank, but it was not included; if you want to depict them open, you’ll need to add the chains.


Pistol port…dqoxvvsk8v5wcc2ucbmsrw6kvldlo5wmqtg

Once all was done inside the hull, I started to add the armor plates protecting the front and the top. The frontal, angular plate fitted perfectly. (I would suggest leaving the splash guard off until the front plate is in place.) The top plate is probably scaled so that it’s scale thickness (it’s noticeably thinner than the side or frontal plates), however, there were some fit issues with it. Nothing that some patience could not solve: I went ahead and did what I did with the hull and the mudguards, and glued it on section by section, while holding the hull in place with clamps. Once the model was reasonably ready, I added the extra bits which I left off. I usually attach the tools, headlights, etc. last, so that I don’t damage them in subsequent steps of the build.



I chose to attach the mudguards before I installed the running gear; I think it would be better to do the other way around. The detail is pretty good, and the assembly is straightforward to build. The problem is that the attachment to the hull is somewhat problematic. First of all, there are no locating holes on the sides for the little pegs on the mudguards; you either drill these out, or cut the pegs off. Once everything is on, the PE straps “holding” the external fuel tanks need to be installed. These are two-part assemblies each: one metal strap and one tiny U shaped part that is originally welded to the hull, and used to fasten the strap to.



Before installing the road wheels and tracks I’ve painted the side of the hull green, and muddied it up with several layers of pigments dissolved in white spirit. I used light brown colors first on the side, and then went darker and darker, making sure I cover smaller areas with the subsequent layers. I also used a clean brush moistened with white spirit to adjust the layers once they dried.


The road wheels are simple to assemble, however, the peg that supposed to hold each wheel is tiny (about 3 mm long…) In theory you can assemble the wheels so that these pegs can rotate, but I did not bother with this; they were glued in. I also used epoxy glue, as I said, to make sure the wheels stay in place once attached to the swing arms –and since I will display the model on a flat surface, I also glued the torsion bars in place… Leave the return rollers and the drive wheels off; the tracks will be simpler to attach if you attach them together. The tracks are really nice; the detail is very good on them, but as I mentioned, they are not “workable”. You will need to glue them on. I could not put the whole 70+ link assembly together without it coming to pieces, so I just assembled sections, applied thin model glue to the joints, waited an hour, and then put them in place. Once the tracks were dry, I removed them (I left them in two large pieces on each side), painted and weathered them, and glued them in place for good.

The tracks were painted dark grey first, and then I used similar dark brown pigments diluted in white spirit to add rust and dirt. I keep seeing incredibly muddy tracks on models, where the pattern is essentially hidden by the caked-on pigments, which is not very realistic. (Well, there ARE instances; the spring/autumn mud in Russia would put a lie to this statement.) Nevertheless, I opted for a relatively clean set of tracks, as any movement would wipe and shake most of the dirt off. In fact, five-ten minutes of movement would polish the tracks shiny, and free of rust.

For green I started with Tamiya’s Dark Green. I fogged it onto the black primer, and then added subsequent layers lightened with yellow. The color will be further modulated with yellowish filters, and then with the dot filter method.




Now it looks like a tank…tvtezwf

There is one major problem with the turret ring: the turret does not fit well. As usual with tank models, the turret is attached by sliding two little pegs into two corresponding openings, and then rotating it. This should lock the turret in place. The problem, as far as I can see, is that these pegs are very tiny, and simply do not hold the turret (or cannot click into place to begin with). Gluing a bigger piece to the turret to hold it better might solve this issue. The problem is for me is that the tank was ready when I ran into this, and it’s difficult to play around with it without breaking parts off. To be honest I was thinking about displaying the turret on a stand to show off the interior better, so I might side-step this issue; it would be a shame to glue it in place, as it would hide all the interior details.


Final small parts added… I try to leave these off until the very end- not to risk breaking them.dh7mu0f

The upgraded tow cables; I used the hooks of the plastic part, and replaced the plastic part of the wire with metal.kjjhisbblug4mwwrmqp4r

The cable is held by folding PE holders; it does not need to be glued in place.chvpggmf8oc8stgvsm4yj

The extra track links are also held by PE parts; the installation went on without a problem.gilkuzi1

And here is the tank -all done with the building. Still prone to lose it’s head easily -something I’ll have to figure out how to fix-, but ready for weathering. Next step: Windex chipping3xmpnhx

1/72 ARL-44 by Cromwell Models


Disclaimer: the previous version of this article simply disappeared. It’s just gone. It does not really fill you with trust towards WordPress; I hope it’s only a glitch that will not surface again…




The ARL-44 was a peculiar tank. Design started immediately after Paris was liberated (hence the “44” in the name -signifying the date), and was more of an effort to re-establish France’s heavy industry, tank production, and to retain its talent, than actually an attempt at designing a modern tank.

The design called for a 48 ton heavy tank with a high calibre armament. Due to the wartime shortages, and the consequences of German occupation, the design had to incorporate several compromises. Its design is based on the pre-war French tanks, but it also bears some resemblance to the later German tank designs (it does look like a child of a Tiger II and a B1). The power plant was chosen to be captured German Maybach engines (HL230 600 hp), and the first prototype turret was armed with an American 76mm gun, which was later replaced by a new turret, and a 90mm DC45 tank gun. The turret was well armoured and large; an actual car engine was used to rotate it.

Not only the overall design was anachronistic; the suspension, drive wheels and the tracks were quite old-fashioned as well. The armour was well sloped at 120mm. By 1945 the need for a heavy tank disappeared, but the French authorities decided to press ahead with the production of 60 vehicles (downsized from the original 600). This was a political -and an economical- decision, rather than a military one as it was mentioned previously. This showed an incredible amount of foresight on behalf of the decision makers in my opinion.

The production trials started in 1947, and delivery started in 1949. The tanks were used to replace the captured Panthers the 503e Régiment de Chars de Combat regiment operated. (Which is also an interesting story by itself.)

In service the ARL-44 was found to be less than satisfactory. The suspension, gearbox and other parts of the running gear had frequent breakdowns, which resulted in the tank being recalled from active service in 1953, and replaced by the M47 Patton tanks.


Cromwell Models sent the model in a simple ziplock bag; no artwork, and no instructions included. The parts were undamaged during transit.

The model is cast in a yellowish resin. The casting generally is good, although some issues are visible (around one of the drive wheels, and there was a bubble in the muzzle break). This is not surprising, considering how intricate the parts are; the level of detail moulded on is pretty impressive.

Some of the resin parts are incredibly fine; the gun lock in particular is a wonder by itself. It’s moulded onto some resin support; despite my worst fears it was very easy to cut it free without snapping it.

The hull is essentially one piece: everything is moulded on: tracks, running gear, everything. It’s attached to the moulding block through the tracks; you’ll need a large, fine saw to cut it free. (And you’ll need to be careful, not to cut into the tracks. A word about sawing resin: resin dust is toxic. Use wet sawing, wet sanding techniques when working with resin to minimize harm to yourself and others around you.)

The lack of instructions is not really an issue for this model; the number of parts are so low, it’s really not that difficult to figure out what goes where. (Although I still cannot figure out where that cross-like part is going…)
The gun barrel is very nicely done; it’s straight (not always the case with resin models), and the bubble on the underside of the muzzle break was easy to fill in.



The only minor issue I had was the top of the turret: the surface is marred by tiny little holes, which I completely missed at the priming phase. (I normally use black primer). They should be easy to fill in, if you catch them BEFORE you paint the tank. Well, lesson learned; it’s grey primer from now on.

Since I play World of Tanks, I’ve decided to paint my model using the non-historic bluish-greenish color the French tanks come with. It took me a while to achieve the desired color. I kept mixing different ratio of blues and greens; unfortunately I can’t recall the formula of the most successful one.

I used filters to modulate the color even further.



I’ve used some left-over decals from a French M5 Stuart to dress it up a bit. (The printing on the decals is awful, but they do give a little color to the tank.) I was seriously tempted to use the branch/leaf camo pattern from World of Tanks, though, but since I was doing a review I decided to forgo the silliness. If I get another French tank that is in the game, I’ll do the pattern, though.


After some protective varnish I used oil paints to do pin washes and streaks.




I used pigments for the accumulated dirt: added them dry, and used white spirit to dissolve them. A clean brush helped to make sure the extra pigments are taken away.2016_04_26_0082016_04_26_0102016_04_26_01212016_04_26_0132016_04_26_014


Miniart’s SU-76(r)


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.)


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.


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.)


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.






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.



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


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.


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.




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.





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.








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.)


Yes, you can see the numbers still…


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.





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.













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.







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.


I’ve built two of DML’s Bergetigers. The first one is based on the Tiger I (P) chassis, and was a legitimate “berge” vehicle: it was modified for battlefield engineers for recovery and other tasks where you can’t work in peace and quiet without someone taking shots at you. It’s a pretty good model with PE and high level of detail; the build was quite enjoyable.

In this model I’ve used silly putty to prepare the net-like camouflage I liked from the painting guide. As a green base I used Tamiya’s German grey – with scale effect and subsequent weathering considered it gives a quite nice olivegrun base.


Adding the silly putty… it’s quite relaxing and surprisingly fast.



Yeah, I forgot to say. We’ve got a link-and-length track here, which is surprisingly easy to assemble. (As opposed to some models I could name.)





Once the camo was done I could dirty up the lower chassis, and finish the running gear. This was followed by some some light weathering (mostly washes and filters; I did not go overboard).



Bergetiger I -second vehicle.

This Tiger is somewhat of a mystery. It appears to be a field-conversion, and only two were ever produced (or perhaps only one). The crane fixed to the turret is definitely not strong enough to actually lift a vehicle out of anywhere (any vehicle; I’m not talking about Tigers -it would be difficult to get a Beetle out of a driveway with it), and it’s also hand operated. From the outside. Not a very healthy place to be if you need to modify a tank to be able to do whatever you want to do with it.

The most convincing explanation I’ve found was that this vehicle was used to drop demolition charges in front of barricades and minefields; however, it still does not explain why the crane operator had to stand outside of the vehicle.

Anyhow, it has an unique look, so I was very eager to build one. You can get several conversion kits in both 1/35 and 1/72, and there are some dedicated kits as well you can occasionally fetch up on Ebay. DML did come out with their own version years ago. The model is sub-par when it comes to other Dragon models. Looking at the sprues it’s quite obvious that the different parts were scavenged from different Tiger models, which make the quality wildly diverse (this is an issue with some other DML Tigers as well).
So it’s not a good model. Even though it’s not up to the expected DML standards, but it’s not a bad model, either; it’s just a bit disappointing to get something like this from Dragon. The bottom of the hull is metal, by the way; it must be one of the really, really early 1/72 kits by DML. (Or perhaps they wanted to have a realistic weight; who knows?)



Turret with the crane… I’ve used some copper wire for the cables.


I’ve had some fun with the mudguards, to make them a bit more varied: I’ve cut up the long piece into sections, and attached them slightly disjointed, with some sections left out -after all, this is supposed to be an already battered vehicle that was converted into a different role.


The tank is painted in Dunkelgelb -no special camo added.


The Tiger has pre-moulded Zimmerit added; it’s a bit too accentuated for this scale, but hey; at least I did not have to do it myself. After covering the model with Future, some light washes with burned umber (the most used oil paint color in model building) helped to bring out the details.


And the finished tank… It does not look bad, once done. And it’s mighty heavy due to the metal parts.




ICM Panzerbeobachtungswagen Panther 1/35


While I’m working on the T-44, another blast from the past… I present you ICM’s Panzerbeobachtungswagen Panther.

OK, try to say this word three times. Panzerbeobachtungswagen
(If you manage it, something worse than Beetlejuice will come.)

The vehicle itself is not a “real” tank: it does not have a main gun. The thing you see sticking out of the turret is a dummy gun; it’s there to make sure it “blends in” with the other tanks, so that the enemy cannot single it out. Why is it important to hide what this tank is? Well, it’s an artillery observation vehicle. In itself it’s not dangerous; however, in place of the gun it carries a lot of extra radios, and the turret is equipped with special optics and a range-finder – this tank poses danger by acting as the eyes of the artillery. (I’ve read somewhere that even the turret was fixed in place. Somewhat dubious, since the optics would require the turret to be turned occasionally, but perhaps true.)

I’ve built this kit straight out of the box; unfortunately I did not document the building process. Back in those days (about 8 years ago) model kits from Eastern Europe had a reputation. Sub-par plastic quality, lots of flash, fit issues, low detail… in general, poor models. Well, this kit put all those things to lie. It was an incredibly well designed model. It could use some PE -especially the screens protecting the engine deck- but otherwise it’s a great kit.


I’ve chosen a Dunkelgelb camo, as was depicted on the box, and experimented with pre-shading, oil washes, pigments and filters. (This was my first model where I used filters, by the way.)



Surfacer 1000 base coat followed by some pre-shading


Lots of wheels. Lots and lots of them.


The base-coat of Dunkelgelb is on. It’s slightly greenish, but that’s how it’s supposed to be, apparently. I used Tamiya’s paint lightened with some Buff.


Added dirt using chalk powders. (Cheaper than pigments.)



A very thin mixture of burned umber was spread on the surface with a downward streaking motion with a flat brush. It acted as a filter, and as a very subtle wash as well, since it got into the crevices and nooks.


Some earth colored pigment mixed with white spirit was added directly onto the lower points of the chassis and mudguards, and a slightly wet (with white spirit) brush was used to spread it upwards.


In a similar fashion I’ve treated the top edges of the tank – to make darker stains running down. I’ve used more black than brown in the oil paint mixture.



Dot-method of filters was used as well using brown colors.


The bloody antenna broke more times than I care to remember.


Using a sponge I’ve dabbed some dark-brown/black oil mixture directly onto the tank to simulate paint chips. I’ve concentrated around the edges and hatches.nratpyil6ij187iyyxo8bzy806zrqk3pc9a




Miniart D7 Armored Dozer -review 2.

This is part two of the MiniArt D7 review.

The suspension is a very complicated, very detailed assembly. Miniart has managed to even mould a set of springs… an actual plastic representation of springs, which look exactly like the real thing. They are very delicate, and easy to break (while you are trying to remove moulding seams), and also will be covered by the metal plates protecting the suspension, unfortunately. Nevertheless I have to say, it is an impressive feat of plastic moulding technology.



One ready, one unassembled


That plastic spring still makes me wonder how they did it.

The assembly here -considering none of it will remain visible- seems overly detailed. The wheels and return rollers are composed of mulitple parts (step 51, 57 for example); I’m sure these could have been designed to consist of no more than two parts each. Most of the suspension elements could have been simplified as well, as they will be hidden once assembled. The only reason they are designed to resemble the real thing is that you might wish to depict the suspension during maintenance (I’ve seen a photo with the covers removed) or with damage. I was tempted to do a “cutaway” view on one side, but did not dare to endanger the review sample.

Once the suspension and the tracks installed, the final hydraulics pipes will need to be glued on. The over-engineering can be seen here as well: the pipes (H8, 9, 10, 11) could have been moulded together with parts H12, 13, Db16 to simplify things.




Those little pegs on top of the suspension could have been simply moulded together with the hydraulics

The dozer blade and its attachment unit is the very last step of the build. The blade itself and the frame looks gorgeous; you can see the subtle welding lines; the instructions, however, don’t show the alternative positioning optinos. It goes together reasonably well, however you will need to do some filling on the blade itself. Part Db4 will snap if you put it on  peg on Db9 in step 79, due to the smaller diameter of the hole on it; enlarge the hole slightly with a scalpel first.


The model is slowly taking shape… time to paint.


How many parts do a dozer make?


Fortunately most of the model is olive drab, engine included. This simplifies the painting process, as the model needs to be painted while being built. I’ve chosen to display it with moderate amount of weathering and rusting; while I really find the rusty-worn-torn look appealing, tanks and tractors did not really rust that bad on the field. (It’s a combination of short lifetime, maintenance, and protective paint.) Dozers and tractors are somewhat exception to the rule, as they were generally not in the line of fire, but I still did not want to overdo the effect. (After spending a month building it day and night I was afraid I mess it up with overzealous weathering. I’m a coward.) The other reason I’ve gone for the relatively clean look, despite of photos available of the dozer being absolutely caked with mud and dust was that this would have hidden most of the model.



Black spray paint was used as primer; any good quality spray can will do


The plastic has some interesting moulding imperfections. Don’t worry; these will be invisible under the final paint.


I’ve done most of the painting and weathering on the larger subassemblies: armored cab, engine and chassis, the suspension, tracks, and the dozer blade; this, of course means I only saw how the vehicle looks like at the very end of the building process. It was an incredible feeling -suddenly I had something to show for after all the work.

I’ve used Citadell’s Steel Legion Drab and Castellan Green to mix an olive drab color for the dozer. I always wanted to try the airbrush ready Citadell paints, and this looks as good time as any. Changing the ratio also allowed me to prepare lighter and darker colors. They are very thick, they did seem to be very good for airbrushing. I tried diluting them at first, because I could not see how this thick paint could get through the airbrush, they were perfect unthinned.





Well, the first paint layer was done. It’s getting near to the finish.


Miniart D7 Armored Dozer -review 1.


This is a multi-part review of the MiniArt Dozer; due to the sheer amount of text and photos I have decided to go with this format.


Caterpillar Tractor Co was founded with the merger of Holt Caterpillar (the makers of the original Holt tractor, the first tracked vehicle ever made), and its competitor, the C.L.Best Gas Tractor company, in 1925. The new company was focusing on primarily of the production of road construction machinery. As soon as the US entered the war in 1941, the War Department started to purchase all equipment deemed essential for the war effort- Caterpillar’s “track-type crawlers” included. The US Army has used several types of the Caterpillar D7 tractors and bulldozers in the Second World War. The tractors were meant to pull artillery pieces and other cargo, and only at the later stages of the war had the purpose-built high-speed tractors started to replace them. These vehicles were not equipped with dozer blades.

Caterpillar bulldozers were on every theatre of war; they have been instrumental in the Allied war effort. (A number of them were shipped to the Soviet Union as part of the Lend-Lease program.) They were used to repair roads, and to build new ones, to keep the supply lines open. They have been used to construct artillery positions, to build (and to destroy) tank traps, to clear beaches, to clean up rubble and build airstrips anywhere they were required (in the Russian taiga, on a corral atoll or in the jungle). Not all of the bulldozers were armored (since most of them were civilian models, or modified civilian designs), although they were operating in the front lines quite often. The book The D7 Tractor: A Visual History of the D7 Tractor in US Army Service 1941 – 1953 would be a very useful reference for builders.

Miniart has issued recently the Caterpillar D7 with an armored cab M2, and a hydraulically operated R71 dozer blade in plastic, along with other versions of the trusty D7 tractor. This is a welcome trend indeed, as many of these vehicles are only available in limited run resin kits (if they are available at all). These bulldozers can often be seen in archive photos, and offer a great opportunity for diorama builders. Since they have been in use for a considerable amount of time after the war, they offer almost endless opportunities for modifications and settings.

The box and general impressions


The kit consists of 759 plastic parts, and 8 PE parts. Miniart has utilized the side moulding technology to its limits (more on that later). The detail is very fine, and very delicate, but the plastic does not feel as good as some other manufacturer’s. (I’m not an expert of styrene, so I cannot really form an educated opinion; it’s just an impression.) Some flash is present, so cleanup will be necessary. There are a lot of very fine parts (pipes, control rods, etc) which are attached to the sprues by multiple thick attachment points. This makes their removal a dangerous endeavour, as you can easily break them (if they were not already broken during transport to begin with). Some of the thinner, finer parts have broken during transit, so fixing broken plastic will be a constant activity during the build. Substituting these plastic parts from stretched sprue or wire is also an attractive alternative.

To remove thin and delicate parts I was experimenting with some success using a scalpel blade heated up in a flame; this enables you to detach the part without stressing it, but one thing I have to stress (no pun intended) is that you cut well away from the part (at least a centimetre away), unless you want it to melt, too.

Cleanup is also going to be risky, as even the gentle force of removing the seams can easily break the plastic; use a new blade, and be very careful. (This is a very prominent problem with sprue C, where most of the engine parts are located, but also with the control linkages under the floor of the cab, and the steering levers.) Sometimes I just left the thin seam lines in place rather than risk breaking the part.

The amount of parts for a small kit like this is astonishing (or horrifying, depending on your point of view); as is the size of some of them. This is a very dense kit: while the inside of most models are mostly made up of empty space, this small kit feels surprising heavy due to all of its 700+ parts being concentrated in such a small volume. (I know it’s not a usual metric in the world of scale models, but it might be a good way to demonstrate my point. This kit weights 97g when assembled, while a similar size Toldi I by Hobby Boss weights 46g.) If you wish to, you can certainly simplify the build somewhat. Studying the instructions it’s possible to determine which parts can be left out altogether. (If you close all the hatches and doors for the armoured cab, you can leave out several dozen parts, for example. Not that I would suggest to do so, because it would not give justice to this kit to cut corners in this manner.)

Some parts are so small you are forgiven to think that they’ve broken off the sprue already… until you take another look. This model is not for the faint-hearted; considerable amount of experience will be needed to assemble it. The detail is incredible, but at the cost of overengineered, multiple-part assemblies. Sometimes you have the feeling the complexity is unnecessarily high; that the same results could have been achieved by using fewer parts.

In certain cases the intricate details are hidden by other parts, and hence they could have been left out, or simplified (I’ll be mentioning this issue a lot); one example is suspension units where all the springs and rollers are exquisitely detailed, then hidden under a cover forever. I think the designers of this kit have decided to create a museum-quality model, and did not make any compromises; the model resembles its real life counterpart as best as possible. It’s also possible that all this was done so that the model can be displayed while undergoing service, or showing damage.

One recurring annoyance was that a lot of subassemblies required parts from several sprues; this meant constant hunts for sprues during the build. I appreciate the fact that you might not be able to place all required parts in one sprue, but it still felt arduous to constantly trying to find a specific sprue among dozens.

Instructions are provided in a very nicely done booklet. They are incredibly well done, easy to understand (for the most part), and easy to follow (again, for the most part… sometimes it’s difficult to tell where exactly a part should fit). Miniart has not holding back on design here, either; the booklet is very pleasant to read.

There is one mixup I should mention: probably because Miniart has issued several versions of the same vehicle, one mistake has slipped in. There’s a toolbox (A35-36 on step38) which is indicated to be glued to the mudguard; this part a couple of pages later then is shown to be glued to the back of the cab. I got a slight panic attack when I realized I don’t have parts I needed; I thought they were lost. Upon more careful study of the instructions you can see that the box from the fender has disappeared. Miniart probably reused the instructions from another version without the armored cab, and forgot to change this step. The box, by the way, would obstruct the door of the cab; this is how I realized something was amiss. (If you look at the photos, you’ll see the box is on the fender for quite a long time into the build.) Since the other door is already blocked by the oil tank, it’d be really difficult to get into the cab if that box staid on the fender.

It would also be nice if the instructions showed the different options the dozer blade can be positioned; only through accident I realized they can be positioned at an angle.

The decals are brilliant. The US Army stars are not just white stars printed on a transparent disk; the carrier film is actually shaped to the pattern, so that you don’t have large surfaces of transparent film on the model with the danger of silvering or bubbles stuck under. One of the stars go onto the hood, which have two protruding parts of the engine going through it- the holes are pre-cut onto the star. I have to stress: they are actual holes in the decal, and not just printed ones on the carrier film. There are some tiny decals (instructions on the engine and gauges on parts C87, C47) which will be covered or not be seen at all; these I did not bother with to be honest.

The painting guide only gives you one option, a dozer used by the 237th Engineer Battalion of the 1st US army, Germany, 1945.

The assembly

The assembly is broken up into 80 steps; I don’t really want to cover them one-by-one, simply give you impressions, opinions and highlight issues I found during the build. Steps 1-38 detail the assembly of the engine, the controls, and parts of the chassis (by the end of which you’ll have most of the engine and the operator’s station ready, steps 38-44 will have you finished the winch and the armored cab, and by step 48 you’ll have the core of the dozer ready. The next steps will deal with the suspension, the undercarriage, and the tracks (49-70). After this you will be able to add the whole track assembly to the dozer, which will immediately transform into something that resemble a vehicle, and steps 75 to 80 will have you finish the dozer blade, and attach it to the D7.

Before doing anything, though, I suggest you start on the tracks right away.

For this reason, I’ll start with step 67 – the tracks. The assembly process is tedious to say the least, and I would suggest that you only added one section at a time between other building steps; this will help making the task less monotonous. (It also makes sure that the glue has time enough to dry.) Another word of caution: you don’t get extra track links at all; be careful not to break any. It’s quite easy to do as they are very delicate, and many need to have the flash cleared out from the attachment holes. One set of tracks will require 36 of the three part assemblies, and Miniart has not given any extra links. (Which is unfortunate; normally model makers supply the builders with some extras.)

I had some issues with how the tracks are assembled. They are assembled just as the real tracks were, but in practice you probably need one or two hands more than you possess. (Unless you are a Hindu deity, because then you’re covered.) One important thing I found was not to follow the instructions. The real tracks are made up by a metal chain, which is driven by the drive wheels, and plates (trackpads? Not sure of the nomenclature) that are bolted to these links, and form the surface of the tracks. The kit’s tracks follow the same pattern. The instructions would have you to put the chain together first (each link consists of two parts, and held together by a pin), and glue the trackpads on after. (I found this series of videos quite interesting about modern Caterpillars.)

The assembly of the chain is fiddly (but doable), and it’s very, very difficult to make it even. Once the chain is ready, then you are to glue the trackpads onto them. The problem is the slightest mismatch in the chain links will cause the tracks look wobbly. My suggestion is to first glue the parts of the chain to each trackpad individually, and assemble the tracks after. This would make the assembly easier, and make them look more even.

Back to step 1…

The engine is the central part of the build. It’s really fascinating to start with the building of the engine blocks, and slowly build up the whole model around it; only at the very last steps will you see the actual vehicle take shape, which was a pretty incredible feeling for me… two months of work suddenly looked like a dozer.

Although Miniart has made every effort to create a model as close to the real thing as possible, it has failed to replicate the four sets of pipes from the governor and fuel injector pump (part C11 -I suspect these are fuel pipes). These pipes are quite prominent on photos of the dozer, and you’ll need to build them using thin plastic or perhaps metal wire.


Once the engine is reasonably finished (you’ll be adding parts to it now and then), you’ll slowly build the lower chassis and the operator’s cabin around it. It is perhaps the best to paint as you build, as many parts will be inaccessible once you finish them; this is why it’s quite handy that the whole vehicle, engine included, is of one color. For the purposes of this review I tried to build the model as much as possible without painting. On step 33 you are supposed to add the long oil pipe (H1); this was already broken in my sample. This is one of those pipes you’d better off making out of wire, as it is very easy to damage it during the rest of the construction. (In general it’s hard to handle the model without breaking something.)






Step 34 shows the finishing of the bottom of the lower chassis; most of the detail will be hidden forever by the armored plates protecting it, unfortunately.

As you build the tractor around the engine, more and more detail that you’ve build with considerable effort will be hidden forever. I have replaced the control rods with plastic strips (as the originals snapped), only to be covering them up with the floor panels. The bottom of the engine will be covered by the armored plates protecting the chassis, and the exquisite detail on the chassis will be covered by the armored couch in the cabin. (These dozers actually had couches instead of seats; I think this makes their drivers the only people who could honestly claim they did their duty sitting on a couch.) The handrests are hanging over too much (step 36); if you intend to install the armored cab, you would have to glue them with less of an overhang. (The couch was designed for the “original”, non-armored D7.) Since most of the interior will be invisible once you glue the cab in place, it’s not much of an issue, really. (I’ve detailed, painted and weathered the cab, though.)



Military lazyboy


The evil little toolbox on the fender -and not where it is supposed to be

The cab is a simple matter, however, there are some challenges here, as well. (Not surprisingly.) First, I could not pose the armored slits open, because the plastic part representing the mechanism opening and closing them simply broke when I tried to remove it from the sprues. It’s just too delicate. It should not be too difficult to re-create them using thin plastic rods.

. At step 45 you install a lever to the oil reservoir (I think it’s the oil reservoir) that is supposed to reach into the cabin through a narrow slit; the slit is too narrow for the lever to go through. You’ll have to carefully sand some of the lever away

You can see the slit here

Step 34 shows the assembly of the lower part of the chassis; this is when the towing hook is constructed. I was unsure where parts H18, and H17 go, until I checked the instruction at step 38 –I think it’s better to do these together


Taking shape


All of this is going to be invisible


Well, that’s for part one. Stay tuned for part two.















DML Flak 88 1/35 -act 2.

I’ve sung a lot of praises about the DML Flak 88 gun. I’ve shown my very first build of it -the model that has pushed me over to the armor models from airplanes-, and here is the second I did. I rarely repeat a build; normally I’d rather spend the time building something different. This is one of those kits that you MUST build, even if you prefer race cars or H0 Railroad stuff…
With this kit I wanted to depict the gun in a very different position than my first build. Whereas the first model was build showcasing the gun in a deployed state, with the gun shields attached, and in a German grey paint scheme, the new build was going to be an Afrika Korps gun without shield, still in transport mode (in which state the gun could still be fired I might add).





The build was unremarkable. It’s a very complex model, but it’s still relatively easy to build.


rifling on the barreltvsvfvr4qzw8xz


The detail and the inclusion of extras simply make you feel like you’re working with the supercar version of scale models. Luxury in a box.



Functioning gun elevating mechanism…







Limbering up… the model is fully functioning in this respect as well -although you’d have to be careful about the delicate plastic parts.



Unfortunately, these are the photos I could find. As with the rest, all my US-built models are in storage, so I cannot show the finished product. (With the wheels on. If you can imagine the wheels, you’ll be set, though.)