Category Archives: world war II

Panzer IV Schmalturm conversion (Revell-CMK)


This is one weird-looking tank. As usual, the Germans were thinking the looniest ideas, trying to make a difference in the war, instead of doing, you know, the rational thing. (Well, rational people don’t start world wars, and most certainly do not engage in ethnic cleansing, or if they themselves do not take part in the above mentioned activities, do not work for people who do, so there’s that.)

Well, back to the tank. The PnzIV was already approaching the limits they could squeeze out of the chassis; the ausf J was an attempt to remedy this issue. The ausf H was already overstressed in several areas: it was, for example, so nose-heavy, the front suspensions were constantly under pressure. They simplified a lot of things (the turret traverse was manual only, they used all-steel return-rollers, changed the side-skirts into wire mesh, etc). The next “logical” step was to put the Schmalturm designed for the Panther onto this overstressed chassis to give it some extra firepower (kind of like a poor man’s Panther). Perhaps the turret-ring issue was not that big of a deal (the Schmalturm’s diameter is somewhat larger than the pnzIV turret’s), but the additional weight would have certainly made this tank immobile.

Anyway, it’s a cool looking tank; it looks like someone stuck a Darth Vader helmet on it. (It’s not my analogy. A popular WoT one.)

CMK makes a pretty cool little conversion set, which should be used with an ausf J model, but unfortunately, the only available ones are ausf Hs. You shall have to live with this, if you want to have a model of this tank.

The conversion is simple, the casting is nice (I like the turret armor’s texture), and you get some extras (like metal mudguards -only for the back side, though).

The side-skirt is made of wire mesh. Its role was to explode shaped-charge shells before they get to the side armor of the tank; this would decrease the efficiency of the molten copper jet that is supposed to melt its way through the armor, incinerating everyone inside. (Pleasant thoughts.)

The conversion uses some parts of the model’s side-skirts; I would have preferred to have the mounting brackets made of metal.

The build is a pleasant one; you build the chassis, and stick the turret on top.


First red-brown layer -it looks more red on the photo. It simulates the red-oxide primer for the metal. It will give some nice modulation to the subsequent layers.

Dunkelgelb. The photo is way too pale, but it IS yellow, I promise. I mixed quite a lot of  tan to simulate the scale effect (colors look darker on smaller objects, so they need to be lightened to be realistic).

I used masking tape to mask the different colors; I chose the camo pattern from my premium tank in WoT.

I only wanted to do some light weathering; after all, this is a never built, hypothetical tank. Some filters, a little bit of scratching, a light pinwash, and some dust (pigments). I used a pencil on the edges of the model; this gives a metallic look for the tank.


DML 1/144 Jagdpanzer IV diorama

I really like the 1/144 DML armor offerings; the true regret I have is that I did not buy up the lot when they were available. Fortunately I managed to scavenge one or two from Ebay for a much higher price than they used to go for… (Lesson learned: even if you have 100 kits, you MUST buy that one you like, in case it goes out of production.) These models are tiny little gems: the detail is sharp, and very nice, the build is easy, and they just simply look good. The technology of injection molding has progressed incredibly: even the delicate gun tubes are completely in-scale, and they are also hollowed at the end. (I guess asking for rifling would have been a bit too much.) All in all I have not seen anything like these tanks in plastic. This post concerns the  Jagdpanzer IV I’ve built from the 1/144 range. The build was easy, and the camo was applied using an airbrush. (Talk about overkill; I thought it would be interesting to see how it works with a model that is the size of a quarter. ) I did not weather it a lot -after all, in this scale it would be mostly invisible. I did use a pencil to apply some metallic shine to the edges of the vehicle. Since this really is a tiny gem of a model, I thought I’d build my first ever diorama. It was back in Miami, where I bought a nice little display case made for hockey plucks from a gigantic store that only sold boxes and display cases. (God I miss that store…) The first step was to cover the sides with masking tape to protect them. Next I chose a couple of coral rocks I found around the house (they were literally lying around the grass), and using Miliput I formed a base for the groundwork, and embedded the rocks inside. I did not think about the transition between the Miliput and the plastic -that was some oversight I should have corrected. I tried the model to see if the composition was good, and used its tracks to make trackmarks. Next I sprayed the whole thing with different shades of brown; I was careful that the white coral rocks only got a little bit of overspray, so there’s only a hint of the colors on them. This blended them nicely into the surroundings. From a company that sold diorama stuff for model railways I got some foliage. In this scale the differently colored little flakes were perfect as grass and flowers.  Put some white glue where you want the foliage to stick, sprinkle them on, then carefully shake the diorama upside down to remove the extra -and you are done. So there you have it: our tiny tank destroyer proceeding in a scenic path towards its destiny. (Let’s pretend for a minute that these things were not used to kill people, and we’ll feel much better. I know I do.)      

10.5 cm ls.F.H auf Geschützwagen Char B-1(f) by ModellTrans and Trumpeter

Let’s start with this conversion.

The vehicle was built using the captured Char B1 tanks by the Germans; they did away with the turret, and put in a 10.5cm light field howitzer. The results are interesting-looking even by the standards of hastily converted self-propelled guns.

Both Modelltrans and Armory has a conversion for this vehicle; both use the excellent Trumpeter B1 as a base. (There is no other plastic model available, anyway.) I only have built the ModellTrans conversion, so I cannot give an accurate comparison between the two kits; the Armory version seems more detailed, it makes use of PE better (gun shields are more to scale thickness), and it’s also more expensive.

The ModellTrans version is entirely resin, and it’s probably an easier build, too.

ModellTrans conversion


As with all ModellTrans kits I’ve built so far, there are some quality issues with the parts: the gun shields on both sides are nicked (they are very thin, delicate parts), and there were some casting imperfections/bubbles which needed to be corrected. After carefully applying putty and VERY delicate sanding I ended up leaving the gun shields alone as I could not figure out how to fix the problem completely. The nicks are not as visible as before, but they still can be seen. Write it up for battle damage.

There is some surgery necessary on the base kit, but it’s not very difficult. I could not find photo/drawing of the actual vehicle, so I have no idea how the base looked like in real life; in this version it is a flat metal plate. In Armory’s version it’s a more elaborate contraption, and in some scratch-built models I saw online, the inside of the tank is accessible from the gun platform. I think it’s a safe bet to say that this last version is the most likely one. (Makes sense not to isolate the vehicle from the gun; after all there’s additional ammo storage in the inside of the tank, and the gun crew must also have a relatively safe way to get to their gun.)

The gun’s base

The gun shields were relatively easy to install; they fit onto the base well. A black base-coat was applied to the model. The gun cradle, the optics and the operating wheels were installed without glue at this stage as I needed them to make sure all the parts were lined up correctly.



Once everything was aligned, I glued the cradle in. I suspect the crew compartment is lacking a radio (at least), but the room was so tight I could not fit in a leftover FuG from an Sd.Kfz.251 kit. There was some issues with the molding of one of the ammo racks: two of the shells had casting errors (their top was missing), so they were cut off, and I drilled a hole in their place.

There were a couple of gray layers sprayed onto the model; each layer was successively lighter than the previous one. To break up the monotony of the gray I applied brown/blue/yellow filters using oil paints. (I used the dot-method: first let the paint sit on a piece of cardboard to get rid of the linseed oil, then dot them onto the model, and wash them off with a clean and wet brush.) I applied burned sienna onto the sides in patches this way as well. The contrast is really high on these photos, but in normal light they do blend in nicely. With a toothpick I carefully rubbed/scratched the topmost paint layer off at some places to reveal the darker gray underneath. This was done to create further signs of wear and tear, as I wanted the tank to look worn and used.

Painted and weathered
Gun installed

The crew compartment was weathered quite heavily: scratches, rust, and dust was freely applied.

Before painting the gun had to undergo some minor surgery (although aftermarket gun barrels are available, I did not feel like buying an aftermarket gun for my aftermarket conversion). The main problem was the muzzle break: there was some resin blocking the side-openings. This chunk had to be carefully cut away, and the muzzle break had to be opened up. I drilled it through both from the front and from the sides, and then used a thin blade to make the side holes square. Another issue was the mating of the gun’s tube to the muzzle break; the diameters of the two parts were slightly off, and the joint is quite visible. I thought about trying to sand the difference off, but decided not to exacerbate the problem with unskilled meddling.

After installing the gun I pained the exhaust pipes in rust colors, added the tracks, and added streaking to the sides using both oils and pigments dissolved in water.

The horizontal surfaces were lightly dusted with light gray colored pigments, and the tracks and lower chassis had some earth-shaded pigments applied to simulate dried mud. All the edges and rivets were lightly traced with a soft graphite pencil to simulate worn metal.


Finished model
Finished model


All in all, the Trumpeter B1 Bis is a joy to build, and the ModellTrans conversion makes a convincing SPG in this scale. Based on this experience and what I saw online, if you don’t mind the extra costs, and can work with PE, I’d go with the Armory set.