A burned-out Jeep

A long time ago in a childhood far away I purchased an old Tamiya 1/35 Jeep with the intention of building it. Back then I was mostly focused on airplanes, and this was the very definition of impulse-buy… So this model got half-built, then forgotten. Parts got chewed up by the carpet monster, and the hull made it from Sopron to all the way to Florida. (From 1994 to 2006… talk about long gestation.)

There it was used as a test-piece: I used it as a testbed before each airbrush session, so it was painted in all different (and funky) colors. It also got more and more damaged. And then I saw a photo of a model of a burned-out tank, where the burned off rubber rims were replicated using white pigments. I really, really wanted to build something where I can show off some burned rubber. (Talk about buying a coat for a button.)

Then came the idea. While building an M40 SPG I thought I might as well finish the Jeep. There were no real plans; I just wanted to make it look like it was completely burned out. I replaced some parts of the chassis with aluminum foil, which was torn and bent; I took away most of the seat cushions with a rotary tool, and covered the remains with more foil, and essentially, that was it. The Jeep was covered with olive green, and then I just went for it with different rust colors. Black, orange, brown, and red in different shades were added to stimulate the effects of burned and oxidized/rusted metal. I took off the rubber tires of one of the wheels using the rotary tool, and sanded them more-or-less circular. (They did not need to be perfect; things bend.) The other wheels were used to test an interesting product called Rust-it: a colloidal iron mixture which is used as a paint, and then treated with acid to create rust.

Unfortunately I have not taken photos of the original, or any of the steps… it was a spur-of-the-moment thing.

I used a cheap picture frame as a base, and plaster mixed with corral sand (the only sand around Florida) to set the model into. Some more airbrushing made it look like some hard-shelled battlefield somewhere in the Pacific, The story was simple: the Jeep broke the front axle in a shell-hole, and was subsequently damaged by further shelling; one of the explosions set it on fire, and it burned out. There were no causalities; no skeletons or human remains were placed into the diorama. (I’m a pacifist, to be honest; I cannot really explain my fascination with these machines of war.)

Once it was in place, I used some oil filters, some oil paint directly, and a lot of pigments to make soot and dirt. I also used white pigments to finally get my burned rubber down. (Unfortunately this is the one thing you cannot see really.)

My then girlfriend was so taken away with the result, she made me an offer I could not refuse (as in: you will have to give this to me, because it’s awesome), so I’m proud to say, this was the very first model I’ve ever given away.

The tale of the four Famos

Yes, I know it’s not the name of the vehicle. But since Sd.Kfz.9 does not roll off the tongue as smoothly, and since everyone calls this half-track Famo , I’ll call it Famo , and you’ll just have to deal with it.

I always had a fascination with halftracks, especially the 251 series (more on that later). The angular shapes make it look like a futuristic vehicle, rather than something from WWII. Compared to this, the Famo looks very traditional, albeit oversized. (Ridiculously so, in fact. It dwarfs the people who are driving it.) It’s a truck with tracks.

No, those are average-sized humans, not Gimli’s relatives.

The Famo was HUGE, in other words. It could tow the heavies guns, and three of them were theoretically able to tow even a Tiger.

Anyhow, as all half-tracks, the Famo was modified over and over again, with several interesting-looking conversions. The Germans –as usual– stuck an 88 on top, but they also used several different cranes on top of it.

Revell has come out long time ago with an excellent 1/72 kit, and a couple of years ago Trumpeter has started to churn out their own versions. (Well, I hoped they would. They stopped at two.) There has been a lot of aftermarket conversion available since the Revell version came out, but fortunately for the stingy, Trumpeter did issue a vehicle with a 6-ton crane installed.

This left me with no choice. I had to try both the Revell and the Trumpeter flavored Famos, and I had to have the Flak88 conversion, along with the 6-ton crane one. That meant four kits total.

The two companies produced two excellent, although quite different models. Both of them have more parts than your average 1/35 kit.

The Revell kit is easier to build; it has a lot of details, link and length tracks, and the plastic is nice to the touch.

The Trumpeter kits are a bit more difficult to build; there are more parts (and a lot of details), individual track links, and a more brittle, less friendly plastic. The moulding quality is not as good as the Revell kit’s. It feels a bit less sophisticated, to be honest, but the end result is excellent. I thought the tracks were insane, but to be honest, I have not built the Hobby Boss Toldi I yet. Why did I not like the tracks? You get individual track links, as I said, but the tracks are made up by two parts: the metal tracks, and the rubber shoes that come on top. The problem is the fit is not perfect, so it’s more difficult to make the tracks look good, AND it takes forever to clean everything. But then again: the Toldi tracks are way-way-way worse. The absolute highlight of this kit? The engine, no doubt. It’s a small model on its own right. Trumpeter also has the trailer issued. I was tempted to put a Famo on top of the trailer, but sanity prevailed- I saved a 20 dollars by not purchasing the trailer itself.

One thing is common in both kits: the bloody with indicator rods keep breaking like nobody’s business. I pray for an aftermarket replacement made out of metal.

Parts, parts, parts – the Revell offering.

Revell-Trumpeter-Trumpeter with crane

Revell Famo finished in German gray.

Trumpeter Famo finished in late-war camo pattern. Hand painting was the name of the game back then – I was living in a student accommodation. (Good times… Mature student in the midst of undergrad hell. There were late nights I wished I had a paintball gun.)

I’ve enhanced it with a Famo detail kit: comes with cargo and tarp. If anyone’s interested I can find the company’s name in my ebay history, but I cannot be asked to look it up right now… I replaced the rods with wire as cleaning the plastic parts meant breakage in a massive scale. (Delicate, long parts with attachment points, and mould-lines.)

Flak 88…

As I said I have a deep-seated fascination with this gun. This was the reason I switched to ground stuff from airplanes: I was completely won over by the excellent DML offering.

The conversion set comes from CMK. The fit of the armored cab is excellent, and -despite of my misgivings about building the armored cab due to my limited skills with PE- the conversion builds like a dream. Except for the grab handles. Those are just insane.

And last, the 6-ton crane.

This version was used as a useful addition for field shops; it could lift tank engines (although not turrets), and other relatively heavy stuff. Strangely it’s a bit different from the “base” Trumpeter version the with indicators are more chunky, for example. It looks like Trumpeter simplified a lot of details for this model. It builds up into a nice representation of the original, though. The horrible (but not as horrible as the Toldi’s) tracks remained, though. The only real challenge was to make sure the cables are tight; in this scale thread (I used my own synthetic thread not the one provided by Trumpeter) has a tendency to be very “rigid”; it does not have the same sag as a real metal cable does. A lot of superglue, and reasonably tight fit helped to solve this issue somewhat. I wanted to depict the crane in the process of lifting an engine (conveniently from a Famo), but the engine looked weightless regardless of what I did. In the end I just put the crane into a travel position.

Overall, I’m really happy with both company’s kits; if I had to choose to build another one it’d be the Revell offering, though. Due to the limitation of my skills with paintbrushes, I’m not very satisfied with the late-war camos, but I’ll have to live with them; there’s no way I’m building yet another Famo version to bring out the airbrush. Unless it has an 88 on top, while towing another one.

DML 1/144 Leopold Railway Gun

This one is a very old build. I bought it at least ten years ago; it seemed like a saner option than buying the 1/35 version made by Dragon. (Not to mention a cheaper one.) The subject is one of those atavistic, yet mind-blowing things of the Second World War: a gigantic gun that is mounted onto a railway carriage. Tactical and operational mobility is almost zero; and good luck if you want to turn the gun 20 degrees. It’s useful if you want to lob shell after shell on a faraway target, if your target is large enough, and stationary enough. (They had to build the railroad tracks usually before the deployment of the gun, and it does take time. The rate of fire was also somewhat low; a couple of shells every day. Additionally, you have to factor in the wear and tear on the gun; the lining had to be changed quite frequently, which also lowered the strategic value of these weapons.) But to be fair if you want to cause damage and kill, you just use bombers. It’s cheaper and more flexible. (If you really must cause damage and kill, of course. For one, I prefer these things in 1/144 scale.) The non-plus ultra of this insanity was the Dora railway gun; a the largest gun ever built, with an average rate of fire of two shells per day. I do have it somewhere in 1/144, waiting to be built. It’s a huge model even in this scale, by the way. The 1/35 scale model of this thing is over two meters long by the way…

Back to the 1/144 Panzer Korps. As I said before, these kits are amazing; small gems in fact. I should have bought all I could when they were still in production, and were readily available. This is the gun in all its glory. The detail is astonishingly sharp and very, very good; some 1/72 models could hang their heads in shame looking at this level of detail. And you get photoetched parts, of course. And a metal barrel. Everything nicely pre-packaged, waiting for you to start. The build was amazing. (As a personal note: I still remember watching the Wedding crashers with my girlfriend while I was building it. It’s strange how things like this associate themselves with the model…) The build was a joy. The only challenging part was to glue together the railway sections, and fill in the seams so that they don’t stand out. (The surface is really rough, so I had to try to make the surface of the filler look similarly rough. In other words: it was not a difficult build.) The PE really does enhance this little gun. There is a crew provided, but I decided very early on not to include the little dudes. I usually don’t add figures to my models, because no matter how well they are done (and I cannot paint them well enough) they look artificial, and ruin the illusion of the model for me. We are getting into philosophy here, but let me explain it quickly. I think we all accept that a scale model is a representative 3D image of the real thing, and only that. It does not try to be the tank in a smaller scale. This is why we accept heavier weathering on models than on the real tanks; we accept that it is not a direct, smaller copy, but only the representation of the real vehicle. Kind of like a technical drawing, or a painting, and as such it overemphasizes certain things. By adding a lot of scratches, dust and dirt we show that this tank had a story, it was used. Adding a crew changes the model; it makes it a bit toy-like for me. (We’re not discussing dioramas, of course. Dioramas tell a story, which is a different matter altogether.) So, back to the model at hand. In the background you can see a 1/72 DML T-34/76, and a 1/72 DML Mi-28 Havoc… The first layer of paint was black, of course, and then successive layers of lighter and lighter German gray. Because the scale is so small, the final color should be really light. The Leopold only looks dark on these photos because of the gloss coat applied.   A flat coat makes it look much lighter. It also seals the decals. Filters applied using oil paints. Mostly white, burnt umber and blue, applied using the dot method. I did not want to overdo the weathering (after all, you would not be seeing any scratches and rust from a distance that corresponds this scale), but a little fading, some discoloration due to rain does make the model feel more “real”.     A little size comparison: 1/35 Stug IV, 1/144 Leopold, Thor, JgdPanther and some Hetzer-based howitzer whose name I forgot. (Apologies for that.)  

Revell Panzer IV ausf H Flakpanzer 88 conversion

 

Image Source: Henk’s website henk.fox3000.com

I chose this vehicle as my first scratchbuild attempt. It looked relatively easy to do, it looked cheap(ish), and the tank, let’s face it, looks crazy. The Germans seemed to have a philosophy of “if we can stick an 88 on top of it, we’ll stick an 88 on top of it”, and they did. They put 88s on everything they could think of: trucks and halftracks mostly, but among others, on top of a PnzIV chassis as well. (The only reason they did not stick an 88 on top of another 88 is that it would have looked stupid even for them.) The vehicle looks wicked, but it’s easy to see this tank topple, should the gun fire in any other direction than straight forward or backward… It certainly does not seem like the most stable contraption. Perhaps this was one of the reasons they did not build more of this. The other reason was most likely the stress the gun put onto the suspension; after all, it was a heavy gun, and the recoil also was quite severe. (Don’t forget the ausf H version was already overstressing the chassis.)

Fortunately for us, Revell makes an excellent PnzIV ausf H, which I used as a base model, and I got a cheap(ish) 88 from Hasegawa to stick on top in the well-established German fashion. (I say cheapish, because for ten quid it’s not particularly good. I had to drill out the barrel, for one, and the detail is soft altogether.)

The first cut with a small razor saw… this is the point of no return. Unfortunately I have not made any more photos of the building process. In short, I successfully removed the extra bits (without completely destroying the rest), and glued evergreen cut to size to form the “fighting compartment” of the gun. I waited for months for this part, because I was desperately looking for appropriately sized no-slip surface PE sheets, but found none. I have managed to find one set, of course, right after I finished the model.

With this step, the conversion part was essentially over. (Babysteps. I’m happy with the first major scratchbuild I did. Next: BT-SV.)

From here on, everything was straightforward.

The photo shows two tanks patiently awaiting their first layer of paint: Citadel’s black primer.

The second color, dunkelgelb, in several light layers. The black acts as a pre-shade.

The first fitting of the gun onto the deck of the tank. The gun is still black; later it was painted German gray.

I wanted to give some contrast to the model, so I painted the added bits red-oxide color, as if the builders were too lazy to paint the converted parts. Most likely they would have painted over the primer on the metal to protect it, and to decrease the contrast -after all, anti-aircraft vehicles were prime targets for ground attack airplanes. They probably would have repainted the gun itself as well; I gave it a gray color, which was the original color used in AA batteries. I wanted to make it look like a conversion: they took a used chassis and a used gun, and mated them together. The gun is slightly elevated, and offset – it looks more dynamic this way. It’s a shame it’s not movable.

The tank received a moderate amount of wear and tear, some dust and rust; not too much, but I did want to make it look like a used tank. I added some paint chips around the hatches and edges using dark brown, and some lighter scratches using a lightened base color. A soft lead pencil was used to give a metallic shine to the edges. I added a lot of dust onto the fighting compartment; after all, there were at least 4 people manning the gun, and they won’t be wiping their boots before climbing up to their station. The wicker ammo holder was strategically placed onto the mudguard to cover up the holes… Filling them in would have been a major inconvenience, as it would have damaged the no-slip marks, and getting a PE replacement would have been expensive. (And frankly: I was pleased  with myself that it was not damaged at the cutting phase; I was not about to remove it after all that suffering.) I placed some empty shell casings around the gun to make it look a little bit more “lived in”, and called it a day. Later on I plan to add some more crew equipment (helmets, personal items, etc), but I’ll need to find a good aftermarket set first.

ModellTrans Superpershing Conversion (Trumpeter Superpershing M26E4)

 

This is one of the tanks I learned about in World of Tanks… it looks strange with the added armor, and it’s somewhat of a black sheep in the game-  a perfect subject to model in other words. It’s disliked because even for a premium tank -a tank you  buy for money- it is not really good. Premium tanks, in general, should be slightly worse than their equal tier counterparts, since the game is supposed to be free to play, not pay to win; they are for credit earning, and crew training mostly. However, some are great (IS-6, Tpye59), some earn incredibly well, but not very good (JagdPanther88), while some are lemons (like the Super Pershing is supposed to be).  The speed is abysmal, the spaced armor is less and less effective, as more and more high-powered guns are introduced, and the gun- which in real life was in par with the Tiger II’s 88- is mediocre at best. Overall it’s not a good tank, but I use it a lot, because it does earn credits.

Anyway; HobbyBoss is producing a 1/35 version, and ModellTrans has a conversion for the 1/72 market. Since lately I’m focusing on the braille scale models, I got the conversion. It’s OK, but not stellar. I found a couple of casting errors, bubbles, and some prominent missing features. One of the hatches from the turret is missing; and ModellTrans did not provide extra track links for the turret side mounts. This is annoying because I could not find any aftermarket tracks for this tank. I used a Tiger hatch to cover up the commander’s cupola, which is absolutely incorrect, but was the right size. The original hatch opened up in the middle, and had a periscope built in; I just could not be bothered trying to scratchbuild one. My laziness, I know, but there are projects you are willing to pour time and effort into, and there are projects in which you are not.

Modeltrans offering

The conversion is very straightforward. It uses Trumpeters T26E4 as a base kit, so you get the long gun, and the chassis; you only need to add the turret and the hull armor. There is nothing to fix the massive resin turret onto the hull (it does not fit into the turret ring), so I used a lot of epoxy glue to attach it securely.

I should have scratch-built the Jerrycan holders attached to the hull, which are very prominent in-game, but in this scale they were just too thin for me to even attempt fashioning them using Evergreen strips.

Getting to the first layer

I decided to go for the in-game camo I use; it’s a nice, three colored pattern, and looks unique- just like the tank itself.

The model was sprayed with a Tamiya sand colored spraycan as a base layer.

 

 

I then used a brush to try to apply the second color: green. The results were horrible.

I cried a bit, then the model was put into storage until the compressor and airbrush I had ordered online arrived.

Used a little tan to fad away the horror. (I also noticed the gap between the turret and the counterweight, which was promptly filled in, and the spraying step was repeated.)

It was not necessary to completely remove the remains of the failed attempt; they were to serve as a nice pre-shade for the actual green. I used BlueTac to mask the yellow areas, and then sprayed a thin, and very much lightened green color on top. I did not want big contrast between the three colors, so I used tan to “tie” them together. Tan is good to lighten up colors, anyway; in this case it was the base color.

Another round of masking, and the brown-tan mixture was sprayed on.

Removing the mask is always a bit stressful. I was worried about the results, but the pattern came out nicely; not much retouching was needed. The non-uniform coverage of the green and brown actually looks nice; it looks like faded paint.

I used Citadel yellow (not sure which shade exactly) to paint the demarcation lines between the colors. I chose this paint because it has a very good coverage, and yellow is a difficult color to paint evenly. It is difficult even with airbrush, but it gets worse when you are doing it by hand. Truth be told I could have started masking and spraying, but just the thought made me break out in cold sweat. I opted for the riskier but less labor-intensive solution: thin brush, steady hands. Not the best work I’ve ever done (it’s a bit uneven), but the alternative would have been much worse: insanity.

After the camo was done, I did quite a lot of layers of filters. Yellow, brown, green, and blue  oil paints were used in a very thin mixture. For the first layer or two I did not see any difference; but it does blend everything together after a couple of more applications. I painted the periscopes green (using the Warhammer method), did some pin washes with burnt umber, and with some black on the engine grilles, added rust and some exhaust residues onto and around the exhaust pipe, some dust with pigments, and some dried mud onto the lower chassis/mudgards. As usual, some soft pencil was used on the edges to give the model a metallic look. I didn’t add paint chips and other wear and tear because I wanted to show a relatively new vehicle; there was only one Super Pershing on the front with this setup, and it was not in action for very long, anyway. If it’s any consolidation, I’m in the process of really, really muddy up a Tas heavy tank, and a Tas tank destroyer, so there will be some heavily used vehicles featured here soon(ish).

One of the extra armor “cheeks” (the left one on the picture below) had a bubble in it, so it essentially had a little hole in it; I decided to make it into a battle damage, rather than attempting to fill it in (I’m lazy as we have established already). I added some metallic color around, and made it look like the paint was burned a bit by the impact.

Overall, the results are OK. The conversion is not perfect, the base kit is really nice, and the build is not difficult. Once it comes out of storage (I’m in the middle of a move right now) I think I’ll work on the dust and mud a bit more, because it looks a bit coarse, and also add some realistic surface to the base it was mounted on.

DML 1/144 Tiger I’s

 

I love these little guys. It’s a shame they are difficult to get, but Dragon’s 1/144 series of armor is just really, really nice. The detail is astonishingly crisp (many 1/72 kits have softer, worse detail), the assembly is simple… the best quick-and-dirty project you can ask for. In less than an hour you get two models built; a couple of hours more, and they’re ready.

I have built a couple of these kits over the years; the Jagdpanzer IV has been featured previously. (I built their Leopold Rail Gun, and the Karl Morser as well. All of them are excellent little models. If I can, I’ll get my hands on a couple of more.)

There’s not much to tell about the construction. The tanks are made up from 5-6 parts, most of which are already separate

d from their sprue, so you don’t even have cut them off. The only problem I found was with the photoetch engine grilles of the Afrika Korps version. (Yes, these models come with photoetch.) The molded-on air filter for the engine goes across the engine grilles, so it’s not possible to install the PE screens… which is kind of annoying. The other issue I found was that this very same tank is presented with steel-rimmed roadwheels -I think. In this scale it’s difficult to tell, but the other Tiger has definite grooves set onto the sides of the wheels, signifying the rubber tires. Since this was missing in the Afrika Korps Tiger, I assume it’s supposed to have the st

eal rimmed wheel setup. Which is historically incorrect. (Both Tiger I.’s are from the early series, which came with rubber tires.) The tracks are given as flexible bands; unfortunately one of them broke (the fit is really tight).

After an aborted attempt with a paintbrush, I did the painting steps along with other tanks to be able to rationalize the use of airbrush in such a small scale… It would have been a bit silly to fire up the compressor for two tiny models. Getting them

done on an assembly line, however, allowed me to get a nice finish on the paintjob in the simplest way possible. (It IS hard to achieve good results with paintbrushes. Not impossible, but hard.) The tools and cables were pained very carefully with the edge of a very thin paintbrush. I made sure the brush held only a very small amount of paint to make sure there would be no run-offs from the delicate details; this was a hybrid version of brush painting-drybrushing… the results are not perfect, but they would do.

The models were primed black, and then I used sand/tan, and German gray/tan to give them their final camo color. These colors need to be lightened significantly to account for the scale effect – I used tan for this purpose. (White is not ideal for lightening

a color; it makes colors look flat and plain.) Once the decals were dry I sprayed semi-matte varnish on the models to protect them.  The only finicky thing to paint was the rubber tires of the road-wheels.

Weathering was done very lightly. Due to the scale of the models, subtlety was necessary. I used thin brownish paint to do pin washes, which did bring out the details nicely. The wash was light both in color and application; after all the panel lines would not be very much visible in this scale. (This is a matter of taste -and the purpose of the model. For example Warhammer 40k models usually go for the heavily accented panel lines to show contrast.) The same goes for the dust/mud. If you see apparent dust on the model, it would mean the real vehicle would have been probably covered by  dust centimeters thick. I used a brush to layers of earth colored pigments dissolved in water onto the sides and top, and once dried, I used a stiff brush to remove most of it. Since I put these guys into display cases, I did not use any fixer. As a final touch I ran a soft leaded pencil over the raised details, rubbed it lightly against the surface of the mud guards; this gives a nice metallic sheen to the model. Paint chips and rust patches were not applied (as they should not be visible in this scale).

I got some tiny display cases on ebay, so keeping them safe from harm and dust is not a problem. The Afrika Korps Tiger got the cobblestone street base, and the gray Tiger got the grassy one. I added quite a lot of earth colored pigments to both base to make them look less artificial. (The green was especially plastic-like with the uniformly colored mud.) Unfortunately I don’t have my “proper” camera with me, so the photos are not the best; I’ll try to remedy this issue later. (I’m  in the middle of moving residences.)

 

 

 

Revell M60 -a ghost from the past

OK, this one is a personal thing. My then-girlfriend bought it, so she could try her hand in modelbuilding. She was very sweet; she wanted to see what my hobby is like.

Then she got her degree, and went back to China; the model was left unfinished. We decided to finish it together. She said if I can’t find a job there, she would come back to make her life here with me. I visited once, we were talking about weddings and such, but about six months after my visit she disappeared, and have not heard from her since.

So yeah. This model was in my spares box, waiting to be finished; a constant reminder of unfinished things in life. I thought it might be therapeutic to finally complete this model.

Nothing special: just desert camo, because I liked the way the Egyptian M60s looked (although no markings), with some rust and dust on the dozer blade, and some scratches and dust on the tank itself. The commander’s machine gun, and the decal sheet has been lost.

 

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.

 

Armada Hobby: MAZ 537G late

Yeah… this one is a BIG truck. Eight wheels and all. Designed to work in mud, frost, quite possibly under the sea as well… One of the coolest looking truck I’ve ever seen -although this is highly subjective, of course. Others might like the angular shapes of the Western-made trucks. They are wrong, of course, but who am I to judge? To me it looks like it has character – like something out of a hauler version of Thomas the Tank Engine. Ivan the Eight Wheeler, perhaps? (Apologies for the bad joke.)

The model is made by Armada, and I have to say, it’s one of the best 1/72 resin model (possibly one of the best 1/72 in any medium) I’ve ever seen. The instructions are clear (which is something of a novelty when it comes to resin models from any model maker), the parts are well-cast, delicate and well-detailed.

Assembly is straightforward. The wheel hubs fit into the suspension parts like a glove – very well designed parts. I had my worries when I saw how they are supposed to be put together, as I have some experience with resin kits, but I was pleasantly surprised.

The cab is dressed up by the PE quite nicely. The mudguards are well-done, but are made of two segments, which make the assembly a bit awkward. This is only the first part attached. The second one is an overhang, which has to be attached to the front parts, and to the chassis using PE brackets at the same time. This makes alignment really difficult.

I really am sorry that the engine compartment is closed… An engine would have been an amazing addition to this kit.

Dryfitting. The cab and the superstructure behind it are only placed onto the chassis to check the fit. They were only glued on after the painting process was complete.

The cockpit is painted (it’s not very detailed, but not much can be seen through the windows), the cab is closed, all is glued on. The second part of the mudguards finally fixed onto the model… it was probably the most difficult part of the built. First layer of paint. Not very convincing.

I tried to mix that brownish color the Hungarian vehicles were painted in, instead of the typical T-34 Russian green color, which was the first attempt.

I have to say, after some trial and error, the mixture looks good. You can also see the brackets holding the second parts of the mudguards.

Another view.

All glued on, wheels added. The back ones are not completely aligned. I think the wheel hubs should be glued on with the wheels already on; this would make the alignment easier.

The windscreen was cut out from the provided transparent sheet, and all the tiny PE added. I printed out some decals using an ink-jet printer. I wanted to depict a Hungarian vehicle, with relatively little wear and tear. (Not many muddy roads to go around.) I mounted the model onto the base of an old car-display case; I will have to work on the surface a bit more.

As an ex-soldier friend immediately pointed out the license plate is wrong; the military uses their own numbering systems. Oh well.

I really was worried about this build, and kept putting it off; the number of parts, the complexity, and the worries about accuracy made me anxious to start it. But the thing is, this was the best braille model I’ve ever built. I think. I certainly enjoyed building it the most.

Revell Panzer IV ausf H with Hungarian markings

The first of the pnzIV’s I’ve built in the last couple of months… Only got a turned metal barrel, as you really don’t need anything else for this kit. (OK, the side-skirts could have been switched to PE, but they look pretty good out of plastic, too.) I did notice the barrel makes an incredible difference. When you use the plastic barrels provided with models you can’t really see the tiny irregularities, the seams, the marks left by sanding, unless you look for them, but your brain notices. Swapping the plastic barrel for a metal one is the easiest thing to do to improve your model’s looks. It also saves you from the pain of trying to remove a longitudinal seam.

Guest performer: a Flak88 conversion I’ve been working on since October.

I had this kit since two years ago when I finally found it in a ModelZone in Manchester. The decision to build it was not really made consciously. There were several factors: the currently ongoing Flak campaign on Armorama where I planned to build a pnzIV with a flak88 conversion. I had two boxes of the same kit (the second one came from ebay for about $5). And last but not least I also had the 1/72 Bison decal set for Hungarian tanks. So instead of one tank I built two in parallel.

The tracks are given as link-and-length plastic tracks, which would make assembly awkward should you decide to glue the two halves of the hull together. This necessitates building an painting the model in two halves.

The tracks are on, the lower hull is weathered (it’s easier to apply pigments before you glue the roadwheels on).

The tracks are OK. They are easy to work with, and do look convincing; the plastic is elastic and soft enough so you can bend it to shape on the top; after all, there should be a slight sag between the return rollers. NOW you can glue the two halves together. Next step: painting the tools, and adding some paint chips with a darker version of the yellow onto surfaces/edges. I tried to choose parts which are subjected to wear and tear by the crew and by the environment (hatches, mudguards, side-skirts, etc).

Weathering: pinwashes and filters using oils. I also applied a very light layer of pigments dissolved in water onto the vertical surfaces to simulate dust.

Pigments dissolved in white spirit are applied to the lower part of the side-skirts and the chassis to add some wet-mud effect.  The whole “Hungarian markings” come from two small insignia placed onto the side-skirts… not a very difficult job. After drying the paintwork and decals were sealed with a very light matte varnish spray.

Last step: the good old pencil along the edges to add some metallic shine. Glue the tank onto the base of the display case, and done.

 

Scale model building – amateur style