T18 75mm Howitzer Motor Carriage (1/72 Modelltrans conversion)

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There is not much information floating around about this vehicle. It was a self-propelled gun that was designed for close infantry support in 1941 using a 75mm howitzer. The gun was built in using a gun mount adapted from the M3 Grant. Two mild steel prototypes were built on the M3 chassis, but they were not successful during their trial on the Aberdeen Proving Ground. They had a high profile, and they were nose-heavy, which meant their performance suffered considerably. These issues lead to the cancellation of the T18 project. The successor of the vehicle was the M8 where the howitzer was placed into a rotating turret.

While the SPG did fail its field tests, I think we all can agree it would have passed based on looks – it is probably one of the cutest armored vehicle I’ve seen (if you can use this word about a weapon of war). It used to be an extremely overpowered tank destroyer in World of Tanks, which was used extensively for seal-clubbing. Now they turned it into an artillery piece, with is historically more accurate.

The conversion

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The conversion set is marked as designed for the Stuart models by Mirage Hobby –but it does not specify which type of the many Stuarts from the line. I made a mistake -the first of several in the duration of this build-, and ordered the wrong one. This meant scratchbuilding the two mufflers and the boxes behind the mufflers which sit on the mudguards… not very successfully, I might add.

The kit comes in the usual Modelltrans blister pack. It consists of exactly two parts, so the conversion itself is not very difficult. We get the superstructure and the gun itself. The details are very nice on the parts, but the attachment point to the casting block on the main superstructure is at a very delicate place. The problem is that it’s very thick, and it’s right at the very delicate and fragile mudguards; extreme care needs to be taken when sawing it off. (And as usual: be very careful when working with resin. It’s best using a wet-sawing, wet-sanding technique to minimalize dust production, as the fine resin dust is quite bad for health.) There were some casting issues on the superstructure: at places the resin was flaking off, or were downright cracked. You can also see how the superstructure was cast: as if Modeltrans had used a strip of plastic to make the armor thicker, but did not bother enough to hide the outlines of this plastic strip. This can be easily dealt with some filling and sanding, though, unless you forget about it until you put on the camo already, at which point you decide to just ignore the issue. (As I did. As I said: long line of mistakes during the build of this small tank.)

 

 

 

 

building

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The assembly is dead easy: the superstructure needs to be mated with the plastic lower hull, the gun needs to be attached, and various kit parts glued to the superstructure.

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The superstructure’s fit onto the hull of a Mirage Hobby Stuart is not perfect; I needed to doctor the base kit a bit with a scalpel.

I could not find good scale drawings about the vehicle, so I used World of Tanks as a reference. It helped me to decide where to place the fuel tank caps onto the model, and it was useful for determining where to put the tools and other plastic parts coming from the Mirage Hobby kit. The machine guns barrels for the side-mounts can be adapted from the kit machine guns.
As I said I have chosen the “wrong” Stuart version: the M5A1 has the whole back of the chassis covered with armor plates, while the T18 was based on an earlier M3 chassis. The main difference for us is the mufflers were exposed, and there were two storage boxes mounted on the mudguards behind them. I’ve cobbled together some sort of replacement for these, but they are far from satisfactory.

The painting was quick. I wanted to replicate a camo scheme from World of Tanks: a very light green/grey base with darker green areas. I applied black primer, then covered it with neutral grey. I figured the green hue will be added by the subsequent filters. The green patches were added using an airbrush: with the paint flowing, I simply moved the parts of the model I wanted to paint into the way of the pait spray…

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The details were painted with a thin brush and using Citadel’s paintsl; I’ve also glued the tracks on. As you can see they’re not the best fit; I find these rubber band tracks hard to install, unless I can hide the ends under a mudguard, where they cannot be seen.

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I always liked the rubbed-off paint on metal effect on models (and real vehicles). Since I was less and less inspired to finish the model, I was ready to experiment. I simply -and carefully- rubbed the edges of the superstructure against a piece of cloth, until the black primer was exposed. This really made the tank look like it’s been through some tough times.

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The next steps were the filters: green filters did make the grey look greenish… (No big surprise, but still: big relief here.)
Some light brown and blue filters further modified the colors, and I had to use some yellow as well, as the blue made everything look very cold.
Pin washes were used on the recessed details.

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The last steps were to use Tamiya’s weathering set to add yellowish hues to the superstructure (I used the light sand colors, but only in a very light layers, as in this case I wanted to show discoloration, and not dust). I have to say, this last touch bought the model alive; suddenly it became realistic-looking.

I used mud to simulate dirt on the chassis and the suspension. The obligatory soft lead pencil was used to make the edges look metallic -which looks really convincing on the worn areas, where the black shows through.

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I’ve tried AK Interactive’s fuel stains as well on the fuel caps; I’m sure you don’t get as much spilled fuel on any tank, but at least it makes it look more interesting.

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All in all, apart from the mistakes I’ve made through this project, the result looks nice. I just have to make sure it’s not displayed showing its “bad” side.

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Churchill GC (1/72 Modelltrans conversion)

 

 

I’ve learned about this tank the first time when it was introduced into the online game World of Tanks, where it acquired somewhat of a hipster tank reputation. (It was so underperforming that certain people felt compelled to play it…) The looks sold this vehicle for me: it definitely looks unique. (Too bad about the in-game stats…)

It’s really difficult to find much information about this tank destroyer online. About fifty Churchill tanks were converted into tank destroyer roles (the numbers vary between 24 and 50) between 1941-’42. The increase of firepower in case of the Churchill was always problematic as the turret was too small to significantly upgrade the gun it can house. The largest guns they could fit was the widely used 6 pounder, and the 75mm gun derived from it. By going the usual tank destroyer way, the tank has lost its turret, but received a larger, more effective gun in return. The 3 inch anti-aircraft gun was housed in a thick boxy superstructure (frontal thickness 3.5inch) using a ball mount. Not one of these conversions saw combat, and were used later on for target practice… as you can see it on the example remaining in Bovingdon.(A shame, really. It would be nice to see this tank restored.)

 

 

 

 

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The Conversion

The conversion comes in a ModellTrans blister pack as usual, which is quite an effective way to protect the parts from damage. Quality of resin is good, so the cleanup is relatively straightforward. The detail is also very nice for this scale. We get a new upper chassis for the Churchill, the boxy superstructure, the gun, and two tool boxes.

One issue with the kit is the track covers. Modelltrans has included the blast covers at each ends; they were only fitted to turreted tanks to protect the covers when the main gun was fired. The reason is probably simple: Modelltrans simply used a mould of an existing upper hull section without any alterations.

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(Just ignore the T18. That’s the topic of the next post.)

The conversion is really easy. It is designed for the DML kits, so I’m not sure if it fits the Airfix, Hasegawa or Italeri offerings, but knowing their quality in comparison to the DML one, it’s probably better to use the DML kit anyway. The resin upper chassis fits very well onto the Churchill model; it can actually be snapped into place. The superstructure’s fit is also quite good, although there were some gaps where putty had to be used. Overall there are no real issues with assembly at all. The conversion essentially builds itself if you shake the box hard enough… One detail is missing: the vertical tubes next to the boxes mounted onto the superstructure. These should not be very difficult to scratchbuild, but I still would have preferred to get them.

 

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The painting went the usual way: black primer spray was followed by a dark green colour. I tried to get it as close as possible to the dark green #24 used by the British forces, but I also needed to lighten it to take the scale effect in account, and to pre-plan for the subsequent weathering steps.

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Highlights were added using the usual Citadel snot green colour… 🙂 (I love their names; bestial brown and vomit brown especially.) I’m always worried these will stand out, but by the end of weathering they usually blend in quite well.

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Weathering went relatively fast. I started with the usual filters -both pre-diluted, and the oil paint-dot methods-, but then wanted to try something quick and fast. I have bought a couple of those Tamiya make-up kits (weathering products that look like a compact make-up kit for women), and tried the sand, light sand and mud colours as filters. If you use light sand and sand in a very thin, irregular layer, it looks like armour discolouration and dust accumulation; a pretty convincing effect when you think about how you achieve it. (By petting your model with a small sponge, essentially.)

These colours went on thicker on the lower chassis to simulate dirt; gunmetal was added to the edges, and the tracks with the same method. I have to say, the results were quite satisfactory, and more importantly: easy.

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Since finally I have bought a new camera (a Nikon D3300), I was playing a little with the aperture settings, and how they affect the field of depth. The difference between large and small aperture is pretty apparent. (Not strictly relevant to our, but an interesting comparison.)

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MS-1 (Armory, 1/72)

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History

This little tank was the first mass produced Soviet tank (almost a thousand was made), and the humble forefather of the later successful Soviet tank designs. Due to its historical significance it is a welcomed addition to the Armory offerings.

The T-16 (prototype T-18) was heavily based on foreign designs, primarily the FT-17, the first archetypical tank. (The Soviets have made several copies of captured FT-17s.) It was a rear-engine, fully riveted design with a crew of two (commander and driver). The engine was a license-build 35 hp Fiat truck engine, the gun was a modified French 37mm SA 18 gun with a semi-automatic breech (this gun was used in many contemporary light tanks), and the suspension was a modified Renault design. A curious design feature was that the 7.62mm Hotchkiss machine gun and the main gun were placed at a 45 degree angle in the turret. The prototype was not successful, as it had mobility problems (transmission failures), and had issues crossing wider trenches. The improved version, named as T-18 or MS-1 was, however, accepted for production after several rounds of redesign. (MS stands for Maliy Soprovozhdeniya-Perviy: light support vehicle.)

The production T-18/MS-1 had an extra support roller, a redesigned independent vertical spring suspension, and an improved 40 hp Russian-designed engine, which increased the maximum speed to a whopping 17kmph. (Nobody said early tanks were fast.) Its weigh was increased to 5 tons. The riveted armor was overall 8mm on the turret, and 16 mm on the hull. Instead of an optical sight, the vehicle was equipped with an obsolete dioptre sight (similar to what you’d normally find on rifles).

The tank was only a minor improvement over the FT-17. It was slightly faster, more maneuverable, and a bit better armored. Overall, due to the high rate of fire it was quite effective against infantry, but not very useful against other armored vehicles.

The tank was already obsolete when it got into production in 1931, so it saw limited service (mostly on the Far East), and it was mainly used as a training vehicle. It also served as a useful testbed for Russian designers. In 1941 the still operational tanks were upgraded with a 45mm gun in a new turret with the designation T-18M after the German invasion of the Soviet Union.

Fortunately there are several surviving examples of this vehicle; useful photos can be found at http://the.shadock.free.fr/Surviving_MS1_T27.pdf

The arergard.com webpage has some really interesting photos of an MS-1 restoration process, which can be used as a great source of reference for the build.

The box

Armory supplies the model in a thin paper box with the built model’s photo on the front. It was packaged very safely, so none of the parts were damaged. The parts are very finely cast, and they have thin films of resin to be cleaned up – this is not surprising or unexpected in resin kits. The hull and the cupola are supplied as one piece, and most of the resin is used to make the running gear and tracks. The tail is a multi-part PE assembly which can be quite challenging. (Before bending large PE sheets it’s worth gently heating it up over an open flame; it makes it easier to shape. Be careful as you can easily burn the metal, though.)

The main dimensions of the kit measure up accurately to the real vehicle as far as I was able to ascertain (I found a scale drawing for both the MS-1 (http://www.tanks-encyclopedia.com/ww2/soviet/photos/drawing_T18.jpg) and the T-18 SPG version, a lot of photos and used the dimensions found in encyclopaedias).

Some of the parts (both resin and PE) are extremely tiny and thin; experience working with resin and PE will be needed for this kit. The suspension units are modelled as one part (fortunately), but they are very delicate: the thickness of the suspension arms is actually smaller than the attachment point itself. This means extreme care needs to be taken while removing them from the casting block as they can be broken very easily. A fine drill will be needed to prepare holes for the swing arms of the return roller on the front of the tank. Strangely the inside face of the drive wheels have ribbing moulded on, but this cannot be seen after assembly. There are some missing parts: namely a headlight and the horn, which are not included in the set.

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The build

The instruction sheet (which is a welcome thing in itself –very few resin models come with one) is computer generated, and clear for the most part; it’s always a good idea to check against photos, though.

The assembly is very straightforward as the model is well engineered. The only challenge was the handling of small parts; there were no fit issues. The leaf springs are to be assembled from individual PE parts; I would have preferred to have them made out of resin. (Assembly can be a bit tedious and it’s quite difficult to line them up correctly.) Drilling a hole in part 8 was quite a tense activity. One thing I noticed, and I’m not sure how it happened is that the roadwheels don’t line up perfectly; the first suspension unit is slightly out of plane. I attached them before gluing the roadwheels on -perhaps doing it the other way around (attaching the roadwheels first) would help to remedy this issue. (The suspension units fit pretty neatly into their attachment points.)

 

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Finicky PE

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Taking shape

 

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First green layer

Well, the green chosen looks a bit too light; I decided to go deliberately lighter than I normally would, as the subsequent weathering steps will darken the base color.

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Light green highlights

I’ve used one of the Citadel greens to highlight certain parts of the model. (Probably snot green or some other delightful color.)

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Filters and washes

I’ve used a lot of pre-diluted colors (oil paints in solvent: mostly burnt umber, burnt sienna, green, blue, yellow), and some dark brown pin washes. I’ve tried Tamiya’s weathering products (the ones that look like make-up kits) to add dust and some dirt on the lower part of the chassis.

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The finished tank

Finally the usual lead pen highlighting of the ridges and rivets – this makes the tank look like it was made of metal, not a piece of resin. I’m quite happy with the results; I’ve always wanted to have one of these in my collection. (As an avid World of Tanks player, this was one of my favorite tanks in tier 1.)

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Flak 88 (DML 1/35)

This was my very first step into the world of armor modelling, back when this kit came out.
It was a revolution of some sort. DML, which was already a respected model maker, suddenly burst into the market with a stunning model of the famous Flak 8.8. You had everything in the box to build the model, AND it cost as much as the only other game in town, the Tamiya offering from the 1970s. And when I say everything, I mean everything. Previously you had to buy metal barrels, PE, figures, individual track links (well this particular model does not have one, but the upcoming models did), etc; aftermarket parts which pushed the total cost of an armor model into the stratosphere. And now DML came, and started to issue newly designed kits using a (then) new technology of slide-moulding, with all these goodies already included – all these for lower prices than the overpriced (and antiquated) Tamiya kits. (I know I’m committing sacrilege here, but seriously: most Tamiya kits were/are reissues from the ’70s, and still show signs of motorization…)

So this was the first shot fired by DML, which was followed by their incredible Tiger series.

As I said, the model was a joy to assemble, even though it was by far the most complex I’ve ever built at that point. DML has found the perfect balance between detail, complexity and ease of build; the model does not feel overengineered or unnecessarily complex. Even the carriage worked the same way as it did in real life – you can actually put the gun into travel position once built. (The gun also has a recoil feature, which I do not understand the need for, but there it is.) I have built two of these kits: one with gun shields and unlimbered, and one on the carriage, without shield, ready to use. (These guns were designed to be used before unlimbering them; it took 8 minutes to do so, and sometimes it was not an option. So you just dropped the supports, and started shooting while still attached to the carriage.)

 

Well, this was the first of those boxes which were so full you could not closet them again upon opening…

 

You can’t help but admire the presentation.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Flyhawk VK 16.01 – Pz.Kpfw. II Ausf J., 1/72

The VK 16.01 (or unofficially PzKpfw.J.) was a very peculiar design – along with its “sister” the VK.18.01 (or PzKpfw I.F). (VK stands for VersuchsKetten, experimental tracked vehicle; the number 16 stands for the weight and the 01 is the model number.) They share many features but they were designed to perform different roles – namely infantry support in case of the PzKpfwI.F., and reconnaissance in case of the PzKpfw II.J. They shared the same engine, similar hull, same torsion bar suspension and the same tracks; the main difference was the turret and the primary armament.

The concept was a very interesting one, but I think it is safe to say, a very outdated one. We are talking about up-armoring a light tank to heavy tank standards (the frontal armor was 80mm, the sides and turret 50mm), which put its weight to 25 tons -about the same weight as a T-34’s. This tank was supposed to work in a battlefield where increasingly high powered anti-tank guns, and fast, hard-hitting medium tanks were already making it somewhat of an anachronism even before the design process was finished.

It was equipped with a Maybach HL45P engine, which gave it a top speed of 21kmph, and the wide tracks gave it an excellent cross-country mobility. Based on the experiences of the PzKpfwI.F, it was up-armed with a 2cm KwK 38 L/55 gun, and a co-axial MG-34. The turret had only manual traverse. An interesting feature it shares with the PzKpfwI.F. is that the hull was one unit with the superstructure, as opposed to the superstructure being bolted to the hull, as we can see in most German tank designs. MAN produced 22 of these little tanks in 1942; seven made it to the 12th Panzer Division, and were transported to the Eastern Front, and some were given to the 13th Polizei Panzer Kompanie.

This tank (and its sister designs) were not exactly successful in the field however they served as evolutionary steps to the Pz.Kpfw II Ausf L, Luchs.

What’s more important, though, is that this tank (used to be) the most coveted seal-clubbing tank in World of Tanks. (Now its status has been diminished due to its availability in the gift shop now and then.)

The kit comes in the usual Flyhawk box… you know what; it’s the third Flyhawk kit in a row to be featured. What I said about one of them is valid for all: astonishingly good kits, great packaging, scalable difficulty. This one does not come with a metal barrel, but I’ve used one from an aftermarket set. Let’s move on.

The model essentially falls together if you shake the box. It’s an easy build, if you skip on some of the more difficult PE parts -like the lifting hooks on the turret.

I’ve chosen the German grey scheme -again. I was tempted to do a camo pattern I have on my WoT vehicle, but I was pressed by deadlines (I was reviewing the kit), so grey it was.

Painting

Dust and scratches are added

Early and Late VK.18.01, and the VK.16.01 together at last…

Flyhawk VK18.01 (panzer I F.) late version 1/72

The development of this tank has been covered in the previous post; the description of the model is also very similar, so I’d refer you to that post if you are interested.

So, let’s see the build

Box and contents

The model is packaged in the same Flyhawk-style: it keeps the contents save even in case of a nuclear strike. It also looks amazing, although I suspect it’s a bit of an overkill. (Certainly resource-intensive.) The box art is nicer than the Early version’s; you can see the front of the tank.
The parts are ordered on the sprues in a somewhat different layout, but the basic tank is the same. (Obviously.) The quality is outstanding; like a shrunk 1/35 kit. (I keep saying this, because it’s true.)



Build
As usual, the build is straightforward, and you get the different options for PE parts, if you do not like the plastic provided. No metal barrels this time, though, but you get two cool little figures.



The turret without the guns looks like the stupid robot from that insurance commercial…

Going full-brass





Painting
Same color scheme as before: German grey. Perhaps I should have chosen something else than grey, but I wanted to experiment with different painting and weathering styles. This time I’ve used Tamiya paints. They are fine, but dry quickly, so retarder is very much necessary when painting with an airbrush. They are also very sensitive to the dilution- you have to get the water (diluent)/paint ratio just right.



Highlights are added using Tamiya German Grey lightened with Tan

Filters were applied using the dot-method. Oil paint (umber, burnt umber, blue, yellow, green) was dotted onto the surface, and washed off using a damp bush. Damaging to small details if not done carefully.


Dust and scratches are added. The scratches were done using the hair-spray technique: I applied hair-spray to the black primer, and then added the grey. Very gently you can remove some of the paint using a wet paintbrush. (It’s easy to overdo.)
The dust was applied using Tamiya’s make-up kit. (I was lazy.)


Early and Late versions together, side-by-side.

Flyhawk VK18.01 (panzer I F.) early version 1/72

The Panzerkampfwagen I had several experimental versions serving different roles over the years of its development. These versions had very few things in common, aside from the designation. The Ausf C version (VK 601) served as a fast reconnaissance tank, and it shared very little with the Ausf A and B versions. The Ausf D. (VK. 602) was an up-armored version of the Ausf C, while the Ausf F (VK. 18.01) was a completely new design on its own right, which had more common features with the VK 16.01 (Panzerkampfwagen II. Ausf J), than with any of the Panzerkampfwagen I versions. It was designed as a heavily armored infantry assault tank, and was produced by Daimler-Benz and Krauss-Maffei between 1942 and 1943. As with the VK.16.01 it was somewhat of an anachronism, which explains why only 30 of these tanks were produced. It was as heavily armored frontally as a KV-1 (80mm of armor), weighted between 18 and 21 tons, had very wide tracks. The 150HP Maybach HL 45 P engine gave it a comfortable speed of 25kmph. It had overlapping drive wheels, and a torsion-bar suspension; features it shared with the VK.16.01. It had two MG-34s as main armament… which were probably not very sufficient at the time.

Some of these tanks did see combat in the Eastern Front where they were lost (captured or destroyed) very quickly. The remaining tanks were used by training and reserve units.

The model came in the usual Flyhawk packaging: a very sturdy cardboard box with a sleeve, and the parts embedded into shape-cut foam for safety; you’d think the designers have worked in a CPU factory previously. It’s incredibly well done. The sleeve displays a painting of the tank with two crewmen around (the kit is supplied with the crewmen in the same pose as on the artwork), and on the back there’s a short introduction, some photos of the model, and a couple of QR codes. Overall it is a very well designed piece of packaging. The PE fret and the decals are attached to a thin cardboard sheet for extra safety; the other side of the sheet has the same cobblestone print as with the VK 16.01 model. (It can be used as a diorama base, which I find to be a nice touch.) The tank comes with two crewmen, as mentioned, and they are in their own little bag, already separated from their sprues. These figures are produced by Caesar Miniatures.

Yes, these are metal barrels. For MG-34s. In 1/72.

The build was quick; after all, the model has relatively few parts.

One reason to take photos of your models: you spot the mistakes easier. The guns are not perfectly aligned, giving the tank a somewhat goofy looks.

Basecoat: German Grey from Gunze onto a black primer coat. (The Gunze paints are some of the best paints I’ve ever used.) I’ve used some Tan to lighten it.

The raised details were highlighted with some of the base coat with more Tan added.

Weathering steps… lots of filters (greens, blues, yellows), and some careful drybrushing. Not careful enough, though – one of the gun barrels got knocked off accidentally. Not a big issue, since I was going to fix the alignment issue, anyway.

The filter I used was not the dot-method; I simply made a very thin solution of oil paints, and added them onto the model. The extra was wiped away. (On the sides, as well, after taking the photo.) You can see where the extra blue filter did not get removed. This was covered up in the subsequent (discreet) pin-wash step. I added pin washes to the different areas where shadows would be expected in a real vehicle, using a mixture of black and burnt umber.

Some dusting, some metal paint to the tracks, and to the edges of the tank- and we’re done. Here’s the finished model.

Takom 1/144 P1000 Ratte Land cruiser

One can only wonder what went through the minds of the people who designed, and more importantly, approved this project. I’m probably not far off to say that only someone, who plunged a whole planet into a global war for “living space”, could actually look at the plans, and say, yeah, I think it’s feasible.

While it’s very attractive to compare the endless oceans with the endless Steppes, the problem is that while a battleship worked on a sea, while it would not really be feasible on land. The Land Cruiser with its tremendous top speed and maintenance requirements would be a serious impediment to any force that would like to take Russia in a lightning strike. (It would probably never get to Moscow if you took the continental drift into the opposite direction into account.)

It really is not worth talking about the history of the P1000 too much; enough to say that someone actually came up with it in ’41, Hitler approved, and the whole planning process went ahead until ’43. It was not just someone doodling on the back of a napkin. They actually were serious about it.

The project was mercifully axed by Speer in ’43, although I suspect it earned him the nickname Albert “the PartyPooper” Speer in the Wolf’s Lair. To be honest, Speer probably did prolong the war by organizing Germany’s war production on the basis of rational thinking, which was lacking from the rest of the gang. This vehicle is the epitome of all that was wrong (if you take away genocide, and murderous wars, of course) with the Nazi leadership: all grand vision, no practicality. If they had built this lumbering beast, they would have had less steel to build air planes, assault guns and tanks; surely it would have been better for everyone involved. They would even have left a gigantic, cool looking playground for us. Even if it was built, and even if it worked as intended, it would have been highly unlikely that it would have ever fired a shot in anger, unless the front arrived to the factory before it was bombed by the Allied air forces. If we consider the technical issues even the Tiger I was struggling with (constant breakdowns, high maintenance requirements, low operational and tactical mobility), you can imagine what sort of challenges would have this monster meant for its operators. Say, you needed to fix a broken track. Or change one of the road wheels -from the inside row. Or simply get it moving –or change direction- without breaking anything in the automotive mechanism -or the surroundings. Not to mention I can’t imagine the amount of recoil the naval guns would have, but looking at how they had shaken the battleships they were mounted on, I’d think they would have seriously overstressed the suspension. And finally: this vehicle offers a hilariously oversized target for anything that can shoot; it’s pretty difficult to miss, in fact. While Hitler did like big guns (which makes you think if he was overcompensating for something), the fact remains: if you want to kill people, there are more practical ways; like a strategic bomber force, with which the Germans never really bothered with. (For which Great Britain is eternally grateful for them.)

Tankcom has made a risky move to issue a 1/144 model of this paper-panzer, but at least they made it clear on the cover that it’s not an actual, “serious” project. On the cover art we can see several Maus superheavy tanks, the P1000 in its full glory, and a couple of Nazi UFOs in the background shooting lasers (and a V2 rocket for added dramatic effect).

The kit itself is really simple; the whole assembly takes about two hours. There’s a huge opportunity for scratchbuilders: the interior of the turret and the engines simply beg to be built into the model. Since I’m not good at these conversions, I just glued everything together. Interestingly the kit comes with some areal recognition marks, as if any German bomber pilot would have difficulties telling apart a German 1000ton tank from an Allied 1000ton tank. (It would probably have space for a helipad, too.)

Contents of the box

It’s so big, my lightbox is not large enough… I guess I got used to the 1/72 scale tanks, and not the 1/144 scale ships.

Putting it all together





The biggest issue during the build was the question of camouflage. I was pondering what sort of paintjob would this 4 storey vehicle get, and thought of the old-school battleship dazzle camos.

These ones

These patters were designed to break up a ship’s contours, and to make it harder for gunners to range the ship. This, of course, would not work very well on land, as it would be quite easy for a gunner to find an appropriate feature in the landscape to which he could set his sights. It remained a possibility, though.

The other option was to paint a scenic painting of some hills and forest, or a Bavarian village on the side.

In the end I chose bluish colors and bluish filters because the colors of objects tend to look greyish-bluish in the large distances, and lots of horisontal shapes so that it could “blend into” the terrain irreguralities. Since this vehicle is about the size of a four storey house, any sort of camoflage only has a chance to work from a significantly great distance (about 30-40 miles). The naval guns mounted on the vehicle make this distance a feasible engagement range, too. I’m not sure this is the perfect way to paint such a large vehicle (after all, I ignored the hazards Allied air power poses), but I’m happy with the results.
Begin the painting process… black primer (applied from a spray can), and some masking tape. The bloody tape refused to stick; I’ll have to get a stronger one.


Second layer of paint, second layer of masking tape.

After the third layer, the masks are removed… and tears are shed. It took some time to clean up the paintwork; the masking tape did not stick down, so paint did get underneath.

The roadwheels got all three colors applied to them.

After correcting the paintwork, I went on experimenting with filters. I used mainly bluish and yellowish filters pre-diluted; did not work with the oil-dot method. (Perhaps later I’ll give it a go.) I tried True Earth’s ageing/fading products as well with a small degree of success. So far I’ve figured out why they did not work previously: the surface has to be extremely matte.

Once I got sick of the filter work, I added some dust to the lower portions (although looking at the size of the vehicle, I’m not sure it should get dusty too much), ran a soft lead pencil around the edges to give it some metallic looks, and added a touch of rust. The monster is done.

And the finished monster

With a 1/144 Tiger for scale

With the two included Maus tanks

And finally, how big is this thing?

Banana for scale

Roden 1/72 Vomag Flak 88

As we have been discussing this before, the Germans had this tendency of sticking 8.8cm guns onto anything and everything they got their hands on. If they could have, they would have put an 88 onto the top of another 88. Since this is a legendary gun (deservedly or undeservedly; it is, after all, something that’s designed to kill people), and it looks wicked, I’ve been building a lot of models which were either 88 Flak guns, or vehicles with 88 Flak conversions. (I’m proudest of the pnzIV conversion.)
The Vomag is essentially a bus, built by Vomag (so it’s not the actual designation of the vehicle, just like in the case of the Famo). They shortened a the chassis bit, and used it as a mobile platform for an 8.8 Flak gun. As far as crew comfort or even armour goes, it has none; but it does look cool.
This particular vehicle I wanted to build for a long time; ever since I’ve seen Wespe’s 1/35 resin model of it. But it’s expensive and it’s huge… so I kept putting off the purchase.
Enter Roden: they recently came out with a really nice little kit. It’s the usual Roden quality: some flash, some inaccuracy, but overall a nice kit. It does benefit greatly from aftermarket PE; at least the screens on the sides need to be changed to something more convincing than the nylon screen they provide.
During the build I’ve also realized that the engine, which is a multi-part construction, and a small kit in itself, will be completely invisible once I put the engine compartment together. I’ve solved this issue by simply leaving the sides off -as they were sometimes left off on the Famo half-tracks. (I have no historical evidence it has ever been done to this vehicle, but it’s my model, and I’m going to watch it on my shelf, so I call the shots.) One thing I did not like was that doors of the ammo storage racks cannot be opened; it would have been nice to have them open. If you decide to depict the model in a “foul weather” setup -meaning the canvas cover up- you’ll also need to do some scratchbuilding, and bend the canvas holders using wire.

The finish was done in the regular panzer grey. I was experimenting True Earth’s products to age and fade the model, but so far the results are somewhat mixed; the product (it’s not really a paint) breaks up into small droplets when it gets onto the surface, instead of spreading evenly. I think the surface has to be completely flat (matte) for they to work.

After much filtering, washing, dusting, and breaking off -gluing back the tiny parts – I present the finished truck. (If I can get my hands on some cheap cargo, I’ll add some later.)

T-34/85 with full interior (Hobby Boss 1/48)

I have a fetish for interiors… They make an interesting vehicle (let it be an airplane, a tank or a car model) even more intriguing -after all, you get to see under the hood (in a very literal sense). You get to see where the crew is located, where the engine is, where they keep the ammo; you get some idea about the general ergonomics of the vehicle, and of course, some vague idea how the whole machine works.

I have an ongoing project to build all German tanks in 1/35 with full interiors. This is not always a cheap option, as many models require resin interiors, and only lately did plastic models came out with full (or partial) interiors. (The Bronco pnz I. F. comes with one, for example.)

When Hobby Boss came to the market, they started churning out incredibly cheap and incredibly well made models in 1/48. They cost as little as a 1/72 model, and half of a Tamiya model in the same scale. One of the most incredible thing they did was to start selling T-34 series with full interiors. I could have bought all the models they came out with, but since I already have a 1/16 Trumpeter model in storage, I restrained myself. (Talking about the Trumpeter kit… the Hobby Boss kit feels like a shrunken version of the Trumpeter offering.)

The interior is simply amazing. So without further ado: the gorgeous T-34. I have to say: even if you are an SF modeller, or you only build airplanes, give a shot to this kit; you won’t regret it.

The V2 diesel engine is really well detailed. I’ve left it out of the tank, so I could display it on a stand in front of it. (A future plan…)
I used filler to make the surface irregularities on the turret. (The casting process left the metal rough, and due to the demands of the war, they were not very particular about looks, anyway.)
My very first attempt in chipping: light green base, and some dark brown on top of it to give the illusion of depth.

Scale model building – amateur style