Tag Archives: 1/35

Miniart T-44 Medium Tank 1/35 build review p1.

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I was really excited when MiniArt offered me a review sample of this tank. It’s been hyped quite a lot -a never previously available tank with interior details, working suspension… What’s not to love?

When arrived, the box did contain a LOT of plastic; however, compared to the D7 dozer, the assembly is simpler. One thing I did not notice at first is that it does not have a full interior – the driver’s compartment is missing, and only the engine is included. The rest of the engine compartment and the transmission are not included. I’m not sure what the reason behind this decision by MiniArt, but it certainly left some gaps in the model. Including them would have elevated the model into mind-blowingly amazing from simply “really damned good”. (Here’s an in-box review; the photos of the instruction manual will come handy later on if you want to check the issues in Appendix. I think I have the first ever blog with an Appendix, by the way.)

I switched to 1/72 due to space issues – they simply take up less space, and I’ve been on the move for the last two decades. The other reason is a personal one: a tank model in 1/35 feels “empty” for me. You essentially are building a large model with a lot of air inside. Having interior added actually makes these models come to life – you build a small replica of the vehicle; something that looks like the real thing inside AND out. You get to peek under the hood in a quite literal sense. You get to see the crew stations, get to have a feel how it must have been for them to work in there, you get to see how the vehicle operated. Hm, the transmission is in the front, but the engine is in the back? I wonder why; let’s read about it! Wow, I did not know the Hetzer was so cramped; and how could the commander of a T-34 stand on all those ammo crates, anyhow? I find these sorts of things incredibly interesting, and for me they increase the value of the model tremendously. Hobby Boss came out with their jaw-dropping 1/48 T-34s with complete interiors (and these were cheaper than the Tamiya offerings) AFV Club has issued an interior set for their Sturmtiger (after I’ve finished mine, of course), and had come out with a T-34 with full interior; Trumpeter has their 1/16 monsters; you can buy resin sets for a lot of models to equip them; so I’m not alone with this interest. (Fortunately.) I have a full set of German armor lined up from the Pnz I to the Tiger II with interiors; and building a Churchill is also on the menu. Not to mention I cannot wait for the SU-122 from MiniArt, either.

Anyhow, back to be model at hand. MiniArt has issued both the T-44 and T-44M in plastic; they are quite similar to each other. Despite of the similarities, they are intriguing steps in the evolution of WWII armor into the well known T-54/55, and later post-war Soviet tanks. The turret of the tank is unmistakably from the war; it looks very much like the turret of the T-34/85. The hull, however, already resembles the T-54 -in fact, the T-44 was used as a basis to develop the most successful tank design we know as the T-54/55. The T-44 still is equipped with the war-era external fuel tanks; these are switched to the more familiar flat external tanks on the T-44M; the familiar T-34 tracks were changed to the more modern-looking T-54 style pattern. (A full breakdown of differences are highlighted in MiniArt’s excellent poster.) Even though the T-44 was not exactly a successful design, it was an incredibly important step in the development of Soviet armor.

The build

I’ve started to build all the interior details first; it makes sense to paint everything at the same time, and proceed with the exterior after. (The instructions would have you first finish the hull, then the turret.)
As I said the torsion bars are actually functional; the instructions are not clear if they needed to be glued to the support or not (or if you need to glue them, do you need to glue the end or the whole section), so I did not glue them. The torsion bar units were dry-fitted, and the glue was applied from the outside to the seams; this way I avoided accidentally applying glue to the torsion bars as well.

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The engine is quite an intricate assembly, but nothing challenging; it looks nice, but not much of it will be visible, even if you leave the hatches open. Since there is no transmission, and no details in the engine bay, you would have to add those, if you wanted to open all the hatches as if it was undergoing maintenance.

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The roadwheels are OK… there’s not much to discuss. They are round, and they look like the original. 🙂

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The back of the hull is made up by several panels; one of them carries an abundance of grousers. They can be attached to the tracks for additional grip when the tank is negotiating an icy, snowy environment. They were present on the T-34 as well, and they are replaced by the characteristic log in the T-44M. The thin rods are supposed to go through the grousers to keep them in place. They are extremely thin, and the attachment point are going to be hell to clean up. I think I’ll simply substitute them for evergreen rods.

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The hull is assembled in an old-school manner: the “tub” is made out of the sides and the bottom separately. In this case it’s actually quite a good thing, as this allows for proper painting and weathering of the interior before assembly.

 

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The interior is taking shape. The empty space in place of the driver’s compartment will be filled out with a CMK T-55 driver’s compartment set modified accordingly.

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The turret -similarly to the hull- is a multi-part assembly as well. There are some injection mould marks, where the parts were pushed out of the mould, but they should not be hard to fill -and most of them are in places where they would not be visible, anyway. The outside of the turret has some nicely-done rough casting texture. (A little criticism: the armor used for the hull of the tank was homogeneous rolled armor; it too had some rough texture. These could have been moulded into the model; if you want to replicate them, you’ll have to use a rotary tool.)

I will take a look at the accuracy of the fighting compartment later; the only scale drawings I found were of  the T-44M, hence they might not be accurate for this model. Nevertheless, some detail seem to be missing -electric wires, wall-mounted electronics, protruding rivet heads, etc. These can be scratchbuilt to enhance the interior.

The interior of the turret, however, seems fairly comprehensive; it looks like there are more details included -sans the wires, of course. (I’m not sure how I feel about moulded-on wires, anyway; they are difficult to paint well. If you want them, they  can be added easily enough.)

The top of the turret is significantly thinner than the sides; it’s scaled to the real thickness. The hatches can be made workable if you use the glue sparingly. However, the attachment holes need to be enlarged with a thin blade for the teeth of the hatch to fit into them.

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Bottom part of the turret with the seats of the loader and the commander.

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The sides of the turret, waiting for all the details added. You can pose the pistol ports open, but then you’d need some real thin PE chain to hold the plug.

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I also started to assemble the gun… there is no metal barrel included, but if you really want one, there are several available online. Since it’s a review of a model I’ll limit the aftermarket parts only for the missing details, like the driver’s station.

 

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Tidbits… there are a LOT of them.

This is some part with a crank affixed to the side of the turret; not sure what it is (perhaps the turret turning motor?), to be honest. Once I figure it out, I’ll let you know.

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The fan of the fume extractor.2pb7bfp

 

The gunner’s sight.epu18es

The PE work has begun: PE screens, ammo racks for the MG. Although the PE is thin, it’s really difficult to cut with the scalpel.

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I started the work on the mudguards as well, adding tool boxes and the attachment points for the fuel tanks.

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Well, this is where I’m at now. The interior is being painted slowly. This is the only problem with my fetish with interior details: white is difficult to paint. I’ve used a grey spray paint to set a good base, and I’m going over with several light coats of white.

The other tedious part to do will be the ammunition… removing seam-lines and attachment points, painting the casing to metallic brass, and the projectile to the appropriate colors -many, many times over. I’ll be lazy, and do only the ones that will be in full view; the projectiles covered in the ammo racks will simply be painted without all the tedious preparation. I’ve purchased AK Interactive’s True Metal gold to pain the casings; I’ll be curious of how they turn out.

Well, that’s it. Keep tuned, more will come next week.

 

Appendix: issues with instructions #1

The instructions are great, however, they are not perfect. So far I’ve run into the following issues:

Step 17, assembly of hull: a part holding the engine is labelled as c8. The color number is superimposed onto the part number; the actual number should be Hc8

Step 41: part G15 is shown to have a small locating peg in the middle to which part De7 is attached. This is not present in my kit.

Step 43: Part C17 is in fact C3

Step 58: Part C32 is in fact C38

 

Toldi I, 1/35 Hobby Boss

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The Treaty of Versailles forbade Hungary to possess or to develop armored vehicles after the First World War. Only in the ‘30s did the rearmament start in earnest, later than in most European countries. Some unsuccessful experiments led to the realization that a completely independent domestic tank research and development program would be prohibitively expensive. After some evaluation the government bought the license of the Swedish Landswerk AB L-60 in 1939, and started to manufacture a modified version under the name of 38.M Toldi I, or Toldi A20. (Miklos Toldi was a legendary nobleman and warrior in the 14th century.) The main modification was in the armament: the main gun was changed to the Hungarian-produced 2cm Solothurn anti-tank rifle, and an 8mm Gebauer machine gun. The first order was for 80 vehicles, produced by both the MAVAG and GANZ companies. In 1940 the Toldi received new, stronger torsion springs, and was renamed to Toldi II. 110 such vehicles were ordered. The first combat experience in Yugoslavia during the ’41 campaign highlighted how inadequate the main armament was, so 80 of the Toldi II variants were rebuilt with a 4cm gun, and had their frontal and turret armor increased to 35 mm. Even with these improvements the tank was hopelessly outclassed on the Eastern front by the T-34 and the KV-1, but due to its speed and good radio equipment it was put to good use as a reconnaissance vehicle.

When you evaluate the vehicles produced by smaller nations, keep it in mind that they were not designed to fight the Russian or German war machine originally. Their abysmal performance is due to the fact that they were built to fight military hardware built by similarly small countries; never the “big boys” -and they are the products of the ’30s, so they were already obsolete by the time the war broke out. The fact that Hungary after losing most of its historical territories where the heavy industry was based could produce tanks was a small miracle in itself. The fact that these tanks were not very good is a different matter.

Ironically, Toldi was an incredibly strong guy: showing the right way to Buda with gigantic sticks, retraining raging bulls with bare hands, and throwing milling stones at soldiers. And they named a light tank after him. Go figure.

 

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The Hobby Boss offering was an impulse buy, and one I regretted. The model is no more detailed than a 1/72 scale model, and it has accuracy issues. The build itself can be finished in about two hours. Except for one thing. The tracks. You will hate these tracks. You are given individual track links, which you will have to cut off the sprue (five attachment points each), and glue together. They are smaller than 1/72 Tiger track links. They are thin and easily bend and break. It’s insane. (I never had problems with DML’s pnzI individual tracks, mind you.) The best way I could figure out to work with them was to glue them together two at a time, and then build up longer sections once dry. It’s still horrible; this is when link and length or one-piece, flexible tracks would have been much, much more desirable.

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Base coat is on, and dry fitted the upper hull.4d5f48v

 

Before the tracks are attached the lower hull is painted and weathered.tehrzu8

 

Camo on -I’ve chosen the colorful pre-war scheme. rpddsp13bno5fg1o9oygadwmqel6v

 

Washes and filters… they help accentuate the details, and blend together the different colors. Yellow, green and brown filters prepared from oil paints were used.m0jwcnk

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The decals are thick and they don’t hug the details very well; this is a problem with the large ones.au0afpoh9tplmc

I very lightly dusted the model using Mig’s washable dust. In this case I was looking for a fading-effect, not a dust effect. Once it is completely dry, it’s difficult to remove, so keep it in mind.

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I’ve used pigments mixed with water to make the tank extremely dusty. I decided to use the model for an experiment, if I can create a convincingly dusty tank. After all, these were used as reconnaissance vehicles on the eastern front, and boy, that place was dusty during the summer… I wanted to show a tank absolutely caked in dust. (Next experiment: convincingly muddy tank, caked in mud.)cq6rzig

 

Once the water dried, I used a dry cotton swab to remove most of the pigments using downwards motions. I made sure I left more accumulated in crevices, and around rivets and other details.

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Once I was satisfied I used a pigment fixer to keep everything in place. Since it’s kept in a closed-down display case, even that was unnecessary.

To sum up the experience: not good. The tracks, and the simplicity just killed this model for me; the level of detail, as I mentioned is on par with 1/72 offerings. It took me a long time to finish this model, and I’m somewhat disappointed in Hobby Boss. Their 1/48, 1/72 models are incredible; especially the T-34 series with full interior… but in 1/35 they seem a bit lacking. (The Pnz I F was somewhat underwhelming, too.) I’ve read that they’ve bought up the Tristar moulds, and started producing those kits again -this is a good sign for the future I guess.

Miniart D7 Armored Dozer -review 4. Final touches

So we have left off at the stage where the MiniArt dozer was almost ready. Some parts were still unpainted, but we are at the last leg of our journey.

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After receiving another olive drab coat, it was time for preparing it for rust.

The engine has received several washes with dark brown and black again; and the underside of the chassis, alongside with the suspension and the dozer blade got painted with different rust colors randomly after the olive drab base. (From dark –almost black- brown to bright orange.)

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The model was covered with hairspray, and then a second (somewhat lighter) olive drab was applied to it. (Before the final paint coat I’ve attached the suspension units to the chassis.) With a damp brush I could selectively remove the upper paint to expose some rust; I tried not to go overboard, except on the dozer blade itself. The effects were quite convincing. Due to the olive drab base, the contrast is not as big as I would prefer, but the overall effect is actually very nice.

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As I said: build the tracks one tracklink at a time

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The finished paintjob… it looks too good to weather

Chipping commencing… the rust colors are pretty neat, and the contrast is low enough not to look unrealistic.

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Some areas received more heavy chipping than others.

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The dozer blade was seriously worked on; most of the covering paint was rubbed away

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I think the results are quite convincing

 

 

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The oil tank and the lower part of the chassis was worked on heavily, too. (The walls of the oil tank being thinner and more exposed would mean they rust easier.)

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Some careful chipping on the armored radiator cover t as well

Chipping done -dirtying up.

First, the model received a protective semi-matte varnish to protect our previous work.

 

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Then came the decals. As I mentioned in part 1, the decals are brilliant. They don’t have transparent borders, even the stars. The carrying film is tailored to the paint, so you won’t see silvering between the arms of the stars. This does complicate the application a bit, since the decal can tear easily. (Because the large star decals are not just one discs, the individual parts move very easily in relation to each other -and this means stress on the film.)

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After the decals were dry, another layer of varnish was applied to protect them.

 

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I applied pin washes of dark browns and black. After it was dry, I used Mig’s washable dust in a diluted form as pin wash as well -to model the dust collecting in crevices and around rivets. The excess was removed with a damp cotton swab. (These special products are fine, but honestly, you can achieve the same effect with pigments suspended in water.) I also lightly airbrushed this mixture on the flat surfaces on the top of the vehicle: the bonnet and the top of the cab. (For airbrush application these washable products are actually great; the pigment is so fine in them, it won’t block your airbrush.) I’ve used a wet cotton swab to remove some of this dust. It made it look more uneven, more realistic. I’ve repeated it several times to build up some layers.

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The sides were streaked using oil paint and turpentine; further dusting/fading was done using light colored pigments. The oil stains were added using AK’s Oil Stain product; same with the fuel stains. (I got lazy, I admit. Recently I purchased a lot of weathering products out of curiosity; most of the time they are time-savers, but not offer significantly better quality than the good ole’ modeller’s tricks.)

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The top is dirty; I don’t think it’s regularly cleaned as not many people can see it.

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Different rust colored pigments helped with the exhaust pipe

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Some dust has accumulated around all rivets

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The worn look on the dozer blade was achieved using some metallic pigments (both gun metal and silver). This created a very convincing sheen.

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Conclusion

Although it seems to be a returning theme to complain about the seemingly unnecessary complexity of sub-assemblies, these are not really complaints. I have enjoyed the building of this model immensely, as it did prove to be a tremendous challenge. It felt like an accomplishment when it finally took shape at the very end of the build. It is definitely not for the beginner; it is difficult to build even for a more experienced modeller with somewhat limited skills like myself. It was a great experience to work on a model whose designers obviously pulled no punches when it came to accuracy and detail; you have the feeling that the people who produced it were working on it with passion. It was also the enjoyment of the challenge; rarely have a model challenged my skills this much. Having built it, I have to say it feels just like when you just have finished a Marathon. Was the pain worth it? Absolutely.

And the best advice for this model? Pace yourself. Do not rush it, and you will enjoy the build. It is very intimidating when you are at step 1, and realize you have seventy nine other steps (one of them requiring you to build two sets of tracks…) waiting for you. If you take one step at a time, you will have an incredible little model on your table. This is not a weekend project; you will burn yourself out if you treat it as such; as it is, it took me two month to finish it working almost exclusively on this model.

MiniArt seems to have decided to establish itself as a producer of very high quality and complex kits; I think they are going into the right direction.

Miniart D7 Armored Dozer -review 3. Painting

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This is the third part of the review of the Miniart D7 Dozer.

Even though the cab will almost completely hide the operator’s station, I decided to weather it properly…

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As you can see I’ve already removed the offending toolbox from the fender

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This is the last time you have access to the whole engine, so weather away… washes, oil stains, metallic pigments -anything goes. Only the sides will be visible, but we know it’s there

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The metallic shine came from Tamiya’s weathering master -silver and gun metal

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…aaaand… it’s all gone.

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…a lot of the engine is hidden now as well…
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On the other hand it resembles a vehicle now
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Final parts attached, and yes, that is a handcrank

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The tracks received a black primer coat first, and then were painted in a dark grey color. The metallic sheen came from dark metallic pigments rubbed on them; the parts that are normally subjected to higher wear and tear, therefore are usually highly polished, received some silver pigments. Once they were mounted onto the suspension I added a heavy brown wash, and once it was dry I added some dust, using brown pigments suspended in water, and some more silver pigments.

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IT LOOKS LIKE A D7 NOW!!

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This was an incredible feeling -after month of work on the model without any visible improvement, suddenly I had a D7 Dozer on my desk

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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.

 

 

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One ready, one unassembled

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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.

 

 

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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.

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The model is slowly taking shape… time to paint.

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How many parts do a dozer make?

Painting

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.

 

 

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

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

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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.

 

 

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

 

Renault UE Chenillette with Wurfrahmen 40 (Mirage Hobby, 1/35)

 

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The Renault UE was a small, lightly armored vehicle which was developed to tow artillery pieces. It’s worth reading the Wiki article on the tractor -quite an interesting vehicle.

After capturing several hundred of these vehicles, the Germans have taken about forty, and since they could not possibly put an 88 on top, went for the second best thing. They have added Wurfrahmen 40 rocket launchers to the vehicles. There were two configurations: one had the rockets mounted on the sides, and the other had the launching platform mounted on the back. (I assume despite of the armored compartment, the crew had to leave the tractors before firing.) As mentioned in the previous post about Wurfrahem rockets, they were ideal attacking larger areas. The drawback was that their short range and tell-tale smoke contrails invited some vigorous counter-battery response from the less-than-amused enemy forces after an attack. This meant you had to let the rockets go, and get out of dodge as soon as possible. Since the range of fire was short, some armor protection was handy, too.

The Germans also used these vehicles in their original roles, of course, and they also armed several of them by adding small caliber guns, machine guns, and other weapons it could carry. Sadly, no 88s as I mentioned.

 

The Mirage Hobby kit was an interesting one. I’ve built it a long time ago; it was my first armor kit with link and length tracks. The color of the plastic was -I can’t put it in another way- very white; once assembled, the model looked like a scratchbuilt model someome put together from Evergreen plastic. (It would have been impressive feat.) The detail is really nice, although not sure how it would compare to the more recent Tamiya UE that was issued a couple of years ago. (Probably not favourably. The price, however, still make this model worth building.) One thing is for sure: I built it the same time I was working on the Trumpeter R35, and the detail on the Mirage Hobby kit was much better than on the Trumpeter one. There was some flash on the parts, but nothing major, and even the thin parts were straight, and easy to work with. All in all, it was a professional kit; I quite liked working with it.

 

 

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Painting went the usual way: I sprayed the model with different shades of German grey, and then added some oil dot filters, and some washes; nothing too fancy. If I manage to dig this model out of storage, I’ll be sure to work on the weathering some more.

As I said, it is an old build; I included here as a historical reference -and because I did not want to lose my photos again on my hard drive. (Perhaps I should make some new photos as well; my equipment was not very up to the task then.)

 

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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).

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

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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.

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Functioning gun elevating mechanism…

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

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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.)

 

Hotchkiss 39(H) with Wurfrahmen (Trumpeter 1/35)

 

Again: time to revisit an old build, since the previous posts covered a new Trumpeter kit.

I’ve already mentioned the tendency of the Germans to stick an 88 on anything that could carry it; they had a similar affectation towards Wurfrahmen rockets as well -they went on anything that moved: captured tanks, personnel carriers, half-tracks, anything. (I think the only combination they have not considered was sticking the Wurfrahmen rockets onto an 88…)

The H39 was an excellent platform for modifications, since they captured a lot in France. They were small, and quite inadequate in both armament and armor for the modern (a.k.a 1940) battlefield, however, they could be modified to no end, as they were well-made, and easy to maintain. I’m not aware of any report on the effectiveness of this weapon platform; in theory, it should have worked relatively well. After all, the tank is fast, well armored to be protected against small-arms fire and shrapnel, and had a small caliber tank gun, which could be used to defend itself if need came be. These tanks could -in theory- get close to the enemy, let loose a volley or rockets, and hastily depart with relative impunity. Then again; I might be wrong.

Well, this kit brings up some memories… An old-school Trumpeter model, when they were still kind of mediocre, but very cheap, but after their “not-so-good” (Type 59, anyone?) phase. Since then a lot of water has passed under the bridge, and Trumpeter became a serious competitor to Tamiya, Dragon and all the other “big ones”… (This can also be seen in the price of their kits.)

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The model had no real issues, and went together like a charm. After assembly I used Surfacer 500 to roughen up the hull; this gave an impression of the cast metal surface of the armor.

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After the usual primer coat, the tank was painted with Tamiya Panzer Grey, the seams and some casting imperfections filled, and painted again.

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I think the track is slack a bit… we get enough vinyl tracks for two tanks.

 

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This is where I wanted to experiment a bit. I just got my airbrush recently back then (well, the compressor, to be honest; I’ve had an airbrush since I was 14, but I never had any means to use it). Ten years later, I got the chance, when some old lady in Boca Raton sold her unused compressor for peanuts. What I did was to dabble on different colors, which -I hoped- would show slightly through the next layer of panzer grey -kind of like a proto-pre-modulation technique. Had it worked, it would have looked awesome. As it was I went in with way too much paint for the next session, so everything got (almost) covered up. When you look at the tank in a good light, you kinda see the differently modulated grey. One thing is for sure: I’ll have to do some more experiments with this.

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It does look impressive, though.

 

The final coat and subsequent filters prepared from oil paints, made the model look very dark; back then I was not aware how much filters and washes darken the model…

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The rockets are held in disposable wooden frames, which are held in place by a light metallic frame. Again: there were no issues with construction; the results are actually quite good.

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1/35 Trumpeter 1K17 part 2. Painting and Weathering

 

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I’ve elected not to paint the vehicle into the three-tone camo scheme that the surviving 1K17 has; I simply don’t like it much. However, I did like the Soviet crest that came with the decals. Since I found a very hazy black-and-white photo of the prototype which displayed it sporting only one color, I jumped to the (not unreasonable) conclusion that it was painted in good ole’ Russian green. My model, therefore, depicts one of the 1K17s in its original green camo, during the last years of the Soviet Union. (I just had to use the crest to be honest.)

The running gear had to be assembled, painted and weathered before finishing the hull.

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All the lenses and periscopes were masked, the tracks covered with tape, and on with the green paint.

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The hatches, grab handles, and other protruding parts were highlighted with a lighter version of the same green color. (The contrast has been decreased by the subsequent filters later.) At this stage I added the decals, as I wanted them to “blend in” with the weathering steps. Dullcote was used to fix the decals, and after a day of waiting (to make sure the lacquer coat sets properly), I carried on with filters.

Two layers of yellowish filters, and some streaking later the model looked quite close to finishing… I thought.

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I’ve always found it ironic to work on an even, smooth paintjob, and then spend the rest of the weathering to make it uneven… but this is what we do I guess.

After the filters I’ve used a burnt umber and black oil mixture to create very light streaks; I’ve repeated this process about three times, making sure the different hatches, etc are streaked differently than the background. I’ve used the same color for some light pin washes. And then came the dirt.

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As with everything, the key here is patience. You have to build up layers and layers of very subtle dust, rust and mud; even if you think you cannot see the bottom layer, it will add to the complexity of the weathering -hence it will look more real. (It’s a different question, of course, if it really is real -after all, most armored vehicle look quite dull and boring compared to their scale models. No dramatic rust streaks, no artistic paint chipping… but it’s a discussion for another time.)

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The top of the turret got sprayed very lightly with Mig’s washable dust; I thought I’d give it a try. (It’s actually quite nice, but to be honest, does not give much more than your average pigments/chalk dust suspended in water.) I used the same method to carefully “dust” the side-skirts as well. (I held the tank at angle, and made sure only the lower part of the sideskirts got the paint; I’ve did the same with the lower part of the turret as well.)

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The next couple of layers on the side skirts were some darker brown pigments, and some black at the exhaust. I’ve carefully added them using a brush; what sticks, sticks – this way you can build up the effect in a controlled manner.

 

At the very last step I’ve flickered some AK Interactive Earth Effects (again: an impulse buy which I wanted to try) using a stiff brush and a toothpick. The results were somewhat transparent mud splashes, which blended in with the rest of the layers underneath. (I’ve tried to use this product as “mud”, but it just painted everything a suspicious brown color. The best mud effects I’ve done are still the ones where I used different colors of brown mixed with water and talcum powder. Alternatively I’ve used actual mud as well. I suspect I’ll need to find out how the AK product is supposed to be used.)

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I’ve used lighter brown pigments on the upper part of the chassis, and on the sides of the turret to depict dust deposits and streaks. I’ve used some Mig Washable dust to make sure the crevices and nooks have some dust as well. Metallic surfaces were depicted using metallic pigments; Tamiya has those little make-up kits, which are brilliant to apply these. (The gun especially needed some treatment, but all the edges, the hatches, and in some areas, even the sides got some pigment. Essentially, you rub some filter on where you expect the surface to be worn.)

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The last step was to add a couple of leaves to the splashguard in front; these come from some tree in the backyard (shamefully as a biologist I have no clue about plants). The dried seed-pod falls apart into seeds and these little leaf-like structures, which look like maple leaves.

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And that’s it -here’s a real-life laser tank, courtesy of the Soviet Union.

1/35 Trumpeter 1K17 Szhatie Part 1.

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The term "laser tank" evoke images of alien skies, gigantic space ships, Astrates, and the rest of the delightful Warhammer 40k universe.
In other words: this guy.
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source: http:/warhammer40k.wikia.com/wiki/Shadowsword

The 1K17 tank will not melt metal and evaporate hordes of heretics and Titans; however it does have a gigantic set of solid-state lasers mounted on a tank chassis. These were intended to blind the optics of missiles, airplanes, and other enemy weapon systems. I have not been able to find analyses of this laser-weapon’s efficiency, as the production of these vehicles was hindered by some serious practical issues. One of them is right in front of you: the optical elements of these lasers were made out of 30kg artificial rubies – each. This obviously increased the production costs somewhat, which essentially made sure that these vehicles were not built in sufficient numbers.
 The project was based on the MSTA self-propelled artillery. They kept the hull, and changed the turret so it could accommodate the solid-state lasers. The hull itself is based on the T-80, but the engine installed is a 840hp diesel engine from the T-72.

As it was already mentioned, the costs themselves were enough to doom this project; the two vehicles built were mothballed. They still can be useful, however; after all, they are perfect if you need a gigantic laser pointer to distract some invading mutant tiger army.


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The plastic is good quality, and easy to work with. The detail is crisp, and very fine. Some of the parts will need to be handled with care, as they are really thin. The wire guards for the headlights look especially fine. The PE fret included has the mesh covering the engine cooling hatches, and some extra small parts that could not be produced using plastic, like the clamps for the storage boxes. The transparent sprue contains the vision blocks, and a part for the remote controlled AA machine gun. The way some of the periscopes are attached to the clear sprue is also a bit problematic: one side has almost no space for the cutter between the part and the sprue’s frame. 

The decal sheet includes a LOT of numbers so you can customize your tank (not that you have many options if you want to be historically accurate), and a set of Soviet-era crest.

Since this kit is built on the Trumpeter MSTA kit, you get a lot of extra parts –the gigantic gun included.

The build was really straightforward and relatively quick; I have not run into any difficulties. The assembly starts with the hull, as usual. Right in the beginning, there are some issues with the instructions. In the first page it is indicated that you should not glue the towing hooks; I believe the symbol should be next to one end of the unditching log’s holding straps. (This realization was a bit late for my build.)

 

 

 

 

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The headlights are somewhat difficult to glue, and mostly because of the engineering of the kit. On the real tank they are attached directly to the metal guards (which are essentially metal frames) using one little peg. Unfortunately the model headlights are constructed the same way. You’ll have to attach the headlights with this peg, and position them perfectly while doing so. This is a tricky proposition, and some other solution that would have helped with the positioning while drying would have been nice. (I used silly putty to position the lights, and superglue to fix them onto the frame –see photos. This method worked surprisingly well.)

 

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The fenders, the storage boxes and the side-skirts are assembled as separate units. All the clips for the storage boxes are provided as PE parts; it takes a while to attach each and every one. (I can imagine how practical this setup is in real life… “hurry, get the tools!” “Yes, comrade, give me half an hour to undo these straps!”.) While I was taking the photos, I realized one clip was left out on a box– which was attached after the photo session. (This demonstrates why it’s worth taking photos of your models while building them.) The greatest issue with how the kit is designed are the side-skirts. The side-skirts of Russian tanks are usually thick rubber painted over with the camouflage colors. If you look at photos of T-70s, T-80s, etc, you’ll see that the side-skirts are readily deforming, they separate from each other, and they are obviously not rigid. Unfortunately Trumpeter did not give any impression of the flexible nature of the rubber: they are rod-straight. They could be made out of thick metal for all we know. (I say “unfortunately”, because it’s not an impossible task: Revell has managed to capture these rubber side-skirts amazingly well in 1/72 scale.) There’s also no obvious method of leaving them off. If you choose to display the tank without the side-skirts (as the 1K17 is displayed in the reference photos available online), you’ll have to saw them off. (And thus display the incorrect suspension…) It’s such a simple thing to do, which, nevertheless, would dramatically improve the look of the tank. The rest of the vehicle has been so meticulously reproduced; I have no idea why Trumpeter got lazy on this issue.

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Before the fenders are attached you will have to assemble, paint and weather the running gear, tracks and most of the hull. Once the side-skirts are in place, you will not be able to get to those areas. The turret is well done; some of the panels do not fit perfectly, so filler will need to be used. (The welding lines are very nice touch on the edges of the armor plates.) There is some crucial missing detail here, however. Looking at photos you can see that the lenses are protected by lens protector flaps (which are provided), but there is also a rubber band around each lens assembly that enables these flaps to close weathertight.

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source: Gizmodo

These rubber bands are missing, which is a shame. The instructions also fail to give you options for leaving the middle lens covers in an open or closed position. Again; photos are available, and can be used as reference, but the instructions should highlight the options available nevertheless.

 

 

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The lasers are housed in a separate box, which is attached to the turret. Before closing it in, I’ve painted the back of the transparent lenses red (Ruby red from the Citadel paint range), and the inside of the box was painted black. There’s an awful lot of free space inside the turret, so someone with a little patience and a small LED light can actually make a pretty cool modification lighting up the lenses -although it would not be a set of coherent light beams, of course. (I might just do that, actually.)

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The fit of the assembly containing the laser with the turret is not perfect; it forces the sides of the turret apart visibly at the attachment points. (This can be remedied if you cut the holding pegs, and glue the part into place.) You’ll find the opposite is the problem with the long, protecting strip on top of the laser-weapon: it is supposed to be movable, but it just does not click into place easily. The attachment between the parts is flimsy, and it falls off quite easily; you would be better off gluing them fixed.

 

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One serious technical gripe I have with the kit is the tracks. The guide teeth will need to be glued onto each and every track link. To compound this issue, the teeth are attached to the sprue right where the track link and the guide teeth are joined; this means you will have to clean up each and every one of the 174 or so guide teeth with a scalpel before you can assemble the tracks. This is when you wonder why they could not mould these parts together, or even better yet, use a link-and-length solution.

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Dryfitting… the model is taking shape nicely.

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The turret, interestingly, “sits” on the hull; the usual pins, that are making sure the turret stays in place, are missing. I’m not sure why this is the case. Most of the time it should not be a problem, as the fit is quite snug, but this could be an issue during the transport of the model. (Alternatively you can just glue it in place.)

 

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More dryfitting…

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The AA heavy machine gun turret is a subassembly on its own right; it is a very nice representation of the real thing. After this we’ll just have to glue the millions of grab handles in place, and the model is essentially done.v

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Well, that’s it for building. Next part -painting