Tag Archives: airbrush

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The concept was a very interesting one, but I think it is safe to say, a very outdated one.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.


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.) 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.

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.

Hobby Boss 1/35 Pz.Kpfw. I. Ausf. F (VK 18.01) Early (filters on a gray base color)

This was an impulse buy from Ebay. I always liked this tank: it looks like a clumsy little cousin of the “big boys”… A small tank that desperately wants to be taken seriously, so it has as much armor as a Tiger, but somehow forgotten to upgrade the armament. I guess this makes it look more like a joke, than an actual threat: you can run away from it, and the pea-shooters it has for guns are not looking very menacing, either. I always think of “Hans the Tank Engine” when I see this guy. Everything seems oversized: the roadwheels, the tracks, the armor except for the tiny-winy little guns and the turret.

There are a couple of reasons I regretted buying this model. One is the scale; 1/35 became a bit too large for me lately. (I’ve gotten used to faster builds in Braille scale.) For this reason I would rather have preferred to get the Armory model in 1/72 scale (or the new Flyhawk one). The other is that I realized Bronco issued the same kit (what is it with these companies suddenly coming out with obscure tanks at the same time, anyway?), with full interior, no less… This actually made me weep.


This tank has a designation of Pz.KPfw. I. but it has almost nothing in common with the Ausf A, B or C versions. It has an incredibly thick armor for its size (80mm max), and it’s armed with two MG-34s. It did reach 25kmph on roads, though. Thirty of these little guys were made during the early years of the war.

Incredibly, a couple of these tanks did see combat at Kursk… the rest were used as training tanks.

The building was simple, straightforward and easy. The kit is a very well-engineered one, and not difficult to build at all. The prominent hatch on the side is modelled closed- even though it IS open in the box art. The other annoying thing is the lack of clear parts for the headlights. They give you a plastic lens. A pair of grey plastic lens. (As soon as I find my two-part clear epoxy, I’ll fill the headlights in.)

I decided to go with the panzer grey theme; it does look a bit boring at first look, but it gave me an opportunity to experiment with filters and pre-shading. The aim was to depict a tank after a couple of days of training: dusty, somewhat battered learner’s tank.

As a first step after applying the black primer and the grey paint was to add lighter version of the base paint to the outstanding areas: periscope covers, hatch, edges, headlights, etc.

It does look unrealistic, but it still looks pleasing to the eye. The question was: how much of this will blend in after the filters? After all you’d only want a slight hint of the contrast remain; something your eye sees but your brain does not.

Next step: washes. With burned umber and black oil paints. (I left the paints on some cardboard to drain it from the excess linseed oil.) After adding the pinwashes, and waiting about 1 hours, I removed the excess with a damp brush.

Sorry for the poor quality photos… my new phone does have a bad camera, and I was lazy to set up the lightbox and the actual digital camera I use.

Next came the filter. After sealing the paint with a semi-matt clear coat, I thought of what sort of hues I want to achieve on the base color. I ended up using blue, black, white, yellow, raw umber and burned umber in different quantities on different panels. After the oil dried I applied some scratches using black-brown to the edges and other areas where I expect the paint to be damaged. (It should have been done earlier, but I really wanted to carry on with the filters.) I also tried making actual scratches lightly over the black primer; if you are careful, the black shows through, forming a pretty convincing scratch.)

The result can be -kind of- seen in the photos I’ve taken with the crappy smartphone camera… some hint of color on the grey surface does show.

In the meanwhile the tools were painted as well. The wooden handles were painted in a light tan color, and then I used brown oil paint to simulate the grain of the wood. Add the undiluted paint to the ends, and use a brush to pull it down towards the middle – easy and very convincing.

After this step I attached the tools to the model; I usually weather them at the same time as the models, which blends their color together a bit. (With the dot method I leave the tools off as the brush tends to remove them during the more vigorous movements…)

I also applied several pre-mixed filters (fading and aging effects) by True Earth using an airbrush. They are water soluble, and contain no pigments. I found that they don’t spread evenly; when sprayed or brushed onto the surface, they tend to break up into tiny droplets. I’ll experiment with some surfactants to see if this can be remedied. Using Citadell’s Lahmian medium might also be a solution to the problem – we’ll see.

The next step was the pigments. For this I only used water diluted pigments: I made an industrial slurry-looking thin mixture, and using a brush I applied it to the crevices and panel lines. Once dry I used my finger to wipe/smear the extra off. They were applied in heavier layers on the bottom/sides of the hull. I used several layers of all sorts of earth/dust-colored pigments to have variation.

The filters and the pigments look pretty convincing in my opinion. Some fibers from the cotton swabs can be spotted, unfortunately; they were an early (and aborted) attempt in removing the oil washes. As a finishing touch I used a lead pencil on the edges of the tank, and on the tracks to simulate the metallic sheen of actual metal. This does make the tank look more real.

Now that it’s done, it will go into it’s little display case which it will share with a Hobby Boss Toldi I, as soon as the Toldi is finished.

Silly Putty masking

To be perfectly honest, I have no idea what silly putty is actually for. I know it’s a toy, but I’m in the dark about what kids are using it for. It was not sold when I was a kid where I grew up, and I only know what I use it for… A couple of years ago I was told how great masking agent it really makes on an online forum, so I headed to the kids’ isle at the local Walmart, and invested about $3 for a plastic egg full of silly putty. I thought I’d share this little gem, in case some people have not heard of it yet. You can buy dedicated products, which behave the same way, but I strongly suspect these companies are selling dirt-cheap silly putty repackaged as dedicated modelling product. (The very same thing happens with laboratory supplies… companies sell blenders, microwaves and other kitchen appliances as labware on a highly inflated price.) Anyhow, back to our post’s focus. Silly putty is a strange silicon polymer: it is essentially an incredibly viscous fluid, but it can also behave like an elastic solid material. (It’s a non-Newtonian fluid, if you really want to know.) So essentially what it means is that it can be shaped really easily, like clay, it “flows” into crevices, yet if you smash a handful against a wall, it will bounce off, like a rubber ball. We are not going to smash it against anything, though. This elastic, viscous nature makes silly putty an ideal masking agent. Using small pieces, you can easily form camo patterns on models. Obviously, for straight lines masking tapes are still your best bet, but to recreate irregular camo, it’s just perfect. Just place it on the model’s surface in the desired pattern, and use a toothpick to shape it further once it settled. Spray, and repeat if you have more than one colors to paint. It’s that easy. I used blue-tac for similar purposes, but it’s quite rigid, and difficult to make stick to the surface; silly putty is an all-around better option. Additionally, the material is very easy to work with. If you flatten it against a hard surface (a piece of glass, for example), you will have easy-to-use “pancakes” to work with; these can even be pre-cut it to shape with a sharp blade. Just carefully peel them off the glass, and lay them onto the model. Silly putty will not stick to anything (well, any model) permanently, and comes off clean, so you don’t have to worry about residues. If there are some residual material that got stuck in some real deep, real intricate pattern (like moulded-on grilles), rubbing a small piece of silly putty against any residual pieces will remove them easily. It will not dissolve in acrylic paint so they are absolutely safe to work with –can’t vouch for enamels, though, as I’ve never tried them. One thing you still have to keep in mind is the matter of small parts. If you are not careful, silly putty will remove any small parts from the surface, when you peel it off, so you’ll have to dig in for those PE clamps or headlights. (Same is true for any masking agents, though. On a positive note, silly putty will not break them when you apply it to the surface, unlike blue-tac, which does need some force to make it settle.) The best thing you can do is to leave those parts off until you finish the camo. Another general advice (which I sometimes ignore due to impatience) is to use several light layers, instead of a few heavy ones… this will make sure paint does not build up at the masking agent. After you are finished, you can just peel off the putty carefully (or use some more to rub it off with), and reuse. It seems to absorb the dried paint flakes without any issues, and it does not affect its behaviour. If you find after a couple of (dozen? hundred?) uses that the putty does not work as intended any more, it’s really cheap to replace. As a demonstration, I’d like to share some images of a DML 1/72 Sd.Kfz.251 halftrack painted using an airbrush, masked with silly putty. The putty was placed onto the vehicle in strips, according to the pattern shown in the instructions. After the first layer of color (green), it was further covered to add the second color (brown). Because it’s so easy to manipulate, and because it can be shaped very well, its “resolution” (the smallest detail you can make out) is quite high; you can create really intricate patterns even in small scale with very little effort. As you can see the putty was wrapped around the width indicator rods without any problems. Gently removing it shows the pattern achieved. And here is the result of the painting session