Tag Archives: filters

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

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.