Tag Archives: ModellTrans

The ultimate 1/72 Luchs showdown: thoughts on the Armory, ModellTrans, Maco and Flyhawk kits

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So now I have finished building all four offerings: Armory, Flyhawk, Maco and Modelltrans; it’s time to take a stock of what I’ve learned. I would not really go into accuracy, as I could not find any books on the Luchs; all kits differ slightly from each other with respect to location of the exhaust, tools, tool boxes, Jerry cans, and so on. As I could not find the time and resources to get to the bottom of these differences I merely comment on the models themselves.

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The Modelltrans kit is an old resin model of the Luchs; it’s a bit undersized, has very few parts, good detail, and has some issues with bubbles in the resin- in other words, your average garage company resin model. It’s fast to build, but it’s quite expensive for what it is; plastic models will always be better priced. It builds into a respectable depiction of the Luchs, but it’s kind of “rough on the edges”, and does not come with the aerials.

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Hands down, the Flyhawk kit is the most detailed and the most complex model of the four; it’s essentially a miniature 1/35 model. This, of course, comes with a price: it’s also the most difficult to assemble. The crow’s feet antenna is not very convincing; the PE offered by Armory is a much better representation. (But this is the only one that comes with width indicator rods.)

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Armory’s plastic Luchs is a new kid on the block; the company only recently started to make its way into the plastic scale model market. The plastic base is somewhat basic, and the engineering is not the best; however once you get through the filling and sanding, and add all the PE, you will have a very nice, detailed model in your hands. It does require experience building models and using PE- it’s not one of those “shake the box, and the built model falls out” type of kits. However, the results are worth the effort.

Maco’s offerings are the exact opposite of the Flyhawk models: they are very well engineered and very simple models to build – in other words, they are one of those “shake the box” models. The details are still pretty good, and Maco offers a good alternative if you want to build more than one tank quickly, or if you’re still new at building 1/72 models. (Or just want to have a quick weekend project.) One thing that I need to mention is that the shape of the turret seems to be somewhat off, and you’ve got my bane of small scale models: the moulded-on tools. On the other hand you get some beautiful metal gun barrels and antennae.

All in all, the plastic offerings have things going for them; choosing one really depends on your preferences and your purpose. How much challenge do you want to face? While the Flyhawk kits can be adjusted in difficulty using the alternative options (PE vs plastic vs molded-on detail), a lot of the tiny parts cannot be avoided. The Flyhawk offerings are definitely not for beginners. It also takes considerably longer to build. Another aspect to decide is: how much the lack of PE matters for you? The details on the engine deck grille are good enough in plastic on the Maco kit, and in this scale there is an argument that it does not make much difference. (Talking about PE: only the Armory kit has the wire mesh protecting the engine grilles.) You might also want to have a metal barrel; this is not an option in the Flyhawk line of Luchs’, but you get them in the Maco kits… and so on and so forth. I’ve tried to showcase the strengths and weaknesses of all four models; it really depends on the individual builder which one he or she wants to choose.

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ModellTrans 1/72 Pnz.Kpfw II Ausf L Luchs

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Well, here’s to a Luchs bonanza… Since I’ve been reviewing some of the latest Luchs offerings in plastic, here’s a trip to memory lane, when the Luchs was only available in resin…

(I just noticed I did not finish the Flyhawk review… it shall be done in the next post, I promise.)

I fell in love with the tank playing World of Tanks; it’s a ridiculously overpowered little terror of a tank in the game. It was natural to try to get it in a scale model as well. Back then, in 2011 the only available version was the ModellTrans in 1/72. (Come to think of it Armory might have had one, but I’m not sure.) Little did I know that three company will start churning out plastic versions as well -more on those later.

The assembly was pretty easy: the tank had approximately five pieces altogether. I’ve changed the resin gun barrel for a metal one, but that was my only improvement on the model. The kit sadly does not come with the crow’s foot antenna, and has no width indicators, so I’ll have to get those fixed once I find the model again. (It’s in storage right now.)

The detail is OK, a bit on the rough side. There are some bubbles; nothing unexpected in a resin kit. The dimensions are a bit off; the model is smaller than 1/72.

I went with the German grey version, and painted it by hand. I’m not very happy with how the paintjob turned out to be, but it is what it is; I was improving. I painted relatively large paint chips with a lightened version of the base color, and used some rust to show wear-and-tear.

Some pigments were used to depict dust, and I declared the tank ready to go. I mounted it onto a cheap base (with a plastic cover to protect it from dust), and the little Luchs went into the dark depth of a cardboard box.

Sd.Kfz.251 bonanza part 2. The AAA section

Just to recap from part one – I developed an immense (or unhealthy, depending on your point of view) fascination with the different versions and variations of the sd.kfz. 251 halftrack series at one point in my life. (Others do coke; I think I was still better off, although the costs were probably the same.)

I realized a lot of these models were available as conversions in 1/72, and the scale also offered one thing the 1/35 scale can never do: a reasonable time-frame of building. Imagine completing 10-13 models of the same type, putting together the same modules, gluing the same individual tracks, and you’ll have a decent image of a scale modeller’s hell. (At least my hell.) A disclaimer (again): unfortunately I had no airbrush at the time; and my skills with brushes are not as good as the airbrushing skills (which are, in turn, not very high either). So view the results with this in mind, please. (I also need to mention -again- that I used DML’s 1/72 251 model – I can only recommend this kit to anyone. It’s accurate, easy to build, the details are perfect, and it’s ideal for conversions.)

So to today’s topic: AAA vehicles. Funnily enough the Germans did not manage to stick an 8.8 onto this platform; the chassis was simply not strong enough. (I did build a lot of 8.8 based vehicles; most of them are on this blog, and some will be featured as soon as they are finished.)

That leaves us with the smaller caliber guns. Since Allied air superiority was an issue at later stages of the war, many different vehicles were converted into anti-aircraft gun platform. Some of these vehicles were purpose built, based on a chassis of an usually outdated vehicle, and a lot of them were converted ad hoc. There were even kits delivered to divisions which helped the workshops to do the conversion in the field. The success rate of these vehicles are dubious – for obvious reasons they quickly became the targets of ground attack aircraft, and they were not as heavily armored as the tanks they were protecting.

Sd.Kfz. 251/17

This version was equipped with a pretty cool looking gun with a small, triangular gunshield, which can be used against low flying airplanes or infantry for that matter. ModellTrans offers a neat little conversion set with turned barrel, and I have to admit it’s pretty nice. The attachment of the shield is a bit difficult, and you’ll have to add some styrene rods to the build yourself, but that’s just part of the world of resin conversions. (The moulding is pretty impressive; they managed to mould the handgrabs onto the shield.) More important issue, though, is that only one ammo storage rack is provided. I wrote a review about this conversion on armorama, so if you want to know more about the kit itself, you can read more about it.

There are instructions provided, which was a welcome change.

You literally just drop the gun into the hull, and you’re done with the conversion. No surgery, no major modification required.

Painted and weathered… (It was a learning curve how to weather 1/72 kits. Funnily enough it looks pretty good by eye; the camera has this tendency to expose the problems in a very brutally honest manner.)

Next stop: the Sd.Kfz.251/21 Drilling


To introduce this version I’d like to quote the review of this conversion.

As war progressed, aircraft needed a bigger punch. The Luftwaffe adopted heavier 3 cm cannons instead of the various 1.5-2 cm guns they have been using before, so there was a large surplus of the excellent Mauser MG151/15 and 20 cannons (15 and 20 mm respectively). Not to let the guns go to waste, the Kriegsmarine constructed a simple triple gun mount called Flak Drilling Sockellafette. This gun mount was adapted for the Sd.Kfz.251 to provide an anti-aircraft platform. They were available as kits for the troops to make this conversion possible on the field as I mentioned in the introduction. All benches were removed from the vehicle, and additional armor plates were installed around the sides. The mount itself was simply bolted onto the floor of the passenger compartment. Two ammo chests were placed in the back with a total capacity of 3000 rounds/vehicle.

The gun mount was a full rotating pedestal with a cradle assembly which housed three MG151s. They were mounted slightly offset to the right side to allow clearance for the ammunition belts and feed chutes. The shells and belt links were collected inside the pedestal. The guns were fed from three ammunition boxes attached to the pedestal itself. The center box was larger than the two others, containing 400 rounds in mixed HE, AP and tracer rounds. The two side boxes contained 250 rounds each. This arrangement was necessary as the middle gun was considerably more difficult to reload.

The gunner was sitting on a metal seat suspended at the rear of the gun, and operated the whole mount manually. The triggers were placed on the two handgrips. Early versions had reflector type gun sights, while the late ones used speed ring sights. (The armor shield and cradle assembly was different as well in these versions.)

The CMK conversion set is typical of the company: it’s professional, well designed, easy to assemble, but somewhat sparse on the details, and contains inaccuracies. (The review lists the issues I could find with the set.) The most important issue concerns the gun barrels. They are made of resin, and quite chunky. I’ve seen amazingly accurate resin barrels for the Modelltrans Luchs, so convincing 2cm guns can be produced using resin, but these ones really look like a couple of broom handles. This is when you buy an aftermarket set for your aftermarket set -a couple of metal barrels. The other problem is that the gun sits too low on its pedestal; the whole assembly should be much more higher to clear the sides of the vehicle. I’ve lifted it up considerably once I realized that it would sink under the sides. (The shields are way too wide as well, but this is not as noticeable.)

Sd.Kfz.251/17 mit 2 cm Flak 38 Luftwaffe Ausführung


This was a purpose-built anti-aircraft platform for the Luftwaffe’s armored forces. (I know. Why they needed tanks is everyone’s guess. Goering wanted some cool stuff, too, and that was the end of the story. I think the world can thank a lot to the ineptitude and stupidity of the leaders of the Third Reich… looking at the success of the Mongols it’s a scary thought what would have happened if the German war machine was lead by competent leaders.) Anyway, back to the model. The whole crew compartment was radically altered to accomodate the 2cm Flak gun and the fold-down sides. All in all, it looks quite wicked I think.
ModellTrans offers a full kit of this vehicle. There are some issues with the kit: some moulding imperfection (which are to be expected), some accuracy issues (please read the review for more information), but the main problem is with the chassis itself: it’s different from the basic model. The bottom of the chassis is much more narrow than the original 251’s. I think it’s safe to say that it’s a problem with the model, and not a design feature in the original half-track, however it is an issue which you will not notice once the model is complete. The shields are very thin, and quite delicate -a very impressive feat in resin-making. As usual, instructions are somewhat sparse- they only cover the gun’s assembly. Using photos, however, it should not be a problem to build the rest of the model. (Of all the missing details I really think they should have included the rifle-rack on the mudguards, though. I’m planning to add it at a later time.)

So here they go. The three AAA vehicles in the display case. Since I’m moving about a lot, and don’t have a stable base of operation, I’m fixing my models in display cases -easy to store, easy to transport. It also protects them from accidental damage and dust.

ModellTrans Superpershing Conversion (Trumpeter Superpershing M26E4)

 

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

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

Modeltrans offering

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

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

Getting to the first layer

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

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

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

10.5 cm ls.F.H auf Geschützwagen Char B-1(f) by ModellTrans and Trumpeter

Let’s start with this conversion.

The vehicle was built using the captured Char B1 tanks by the Germans; they did away with the turret, and put in a 10.5cm light field howitzer. The results are interesting-looking even by the standards of hastily converted self-propelled guns.

Both Modelltrans and Armory has a conversion for this vehicle; both use the excellent Trumpeter B1 as a base. (There is no other plastic model available, anyway.) I only have built the ModellTrans conversion, so I cannot give an accurate comparison between the two kits; the Armory version seems more detailed, it makes use of PE better (gun shields are more to scale thickness), and it’s also more expensive.

The ModellTrans version is entirely resin, and it’s probably an easier build, too.

ModellTrans conversion

 

As with all ModellTrans kits I’ve built so far, there are some quality issues with the parts: the gun shields on both sides are nicked (they are very thin, delicate parts), and there were some casting imperfections/bubbles which needed to be corrected. After carefully applying putty and VERY delicate sanding I ended up leaving the gun shields alone as I could not figure out how to fix the problem completely. The nicks are not as visible as before, but they still can be seen. Write it up for battle damage.

There is some surgery necessary on the base kit, but it’s not very difficult. I could not find photo/drawing of the actual vehicle, so I have no idea how the base looked like in real life; in this version it is a flat metal plate. In Armory’s version it’s a more elaborate contraption, and in some scratch-built models I saw online, the inside of the tank is accessible from the gun platform. I think it’s a safe bet to say that this last version is the most likely one. (Makes sense not to isolate the vehicle from the gun; after all there’s additional ammo storage in the inside of the tank, and the gun crew must also have a relatively safe way to get to their gun.)

The gun’s base

The gun shields were relatively easy to install; they fit onto the base well. A black base-coat was applied to the model. The gun cradle, the optics and the operating wheels were installed without glue at this stage as I needed them to make sure all the parts were lined up correctly.

 

Superstructure
Superstructure

Once everything was aligned, I glued the cradle in. I suspect the crew compartment is lacking a radio (at least), but the room was so tight I could not fit in a leftover FuG from an Sd.Kfz.251 kit. There was some issues with the molding of one of the ammo racks: two of the shells had casting errors (their top was missing), so they were cut off, and I drilled a hole in their place.

There were a couple of gray layers sprayed onto the model; each layer was successively lighter than the previous one. To break up the monotony of the gray I applied brown/blue/yellow filters using oil paints. (I used the dot-method: first let the paint sit on a piece of cardboard to get rid of the linseed oil, then dot them onto the model, and wash them off with a clean and wet brush.) I applied burned sienna onto the sides in patches this way as well. The contrast is really high on these photos, but in normal light they do blend in nicely. With a toothpick I carefully rubbed/scratched the topmost paint layer off at some places to reveal the darker gray underneath. This was done to create further signs of wear and tear, as I wanted the tank to look worn and used.

Painted and weathered
Gun installed

The crew compartment was weathered quite heavily: scratches, rust, and dust was freely applied.

Before painting the gun had to undergo some minor surgery (although aftermarket gun barrels are available, I did not feel like buying an aftermarket gun for my aftermarket conversion). The main problem was the muzzle break: there was some resin blocking the side-openings. This chunk had to be carefully cut away, and the muzzle break had to be opened up. I drilled it through both from the front and from the sides, and then used a thin blade to make the side holes square. Another issue was the mating of the gun’s tube to the muzzle break; the diameters of the two parts were slightly off, and the joint is quite visible. I thought about trying to sand the difference off, but decided not to exacerbate the problem with unskilled meddling.

After installing the gun I pained the exhaust pipes in rust colors, added the tracks, and added streaking to the sides using both oils and pigments dissolved in water.

The horizontal surfaces were lightly dusted with light gray colored pigments, and the tracks and lower chassis had some earth-shaded pigments applied to simulate dried mud. All the edges and rivets were lightly traced with a soft graphite pencil to simulate worn metal.

 

Finished model
Finished model

 

All in all, the Trumpeter B1 Bis is a joy to build, and the ModellTrans conversion makes a convincing SPG in this scale. Based on this experience and what I saw online, if you don’t mind the extra costs, and can work with PE, I’d go with the Armory set.