Tag Archives: resin

Artel W Miniatures – The Captive Unleashed (Cherubael)

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Since the Eisenhorn trilogy is one of my favorite WH40K books, when I saw this miniature coming out, I obviously bought it.  I was already trying to think of ways to modify some minis to looks like a daemonhost, but Artel W made my life much easier. (I bought these guys to serve as a basis.)
Cherubael is one of the main characters of the book – the nemesis, later servant, and even later the last remaining ally of the titular Inquisitor; he is just as a fascinating character as Eisenhorn himself.
The pose of the figure is especially good: the demon caught in a human body trying to break free of the chains -and spells- binding him. The fact that the figure is actually floating (kept upright by the chains) is an especially great touch.

The miniature is 28mm, and has an incredible level of detail- much better than my skills can give it justice for. Regardless I did try. (What is especially galling that the mini looks actually OK by eye. I thought I did the blending on the skin quite well until I saw the photos.)

Now Eisenhorn will have a friend to play with finally.

(The company has been issuing different characters from the Eisenhorn stories; lately the chair-bound Ravernor was released.)

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Artel W Miniatures – Witcher

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The sadly out of production 28mm Witcher figure from Artel W miniatures. If you haven’t yet played the Witcher games, you really should – incredible stories in an interactive form.

Assembly is about two minutes, painting is probably six hours… such is the life of a figure painter. I have always struggled with faces and skin tones, so I was real happy to achieve a realistic tone at all, but Gerard is an albino, so his skin should be much paler. I did manage to replicate his signature scar over his left eye with a 00 brush. His armor was painted in multiple shades of brown (since most of it is leather) with a black oil wash to bring out the fine details, and the metal parts were painted with True Metal Steel, and washed with Nuln Oil.

I put him on a round base, and he was finished.

Dnepromodel 1/35 Straussler V-4 part 2.

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First part

I mostly used acrylic paints and Vallejo weathering products because due to a small human cohabiting with us since the end of December, I need to limit the usage of stinky, dangerous stuff in the house. (I do make sure there is an appropriate separation, but one can never be too careful.)

 

I wanted to depict a brand new prototype after a long day out on the proving ground -so lots of mud, but not much rust and fading.

I used Vallejo’s primer to prime the model, and a mixture of Tamiya greens to give the base color. (I don’t really know of any accurate color reference charts of pre-war Hungarian colors, so it’s a free-for-all.) I used Tamiya’s transparent green and yellow as a first round of filters (wanted to see how they work ever since I’ve read about them a while ago).

 

I also used several of AK’s filters on various parts of the hull to create hue differences. I used different oil colors as well for filters (dot method), and blending -you can see the results on the back hatches especially. All this helped to create visually interesting differences in the otherwise uniform green finish.

 

Instead of turpentine or white spirit I use Zest It as a diluent; it’s still not ideal, but better health-wise.

I bought a bunch of Vallejo’s weathering products: industrial thick mud, dust and oily mud washes, mud splashes, etc. They have the undisputed advantage of being water-based, so I can use them without worry to anyone’s health. I used the mud as a base, and stained it with pigments and paints, applying them in layers, and washing them back a bit with a wet brush to adjust the effect. (There are several mud colors, but I only bought one because I’m cheap.) A Tamiya mud weathering stick added some more hues of mud. (Just dab on, and adjust with a wet brush.) I used a silver pencil to bring out the details on the tracks, and to highlight the edges of the superstructure.

 

Overall this is a nice model. It is by no means perfect, but the result does look good, it’s not overly difficult to build (this is my first 1/35 resin model), and it is quite an unorthodox little vehicle which is relatively unknown and has an unique look. I really enjoyed the build, and since the tank has an intriguing history I am quite happy to put it on my shelf.

Dnepromodel 1/35 Straussler V-4 part 1.

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This is a very odd-looking tank from the interwar period, and it was the first (and only) original Hungarian tank design, the rest being either licence produced (or based on licences bought from other countries) or simply purchased.

History

The Straussler V-4 came as the further development of -surprise- the Straussler V-3 light tank. The V-3 reached to the prototype phase in 1936 when the decision was made to further improve it due to several shortcomings. V stood for “vontató”, that is “tractor” in English. (A specialised vehicle for towing, not for agricultural work.) The designer was Nicholas Straussler, a Hungarian entrepreneur, engineer and inventor living in Great Britain, who also developed the flotation system on the DD tanks, the Alvis Straussler bomb trolley, and the AC2, AC3 and M39 Csaba armored cars among many other things before, during and after World War 2.

The V-4 arrived at a very tormented period of Hungarian history, and a period of fast changes in tank design philosophy which explains its eventual failure.

After the First World War, Hungary was forbidden from most modern military technology, so any research and development had to be conducted in secrecy. The treaties also severely limited the options of the Armed Forces in acquiring military hardware or know-how. Nicholas Straussler was a Hungarian ex-pat living and working in the UK, who still had strong ties to his old country. He was an enterprising and prolific engineer who not only had his own firm producing his designs, he also sold them for several large UK companies. He designed and offered the V-3 light tank (which was a medium tank in Hungarian nomenclature) for the struggling Hungarian Armed Forces. The tank was to be produced by Weiss Manfred Steel and Metal Works, a Hungarian company. He envisioned the tank being built and exported to the UK and other interested countries which would have bought economic benefits to Hungary as well. This arrangement was mutually beneficial: it helped him cut the costs of producing the first tanks considerably compared to the costs of production in Great Britain. The development and production of V3 went under the name of “towing tractor” to circumvent the treaties’ limitation, and were produced without armor, armament and turret. They were to be equipped in the destination countries, which would have satisfied the letter of the peace treaties (somewhat).

The V-3, and its development the V-4, were planned to be small, amphibious light tanks utilising dual-drive, meaning they could be driven with and without the tracks on. This concept was all the rage back in the ‘30s, so we should not judge Straussler for jumping on the hype train. The V-3 utilised an unique suspension system developed by Straussler himself. This was further improved on the V-4 by adding return rollers which were used to adjust the track tension, as the original design was very prone to either break or throw a track.

The running gear had two powered large wheels on the front and back, and two smaller roller wheels per side These were connected by a three piece horizontal rocking arm (apologies; not sure if this is the technical term). The suspension was provided by two torsion springs per side, which did provide a very stable platform for the weapons at slow to medium speeds, but at high speeds they were stiff, resulting in an exhausting ride for the crew. The V-3 had no track tensioning. The tank had a detachable screw and two pontoons for amphibious operations. (Both the V-3 and V-4 have shown excellent aquatic capabilities: they could steer well, and were very stable and safe on water. The only problem it had was exiting the water if the terrain was not perfect for it, which is, let’s face it, not ideal for a tank.)

The V-3 was not a successful design; the multiple and conflicting specifications (ability to use wheel-only locomotion on roads, amphibious capabilities, 45km/h top speed on tracks, etc. etc.) ensured that the tank was suffering from reliability issues, and was not able to fulfill each and every specification. In road mode the tracks could not be mounted onto the vehicle, so they had to be transported by a different vehicle. The tracks themselves were too narrow, which decreased the ability to cross difficult terrain, and stressed the rubber rimmed roadwheels. At this point the tracks were simply moved by the friction between the rubber and the tracks, and no drive sprockets were present. The improvements on the V-4 transformed the tank into a much more reliable (and heavier) vehicle armed with two 34/37M 8mm twin machine guns and a 40mm 37M main gun. Since the Armed Forces had no other viable alternatives, initially they were very much interested in the tank, and were willing to look over its deficiencies. (Beggars can’t be choosers I guess.)

The Swedish Landswerk L-60 was also tried alongside the V-4, and the military imagined these two being used alongside each other. However the V-4 was still plagued by mechanical issues, it did not have a very good off-terrain capability, despite of the radical redesign of the hull, and the international situation changed sufficiently for the Hungarian Army to declare its intentions of rearmament openly, so they could pick and choose from a much wider range of options. These factors doomed the V-4’s chances of being accepted into service. The Hungarian Army considered several alternatives with the second production version of the V-4, and decided on purchasing the licence for the production of the L-60, which became the Toldi I after some further development. Straussler and Weiss Manfred did not give up; both the English and the Russians were interested in the type for a while. (The tank was also trialled in Italy in 1937.) There was an export version produced with a large radio aerial around the turret, and later Straussler designed several smaller tracked vehicles aimed for the Russian and British market with the suspension developed for the V-4’s.

Further reading:
An article about Straussler and a paper-panzer that has never been built:
The Straussler MBT – Hungarian tier 10 candidate

Plans for the drive train:
https://patents.google.com/patent/US2089042

 

The Model

The model arrived very well packaged; there was no damage at all after its two thousand kilometer journey to me.

I have to say the presentation of the model is exceptional. All the parts are bagged -sometimes individually, sometimes with a few others- , and the bags are labelled with the part numbers. This definitely makes assembly easier and more organised, compared to other resin kits I’ve built. Even the tracklinks from each side are bagged separately, which is necessary, given they are not identical. The V-4 had left and right handed tracks, so keep this is in mind when assembling. Having resin individual tracks is a bit bold since gluing them together is not as straightforward as with the plastic individual tracks. (With plastic you have at least half an hour, hour to adjust the tracks after gluing them together; you lose this option with CA glue.)

Some larger parts (boogies of the suspension, etc.) are still on their casting blocks, and the attachment points are very thick. Cutting them off will require some finesse and care. (Also, constant awareness of the health implications of working with resin. Resin dust is toxic, so work somewhere where others are not exposed to it, and wear a respirator. Alternatively use wet sawing, wet sanding techniques; the water makes sure the forming dust will not get airborne.)

The instructions are somewhat basic, and can be confusing when it comes to the running gear. Most of the assembly should go without a hitch, but the running gear is complex, and would need several drawings explaining exactly how it is supposed to come together. (The confusion comes mostly from the fact that the four powered wheels were powered by a shaft system that transferred the power from the middle of the suspension where it was attached to the hull. There is an excellent article of the history of the tank -unfortunately in Hungarian (http://www.hadmernok.hu/182_05_nemeth.pdf)-, but the drawings should help positioning the drive shafts.

The casting is very high quality, and flash is minimal; there is no complaint there. The hull, however, was warped a bit (see below). The fine, subtle details are really nice. The kit comes with some PE, which is also quite delicate and well detailed.

Assembly

Hull

I started the building with assembling the hull first, and this is where I ran into the biggest issue with the kit: the lower hull (which is provided as a “tub”) is somewhat warped – it was not symmetrical. (See photo.) Perhaps it would have been a better choice to provide it as several flat pieces, as most models go about it. I used the engine deck to force the back of the hull into the right shape -with generous application of superglue and patience I managed to make the lower hull conform to the rectangular shape of the engine deck. It is not perfect, but at least now it is almost symmetrical. The top of the hull has four parts: the smaller, rectangular engine deck piece, the large part covering most of the top, the sloping frontal plate with the driver’s hatch, and a small, rectangular part covering the nose.

Starting from the back I simply glued one piece after another, making sure they are fitted to the lower hull perfectly, hence slowly ironing out the asymmetry. This obviously does put some stress on the resin, so be careful. Since the hull is relatively thin, very small amount of force is required to hold the pieces together until the glue set; nevertheless make sure you do not break the tub if you run into the same problem and use the same method of correcting it. (Other option would be to warm the tub up with hot water or a hairdryer, and shape it while it’s hot, but I went about the safer way.) I hasten to add that it might have been only my sample, and other models are perfectly fine. Since this is the only sample I have I can’t extrapolate from this.

Apart from the issue of asymmetry, the lower hull and the sloping frontal part had some gaps as well; the fit was not perfect. I decided to use Green Stuff to fill the gaps, filling and reinforcing the attachment points in one go. Another fit issue was that the two top panels did not meet completely head-on: there was a slight step between the two, instead of a smooth transition. Since the large panel had hatch details moulded on I could not sand it to profile; I simply used putty and liquid green stuff to build up a slope on the back panel instead. Again; not something I prefer doing, but this was the best I could come up with.

I find it important to mention that these issues are not unheard of with resin kits; this is the price you pay for unique and rare models.

I glued in the armored protection for the vision port on the front, and the round bases for the return rollers. The armored hatch on the front houses the hull machine gun, too, and can be displayed folded-up. The problem is that only the barrels of the machine guns are provided, and there are no interior details. If someone is able, scratch building would solve this issue. As for me I glued it shut.

The great thing about the hull and turret is that the places were the vision slits, and other larger pieces would go are actually marked with a slightly different texture. This is seemingly a small thing, but it makes placing these parts so much simpler. I really did appreciate this effort on behalf of the designers of the model.

While the green stuff was curing in the seams of the hull, I finished the turret.

Turret

The next step was the assembly of the turret top. The commander’s hatch, unfortunately, does not fit in perfectly; it’s slightly larger than the hole it covers. You may leave it open (but the turret lacks internal details), or you can start carefully shaving off the extra, while continuously fitting it into its place to make sure you do not overdo the surgery. As I said, this is your standard protocol with resin models; they do make you work. (There is a sitting Hungarian tanker figure from Bodi, which might be used to cover up the empty space should you decide to leave the hatch open.)

The guns are supposed to be installed into the turret using a system that would make them movable. The main gun is held by two rectangular pieces with a plastic rod between them. The gun sight has a similar system, while the twin machine gun is installed using an even flimsier system of a half-sphere representing the ball-mount, and an L shaped part holding the half-sphere against the opening of the turret. The L shaped part can only hold the half-sphere in place if it is actually pushing it against the opening, which is not something you can actually achieve with simply gluing it in place. (The machine gun in the hull is not movable.)

The problem is that neither of these systems really work well. First, it’s quite difficult holding several parts in place while gluing; and you do have to hold everything in place in order to position the guns correctly. Second, the holding parts are a bit undersized. If you care about movable guns, you can just replace them using larger plastic squares; as far as I was concerned, I just glued the guns into place. The third issue is that before you do any of this, you really should check if there is clearance enough for the guns on the bottom of the turret. I managed to glue everything in place the first time around only to find out that the main gun was in the way of the bottom of the turret, so I had to adjust it again.

The assembly of the machine guns is a bit tricky. You have a central PE T-shaped part which supposed to provide the “backbone” for the twinned guns; the barrels are supposed to be running on both sides parallel, and the short hand of the T is supposed to be folded up to act as a holder. The problem is the distance of the gun barrels from each other… you can’t really set it correctly. Unless you glue them into place first, making sure they are parallel, and then add the PE part, you run the real risk of making them a bit wobbly. I used a thick, gel-like CA glue which gave me plenty of time to adjust things before setting, and did just that. This saved me from measuring and trying to position the barrels parallel to a precise distance from each other. The downside is that from now on extremely fragile things are hanging over the turret and the tank’s body making handling a bit more difficult. The detail on the barrels of the machineguns is somewhat soft.

I installed the main gun at this stage. The barrel is nice and straight. The muzzle break is a separate piece, and you have to be very careful gluing it into place, since it should be placed to the longitudinal axis of the barrel. It will show if it is off center even a tiny bit.

I finished the turret by adding the two armored vision slits on the sides.

Back to the hull…

The seams went through a series of sanding/filling until I was happy that no seam was left. I checked them after I applied the primer as well, and corrected the little imperfections.

Suspension

The model overall is very simple- except for one part. The suspension and the running gear are quite complex, and take up most of the model. The wheels and larger parts are on huge pouring blocks, which need to be sawed off carefully.

The suspension is workable, so you can put the tank into any sort of terrain. It also means you will have to carefully position the large and small road wheels before gluing to make sure they line up correctly should you want to display the model on a flat terrain.

The main bogie of the suspension unit is made out of three flat pieces; gluing them together was not very simple, and you also are advised to check if the top parts are right in the middle; otherwise the overhang will interfere with the smaller arms holding the large road wheels.

As mentioned the instructions are not very clear on how to install the drive system into the suspension, but the drawings in the linked article should help you. On of the problem is that while the suspension is movable, the drive train is not- so you will have to glue everything in place, making sure that the wheels will touch the ground once the whole unit is installed on the hull. I did the best I could, but honestly I am not sure this is the way to do it. In any case most will be invisible, so you might as well skip it. With all the complexity, it is a very impressive (although quite unnecessary) design feature of the model.

To mount the suspension units in place, I drilled a hole where the units meet the hull, and inserted a thick wire in it. A corresponding hole was drilled in the central unit, and glued in place using two-part epoxy. I reinforced the attachment point with wire because did not want to risk the joint giving up over time. To make sure everything is fixed in place until the glue set, I also used CA glue.

 

Once the suspension was in place, I started adding the tracks. As the tracks are not workable, you will have to glue the suspension in place. If you wish to display the model on a flat surface this can be done at the earlier step; if you wish to display it in a diorama setting, now is the time to decide how the suspension should be positioned. (The tank’s suspension can be set into pretty funky positions, so it might be worth considering a diorama.)

The tracks come already detached, which is nice. However… Every tracklink had to be trimmed of 4 connecting stubs that used to attach them to the pouring blocks. This was time consuming. (Even though I mostly build tanks I have a confession to make: I hate building tracks.) The tracklinks, in theory, may be workable as they click together -but you do need to force them, risking breakage. Since the traction is not strong enough for them to hold, some glue will have to be applied once you built a section. It is impressive nevertheless; but I did find that longer sections tend to fall apart from their own weight without glue.

The problem with individual tracks made of resin is that you don’t have as much working time after you applied the glue as you have with plastic tracks. I built up several smaller straight sections, and tried to get the overall shape from these. Once I was happy with their position, I applied the extra thin CA glue, and hoped they would hold. At the return rollers, where the tracks were bent at a steeper angle it was difficult to make them conform to the shape of the roller without coming apart. The problem with the moving suspension was that it was difficult to hold everything stable, so I ended up gluing the suspension arms in place before adding the tracks.
One last advice: plan the installation of the tracks so that they meet on the bottom of the drive wheels, and not in the air before or after the return rollers. Don’t ask me how I came at this conclusion. Once I am done with the painting I will glue the tank onto a base, and it will flatten out the tracks; right now the suspension is pulling them up a bit.

 

The mudguards and the rest of the missing pieces were only added once I finished the tracks, and the tank was firmly sitting on them. The mudguards should be fit over an angular part of the hull, but the folding line on the PE will not conform to the hull-shape exactly… I ended up gluing tiny evergreen rods where the mudguards were supposed to go, and used them as support. Where the mudguard did not meet the hull (in the angular part, where two hull plates meet) I simply unfolded a little of the flap that I had to fold into the photoetch previously.

With this the tank was finished. It will take me a while to get it painted, but the painting stage should not be very difficult. If you have some leftover decals from other Hungarian tanks, you can built a what-if vehicle, which was accepted into service, but since it only reached prototype phase it carried no marks in real life. It can also be built very clean or very dirty, since it did go through trials; in other words the opportunities for weathering are endless.

 

Artel W Miniatures – Assassin

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The recent advances in 3D printing have created a boom in the cottage industry of resin figures. You can now find better and better quality figures produced for wargaming, and characters from popular culture (books, movies, comics or video games). We do live in a golden age right now, as often times we get alternatives for wargaming miniatures; and sometimes -as in this case- it means we get a figure we want at all. (I would love to have a miniature version of a T-54 power armor from the Fallout series holding a mini nuke launcher, for example, but nobody is making one.)

This miniature by Artel W Miniaturesdepicts such a video game character: the master assassin. He is the ex-bodyguard Corvo Attano, from the game Dishonoured by Bethesda, wearing his signature mask and carrying his signature weapons – without explicitly stating so. Since I tremendously enjoyed the game for both of its gameplay, and for its excellent story and setting, I was happy to order one of these figures when I saw it on Artel W Miniatures’ website.

Basically this guy:

 

The figure comes in a very impressive package: the box is covered with brown wrapping paper, and sealed with a wax seal giving quite an exclusive feeling to the miniature. The parts are moulded in a very high quality resin with no flash at all. The resin is smooth, almost waxy to the touch, and it’s very nice to work with. There were no bubbles or deformed parts at all.

The pose of the miniature is quite dramatic and very well done; Corvo is caught mid-leap from a building, holding his blade in his hand (presumably in preparation of using it as soon as he lands). The building forms the base for the figure, which makes it look quite stand out, and gives an extra point of interest to the model.

The figure is really easy and quick to assemble. Due to the weapon choices the assembly is greatly helped by looking at in-game screenshots, and photos of the miniature on Artel W’s website. You get some of Corvo’s favorite toys: he has two bone charms tied to his chest, his folding knife (sword?), and a set of optional equipment: a whalebone rune, his miniature crossbow, a holstered handgun, and a holstered rifle. I decided to use the handgun only as I am not sure where the rune should be attached, and the gun should be attached to his back. (I left Corvo’s other hand empty since I assume jumping AND stabbing someone at the same time requires dexterity and balance, which would be upset if he had both his hands full.) The crossbow I decided to use with the Witcher figure- also from Artel W. I did not want to add all the equipment at any rate since the character is supposed to be light and sneaky, and this impression would not be supported if he was carrying half an armoury around his person.

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Corvo’s coat looks very natural, as its tail floats after the jumping figure. The base itself is a small section of a ornate rooftop from which the assassin leaps from, and which can be detailed with soot, rain marks, pigeon droppings, moss and dust. The style fits very well into the game’s steam-punk, late 19th century feel.

The painting was relatively easy, since there was no face to paint (which is always difficult no matter the scale). I used different shades of oils on top of Vermin Brown to paint the leather, highlighted with Bestial brown (Citadel range), AK’s True Metal steel for the mask and for the sword (drybrushed over the Vallejo dark grey primer). The buckles were painted with True Metal gold, and the figure was highlighted with a black pin wash I prepared from oil paints. The base was painted using multiple layer of brownish/greyish glazes, with the bricks highlighted with reddish glazes, and the same black wash applied once dry. (I will weather the building some more in the future, though.) The coat looks too shiny on the photos, but in normal, ambient light it only has a somewhat dull shine. (The age-old question of painting for the eye or the camera…)

The only issue coming up during the assembly was that the small peg protruding from Corvo’s foot did not fit into the base’s corresponding hole; I had to trim it. That’s it – the only problem with the model…

 

 

W-model: Pantsir-S1 Tracked part 2.

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First part 

The painting was reasonably simple. Since there is no painting guide nor decals provided I simply chose an attractive scheme, and used a couple of leftover Modelcollect decals.

The priming was done with Vallejo’s German grey primer; I really like this product as it provides a really good surface for the paint, it can be sprayed without diluting it, and it sticks to any surface. I sprayed a Tamiya buff with some green mixed in as a base, and applied a somewhat darker green free-hand with an airbrush (I used the base coat to lighten Tamiya’s Russian Green). The demarcation lines between the colors were painted on using a very dark grey (representing black) with a brush. I also painted the tracks and the rubber rims of the roadwheels by hand.

Using a 00 brush and Vallejo’s German Black Brown I painted discreet chips and scratches on the tank. I tried not to go overboard; in this scale no chips would be visible, but they do give some visual interest to the model. I also used sponge chipping on larger surfaces.

I added a couple of ochre and brown filters to tie the colors together a bit, dark pin washes, and some dust and mud using pigments. (I did not want to go overboard with the weathering.)

Overall it has been a really nice build, and the model is a pretty unique. It certainly stands out of all the Braille-scale tanks in my collection. Apart from the minor issues I mentioned it should be an easy build for everyone who has a little experience with resin already. The only real downside of this model -as with most resin models – is the price; 52 EURs are pretty steep for a 1/72 kit. This is, unfortunately, the cost of building rare and unique vehicles.

 

W-model: Pantsir-S1 Tracked part 1.

 

 

The Pantsir (SA-22 Greyhound) air defense system is a very impressive combination of anti-aircraft missile and cannon systems, assisted by both radar and optical targeting. Technically the Pantsyr S1 is classified as a SPAAG-M (Self Propelled Anti-Aircraft Gun – Missile). It entered service in 2007, and have been exported to several countries in several different setups. This compact system can be mounted on wheeled and tracked vehicles as well as on ships, and can engage a wide range of air targets from helicopters to ballistic missiles and guided bombs (!). There are several wheeled platforms offered: the Ural5323, KamAz-6350, MZKT-7930, BAZ-6909, and MAN SX. The tracked version is essentially the development of the Tunguska AAA platform, and it is the subject of this review.

The first part of the air defence system is a dual 30mm cannon with a 4km range, and 5000 rounds per minute rate of fire. They cannot be fired when the vehicle is in travel mode, unlike the missiles. The guns can be used against ground targets, and there is armor piercing ammunition available for them for this purpose.

The target acquisition and tracking system combines several ways of detecting and tracking targets. The radar array consists a Passive Electronically Scanning Array (PESA) S-band target acquisition radar with a 360º coverage, and an X-band fire control radar (FCR). They can search and track aerial targets over 50 km away and engage them at a distance of 20 km.  Apart from the radar, it has optical and thermal trackers as well.

The missile system provides a high altitude, long range defence capability complementing the guns. It consists of 12 57E6 SAMs (surface-to-air missiles) in protective tubes. They are two-stage solid rocket-propelled missiles with a range of 20 km. The missile travels over Mach 2 and can engage targets up to an altitude of 15 km. The fire control radar needs to continuously illuminate the target, but alternatively the passive IR and optical sensors can be used to guide the missile.

The wheeled Pantsir system from Armory was recently reviewed on Armorama; it is a quite nice coincidence that I was building the tracked version for review.

The model

W-model has several really interesting and unconventional vehicles in their catalogue: mobile radars, engineering vehicles, ICBM missiles on mobile launchers, to gigantic SPGs.

The model arrived in a sturdy cardboard box, well protected in bubble wrap. It consists about a hundred resin parts, and comes with a PE fret which is essentially remains untouched during the build. (There are two parts for the missile launcher that you will use. The rest goes to the spares box.) The PE is somewhat thick; it is not easy to cut smaller parts out. You also get a small wire mesh which will be necessary for the hull. (Advice: first measure and cut out the largest bit you will need.)

The detail is pretty good, and it was very nice to work with the resin. There is almost no flash, and absolutely no bubbles or imperfections; the quality is first-class. The attachment points are well-made: the parts are very easy to remove from the casting block. I had no need for the fine saw, which, to me, is one of the worst part of working with resin. The tracks are supplied in rubber-like soft sections. I’m not sure if they are some sort of a flexible resin or if they are actually made of rubber, but they are certainly easier to work with than the “traditional” resin ones. (You don’t have to heat them before wrapping them around the running gear.)

The instructions are clear, and by large they are OK. There are some issues that they don’t mention which makes assembly a bit more difficult than it should be; more on that later. (That said it was not a difficult model to build.)

The construction went fine. The chassis had some fit issues, though. It is assembled from several flat parts (as usual with resin models), and the back panel did not actually fit on flawlessly; a little filing, cutting and fiddling was necessary to make everything click. Again, it’s expected from resin models. I did have to use some filler here and there -most prominently where the lower and the upper hull sections meet in the nose. I also used green stuff from the inside of the hull to strengthen the attachment points. (I have this recurring nightmare where the CA glue suddenly gives off the ghost, and the model falls apart; I like to use either two-part epoxy or green stuff as an additional way of gluing the model together.)

There are three air intakes on the hull which need to be covered with a metal mesh. The longest one is on the top left side of the hull, and as I said it’s best to cut it out first from the supplied wire mesh to make sure you don’t run out of it. (I did; it’s slightly shorter than the intake, which necessitated the turret being turned slightly off-center to cover it up.)

The hull’s turret ring is slightly smaller than necessary; the turret will not fit. It’s quite a simple matter to enlarge it with an X-acto knife, though.

The swing arms for the running gear have little square pegs which should fit into the corresponding square holes on the suspension. Unfortunately the holes are too small; I had to enlarge them a bit. This is a shame because the square shape of the peg would have ensured the correct angle of the arms. As they are now I suspect they sit a bit too low on my model. I had a little problem determining how to glue the double road wheels together; the holes were too small for the swing arms, and I was not sure which faces of the wheels should face each other. (See photo.) I think I managed to assemble them in the correct way; the holes for the swing arms had to be enlarged and deepened a bit, though. Once assembled, the wheels stood a bit criss-cross; it was difficult to align all the swing arms perfectly. I simply put the model in hot water (about 60C; hot but not too hot) for two minutes, then placed it between two blocks to cool down, forcing the roadwheels to line up in the correct position. You may use a hairdryer as well, but it’s riskier as you can actually melt the resin with excessive heat.

The tracks were easy to fit, but I found the sections to be a bit too short; it is not easy to depict the correct sag between return rollers when the ends of the individual sections meet up between them.

The business end of the vehicle, the radar/missile/cannon assembly was a simple build. It is important to first attach the guns to the mount, before it is glued to the rotating turret base. The instructions unfortunately do not advise on the correct sequence. If you glue the the turret base in place first, there is no room left to install the guns. There is also a lack of information on how to build the model in different configurations: you have an option to build the model in either travel mode or deployed. This is where online photos come handy; there are quite a few depicting the vehicle in both configuration. The gun can obviously be positioned at different angles, but the large tracking radar can be folded up and down, too. The missiles can also be positioned at different angles, however I don’t think it’s possible to position the inside and outside missiles differently. (You can see on reference photos that the two columns -inside and outside- can be positioned independently from each other on the actual vehicle.) The instructions are quite vague at his part: it was not clear at first where all 12 missiles should go. The instructions only show the placement of the middle ones.

The missile racks are the only assemblies that use any PE- two small parts from the extensive PE sheet. The metal is quite thick, so it is not easy to cut the parts away. The thickness comes handy once installed, as they form an important structural element of the missile launchers.

The only difficulty building the turret was the positioning of the missile tubes. They should be parallel to each other but it is not a simple matter gluing the top and bottom ones onto the rack in a way that they line up perfectly. In retrospect tiny blobs of green stuff could have been used to position them. Otherwise the build was quick and simple; and as I mentioned before you don’t use most of the PE you get with the model, which simplifies matters.

 

1/72 AMX-40 by OKB Grigorov

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This is one of those tanks that definitely has a lot of personality. From absolute obscurity it was launched into the general consciousness* by the online game World of Tanks, which features it as a tier IV light tank. It has a certain notoriety as it is certainly one of the worst tanks in the game, but despite of this it became somewhat of a legend (or a cult, rather) simply due to its quite unique looks. It’s a sort of hipster tank, just like the Churchill Gun Carrier. The WoT community has created several amusing memes around it, and it has its own nickname: “The Duck”. Right now the only mod I run with the game is the “rubber duck” custom paintjob. (See below)

*Well, more accurately, into the general consciousness of a certain gaming community…

The unique look of the tank is the result of its designers taking the idea of sloped armour to its limits. The plans were drawn up in 1940 as a replacement option for the S35 and S40 cavalry tanks, but due to the German invasion these plans did not materialise; no prototypes were ever built. (To be fair it would have probably performed just as bad in real life against panzer IIIs and IVs as it does in-game.) The only contemporary image of this strange-looking tank available online is a drawing. The tank did inspire a lot of online creativity, thought…

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I have been toying around with Blender trying to make a printable model of this tank, but so far my efforts are less than satisfactory. (I’m not giving up, though; if I succeed I will paint it in the Rubber Duck scheme.) Needless to say when I saw that OKB is producing a version of this vehicle I ordered one at once. I quite like this feedback of computer games into the scale model industry; a lot of newer releases (KV-4, AT2, etc.) were clearly inspired by the weirder prototypes, paper panzers popularized by WoT.

The kit comes in a typical OKB box, the parts placed into ziplock bags. The instructions are computer generated and quite simple, but this is a simple model after all. Once you finish the suspension/running gear (I have no idea if they are accurate), you’re essentially finished. It comes with two PE parts, and two transparent resin pieces for the headlights. It lacks the back-mounted machine gun that was planned (that up-pointing gun mounted behind the turret). Other than that it looks very similar to the blueprint, but distinctly different from its in-game representation. (Which is a shame, because the WoT turret with its secondary machine gun turret looks much better in my opinion. It’s absolutely fictional, but looks trump historical accuracy. Well, this is what Blender is for, I guess.)

The model went together without a hitch. The suspension arms fit well, the wheels went on nicely, and the tracks were a breeze to install; that was pretty much the extent of the build, really. Apart from this I had to glue the turret and the gun in place, install the headlights, and add the side-skirts. The building process took about an hour. The only tricky part was to fix the side-skirts onto the curved profile of the tank.

The painting was also pretty easy: I primed the model with the side-skirts off with Vallejo’s German Grey primer, and applied AK’s Chipping Fluid. Once dry, I mixed up the (fictional) blue-gray color from WoT using Tamiya paints, and misted it over the model in several layers. This was followed by some moderate chipping using a wet, stiff brush.

When the model was dry, I used some oil-paint based filters (light brown, blue) to modulate the base color somewhat, and sealed everything with gloss varnish.

Unfortunately there are no decals provided with the model.

After weeks of consideration I decided to test out printing waterslide decals using an inkjet printer. The results were not satisfactory (I used transparent decal paper instead of white, and the colors are very faint), but life is about learning, right? If you want to have faded markings, print decals -that’s my conclusion. The other -bigger problem- is the thickness of the decals; they are just not going onto the surface very well, you can see silvering despite of soaking the whole model in decal softeners, and in general, just being crappy decals. Conclusion? Buy an aftermarket set next time…

The headlights were painted using a chrome pen.

I added the decals, sealed them, and painted on some more scratches and chips. Using Tamiya’s makeup set I added some dust on the lower part of the chassis; and this concludes the painting and weathering phase; the Duck is ready.

Overall the model is nice: well designed, easy to assemble, and unique-looking. The price is moderately high, but affordable; it’s great as a weekend project (or for the true fans of Le’Duck).

1/35 Zvezda Panzer IV (Sd.Kf.z 161/2) ausf H. part 1

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I have built Dragon’s offering of the Pnz. IV., so obviously I was curious what Zvezda came up with. They come from two very different philosophies: DML crams in as much detail as they can with PE, individual links, metal barrels, and the whole nine yard in a highly complex, high-tech kit. This comes with a higher price tag and a much higher part count. Zvezda, on the other hand, goes for a more budget option for both time and money with their newer kits. They provide good detail for a much lower part number and much lower price. The build is much faster and simpler; the price you pay for this is a couple of compromises in construction and options. In short: this is a perfect model if you don’t want to spend too much money or too much time on a build, or if you are only getting into “serious” building and don’t want to bother with PE and individual tracks yet. It seems like Zvezda spotted a gap in the present market: good quality, cheap and easy to build models. With the present trend of expensive, highly complex kits, newcomers to the hobby (who are usually young and have no income on their own) are usually left out of the equation; it seems like Zvezda’s offerings might make it easier for them to stay in the hobby.

Zvezda’s offering is a bit strange in one respect: the side skirts have very nicely textured Zimmerit, however the hull lacks it completely. This leaves the model builder with two choices: either apply Zimmerit to the whole of the tank, or buy/fabricate new side-skirts without the coating. I chose to go with the latter as I personally don’t really like the look of Zimmerit. (If you decide to dress the hull up, there are alternatives: PE, resin or even home-made one using putty.)

Overall the model is quite accurate as far as I could determine, with some issues of the drive-wheel. There is little flash on the parts (the only case I found was on the drive wheel), and the detail is quite good. The weld seams are reproduced very well, the lettering on the rubber rims of the road wheels is visible (although not as sharp as on the DML and newer Trumpeter models), and the no-slip surface of the mudguards is very well done. The Zimmerit pattern on the side skirts is reproduced very well; the problem is that now you have to apply Zimmerit to the hull if you plan to use them. Another issue is not specific to the Zvezda model: the side skirts are given as one unit, all the armour plates moulded as one part. If you wish to depict them in a more realistic position, you will have to separate the different plates (shouldn’t be a problem). The thickness is quite out-of-scale, too, but once assembled it should not really be that apparent.

 

Since I have a Tank Workshop interior for the PnzIV ausf H I decided to build it with this kit. I was planning to get a DML offering, but facing another 1000+ part build was just too much. The Tamiya kit is showing its age, so Zvezda it is. (I wanted to avoid the problems of the Tamiya model: rubber tracks, detail, gun barrel- all issues that would require aftermarket products.) Because the interior set is designed for the Tamiya kit sometimes the fit is not the best. The interior set itself is OK, but there are more detailed options out there -Verlinden’s for example. With the current bonanza of full-interior kits, resin sets became somewhat of a last-ditch option.

Since the turret basket and the gun is actually quite nice in the Zvezda kit, I am using the plastic parts instead of the resin; most of the Tank Workshop set goes into the hull instead.

The ammo storage is quite rudimentary: just pieces of rectangular resin. The driver’s and radio operator’s station is quite well detailed; the problem is that the transmission is largely hidden by the model’s upper front plate. None of the front hatches can be opened; I think I might try to cut open the large middle hatch.

The radios’ backs are also featureless; these were placed into a metal rack, which should be visible when you look at the back of the radios. Thought about fabricating something, but then I just skipped this part.

The transmission is actually quite nice; can’t wait to see it painted and weathered.

Well, this is it so far… next step: finishing up the interior, painting and weathering it. Keep tuned in.