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Revell/Armory T-72B 1/72

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The T-72B (Object 184) was a much improved version of the T-72A model. It was accepted into service in 1985, and mass produced from 1988. The tank has received an improved 1A40-1 fire control system, improved composite armor (Super Dolly Parton) on the turret, and extra armor on the front hull. The new main gun (2A46M) was capable of firing 9M119 antitank missiles. The gun was also supplied with a new, improved sight (1K13-49), and a better gun stabilization system. The tank was powered by a new 840hp V-83-1 engine. The smoke dischargers were placed onto the left side of the turret to make room for the reactive armor (ERA) bricks.

These changes have significantly improved the tank: in many ways it is comparable to the T-80U model (although with poorer engine power). It is the last modification of the T-72 line; the next model has received the designation of T-90 (for obvious marketing reasons after the First Gulf War). Earlier models were later brought up to the T-72B levels, and this makes this model one of the most widely used tanks in the world.

 

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Armory has released the earlier T-72B model without the ERA bricks (there are countless variants of the ERA equipped tank, if you want them). It uses the excellent Revell T-72 kit as a base. All of the conversion steps are straightforward, and do not include extensive surgery: the new parts simply replace the plastic ones.

The model comes in a small paper box. It has the photo of a finished T-72B on the cover (with an added commander’s shield, which needs to be ordered separately, as I discovered). The parts are placed in small ziplock bags, and there was no damage during transport. (As opposed to the Revell kit, where the AA machine gun was broken after the mail delivered it…)

The instructions are simple, but not very clear; however there are plenty of reference photos online to help with the assembly.

 

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The parts are cast in dark, somewhat brittle resin. The detail is very fine; Armory has captured the changed shape and texture of the turret, and the composite armor sections very well. The hatches provided have interior detail, but since the turret does not have any (it’s solid resin), I chose to close them.

Some of the flash is actually quite thick, but nothing that you can’t solve with a fine saw. (Please remember that fine resin dust is toxic; use wet cutting and wet sanding techniques.) You do have to be careful though, not to damage the parts themselves while sawing.

 

 

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The construction is easy as was mentioned previously: after cleanup you simply have to switch the resin parts for the plastic ones. The fit is excellent, and I have not run into any difficulties during construction. As mentioned the commander’s shield is depicted on the boxart photo with the small print that it has to be ordered separately; I think this should have been included with the kit (or the print made larger…) As it was I felt a bit disappointed when I realized that I’d have to pay (and wait) some more to have the complete package.

 

Painting

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As I usually do I used black primer to create a good surface for the paint. I applied some hair-spray to most of the model, as I decided to try doing the chipping this way, instead of painting them on using a fine brush and a sponge.

I’ve used the modern, Russian two color scheme for this build. I used Tamiya Tan for the yellow (as it’ll be darkened, and modulated by subsequent filters), and Tamiya Dark Green mixed with Tan to get the green color. Due to the scale effect, most colors should be lightened anyway, but I noticed it makes less of a contrast between two colors if I mix the lighter into the darker color. The base color was yellow, and added the green using my airbrush free-handed.

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The chipping is very discreet; due to the long time it took to get the final paint layers on (about a week, as life and work unfortunately interrupts the modelling sessions), the hairspray did not dissolve very easily. In this case it’s fortunate, since in 1/72 only the largest paint chips would be visible, and I try not to overdo the weathering effects. It’s something worth keeping in mind however. If you want large chips, you have to work fast, and do the chipping phase soon after you applied the chipping fluid/hairspray. The process itself is simple: you dampen the surface with water, wait a bit, and use a toothpick/brush to remove some of the paint.

I wanted to depict a serious flaking of paint on the rubber side-skirts, as they are normally very much battered and abused, so the black rubber readily shows through, but unfortunately, in this case the long waiting time worked against me. It was pretty difficult to remove the paint using water; in fact for the larger scratches I used black paint and a fine brush.

Since we’re talking about the side-skirts: they are amazingly detailed. What irked me about Trumpeter’s 1K17 is that the side-skirts looked like they were made out of armored plates. Many older models have this fault, and for the longest time I did think they were made out of metal. Only in the last couple of years when I had a chance to look at a T-72 in person, watched some videos and reference photos realized that they are, in fact, rubber.

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In the next step I added umber and yellowish colored filters; once they were dry, I added a semi-gloss varnish layer, and did some pin washes with the usual black/burned umber mixture.

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I tried AK Interactive’s fuel stains product (without diluting). It’s not bad, but it definitely needs thinner, otherwise it looks way too thick.

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I’ve used different light earth colored pigments for depicting dust and dried mud on the lower part of the hull. The mud was applied wet (pigments mixed with white spirit), which was rubbed off using a stiff brush (with downwards motions, focusing on the top sections mostly, leaving the pigments undisturbed on the bottom). The “dust” was applied dry, and I did not use anything to fix them in place. (The model will live in a closed box, well protected from probing fingers and dust.) Black pigment was rubbed on the side-skirt close to the exhaust port.

As a finishing touch the edges were treated with the usual graphite pencil to give them some metallic shine, and the tank was mounted on the base of a display box.

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Revell Panzer IV ausf H Flakpanzer 88 conversion

 

Image Source: Henk’s website henk.fox3000.com

I chose this vehicle as my first scratchbuild attempt. It looked relatively easy to do, it looked cheap(ish), and the tank, let’s face it, looks crazy. The Germans seemed to have a philosophy of “if we can stick an 88 on top of it, we’ll stick an 88 on top of it”, and they did. They put 88s on everything they could think of: trucks and halftracks mostly, but among others, on top of a PnzIV chassis as well. (The only reason they did not stick an 88 on top of another 88 is that it would have looked stupid even for them.) The vehicle looks wicked, but it’s easy to see this tank topple, should the gun fire in any other direction than straight forward or backward… It certainly does not seem like the most stable contraption. Perhaps this was one of the reasons they did not build more of this. The other reason was most likely the stress the gun put onto the suspension; after all, it was a heavy gun, and the recoil also was quite severe. (Don’t forget the ausf H version was already overstressing the chassis.)

Fortunately for us, Revell makes an excellent PnzIV ausf H, which I used as a base model, and I got a cheap(ish) 88 from Hasegawa to stick on top in the well-established German fashion. (I say cheapish, because for ten quid it’s not particularly good. I had to drill out the barrel, for one, and the detail is soft altogether.)

The first cut with a small razor saw… this is the point of no return. Unfortunately I have not made any more photos of the building process. In short, I successfully removed the extra bits (without completely destroying the rest), and glued evergreen cut to size to form the “fighting compartment” of the gun. I waited for months for this part, because I was desperately looking for appropriately sized no-slip surface PE sheets, but found none. I have managed to find one set, of course, right after I finished the model.

With this step, the conversion part was essentially over. (Babysteps. I’m happy with the first major scratchbuild I did. Next: BT-SV.)

From here on, everything was straightforward.

The photo shows two tanks patiently awaiting their first layer of paint: Citadel’s black primer.

The second color, dunkelgelb, in several light layers. The black acts as a pre-shade.

The first fitting of the gun onto the deck of the tank. The gun is still black; later it was painted German gray.

I wanted to give some contrast to the model, so I painted the added bits red-oxide color, as if the builders were too lazy to paint the converted parts. Most likely they would have painted over the primer on the metal to protect it, and to decrease the contrast -after all, anti-aircraft vehicles were prime targets for ground attack airplanes. They probably would have repainted the gun itself as well; I gave it a gray color, which was the original color used in AA batteries. I wanted to make it look like a conversion: they took a used chassis and a used gun, and mated them together. The gun is slightly elevated, and offset – it looks more dynamic this way. It’s a shame it’s not movable.

The tank received a moderate amount of wear and tear, some dust and rust; not too much, but I did want to make it look like a used tank. I added some paint chips around the hatches and edges using dark brown, and some lighter scratches using a lightened base color. A soft lead pencil was used to give a metallic shine to the edges. I added a lot of dust onto the fighting compartment; after all, there were at least 4 people manning the gun, and they won’t be wiping their boots before climbing up to their station. The wicker ammo holder was strategically placed onto the mudguard to cover up the holes… Filling them in would have been a major inconvenience, as it would have damaged the no-slip marks, and getting a PE replacement would have been expensive. (And frankly: I was pleased  with myself that it was not damaged at the cutting phase; I was not about to remove it after all that suffering.) I placed some empty shell casings around the gun to make it look a little bit more “lived in”, and called it a day. Later on I plan to add some more crew equipment (helmets, personal items, etc), but I’ll need to find a good aftermarket set first.

Revell M60 -a ghost from the past

OK, this one is a personal thing. My then-girlfriend bought it, so she could try her hand in modelbuilding. She was very sweet; she wanted to see what my hobby is like.

Then she got her degree, and went back to China; the model was left unfinished. We decided to finish it together. She said if I can’t find a job there, she would come back to make her life here with me. I visited once, we were talking about weddings and such, but about six months after my visit she disappeared, and have not heard from her since.

So yeah. This model was in my spares box, waiting to be finished; a constant reminder of unfinished things in life. I thought it might be therapeutic to finally complete this model.

Nothing special: just desert camo, because I liked the way the Egyptian M60s looked (although no markings), with some rust and dust on the dozer blade, and some scratches and dust on the tank itself. The commander’s machine gun, and the decal sheet has been lost.

 

Panzer IV Schmalturm conversion (Revell-CMK)

 

This is one weird-looking tank. As usual, the Germans were thinking the looniest ideas, trying to make a difference in the war, instead of doing, you know, the rational thing. (Well, rational people don’t start world wars, and most certainly do not engage in ethnic cleansing, or if they themselves do not take part in the above mentioned activities, do not work for people who do, so there’s that.)

Well, back to the tank. The PnzIV was already approaching the limits they could squeeze out of the chassis; the ausf J was an attempt to remedy this issue. The ausf H was already overstressed in several areas: it was, for example, so nose-heavy, the front suspensions were constantly under pressure. They simplified a lot of things (the turret traverse was manual only, they used all-steel return-rollers, changed the side-skirts into wire mesh, etc). The next “logical” step was to put the Schmalturm designed for the Panther onto this overstressed chassis to give it some extra firepower (kind of like a poor man’s Panther). Perhaps the turret-ring issue was not that big of a deal (the Schmalturm’s diameter is somewhat larger than the pnzIV turret’s), but the additional weight would have certainly made this tank immobile.

Anyway, it’s a cool looking tank; it looks like someone stuck a Darth Vader helmet on it. (It’s not my analogy. A popular WoT one.)

CMK makes a pretty cool little conversion set, which should be used with an ausf J model, but unfortunately, the only available ones are ausf Hs. You shall have to live with this, if you want to have a model of this tank.

The conversion is simple, the casting is nice (I like the turret armor’s texture), and you get some extras (like metal mudguards -only for the back side, though).

The side-skirt is made of wire mesh. Its role was to explode shaped-charge shells before they get to the side armor of the tank; this would decrease the efficiency of the molten copper jet that is supposed to melt its way through the armor, incinerating everyone inside. (Pleasant thoughts.)

The conversion uses some parts of the model’s side-skirts; I would have preferred to have the mounting brackets made of metal.

The build is a pleasant one; you build the chassis, and stick the turret on top.

 

First red-brown layer -it looks more red on the photo. It simulates the red-oxide primer for the metal. It will give some nice modulation to the subsequent layers.

Dunkelgelb. The photo is way too pale, but it IS yellow, I promise. I mixed quite a lot of  tan to simulate the scale effect (colors look darker on smaller objects, so they need to be lightened to be realistic).

I used masking tape to mask the different colors; I chose the camo pattern from my premium tank in WoT.

I only wanted to do some light weathering; after all, this is a never built, hypothetical tank. Some filters, a little bit of scratching, a light pinwash, and some dust (pigments). I used a pencil on the edges of the model; this gives a metallic look for the tank.

 

Revell Panzer IV ausf H with Hungarian markings

The first of the pnzIV’s I’ve built in the last couple of months… Only got a turned metal barrel, as you really don’t need anything else for this kit. (OK, the side-skirts could have been switched to PE, but they look pretty good out of plastic, too.) I did notice the barrel makes an incredible difference. When you use the plastic barrels provided with models you can’t really see the tiny irregularities, the seams, the marks left by sanding, unless you look for them, but your brain notices. Swapping the plastic barrel for a metal one is the easiest thing to do to improve your model’s looks. It also saves you from the pain of trying to remove a longitudinal seam.

Guest performer: a Flak88 conversion I’ve been working on since October.

I had this kit since two years ago when I finally found it in a ModelZone in Manchester. The decision to build it was not really made consciously. There were several factors: the currently ongoing Flak campaign on Armorama where I planned to build a pnzIV with a flak88 conversion. I had two boxes of the same kit (the second one came from ebay for about $5). And last but not least I also had the 1/72 Bison decal set for Hungarian tanks. So instead of one tank I built two in parallel.

The tracks are given as link-and-length plastic tracks, which would make assembly awkward should you decide to glue the two halves of the hull together. This necessitates building an painting the model in two halves.

The tracks are on, the lower hull is weathered (it’s easier to apply pigments before you glue the roadwheels on).

The tracks are OK. They are easy to work with, and do look convincing; the plastic is elastic and soft enough so you can bend it to shape on the top; after all, there should be a slight sag between the return rollers. NOW you can glue the two halves together. Next step: painting the tools, and adding some paint chips with a darker version of the yellow onto surfaces/edges. I tried to choose parts which are subjected to wear and tear by the crew and by the environment (hatches, mudguards, side-skirts, etc).

Weathering: pinwashes and filters using oils. I also applied a very light layer of pigments dissolved in water onto the vertical surfaces to simulate dust.

Pigments dissolved in white spirit are applied to the lower part of the side-skirts and the chassis to add some wet-mud effect.  The whole “Hungarian markings” come from two small insignia placed onto the side-skirts… not a very difficult job. After drying the paintwork and decals were sealed with a very light matte varnish spray.

Last step: the good old pencil along the edges to add some metallic shine. Glue the tank onto the base of the display case, and done.