Tag Archives: tank

1/35 MiniArt T-54-1 build review p.1

Well, the long awaited T-54-1 is here finally. I’m in the middle of several builds -somehow I ended up reviewing and building a lot of kits at the same time. Nevertheless this model got priority when it arrived, since it was something I really had an interest in.
I planned to build the Tamiya kit in my stash with the CMK interior set parallel, but until I can finish up the ones already started, I do not want to begin to work on new builds. Too bad, I guess. (I did start on the Tamiya last night, since I finished two out of three OKB kits, and the all Luchs as well -some left to be published at a later date.)

I would not start an essay on the tank itself; I’ll put it into my review to be sent to Armorama. I’ve used the references available on the T-54, T-55 research group on Facebook; I would like to thank everyone there for putting together such a comprehensive resource.

Short version of the review: the model looks really, really good. (I’m not trying to be a fanboy; it’s honestly a great kit.)

A slightly longer version:

Opening the box we are faced with a bewildering number of small sprues. MiniArt, as usual, followed its philosophy of modular kit design, which does help creating multiple versions of the same vehicle easily, however it does present a problem finding the sprues you need during building. Add to this the tendency of having to use several sprues during sub-assemblies, searching for sprues was a constant activity during the build. If you have the space it’s probably best to have them out and labelled visibly.

Fortunately there are only few of the notoriously thin plastic parts that are impossible to be cut off the sprue without breaking. One of the handholds for the turret was already broken in my sample, but I normally replace them with wire anyhow. It’s much easier than trying to clean up these extremely fragile and thin plastic parts.

The placement of the gates are sometimes a bit unfortunate: instead of having to clean off one edge, they sometime overhang, and this necessitate cleaning (cutting or sanding) two or three surfaces. This is especially notable in the case of the individual track links, where you will need to clean multiple sprue attachments from three faces (bottom, top, side) on all the track links… (I really, really like magic tracks, to be honest; they come pre-cut, ready to assemble. I have to confess: the assembly of tracks and the painting for ammunition are the two least favorite parts of model building for me, so anything that makes my job easier is welcome.)

The plastic is nice quality; soft enough and easy to work with. The detail is astonishing. From the texture of the turret to the casting numbers on the suspension units, everything just looks like a miniaturized version of the real thing. The torsion bar suspension is working, but I’m not sure how useful it is since the tracks will need to be glued together to make sure they are held in place. (The different panzer III variants by MiniArt had a workable track solution; it would have been nice to have this utilized on the T-54-1 as well.)

The interior followed the usual T-44 layout – that is to say it’s still closer to the T-44 than to the T-54 final version. The driver’s compartment sadly lacks a lot of instruments and whatnot… not that it’s going to be visible, but still. At least it’s there, unlike in the T-44 kits, so you have something to work with should you wish to improve the area. I have decided to use the rain cover for the driver’s hatch, which is something I’ve never seen before.

The turret interior, on the other hand, is really well done; most everything is in place.

I’ve left the engine unassembled for now- I’ve built a couple of these from the SU-122, SU-85, T-44, so I’ve decided to leave it out for now. I might finish it later and display it in front of the tank as I’ve done with the other kits. (There are differences between the V-34, V-44, V-54 engines, but they are not apparent immediately.)

The interior was painted and weathered the same way as I did with the T-44. In short: a dark brown basecoat with hairspray applied was oversprayed with Tamiya white for the sides and a grey-blue color for the bottom of the hull. A stiff brush and some water helped to create some moderate chipping I applied a light brown filter to make it more dirty and used. I’ve only added the smaller parts after I did the basic weathering; with the turret it might have been a mistake. (There are a lot of smaller bits that are white, and they might stand out if you paint and weather them separately. Time will tell.)

I tried to keep weathering restrained; after all the amount of chipping and rusting was normally minimal while the vehicles were operational. Maintenance does take care of these things normally.

The ammunition was painted using Vallejo’s new acrylic gold paint; the results are pretty good. I did not bother painting the tips for the ones that were placed into the rack. I’ve used photos for reference found in this website for painting.

The mudguards were finished separately before attaching them to the hull. One thing to keep in mind: do the PE straps first, and then add the toolboxes. I glued the boxes in first… In some cases the boxes were in the way, and it made attaching the straps difficult.

The AA machine gun is a pretty complex assembly, but the detail is really great. Cleaning up the sprue attachment points on the barrel is not easy, but possible. (There are aftermarket barrels available, but it would be a shame to throw the plastic out; it is very well detailed.)

The engine deck features some of those notoriously thin and fragile plastic rods MiniArt loves to include with their kits. I did not even attempt to cut them off the sprue; it was easier to fabricate similar parts from wire, and use those. (Added benefit: you cannot glue them accidentally to the plastic mounts, since the plastic glue does not work on metal.

The smoke canisters, as I said, were moulded as one piece, and the PE/plastic contraption that holds them in place are kind of fiddly to assemble. (The mechanism that allows ejecting them is modelled in great detail… sometimes I feel less is more.)

The model is certainly complex, and it’s easy to burn out; especially if you work on a review. What I did was to pace myself: once the larger assemblies (turret interior, mudguards, hull interior) was done, I just kept coming back to the model to add the smaller details a few at a time. I did the machine gun one night, “dressed up” the engine deck the next- it’s easier to make progress one step at a time.

MiniArt T-44 build review p2. The Turret

 

The gun is a really nice, multiple part assembly, and the plastic gun barrel is perfect (it’s easy to find a metal replacement should you want to, but it’s not necessary). One word of caution: once you install the gunner’s seat, you will be in constant danger of snapping it off… You will find the same problem with the top of the turret: once you add the little PE peg on the commander’s cupola that indicates the front of the tank, you cannot put the turret down upside-down, either… (Talking about the commander’s cupola: make a note where the notch for the PE peg is; it’s easy to glue the cupola on in a different orientation.) All the hatches are workable if you are careful with the glue.

 

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I used steel from the same paint range for the breech of the gun, and it did adhere better than to the ammunition (coming up in a minute); the difference was the base coat  I think– the gun was painted with Tamiya matte acrylics first. amfr2iayhhekc99vtmicr

Since there is an interior provided, there is the task of painting the ammunition… MiniArt provides a lot of extra pieces, so make sure you don’t do extra work, unless you really enjoy painting ammo casings and shells. The instructions give an extensive guide to paint them; there are several colors needed to be used on the shells themselves. I was a bit lazy and only painted the pieces of ammunition which would be visible completely; the rest of the shells received only the green overcoat, and the copper color for the casings. (They would be covered by the fully painted ones once installed into the racks.)

I’ve tried AK Interactive’s metallic wax colors to paint the shell casing, but it took ages to dry. When I tried to polish it, the paint simply rubbed off even a week after application. Perhaps a completely matte base paint would help the paint stick to the surface better next time; the finish is not as smooth as I hoped it would be.(I will need to figure out how to use these paints properly. Normally I use Citadell’s gold/shining gold/copper colors to paint shell casings.)

It’s safe to say that the preparation and painting of the ammunition took almost as long as the assembly of the rest of the interior; having a good podcast to listen to is very useful in this situation.

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The turret is a very nice piece of affair. Good fit, great detail both interior and exterior. The casting texture is great, and the parts are made in a way that the fit will be hidden (in most cases) by the welding joints. The only exception is where the two sides of the turret meet on the back; with some careful filling of the gap resulting, you can avoid damaging the casting detail. I simply used white spirit to wipe off the excess, hence did not have to sand it down. Only two ejector pin marks needed to be filled in the interior; the rest were hidden by the gun. The turret grab handles are very delicate, and unfortunately they broke on sprues as I tried to remove them. It was easier just to replace them with wire. It’s worth waiting with this step to the very last stage, so that I don’t break them off while working on other parts.

The turret roof is scale thickness- and the hatches are movable if you are careful with the glue.dmkjr2q

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The co-axial machine gunopyglovq7kqrcy

 

Well, that’s it. Soon: part three of the review

1/72 ARL-44 by Cromwell Models

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Disclaimer: the previous version of this article simply disappeared. It’s just gone. It does not really fill you with trust towards WordPress; I hope it’s only a glitch that will not surface again…

 

Anyhow.

 

The ARL-44 was a peculiar tank. Design started immediately after Paris was liberated (hence the “44” in the name -signifying the date), and was more of an effort to re-establish France’s heavy industry, tank production, and to retain its talent, than actually an attempt at designing a modern tank.

The design called for a 48 ton heavy tank with a high calibre armament. Due to the wartime shortages, and the consequences of German occupation, the design had to incorporate several compromises. Its design is based on the pre-war French tanks, but it also bears some resemblance to the later German tank designs (it does look like a child of a Tiger II and a B1). The power plant was chosen to be captured German Maybach engines (HL230 600 hp), and the first prototype turret was armed with an American 76mm gun, which was later replaced by a new turret, and a 90mm DC45 tank gun. The turret was well armoured and large; an actual car engine was used to rotate it.

Not only the overall design was anachronistic; the suspension, drive wheels and the tracks were quite old-fashioned as well. The armour was well sloped at 120mm. By 1945 the need for a heavy tank disappeared, but the French authorities decided to press ahead with the production of 60 vehicles (downsized from the original 600). This was a political -and an economical- decision, rather than a military one as it was mentioned previously. This showed an incredible amount of foresight on behalf of the decision makers in my opinion.

The production trials started in 1947, and delivery started in 1949. The tanks were used to replace the captured Panthers the 503e Régiment de Chars de Combat regiment operated. (Which is also an interesting story by itself.)

In service the ARL-44 was found to be less than satisfactory. The suspension, gearbox and other parts of the running gear had frequent breakdowns, which resulted in the tank being recalled from active service in 1953, and replaced by the M47 Patton tanks.

Review

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Cromwell Models sent the model in a simple ziplock bag; no artwork, and no instructions included. The parts were undamaged during transit.

The model is cast in a yellowish resin. The casting generally is good, although some issues are visible (around one of the drive wheels, and there was a bubble in the muzzle break). This is not surprising, considering how intricate the parts are; the level of detail moulded on is pretty impressive.

Some of the resin parts are incredibly fine; the gun lock in particular is a wonder by itself. It’s moulded onto some resin support; despite my worst fears it was very easy to cut it free without snapping it.

The hull is essentially one piece: everything is moulded on: tracks, running gear, everything. It’s attached to the moulding block through the tracks; you’ll need a large, fine saw to cut it free. (And you’ll need to be careful, not to cut into the tracks. A word about sawing resin: resin dust is toxic. Use wet sawing, wet sanding techniques when working with resin to minimize harm to yourself and others around you.)

The lack of instructions is not really an issue for this model; the number of parts are so low, it’s really not that difficult to figure out what goes where. (Although I still cannot figure out where that cross-like part is going…)
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The gun barrel is very nicely done; it’s straight (not always the case with resin models), and the bubble on the underside of the muzzle break was easy to fill in.

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The only minor issue I had was the top of the turret: the surface is marred by tiny little holes, which I completely missed at the priming phase. (I normally use black primer). They should be easy to fill in, if you catch them BEFORE you paint the tank. Well, lesson learned; it’s grey primer from now on.

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Since I play World of Tanks, I’ve decided to paint my model using the non-historic bluish-greenish color the French tanks come with. It took me a while to achieve the desired color. I kept mixing different ratio of blues and greens; unfortunately I can’t recall the formula of the most successful one.

I used filters to modulate the color even further.

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I’ve used some left-over decals from a French M5 Stuart to dress it up a bit. (The printing on the decals is awful, but they do give a little color to the tank.) I was seriously tempted to use the branch/leaf camo pattern from World of Tanks, though, but since I was doing a review I decided to forgo the silliness. If I get another French tank that is in the game, I’ll do the pattern, though.

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After some protective varnish I used oil paints to do pin washes and streaks.

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I used pigments for the accumulated dirt: added them dry, and used white spirit to dissolve them. A clean brush helped to make sure the extra pigments are taken away.2016_04_26_0082016_04_26_0102016_04_26_01212016_04_26_0132016_04_26_014

 

ICM Panzerbeobachtungswagen Panther 1/35

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While I’m working on the T-44, another blast from the past… I present you ICM’s Panzerbeobachtungswagen Panther.

OK, try to say this word three times. Panzerbeobachtungswagen
(If you manage it, something worse than Beetlejuice will come.)

The vehicle itself is not a “real” tank: it does not have a main gun. The thing you see sticking out of the turret is a dummy gun; it’s there to make sure it “blends in” with the other tanks, so that the enemy cannot single it out. Why is it important to hide what this tank is? Well, it’s an artillery observation vehicle. In itself it’s not dangerous; however, in place of the gun it carries a lot of extra radios, and the turret is equipped with special optics and a range-finder – this tank poses danger by acting as the eyes of the artillery. (I’ve read somewhere that even the turret was fixed in place. Somewhat dubious, since the optics would require the turret to be turned occasionally, but perhaps true.)

I’ve built this kit straight out of the box; unfortunately I did not document the building process. Back in those days (about 8 years ago) model kits from Eastern Europe had a reputation. Sub-par plastic quality, lots of flash, fit issues, low detail… in general, poor models. Well, this kit put all those things to lie. It was an incredibly well designed model. It could use some PE -especially the screens protecting the engine deck- but otherwise it’s a great kit.

 

I’ve chosen a Dunkelgelb camo, as was depicted on the box, and experimented with pre-shading, oil washes, pigments and filters. (This was my first model where I used filters, by the way.)

 

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Surfacer 1000 base coat followed by some pre-shading

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Lots of wheels. Lots and lots of them.

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The base-coat of Dunkelgelb is on. It’s slightly greenish, but that’s how it’s supposed to be, apparently. I used Tamiya’s paint lightened with some Buff.

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Added dirt using chalk powders. (Cheaper than pigments.)

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A very thin mixture of burned umber was spread on the surface with a downward streaking motion with a flat brush. It acted as a filter, and as a very subtle wash as well, since it got into the crevices and nooks.

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Some earth colored pigment mixed with white spirit was added directly onto the lower points of the chassis and mudguards, and a slightly wet (with white spirit) brush was used to spread it upwards.

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In a similar fashion I’ve treated the top edges of the tank – to make darker stains running down. I’ve used more black than brown in the oil paint mixture.

 

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Dot-method of filters was used as well using brown colors.

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The bloody antenna broke more times than I care to remember.

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Using a sponge I’ve dabbed some dark-brown/black oil mixture directly onto the tank to simulate paint chips. I’ve concentrated around the edges and hatches.nratpyil6ij187iyyxo8bzy806zrqk3pc9a

 

 

 

1/35 Trumpeter 1K17 part 2. Painting and Weathering

 

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I’ve elected not to paint the vehicle into the three-tone camo scheme that the surviving 1K17 has; I simply don’t like it much. However, I did like the Soviet crest that came with the decals. Since I found a very hazy black-and-white photo of the prototype which displayed it sporting only one color, I jumped to the (not unreasonable) conclusion that it was painted in good ole’ Russian green. My model, therefore, depicts one of the 1K17s in its original green camo, during the last years of the Soviet Union. (I just had to use the crest to be honest.)

The running gear had to be assembled, painted and weathered before finishing the hull.

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All the lenses and periscopes were masked, the tracks covered with tape, and on with the green paint.

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The hatches, grab handles, and other protruding parts were highlighted with a lighter version of the same green color. (The contrast has been decreased by the subsequent filters later.) At this stage I added the decals, as I wanted them to “blend in” with the weathering steps. Dullcote was used to fix the decals, and after a day of waiting (to make sure the lacquer coat sets properly), I carried on with filters.

Two layers of yellowish filters, and some streaking later the model looked quite close to finishing… I thought.

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I’ve always found it ironic to work on an even, smooth paintjob, and then spend the rest of the weathering to make it uneven… but this is what we do I guess.

After the filters I’ve used a burnt umber and black oil mixture to create very light streaks; I’ve repeated this process about three times, making sure the different hatches, etc are streaked differently than the background. I’ve used the same color for some light pin washes. And then came the dirt.

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As with everything, the key here is patience. You have to build up layers and layers of very subtle dust, rust and mud; even if you think you cannot see the bottom layer, it will add to the complexity of the weathering -hence it will look more real. (It’s a different question, of course, if it really is real -after all, most armored vehicle look quite dull and boring compared to their scale models. No dramatic rust streaks, no artistic paint chipping… but it’s a discussion for another time.)

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The top of the turret got sprayed very lightly with Mig’s washable dust; I thought I’d give it a try. (It’s actually quite nice, but to be honest, does not give much more than your average pigments/chalk dust suspended in water.) I used the same method to carefully “dust” the side-skirts as well. (I held the tank at angle, and made sure only the lower part of the sideskirts got the paint; I’ve did the same with the lower part of the turret as well.)

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The next couple of layers on the side skirts were some darker brown pigments, and some black at the exhaust. I’ve carefully added them using a brush; what sticks, sticks – this way you can build up the effect in a controlled manner.

 

At the very last step I’ve flickered some AK Interactive Earth Effects (again: an impulse buy which I wanted to try) using a stiff brush and a toothpick. The results were somewhat transparent mud splashes, which blended in with the rest of the layers underneath. (I’ve tried to use this product as “mud”, but it just painted everything a suspicious brown color. The best mud effects I’ve done are still the ones where I used different colors of brown mixed with water and talcum powder. Alternatively I’ve used actual mud as well. I suspect I’ll need to find out how the AK product is supposed to be used.)

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I’ve used lighter brown pigments on the upper part of the chassis, and on the sides of the turret to depict dust deposits and streaks. I’ve used some Mig Washable dust to make sure the crevices and nooks have some dust as well. Metallic surfaces were depicted using metallic pigments; Tamiya has those little make-up kits, which are brilliant to apply these. (The gun especially needed some treatment, but all the edges, the hatches, and in some areas, even the sides got some pigment. Essentially, you rub some filter on where you expect the surface to be worn.)

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The last step was to add a couple of leaves to the splashguard in front; these come from some tree in the backyard (shamefully as a biologist I have no clue about plants). The dried seed-pod falls apart into seeds and these little leaf-like structures, which look like maple leaves.

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And that’s it -here’s a real-life laser tank, courtesy of the Soviet Union.

Flyhawk VK 16.01 – Pz.Kpfw. II Ausf J., 1/72

The VK 16.01 (or unofficially PzKpfw.J.) was a very peculiar design – along with its “sister” the VK.18.01 (or PzKpfw I.F). (VK stands for VersuchsKetten, experimental tracked vehicle; the number 16 stands for the weight and the 01 is the model number.) They share many features but they were designed to perform different roles – namely infantry support in case of the PzKpfwI.F., and reconnaissance in case of the PzKpfw II.J. They shared the same engine, similar hull, same torsion bar suspension and the same tracks; the main difference was the turret and the primary armament.

The concept was a very interesting one, but I think it is safe to say, a very outdated one. We are talking about up-armoring a light tank to heavy tank standards (the frontal armor was 80mm, the sides and turret 50mm), which put its weight to 25 tons -about the same weight as a T-34’s. This tank was supposed to work in a battlefield where increasingly high powered anti-tank guns, and fast, hard-hitting medium tanks were already making it somewhat of an anachronism even before the design process was finished.

It was equipped with a Maybach HL45P engine, which gave it a top speed of 21kmph, and the wide tracks gave it an excellent cross-country mobility. Based on the experiences of the PzKpfwI.F, it was up-armed with a 2cm KwK 38 L/55 gun, and a co-axial MG-34. The turret had only manual traverse. An interesting feature it shares with the PzKpfwI.F. is that the hull was one unit with the superstructure, as opposed to the superstructure being bolted to the hull, as we can see in most German tank designs. MAN produced 22 of these little tanks in 1942; seven made it to the 12th Panzer Division, and were transported to the Eastern Front, and some were given to the 13th Polizei Panzer Kompanie.

This tank (and its sister designs) were not exactly successful in the field however they served as evolutionary steps to the Pz.Kpfw II Ausf L, Luchs.

What’s more important, though, is that this tank (used to be) the most coveted seal-clubbing tank in World of Tanks. (Now its status has been diminished due to its availability in the gift shop now and then.)

The kit comes in the usual Flyhawk box… you know what; it’s the third Flyhawk kit in a row to be featured. What I said about one of them is valid for all: astonishingly good kits, great packaging, scalable difficulty. This one does not come with a metal barrel, but I’ve used one from an aftermarket set. Let’s move on.

The model essentially falls together if you shake the box. It’s an easy build, if you skip on some of the more difficult PE parts -like the lifting hooks on the turret.

I’ve chosen the German grey scheme -again. I was tempted to do a camo pattern I have on my WoT vehicle, but I was pressed by deadlines (I was reviewing the kit), so grey it was.

Painting

Dust and scratches are added

Early and Late VK.18.01, and the VK.16.01 together at last…

Flyhawk VK18.01 (panzer I F.) late version 1/72

The development of this tank has been covered in the previous post; the description of the model is also very similar, so I’d refer you to that post if you are interested.

So, let’s see the build

Box and contents

The model is packaged in the same Flyhawk-style: it keeps the contents save even in case of a nuclear strike. It also looks amazing, although I suspect it’s a bit of an overkill. (Certainly resource-intensive.) The box art is nicer than the Early version’s; you can see the front of the tank.
The parts are ordered on the sprues in a somewhat different layout, but the basic tank is the same. (Obviously.) The quality is outstanding; like a shrunk 1/35 kit. (I keep saying this, because it’s true.)



Build
As usual, the build is straightforward, and you get the different options for PE parts, if you do not like the plastic provided. No metal barrels this time, though, but you get two cool little figures.



The turret without the guns looks like the stupid robot from that insurance commercial…

Going full-brass





Painting
Same color scheme as before: German grey. Perhaps I should have chosen something else than grey, but I wanted to experiment with different painting and weathering styles. This time I’ve used Tamiya paints. They are fine, but dry quickly, so retarder is very much necessary when painting with an airbrush. They are also very sensitive to the dilution- you have to get the water (diluent)/paint ratio just right.



Highlights are added using Tamiya German Grey lightened with Tan

Filters were applied using the dot-method. Oil paint (umber, burnt umber, blue, yellow, green) was dotted onto the surface, and washed off using a damp bush. Damaging to small details if not done carefully.


Dust and scratches are added. The scratches were done using the hair-spray technique: I applied hair-spray to the black primer, and then added the grey. Very gently you can remove some of the paint using a wet paintbrush. (It’s easy to overdo.)
The dust was applied using Tamiya’s make-up kit. (I was lazy.)


Early and Late versions together, side-by-side.

T-34/85 with full interior (Hobby Boss 1/48)

I have a fetish for interiors… They make an interesting vehicle (let it be an airplane, a tank or a car model) even more intriguing -after all, you get to see under the hood (in a very literal sense). You get to see where the crew is located, where the engine is, where they keep the ammo; you get some idea about the general ergonomics of the vehicle, and of course, some vague idea how the whole machine works.

I have an ongoing project to build all German tanks in 1/35 with full interiors. This is not always a cheap option, as many models require resin interiors, and only lately did plastic models came out with full (or partial) interiors. (The Bronco pnz I. F. comes with one, for example.)

When Hobby Boss came to the market, they started churning out incredibly cheap and incredibly well made models in 1/48. They cost as little as a 1/72 model, and half of a Tamiya model in the same scale. One of the most incredible thing they did was to start selling T-34 series with full interiors. I could have bought all the models they came out with, but since I already have a 1/16 Trumpeter model in storage, I restrained myself. (Talking about the Trumpeter kit… the Hobby Boss kit feels like a shrunken version of the Trumpeter offering.)

The interior is simply amazing. So without further ado: the gorgeous T-34. I have to say: even if you are an SF modeller, or you only build airplanes, give a shot to this kit; you won’t regret it.

The V2 diesel engine is really well detailed. I’ve left it out of the tank, so I could display it on a stand in front of it. (A future plan…)
I used filler to make the surface irregularities on the turret. (The casting process left the metal rough, and due to the demands of the war, they were not very particular about looks, anyway.)
My very first attempt in chipping: light green base, and some dark brown on top of it to give the illusion of depth.

Two-in-one model: KV-220 and T-150

Having the KV-220 in World of Tanks, I got the model because I was interested in building the tank itself. (There’s a slight mixup in-game with the actual designations.) It turns out PSP, the makers of the model were planning ahead, and included a lot of extra parts for all the different versions of the KV family. You get a bunch of extra turrets, gun mantles and all sort of other parts; and I noticed I can actually build a second turret for the T-150 version. Since this is also a version I was planning to build, and I did not cherish the opportunity to building a second hull (it also meant I saved some money as well), I decided to make this tank into a 2-in-1 model: depending on which version I would like to display I can decide which turret to put on top of the hull. (If I manage, I’ll get a KV-3 turret as well, to make it into a 3-in-1 tank, since they all share the same hull.)

The construction went along nicely; the plastic is good quality, and the flash can be cut off carefully. One glaring issue with the kit is the tracks… there’s not enough of them. This version of the KV is actually longer than the original tank, and the tracks included are enough only for the shorter version. I only noticed this when I finished one set already; both drive wheels and both idlers already had the individual links attached to them. This left me with only a couple of options: try to get a replacement set (could not get any), or make use of the ones I already have somehow -which I what I did. The tank is depicted with a set of broken tracks; the only real problem is that tracks don’t break like this. They usually break while the vehicle is in motion, so they’d be thrown either behind or in front of the tank by the drive wheel (depending on where the track has broken, and which direction the tank was going). I’m not sure it’s even possible to have track break like this – perhaps if the tank was immobile, and someone just pulled out a track pin from the top section.
I got an aftermarket barrel for the KV-220 version, and also a set of towing cables; they do improve the look of the model. I could not find a metal 107mm gun barrel, so I used the one supplied with the kit (which looks like a tree log, but there you go. Sacrifices had to be made; if you don’t like it, you can just look at the photos with the other turret on. 🙂 )

First black primer, then green from a Tamiya spray can.

Disaster strikes -the paint breaks up, cracks, and looks pretty horrible in general. (I wouldn’t mind to be able to actually do this effect.) This Tamiya spray has done it before once, and back then I blamed the cold weather. (I sprayed a tank outside in wintertime.) This time there is no such excuse. The can landed in the trash. This and the track issue made me abandon this project for a while. (In principle I don’t throw models away. It came close to ritual melting, though.)

Rescued… Carefully sanded off the offending paint. (Also: a perfect look at the imperfectly broken tracks.)

The final product. Unfortunately no photos were taken during the painting step, as I pretty much gave up on the model at that point.

In short: I’ve repainted the model using several layers of different shades of green. I essentially used a semi-dry brushing technique: I made sure that the paint was not removed from the bush as much as it usually is during drybrushing, and added layers upon layers of green. The result was surprisingly nice and smooth. (I think it’s a kind of a blending technique Wargamers use.)

As you can see the bottom hull is already weathered and muddied up; this is because it’s much easier to do these steps before the tracks are glued on; and the tracks can only be glued on before the top part of the hull is attached…

Once the base color was finished, I applied some patriotic slogans using dry transfers, and painted some parts (mostly hatches and panels that stand out) in a lighter shade of green. The contrast was pretty large, but this was taken care of in the next step. I added filters using the oil paint-dot method. Principally blue, white, yellow, green, burnt umber and burned sienna was used. The last two colors were also used to create pin-washes. (Since I did not want to cover the surface with gloss varnish, I simply wet the surface with spirit, and used the surface tension to add the paint to the crevices.

Brown/black was used to paint scratches onto areas where wear and tear usually happens.

After this, the whole model was sealed with semi-matte varnish.

Once it was done, I tried some of the true earth weathering products, but the fading agent and other filters just did not spread out well. I suspect the surface must be absolutely matte, or I should use some surfactant to help it spread better. It does look good, though, just make sure you don’t overuse the filters.

Some dust and dirt were added to the upper hull, and the model was done for good. It turned out much better than I expected; this should be a lesson to all. (Not sure what the lesson is, but it should definitely be one.)

There you go: a 2-in-1 model of two Russian experimental heavy tanks.

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.

Anyhow.

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.