Tag Archives: true earth

Tamiya T-55A and the whole nine yards part 6.

sqjtgxp

This is the last part of the building of the T-55. Just in time for the MiniArt T-55A with full interior to come out, but to be honest I don’t really mind; I’ve been collecting parts for this build for a long time -it does have a sentimental value for me…

Previous entries:

1.

2.

3.

4.

5.

As with all builds, I’ve learned a lot from my mistakes; and I finally know what those things sticking out of the back of the turret are. Which is nice.

 

The last time we left off the tank was mostly finished; the filters I wanted to apply were on, pin washes finished, and everything was ready for the weathering. Before I started I added some decals, though. The markings are fictional; I’ve printed out some Hungarian markings and used a number from the MiniArt T-44 set; the only thing that is not fictional about the tank is that the AM version was in service of the Hungarian armed forces. I know purists will be horrified, but I just did not have the energy to do hours of research to find one particular tank to model. (Ironically I have an amazing book on the history of the Hungarian Armoured Forces – two thousand miles from here…)

I also needed to paint a couple of details, such as the canvas cover for the gun mantlet, but mostly the tank was done.

The next step was to apply dust. Dust and mud are the two things I’m not really good with, so this part I put off as long as I could. I settled for AK’s dust products, and mixed my own mud.

AK’s dust comes as a suspension; when you apply it, it goes on thick, and the results are not very pleasing. At least this is what I thought at first. As with everything I realized the secret is not adding stuff to the model, but removing it after. I diluted some of the mixture in white spirit, dabbed it onto the tank, waited some time, and then using a wet brush I removed most of the dust, spreading it around, adjusting it. The key is to be patient: you can always repeat the procedure (in fact, you should), if there’s not enough added. Adding less is always  preferable to adding more.

One the dust was dry, I went on mudding up the lower chassis.

What I failed to realize for a long time is that it’s not enough to buy a product called “mud”, and them smear it onto the tank; just as you can’t just cover a tank with a paint labelled “rust”, and expect realistic results. Obviously the results will be sub-optimal; there are really no shortcuts in mud. (I feel this sentence carries some deeper, more profound meaning.) Even if you buy custom-made products you still have to learn how to apply them, and that’s that. And since you need to learn it anyhow, you might as well save some money and make your own mud.

The first layer was simple pigments suspended with water. I dabbed it on, then after it was mostly dry, removed some using a brush. A day later the procedure was repeated with a different color. The key here is layers; just like Shrek, mud has layers, too. Old mud tends to be dryer and lighter; newer deposits tend to be thicker, darker and placed lower. I dabbed the pigment-water mixture all over the lower chassis, the side-skirts, even on the top of the mudguards (in a much more diluted form).

I also splattered some using a loaded brush and a toothpick onto the side-skirts; any splatters that were out of place (on the side of the turret, for example) was removed with a wet brush using downward motions, leaving a very faint streak behind. I’ve also used Vallejo’s mud product on the side-skirts; it produces quite dark splatters which are quite different from how it looks like on the photo on the bottle.

A day or two later I decided to try something I’ve never done: I made thick mud. I used Mig’s Neutral Wash as a base. I got this as part of a set, and frankly I can’t really find any use for it; it’s too grey to be a “normal” wash. If you know how to use it, please let me know.

It did serve as a good medium, though. I mixed in a lot of brown pigments of different shades, some sand and some static grass, and then offering my soul to the gods of model building, I proceeded to apply the mixture to the lower chassis.

The method was the same application/removal as before; with a brush dampened with white spirit I adjusted the amount of mud on the wheels and chassis. I also added some on the mudguards (and sprinkled some on). The results are actually quite spectacular; I did not dare to hope for such a nice effect.

Once the mud dried (I gave it a week), I used my graphite pencil to give some metallic shine to the edges. I used some black pigments on the side-skirts directly next to the exhaust, and applied some oil stains. Again; I just used AK’s and Vallejo’s products slightly diluted. I made bigger, more dilute patches, and once these dried, added smaller patches on top of them with oil products slightly less diluted.

The external fuel tanks on the back were given some diesel stains. (I admit I did not scratch build the piping that would allow the tank to use these external tanks. I did make the pipes for the smaller external tanks if it’s any consolidation, though.)

That’s pretty much it. I finally have a T-55AM with full(ish) interior. It was a pretty long (and expensive) undertaking. To be honest I can’t recommend anyone doing the same- after all, there will be an all-plastic alternative available by MiniArt soon, with a much better detail than the CMK set. (A subject of a later set of posts…)

 

 

Tamiya T-55A and the whole nine yards part 5.

ihejflc

Please find the first, second, third and fourth part here.

I used German Grey primer by Vallejo to create a good, sturdy surface for the subsequent layers of paint. I used to use spray cans as the application is quick, but it’s also somewhat risky. (You can easily flood the model with paint.) Setting up the airbrush and the fume extractor (paintbooth) is time consuming, but I think overall it’s a better alternative. This particular primer is pretty easy to use, too, as it does not require any dilution; it can be sprayed straight out of the bottle. I sprayed the lower sections of the anti-HEAT rubber sideskirts separately.

Once the primer dried, I sprayed rough patches of different rust colors, making sure the rubber side-skirts remain dark grey/black (with the scale effect I found dark grey looks better than full-on jet black).

I assembled the tracks using a very thin liquid glue. I normally glue two links together, and then join up these sections into larger and larger sets of links. The glue allows for relatively long time to work the tracks, so it’s relatively simple to push them around the drive wheels and idlers after 30-40 minutes of drying time. (I almost switched the drive wheels and idlers; I’ve built too many German tanks lately I guess.)

The tracks were painted with the same primer, rubbed using a metallic pigment to give them a nice, steel shine. I also applied some rust colored washes (relatively bright orange to dark brown) at this stage. (The dust will be added later.)

I went over the model using OD green from Tamiya on the lower chassis and road-wheels. This is a dark, an almost grey-green color; this color represents the darker areas covered by shadows. I painted the rubber rims with a dark grey color. This was layered with different dust and mud colors, pigments and other weathering techniques simulating dust and caked-on mud. I tried Tamiya’s dust and mud weathering sticks as well. I pushed the stick onto the surface, and used a wet brush to spread the paste around; it’s actually pretty easy method yielding realistic results.

I installed the tracks, and glued the rubber side-skirts into place.

I added AK’s Chipped effects in two layers, and waited again for things to dry. It took about an hour or so, and then I painted the tank with the same OD Green as I applied to the lower chassis.

I kept adding tan and yellow to the base color, and kept layering it onto the tank from the top of the tank; I wanted to lighten up mostly the surfaces that are illuminated by the sun (and which are normally more faded, anyhow). Adding yellow to the base green yielded a pretty nice Russian green, leaving the original color in the recesses.

I waited about thirty minutes for the paint to dry, and started to create the worn-off, chipped paint effect using a wet, stiff brush. I applied some water onto a small section, waited a bit, and used the stiff brush to wear off some of the top layer. (Sometime I managed to rub the paint off to the resin; these sections were retouched with primer.)
The chips on the rubber parts revealed a dark grey color, corresponding to the rubber; chipping on the rest of the tank showed different hues of dark brown representing rusted metal.

Once I was happy with the amount of paint chips, I waited for the tank to dry.

True Earth has a couple of filters in their product lines; I bought them a while ago, but had no luck with them so far. (I did work out you needed a very flat surface to apply it; the surface tension tends to pull the filter into droplets.) I sprayed some dark aging and light aging filters on some selected areas without diluting the product: around the turret, on the lower part of the turret, on the bottom of the tank; the effect is not as smooth as I wished it to be, but it does produce an interesting discoloration here and there. Not what I was going for (I was lead to believe applied it would look more like a darkened patch paint with a smooth transition), but a good one nevertheless. (It’s just one of those things: a product that promises easy and spectacular results turns out to be not so easy to use after all. The thing is if you need to have a learning curve to use something to make your job easier, it does not necessarily fulfil its promise.)

I applied traditional dark brown oil filters on the bottom part (with the side-skirts), and a light brown filter on the top. Another filter, bright yellow this time was applied on the top surfaces only. The tank was given some time to dry (a couple of days) and then I tried something I wanted to try for a long time: Tamiya transparent paint as filter. I used green on the bottom parts, which were supposed to be darker, and yellow on the top again.

After two days of letting the tank dry I sealed everything with a coat of gloss varnish, which was followed by a dark enamel pinwash.

The overall effect is quite nice; I managed to get that yellowish-brownish green I was going for.

The tank is now looking like an actual vehicle…

Takom 1/144 P1000 Ratte Land cruiser

One can only wonder what went through the minds of the people who designed, and more importantly, approved this project. I’m probably not far off to say that only someone, who plunged a whole planet into a global war for “living space”, could actually look at the plans, and say, yeah, I think it’s feasible.

While it’s very attractive to compare the endless oceans with the endless Steppes, the problem is that while a battleship worked on a sea, while it would not really be feasible on land. The Land Cruiser with its tremendous top speed and maintenance requirements would be a serious impediment to any force that would like to take Russia in a lightning strike. (It would probably never get to Moscow if you took the continental drift into the opposite direction into account.)

It really is not worth talking about the history of the P1000 too much; enough to say that someone actually came up with it in ’41, Hitler approved, and the whole planning process went ahead until ’43. It was not just someone doodling on the back of a napkin. They actually were serious about it.

The project was mercifully axed by Speer in ’43, although I suspect it earned him the nickname Albert “the PartyPooper” Speer in the Wolf’s Lair. To be honest, Speer probably did prolong the war by organizing Germany’s war production on the basis of rational thinking, which was lacking from the rest of the gang. This vehicle is the epitome of all that was wrong (if you take away genocide, and murderous wars, of course) with the Nazi leadership: all grand vision, no practicality. If they had built this lumbering beast, they would have had less steel to build air planes, assault guns and tanks; surely it would have been better for everyone involved. They would even have left a gigantic, cool looking playground for us. Even if it was built, and even if it worked as intended, it would have been highly unlikely that it would have ever fired a shot in anger, unless the front arrived to the factory before it was bombed by the Allied air forces. If we consider the technical issues even the Tiger I was struggling with (constant breakdowns, high maintenance requirements, low operational and tactical mobility), you can imagine what sort of challenges would have this monster meant for its operators. Say, you needed to fix a broken track. Or change one of the road wheels -from the inside row. Or simply get it moving –or change direction- without breaking anything in the automotive mechanism -or the surroundings. Not to mention I can’t imagine the amount of recoil the naval guns would have, but looking at how they had shaken the battleships they were mounted on, I’d think they would have seriously overstressed the suspension. And finally: this vehicle offers a hilariously oversized target for anything that can shoot; it’s pretty difficult to miss, in fact. While Hitler did like big guns (which makes you think if he was overcompensating for something), the fact remains: if you want to kill people, there are more practical ways; like a strategic bomber force, with which the Germans never really bothered with. (For which Great Britain is eternally grateful for them.)

Tankcom has made a risky move to issue a 1/144 model of this paper-panzer, but at least they made it clear on the cover that it’s not an actual, “serious” project. On the cover art we can see several Maus superheavy tanks, the P1000 in its full glory, and a couple of Nazi UFOs in the background shooting lasers (and a V2 rocket for added dramatic effect).

The kit itself is really simple; the whole assembly takes about two hours. There’s a huge opportunity for scratchbuilders: the interior of the turret and the engines simply beg to be built into the model. Since I’m not good at these conversions, I just glued everything together. Interestingly the kit comes with some areal recognition marks, as if any German bomber pilot would have difficulties telling apart a German 1000ton tank from an Allied 1000ton tank. (It would probably have space for a helipad, too.)

Contents of the box

It’s so big, my lightbox is not large enough… I guess I got used to the 1/72 scale tanks, and not the 1/144 scale ships.

Putting it all together





The biggest issue during the build was the question of camouflage. I was pondering what sort of paintjob would this 4 storey vehicle get, and thought of the old-school battleship dazzle camos.

These ones

These patters were designed to break up a ship’s contours, and to make it harder for gunners to range the ship. This, of course, would not work very well on land, as it would be quite easy for a gunner to find an appropriate feature in the landscape to which he could set his sights. It remained a possibility, though.

The other option was to paint a scenic painting of some hills and forest, or a Bavarian village on the side.

In the end I chose bluish colors and bluish filters because the colors of objects tend to look greyish-bluish in the large distances, and lots of horisontal shapes so that it could “blend into” the terrain irreguralities. Since this vehicle is about the size of a four storey house, any sort of camoflage only has a chance to work from a significantly great distance (about 30-40 miles). The naval guns mounted on the vehicle make this distance a feasible engagement range, too. I’m not sure this is the perfect way to paint such a large vehicle (after all, I ignored the hazards Allied air power poses), but I’m happy with the results.
Begin the painting process… black primer (applied from a spray can), and some masking tape. The bloody tape refused to stick; I’ll have to get a stronger one.


Second layer of paint, second layer of masking tape.

After the third layer, the masks are removed… and tears are shed. It took some time to clean up the paintwork; the masking tape did not stick down, so paint did get underneath.

The roadwheels got all three colors applied to them.

After correcting the paintwork, I went on experimenting with filters. I used mainly bluish and yellowish filters pre-diluted; did not work with the oil-dot method. (Perhaps later I’ll give it a go.) I tried True Earth’s ageing/fading products as well with a small degree of success. So far I’ve figured out why they did not work previously: the surface has to be extremely matte.

Once I got sick of the filter work, I added some dust to the lower portions (although looking at the size of the vehicle, I’m not sure it should get dusty too much), ran a soft lead pencil around the edges to give it some metallic looks, and added a touch of rust. The monster is done.

And the finished monster

With a 1/144 Tiger for scale

With the two included Maus tanks

And finally, how big is this thing?

Banana for scale

Hobby Boss 1/35 Pz.Kpfw. I. Ausf. F (VK 18.01) Early (filters on a gray base color)

This was an impulse buy from Ebay. I always liked this tank: it looks like a clumsy little cousin of the “big boys”… A small tank that desperately wants to be taken seriously, so it has as much armor as a Tiger, but somehow forgotten to upgrade the armament. I guess this makes it look more like a joke, than an actual threat: you can run away from it, and the pea-shooters it has for guns are not looking very menacing, either. I always think of “Hans the Tank Engine” when I see this guy. Everything seems oversized: the roadwheels, the tracks, the armor except for the tiny-winy little guns and the turret.

There are a couple of reasons I regretted buying this model. One is the scale; 1/35 became a bit too large for me lately. (I’ve gotten used to faster builds in Braille scale.) For this reason I would rather have preferred to get the Armory model in 1/72 scale (or the new Flyhawk one). The other is that I realized Bronco issued the same kit (what is it with these companies suddenly coming out with obscure tanks at the same time, anyway?), with full interior, no less… This actually made me weep.

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.