Well, it is not as if I do not have anything else to finish, but I wanted to get started on something. Anything, really. The interior kits require a lot of thinking while building, so I chose this one.
Little did I know. This kit also requires some planning…
Anyhow, in about a week, working a few hours in the evenings, I got somewhere where the vehicle is actually recognizable.
By the way I saw this vehicle first in Kecel, in the collection of an excentric (and corrupt I might say) billionaire, and it was also featured in the T-72 Balkans on Fire T-72 simulator, which I like, but which is also impossible to actually play. (Hidden AT guns knock you out like nobody’s business, and I could not find a way to counter them.)
There is an incredible-looking Voyeager update set for this vehicle, but I am not crazy enough to do it. Not to mention it would be a shame to paint it after… The chains on the digging buckets are something to consider, though.
Overall the fit is OK, though the chain and framework is somewhat wobbly. It should be assembled as an unit in one step.
I finished the interior using hairy sticks because I have not yet brought out the airbrush. (Before the surgery I was in the middle of the repainting of the living room…) I will do some weathering, and then continue with the exterior.
By the way the decals for the cab are stiff; not very good, especially because they were designed to go over knobs and whatnot, and they just do not conform to the varied topology. So if you are about to apply them to the driving compartment, make sure you cut them up, and apply them in small sections.
Well, another tank I would have not known about had it not for World of Tanks.
There it is a top tier Soviet heavy tank; in real life it was, well, a Soviet heavy tank. The last heavy tank, in fact, in service, ever. It is a fairly obscure vehicle, so it was a very welcome surprise seeing it in plastic. (Normally you would expect small companies producing a resin version for a literal arm and leg.)
The Trumpeter kit is simple to assemble, and has pretty good detail. The whole running gear and track assembly comes as one unit, which, I have to say, was not a bad solution. It did make building quick, for sure.
After the Vallejo primer I layered citadell olive green with increasing amount of yellow onto the tank – it produces a pretty nice looking green for the tank.
I did some sponge chipping, a filter with Tamiya transparent yellow, and some blending with oils, a ton of filters, and acrylic pencils for the streaks and dust. The mud was Vallejo’s industrial mud mixed with different pigments. I think the results are not half bad.
Let’s hope Trumpeter does some other esotheric tanks, like the IS-6, T57, ELC-AMX, T-10, AMX-50 in plastic, too. All in all this is a neat little kit, worth picking up. Also, check this build out, too.
Again: time to revisit an old build, since the previous posts covered a new Trumpeter kit.
I’ve already mentioned the tendency of the Germans to stick an 88 on anything that could carry it; they had a similar affectation towards Wurfrahmen rockets as well -they went on anything that moved: captured tanks, personnel carriers, half-tracks, anything. (I think the only combination they have not considered was sticking the Wurfrahmen rockets onto an 88…)
The H39 was an excellent platform for modifications, since they captured a lot in France. They were small, and quite inadequate in both armament and armor for the modern (a.k.a 1940) battlefield, however, they could be modified to no end, as they were well-made, and easy to maintain. I’m not aware of any report on the effectiveness of this weapon platform; in theory, it should have worked relatively well. After all, the tank is fast, well armored to be protected against small-arms fire and shrapnel, and had a small caliber tank gun, which could be used to defend itself if need came be. These tanks could -in theory- get close to the enemy, let loose a volley or rockets, and hastily depart with relative impunity. Then again; I might be wrong.
Well, this kit brings up some memories… An old-school Trumpeter model, when they were still kind of mediocre, but very cheap, but after their “not-so-good” (Type 59, anyone?) phase. Since then a lot of water has passed under the bridge, and Trumpeter became a serious competitor to Tamiya, Dragon and all the other “big ones”… (This can also be seen in the price of their kits.)
The model had no real issues, and went together like a charm. After assembly I used Surfacer 500 to roughen up the hull; this gave an impression of the cast metal surface of the armor.
After the usual primer coat, the tank was painted with Tamiya Panzer Grey, the seams and some casting imperfections filled, and painted again.
I think the track is slack a bit… we get enough vinyl tracks for two tanks.
This is where I wanted to experiment a bit. I just got my airbrush recently back then (well, the compressor, to be honest; I’ve had an airbrush since I was 14, but I never had any means to use it). Ten years later, I got the chance, when some old lady in Boca Raton sold her unused compressor for peanuts. What I did was to dabble on different colors, which -I hoped- would show slightly through the next layer of panzer grey -kind of like a proto-pre-modulation technique. Had it worked, it would have looked awesome. As it was I went in with way too much paint for the next session, so everything got (almost) covered up. When you look at the tank in a good light, you kinda see the differently modulated grey. One thing is for sure: I’ll have to do some more experiments with this.
It does look impressive, though.
The final coat and subsequent filters prepared from oil paints, made the model look very dark; back then I was not aware how much filters and washes darken the model…
The rockets are held in disposable wooden frames, which are held in place by a light metallic frame. Again: there were no issues with construction; the results are actually quite good.
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.
All the lenses and periscopes were masked, the tracks covered with tape, and on with the green paint.
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.
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.
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.)
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.)
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.)
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.)
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.
And that’s it -here’s a real-life laser tank, courtesy of the Soviet Union.
The 1K17 tank will not melt metal and evaporate hordes of heretics and Titans; however it does have a gigantic set of solid-state lasers mounted on a tank chassis. These were intended to blind the optics of missiles, airplanes, and other enemy weapon systems. I have not been able to find analyses of this laser-weapon’s efficiency, as the production of these vehicles was hindered by some serious practical issues. One of them is right in front of you: the optical elements of these lasers were made out of 30kg artificial rubies – each. This obviously increased the production costs somewhat, which essentially made sure that these vehicles were not built in sufficient numbers.
The project was based on the MSTA self-propelled artillery. They kept the hull, and changed the turret so it could accommodate the solid-state lasers. The hull itself is based on the T-80, but the engine installed is a 840hp diesel engine from the T-72.
As it was already mentioned, the costs themselves were enough to doom this project; the two vehicles built were mothballed. They still can be useful, however; after all, they are perfect if you need a gigantic laser pointer to distract some invading mutant tiger army.
The plastic is good quality, and easy to work with. The detail is crisp, and very fine. Some of the parts will need to be handled with care, as they are really thin. The wire guards for the headlights look especially fine. The PE fret included has the mesh covering the engine cooling hatches, and some extra small parts that could not be produced using plastic, like the clamps for the storage boxes. The transparent sprue contains the vision blocks, and a part for the remote controlled AA machine gun. The way some of the periscopes are attached to the clear sprue is also a bit problematic: one side has almost no space for the cutter between the part and the sprue’s frame.
The decal sheet includes a LOT of numbers so you can customize your tank (not that you have many options if you want to be historically accurate), and a set of Soviet-era crest.
Since this kit is built on the Trumpeter MSTA kit, you get a lot of extra parts –the gigantic gun included.
The build was really straightforward and relatively quick; I have not run into any difficulties. The assembly starts with the hull, as usual. Right in the beginning, there are some issues with the instructions. In the first page it is indicated that you should not glue the towing hooks; I believe the symbol should be next to one end of the unditching log’s holding straps. (This realization was a bit late for my build.)
The headlights are somewhat difficult to glue, and mostly because of the engineering of the kit. On the real tank they are attached directly to the metal guards (which are essentially metal frames) using one little peg. Unfortunately the model headlights are constructed the same way. You’ll have to attach the headlights with this peg, and position them perfectly while doing so. This is a tricky proposition, and some other solution that would have helped with the positioning while drying would have been nice. (I used silly putty to position the lights, and superglue to fix them onto the frame –see photos. This method worked surprisingly well.)
The fenders, the storage boxes and the side-skirts are assembled as separate units. All the clips for the storage boxes are provided as PE parts; it takes a while to attach each and every one. (I can imagine how practical this setup is in real life… “hurry, get the tools!” “Yes, comrade, give me half an hour to undo these straps!”.) While I was taking the photos, I realized one clip was left out on a box– which was attached after the photo session. (This demonstrates why it’s worth taking photos of your models while building them.) The greatest issue with how the kit is designed are the side-skirts. The side-skirts of Russian tanks are usually thick rubber painted over with the camouflage colors. If you look at photos of T-70s, T-80s, etc, you’ll see that the side-skirts are readily deforming, they separate from each other, and they are obviously not rigid. Unfortunately Trumpeter did not give any impression of the flexible nature of the rubber: they are rod-straight. They could be made out of thick metal for all we know. (I say “unfortunately”, because it’s not an impossible task: Revell has managed to capture these rubber side-skirts amazingly well in 1/72 scale.) There’s also no obvious method of leaving them off. If you choose to display the tank without the side-skirts (as the 1K17 is displayed in the reference photos available online), you’ll have to saw them off. (And thus display the incorrect suspension…) It’s such a simple thing to do, which, nevertheless, would dramatically improve the look of the tank. The rest of the vehicle has been so meticulously reproduced; I have no idea why Trumpeter got lazy on this issue.
Before the fenders are attached you will have to assemble, paint and weather the running gear, tracks and most of the hull. Once the side-skirts are in place, you will not be able to get to those areas. The turret is well done; some of the panels do not fit perfectly, so filler will need to be used. (The welding lines are very nice touch on the edges of the armor plates.) There is some crucial missing detail here, however. Looking at photos you can see that the lenses are protected by lens protector flaps (which are provided), but there is also a rubber band around each lens assembly that enables these flaps to close weathertight.
These rubber bands are missing, which is a shame. The instructions also fail to give you options for leaving the middle lens covers in an open or closed position. Again; photos are available, and can be used as reference, but the instructions should highlight the options available nevertheless.
The lasers are housed in a separate box, which is attached to the turret. Before closing it in, I’ve painted the back of the transparent lenses red (Ruby red from the Citadel paint range), and the inside of the box was painted black. There’s an awful lot of free space inside the turret, so someone with a little patience and a small LED light can actually make a pretty cool modification lighting up the lenses -although it would not be a set of coherent light beams, of course. (I might just do that, actually.)
The fit of the assembly containing the laser with the turret is not perfect; it forces the sides of the turret apart visibly at the attachment points. (This can be remedied if you cut the holding pegs, and glue the part into place.) You’ll find the opposite is the problem with the long, protecting strip on top of the laser-weapon: it is supposed to be movable, but it just does not click into place easily. The attachment between the parts is flimsy, and it falls off quite easily; you would be better off gluing them fixed.
One serious technical gripe I have with the kit is the tracks. The guide teeth will need to be glued onto each and every track link. To compound this issue, the teeth are attached to the sprue right where the track link and the guide teeth are joined; this means you will have to clean up each and every one of the 174 or so guide teeth with a scalpel before you can assemble the tracks. This is when you wonder why they could not mould these parts together, or even better yet, use a link-and-length solution.
Dryfitting… the model is taking shape nicely.
The turret, interestingly, “sits” on the hull; the usual pins, that are making sure the turret stays in place, are missing. I’m not sure why this is the case. Most of the time it should not be a problem, as the fit is quite snug, but this could be an issue during the transport of the model. (Alternatively you can just glue it in place.)
The AA heavy machine gun turret is a subassembly on its own right; it is a very nice representation of the real thing. After this we’ll just have to glue the millions of grab handles in place, and the model is essentially done.v
This is one of the tanks I learned about in World of Tanks… it looks strange with the added armor, and it’s somewhat of a black sheep in the game- a perfect subject to model in other words. It’s disliked because even for a premium tank -a tank you buy for money- it is not really good. Premium tanks, in general, should be slightly worse than their equal tier counterparts, since the game is supposed to be free to play, not pay to win; they are for credit earning, and crew training mostly. However, some are great (IS-6, Tpye59), some earn incredibly well, but not very good (JagdPanther88), while some are lemons (like the Super Pershing is supposed to be). The speed is abysmal, the spaced armor is less and less effective, as more and more high-powered guns are introduced, and the gun- which in real life was in par with the Tiger II’s 88- is mediocre at best. Overall it’s not a good tank, but I use it a lot, because it does earn credits.
Anyway; HobbyBoss is producing a 1/35 version, and ModellTrans has a conversion for the 1/72 market. Since lately I’m focusing on the braille scale models, I got the conversion. It’s OK, but not stellar. I found a couple of casting errors, bubbles, and some prominent missing features. One of the hatches from the turret is missing; and ModellTrans did not provide extra track links for the turret side mounts. This is annoying because I could not find any aftermarket tracks for this tank. I used a Tiger hatch to cover up the commander’s cupola, which is absolutely incorrect, but was the right size. The original hatch opened up in the middle, and had a periscope built in; I just could not be bothered trying to scratchbuild one. My laziness, I know, but there are projects you are willing to pour time and effort into, and there are projects in which you are not.
The conversion is very straightforward. It uses Trumpeters T26E4 as a base kit, so you get the long gun, and the chassis; you only need to add the turret and the hull armor. There is nothing to fix the massive resin turret onto the hull (it does not fit into the turret ring), so I used a lot of epoxy glue to attach it securely.
I should have scratch-built the Jerrycan holders attached to the hull, which are very prominent in-game, but in this scale they were just too thin for me to even attempt fashioning them using Evergreen strips.
I decided to go for the in-game camo I use; it’s a nice, three colored pattern, and looks unique- just like the tank itself.
The model was sprayed with a Tamiya sand colored spraycan as a base layer.
I then used a brush to try to apply the second color: green. The results were horrible.
I cried a bit, then the model was put into storage until the compressor and airbrush I had ordered online arrived.
Used a little tan to fad away the horror. (I also noticed the gap between the turret and the counterweight, which was promptly filled in, and the spraying step was repeated.)
It was not necessary to completely remove the remains of the failed attempt; they were to serve as a nice pre-shade for the actual green. I used BlueTac to mask the yellow areas, and then sprayed a thin, and very much lightened green color on top. I did not want big contrast between the three colors, so I used tan to “tie” them together. Tan is good to lighten up colors, anyway; in this case it was the base color.
Another round of masking, and the brown-tan mixture was sprayed on.
Removing the mask is always a bit stressful. I was worried about the results, but the pattern came out nicely; not much retouching was needed. The non-uniform coverage of the green and brown actually looks nice; it looks like faded paint.
I used Citadel yellow (not sure which shade exactly) to paint the demarcation lines between the colors. I chose this paint because it has a very good coverage, and yellow is a difficult color to paint evenly. It is difficult even with airbrush, but it gets worse when you are doing it by hand. Truth be told I could have started masking and spraying, but just the thought made me break out in cold sweat. I opted for the riskier but less labor-intensive solution: thin brush, steady hands. Not the best work I’ve ever done (it’s a bit uneven), but the alternative would have been much worse: insanity.
After the camo was done, I did quite a lot of layers of filters. Yellow, brown, green, and blue oil paints were used in a very thin mixture. For the first layer or two I did not see any difference; but it does blend everything together after a couple of more applications. I painted the periscopes green (using the Warhammer method), did some pin washes with burnt umber, and with some black on the engine grilles, added rust and some exhaust residues onto and around the exhaust pipe, some dust with pigments, and some dried mud onto the lower chassis/mudgards. As usual, some soft pencil was used on the edges to give the model a metallic look. I didn’t add paint chips and other wear and tear because I wanted to show a relatively new vehicle; there was only one Super Pershing on the front with this setup, and it was not in action for very long, anyway. If it’s any consolidation, I’m in the process of really, really muddy up a Tas heavy tank, and a Tas tank destroyer, so there will be some heavily used vehicles featured here soon(ish).
One of the extra armor “cheeks” (the left one on the picture below) had a bubble in it, so it essentially had a little hole in it; I decided to make it into a battle damage, rather than attempting to fill it in (I’m lazy as we have established already). I added some metallic color around, and made it look like the paint was burned a bit by the impact.
Overall, the results are OK. The conversion is not perfect, the base kit is really nice, and the build is not difficult. Once it comes out of storage (I’m in the middle of a move right now) I think I’ll work on the dust and mud a bit more, because it looks a bit coarse, and also add some realistic surface to the base it was mounted on.
I used Trumpeter’s excellent T-55, and got on with the work. This time I had not used an airbrush simply because I did not have one yet in Europe. (The one I did have had been put in storage in the US.)
So: dark green base color first (painted the external fuel tanks in a slightly different green), then a very light green drybrush to mark the areas where wear and tear would scratch the paint off. At the deeper scratches I used an even lighter green, and in the middle of these scratches I went in with Vajello’s German Cam. Black Brown to simulate the exposed metal.
The whole tank then got a couple of layers of filters. I dabbed small amount of green, blue, yellow, and burnt umber oil paints onto the surface, and using a wet brush with downwards strokes I removed as much as I could, only leaving hints of the color on the tank. Then waited a couple of days for the paint to dry, and repeated it. The thing about tanks is that unlike airplane models, they actually look better if their surface is not uniform. (To my eyes, at least.)
The mud was done using ground up pastels, fixed with Mig’s Pigment Fixer solution.
On the lower chassis I wet the surface with the fixer, and then carefully sprinkled the pigments on from a brush. O the top of the chassis I mixed the two together, and used a brush to apply it. Before it dried I used a cotton swab to remove some of it with downward, streaking motion, to simulate the effect of weather on the splattered mud.
The vehicle was built using the captured Char B1 tanks by the Germans; they did away with the turret, and put in a 10.5cm light field howitzer. The results are interesting-looking even by the standards of hastily converted self-propelled guns.
Both Modelltrans and Armory has a conversion for this vehicle; both use the excellent Trumpeter B1 as a base. (There is no other plastic model available, anyway.) I only have built the ModellTrans conversion, so I cannot give an accurate comparison between the two kits; the Armory version seems more detailed, it makes use of PE better (gun shields are more to scale thickness), and it’s also more expensive.
The ModellTrans version is entirely resin, and it’s probably an easier build, too.
As with all ModellTrans kits I’ve built so far, there are some quality issues with the parts: the gun shields on both sides are nicked (they are very thin, delicate parts), and there were some casting imperfections/bubbles which needed to be corrected. After carefully applying putty and VERY delicate sanding I ended up leaving the gun shields alone as I could not figure out how to fix the problem completely. The nicks are not as visible as before, but they still can be seen. Write it up for battle damage.
There is some surgery necessary on the base kit, but it’s not very difficult. I could not find photo/drawing of the actual vehicle, so I have no idea how the base looked like in real life; in this version it is a flat metal plate. In Armory’s version it’s a more elaborate contraption, and in some scratch-built models I saw online, the inside of the tank is accessible from the gun platform. I think it’s a safe bet to say that this last version is the most likely one. (Makes sense not to isolate the vehicle from the gun; after all there’s additional ammo storage in the inside of the tank, and the gun crew must also have a relatively safe way to get to their gun.)
The gun shields were relatively easy to install; they fit onto the base well. A black base-coat was applied to the model. The gun cradle, the optics and the operating wheels were installed without glue at this stage as I needed them to make sure all the parts were lined up correctly.
Once everything was aligned, I glued the cradle in. I suspect the crew compartment is lacking a radio (at least), but the room was so tight I could not fit in a leftover FuG from an Sd.Kfz.251 kit. There was some issues with the molding of one of the ammo racks: two of the shells had casting errors (their top was missing), so they were cut off, and I drilled a hole in their place.
There were a couple of gray layers sprayed onto the model; each layer was successively lighter than the previous one. To break up the monotony of the gray I applied brown/blue/yellow filters using oil paints. (I used the dot-method: first let the paint sit on a piece of cardboard to get rid of the linseed oil, then dot them onto the model, and wash them off with a clean and wet brush.) I applied burned sienna onto the sides in patches this way as well. The contrast is really high on these photos, but in normal light they do blend in nicely. With a toothpick I carefully rubbed/scratched the topmost paint layer off at some places to reveal the darker gray underneath. This was done to create further signs of wear and tear, as I wanted the tank to look worn and used.
The crew compartment was weathered quite heavily: scratches, rust, and dust was freely applied.
Before painting the gun had to undergo some minor surgery (although aftermarket gun barrels are available, I did not feel like buying an aftermarket gun for my aftermarket conversion). The main problem was the muzzle break: there was some resin blocking the side-openings. This chunk had to be carefully cut away, and the muzzle break had to be opened up. I drilled it through both from the front and from the sides, and then used a thin blade to make the side holes square. Another issue was the mating of the gun’s tube to the muzzle break; the diameters of the two parts were slightly off, and the joint is quite visible. I thought about trying to sand the difference off, but decided not to exacerbate the problem with unskilled meddling.
After installing the gun I pained the exhaust pipes in rust colors, added the tracks, and added streaking to the sides using both oils and pigments dissolved in water.
The horizontal surfaces were lightly dusted with light gray colored pigments, and the tracks and lower chassis had some earth-shaded pigments applied to simulate dried mud. All the edges and rivets were lightly traced with a soft graphite pencil to simulate worn metal.
All in all, the Trumpeter B1 Bis is a joy to build, and the ModellTrans conversion makes a convincing SPG in this scale. Based on this experience and what I saw online, if you don’t mind the extra costs, and can work with PE, I’d go with the Armory set.