Tag Archives: whitewash

Sharkit’s AMX CDC -AMX Chasseur de Char 1/72

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I had not known about this vehicle before it was introduced into the World of Tanks online arcade game. In the game it is a medium tank, but in reality (as much as we can discuss reality about a vehicle only existing on paper) it was planned to be a tank destroyer. The AMX CDC is a unique looking vehicle, so I was pretty excited to see it being issued in 1/72. From now on I’ll refer to the vehicle as CDC (or “tank”)…

A little background

The French armament industry was the second largest producer of tanks before WWII broke out. After the war the industry was in ruins, and the French army had no real modern tank in its inventory. Some clandestine tank development was pursued during German occupation, so it was not surprising that immediately after the liberation of France tank design started in earnest. Wisely decision makers realized that it was important to pursue development in order to retain the talent and expertise, and also to experiment with new ideas; the less-than-stellar designs of this period were only “placeholders” until “real tank design” could start. The immediate post war designs were built on pre-war French experience (the ARL-44 is a good example), and also borrowed a lot from the German heavy tank designs.

In 1945 the AMX company produced the AMX M4 armed with a 90mm gun. This tank was essentially a French Tiger II, and not a very good one at that: the vehicle was huge, lightly armored (so that the weight could be kept low), and had overlapping road wheels which were quite impractical. The power plant was a French variant of the Maybach HL295. Two prototypes were built for testing but they were deemed unsuccessful.

The AMX Chasseur de Char was designed on the basis of the AMX M4 chassis using a redesigned turret and non-overlapping road wheels. The tank not only existed only on paper, but the armor was essentially paper as well: 30mm frontal armor, 20mm all around armor, which explains why it was only 34 tonnes. Since there’s not much information available on this vehicle, let’s move on to the model itself.

In-game the tank is not a very good one. On paper it looks like a fast sniper, but the gun is rubbish; save your money, and only get the model. Or buy a Liberte 🙂


The kit comes in a sturdy cardboard box with a painting of the vehicle on the front. The instruction manual is a sheet of paper with the parts numbered, and a computer-generated rudimentary assembly diagram; it’s perfectly sufficient for the purpose. (Many resin kits don’t even come with instructions, so that’s always a plus.)

It has relatively few parts; the suspension arms and the road wheels take up most of your time assembling this model. The tracks come in sections which need to be warmed up before shaping them onto the idlers and the drive wheels. One issue with the model is, however, the texture of the resin. The model was obviously designed by computer and printed out using a 3D printer; the faint printing lines are still visible on the model. It’s quite a choir to sand them off.

The hull comes in two parts: a bottom and a top part. The fit is not very good, so some dry fitting and filling will be necessary. The detail is sparse, but it is a paper-panzer (or paper-char?) after all; there’s not much available on how it would have looked like. One thing that is prominent is the engine deck: it does resemble the Tiger II’s. Compared to the available drawing, the engine deck on the model is shallower. The drawing shows a much steeper angle towards the back.

The turret is also a simple assembly: the base fits into the turret shell comfortably. The gun is straight (not always the case with resin models), and, interestingly, the muzzle brake is mounted vertically, instead of the “traditional” horizontal position. I’m not sure why the designers felt they needed to put the muzzle break on this way: gun would have kicked up way more dust when fired, making the tank more visible and blinding the gunner even more, (Probably). I’m not an engineer or an expert, so take this with a grain of salt.)

The drive wheels have good detail, but they are very thin; it’s quite easy to break the resin while fitting the tracks. Since the teeth do not fit into the holes on the tracks without enlarging those, I simply elected to shave off the teeth that are in contact with the tracks. The road wheels are quite nicely detailed with all the bolt heads and ridges; the holes for the suspension will need to be enlarged, though, with a drill.

The position of road wheels is not marked on the hull; you will have to decide how low or high these wheels should sit before you glue the suspension to the hull. The positions of the return rollers are not marked, either. Looking at the drawing available they should be directly above the second, third and fourth road wheels.

The assembly stage took me about 3 hours -that with all the cleaning, filling and sanding necessary. You will need a fine saw in order to cut off the pouring blocks (and, as always, make sure resin dust is not dispersed in the process- use wet sanding/sawing methods). I have used green stuff to fill in the gaps between the hull halves; it served both as filler and an additional method of fixing the main parts together.

The tracks went on surprisingly easy (I find installing resin tracks a stressful exercise).


Painting
The model was primed with black, and then I used my best attempt at the French bluish-green color from World of Tanks, mixing Tamiya light see grey, medium blue and Caliban green by Citadel. The color was modulated with a bluish filter.

Once the paint dried I mixed up a 3% ammonia solution, and wore away some of the paint using the Windex chipping method. It’s a very simple method of creating worn away paint: wet the surface of the model with this solution, and using a stiff brush wear off some of the paint. Important to note that it only works with Tamiya paints. This method creates much more subtle abrasions and chafing than most of the other methods I know.

Once I was satisfied with the results, I sealed everything with varnish, and added some leftover decals from the Trumpeter B1 kit. The decals were sealed with another layer of varnish. I wanted to recreate the striped winter camo pattern from World of Tanks. Since the whitewash is pretty faded on that tank, I used Tamiya’s weathering master (the one that looks like a make-up set) to add white pigments onto the surface.

I’ve used Tamiya’s weathering stick (mud and sand) to make the lower chassis a bit dirtier. I bought these on a sale at Hobbycraft a couple of months ago, but had not really experimented with them yet. I did not apply the product directly; I dabbed them gently using a wet brush, and then dabbed this brush onto the surface of the model. Before it dried it was quite easy to adjust the effect with a wet brush.

I also added some tools I found to the front (my spares box is running low on 1/72 tools…), and added some Jerry cans to the back. The edges of the turret and hull were treated with metallic pigment using the same Tamiya make-up set.

Overall the tank is not a challenging build. It is not very detailed, and it’s a simple assembly; even for beginners. The price is somewhat high, but this is always the case with limited run resin kits; the question is if the uniqueness of the model is worth it for the you. For me it definitely did.

Chipping techniques- washable paints, hairspray and Windex chipping

I was curious how some chipping methods compare, so I did some experiments. Since the old hairspray I used ran out, and I could not get a similar product, I switched to the AK chipping fluid. (Not all hairsprays are the same when it comes to chipping; if you find something that works, stick to it.)

I also wanted to see how the Windex chipping technique works, and what the Mig Ammo washable white paint does. It’s not a comprehensive tutorial by any means, but I hope others find it useful.

Hairspray technique

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There’s a nice summary of the hairspray technique on another blog, so I won’t be taking up much space with it. It essentially works by forming a water soluble layer between two paint layers, which makes a chipping effect once water is applied and slightly macerated with a stiff brush or toothpick. It can be applied to simulate paint chips or worn white wash; I used white in this case. With the AK Interactive product there’s a time factor: the earlier you do the chipping after the paint is dried, the larger the chips are; the longer you wait, the more difficult it becomes to remove the top layer. This can be used for your advantage, as it also allows you to use it in conjunction with the Windex chipping technique.

Windex chipping

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This is something relatively new. I’ve read about it in the Single Model series (02) by Rinaldi Studio Press. This technique depends on the fact that ammonia dissolves Tamiya (and supposedly similar acrylic) paints. You essentially dissolve the top layer with a 1-3% ammonia solution. (Windex and similar cleaning products contain ammonia; you can even buy ammonia by itself, and it would work just as fine.) The higher the ammonia concentration, the easier you remove the top paint layer, so it’s worth being patient and using less concentrated solutions. I used to use Windex as a solvent and airbrush cleaner; it seems like it’s great for chips as well. The effect is much more subtle than the hairspray technique’s: it produces smaller chips, and the effect is more like rubbed-off paint.

Mig Ammo washable white

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It’s essentially a white paint that can be spray painted and then washed off after drying. It does not form chips as it is; it’s more like a whitish translucent overcoat. The paint should not be diluted much (one or two drops of water, tops), as it would spray very dilute. (It took a while to figure out why it behaves like a wash when I sprayed it… The Lowe I did was the test piece, and I had to try three times before I realized I needed to keep the dilution low. It’s quite thick, so some dilution is necessary, but not much.) I’m not sure it stays washable after a prolonged period of time; it probably does.

Onto the test…

So I prepared my trusty Pnz IV mudguards with a green layer of paint, and sealed it with Dullcote. (So that it protects the paint from the ammonia.) The next layer was Tamiya’s flat white.

I divided up the segments, and got working. (I forgot to take a photo before I started to work on the AK Interactive chipping fluid. Imagine it white.)

AK Interactive Chipping fluid

I used a wet brush on the surface, and then gently a toothpick to nick the surface. The nicks were enlarged with a large, relatively stiff wet brush.

The resulting chips are giving a stark contrast between the white and the underlying green.

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Mig Ammo Washable White

The paint is very thick and kind of shiny once on the surface (you can see this on the photo). After a little drying period, I used a wet brush with a downward motion to remove the paint. It got dissolved, and smeared over the surface. The residual paint formed an uneven layer over the green paint, making the surface look worn. No chips, but realistic worn effect.

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The Windex Chipping method

I prepared a ~2% Ammonia solution using a kitchen cleaning product, and used a brush to wet the surface with it. I waited a minute or two and then gently rubbed the brush against the surface. For a long time nothing seemed to happen, but after a while I got a very nice, realistic chipping effect. It’s an important thing to point out: the effect is very gradual; for a while it really does look like nothing is happening. Some foam appears, but that’s it. Don’t push the brush down (now I’m rapping about modelling), as it might lift up the base layer as well.

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You can see the same technique used to recreate rust on the electric mule I built not long ago. The square parts are about 0.5cm long. Unfortunately the photo is not the best (the most interesting part is out of focus), but the effect can still be judged: tiny, minuscule chips and general look of wear-and-tear. Pretty good, I’d say.

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AK Interactive Chipping fluid and Windex combined

The fourth section was first treated with the AK Interactive chipping fluid, did the chips, then waited a couple of days. (It was probably close to a week, if I recall correctly.) The next step was to use the Windex method on the same section, forming smaller chips. The effects are subtle next to the large chips, but you can see how the paint rubbed off the edges and other areas sticking out. It also formed very tiny little chips between the larger ones, making the effect a bit more realistic. The Windex effects complements the larger chips of the previous method quite nicely. Due to dissolving the white color, it also deposited some on the green undercoat, making the contrast less pronounced in some areas. (Not all and not evenly.)

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So there is it.

I think the washable paint looks good as a very worn winter whitewash on its own. If you use hairspray chipping for whitewash it would also be very useful to tone down the stark contrast between the underlying paint and the white on top.

The Windex method is great for subtle chips, but it also complements the larger hairspray chipping.

This, of course, is not limited to whitewashes; excellent chips can be done using a rust undercolor, or even a variation of the main color. (Green on green chips, camo pattern chips, etc.) Your imagination is the limit.

There are more than one ways to skin a cat, so these are not the definitive methods; there are other ones as well. AK Interactive just came out with a solution that makes any acrylic paint washable; the this opens up a large potential of uses from dust to worn paint. I have ordered it, so when I have some time I’ll see what it can do, and post the results.

 

 

(Here’s an imgur album for the photos- they are hopefully larger than the wordpress versions.)

MiniArt 1/35 SU-122 build review p5. (final instalment)

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You can find the previous parts of this review under the following links:

part 1.
part 2.
part 3.

and

part 4.

You can find the review I wrote of this model on armorama, and another review of a simplified version of the same kit here. In this last post we’ll finish up the vehicle.

Painting

 

Once the tracks were ready, I painted the sides of the lower hull olive green (Tamiya), then heavily dabbed on a dark brown/black/greenish mix of oil colors to simulate the color of dirty snowmelt; the reference I used was how buses look during the winter after a heavy snow… The same color went onto the road wheels as well, and once everything was dry, I installed the tracks. (I suggest leaving the return roller in a movable state so that you can do small adjustments if the tracks are a bit loose/tight.)

I masked everything with tape (the back of the engine compartment, the top of the fighting compartment, the tracks), and sprayed olive green onto the vehicle. The exact color does not really matter as it will be covered by white-wash (and the wartime “Russian green” was far from a standardized color in any way).

I gave the paint a couple of hours to dry, and covered the model with a semi-gloss varnish to have a surface for the decals to stick to. Since I wanted to go with the unique festive Christmas camo, I decided to use the large red dot decal that goes on top of the superstructure. (In retrospect it would have been better if I added the decal after I applied the whitewash.)

Since the red dot decal needs to conform a somewhat difficult topology (it goes over the fume extractor’s cover, the hatch and the armored observation hatches), it is given in three parts. Normally I would have elected to simply mask the area and spray the color, but since it’s a review I went with the decal option. There are some issues with this option. For one, it’s not going to be easy to pose the hatches open, unless you cut the decal up. (Difficult to do accurately.) The largest part went on relatively well, although the hinges of the crew hatch did present some problems. A generous application of decal setting solution immensely helped, but it was still not easy. I did manage to damage the decal with the brush trying to smooth it out and make it conform the raised details.

The part going over the extractor cover went on fine; the decal part going over the observation hatch, however was not that easy to apply. I could not put it on without forming a small fold at the corner. I trimmed it once the decal dried, and touched it up with some paint. Weathering also will help making these mistakes disappear. The decal is thin and of good quality otherwise; the casting texture is clearly visible underneath. All things considered it’s probably simpler just to mask the circle and paint it on using an airbrush.

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Once the decals were dry I applied another layer of varnish in preparation for the whitewash.

I have applied AK Interactive’s chipping fluid slightly diluted with an airbrush for the “hairspray technique”, and once it was dry, I went over with Tamiya’s flat white (also very slightly diluted). It was dry to the touch in about twenty or so minute, so I started on chipping. Wet the surface and with a toothpick I made small nicks on the paint. These were gently extended using a wet brush. As a second round of chipping I waited about a day- enough time for the AK Interactive product to become “less active”. (As you wait, it becomes more and more difficult to create chips.) I’ve prepared an approx 1% ammonia solution using an ammonia containing cleaning product (Windex is fine), and used this over the surface of the model. (Ammonia dissolves Tamiya paints.) With a bit more vigorous brushwork I was able to create smaller, finer chips and scratches. This method (Windex chipping) is very suitable for making subtly worn surfaces, and complements the larger chips created by the “hairspray” technique.

This is the step where I installed the back of the engine compartment. I noticed that the bolt holes are not drilled in, which was odd, since MiniArt was very careful to add other details which would not be visible once the model is completed, so I quickly drilled the holes myself.

Once everything dried, I applied yet another layer of varnish to protect the work so far, and sprayed over a very light “washable white” from Mig. (I’ve tried a lot of off-the-shelf weathering products in this build.) Most of this layer was removed using a wet brush; the purpose applying it was to create a light white, transparent layer over the green paint showing through the whitewash.

After THIS dried, you guessed correctly, yet another layer of varnish was added, and I went on painting the branches, and adding the decals. Which were -for the last time- sealed with varnish.

Once this was all done I dirtied up the chassis a bit using oil paints (some light filters of burned sienna, and blending in small quantities of different shades of brown), adding oil washes, and applying a thick layer of dirty snow slush made from dark browns, black and a tiny bit of green to the lower chassis and the running gear. I added some oil stains to the engine deck and the folded-down armor plate on the back (AK Interactive’s product diluted in white spirit applied in several steps), and some diesel stains to the external tanks (Vallejo’s product- as I said, I stocked up on weathering products lately…)

As a last step I glued the top of the fighting compartment on in an “opened” position, so that the interior is actually visible.

That’s pretty much it.

Overall the building was enjoyable, although I did run into some problems of the kit (and of my own making). Nothing is really deal-breaking; most of the problems can be either fixed or circumvent if you have a little experience in model building. If you like to be challenged -and not because you’re building a dog of a kit- this model will be perfect for you; however I don’t think it’s suitable for beginners. It’s also a considerable investment of time and effort; it is certainly possible to burn out, and just shelve it for a time. If you don’t feel like including much of the interior, go for the “light” version which has less parts and is considerably cheaper, too. My fiancee said I was nuts for building and painting this much detail (and enjoying it), so take my words with a grain of salt. One thing is for sure: I’m proud of this kit, treasure it for the achievement I feel it was building it, and I’m ready to move on to a simpler model (or two) -until the next one. (Which, I suspect, is going to be a T-54 version with over a thousand parts…)

1/72 Pz.Kpfw.VII Lowe (Armory)

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Well, this has been a long, arduous trip. It was one of those models where you lose inspiration, you make mistakes, and it feels more and more frustrating to spend time on, rather than on a more rewarding project -and not because of any fault of the model itself. It was just one of those builds I guess. I had no clear conception where I want to end up, I made some mistakes, and it felt like a choir trying to push forward. The end result however, was surprisingly nice. So this is the story of the poor, neglected Lowe.

The Löwe was a 90 ton super heavy tank, which was planned -but never built- by Nazi Germany. It was superseded by the even heavier Maus- which actually did get built. Along with the super heavy members of the Entwicklung series, these gigantic tank design programs demonstrate some of the lunacy of the direction WWII tank design took to in Germany during the second half of the war: embarking on even more and more ambitious tank projects in search for a war-winning superweapon, consuming valuable resources and manpower, while the fronts were collapsing all around them. It did give us some nice-looking tank models, though, so there is some silver lining.

Disclaimer: I’ve used my review in Armorama for some of the text.

 

 

 

The plastic parts are well done, apart from some minor problems. Overall I found the quality of parts, the detail, etc. on par with the Eastern Express/UM/Roden offerings: not very good, but not bad, either. The detail, in general, is good; certainly not soft, but don’t expect DML quality. There is very little flash. The model could use some extra detailing; one of the things I would have liked to do was to replace the periscope covers with photo etched ones. (They are simple molded-on blocks. Armory produces excellent quality periscope covers for the King Tiger, which would probably serve well as substitute.) The one thing I really missed is the depiction of the interlocking armor plates on the upper hull. The hull was (to be) originally constructed by welding slabs of armor together, and the points where these armor plates meet should be visible (you can see this on the hull of the Tiger, and Tiger II, for example). It would have been nice to have these details molded onto the hull. It’s possible to carve them out, but I decided not to bother with them. Some parts you will have to create yourself; you will need some wire for the towing cables, for example. (You can get some wire used to hang pictures from art stores.)

 

The only real problem I found was the engine deck. The grills have several casting imperfections (see photo above), where plastic got into the perforated parts; if you want to open them up, you will have to work very carefully with a very thin scalpel. I attempted, but quickly decided to leave them as they were- did not want to risk the delicate plastic detail. I assume the vehicle would have had screens over the engine deck, just as the Tiger I and Tiger II did; these would have been great additions to the model. (I tried to find aftermarket 1/72 scale Tiger II grille screens, but the only one set I managed to find was sold out everywhere.)

The tracks are flexible, and made out of several segments. The detail is somewhat soft on the inner side; again not a big problem. This solution of segmented flexible tracks is an interesting combination of the link-and-length plastic tracks and the “rubber band” style tracks. It makes it easier to install them, but alignment is a problem – in fact it is kind of a nightmare. A set of PE tracks would have been really nice (although this is a bit too much to ask for this price I admit), or at least some plastic alternatives. All in all, the kit could use some more brass. As for tracks and engine deck grilles I’m happy to report that Armory has came out not long ago with an updated version of this kit, which alleviates all these issues.

Finally, the modeller gets an option of building a “historical” model (whatever it means in this context), or the World of Tanks version of the vehicle (you get the very characteristic muzzle break from the game, and a different engine hatch on the back panel).

Assembly issues

Instructions are well done, and easy to follow, but the first part of the build is a bit challenging if you follow them. The hull has to be assembled from multiple parts (as usual in these kits). The issue is that if you follow the instructions, the hull parts will not fit. Once you assembled the “tub” that makes up the lower part of the hull, you are supposed to glue the fenders onto the sides, and finally place the upper part of the hull on top of this. The plastic parts are on the thick side, and the guiding ridges are not perfectly placed onto the fenders. Despite of how small these differences are, they do add up. When you put the lower and the upper part of the hull together, there will be a gap on the front where these two halves should meet.

The best –and quite easy- way to get around this problem is to do some surgery first, and to deviate from the instructions. First, thin the sides of the top part of the hull from the inside a bit (for an easier fit into the grooves molded onto the mudguards). Glue the back panel, the top and the bottom parts together first (parts 1, 24, 35), creating the overall shape of the tank (see photos) without the sides.

This way the top and bottom will touch in the front. This is the time to use some filler to make sure the attachment points on the back and the front are smooth, and there are no seams anywhere.

Sand off the guiding ridges from the side parts (parts 34, 36) of the hull, and glue them in place. Cut away the guiding ridges from the sides of the fenders (parts 23, 25). It is necessary, as they are supposed to go on top of the side panels, locking together with the ridges on those parts, fitting between the two hull halves. Unfortunately there is not enough space. The fenders themselves are not thin enough to fit, but this will not be an issue if you remove these ridges. (It would have been more fortunate if the fenders were made of PE.) Glue the fenders in place, and you are almost finished with the build.


The other issue I had with the kit was that the attachment of the back panel is a bit unfortunate. Usually the top of the hull goes over the back panel, covering it. This follows the original way of construction, and does not break the upper surface with an extra seam. In this kit, however, the back panel is placed behind the top part, creating an extra seam on the top of the hull. This, unfortunately, needs to be eliminated with filler.

 

The turret has a strange, round shape, which is very uncharacteristic of the usual angular German designs. It is made out of three parts: the main part of the turret (part 2), the frontal bit under the gun mantlet (part 6), and the bottom part, which will not be seen (part 17). This bottom part has two invaginations which should fit with the two little pegs molded onto the smaller, frontal part of the turret, but they are too small for the actual parts. You will have to enlarge them with a scalpel. It’s not a major surgery, and as it will be hidden under the turret, it will not impact on how the model will look. The rest of the kit falls together without any problems whatsoever.

I have finished the model to the point of weathering for this review. A couple of details are missing (the towing lines, for example, as I will need to fashion one later). Photos of the finished model will be posted in the World of Tanks campaign forum.

 

Painting

I’ve given the tank an uniform German grey color, before attaching all the equipment, tools, etc to the hull.

 

 

 

At this point I kind of lost my motivation to go ahead. I had other projects, and I felt a bit stalled; I was not sure what direction I would like to take the model.

After spending a year in a box (I’ve moved to London, I’ve had other worries) I dusted the Lowe off, and gave a hard thought of what sort of a paintjob I wanted to give it. I settled with the octopus-pattern, which I’ve seen on some fictional 1946 designs. The build stalled even further as I had no idea how to achieve this finish…

The next breakthrough was when I spotted a punch set in a charity shop; I managed to make little rings out of masking tape. They were not exactly good, but I went ahead, nevertheless as I wanted to get the painting over with.

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The results were disappointing to say the least. The masking tape rings were not good enough, and I’ve used Mig’s paints for the first time without reading about them. I assumed they are to be used the same manner as Tamiya paints; well, I was wrong. Nevertheless  at this point all I saw was that the paint behaved weirdly, and I really, really hated it. (Since then I actually learned to use it properly.)

The other thing I’ve failed to consider in my rush to finish the build was the scale effect: the model had a really bad, very strong contrast. (The colors should have been “toned down” in this scale.) Needless to say I went on working on more successful projects; nobody likes to be reminded of mucking things up.

The next step -after standing like this in my “half-finished” box, I’ve decided to give it a winter whitewash; to use the model for practising -and to finish it finally; and this I did. I’ve covered the Lowe with dullcoat, and used Tamiya white in several light, irregular layers. About 30 minutes later I’ve brought out my ammonia-containing cleaning product, and proceeded to do some practice on the Windex chipping method. This relies on the fact that ammonia dissolves Tamiya paints, and by preparing a 2-3% solution you can carefully remove some of it with a brush. (It’s a process that can be controlled surprisingly well.) It creates much subtler chips than chipping solutions/hairspray technique.

Weathering

Once the whitewash was on and made look worn, I was in the finish. The model finally looked like a proper model, all past mistakes corrected or hidden away, and even the octopus camo pattern looked good under the whitewash. The emotional roller-coaster was high again. Some white pigments (chalk ground up) in water was used on the fenders and the back of the engine compartment to simulate accumulated snow.

Since it was a winter vehicle I wanted to make it looked dirtied up. Winter slush is dark, almost black. I’ve used oil paints as a slurry, and to make it look even dirtier and disgusting I’ve put some green in the mixture as well. I’ve used MiniArt’s painting guide to the SU-122 as an inspiration: the winter camo (“Rudolph, the red topped SPG”) option is quite dirty and covered in this dark, blackish much.

I dabbed the oils on using a large brush, and used a clean, wet brush to “wash back”, and remove the excess from the top part of the hull, and other regions where I judged the dirt to be too much. The brush then -since it had some pigments trapped in it already- was dabbed onto the turret and other “lightly” soiled areas.

Essentially this was it. The moral of this story is essentially this: despite of all my efforts to mess it up, I managed to make something resembling a presentable tank out of this model.

 

 

DML Tiger I- Hairspray technique

I always liked the look of this camo pattern, so I decided to finally build one of these tanks. The problem was I only had the Ausf E version in 1/72, and did not wish to buy yet another Tiger model. ( have two more in 1/35 waiting for me in storage at home.)

It was kind of fortunate that I did have this particular kit, though, because it has a lot of parts to build an early version (the largest exceptions were the road wheels, which were all-steel). I got the toolbox leftover from a panzer IV conversion, swapped the road wheels from another DML Tiger (as I said I did have more of these kits than it’s healthy), and made some efforts to backdate the kit to an earlier version. Purists will find it lacking, but I am not a purist, so we’re in luck. I just wanted to do the camo.

 

Once the build was done, I painted it panzer gray. Since I would be heavily weathered, and most of the gray would be covered with the remnants of the whitewash, I went for a deliberately streaked finish (less work now, less work later). YES, I KNOW THE SHOVEL SHOULD NOT BE THERE. I like the way it looks, ok?

The next (less fortuitous) occasion was the leaving of my (then) girlfriend. She was moving back to her country after finishing her degree, so she was leaving most of her stuff behind. Hairspray included. (If you want to try this technique, don’t let your girlfriend leave. Easier just to buy the damned can.)

I was a bit apprehensive how it would work out, but I covered the whole thing with hairspray. It became somewhat sticky, and very shiny. After waiting a week or so, the stickiness disappeared, but the shine was still luxurious, just as the advertisement said it would be.

Next step was the whitewash. I used Vajello’s white primer, and applied with a brush. This is why I was worried, because most of the time the layer after the hairspray is airbrushed -I was worried the water in the paint would already dissolve the hairspray below. I chose the primer because it was really thick with a good coverage. I left the approximate areas clear of white.

On top of the white I used some brownish colors to lightly drybrush the larger areas: mud and dirt staining (and being washed off) the vehicle.

Next step: bring out the cotton swabs. I wet them (not too much), and started to rub them against the surface (very carefully). Sure enough, the paint started to flake of, like a charm.

At this stage the contrast by the  wear and tear looks a bit too stark: the gray is too clean. After drying I sprayed a matt varnish over the tank to seal the hairspray.

Next step of the weathering process: oil filters. First-  white. I put drops of the oil paints onto a piece of cardboard, and left them there for about 20 minutes to draw the linseed oil out. Using a toothpick I put dots of white all over the model, and then a flat, broad brush wetted with mineral spirit was used to remove most of the paint with downward motions. This deposited a very fine layer of white onto the surface.

After drying the same was repeated on the lower chassis using browns (burned umber, brown). A soft pencil was used along the edges to give it some metallic shine, some pigments (white, and different mud colored ones) on the running gear and the tracks, rust colored pigments on the exhaust pipes, and I called it a day. All in all, it looks pretty good for its scale.

 

Roden 1/72 Sd.kfz 4/1 72 Panzerwerfer with Armory PE

I always liked halftracks -especially the Germans built ones. They look angular, somewhat futuristic, and they have been built in an incredible number of versions. (Especially the 251 series; more on that in a later post…)

Anyhow, the Sd.kfz. 4.1 is essentially a modified Mercedes-Benz truck that has been armored, and fitted with a 15 cm Panzerwerfer 42 rocket launcher by Opel. The armor was enough to protect the crew from small-arms fire, and the halftrack gave mobility to the rocket-launcher platform. The issue with rocket launchers was that they were relatively short-ranged area saturation weapons, that leave tell-tale trails, so counter-battery is relatively easy. So after you fired, you’d better get out of dodge FAST, because you can bet that the enemy will throw everything at you the second they recover from your rockets. This is the reason for mounting the Katyusha rockets onto trucks, by the way. Nobody wanted to stick around after the first salvo, so due to its low mobility the German version was not the most effective.

The problem of mobility lead to the Germans creating their own mobile rocket launcher platforms. They used the Sd.kfz 251 halftrack to mount the Wurfrahmen 40 rocket system. This was known as the badassly named Stuka-zu-Fuss (Stuka on foot), and also as the less-than-flatteringly named Bellowing Cow… In any way, the problem with this weapon system was that you could not stay in the vehicle while firing for obvious reasons. (Just imagine what the blast of 6 successive rocket launches would cause less than a meter from you, and you’ll see why.) They also used captured tanks and tracked vehicles to stick rocket launching platforms onto them, but these were mostly ad-hoc, field modified solutions to the problem.

The Sd.Kfz 4.1 on the other hand had no such issues. It stored the rockets in the crew compartment, so reloading was fast; and it was protected enough so the crew did not have to disembark from the vehicle before launch. All in all, it was a relatively successful weapon platform.

Roden has issued an excellent 1/72 scale version of this vehicle, but to be absolutely honest, the kit will only shine, if you invest in the Armory PE sets as well. You will absolutely need the exterior detail set, the tracks, and if you feel adventurous, the interior as well. (This is not strictly necessary, as most of it will be hidden, anyway.)

There are some issues with the base kit: the tracks are short (kind of a big problem), and they don’t look very nice, either. The details are soft: the edges of the vehicle are not sharp enough. When you compare the razor-sharp edges of the PE replacements for the fenders, the armored plates in front of the radiator, the storage boxes, etc, with the plastic parts, you’ll be happy you got the extra metal. Other than that the running gear is a bit finiky, and VERY easy to break the delicate parts.

So to the build.

Interior: really cool. I did not use many of the PE parts, simply because you will not be able to see them. There’s no point in adding the pedals, the excellent instrument panel, and the mechanisms lifting the armored panels covering the viewing slots. (OK, these come very handy if you depict the vehicle with open viewing slots, and if -unlike me- you don’t mess them up.) I installed the back of the seats, the no-slip flooring, and some smaller titbits in the engine compartment. (You get a really detailed engine, which you can superdetail as much as your little heart desires; I did not go crazy with it, though. I added some wires to the engine compartment’s firewall, and that’s about it; most of it will not be visible even if you open the engine hatches, anyway. I forgot to take photos of the finished engine compartment before closing it up, unfortunately.)

You have to admit, it looks cool with all the shiny brass.

Once I have finished with the interior (painting and weathering included), it was time to close it up, and move onto the exterior.

This is where the PE additions shine best (weak pun intended). The storage boxes, fenders, mudguards, steps; they all enhance the model significantly.

After fitting, and sanding, and fitting and sanding, the model has gotten it’s first layer of paint: black. I’ve used Citadel’s black primer spray can.

The second layer was the German Dunkelgelb. This is where the purists will crucify me, but the fact is I don’t adhere to the “sacred color charts”. While the paint was relatively standardized, true, there are many factors that would influence the final color of the vehicle. The Sun will fade it, the scale effect will make it appear lighter, and somewhat bluer; not to mention dust, wear and tear will all modify the original color. Having said that, since I planned to add a worn whitewash, it does not really make any difference, anyway.

After the yellow base color, I wanted to try something. The most popular method of simulating worn whitewash, is to use the hairspray technique: put a player of hairspray between the base color and the white, and once the white paint is dry, you can use a wet swab or brush to dissolve the hairspray. This way you can remove parts of the white paint, as if it was worn off.

Whitewash originally was either white paint (surprisingly), or more often than not, lime smeared onto the vehicle using mops and rags -so the coverage was not perfect to begin with. The whitewash was further worn off by the crew climbing all over the vehicle, by the elements (wind, snow, meltwater), etc; so by the end of Winter, if the vehicle survived that long, the white layer was usually all but worn off.

I wanted to try something other than hairspray as I did not have any of the stuff around. I did, however, had a water soluble varnish for oil paintings by Windsor. This is a thick solution, drys relatively fast, and can be redissolved with water -just the thing you need. I covered the model with the varnish, and after drying I painted Vajello’s white primer on with a flat brush. (Quickly,  and using a relatively thick paint, so that the water in the paint does not dissolve the varnish.) Surprisingly it worked. Using wet swabs I was able to create the worn, washed off look I was looking for.

thinly diluted white pigments were used to “tie” the surfaces together; this takes the contrast of the yellow and white away, and blends everything together.

Different colored pigments were applied to the lower chassis and the mudguards using a wet brush both by dabbing and by flicking (simulating the mud-spatters) -and the weathering was essentially done.

And finally, the tracks.

The rubber bands you get from Roden are not very good. They are short, for one. The running gear, as I mentioned, is very delicate; any kind of tension would break the plastic parts. This means you need the PE set. Any PnzI tracks would do, actually, as this vehicle used the same tracks as the Panzer I, but I stuck with Armory’s set. (This is a rare case of common sense in the German armed forces, looking at the incredible number of different vehicles they have been using. Support must have been a true logistical nightmare.)

Armory’s tracks are brilliant. They have two parts; all you need to do is to fold up the interior part (the guide teeth), and carefully glue it to the track’s exterior part. A PE folding tool comes handy (as with the other parts of the assembly), but the folding can be done using two razor blades as well: one holds down the part, the other is used to fold it carefully.

It is made of metal, so it was easy to position it, and to simulate the typical “drop” non-live tracks have on the top of the road wheels. Even without the issues of length, the rubber bands given as tracks will never be able to give convincing results like these. This was my first experience with PE tracks; I think I’m sold on the idea.

(I have to take some photos of the vehicle with the tracks on… keep tuned.)

So there it is. A brilliant little kit, made even better by aftermarket PE. I have to say considering my skills in photoetched parts, these can be recommended to people who are not professionals. With some basic skills and patience, it it possible to achieve decent results.