Sunday, June 17, 2018

British 7 ton Armored Car, Tamiya 1/48 Scale Armor Kit No. 87

Kit box top
The Kit

Recently, I have become interested in 1/48 scale armor kits.  They take up less shelf space (which I am running out of) and take less time to build.  Tamiya makes nice kits no matter what the scale or subject, and these little armor kits are no exception.

This subject attracted me, so I bought it a couple of weeks ago on a visit to Andy’s Hobby HQ in Glendale, AZ.  It is my first 1/48 scale armor build. (See the link to the right to access Andy’s excellent videos on YouTube if you have not seen them already.)

The Build

As expected. the kit was flawless.  It is a small model, just over 3” in length.

Tamiya supplies weights or die cast hulls with many of their 1/48 amor kits, but not this one.  Having a little heft to the model as you work on it helps, not to mention a little weight once it is on display.  Without added weight, I doubt it weighs much more than an ounce.

Notice the 1" squares.  The model is just over 3" long.
I dealt with the problem by making a small box out of plastic card in the bottom of the hull, filling it with #8 lead shot and then cappeingit off with some 5 minute epoxy.  It added just enough weight to give the tiny model a bit of heft.

Markings for only one vehicle are provided and that is a vehicle of the  Polish 1st Armored Division in 1944.  (See additional information below.)

These were typical Tamiya decals which performed very well with the Mark Fit Strong.  I have the regular strength, but on my aforementioned trip to Andy’s Hobby HQ he mentioned that he has had such good luck with “Strong” that he now only carries it.  I can agree with him;  the Strong worked very well with the Tamiya decals.

I have started putting a sheet of bond paper on the work surface.  It helps coral small parts and also spills.
The model was painted with Tamiya XF-61 Dark Green.  I understand this is a very close match to the color that British armor was painted in WWII.

The commander figure (very nicely detailed) was painted with Vallejo colors.

I have been spraying my models with Microscale Micro Satin which leaves a nice semi-gloss finish to apply decals over.

After the decals were applied, I sprayed another coat of Micro Satin on the model.  Then I used a small bit of foam dipped in dark brown paint (and dabbed on a paper towel to absorb most of the paint) to add spots that look like mud and dirt on the vehicle.

Then, I used some brown Tamiya Panel Line Accent Color on the wheels and rims to make them look a bit used.  And, finally, I applied via a brush a dusting of Tamiya Weathering Master Set A material to the vehicle to give it a dusty and used look.  (I know I may sound like an ad for Tamiya, but their products always prove to be reliable, so why not use them where one can?)

I know my weathering is not as extensive (by far) as one sees in the magazines, but it looks fine to me.

Historical Information
This is a Mk. IV version, unit unknown.  (Public Domain photo.)

The Polish 1st Armored Division was attached to the First Canadian Army in Normandy.   By August 1, 1944, they were fully deployed and played a huge role in sealing the Falaise Pocket and blocking numerous ferocious attacks by much larger German units seeking to break out.  Surrounded and running out of ammunition, the Poles stopped several German divisions from escaping the trap.  I am pleased that Tamiya picked markings for this gallant unit so I could add armor from that division to my growing armor collection.  I always strive to model subjects with historical significance.

A final thought.  If you have read my comments on other armor kits, I have often noted that I think American pioneer tools (shovels, axes, etc. secured to the vehicle) are painted OD like the rest of the vehicle.  You can see above that the shovel on that Mk. IV was a different color than the handle.  And, I painted the one on my model accordingly.

As always, thank you for visiting my blog.  Comments are always welcome.

Friday, June 8, 2018

M5A1 US Light Tank “Stuart” - Tamiya 1/35 scale, kit no. 35313


This kit made its debut in 1977. There was no Internet.  There were no cell phones.  The Gulf War was 14 years in the future.

This kit was in my stash, and I wanted a quick project before I left on my annual foreign trip (to China this year).  And, this seemed easy, and I wanted to add the M5 to my collection.

If you want an M3 Stuart (Late Production), Tamiya has or is about to release a brand new kit up to their modern standards.  I will definitely go for that kit too, but finished in a desert motif.

The kit is old school Tamiya.  The tracks are melted together, not glued.  The kit was originally a battery powered model/toy.  There is an open space between the hull top and the bottom of the chassis (which you won't see unless the model is upside down).  The molds are showing their age.

That being said, it is still a nice kit with decent detail.


The kit goes together with no issues.  The "rubber band" tracks fit well using the heated screwdriver blade method for joining them.  I sprayed them with Model Master Enamel steel and added some rust weathering.

The assembled model was first coated with a surface primer, which I have begun applying to all my models.  It gives me a mono-color smooth finish that quickly shows and gaps or other defect, and it provides a very durable surface to apply the color coats on.  If you need to use masking tape on your model, surface primer will keep your color coats from coming off with the tape.  Yes, you can put masking tape over acrylic paint which is applied ti a surface primer.

With this model, I used Vallejo Surface Primer 74.602  (black).  Black because I wanted the areas that the olive drab did not reach to be dark and in"shadow". 

I have a love-hate relationship with Vallejo Surface Primer.  It yields an excellent base for all the rest of the finishing.  It also always seem to stick to the needle and nozzle of my airbrush no matter what I do.  So, I apply it and then clean the airbrush.  No big deal.  (I also use Tamiya Surface Primer in the aerosol can, which goes on easily leaving a beautiful finish.  Unfortunately it is not available in black.)

Next, I have been using some Tamiya Color Acrylic paint lately.  I love the way it thins and goes through the airbrush.  And, it cleans up easily.  Several jars I have are over 20 years old and still quite usable.  So, I selected Olive Drab XF-62.  It went in beautifully, but it is really dark.  Very, very dark.

The next step was to apply some weathering.  I have been practicing using my airbrush to weather and show wear on models, i.e., dust, exhaust stains, etc.  Using Dark Yellow XF-60 (thinned 2:1 X20A thinner to paint), I started lightly coating the lower hull area.  And, the first thing I noticed is that the live drab suddenly appeared to be a lot less dark and more used/weathered.  I guess this is what they call a "filter" coat of paint.

I selected the markings of the 3rd Armored Division “The Spearhead” in Normandy which mounted the Culin hedgerow cutter (named after Sgt Curtis Culin, III, its inventor).

One note.  On the 4th photo down here, you will notice that the pioneer equipment (axe, shovel, etc.) are painted olive drab, just like the tank itself.  During my service with the US Army, I was stationed for some of the time at Ft. Hood, Texas with the 1st Armored Division.  And, in Vietnam I saw some armor, mostly M48's and M113 APC's.  All of those tools were sprayed the same color as the tanks, jeeps and trucks they were mounted on.  I tend to follow this on my models.  Maybe in WWII, they were not painted olive drab.  I have a feeling they were OD like everything else.

Historic Information

As I understand it, the M3 was the original version of the Stuart, but it was powered by a radial engine.  The aircraft plants were screaming for radial engines, so they were in short supply.  The answer was the M5 powered by twin Cadillac V-8 automobile engines with Hydra-Matic Drive operating through a transfer case.  The M5’s were quieter, cooler, and the automatic transmission made training new crews easier.

Here are two photos for the Internet of the M5 in action.  (I believe they are in the public domain.)  It was a fast little vehicle that performed a valuable recon role.  And with the 37mm main gun, it could defend itself against infantry and soft skin vehicles, but not the serious armor.

I once worked with a WWII veteran who rode an M5 all the way from Normandy to the Elbe River.  He described how it was when they ran into German armor such a Panther and Tiger tanks.  The little tank could really bug out fast!  After all, he was in a reconnaissance role.

Thank you for looking.  Any comments welcome.

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Supermarine Spitfire Mk IIa, Revell Germany, 1/32nd Scale, Kit No. 03986

This kit hit the market in late 2014, and it was an instant hit.  And why not?  The reviews were uniformly good, and the price was about $26 US.  With the price of 1/32nd scale WWII fighters running from over $60 to north of $100, what is not to like?  Of course for that price, one should not expect Tamiya quality.  However, if the modeler wants a very god kit that will yield hours of modeling fun and few frustrations, this is a good pick. 

This is my first 1/32nd scale aircraft in over 30 years.   Display room has always been at a premium (and still is), and the time for these builds seemed too long.

I did spend more time on this than I would have spent on a 1/48th scale model, but not a lot more.  It took some time because I was involved with a bunch of other stuff aside from modeling.

The basic construction was fairly simple with no big problems.  Some putty was used here and there, but that is all.  The fit of the parts is very good.

I did add some things from the aftermarket, to wit:

    Eduard canopy masks
    Eduard Brassin wheels
    Eduard exterior PE details
    CMK Kits seat with harness
    Quick Boost exhaust manifolds.

None of these were truly critical.  The kit seat was doable, but needed some kind of harness.  I decided to go the cast resin route with CMK.   After several applications of Tamiya Mark-Fit decal solution, the instrument panel decal snuggled down over the panel details (which could have been painted and would have yielded an excellent panel).

The Revell decals are superb and responded very well to Tamiya Mark-Fit.

The model was painted with Vallejo paints.  Photos of the main colors used appear below.

I really enjoyed this kit.  I have purchased Revell’s new P-51D-5NA (Early Production D) and am looking forward to building it.

As always, thank you for visiting my blog.  Comments are welcome.

Friday, December 29, 2017

The Final Three Models for 2017

As the end of the year approaches, I thought I should post the final three models I made this year.  Altogether, I made ten (10) models in 2017, which might be something of a record for me.

Grumman F6F-3 Hellcat
Eduard ProfiPACK, 1/72 scale
VF-6, USS Intrepid
Lt. Alexander Vraciu
February 1944

This model was painted with Tamiya paints topped off with some coats of Micro Satin before and after decals were applied.  Some light weathering was used.  I am not a great fan of extensive weathering.  I know warbirds looked pretty grungy much of the the time (if they lasted long enough), but I simply prefer the “fresher” type finish.

I really like ProfiPACK kits, as they are so complete, give you a choice of many markings, and the decals are first-rate.  In today’s market with today’s prices, I think they represent a good value.

Chance Vought F4U-1 Corsair “Bird Cage”
Tamiya, 1/48/ scale
Guadalcanal, May 1943
Pilot:  Lt. Ken Walsh (first one day ace)

I always liked the look of the “Birdcage”.  This is a typical Tamiya kit - excellent fit and detailed parts.  One of my interests is the Battle of Guadalcanal.  The aircraft modeled here is a veteran of that campaign.  Ken Walsh went on too fight in Korea and Vietnam, and he retired a full colonel.

The decals came from an old Aeromaster sheet (I guess they are all "old" now).  I added some Eduard seat belts.  Aside from that, this one is straight from the box.  Paint is by Vallejo.

Jagdpanzer 38(t) Hetzer - Early Version
Academy 1/35 scale
1944-1945 - Unknown Wehrmacht Unit

The Hetzer (“hunter”) was a light anti-tank vehicle built on a Czechoslovakian chassis.  The same basic chassis was put to use as an anti-tank gun and artillery piece.  I believe it served on all fronts during the war and even served with the French Army after the war.

I wanted to build an Academy armor model, and I chose this one.  I was pleased with the fit and the apparent accuracy.  This was my first experience with link and length tracks, and I enjoyed it.  Patience is required as you must let the glue set and dry before you move on or the tracks keep falling apart.  I see that many new kits are including a jig that allows you to assemble you link and length tracks off the model.  That is a real convenience.  Hopefully we are at the end of vinyl track era.

Colors  by Vallejo.  Decals from a Tamiya kit.  I applied them to dress it up a bit.  The model was weathered with some Tamiya Panel Line Accent Colors (dark brown and black).

A Hetzer during the Warsaw Uprising
Compared to a King Tiger

Thank you for looking.  Best Wishes for a Happy New Year!