Saturday, December 17, 2016

Year End Wrap-up for 2016

This year I managed to complete ten (10) models.  I am sure that is a record.  (It is not that I spend all my time at the work bench.  I am active in acting as an arbitrator, state bar association committees, competitive shooting, photography here in the beautiful Southwest as well as travel.)

Next year I think I will start off with some more aircraft, which is my greater interest. 

Sometimes I wonder why I continue to write this blog.  I do not have that many readers.  Recently I looked at the statistics for this blog, and I was surprised to see that almost half of the page views are from the Russian Federation and not a few from India and other countries.

Way back in 1990 and 1991, I had the opportunity to visit Russia, which was still the USSR and St. Petersburg was still Leningrad.  Things were changing rapidly.    Of course, as someone who grew up during the Cold War, I had very mixed views of the then-USSR and what I might find there, but I was very surprised.  I found very friendly and kind people.  They spoiled their kids, but not in a bad way.  Just  very indulgent parents.  They were genuinely interested in meeting an American, just as we were in meeting them.  We seemed to have so much in common.  We were all hopeful.  Maybe we can find our way back to those hopeful days.

Anyway, I was asking my hosts about many things including scale modeling.  They said that sometimes some items were available in the stores, and one day I was presented with two old Frog kits in poly bags with no decals or instructions - just the sprues.  That was all that was available then.  From what I see from Russian modelers on the Internet today, that has changed a great deal.  They are producing some incredible models.

So, the fact that a few folks from around the world are looking at what I am posting, I think I shall keep it up.

I wish everyone a Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukah,  etc., and whatever you celebrate at this time of year, a happy time with your families.  And to everyone, a Happy and Prosperous New Year.

Saturday, December 10, 2016

Tamiya German King Tiger with Production Turret, 1/35 Scale, Kit No. 35164

Armed with a derivative of the feared 88mm anti-aircraft gun, it must have been a sobering sight on the battlefield.  However, these machines were too complex and too prone to break down.  This is a result of the German procurement system, which was dominated by Hitler himself often making bizarre production decisions.  (Witness his disastrous  decision on the first jet fighter - the Me 262 - demanding it be configured as a bomber.)

Wikipedia has an informative article under the title "Tiger II". Also, in the January 2017 issue of Model Military International is an excellent walk around "Tiger II Close Up".   I believe the Tiger II and the King Tiger are one in the same, but I am no student of the various combinations and permutations of Nazi armor.  If I am wrong, maybe someone will enlighten me.

The model is a typically excellent Tamiya kit.  They are such a pleasure to build.  It is like assembling a jigsaw puzzle.  And, you can get into the painting and weathering much more quickly.  You will not be wasting time removing bits of flash and/or modifying parts to get them to fit.  Nor will you have instructions that puzzle rather than guide you.

Early in the build, I decided to replace the vinyl tracks supplied with the kit.  I selected the Tamiya Separate Track Link set for this model.  They were easy to put together and paint/weather.  This was my first use of separate links, and I think I will be using them often in the future.  
After I went to that trouble, why put the fenders on the model and cover most of it up?  This is only my 4th armor model this century, and I was impatient to find out if a separate link track would be superior to the usual vinyl track.  And I found out it is.  If you look under the fenders, you would see the track dips down on the road wheels just like the prototype and looks quite realistic.  The Tamiya links are of course plastic and I bonded them with Tamiya Extra Thin cement, which is my favorite adhesive for most work.

The scheme I selected was the so-called “ambush” scheme.  The dots of paint were simply hand-painted on after I was done airbrushing the other three colors.   German military equipment in the war received many different types of camouflage often using three or more colors.  I really wonder how successful these schemes were compared to the plain olive drab of the U. S. Army. 

The colors I used were Vallejo Model Air Dark Yellow (71.025), Vallejo Model Air Armor Brown (71.041), and Vallejo Model Air Camouflage Dark Green (71.019).  I used various washes I mixed from acrylic paints using rust and black paint from Model Master.  The tracks and road wheels were weathered with these washes,  as well as Vallejo Model Wash European Dust (76.523).

The model represents a King Tiger that was involved with the Battle of the Bulge.

Thank you for looking and feel free to post a comment.

Eduard La-7 Weekend Edition

This kit first came out in 2004.  Full information about it is  here on
I have always had an interest in the Great Patriotic War Against Fascism, as the Russians called the Second World War.  I visited Russia twice in 1990 and again in 1991, just as the USSR was being swept away.  It seems all the small towns and cities had museums and memorials dedicated to preserving their struggle against Nazi Germany.  I was able to see a number of the aircraft produced by them during the war, and I was amazed at how crude much of the construction was.  However, one must consider that the means of production had to be moved east of the Ural Mountains and often operated in open spaces, even during the terrible Russian winters.

We have too take these incredible hardships into account when considering what quality of paint was being produced.  Or, whether paint was being applied at all.  There are stories of how tanks left the factory in Leningrad during the siege with no paint as they rolled to the front lines which were only a few miles away.

In discussions of modeling USSR aircraft of this period, one reads on forums endless arguments about what colors they were painted.  Considering the conditions under which they were manufactured and the conditions under which paints and everything else was being made  during the war, how can anyone tell with great specificity what the colors looked like?  I doubt the paint factory commissar was flirting with the firing squad by slowing things down arguing over the shade of green paint being applied to a T-34 or Stormovik.

Therefore, after much rummaging about on the Internet, I settled for certain Vallejo colors I thought would fit the bill.  A photo of the bottle labels for those colors appears below.

The Lavochkin La-7 proved to be a solid air superiority fighter for the USSR.  A very good article detailing its history appears here in Wikipedia.

I am a sucker for Eduard kits, and this one appealed to me and ended up in my stash.  Although the molds are only 12 years old, they are somewhat crude and sparse in detail when compared with Eduard’s current 1/72 scale offerings.  However, the model is quite workable and not at all hard to build.

All in all it was fun little build.

For some reason, most USSR radial engine fighters of the period have two bright metal bands around the cowl.  Masking the stripes or bands in 1/72 scale is more than I think I could have done neatly.  So, I instead painted some Tamiya masking tape Vallejo Silver and carefully cut thin strips that I wrapped around the cowl.  They might be a tad wide, but I think they look good.

Thank you for looking and I hope you enjoy seeing this model.  It is a nice addition to my 1/72 collection.

Vallejo Colors Used on this Model