Monday 3 May 2021

2 experiments for rusty tracks

One of the things that always bothers me in my tank-models is the state of the tracks. I tried painting them grey mixed with steel for newer tracks, or covered them with mud to avoid/hide the issue altogether. This - and weathering in general - is the main reason why I consider none of my current tank-projects "finished".

Some time has passed, some Youtube videos were watched and some new products magically found their way to the bench. Time to bite the bullet, at least where tracks are concerned.

Lightly rusted tracks

For the T-34, I wanted lightly rusted tracks. The tank in Skierniewice obviously has been painted over at some point, because none of the surfaces or parts that are particularly susceptible to wear and tear show any signs. Even the exhausts are pristine green, while they would be the first to lose the paint and start rusting.

Only moderate rust stains on the tracks here

No rust or wear-and-tear whatsoever on the exhausts

I painted the tracks dark grey and then used Ushi van der Rosten spray templates to add varying shades of rust stains. The result is what I was after.

The process was complicated by 1) having already glued the tracks closed (stupid!) and 2) the guide horns on the inside, which prevented the spray templates from laying flat.

Heavily rusted tracks

For the T55, I wanted heavily rusted tracks, indicative of a vehicle that hasn't moved in years (or decades).

For this, I purchased Lifecolor's set Dust and Rust, because I read only good things about them. Michael Rinaldi uses them and uncle Night Shift demonstrates his use in this video, which explains it 10 times better than I can describe with words here.

The Lifecolor paint does indeed dry beautifully flat and the next layer can be done within 15 minutes. If you're like me and take a tv break in between and lose track of time, it can take a while longer.

In a nutshell, I did the following (but do watch Night Shift's video if you want to see details):
(paint is heavily thinned 20/80 with tap water)
  • 1 heavy layer of color #1, including speckles
  • several lighter layers of color #2, with speckles
    With "lighter" I mean: not slapping it on to try and get full coverage, but apply sparingly and re-apply where needed after the first has dried.
  • 1 light coat of #3, with speckles
  • 1 extremely light (thinned 5/95) coat of #4, with "normal" speckles
  • another light coat of #3 to try to blend it all together
  • another round of speckles with #1
You can go back and forth between colours, adding layers until you have the desired result.
Here are a few snapshots.

Sunday 2 May 2021

BSG - Complete

The Galactica is now ready to join the two Viper sisters in the bookshelf. They'd have something to land on, if there wasn't a small difference in scale of a factor 60.

Kit: Battlestar Galactica
Scale: 1/4105
Manufacturer: Moebius Models
Price: ~40 (can't remember exactly)
Number of parts: 69
Time spent: 15 hours
Project completion time: 1 year

I contemplated having a friend 3D print a few mini-vipers to put in the landing bay, but they would be too small to print. And my non-existing sculpting skills weren't up to the task.

Paint: (mostly Vallejo)

  • As usual the model was primed with AMMO One-shot primer (i.e. rebranded Stynylrez) as I no longer use the Vallejo primers.
  • Armour plating was randomly painted black, white and grey for contrast. (Dark seagreen and Pale grey blue, but it doesn't really matter)
  • Overcoated with a mix of lightgray and steel for a slightly metallic look.
  • Insignia red for the stripes
  • Gold for the base

Other products:

  • Alclad II klear kote. Last time I use this, as it's difficult to spray and switching to MRP clears seems a better solution.
  • AMMO shader "starship filth"
  • AMMO panel line wash (black)

A must-have for any sci-fi model builder. Assembly is easy, without issues (or if there were any, they were so minor, I've forgotten them). The forward facing antenna broke off during the last painting stage. Be careful with that.

The cannons could do with a higher detail replacement, but I'm not one to use aftermarket stuff unless really needed.

Saturday 1 May 2021

Weathering with AMMO Shaders

Just around the time I wanted to start dirtying up the Battlestar Galactica (and the T-55, see lower), I saw a video by Mig Jimenez about the "Shaders" product line.

It looked to be a (supposedly) easier technique than using oils - which would have been my original approach - but I liked what I saw and decided to give it a go. I needed to order some stuff anyway and at 2-3 euro per shader, I wasn't going to break the bank.

For quick reference, here's a before and after picture.

I started with "starship filth", but it didn't apply as easily as the video had made it seem. The Galactica was varnished with a semi-gloss (i.e. satin) and while my trigger-control on the airbrush is now more controlled than in the past - partly made easier by having a new and better airbrush - the water-based shader did have a tendency to spider away at times. It's easily removed with a paper towel (or finger if you're too lazy to get one, like me) but still a nuisance.

On a piece of paper, I could control it 100% for ultra-thin hairlines from a distance of just 1 centimeter, but on the model (too smooth?) I couldn't manage anything smaller than a millimeter because I had to stay too far from the surface to avoid spidering.

Tip-dry also reared it's ugly head for the first time in years, but it remained tolerable.

Some more detailed pictures. The effect is subtle in some places, more pronounced in others. Mostly visible on the armour plating (especially around the round decal) and in the center of the engine pods (Can we call these nacelles? Or is that restricted to Star Trek?)

After the shader, I wanted the panel lines to pop a little more, so I went over the entire model with a dark panel line wash.
I think I should have sealed in the shader with varnish (or just waited longer for it to fully cure), because here and there the wash "re-activated" the shader (I know that's not the right word). But the resulting smudges were actually ok to look at.

The following pictures have panel line wash on the right, nothing yet on the left.

Meanwhile, the T-55 had been sitting on a shelf for a long time and the decals had discoloured. I tried lightly sanding, but the discolouration is on the inside and sanding only "weathered" the decal in a way I didn't like.

I picked a light rust shader to start. I first varnished it with a matte varnish, hoping that a more matte layer would be better to avoid spidering, but when I went in extremely close to the model, trying for very thin rust-streaks, spiders were back and again I couldn't manage the hairlines I desired.

I settled for what I could achieve and went around the model in a way I hope will look realistic, assuming weld seams would be more susceptible to rusting than flat surfaces.

If I give shaders another go on a future model, I'll try a flat varnish first to see if I can achieve the detailed control I would like.

I will be using oils to add darker rust details later.

Sunday 25 April 2021

Update to email subscriptions

Hello loyal fans and followers,

Google has kindly informed me that the Feedburner-subscriptions will be phased out in a few months. This means that email notifications to those of you who have chosen that option will cease to be sent.

If you still would like to receive the occasional mail with my updates and ramblings, you will need to re-enter your email for the implementation, which replaces Feedburner.

Admit it, you will want to see the final photos of the Battlestar Galactica, the rust-effects I'm doing on the T-55, what the final look will be of the T-34 on top of his pedestal and wether or not the cut-in-half Challenger will be able to support my ever-growing tank-book collection.

To subscribe to the new service, you can scroll down a little in the right-hand column to the section that says "Get new posts by email", or you can use the form below.

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After that, you will still receive the old Feedburner notifications. You can choose to unsubscribe from that in the footer of each email or you can just ignore them until it stops sending somewhere in june.


Saturday 24 April 2021

T-34/85 - scratchbuilding the base

The base for the T-34 would need to be scratch built. I had some thick styrene sheet leftover from the (as yet unfinished) Challenger project, that I now used for building a few (oddly shaped) boxes.

I reinforced everything with scrap sprue to make it sturdier. After all, this is a ~30 ton tank!
The tendency to build things too sturdy is a genetic trait I inherited from my maternal grandfather, who tended to build anything (pigeon loft, garden shed, ...) on concrete slabs where a few wooden poles might also have sufficed.

The stone texture paper is a convenience product by Tamiya, called "Stone paving B" (link), found online in many webshops.

If you've been around for my previous projects (especially the 2 Merkava's), you know I've experimented with sand texture before (here and more successfully here and here).

This time I tried it with Sodium Bicarbonate (baking soda). I mixed it with Vallejo Grey primer (since I don't use the bottle for anything else anymore) and thinned with water to varying degrees. It did not like being applied with a brush on the extremely smooth styrene.
The best result (left on the picture) is the heavily thinned variety. The water evaporates, the primer keeps it together and to the plastic.

The resulting look is okay-ish for simulated concrete, but on the grainy side, especially compared to the original thing. It's almost good for concrete on a 1/1 scale, less so for 1/35.
However, I've decided against starting over.

Time to put some paint on the tank.

Update (1 day later):

I ended up unhappy with the courseness of the concrete after all and decided to try sanding it. Careful at first, because I didn't want to end up with bare plastic again, but the concrete is really sturdy and it turned out to require some serious elbow grease.

But the result is much more to my liking. #fixthatshit

Friday 23 April 2021

T-34/85 - assembly

Assembly of this kit is a breeze. It went so fast, I forgot to take intermediary pictures.

Note the battery symbols on the inside bottom. Many Tamiya kits have provisions for motorization, but I have yet to see a motor kit, nor do I trust they would be very durable.

This kit even comes with a track-tensioning system (Chieftain reference, if this means nothing to you). I improvised a cover for the nut, so it wouldn't fall off when accidentally screwed too far loose once it's closed up. (loosening the nut actually helps when trying to put on the rubber tracks after painting)

There are a number of parts that do not appear on the kit that DO appear on the tank I'm portraying.
Things of note:
  • (photo 1) added protective housing around the hole in the engine cover. I think it houses a convoy light, or at least I think I saw this in episode 3 of the tank-men and their dog.
  • (photo 2) added covered electrical leads for the (absent) smoke generators
  • (photo 2) added brackets to the back of the turret. These were used for strapping down stowage.
    They turned out a little out of scale, but I'm hoping this effect will be lessened once painted.
  • (photo 3) added what I can only think are lifting or towing eyes to the front (as per reference photo on the actual tank)
  • (photo 4) closed the gaping holes under the fenders. Since the model will be raised and has no side skirts, the (lack of) interior would be visible. You could actually see through to the other side.

Now that construction is almost finished, I noticed the kit has the wrong kind of wheels for the tank I'm portraying. It has the wheels with 12 holes for evacuating mud or snow, the kit has the old-style closed wheels. 
As I'm not usually inclined to pay more for a replacement set for a few parts than I paid for the entire kit to begin with, I'll probably just go ahead with the "wrong" wheels. Everyone who notices, I'll just bribe with a beer.

Thursday 22 April 2021

T-34/85 war memorial in Skierniewice

In September last year, I went for my first (and only) trip for 2020 to Skierniewice (PL), which is my SO's hometown. Imagine my (pleasant) surprise to be shown around town and stumble upon a T-34.

This is a T-34/85 (the version with the bigger gun) and serves as a memorial to the liberation by the Red Army on january 28, 1945. The plaque used to contain the names of the Russian crewmembers, but was removed a few years ago after some controverse.

Sometime in March, I suddenly decided to build this model, as it appears on the picture today. I found a 1/35 version by Tamiya which looked the part. The rest would be built from scratch.

In preparing to expand my knowledge about the T-34, I purchased the Haynes manual and at the same time just happened to stumble upon the documentary "Tanks : Evolution of a legend" which touches on the subject.

The T-34 in Skierniewice is locally referred to as "Rudy", which is a reference to the name of the T-34  in the 1966 Polish black-and-white tv-series "Czterej pancerni i pies" (Four Tank-Men and a Dog).

I have since started watching this series (can be found on Youtube) and it's very enjoyable (with subtitles). Some seriousness, some slapstick moments and enough tank-footage for the tank-afficionado.

The model kit itself is of good quality and I was happy to find the turret already had a cast texture, so I wouldn't have to try and mimic this myself.