Sunday 27 January 2013

A new tank

It's been weeks since I did some modelling, but it's too cold to sit in the attic with the airbrush, so I started construction on the Abrams tank.

I'll try something new for reporting construction progress. I'll follow the steps in the manual.

Step 1 :  Road wheels, idlers and drive sprockets.

Every wheel consists of two parts, plus a poly cap that is inserted in between. This cap fits snugly on the axle, but allows the wheel to rotate freely. At least, that's the general idea. It remains to be seen if we'll end up with actual working tracks or not.

Construction normally goes fast, depending on the quality of the parts and how well they fit together. Sprue attachment points are usually located near the edge of parts, where they are easily removed or not visible once assembled.
Not so for the wheels of this tank. The sprue attachment points are on both sides, so one will always be visible.When I used to handbrush, the layer of paint would be thick enough to obscure minor defects around badly cut attachment points, but with the airbrush, the paint is so thin that all defects remain visible.

So I decided to treat every part with extra care and sand away the attachment point, rather than cutting and risk cutting too much. Since there's 38 parts for the wheels alone, I took my trusty sprue-cutters, hobby knife and sanding paper, put on a movie and started the tedious job. The movie was done by the time I was finished.

Step 2 : Lower hull

Assemble of the rear of the tank and return rollers (that don't actually roll).

This step has you instal the wheels as well, but - as usual - we will postpone this until after painting. The poly caps do allow the wheels to be installed and removed, but I do not intend to find out how many times you can do this before something breaks.

Warning : study the instructions carefully. I installed part J39 (only for the Marine build option) too soon and had to squeeze in part J56 afterwards. The reverse order would have been a lot easier.

Step 3 : Upper hull

Install ome minor parts, like headlights.

Parts A8 (the headlights themselves) did not fit in the designated holes. I removed 1 mm from the attachment point to make them fit.

Part D20 needs 3 clear windows installed. These parts are not provided in the kit. What's provided is a large  square clear plastic, from which you have to cut the desired shapes yourself. I would have preferred to see some actual fitting parts for this, but maybe this is to lower the cost of the kit.

I did not install the clear parts (nor cut them yet) because I want to paint the inside first.

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