Monday, 6 February 2017

Three T-72A 'White Raven' tanks

Here are the three finished ‘White Raven’ T-72A tanks. You can read a walkthrough of how I painted them in my previous blog post. The finishing touches were to add some mud and static grass to the bases, and to drill holes in the turrets to insert flags.

Tank 1

This one shouldn’t have front skirts, but once I had assembled the first tank model I discovered cutting off the skirt was too difficult. Oops.

Tank 2

I have only have seen pictures of the rear of this tank, so the rest is artistic license...

Tank 2

I have only seen pictures of the front of this tank. My first attempt at modelling this tank is covered in two of my earliest blog posts here and here. That was some of my first painting after a break of nearly twenty years so I’m pleased with my progress since then. A better camera and lighting helps too!

Next on the list to paint is a platoon of Russian T-72BM tanks with scratchbuilt cage armour. You can read a walkthrough of building them in older posts which are here and here.

Three T-72A tanks

I revived my 15mm Chechen war project after discovering that Battlefront had released some T-72A tanks for their Team Yankee game. You can find more detailed reviews elsewhere. I’ll just say that it’s good model but some corner-cutting here and there stopped it from being a great model. Here’s the tank assembled straight out of the box:

The most irritating thing is that the machine gun is in the wrong place, on the side of the cupola (presumably so it can face forward to keep 40k fans happy), fixed to the turret by a part that doesn't seem to even exist on the actual T-72. I cut it off.

To put the gun in the correct location, I drilled a hole underneath it and inserted a thin piece of wire. I then snipped of a piece of brass rod...

...and inserted the other end of the wire into it, like so:

After drilling a hole into the turret behind the cupola and inserting the rod, the tank was ready to paint.

I repeated moving the guns twice more:

I undercoated the tanks with Humbrol’s matt ‘chocolate’ spray paint.

Having learned from my mistakes when painting the first tank in this platoon, I changed the order in which I worked. I blocked in the colour on the tank tracks with Vellejo Model Colour ‘Oily Steel’, then flocked the base with sand and sealed it, then blocked in the colours of the wheels, hull and turret with Vellejo Model Colour ‘Cam. Olive Green’. Here they are, ready to work on:

At this point, I started taking better photos. To add some definition, I applied a thinned wash of the trusty FolkArt ‘Dark Grey’, and lightly drybrushed some of the edges of the tank with Vellejo Model Colour ‘Olive Grey’. For the first stage of weathering, I used Vellejo’s Model Colour ‘Leather Brown’.

Here is the imaginatively-named Tank 1, which is the ‘out of the box’ build of the T-72:

Here is Tank 2. I removed the front skirts and part of the side skirts. I chopped up and repositioned the remaining parts of the side skirts so it looked like the tank had received a battering. I added more Vellejo ‘Oily Steel’ to the sides.

And here is Tank 3, from which I removed the front skirts and drybrushed with Vellejo ‘Oily Steel’:

As a former Soviet republic, the Chechens fielded the same tanks as the Russians. They whitewashed the turrets to tell them apart, giving rise to the name ‘White Crows’ or ‘White Ravens’ (depending, I think, on how you translate it). So I did the same, slapping on a load of off-white paint straight out of the pot. At this point, I was starting to think this might have been a bad idea...

Fortunately, another wash of FolkArt ‘Dark Grey’ toned down the white. All three tanks are inspired by photos I have seen from the first Chechen war. Tank 1 has some blue at the back of the turret:

Tank 2 has blue and white all over the turret:

Tank 3’s turret is only white:

Next I added patches and streaks of rust with Vellejo’s ‘Leather Brown’, Americana’s ‘Burnt Orange’, and DecoArt’s ‘Clay’ and ‘Golden Brown’, and some muck round the exhausts.

The final stage was to add mud to the tracks and hull. I used the same mix of paint, PVA glue and bicarbonate of soda that I tried on the trial tank, which you can see in my previous post. However, this time I used more bicarb and the results were a bit pale and the texture somewhat ‘biscuity’ when it dried. A wash of the same paint used in the mix over the top improved it though.

Here are the tanks, weathered and ready for the final touches:

This is a picture-heavy post, so you will find the finished tanks in my next post...

Tuesday, 24 January 2017

Captured T-72BM

I shelved my Chechen War project for a looooooong time because I couldn’t get the miniatures I wanted, but Battlefront’s release of their ‘Team Yankee’ T-72s has rekindled my interest in it. They are the grey tanks in the picture below and scale perfectly with Zvezda’s ‘Hot War’ T-72BM (the green tank), which is the subject of today’s post.

To start the ball rolling again, I decided to model a Russian T-72BM captured and reused by the Chechens. There are not many pictures of it available so I have used some artistic license.

The first step was to cut away the bustles on the sides and rear of the turret. I didn’t realise this would leave me with a huge hole in the side of the turret, so the project immediately became more difficult!

After two days of looking for it, I found my Das putty where it was supposed to be (and this is why you should never tidy up). I decided that since this tank had already become more work than I expected, then I might as well go the whole hog and have the cupola open, so I cut off the cupola and filled the turret with Das.

After leaving it overnight, I filed down the Das back in line with the plastic. At this point I created even more work for myself! I accidentally twisted off the spindle from inside the turret when turning it round on the body of the tank to get the Das underneath to fit the hull. I fixed this by replacing the spindle with a piece of brass rod.

Annoyingly, the Zvezda model does not come a machine gun for the cupola. Fortunately, the Battlefront model comes with a spare, so I used an open cupola and gun from the ‘Team Yankee’ kit. The Battlefront T-72 is a decent kit overall but one of its flaws is that the cupola gun is positioned incorrectly, so I drilled holes in the gun and turret and repositioned the gun with a piece of wire. This makes for a stronger bond than with glue alone.

Here is the tank after undercoating with PlastiKote’s matt ‘chocolate’ spray:

I prefer to undercoat vehicles with brown rather than black. With black I always seem to waste my time slapping on coat after coat of paint trying to hide the black. Here is the miniature with the colours blocked in:

The colours are Vellejo Model Colour ‘Cam. Olive Green’ and ‘Oily Steel’. To add some definition, I applied a thinned wash of my favourite paint, FolkArt’s ‘Dark Grey’, then lightly drybrushed some of the edges of the tank with Vellejo Model Colour ‘Olive Grey’, which is just a tad lighter than their Olive Green. For the first stage of weathering, I used Vellejo’s Model Colour ‘Leather Brown’.

At this point I decided I’d better start taking some better photos! For the second round of weathering, I added patches and streaks of rust using Vellejo’s ‘Leather Brown’ again, Americana’s ‘Burnt Orange’, and DecoArt’s ‘Clay’ and ‘Golden Brown’. I followed a tip I read somewhere and dabbed blobs of each colour on then blended them on the miniature. I was quite pleased with the results. The final stage was to drybrush a few edges with Vellejo’s ‘Oily Steel’.

The next stage was to add the slogans that make this tank so distinctive. I can’t read more than a few characters of Cyrillic but there is a useful guide provided by a helpful Russian on the Armorama forum, and Google Translate did the rest. I only added the slogans I could make out in the photos, rather than make up nonsense words, so some of the writing on the gun barrel and side skirts is missing. Should anybody ever decipher them one day, then I shall add them.

The next stage was to flock the base with sand and seal it with some PVA thinned with water. With hindsight I should have done this much earlier, after blocking in the colours, because I rubbed off some of the undercoat from the base when painting the miniature and had to patch it.

At this point I tried a couple of photos using a cheap-ass macro lens I got for my camera phone:

The next step was to add a flag. I drilled a hole behind the cupola to fit a piece of wire that would represent the tank’s radio aerial. I printed out a flag with my printer and folded it in half around a piece of silver wire washed with black paint, and glued it in place with some PVA. When the flag was dry I gently twisted it in the middle with my fingers, then curled the edges with a cocktail stick. It was the first time I’ve ever tried making a flag and it gives a realistic impression of movement that I am very happy with.

The final stage of the weathering was to add some mud to the tracks and hull. My early attempts to make mud used sand and the results were too coarse. This time, I used a mix of Vellejo Model Colour ‘Tan Earth’, water, PVA, and some bicarbonate of soda to add a fine grain to it. Here is what you get:

If you try this, I recommend mixing the water and PVA first – to make a thin, white liquid that should flow just like water – then add the other ingredients. When I added the PVA directly to the mixture for some reason it congealed and would not mix with the other ingredients. You can see the lumps of PVA on the side of the mixing bowl in the photo above. I have no idea what the ideal amount of bicarbonate of soda should be; I added enough to soak up almost all of the liquid so that it became a paste, which seemed to work.

To finish the base, I added static grass with an applicator and some small rocks. Here – finally – is the finished miniature:

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