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:


  1. Great work on fixing the turret, and a good tip on the brown undercoat.

    1. Thanks! Files and sandpaper cure everything...


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