Wednesday, 31 March 2010

Sturmgeschütz III Ausf B

Tamiya 1:35 Sturmgeschütz III Ausf B, reference 35281


The Sturmgeschütz (StuG) III Ausf B’s production run was between June 1940 and May 1941, during which time 320 vehicles were made. Produced by Alkett, the StuG III Ausf B was armed with the same gun as the Panzer IV of the time; the 75mm L/24 cannon (as were all of the variants Ausf A to E).


I decided to jazz this kit up a little with a few extra details including Ausf A/early Ausf B sprocket wheels, which were taken from the Dragon Heuschrecke kit (the idlers are the earlier of the two choices out-of-the-box), Model Kasten tracks, the dedicated Voyager photo-etch set (which included two excellent soft copper tow cables) and two ‘Little Cars’ reflective lenses for the headlights.

I built this kit in two phases; first the running gear including the tracks, then after a necessarysanity-break the upper hull. The former stage took quite a bit of energy as the Model Kasten tracks demand a great deal of attention, which can sometimes rankle, but the final effects are stunning in comparison to the rubber-band tracks in the base-kit. My two beefs with these aftermarket tracks are the time taken to build them and their fragility, as the tracks can sometimes seem punitively keen to separate after spirit washes during the weathering process as happened here), that said the outcome is excellent, however, I think I might stick to Friuls for a while – a little less heartache.

The upper hull took a fair amount of time and effort, but once I had spent a few days familiarizing myself with the additional set of instructions the build and detailing was pacy and fun; I can’t recommend these Voyager sets highly enough. The detail imparted by one f these sets far outweighs the financial commitment (in this case £9.99 from a model show about a year ago). Cases in point would be the antenna cradle, the front and rear mudguards, the tool detailing and much, much more.


As before I thought I would lay out a simple bulleted- step-by-step process for painting on this project. I tried to incorporate most of my familiar techniques on this build, culminating in a heavy weathering with MIG Pigments and finally oil paints. The 3-dimensional mud effect was achieved with MIG Resin, MIG Pigments, plaster and sand in equal proportions. I matted the ‘volumised’ mud down after application as I wanted the final effect to be dry .In all honesty I feel that a mixture of model putty, static grass, sand, styrene glue and acetone has given me better volume effects, but I thought that I would experiment on this set of running gear after a track disaster mid-process.

These are the stages I followed:

* Priming of the StuG in Games Workshop Skull White from an aerosol can (you might remember my complaints about Halford’s Grey Primer a while ago; I found that this rattle can did not leave an unwanted texture to the AFV surfaces food for thought?)
* Cleaning & sanding any irregularities and fill any gaps; surprisingly few on this project – a testament to Tamiya engineering?
* Second priming of the AFV with Tamiya NATO Black diluted with Mr Color Thinner. This Mr Color Thinner works wonders with Tamiya paints. Excellent stuff!
* Paint the base-colour on the StuG Lifecolor Schwarzgrau. When using Lifecolor paints I would suggest that unless you are opening a fresh pot you strain this through a fine meshuch as a tea-strainer – the paint is great, but does clump and can cause much hassle due to incessant clogging of the airbrush if it is not brand new batch. Hat said, if you take the appropriate steps I think Lifecolor is still the tops.
* Highlight the AFV with a lightened version of the basecolour using Lifecolor Anthrizgrau/White/Blue in a 2:1:1 mixture.
* Lifecolor Brown to all of the tracks applied roughly with the airbrush at a standard pressure.
* One blue MIG filter. In the past I have gone filter-crazy using up to seven filters on one kit, but I have found recently that one is enough.
* Colour modulation with Citadel Fortress Grey & Citadel Codex Grey (most of this is buried after weathering, but actually does create tonal variation on close inspection, the more subtle work being heavily obscured). I chose to modulate the superior surfaces with the Citadel colours painted on thinly in several coats.
* Airbrush Tamiya X22 to decal sites. I dilute the X22 50/50 with Tamiya X20A dedicated acrylic thinner.
* Add decals using Micro Sol. I absolutely love the ‘cartoon tank’ marking denoting Abteilung 226 and was delighted to see it as a Tamiya option, especially as there were four to add to the kit.
* Johnson’s Klear over decals.
* Chips and scuffs to the vehicle with a black and a light grey colour, first using a sponge, then a fine-point brush.
* Paint the chains Tamiya Flat Brown.
* Paint the metal parts of the tools Tamiya NATO Black.
* Metallise, chains, tracks & tools with Citadel Boltgun Metal.
* Pick out sprocket Wheel teeth with Citadel Chainmail.
* Two-step wood process to the wooden tool handles; an acrylic Flesh colour for step one, Burnt Umber oils for step two, which are then removed using a dry brush to simulate wood-grain.
* Black dry-brush whole vehicle using Humbrol Matt Black enamel; I concentrated on the edges of the vehicles, the tools and the tow ropes for this stage. I use a large soft, round brush for this stage the softer the better. Most of the paint should be aggressively removed from the brush with a tissue before dry-brushing.
* Airbrush one thin coat of Vallejo Satin Varnish.
* Heavy Burnt Umber oil wash to the vehicle.
* Lifecolor LC27 Matt Clear. I find that this matt lacquer works more effectively than any others that I have used in the past; furthermore Lifecolor does not need diluting and is aqueous in nature, therefore seems less toxic to the atmosphere when putting through an airbrush.
* The final and most obvious stage seems to dominate the whole painting process: pigments and oil stains using Sepia oil paint. This may have a dominating result, however is a necessary step to recreate that ‘used and abused’ feel to the StuG, which appears to have seen a fair amount of action. If you take your time with the pigments you can create a variety of types of weathering with different applications, solvents and mixes. I tend to use at least three coloured pigments always including a light grey and/or light sand colour as the last to highlight areas of wear and drying of mud and dust. The oil work after pigment application seems to give another dimension to the pigments.


I was extremely pleased with the outcome of this project, but will try to give my next project more subtle approach to weathering, in an effort to avoid making another ‘StuG of the Dump’.

Bill Hazard
Build completed in July 2009

Tuesday, 30 March 2010


Tamiya 1:35 Schwimmwagen, reference 35224


Conceived by Porsche in 1940 and manufactured mainly at the Volkswagen factory at Fallersleben-Wolfsburg (also in less numbers at the Porsche works at Stuttgart) the VW Schwimmwagen type 166 was not the first German amphibious derivative of the ‘Military Beetle’, but was the more successful, later production variant. The original Schwimmer was the less stable Type 128 (also known as the Kradschützen Wagen), which had a longer wheelbase and a slightly more angular appearance; in fact the 128 was designed on the Kübelwagen chassis, but due to its fragility and risk of the hull cracking became a poor candidate for amphibious deployment (very few of these ever made it to front line service because of this fault). The Schwimmwagen Type 166 shared many parts with the Beetle and its ‘Bucket Car’ cousin, it had a 4-cylinder air cooled engine, which was 1,131 cc in size, it had 25 horsepower at 3,000 rpm and could reach top speeds of up to 80km/h on land and 10km/h in water. It had manual transmission and was 4-wheel drive only in 1st and reverse rears. Its fuel tank was 50 litres in capacity and the curb weight was 910Kg.

This particular model is the production version (type 166), of which over 14,000 were manufactured between the summer of 1942 and late 1944 (apparently there are only 130 or so recorded survivors to this day). This amphibious 4-man all-terrain vehicle had a screw apparatus at the rear, which operated the propeller unit in water; the screw only provided forward propulsion and directional control was provided by the front wheels, which would act as rudders when turned by the steering wheel whilst afloat. The propeller had to be lowered into place when the vehicle was deployed in water using the rod stowed on top of the exhaust shroud behind the rear seats, but usually it was held up out of harms way on the rear deck engine cover whilst on land – as in this instance. If the Schwimmwagen was required to go backwards in water the crew could either use the paddle or the driver could put the wheels into reverse gear allowing the jeep to move slowly backwards.


Main references used in this project:

* Wings & Wheels Publications - VW/Volkswagen Schwimmwagen In Detail
* Tankograd Wehrmacht Special 4008 Kubelwagen Typ 82. ‘From the Military Beetle to the Amphibious Schwimmwagen.’


Main items used in this project:

* Tamiya 1:35 German Schwimmwagen Type 166 (35224)
* Eduard 1:35 Schwimmwagen photo etch set designed to be used with Tamiya kits (35378)
* MR Models 1:35 Schwimmwagen wheels (MRA3584)

Even in spite of the photo etch and resin wheels this was an extremely fun and engaging model to build. I have no doubt that had I decided to do an entirely out of the box build this little jeep would have been completed in the course on one evening, but having decided to go the whole hog the build took about a week – one of the bigger jobs was the cleaning up of the super-sized 200-16 special-rimmed wheels, which took a fair bit of sanding and filling as they had plenty of air bubbles and very big resin blocks to be cut away and sanded down.

As with most of my projects in the last two years I decided to build the vehicle fully and then paint it in one go – little did I realise how incredibly delicate such a model is – in fact it really only has one spot that you can hold it firmly without damaging one part or another (around the sump holes on either side of the lower chassis).

At times the Eduard photo-etch set almost seems to be an unnecessary affectation (especially in the cab), yet in some parts is an effective enhancement of the detailing of this endearing model. Before I decided on this build I did consider the Italeri option, but knowing how well the Tamiya Kübelwagen fits together it was a no-brainer.

In view of my all-in-one approach to painting I ducked out of the photo-etch windscreen surround opting for the styrene, which is actually finely detailed, however I substituted the clear plastic windscreen for a piece of cut-to-size styrene sheet in place, as I wanted to paint the Schwimmie with its linen cover over the folded down windscreen.


The whole model was primed with Tamiya NATO Black, then overpainted with Tamiya Dark Yellow, creating shade in the recesses by concentrating most of my efforts to the centre panels of the vehicle. A simple two-tone camouflage scheme was painted with soft edges using Lifecolor Olivegrün, which was darkened centrally with a mixture of that colour and matt black.

The Schwimmwagen received the usual weathering including chips and scuffs with acrylics, then an all-over wash with Burnt Umber in oils, after which the kit was matted with Winsor & Newton Matt Lacquer. The pigment work was done in a rough and random fashion using MIG Pigments, which were blended with MIG Thinner for Washes.


Once again Tamiya takes the prize for a simple build and Eduard compliments this kit adequately with an untaxing set of photo-etch. The figure is out of the box, but with an Alpine Miniatures head. I am sure that I will build another Schwimmwagen soon enough as this was a great model to spend time on.

Bill Hazard
Build completed in July 2009

Monday, 29 March 2010

Panzerkampfwagen IV Ausf J (late)

1/35 Panzerkampfwagen IV Ausf J (late)


Since I returned to modelling a few years ago my favourite build has been the Panzer IV: the more you build them, the more you find to detail on the next project. I have a number of builds of different variants of this tank under my belt, but this is a composite of the experience gained on those that I have already made, but I have not quite done any exactly in this way and I hope to show you the features of what I think is my favourite.

The Panzer IV Ausf J:

* Had two 7.92mm MG34’s, one of which could be used in the ball mount or as an air defence weapon.
* Had a crew of five.
* Weighed 25 metric tons.
* Had a fuel capacity of 680 litres.
* Had 7 gears; one reverse and six forward.
* Had 99 track links per side.
* Could cross a trench 2.3metres wide.
* Had a range of 320km on the road and 210km cross-country.
* Had a fording depth of 80cm.
* Had a Maybach HL 120 TRM V-12 water-cooled 11.9 litre petrol engine which had 265 HP @ 2600 rpm.
* Had a maximum speed of 38kph.

This model is a conversion from the standard 1/35 Tamiya Panzer IV Ausf J (35181) to represent a final model of the Panzer IV Ausf J production run, built in early 1945 and includes these features:

* Twin Flamentoter (flame suppressing) exhausts.
* Three late-style steel return rollers. The number of return rollers was reduced from four to three to increase speed of production in December 1944, furthermore the use of rubber-tyred return rollers had been stopped in October 1943 due to rubber shortages.
* Late production double-baffle muzzle break to the L48 KwK 75mm barrel.
* Thoma (mesh) Schürzen (introduced in September 1944) and grenade screens.
* Swivelling cupola hatch.
* Late Panzer IV tracks.
* As with all Ausf J’s this AFV would have had three turret sockets (Pilzen), which were introduced in June 1944 as standard for production vehicles.
* RAL8017, Rotbraun (primer red colour) was used as the main (base) colour, due to shortages of paint towards the end of the war.
* The armoured cover of the fume extractor fan in the roof of the turret was made larger in June 1944, so here the kit piece was modified (the crescent cut-out of this item started in October 1944 to accommodate the close-defence weapon (Nahverteidigungswaffe) in the turret roof. The extractor fan cover is a modified Dragon piece from a King Tiger kit.
* Standard Ausf J-style Sprocket Wheels.
* Older-style Idler Wheels (not typical, but common enough for a late Ausf J).
* Forged hub caps.
* Slanted rainguard above the gunsight on the front plate of the turret.
Cast bump-stoppers for the road wheel arms, which replaced the welded brackets.
* No vision ports on the superstructure sides of the turret.
* The vision and pistol ports in the turret doors still had been deleted.
* The bogie mounts sported less bolts than the previous variants including the early Ausf J.


The main references that I used for this are these two Osprey books;

* Modelling the Late Panzerkampfwagen IV (ISBN 9781846031120), Osprey Publishing
* Panzerkampfwagen IV Ausf G, H & J (ISBN 9781841761831), Osprey Publishing
* Modelling Waffen-SS Figures (ISBN 9781841768373), Osprey Publishing

The Kit:

For this conversion I used the following items:

* Armorscale 75mm KwK 40 L/48 barrel with resin mantlet (B35-045)
* Eduard PE Mesh Schürzen (35595)
* Eduard PE upgrade (35326)
* Panzer IV Ausf H/J wheel mask (EDXT071)
* Trumpeter Panzer IV Turret Schürzen kept from a former build
* ModelKasten Late Panzer IV tracks
* Schatton Modellblau turned MG34 barrel (an absolutely stunning piece of micro-engineering in 1/35)

As with many Tamiya models, building the styrene base-kit was hassle-free and straightforward until the PE. I had to start modifying the running gear from the word go & used the Tristar Panzer IV wheel set for the suspension dampers to represent the late-style as seen on the Ausf J, furthermore there was a little modification required to the bogie housings (removal of two bolt heads per unit) and removal of two styrene and substituion of one (centralised) resin return roller per side, courtesy of the MR Models resin upgrade set donated by ny friend Dan, from the ‘States. The three return rollers are also from the Tristar Panzer IV wheel set and had to be measured specifically to accommodate the difference of manufacturers for the running gear; in fact the return rollers had to be ‘padded out’ with a 1mm wedge of styrene sheet cut out with a crafter’s punch.

The MR Models update set was easy to use with zero flash or warping, but the upgrade kit lacked abstract about how to use the resin items in the package, so if you can actually get hold of one I suggest that you do a little research as this is not just a cut & shut conversion.

The Eduard PE is a tangle of miniature parts that just has to be got through. The base kit does leave a bit to be desired, but with time, patience and an eye for detail should look pretty spiffing once all the metal is on, however, there are a couple of areas where I feel that PE leaves the finish just that little bit ‘two-dimensional’; notably the retaining screws for the engine intake louvers. Here I used a few of the Bronco ‘German wing-nuts’ from a set that I bought at Euromilitaire 2008, the only problem now being that I only have so many and stocks dwindle with each build.

The turret skirts were a special item saved from a previous build of Trumpeter’s Panzerjägerwagen; I didn’t use the PE option that time, but decided to assemble the Schürzen for this kit using those two sheets of rather robust brass photo-etch. Adding these turret skirts took a bit of work, but I got there in the end with some trimming, Zap CA and Bob Smith’s CA Instacure.

Towards the end of the build I realised that I had not got the appearance absolutely correct, but by this time I was in full swing and the issues that I had identified were pretty much small beer, but also knowing that many tanks of the same variant differed like colours in a spectrum, I decided to plug on; so if you see any obvious clangers, don’t worry – they are genuine mistake, yet ‘intentional’ at the same time, as I don’t think that changing them on this build will be my prime concern, however, lessons learned will be taken forward to future projects.

Painting & Weathering:

This Panzer IV build is as close as I can manage to get to the Panzer IV on the front cover and centre pages of the Osprey Panzerkampfwagen IV Ausf G, H & J book, but I decided not to represent that particular colour scheme, as I didn’t want the AFV to be a direct copy, rather something more ‘individual’ and almost a reverie following certain late-war Panzer painting principles. The colour scheme that I chose was inspired by a colour plate that I saw of a Jagdpanzer IV depicted in late 1944 in the Ardennes; a Dunkelgelb basecoat with blotches of circular dark brown in a Disc pattern. Working on the premise that during the latter stages of the Second World War paint supplies were running pretty thin in Germany I chose to paint the AFV all-over Rotbraun (wheels, running gear, lower hull and upper hull including turret). The vertical portions of the AFV sides were masked off with pre-cut packing box card (the most malleable, yet strong enough for the job was found to be the boxing of French Fancy cakes!) Once masked off, I created the dark yellow Disc-variant camouflage scheme.

The base colour of the Panzer was sprayed over the priming colour (NATO Black) using Model Air colours, the main choice being a very dark colour; ‘Primer Red’, however, this colour is so dark that it needed quite a bit of enhancement to give it tonal variance using Model Air reds including various red tones and a rust colour. The final touch to the base colour was rendered with a smattering of Lifecolor’s Rotbraun, a truly excellent mimetic paint that I think works very well here over the darker paints.

The Disc-variant camouflage scheme is applied to the rear mudguards, turret Schürzen, vertical Thoma Schürzen and bow plates. The colour is, in fact, Lifecolor UA 204 Dunkelgelb (RAL 7028) with Lifecolor UA 206 Olivgrun (RAL 6003) painted on the upper and lower aspects of the ‘runs’ and centrally highlighted with Tamiya Buff. Before the weathering this scheme looked pretty funky, but after chipping, MIG filters, washes and rain stains it beds in and comes into its own. At one point I was concerned that the camouflage on the Thoma Schürzen would be obscured, but when placed over the darker lower hull and running gear shows up quite well.

The Panzer looks pretty mucky; this is intentional. We have all seen various reference photographs of AFVs in action, those who see the heaviest wear seem to take a significant pounding. Remembering those excellent scenes from Kelly’s Heroes I thought: “Why not represent a tank that has driven through a house?” The effect of this was achieved using MIG Pigments (Europe Dust, Light Dust, Ashes White and Concrete). The pigments are loosely applied in a ‘random’ fashion with some over-scattering of lighter colours then fixed using MIG Thinner for Washes. The beauty of using the spirit-based Thinner for Washes is that there is still some play in the pigments after fixing, unlike MIG’s Pigment Fixer, or water for that matter. The bricks were kindly donated to me by a friend took several a random applications of pigments including the colour Brick Dust. When applying the bricks at the end they were sprinkled into place, where they fell their positions were retained, assimilating a random brick-fall of a wall, or whatever structure a whopping great tank might take out when careering through a house (without the commander on top at the time, of course).

Finally; the Panzer Commander is an Alpine Miniature, which I think sets the Panzer (codename ‘Bubbles’) off well. I find painting Alpine Miniatures’ figures a fantastic experience. The first day was a little scary, but after the trouser camouflage and jacket base colour was complete I was in the groove, which is often quite hard to achieve after concentrating on a vehicle for about three weeks. The Commander’s trousers in Autumn swatch of Oak Leaf camouflage was created using Citadel colours using Calvin Tan’s Modelling Waffen-SS Figures book, published by Osprey as reference.

I appreciate that some may say that I have over-weathered this Panzer, but looking closely at pictorial references on the web and in publications, tanks in warfare are very, very messy sometimes.
A very special thanks goes to my friend, Dan Reed of New York State, USA who donated the MR Models conversion kit for this build; nice one, Buddy.

Bill Hazard
Build completed in January 2009

Sunday, 28 March 2010

Welcome to Panzers in Scale.

As they say; "Mighty oaks from little acorns grow."

With this web page I hope to create a repository of my 1/35 scale models and a friendly environment where likeminded modellers can talk over aspects of our hobby in a welcoming environment.

If you have a passion for Panzers and a sense of fun; welcome aboard - we're in for a great time!

I would be delighted to hear from you, so don't be shy; post a comment!

Bill Hazard
March 2010