Sunday, 4 April 2010

VK 3001(H) PzKpfw VI (Ausf A)

Trumpeter 1:35 VK 3001(H) PzKpfw VI (Ausf A), reference 01515

The Build:

I wrote this article exactly one calendar month after I submitted the review of this kit; between times I built and painted this little cracker along with tinkering on several other projects. That can only be testament to how ‘simple’ this kit is. The build was a quick affair; I took my time and it only lasted three days including assembly of the Friul tracks and the sanding of each of the interlocking road wheels (the signature of this build, I believe).

Being a picky sort of modeller I felt that this subject definitely needed some spares-box upgrading, so the items I replaced were as follows:

* The tracks (with the Friul set dedicated to Sturer Emil)
* The four lifting hooks on the turret (Dragon Smart Kit Panzer IV spares)
* The Bosch headlight (Smart Kit again) (sadly one didn’t survive…)
* The turret armoured extractor fan shield (yet another Smart Kit piece)
* The barrel (a one-piece Dragon affair in styrene; I was going for an aluminium one, but this fitted better)
* The coaxial MG (RB models this time; nice investment at about 30p a throw)
* The front plate Kugelblinde (Dragon yet again…the Trumpeter piece was really horrible)
* The drivers vision port armoured visor (from the Dragon Panzer IV Ausf D; I felt the Trumpeter detailing was poor here)
* The rear hull smoke dispenser, which looked so poor in detail; it was either don’t bother or completely replace, which I did with a Dragon Smart Kit Panzer IV Ausf G item
* The convoy light (three parts, one in photo-etch and all from a Dragon kit)
* In addition to this I scratched a gun mantlet ring using beader’s wire, which was something of an affectation, but looks good nevertheless

I feel bad for Trumpeter about these replacements, but having done so sincerely believe the kit is far superior for it as the fine detail imparted to the finished article takes this model to the next level.

As mentioned, the only bugbear for me during the building process was cleaning up the road-wheel seams; each ‘tyre’ comes in two parts, all of which leave a central seam requiring scraping and sanding (the longest single job of the whole build). Other than that this kit was a breeze; most definitely a breath of fresh air after several long-winded multi-media mind benders that I have built in the last few months.


Being an early war prototype the VK3001 (H) would not have sported Dunkelgelb, so I chose to stay firmly in the realms of Tamiya German Grey, which was sprayed on as a basecoat once the AFV was primed with Tamiya NATO Black. I used to swear by Lifecolor, and still do, but have found that one thing seriously undermines my customer loyalyty; the crusty deposits that collect around the rim of the pot, which all too easily fall into your airbrush cup (thereby creating incessant pauses during spraying for clean-up and flush through – a major irritation when in the painting groove). I found a relatively simple way to negate this problem was to use a tea strainer with all of my Lifecolor paints, but that causes wastage, mess and more bother than I could be bothered with on this project, hence my return to the old faithful; Tamiya with a twist, the twist being 50/50 dilution with Mr Color Thinner, which make Tamiya paints work exceptionally finely and actually surpass the properties of Lifecolor to a certain extent. The only problem with using Tamiya this way is that is necessitates the use of a face mask and the fact that I will have to find a regular source of the diluting product. All that taken into account, I feel very confident that Tamiya will remain the mainstay of my spraying experience for the near future.

Having used a feathering technique with the airbrush for the shading and highlighting of the base colour the process that I followed on this kit was as follows; to begin the weathering process I added three generations of chips to all of the vehicle’s surfaces first using a sponge, then a fine-point brush. I concentrated more of my efforts with the chips on the edges of the vehicle with a lightened base colour, then centrally using Burnt Umber Gouache paint. I then made a mixture of MIG Pigments Standard Rust and Abteilung Dark Rust oil paint and loaded it onto a stiff round brush, then I flicked it onto the AFV’s surfaces. Once this oil/pigment mixture had dried for only a small while I applied white spirit with the airbrush and then let the model settle for two days. I then picked out sprocket Wheel teeth in Citadel Chainmail and re-rubberised all the tank wheels with NATO Black where there was any over-chipping. The reverse lights were painted with matt Lifecolor acrylics over white, then Tamiya clear colour acrylics to accentuate the translucent appearance of the coloured lights. Once the detail work was dry I then dry-brushed the vehicle’s edges using Sepia oil paint mixed with Liquin and a drop of artists white spirit and then I let dry for 48 hours. Following this I airbrushed a coat of Vallejo Model Air satin varnish over the whole AFV, after which I painted the tank roughly in a thin coat of white spirit and then gave it a heavy Burnt Umber oil wash. Once the oil wash had dried overnight I then darkened the recesses with Citadel Black and Brown inks thinned in Johnson’s Klear. The Matt Lacquer that I used on this project was Winsor & Newton’s, which took three thin coats applied through the airbrush on a high pressure. Finally, with an old round number 4 brush I roughly applied MIG Pigments loosely mixed on an artist’s palette (the colours used here were Concrete, Beach Sand and Europe Dust). The pigments were blended on the model using turpentine as a medium, applied with a soft brush in a random, soft stippling motion.


In my opinion this kit is a little cracker. The mouldings of note were the forward vision blocks and surrounding armoured shields on the turret roof, the cupola (extremely similar to a StuG III/IV cupola if I am not mistaken), the tread pattern on the fenders and their horizontal strut supports, the road wheel detailing and the hinges on the mud guards. I thoroughly enjoyed the whole process from opening the box to putting on the finishing touches. This is a stress-free model-fix worthy of any Panzer IV fan’s collection and a good excuse to try new painting techniques on a relatively clutter-free kit, which is a speedy build with reasonable detail requiring only a few grey cells to plan any conversion. I can’t recommend this kit highly enough and look forward to seeing a few of them in different schemes on club stands at forthcoming shows.

Bill Hazard
Build completed in June 2009


  1. I have a real soft spot for this embryonic 'Tiger Cub' Bill. I keep meaning to add one to the stack! With your condensed review on this pocket sized 'cat' I think I will source one. Great build, excellent finish!

    Cheers Phil.

  2. Hi Phil; what makes this baby even more attractive to me now is that Voyager do a dedicated PE set for it. That would make one sweet build IMHO.

    Maybe when I have cleared the stash I might revisit this subject.

    I am glad that my essay was of help to you.