Friday, November 2, 2012

Renault UE: The Real Deal

As the French army underwent mechanization in the 1920s, the need arose for a small, tracked armored vehicle capable of transporting supplies and weapons to the front lines and towing light artillery. In October 1930, Renault's armored carrier UE was chosen by the French army from several competing designs and production of the first 60 operational vehicles was completed by September 1932.

At 2.8m long, 1.74m wide, and 2.6 tons fully loaded, it was a sturdy, compact design that featured a riveted joint hull construction and a reliable suspension with garter beams supporting the road wheels. The two-member driver/navigator crew was housed in a central compartment, but since their heads protruded from the chassis, special domed-shaped hatches were mounted to augment the carrier's 9mm armor and protect against small-arms fire and shrapnel. A 38hp gasoline engine enabled a road speed of 30km/hr, while over 1 ton of cargo could be carried on the tiltable rear deck and towed trailer. Approximately 4,900 armored carrier UEs were produced until June 1940, including the UE2 variant which featured 4-speed transmission instead of 3-speed, and tow shackles in place of the pig-tailed hooks.

When France capitulated to Germany in June 1940, approximately 3,000 captured armored carrier UEs were pressed into service with German forces, which used them as transports, artillery and aircraft towing vehicles, and as modified self-propelled guns.

--Source: Tamiya

Beach Build Sept. 2012: Renault Armored Carrier UE

Before heading to the beach, I rummaged through my stash looking for a kit that I could conceivably complete during the week, that would lend itself to varying modeling times, and that would require a minimum of tools. Ideally, I would be able to return home with construction completed and could proceed straight to painting and finishing. The kit I decided on was Tamiya's 1/35th scale French Armored Carrier UE.

As soon as we checked into the house I began scouting for a suitable workspace. I immediately spied an out-of-the-way table with a view of the beach and not far from the fridge!

Projects and More Projects

It's been some time since I posted, but not a whole lot has been built during that time. I've begun several new projects to add to my "in progress" list so I thought it might be good to summarize where I stand on all of them.

Stug III (F1) and Finnish Army Stug III Ausf. G (New)
These are both in the initial stages of construction. I'm building them for an online build for the "Tanks and Things" forum. I'll get separate postings done for each soon.

Marder II (New)
I saw this kit at HobbyTown and bought in on a whim. Ordered an after-market barrel and other goodies for it and dove right in. I'm currently constructing the gun. Post coming soon.

French Armored Carrier UE (New)
Rescued this kit from my stash and took it to the beach with me back in September. I completed construction on it and its trailer at the beach and it's now ready for the paint booth. I'll post photos soon.

T-34/76 Model 1941 (35th Scale)
I'm noodling over the attachment of the ice cleats to the fenders--how many groups to attach and which ones. These involve fiddly PE straps and buckles. Also, I'm still worrying over the square fuel tanks for the rear deck.

Steyr 1500A/01
The wiring of all the radios and electrical gear is proving to be quite a hurdle to get over. 'Nuff said about that.

I'm back to the suspension with all it's PE and small plastic bits. Then all that's left is setting up the MG and adding details.

I think that's it . . . certainly enough to carry me through the winter. Now to get to those four new posts and photos :)

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Kfz.13 - Body Work

It's beginning to look a lot like a Kfz.13!

Since my last post, I've attached the "tub" to the frame along with the front section, armored grill, and the rear fenders.

Next, it's back to the frame, suspension, and the addition of some "goodies" to the tub.

35th Scale T-34: Hull Work

I've made a little progress on the hull. The upper section has been glued to the bottom. Fit was generally good with the only gap being left at the very rear. I'll fill this with a combination of plastic strips of the appropriate width and putty.

As can be seen above, I attached the engine screen housing after airbrushing the inside with Vallejo Russian Green primer. I then attached the rear access hatch, exhausts, and jack blocks/chocks to the rear fenders and extra track links and attachment points to both sides.

I'm still undecided about which auxiliary fuel tanks to use. My initial thought was to go with the Aber PE square fuel tanks on the rear. After seeing how difficult it was going to be to bend them to the proper shape, I decided to go with the kit-supplied rectangular fuel tanks on the sides. Accordingly, I added the jack blocks (or chocks) to both rear fenders. Then I acquired the resin square tanks from Mig USA but, when examining them after they arrived, they look to be too large. So now the PE tanks aren't looking so bad but that means I'll need to remove the jack blocks/chocks from the rear fenders to get the square tanks to properly fit. I guess I won't make the final decision until I get to a step from which I can't easily recover :)

Monday, August 27, 2012

Kfz.13 - Back to the "Tub"

While I'm waiting for my squarish fuel tanks to arrive from Mig USA for my T-34, I thought I'd spend some time on the Kfz.13 armored car I began several months ago. I've added the front and rear body sections to the floor and have constructed the support system and seat for the MG-42. I'm leaving off the machine gun, shield, and doors at this point to facilitate painting the interior.

The photo below illustrates why this car was termed a "bathtub on wheels."

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

72nd Scale T-34: Finished!

I've messed around with the finish on the tank and with the ground work about all that I can, so here are photos of my completed T-34/76 Model 1941, 1st Tank Brigade, Poland, 1945.

While not totally happy with it, I've learned some valuable lessons to apply to future builds. Stay tuned!

Friday, August 17, 2012

72nd Scale T-34: The Base, Part 2

I next painted the surface of the ground work flat brown. Once dry, I applied scenic cement and sprinkled on some Woodland Scenics Fine Turf Burnt Grass. I wanted to keep the grass more or less in scale--hence the use of the fine turf and not static grass as I would use with a larger scale. Although hard to see here due to the lighting, I then added several tufts of miniNatur Short Buffalo Grass Spring Tufts from Scenic Express.

Once all this was allowed to dry thoroughly, I used a combination of airbrushing and dry brushing to apply various shades of brown, green, and grey to the grass, dirt, and rocks. I also painted the sides of the foam a flat black using a generic craft paint. My progress to date is shown below.

Next I will epoxy the T-34 to the base, add some additional ground work around the treads, and tidy up the build.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

35th Scale T-34: Engine Fan Screening Assembly

I've opted to use the PE screening and louvres on the rear of the hull although, as usual, very little of the assembly will be easily seen once the housing is attached to the hull. I removed the molded-on bolt heads from the hull, sanded them smooth, and then attached the PE plate on the rear deck as shown below:

The louvres were then attached. Since there is no engine included I'll leave them in the closed position:

The screening and supports were then glued to the housing. Note that the tabs on the supports have not yet been bent:

Here's a photo of the housing in position (tabs STILL not bent) showing just how much of the assembly will be visible through the screen:

I will airbrush the area inside the housing in the appropriate Russian green color prior to permanently attaching it. Then it's back to general construction.

72nd Scale T-34: The Base(ics)

Before I applied the final weathering, I wanted to construct the base to allow me to integrate the tank with its environment. I dove into my stash of bases I'd collected over the years for various figures and found one that would fit the scene I had in mind. I first scored the top surface with a box knife so that the glue would better adhere to it.

I then carved a piece of florist foam to the basic shape, masked off the sides of the wooden base, and glued the foam to the base with scenic cement (which I suspect is nothing more than a higher-priced white glue with a matte agent added).

I mixed a batch of Aves ClayShay and applied it with a spatula to the top surface of the foam. This is some of the best ground material I've found. Depending on how you mix it, you can use it either as a clay (thick) or as a mache (thin). When it was partially dried I pressed the tank into the surface so that it would appear sunken into the ground and added a few scale rocks to the surface.

Next up will be painting and adding additional ground work.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Ivan and Boris: Assembly and Priming

I assembled the two Russian tanker figures, officer and crewman, and attached them to plastic bottle caps with CA adhesive for ease of handling during painting. As a fan of all things Vallejo, I filled the seams with Vallejo Plastic Putty (70400) and then set both aside to dry.

I used the point of a #11 blade to clean up the seams and then gave each figure several light coats of Tamiya White Fine Surface Primer from the ol' rattle can.

In addition to highlighting any areas that need further cleaning, the white primer brings out the details in the figures and gives a nice base for the application of the finish colors.

Friday, August 3, 2012


Needing a crew for my 35th scale T-34, I dove into my "parts and figures" box and found the Tank figure set, "Russian AFV Crew, 1941." I also have a couple of Alpine sets but I think I'll save them for future builds, unless the Tank set doesn't work out. Given the pose of the figure in the hatch, I'll do some initial construction on the turret to see how he will work.

Here's a photo of the figures themselves prior to clean-up, construction, and painting:

35th Scale T-34: Upper Hull & Front Plate

Next up was the upper hull. I first attached the engine access hatch and then carefully sanded the openings to ensure a proper fit of the molded radiator and air intake grills. The rectangular opening at the rear is for the engine fan screen assembly which I plan on constructing from the included PE rather than using the one-piece molded plastic as I did on the 72nd scale model. At this scale you WILL notice the difference!

The front plate offered a bit more in the way of assembly. I fitted and glued the driver's hatch cover along with the three periscopes. I then attached the machine gun and its armored hood and the two front towing shackles.

Two special notes here. First, Dragon has included the protective collar bridging the gap between the driver's hatch and the front hull plate. These armored strips were attached to protect the crew when the tank came under machine gun fire. Second, the front towing shackles included in the kit are of the design seen on experimental and early production versions of the T-34/76. The front shackles usually seen in photos of the T-34 are of the "rams horn" variety (and are the ones used on my 72nd scale model).

For reference, I highly recommend the softcover book, T-34 Medium Tank (1939-1943), by Mikhail Baryatinskiy. It is Volume 4 in the Russian Armour series by Ian Allan Publishing.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Scale Comparison

For anyone not familiar with the scale difference between 1/35th and 1/72nd scales, the photo above shows my "almost completed" 72nd scale T-34 sitting on top of the over-turned hull of my "just started" 35th scale T-34.

35th Scale T-34: Hull Bottom

While trying to decide how to base my smaller T-34, I thought I'd begin construction on the larger one. I skipped the first step of constructing the road wheels, idlers, and drive sprockets as they will be painted off the model and attached much later with the tracks.

I began with the lower hull. After some very slight clean-up on the bottom, I removed one of the bump stops on each side for the most forward suspension arms (per the instructions). I'm assuming that the front double bump stops were features of other T-34 variants. The coil spring suspension is nicely reproduced through the use of ten rectangular boxes (actually parallelograms!) added to the inner hull on which the springs are molded. These are visible through slots in the hull as shown in the photo below.

I then added the suspension arms and pieces of the transmission housing. I did not attach the idler wheel arms as they can be rotated to tighten or loosen the tracks and I want to be able to make that adjustment later if necessary.

To complete these initial steps I then attached the front and rear hull sections and the hatches on the hull bottom.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Catching Up

Given the weather, summertime, etc., it's been a month since I last posted. So here's  an update on my active projects.

T-34/76 Model 1941 Cast Turret, 72nd Scale:
Most of the stowage has been added and painted but not shaded. I added rolled tarps to each side, extra track links to the front and right side, and a tow cable and shovel to the left side. I'm still going to add a chain to the front of the hull and that should do it for this go-round.

Next I'll airbrush the lower hull and running gear with a brown-black mixture and then apply an overall flat finish to the model. After that it's on to adding some scratches, possibly some dry brushing if I need to bring out some details, and then a light dust coat. While all that is in progress, I'll be prepping a base and groundwork.

I'm still not totally happy with the darkness of the green finish (it's MUCH darker than in the photo above), but I'll correct that on other Russian tanks!

Steyr 1500A/01:
Shown above are the two radio tables with most of the equipment attached. Next up is drilling all the holes for the wiring. I have several packages of lead wire in thicknesses ranging from 0.2mm to 1.0mm which I'll be using and have also picked-up a couple spools of fly tying wire, just in case. I'm still trying to noodle-out the best order for wiring, painting, and attaching all this to the Steyr itself. I have a feeling that my experience in rigging model ships will come in handy!

T-34/76 Model 1941 Cast Turret, 35th Scale:
Yes, another Russian tank! I enjoyed the Dragon 72nd scale T-34 so much that I found its "big brother"--almost the same model in 35th scale! The only differences that I have seen so far lie in the stowage and the hull attachments. This kit does not include the large auxiliary fuel tanks attached to the rear deck but I found a set of aftermarket PE from Aber that should do the trick nicely. My plan is to build it out-of-the-box with the exception of those fuel tanks.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

T-34: Lighten up!

I mixed a lighter green from Vallejo Model Air Russian Green (71.017) and Vallejo Model Air White (71.001), approximately 60:40, green to white. This was sprayed over the entire upper hull and turret trying not to get it into areas where there would be natural shadows. The road wheels were also lightly misted.

I then added more white to this mix and sprayed those areas that would receive the most natural light, such as the turret roof, hull and fuel tank tops, and the upper sides of the turret and hull.

I'm not sure if I mentioned before that I drilled out the lightening holes on both the drive and idler wheels. Even at this scale, I think it enhances the look. Here's a shot, before and after, of one of the drive wheels:

T-34: Primer Coat

I used Vallejo Surface Primer Russian Green (73609) for the primer coat. The end result looks fine but getting there was touch-and-go.

I sprayed the primer straight from my airbrush with no dilution. Now, I've used other colors of the Vallejo surface primers on other models with no problems, so it came as a surprise when this primer beaded-up horribly on the flat parts of the hull. I know that the beading is a sure sign of a "dirty" surface (mold release agents, oily fingerprints, etc.) but I had washed this model, as usual, with a solution of water with a little added dish washing detergent. At this point I thought, "What the heck" (or worse!) and just continued spraying until the surfaces were covered. I let the model dry, paint pools and all, overnight. Much to my surprise the next day, the paint had totally snugged down to all surfaces with no obliteration of detail. Quite a testament to the Vallejo Surface Primers.

The resulting color is a bit dark for my taste, but it will serve as shadowing and I will follow it with a lighter base and then highlighting.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

T-34: Pre-Paint

I finally finished constructing my T-34. Someone remind me to never again complain about the "fiddly bits" on a 1/35 scale model!

Everything has been added to the model at this point. I'm going with the theory of "If you can see it you can paint it." We'll see how that all works out.

The tracks were the one-piece DS that Dragon includes with most of their armor kits now. They were tacked down to each road wheel with a tiny amount of Model Master Liquid Cement. This was also used for the track join on each side and I experienced no track deformation anywhere.

All the other pieces are stock from the kit. Stowage was included on a separate sprue and I chose what I wanted and added it where I thought it would go and where it would add some interest (read color) to the overall green paint scheme. I did add a section of track to the front of the hull, securing it with four bolt heads punched from thin styrene sheet. (Thanks, Ashley!)

Next up is the base coat.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

T-34: Upper Hull Construction

The hull top was a single, crisply-molded piece to which I added the front and rear plates, exhaust pipes and covers, left-side rail, two tool boxes, engine fan screen, driver's hatch, machine gun, and various hooks and handles. Still to be added are the antenna mount, headlight, and the two rear small fuel tanks. Assembly went smoothly but two issues merit mentioning.

First, the instructions illustrate two holes that need to be opened for the attachment of the rail that runs along the left side. These holes are indicated by detents on the inside of the hull; however, the distance between the detents is incorrect for the mounting pins on the rail. I opened the front mounting hole, glued in the front rail support, and then measured the correct distance for the rear hole and drilled it there.

Secondly, Dragon includes two engine fan screens: the first has a molded screen and supports and is extremely well detailed; the second has a PE screen which is to be mounted in a molded frame. However, the PE screen lacks the detailed supports. Since the screen as molded is not badly reproduced, I opted for the molded piece with the detailed supports. Much more tank-like to me.

I've been working on the turret in tandem with the hull and will post more pictures later.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

T-34: A "Small" Diversion

At last month's AMPS Central Virginia meeting, Bob Walls mentioned that there was a 1/72 scale T-34 build getting started on the AMPS website. So, thinking that this would be a nice diversion from all the PE and resin assemblage on my Steyr, of course I decided to jump right in!

I've never previously built nor painted any Russian armor and have no related reference material of any kind. My knowledge is limited to knowing that World War II Russian armor was big, green, and ugly . . . at least in my opinion.

The T-34 was a Soviet medium tank produced from 1940 to 1958 and is considered by many to be the most important weapon fielded by the Red Army in World War II. When first produced in 1940, it was called one of the finest tank designs in the world. Its sloping armor increased protection, the Model V-2 diesel engine (actually a V-12; V-2 was simply the model number) used a less flammable fuel, the Christie suspension was fast over rough terrain, and its wide tracks gave it low ground pressure for good mobility in mud and snow. [Wikipedia]

The 1/72 scale is much smaller than that of my Steyr (about half the size) and is the same as my Krupp Protze which, by the way, is still languishing in the paint shop.

The following photo shows the upside-down hull with a dime for comparison:

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Steyr 1500A/01 - The Business End

The rear section behind the front seats will be filled with two tables holding all sorts of radio and teletype gear, two chairs, and a whole host of wartime miscellany. I decided to construct and paint all of these off of the vehicle due to the detailing involved.

Shown above is the larger of the two tables. I replaced the Verlinden table top with a piece of scribed styrene to which I attached two styrene rod supports. (There are PE brackets on both legs which do not show in the photo.) The PE table back was formed around the edges of the top and two PE drawers and a writing surface were constructed and attached. Below the table is one of the resin batteries and its PE case and strap.

Next up is the construction of the two resin chairs. Then it's time to get out the razor saw and scalpels to hack and cut at all the resin radio pieces! (Cough, cough.) Because everything is out in the open, there's no getting by without wiring it all up, so it's off to find some fly tying wire this weekend.

Steyr 1500A/01 - Body Nearing Completion

As you can see above, I am just about finished constructing the body of this little gem. I decided to go ahead and add most of the parts and just paint everything in situ. We'll see how that decision turns out in a week or so! I've added some extras from the Verlinden detail kit: the resin windscreen/cover and the folded top as well as various PE bits to "dress it up" a bit. The only kit parts still missing are the doors, seats, and steering wheel. The steering wheel and seats will be added after the dash is painted. As I'm planning on leaving some of the doors open, they will be attached just before painting the body.

I also need to construct and add the PE cable reel which will be attached on the top of the spare tire housing and a PE exterior antenna mount which will be located on the exterior body just in front of the rear left door opening.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

MFCA Show, May 18-19, 2012

I attended the Miniature Figure Collectors of America show at Valley Forge, PA, last weekend. Rather than try to describe it myself, here are their words:

The MFCA Show and Mart is one of the largest shows of its kind in the world. There is a large display area of miniature figures and models. Most of the figures are of connoisseur quality, miniature works of art in a variety of scales, from a few inches in height to almost a foot tall. Some are single figures on foot or horse and some are arranged as groups. Others are models of tanks, ships and planes in all the most common scales. There are even a few box dioramas, miniature stagings of historic scenes. Artists come from all over the world to attend and display. Visitors from Canada, Great Britain, France, Spain and Italy are common. In recent years there have been hundreds of displays.

I hadn't attended one of their shows in probably six or seven years and was astounded at the increase of the quality of the finished figures as well as the increase in prices for the various kits. Several of us were reminiscing and remembering when we could take $200 and have to make several trips to our cars with our purchases. Now, one is lucky if that amount will buy two to three figures and maybe an inexpensive book.

I took plenty of pictures with my iPhone . . . here's a link to the album I posted on Facebook:  There are over 200 photos in the gallery, so take your time and enjoy!
I did manage to buy two kits. The first is Young B. Song's (Young Miniatures) bust of a DAK Panzer Officer. It's one that I have been contemplating purchasing for quite awhile and finally bit the bullet. Here's a photo of the box art:

Pirates seemed to be big this year with numerous full figures and busts entered in the competition. I was bitten by the bug and purchased the Pegaso Model's bust of Charlotte de Berry, a (possibly fictional) female pirate captain. A picture of the box art:

More on each of these as I get to them :)