Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Pressed for Time!

We all have patches when we can’t often get to the bench, and this year is shaping up to be a short-production record like 2016. At the end of March I have my first completion (others underway, of course), and I can only say I’ve been especially busy with other concerns since the beginning of last year to excuse my distance from the hobby. That, and being in sore need of a new display case, which is also painfully true.

What to do when you’re craving a build but have only a few hours here and there to give it? Well, armour takes less prep painting than aircraft, so I usually gravitate to a tank. I recently completed that very early Tamiya Pz.II F (35009) from about two years ago (seen with the new build in the bottom photo), it had been awaiting decals as I didn’t fancy the kit sheet and was interested in going with dry prints. I collected a number of sheets but ended up using the much, much better waterslide sheet from a later edition of the same Tamiya kit – and liked the result so much I decided to build that new copy at once and do a project in grey.

The kit builds in a trice – three sittings, a “one day build” by all reasonable standards, but the finishing techniques were the full monty, all my usual suite of tricks, and I took a couple of weeks over completion. The grey was the same mix as that Pz. III F I did last year, airbrushed in Tamiya acrylics (XF-24 Grey tinted with XF-8 Blue at a ratio of 5:1, plus 30% X-22 Clear Gloss to put a fresh-paint sheen on it. I did not bother with a scale-colour effect as the next step was to spray a 5% solution of XF-23 Grey-Blue to fade the top surface. Over this went an oil wash job, pin-washes around raised detail, streaking of rust in simple dark brown, some condensation streaking in white, some tiny spots of orange for fresh rust, then an ultra-fine brush was used to install paint chips and dirt spots in rust-brown and black. I used the new Tamiya XF-85 Rubber Black for the tires (though I can’t actually tell the difference from XF-69 NATO Black!) The running gear was stencilled into the mixed dunkelgrau, then the running gear and lower hull received a road grime coat of the same mixed shade as the tracks – XF-64 Red-Brown plus black at 2:1. I built up the grime gradually, and must remember to go with a thicker mix over grey in future.

I did not have much luck with the dry prints this time out, the balkenkreutzer were very difficult to align and prone to shattering – maybe the Archers are getting old? Dry prints should have a very long lifespan, so I’m not sure what was wrong. To be fair, the alignment issues were entirely down to myself, and I wasted four decals in the process, and used a kit waterslide for one of them anyway.

Mig pigments finished the effects, with ‘standard rust’ and ‘black smoke’ applied sparingly in a few places. I did my usual trick with the muffler, roughening the surface with a hard brusgh after softening the plastic with liquid cement, followed by shaking on sanding dust over wet glue to create the bubbling effect of severe rust, which looked good under paint and pigments.

The markings I chose for this one are those of 18th Panzer Division, and the grey scheme marks this vehicle as operating before the switch to dunkelgelb ordered in February 1943. She is certainly hard-used and the weather has taken its toll since the last respray. I might accessorise her with some helmets, maybe a flag, one day. She looks pretty good on the shelf and marks my second panzer grey project. I look forward to adding some halftracks to the collection in early war markings too.

Cheers, Mike Adamson

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