I can’t believe it’s been something like three weeks since I posted the last Achilles build report. Where does the time go?
Work on the Achilles did slow down somewhat while I polished off the Mosquito NF Mk.II, but now it’s roaring ahead full steam. In this build report, a bit more assembly, then paint.
Assembly and an Accident
The Achilles is a far different beast from the Tamiya armor kits I’ve built in the past. Most of those can be slammed together in the course of a night, but this AFV Club kit takes a lot more care. On the one hand, there’s the interior to worry about, and the open turret. On the other, the pieces don’t fit together with anything like the same authority, so more care must be taken throughout the entire process.
I also brought a bit more of a challenge down on myself by replacing the styrene fenders with Eduard PE fenders. They’re a pain to install, and added another night to the build time, but they do look a good deal better.
Everything was going slow-but-good until, probably halfway through the assembly, I knocked over a bottle of solvent. It spilled all over my cutting mat and, more worryingly, across the front transmission housing of the Achilles. You can see the damage below. And, unseen, it also slopped onto the left drive sprocket, fusing it in place.
I ultimately salvaged the front end by slopping more solvent on it and using an old brush to stipple it. The fused sprocket is more of a concern. Aesthetically, there’s nothing amiss, but the inability to remove or rotate the sprocket will complicate mounting of the suspension and tracks.
While I was building up the Achilles, I also took time to assemble Tasca’s masterful little .50 caliber Browning machine gun.
The detail on this tiny kit is incredible, as is the mold itself. See the main body and cooling jacket? It comes like that, slotted over a spur of sprue, but not actually attached via any sprue tabs. Amazing.
Assembly is quick and painless. The only real complication is working with such tiny pieces, and the end result is pretty friggin’ good. Definitely a higher level of quality than the Ma Deuce included in the AFV Club kit.
AFV Club QF 17-pounder ammunition
Another aftermarket addition – AFV Club 17-pounder brass ammunition. Typically, I would consider this an indulgence too far, but with the open turret, these puppies will be on prominent display, and nothing looks quite so much like brass as, well, brass.
Due to the way it builds up, the Achilles pretty much demands to be painted largely unassembled. The upper and lower hull, and turret and gun are shown assembled here, but even they will remain broken down for principal painting, and only assembled as the interior gets finished out.
The bulk of the unassembled bits are made up of various components for the VVSS suspension bogies. These include the bogie housings, the various suspension arms, return rollers, and yes, the wheels. All will be painted separately, and assembled after painting and drybrushing.
I kicked things off by painting the Achilles flat black to provide a base for shading and adding depth to the paint. In this instance, I used Tamiya XF-1 Flat Black.
Next came the base color. There are a ton of resources out there regarding British armored vehicles and color schemes during World War II, and it seems the Brits used a paint that was nearly indistinguishable from US Olive Drab when new, but that faded more green. There are all kinds of complicated mixing ratios to attain this color with various paint brands, but early in the build I saw a Tasca Firefly that had been painted using Tamiya XF-61 Dark Green, and really liked the looks of it, so I decided to go the same route.
Next came the lightening coats, Tamiya XF-61 mixed with a bit of XF-60 Dark Yellow.
With the main painting complete, I’ve also managed to finally get a sense of how visible the interior space will be. Not very, but enough that I plan on expending some effort at detailing and weathering.
Next up, markings and detail work, before moving on to weathering this beast.