1/16 Panda Pz.Kpfw 38(t) Pt. 3: Whitewash

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Part I: The Build-Up | Part II: Paint + Markings | PART III: Whitewash

I decided pretty early on in this build that I wanted to go after the last marking option Panda provides:

Four marking options in 1/35

Four marking options in 1/35

Why? Well, mainly because I’ve always found  straight-up Panzer Gray somewhat boring (and difficult to weather without it looking stupid). Part of me thinks maybe the Germans felt the same way, which is why things eventually shifted toward dunkelgelb and increasingly intricate camoflage schemes.

Anyway. How to pull off kick-ass whitewash?

The last time I tackled a whitewashed Panzer Gray something, it was Cyber-Hobby’s awesome Panzer III Ausf.L Vorpanzer, done up in Lifecolor RAL7021, with whitewash courtesy of Tamiya XF-2 Flat White.

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I think it worked out pretty well. The Vorpanzer has taken third in its category in two different shows…something I’m totally cool with given the level of competition.

But it’s not exactly the look of the Pz.38(t) in the Panda profile. So I went hunting for alternative solutions.

Whitewash Options

The first option was the most obvious one – the good old “hairspray” technique – for which I use AK Interactive’s Heavy Chipping fluid.

Some searching, however, also revealed an interesting product from Italian company True Earth. They make an acrylic whitewash that seems to contain all the hairspray technique properties in a single bottle.

Whitewash Options

Armed with my two techniques, I pulled out a stalled KV-2 build to repurpose as a guinea pig.

The first test was the AK Heavy Chipping Fluid overpainted with thinned Tamiya XF-2 Flat White. This technique certainly produced chipping, but the effect is stark, not diffused in the way I was looking for, with the whitewash gradually “melting” off the vehicle.

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On the other side, I tried out the True Earth whitewash.

This initial test proved hit-and-miss. In some areas, I found the stuff just streaked but didn’t scrape away (perhaps I went after it when it was too wet, or too thickly applied?). In others, such as around the German cross, it looked fantastic.

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Clearly more experimentation was in order. Moving to the back of the  KV-2’s turret, I airbrushed the whitewash onto one side, and brushed it onto the other, then set about the wetting and removing. The airbrushed portion on the right was definitely my favorite – I’m a fan of the way the whitewash subtly tints the surface.

True Earth Whitewash

Applying the Whitewash

But…getting the whitewash to work the way I really like required that it be pretty friggin’ thin. So I arrived at a middle ground solution…using Tamiya XF-2 to establish a “base” for the whitewash, then applying the True Earth stuff on top.

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Pz.38(t) Whitewash

Pz.38(t) Whitewash

Pz.38(t) Whitewash

Overall, I’m pretty thrilled with how the whitewash came out in the end, and I feel like there are secrets in the True Earth whitewash that I have yet to unlock (for instance, applying it heavier…).

Stay tuned for Part 4, when the tracks get painted and the big 38 gets seriously weathered.

1/16 Panda Pz.Kpfw 38(t) Pt. 2: Paint + Markings

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In Part I, I took the Pz.38(t) through its relatively straightforward buildup.

Now, it’s time to paint the bloody thing!

RAL 7021

The Pz.38, like all things German armor in 1941, was finished in a gray so dark it was nearly black – often referred to as Panzer Gray or Panzer schwarzgrau. Whatever. RAL 7021 was the official paint code, and we’ll just call it Panzer Gray.

To prepare the surface, I primed the tank in my new favorite thing, Mr. Finishing Surfacer 1500.

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This was going to be followed up by AK Interactive’s Panzer Gray modulation set, but I found myself backing away pretty quickly. The AK stuff sprays nicely, but even the darkest “shadow” tint was too light for my taste.

So I pulled out my Lifecolor. I’m not the biggest fan of the way Lifecolor sprays, BUT I really, really like their RAL  7021. It worked perfectly on my Panzer III a few years back, and worked equally well on the Pz.38.

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Markings

After the Panzer Gray came the gloss. My plan for the 38 is to liven things up with some winter whitewash, so no need to do anything fancy with the gray…just get it on. After it set up a bit, I tried out a new gloss, Testors’ Aztek Clear Gloss, and found that I actually liked how it worked. It gave me a nice gloss base to play with my decals.

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On top of this went the few decals. They aren’t terrible decals that Panda includes with the kit, but they aren’t great, either. The biggest problem has to be the thickness, which remains apparent even after they set and you use Solvaset AND seal them up nice with additional coats of clear.

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While all the glossing and marking work was going on, I also spent a bit of time to knock out the track runs. Not bad!

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Stay tuned for Part 3, when it’s WHITEWASH TIME!

1/16 Panda Pz.Kpfw 38(t) Pt. 1: The Build-Up

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Recently, I received an advance copy of Panda’s new 1/16 Pz.Kpfw 38(t) to review for Scale Plastic & Rail (read the review HERE).

You can read all about the kit itself over on SP&R. Here, we’ll actually explore building the thing.

The Hull

I can totally understand why Panda eschewed the usual one-piece lower hull with their big 38(t). By the time you take the hull bottom and add the sides, the tank takes up about as much space as a shoe box. Offering a one-piece hull such as that in the 1/35 Dragon kits would have required some serious three-dimensionality in the molding process, along with an entirely different approach to packaging the kit.

So instead of a one-piecer to work from, I had started out with several slabs that needed to be glued into a tank-like shape.

This is one of the few areas of the build where I’ll unabashedly ding Panda. There is no positive location between the hull slabs. None. There’s no engraved channel where the bottom fits to the side. Instead what you get are basically areas with an absence of rivets. The hull would be super-easy to weld together if you happened to have three hands. I don’t, so I resorted to awkwardly holding the bottom and side together and tack-welding in a few spots with my trusty Tenax 7R. This held enough for me to add the other hull slabs, and when everything was finally supporting everything else, I went back with Tenax and fully welded all joins.

As you see above, even at this point, the 38(t) is a sizable beast.

With the main lower hull welded in place and happy, I moved on next to the upper decking. Again, Panda levels out a mild dose of frustration with some very vague attempts at providing the modeler with positive location.

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Once again, my process of tacking an area at a time worked well, and as areas were joined to the hull the entire assembly began to really solidify.

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The Hull

With the main bits of the hull together, I next turned my attention to the fenders. I guess the best word for these would be…infuriating. As with the hull slabs, there’s a general lack of positive location that has to be overcome. The plastic fenders only attach to the plastic hull at three tiny, shallow tabs. The rest is intended to be supported by photo etch “L” brackets. The only problem is that it’s difficult to know how far to bend them without the fenders in place. So to get things started, I tacked the fenders with Tenax.

Moving on to the PE…this stuff is beefy! That’s great in terms of support (the brackets fit over raised plastic “bolts”), but awful in terms of folding the fenders into the proper shapes. Even after aggressive annealing, the brass was basically too much for my Small Shop PE folder. After many expletives, I did get the fenders fitted up.

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Getting them fitted and getting them secured were two different matters, however. The latter required all of my locking tweezers and clamps and clips, as well as the judicious use of extra-thin CA glue.

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With the fenders in place, the rest of the build was honestly a cake walk. The fit is generally quite good and there are very few headaches to deal with. If you’ve built 1/35 armor of any complexity, this one shouldn’t present a challenge.

I will, however, point out two very clever engineering elements this kit features.I love them both because they make it easy to leave components out until near the end of the build (see: cupola vision ports).

The first is the design of the wheels and tires as two separate pieces. So much more convenient.

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The second is the convenient design of the cupola. The turret itself has some risers that I will call “cupola supports”. The parts that make up the cupola build around these supports, and if you’re careful, you can assemble the cupola so that it’s removable. All the better for installing the clear vision ports after all the painting and weathering is done.

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The Tracks

Another really nice element of the Panda kit is the workable design of the tracks. Each link is joined by two small track pins that, glued carefully, leave the join completely workable, similar to the way Friuls work. The assembly is tedious but foolproof.

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The only problem is that the kit I received did not include enough track. By my count, it was short by six links, leaving me SOL for the spare tracks mounted at the front of the tank.

Still, that’s a minor issue. Overall, the Pz.38 builds up quite well, and looks suitably impressive in 1/16 scale.

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Stay tuned for Part 2 – Painting and Markings!

I Can’t Get No…

The past couple of nights at the bench have been awful.

I can’t seem to get traction on anything. And it’s driving me nuts.

Let’s start with the Pz.38(t). The big 1/16 tank is painted and decaled.

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Of course, now I’m into the tedious task of assembling the tracks. Don’t get me wrong, I really, really like the workable links Panda provides with the kit. They’re easily the best kit tracks I’ve ever used. But…assembling them is tedious.

photo 1And then there’s the tools and minor bits that I need to start painting before I can really start in on the weathering, and I just can’t get motivated.

So when the Fisher -C conversion arrived for the Trumpeter F-8 Crusader, I was really excited. The nose fit way better than the Rhino intake.

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Sadly, the cockpit didn’t fit well into the nose, and I just couldn’t muster the wherewithal to blow another several days sanding and filing and swearing. Work has been busy, and three kids are a lot work. Bench time is supposed to be about decompression, not adding to the stress.

So tonight I pulled out the sad beast that is Trumpeter’s 1/32 MiG-17F. Figured I’d get it up and running again.

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After grinding down the *$*!#(@ pour stub on the G-Factor metal canopy frame, I got the very nice AMS resin cockpit to fit. Then I started playing around with the intake nose ring and discovered that it’s off center. Not that it doesn’t fit. It’s actually MOLDED OFF CENTER.

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Seriously?

The kit does provide parts to build a radar-equipped MiG-17PF, so I gave it a shot, but come on. The MiG-17F has some damn classic lines. The PF, on the other hand, looks like a yodeling fish.

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So, ugh. What now?

I feel like I need something to really sink my teeth into, and get my groove back. Something I can break into without days of cutting and sanding and swearing.

But what? I can’t figure out a scheme I want to do for Hobby Boss’ F-84. I’m worried about tackling another questionable, like the Kinetic/Italeri F-86 Sabre. I still have miles of research to do on my 1/32 F/A-18D. I’ve got my wrecked MiG-21 project, but I’m feeling that’s a very slow burn, long-term type of affair. And I’ll be procrastinating because the diorama aspect terrifies me.

Maybe I’ll just say screw it and pull out the big Trumpeter Mi-24 Hind. The only thing I’m pushing on it is PE.

 

 

No Quarter

I’m burned out on 1/48 scale.

It’s strange. 1/48 is predominantly what I built as a kid. Of the thirty-two kits I’ve built since returning to the hobby around three years ago, seventeen of them – 53%.

But I’m tapped out on quarter scale.

It hit me as I was wrapping up assembly on Eduard’s beautiful new Spitfire(s).

Here’s the thing. They’re solid kits. But the whole time, I kept thinking “yeah, but they’re no 1/32 Tamiya Spit”.

I know, I know. That’s not really fair. I could count the number of kits that approach the bit Tamiya Spitires on one hand.

But fair or not, that’s what was in my head. If I really cared about what I was building, I’d do it up right with a 1/32 Tamiya Spit Mk.IX.

So I set the Spits aside to focus on Wingnut’s brilliant Sopwith Snipe. And when I rigged my last line and pronounced the biplane finished, I found that I just had zero desire to even contemplate 1/48.

Not sure where it goes from here. But look for the next several builds, at least, to be in scales that start with the number “3”.

Review: 1/16 Panda Pz.Kpfw 38(t) Ausf.E/F

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PCM’s Upcoming 1/32 Tempest – First Pics!

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Given its contribution to the war effort, the snarling Hawker Tempest has been given one very long shaft by the model manufacturers. When the most celebrated release is a warmed-over re-release with some included resin that literally cannot be made to fit, well, you get the idea.

It looks like that will be changing in 2013, with the release of not one but two 1/32 Tempest kits, one from Pacific Coast Models and the other from Special Hobby.

I will be reviewing the PCM Tempest when it is released, but for now, here’s a first look at the kit.

Stay tuned for more as the Tempest nears release.

In the meantime, you can pre-order the Tempest straight from PCM if you’re so inclined.