Tuesday, 18 July 2017
I hosted most (nearly all) of my photos with Photobucket and they have now disallowed '3rd party linking', causing loss of photos in this blog (and elsewhere in the cyberspace). I'm now in the process of transferring the photos elsewhere. Sorry for the inconvenience.
Saturday, 1 July 2017
¥9,800 (the average 1/35 kit costs between ¥3,000 to ¥4,000). In 2001, Fine Molds reboxed the kit with a new box art and at the same time reducing the RRP to be more competitive (I got mine from Hobbylink Japan for ¥3,200). The kit came in 145 olive-coloured styrene parts, a pair of vinyl tracks, a small PE fret and five white metal parts. The parts are well-moulded although the white metal tow cable (or whatever it was) have some flash in my example. A form for bending the PE (for the exhaust screen) is also included.
Decals provide markings for eight vehicles:
Decals provide markings for eight vehicles:
1. #203, 8th Tank Regiment, August 1945, Manchuria
2. #755, 8th Tank Regiment, June 1942, Manchuria
3. #244, Army Youth Tank School, Shizuoka Prefecture, Japan
4. #20, 1st Tank Regiment, 3rd Company, Malaya 1942
5. 13th Tank Regiment, 2nd Company, Changsha, China
6. 6th Tank Regiment, Manchuria 1944
7. #1556, 7th Tank Regiment, 3rd Company, Philippines 1942
8. 14th Infantry Division Tank Company, Peleliu 1944
The instructions are almost entirely in Japanese and may cause some confusion especially for the painting and marking schemes, but otherwise have excellent illustrations.
As usual with AFV kits, construction starts with the suspension/lower hull. The halves for the idler and sprocket wheels were mated and the wheel bogies assembled. I however did not assemble the return rollers as instructed at this stage. Unlike many Japanese model kits with one-piece hull, the hull was made up of seven pieces with part A10 acting as a stand for a crew figure (sourced elsewhere) and part A9 acting a stiffener for the hull assembly (and sort of a bulkhead). As usual with multi-part hull, care need to be taken in order to ensure good fit. Afterwards the external fittings of the lower hull were cemented, including the bell-crank suspension. The instructions mention something about Parts B15, B18, C1 and C2, which I guess have something to do with gluing parts C1 and C2 to B15 first and cementing them onto the hull before cementing Part B18. To ease painting, the wheels were left off at this time (and apparently Fine Molds thought so, as the instructions placed the fitting of the wheels somewhere towards the end of the build).
The upper hull was then mated to the lower half. Before that happened, dry-fitting showed a bad fit especially between the final drive housing and the forward mudguards. After removing away locating tabs on the upper hull, the gap was merely reduced so out with the putty, Various smaller portions of the upper hull was then cemented to the main part, such as the driver's hatch, the hull MG sponson and the engine grilles. These larger parts were followed by smaller parts such as the driver's vision hatch, latches, towing eyes and lights. The tools and the jack were temporarily left off although the instructions instructed you to place them at this time. More stuff were added to the rear of the hull including what look like hinges. The exhaust was assembled and the muffler painted XF-64 Red Brown. Using the included PE former, the exhaust muffler guard was formed and superglued to the fender. Again, external items such as the vehicle ID plate and the 'tow cable' were left off. And although meant for later, I cemented the headlights and also the hull MG fairing/mount, leaving only the barrel for later.
Finally it was time for turret assembly. The turret was a simple affair with nothing inside, not even a rudimentary breech for the main gun or the machine gun. The turret shell was mated with the bottom. I left the interior unpainted because I wanted to have the hatch in the closed position (there are no interior to speak of and there are no figures to be placed in an open hatch). The two-part commander's cupola was assembled, taking care to avoid seams. The hatch covers were then cemented to the commander's cupola. The gun assembly consists of four parts and was meant to be moveable. Being a 1990s kit, the muzzle is solid and had to be drilled out. The assembly was then cemented to the turret and it was off to the painting stage.
Painting and Decalling
Maybe it's just me but I find Fine Molds' painting directions rather confusing. So to clear things a bit, I referred to the Tamiya painting instructions for their Type 97 Chi-Ha. Despite a number of interesting markings including the one in Saipan (the photo of which showing its turret blown off the tank), I decided to paint my Type 95 as an early war example, specifically as one of the Ha-Gos that took part in the invasion of Malaya. The model was painted the same colours as my Type 97 Chi-Ha: Khaki (XF-49), Dark Red Brown (XF-10) and Dark Green (XF-13 IJA Green). The lightest colour (Khaki) was painted first with the Dark Green last. The yellow line was painted using Tamiya XF-3. While the embossed star on the glacis plate is instructed to be painted in Gold, I used Gunze Brass as it looks more to scale. The decals were then applied. While thin and not having registry problems (they are just white anyway, with the exception of the Hinomaru on the front hull plate), they are quite translucent, revealing the colour underneath. I had to paint over the decals to overcome this problem.
I started by adding the few uncemented items such as the registration plate and the towing cables. The model then received a wash. Minor streaking was then done using AK Interactive products. I got lazy by this time and decided just to add Earth Effects wash on the lower hull and the wheels. Dirt was added into the track cleats using Mig Productions Russian Earth pigment and washed with AK Interactive Earth Effects solution. The tracks were then mounted onto the model. Fit is OK although it would be better if separate-link track links were provided as Type 95s usually display saggy tracks. The machine gun barrels were then cemented into place followed by the turret, finishing the build.
Sunday, 21 May 2017
£90 million contract for a demonstrator vehicle. The demo phase ended in September 1990 with the tank meeting 11 key criteria for the design. This was followed by a competition from other designs, including General Dynamics' M1A2 Abrams and Leopard 2 (Improved) from Krauss-Maffei. Finally in June 1991, the Challenger 2 was declared the winner and orders for 127 MBTs and 13 driver training vehicles were placed. A further order for 259 MBTs and 9 driver training vehicles was placed in 1994. Production began in 1993 at Elswick, Tyne and Wear and Barnbow, Leeds with the first tanks delivered in July 1994.
Grant Mk. I. The problem is that photos show bewildering shades depending on the lighting conditions but most of the time showing a darker shade than the WW2-era Light Stone. After again searching the internet, modellers mention that a more suitable mixture, taken from Osprey's Modelling The Challenger 1 and 2 book, is 3 parts XF-59 Desert Yellow to 1 part XF-3 Flat Yellow. I duly used this mixture although I added a bit more XF-2 Flat White. Even so, it still show different hues under different lighting conditions (maybe the modeller got it right then). The dust skirting was painted XF-57 Buff as many photos show them having a different colour from the vehicle itself.
To tell the truth there aren't many things to do by this time, and mainly it was concerned with further weathering. The loader's machine gun mount was assembled and finally put in place and followed by the towing cables. Things at the rear of the hull such as the external fuel tanks and the jerry can rack were then cemented onto the model. The crew figures were painted but I deviated a bit by painting the disruptive pattern in XF-49 Khaki instead of XF-52 Flat Earth. Also, while looking at photographs, the crew helmets are mostly in a lighter colour (some are even wearing the infantry Mark 6 / Mark 7 helmets). The loader's helmet was painted XF-57 with the earphones in X-18 while the commander's helmet remain in X-18. Photographs also show that Challys carry their camouflage / thermal blanket in a U-shaped roll along the sides and the front upper glacis plate. I'm interested in adding this feature although knowing the rate I work, the putty might harden before I can add the surface features.
After examining more photos, some show the roll being placed on the glacis plate atop the ROMOR bricks. This would have a smaller footprint, easing handling. I kneaded some two-part putty and then adding strips of Tamiya tapes and lengths of sewing threads. The still-soft putty was then pressed on the model. This resulted in elongated 'dough', the excess of which was cut. The placement was not not centred but I guess tank crews don't bother much if the roll is straight or not under combat conditions! Surface features were then added using a toothpick, a hobby knife and a nail file. Not sure about the colour of the roll, I painted it a mixture of XF-57 Buff and XF-49 Khaki. A water carton was placed between the loader's and commander's hatches while a ration carton was placed on the glacis plate (it is of the 10-person pack for infantry squads and not really suitable for a 4-person tank but what the heck). Guitar strings were cut and were then superglued to simulate radio aerials. Sand-coloured pigment powder was then applied to the lower hull and tracks.
After rather disappointing releases of American vehicles in the post-Cold War era (the M1A2 using the 1980s-vintage M1 kit as base and the M113A2 using the ancient 1970s M113), Tamiya released a wonderful kit of the Challenger 2. Although the lower hull is still based on their earlier Challenger 1 kit, most of the parts are new and well-moulded (case in point are the applique side armours - on the real vehicles, they are similar for both Challengers but the one in the Chally 2 kit has more detail than the earlier release). The only shortcomings with this kit are concerned with the lack of anti-slip surface and the engine deck grilles. Yet they still do not detract from the fact that this Chally is a very good kit.
Tuesday, 25 April 2017
1. SN-M/EN821, No.243 Squadron
2. SZ-X/BL479, No.316 Squadron*
3. AGM, Fighter Command, Wing Commander A.G Malan
*No.316 was a Polish Squadron (with squadron ID 'SZ'). Most if not all aircraft in the unit featured the Polish checkerboard pattern on the nose while this particular aircraft did not. It was actually the personal mount of Group Captain M.W.S. Robinson, Station Commander of RAF Northolt where No.316 was stationed at the time.
Painting and Decalling
Sunday, 2 April 2017
1. 5th Iniskilling Dragoon Guards, British Army Training Unit Suffield (BATUS), Canada (2 vehicles)
2. That famous 'Unknown Unit', BATUS
3. Royal Scots Dragoon Guards, Germany
4. A Sqn, 1 Royal Tank Regiment, Tofrek Barracks, Hildesheim, Germany 1992
As with the Marks 5 and 10 kits, the majority of British Army markings option were from BATUS. I just wish there were more BAOR marking options.
Painting and Decalling
I have decided early in the build not to finish this model in the BATUS scheme and leaves me with just the two BAOR schemes. Both schemes have NATO Green as the base colour and so Tamiya's XF-67 was used. I originally wanted to finish the model in the Royal Scots marking scheme, as it was single-colour and faster to finish. But I was having second thoughts about it, as most of my post-WW2 tank models are of single-colour schemes and adding another monotonous vehicle might not really a good idea. And so, the 1 RTR Chieftain it will be. The disruptive pattern was painted using Tamiya XF-69 NATO Black. However, during painting, I found that the pattern on the side and top elevations did not match. Turning to the internet, I found the build log of a modeller building the same kit and I copied the pattern he used on his Chieftain. The thermal sleeve was painted a mixture of XF-57 Buff and XF-49 Buff while the straps were painted straight XF-49.
The few decals were applied. They adhere with no problems although I still apply AK Interactive's decal setting solution, just in case. I deviated a bit from the instructions by placing a Union Jack on the front left fender. It wasn't on this particular tank but I have seen photos of other 1 RTR Chieftains sporting them. It might not be accurate per se but it was possible.
To tell the truth there aren't many things to do by this time, and mainly it was concerned with further weathering. The commander's machine gun mount was assembled and finally put in place and followed by the towing cables. As many photos, and also mentioned by the said modeller above (who was a Chieftain tank commander) showed the absence of the side-view mirrors, they were left off permanently. No other accessories were provided with the kit and I have run out of British accessories in my stash. I however managed to try some other methods to create camouflage nets. I tried to replicate the type usually used by the NATO armies by using the regular bandage gauze as base and adding tea leaves from used teabags. However the brand I drink has been using granulated leaves without me realising it. The gauze was soaked in white glue and the contents of teabag was poured onto it. Since the tea leaves are granulated rather than pieces of broken leaves, they look weird, to say the least. Nevertheless I used them.It was painted XF-49 Khaki , and then folded and placed onto the left-hand side turret bin.
No paint chippings were done as the same modeller said that these tanks were regularly repainted and that tank crews were not wearing hobnailed boots. I however made the model look dusty by applying thinned XF-55 Deck Tan all over it (I have run out of the usually used XF-57 Buff but found Deck Tan to be a very good substitute). The lower glacis plate and part of the forward portion of the RPG skirt was then washed with AK Interactive Mud Wash. The exhaust nozzles receive a rather thick wash of X-19 Smoke. Finally guitar string was used as radio aerials although I manged to cut the one shorter than the other. The shorter one was used on the turret roof while the other was used on the turret side. As the model has already looked as flat as it is, I did not finish the build by spraying a final layer of flat finish.
This was my first Takom kit and frankly speaking I was quite impressed with it. While originally buying the kit with some reservations, having images of 1000+ parts a la Hobby Boss and Meng kits dancing in my mind, the build process was more akin to a Tamiya. In general the parts fitted nicely while having fairly respectable details. Painting directions however was a bit 'off' and I wish Takom had more BAOR markings. Well, at least it was better than their Mark 10 kit which featured an Abrams stand-in for a popular TV show and a static target at BATUS (yes, a static target waiting to be blasted by Challys, what was Takom thinking?).