by: Roman [ ]
Inside the Armour Publications is a continuation of the Inside the Armour resin aftermarket producer (no longer active) and you might have seen their previous releases (click on “more reviews”) – “Modelling the Churchill” and “Scratchbuilding masterclass”.
The current subject is dedicated to Soviet made armour and in a way it continues the line of “Modelling the Churchill” with Chris Meddings (the man behind the company) building most of the models for the book and other modellers paint them and incorporate into their dioramas.
The major difference between “MtC” and this book is that it is bigger, thicker and more diverse. While “MtC” was focused on various modifications of Churchill tanks thus limiting the target audience, the “Soviet Armour in Foreign Wars” deals with various subjects and probably more appealing topic as Soviet post-WWII vehicles can be seen in virtually any conflict during the last 60 years.
“Soviet Armour in Foreign Wars” is printed on a high quality thick paper with “perfect binding” which gives a nice feeling when held in hands. Further, it has a soft cover, A4 size and being 196 pages long it is almost 1,6cm thick! Another nice “feature” is that the book is shipped in a clear plastic bag and it contains a set of decals and etched parts (each in their own individual clear plastic bag).
The content of the book is divided into ten chapters:
1. Destroyed ZSU-23-4, Iraq
2. “Misrata Steadfastness”, T-55 Libya
3. “Fall of Saigon”, NVA T-54
4. “Gaddafi’s Fist”, Libyan T-72M1
5. “Suppressive fire”, NVA BTR-40A
6. Egyptian T-54, Yom Kippur War
7. “Assault on Kabul”, Afghan BMP-1
8. Painting figures for AFV modellers
9. Afghan Armour (reference)
10. Extras (instructions for decals and etched parts)
Chapters 1-7 have a detailed description of the build first which is then followed by painting and building a diorama (where applicable). The builds in chapters 1-4 are done by Chris Meddings himself where he demonstrates classy scratch build possibilities and detailed guidelines on “how to do” those modifications. Interestingly, he is not using much of commercial aftermarket and relies on styrene sheets and wire for most of the improvements. Ivan Cocker finished the painting and diorama for chapter 1 where the super-detailed Dragon’s Shilka (ZSU-23-4) is depicted as a destroyed vehicle in Iraq. Ivan’s finishing techniques are shown in detail and he did a great compact setting for the model with excellent burnt out effects, graffiti and authentic scenery.
Chapter two is another collaboration started with detailing of Tamiya’s T-55 by Chris based on reference material and then Jose Brito, one of the most known European modellers finished it as a Rebel Libyan forces tank and placed it into a street diorama setting. This article would be very useful for anyone interested in detailing old Tamiya’s kit and making it up to today’s standard. Importantly, Jose included a lot of step-by-step images on how he designed and created the street section and reproduced the ambience of street chaos during the war.
Chapter 3 is another interesting project – Chris backdates T-55 from Tamiya into T-54 and this is illustrated by a reference feature inside the chapter provided by Dinh Nguyen Anh Vu from Vietnam. Finally, Japanese diorama maker Norio Takemura makes a great story around NVA entering Saigon. He builds a street section with a temple, and places there the tank, a jeep, a taxi and over a dozen of figures. Very inspiring work!
Chapter 4 – here Chris builds a T-72M from another Tamiya kit. This is of course not the best starting point nowadays with newest Trumpeter kits, but Chris shows how to elevate the old “workhorse” from Tamiya. The reader would surely notice that he used a resin turret, resin wheels and metal barrel – things that are no longer necessary for newer kits. Anyway, you can check this build as a reference for a modelling project using an up-to-date kit or just to learn some techniques. This model is finished by Kristof Pulinckx - an editor of Tanker techniques magazine. Here Kristof shows how to make a worn tank with dusty weathering and makes a road section for the model. The figures for that chapter are painted by Alex Long and this is explained in detail in Chapter 8.
Chapters 5-7 are different from the first four as they show both build and paint by one modeller.
First, Ken Abrams converted a Trumpeters BTR-40 into anti-aircraft vehicle with ZPTU-2 in the open fighting compartment. Ken used MMK conversion, DEF model wheels and metal barrels to complement the build and then he shares his vision and skills on how to achieve an attractive finish on a model. Of course, he did a nice base for that model as well, and everything from cutting the initial foam pieces to painting and adding vegetation is covered in the book.
Chapter 6 is written by a modeller that is well known for his Soviet projects – Andy Taylor. Andy built an Egyptian T-54 from another Tamiya’s T-55 kit and it is packed with detail. Just check how the torn mantlet cover looks! Some of the parts were than cast by Chris Meddings and there were a number of those for sale some time ago (not sure if it is still available). The build is followed by a detailed description of Andy’s techniques on how to finish that model. Personally, this is my favourite model in this book.
The last build and paint chapter has a BMP-1 and it is Chris himself who did all work in that section. Again, some very cool scratch building skills are shown here and to complement his own parts Chris used commercial etched parts and resin from MasterClub and SP design. The model is finished as an Afghan vehicle and it has a very original element (done after references) – DShK mounted on the roof behind the turret.
As mentioned above, Chapter 8 has a step-by-step on the figures for T-72M used in the book and it explains how to paint them with acrylic paints. Additional eye candy is Chapter 9 by Patrick Winnepennickx with his own pictures taken in Afghanistan that show different armour vehicles like BMP, T-64, T-62 and they might inspire a modeller to build an abandoned model or an operational vehicle depending on the preferences.
At the very end of the book there are instructions on using the supplied etched grill meshes for T-55A/Tiran5/Enigma (Tamiya) from Voyager model and profiles for the supplied decals (NVA T-54 two variants and Libyan T-55, also two options).
Overall, I think it is a nice book which would be useful to many modellers who like Soviet armour, especially when one would like to add some extra detail with their own parts, or convert a kit (which is often the case for such projects). Further, there is something to learn for all of us when it comes to finishing a model from those articles and especially to build a busy diorama setting like in case of Libyan T-55 by Jose Brito or Saigon diorama by Norio Takemura. The negative sides of this book are the weight (which adds to the shipping price) and the “perfect” binding (which makes full opening of some pages difficult, but probably only when you read it for the first time). Nevertheless, the positive aspects of this title are far more important than the negative ones and I am sure that those that will get this book will be happy to read it and hopefully build a model? Soviet armour is cool and this book is another proof of this!