Construction part 2
So with things back on track (as it were) the hull and turret were sprayed with shades of dark yellow, using Tamiya paints, the end of the gun being left darker (61-63). After a few hours a blue tack mask was then applied (64, 65), followed by shades of dark(ish) green, using Tamiya and Mr Hobby paints (66, 67). The gun barrel itself was completely masked off, the green only applied to the mantlet (68). The mask removed reveals paler green on top, darkening towards the lower edges (69-71). In photos 72, 73, satin varnish has been applied, then 1/35 scale Archer rub down white crosses, and a start has been made on painting the turret track links with Humbrol Matt 173, being sure to leave the hooks they hang on in the original colour. At first I thought this huge cross was a mistake, but now it seems to go with everything else about this tank being over-sized. The first pin wash / outlining was then carried out (74-76) and most of the track links were over painted with a very thin coat of Humbrol satin black (75); I decided not to go the all rusty route as it seems they would have been factory painted in some very dark colour; one link on the left side has been made to look like it might have been used then replaced. Chips and scratches were added, mostly with Vallejo acrylics (77-82), followed by the start of some detail painting, so exhausts and tools, as well as various streaks and stains using enamel washes (83, 84).
Letís look at the tracks in more detail, making sure things donít go wrong this time. The unpainted track is joined (85, 86) then a double thread is looped in (87) and the track stitched together with several runs back and forth (88) with a final cross over to make sure it is as secure and straight as can be (89). So having fitted one side with some trepidation, expecting any second that the track would snap, or one of the end wheels break, I remembered I was meant to be photographing it, so photo 90 shows the state just before the right hand track is fitted. Photo 91 shows the all-important gentle stretching to make the sure the track will not be too tight. Start by squeezing the track under the idler (92) and the full length of the road wheels, then over the outer row of sprocket teeth. The ridge between the track guard and the side skirts, as well as the double row of guide horns, prevent it from easily going over the entire sprocket in one go (93). Itís then a question of teasing and bending the track further in (94) until the guide horns go inside and the teeth engage with the track (95). At first the teeth went in between the drive links (on left, 96) so the track had be jumped around to the correct holes with a cocktail stick (on left, 97). The tightness of the right track distorts the links so that they curve a little from the front (on right, 97) but otherwise they sit nice and straight (98, 99).
Adding the outer wheels is straightforward apart from the last one next to the idler. You can see how the track curves up from the last inside wheel to the idler (100) so that when the outside wheel is added, it is pushed a little out of line (ringed, 101). Itís made worse because the wheel attaches to a curved arm thatís only supported on one side (ringed, 101). In the photo you can just see where a slice of black sprue has been glued between the mounting arm and the suspension unit behind it; this was left to set overnight to provide an solid, unbending mounting for the problem wheel. While the cement set, the tank was weighted down, then a cotton bud mounted in blue tack was braced against the top of the wheel in order to keep it in line (102). For the purpose of this review and due to laziness, I decided against painting the tracks, instead matting them down with a mixture of black and dark grey pigments, dirtying them up a little with various brown pigments, then using graphite on the treads and guides, as well as on the steel road wheel rims.
On to final construction of the turret, the gun was mounted and kept perfectly vertical until set (103, 104), followed by the IR gear and the commanderís hatch (105, 106). In these photos you can also see my solution to the missing cupola periscopes: black rectangles cut from a sheet of striped decals; as with the hull periscopes, it would have been easier to mask them with tape at the black primer stage. An open hatch with no interior detail is asking for a figure, and this tank also needs something to show just how huge it is, so here is a CMK resin figure body with a Caesar head (107), and fortunately he has enough body to stand high in the hatch so that his hand can be steadying himself on the handle of the IR gear as he gets a good look over the top (108). I think he looks OK anyway, his arm just needed a tiny adjustment under a hairdryer to get the hand in the right place.
This is a simple, well moulded kit that could be built OOB in an evening, but I managed to draw it out with some of the changes, and especially with the trials over the tracks, and I was more than happy to see the turret in place on the completed hull for the first time. The only modification thatís probably a necessity is strengthening the idler axle enough to take the tracks. Trumpeter may have popped this one out in anticipation of the Modelcollect kit; while of course Trumpeterís is much simpler, with its 59 parts compared to Modelcollectís 240+ plastic and metal parts (including real suspension springs), this simplicity will undoubtedly appeal to some modellers, and I definitely enjoyed making and, especially, painting it. I even like the moulded on spare track links.