by: Adie Roberts [ ]
In 1936 Russia decided to build a repair base, Repair base 77 as it became known was built in the Russian Far East, in the city of Voroshilov. Known today as Ussuriysk.
Officially opened in May 1940 to repair tanks, tractors and other equipment.
In 1953 the base turned into the armour repair plant, the plant was run successfully for a number of years and became a massive hub during the Cold War years. There are pictures on the internet with scenes at the repair base 77 in the mid-1980’s which show just how important the plant had become with scores of tanks and workers. Some further pictures show inside the repair plant in the 2000’s with a number of tanks being repaired. Unfortunately, Repair Base 77 became bankrupt, some of its facilities were sold to private companies, though a huge amount now lays dormant as if it was a ghost plant with hundreds of old Russian armour literally rusting away.
This is the plant for which the AFV modeller Publications based this book.
This is the very first time that I have been lucky enough to review an AFV Modeller Publication I know of the incredible work of David Parker and was lucky enough to meet him at the Nationals in November last year. So being asked to review this particular book was a must do when I was offered it by my Editor-in-Chief.
The book on first impressions alone looks superb when thumbing through it the quality of the photographs and pictures is stunning, so let us see what it is really like.
Opening the book on the very first page the inside cover has grabbed my attention, straight away with little text but a couple of fantastic pictures of the of rows of tanks and a lone T54 standing in the weeds. One other picture sits on the bottom right-hand side a turret with plenty of scratch built parts oozing potential for a great model build.
Trisected T-62 model built by David Parker is the beginning of the book and looking at the fantastic model that David has created moulded into a real photo of repair base 77.
David then goes on to show you how to build a T-62 which has been dissected in three parts, from this fantastic completed model David goes on to explain how to build the diorama.
In sections, part by part it is explained in clear instruction with photos showing you how to go about building your own scrap yard tank. Work begins on the turret first and here he shows you clearly how it is done with a serious of photos showing each process. He started by inserting scratch built plastic rings into the turret hatches to expand on the thickness of the thin plastic.
Throughout the whole process, David clearly explains each process that he does, like expanding the thickness in the lower hull, scratch building with extra plastic to create the effect he wants. Further pictures show you how he created some of the tanks actual internal parts. He shows you where to cut the tank which he quotes “no going back now” The building of the cooling fan was amazing and he clearly tells how he did it and says “it is not as difficult as it looked” But it does look amazing.
Copper wiring is also added by David as he continues his build, one of the parts that really caught my eye whilst reading through was the scratch built ammunition racks and fuel tanks. This is a big project as you realise by the amount of detail in the scratch building alone, but it is displayed and written in a way that makes it easy to digest.
As you progress through the build it starts coming alive with each new part completed, with a fascinating insight into the metal work (Photo-Etch) like using a mini drill with a bur to create the irregular edge where they were torch cut of the tank.
After the completing of the initial build and the painting starts is for me the coming of life of the model.
It is, without a doubt, one of the easiest builds I have ever followed including the scratch building that he has done all of it is done in such an easy explained way. As the build continues and the weathering is being started making it look very realistic to the actual pictures of these particular tanks that are in the scrap yard, before starting the ground works which is one of my favourite part of modelling outside of the kit itself.
David decided during the build that he wanted to add some additional interest and settled on a mechanic with bright orange overalls. He also explains how he painted the figure and weathered it helping us lesser mortals into some figure painting tips. The final part was putting it all together as the diorama as he wanted, and then you are shown a lot of the finished diorama in pictures which really does prove pictures do speak louder than words.
The next section of the book is the amazing photography by Sergey Buyanov at the repair station 77 it is without question a very interesting, inspirational and yet a little sad to see such an amazing amount of armour lying to rot and waste. Straight away I think about all those planes in America all the aircraft that this country has produced in its time and very few of them in a full condition left now. It is a personal annoyance of mine that so many military heritages over the world that has disappeared with nothing to show for it anyway rant over!
These photographs of the site are spread over 41 pages and show so much detail of the armour that has been left behind. The quality is amazing and leaves nothing for you to want, other than being there yourself of course. Sergey has really thought about the pictures that would be required for this book and has not disappointed, there are pictures showing the nearly full tanks lots of close pictures allowing you to see all of the workings inside these steel beasts. I particularly like one of the pictures where T-52 stands in the dirt with its turret facing out towards the rear of the back left looking out over the Russian countryside.
If you are into scrap or wrecked dioramas then this is really an excellent book for you.
The next section of the book is another model build by Mark Neville called green around the gills. I have to confess that I have never seen any of Mark’s work until now and realise I have missed out on some fantastic tips. Just like the build by David Parker Mark Neville gives clear guidance by pictures and text again.
It is different this review as it is much more focused on the painting, weathering and effects. Mark shows many different ways to do things like making the paint look faded and worn, he takes you through ways of cutting out parts of the moulded parts and replacing them with scratch built or aftermarket parts.
He goes on to the weathering making the rust effects look so natural that you have to look twice to see it is still the model. Some of his work with life colour pigments is quite extraordinary and very effective especially the reflecting agent where you could see the difference after being sparingly applied.
A large part of the diorama ground works and walls were explained in detail shown again by outstanding photography work, and giving clear instructions on what products to use and how making it a very easy to follow and a help to anyone that may not have made a diorama before.
Onto the final section of the book sees the final build by Andy Taylor Georgian T-55 following on in the same way as the other articles is another excellent and easy to follow text and super pictures just make it.
Andy writes carefully and shows you what it is that he had to do to make the Georgian T-55, some fantastic work was carried out especially on the scratch built parts that he had to make because the after market set had warped. Clear pictures help show where to add some of the extra parts like wiring and handles are shown.
Andy then starts on the painting taking you through the primer for which he chose Tamiya fine surface grey primer, onto the first colours, which were to add various rust tones with the airbrush. After this, he moved on to the hairspray method with Tamiya brown acrylics using the hairspray method.
He takes you through the weathering effects and again explains in easy to follow text with outstanding photography to follow. The wheels were treated in exactly the same way as the rest of the vehicle along with the tracks to great effect.
Some further effects were created using Ammo of MIG's excellent mud splashes and dry earth effects proved invaluable for this effect.
The final model diorama is shown over the last four pages and is incredible just like the other two builds in this book.
The book is a very valuable addition to anyone’s library of modelling books, the way that David Parker, Mark Neville and Andy Taylor have gone about this book makes it easy to follow for the advanced and novice modeller among us.
It is clearly a fantastic way of teaching modellers new ways to model it was refreshing to read and do the review and I will be keeping this in my library for further reading at a later date. I would love to be able to take this approach to be able to teach people basic diorama building then I would look very closely towards how this book has been written and published if I was lucky enough to get the chance.