Tamiya 1/35 Panther Ausf.D

Tank No.745, 7th Company, 52nd Panzer Battalion, 39th Panzer Regiment, Kursk, July 1943

First order of business was to add some detail to the rather sparse interior of the kit commander’s cupola and after hours of searching the net I could not find any clear reference for this feature. The closest I could find were some interior photos and illustrations of Bovington’s early Tiger 1 which has a similar dustbin type cupola. Using these pics as my reference I added the detail you see here using plastic card and rod. It’s not 100% accurate but it looks a lot better than nothing. Of course since completing the model I did find some good pics of the Panther D’s turret interior and surprisingly my effort is pretty close!

Lenses cut from clear acetate were glued to the inside of the periscope openings before the other interior detail was added.

Missing weld beads were added using lengths of Evergreen plastic rod and stretched sprue. Once glued in place these were drenched with Tamiya extra thin liquid cement to soften them up. They were then shaped using the point of a needle mounted in a pin vice. Existing weld beads were also beefed up using the same method.

The kit’s smoke grenade launcher brackets were replaced with finer items made from .020 thou plastic card. In this shot you can also see some of the existing weld beads which have been given some extra body.

Plumbing for the launchers was added using brass tube and fine wire.

Model Point 90mm Nb.k.wg smoke/grenade throwers (empty), item number 3551-1 were used to replace the kit parts.

Launcher wiring connected.

The turned brass MG 34 muzzle from Aber’s update set 35 L-184 was used in the absence of any kit offering for the turret mounted coaxial machine gun.

The same Aber update set as the MG 34 also includes a turned aluminium KwK 42 L/75 gun barrel and eight piece turned brass and P/E muzzle brake.

A new support bracket for the exhaust pipes was made using Evergreen plastic strip to replace the heavy looking kit part. The bracing rod in the open end of each pipe was added using stretched sprue.

The handle on the back of each headlight cover bracket was added using brass wire.

Extra detail was added to the jack and fire extinguisher using plastic card, plastic rod and brass wire.

Even though I didn’t use the metal gun barrel from Tamiya’s Detail-Up set, I did use the plastic parts for detailing the turret interior. These include the rear end of the coax MG 34, the binocular main gun sight and the breach for the main gun (above). As these parts may be glimpsed through open turret hatches, they received a quick paint job.

Kit external tool racks were used with the addition of some extra detail in the way of Aber’s workable P/E clamps and clasps.

Left side tool rack with extras.

The hull and turret with most extras added, these include the P/E Grille Set 12666 from Tamiya, most of the bits from the very fragile Gum Ka P/E set T-07 and lots of plastic and brass wire bits from me. The whole thing has been given a coat of red primer.

Most of the external stowage painted, weathered and ready to be attached.

Road wheels, drive sprockets and idler wheels have all been painted and weathered prior to installation.

With the finished running gear in place, the WWII Productions resin individual track link sets were cleaned up, assembled and painted before being very carefully installed. These tracks are workable but the click together joining system is inherently weak and during installation several breaks did occur. Very annoying and very time consuming to repair. I don’t think I will be using them again. Also in this shot you can see along the bottom edge of the upper hull that I have used plastic strip to beef up the attachment points for the P/E hangers and side skirts from Armorscale. These will replace the overly thick plastic kit parts

The completed model showing the Armorscale side skirts painted and hung. Also in this shot can be seen Tamiya’s P/E grille set and brass radio antenna from Adlers Nest. Securing the tow cables, spare track links and tow hooks are lots of P/E chains and pins from Gum Ka. The bucket hanging from the jack handle was found in the spares box while the straight-sided can next to it was scratch built from plastic card and wire. The exposed hinge teeth of the the spare track links were drilled and pins made from brass wire were selectively inserted.

I don’t normally add figures to my models but these guys looked much better than Tamiya’s usual offering so with a bit of extra detail added here they are. I’m not really happy with my effort but I suppose they do add an element of life and a sense of scale.

GALLERY

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Bronco 1/35 Rheinmetall-Borsig ‘Rheintochter’ R-1

In 1942 the Luftwaffe asked Rheinmetall-Borsig to develop an anti-aircraft missile and the Rheintochter 1 was the result. It was a subsonic, two-stage, solid-fuelled, radio controlled rocket that was ground-launched from a rail attached to a converted 88mm Flak 41 gun mount. The four smaller fins at the tip of the nose were radio controlled and used to guide the missile towards its target. When close enough to the target its 150kg warhead was detonated by the Kranich acoustic proximity fuse which was housed in the control compartment in its nose.

All the stabilising and control fins on the Rheintochter were made of a highly compressed laminated wood called Lignofol. To reproduce the look of this material I was eager to use Ushi van der Rosten’s Wood Grain Decal. To achieve the look I was after I first gave the fins a coat of Gunze Sangyo H318 Radome and then applied some colour variation by carefully spraying Tamiya XF-59 Desert Yellow in controlled but random looking patterns. Next I masked and sprayed the bolted mounting brackets at the base of each fin silver.

The decal was then cut to fit the shape of the fin as closely as possible. Note also that great care was taken to make sure that the line of the woodgrain pattern on the decal followed the shape and angle of the fin. In reality the fins were made from two pieces of ply, with the shaped leading edge being a separate piece added to the main fin. I tried to achieve this look by applying the decal in two separate pieces that were cut from different areas of the decal sheet.

The four large first-stage stabiliser fins complete. The six smaller second stage fins received the same treatment but once the decal was completely dry they were given a very thin coat of clear orange. This gave them a noticeably darker appearance which corresponded pretty well with my reference.

The painted and decaled guide fins waiting to be attached to the rocket’s nose.

Rather than the large, flat wooden fin braces that were attached to the outer tips of the four rear stabiliser fins, I chose the option of the much more discrete angled metal ones that were bolted to the inner surfaces of the two outer fins. The flat P/E items supplied in the kit were discarded and replaced with more accurate ones made from Evergreen plastic strip and rod.

The holes for the six rocket exhausts were moulded closed so I drilled and cut them open for a more accurate result.

The exhaust nozzles were then very carefully glued in place with the aid of lots of liquid glue. Also in this shot you can see that I have hollowed out the end of the wiring conduit and added two or three lengths of wire and fed them through the exhaust opening as per my reference pics.

I decided not to use the kit supplied P/E bolt panels for the first stage fin mounts as the bolt heads seemed a bit too flat. So the P/E strips of bolt heads were replaced by drilling holes along each side of the plastic mounting brackets and glueing into each hole a short length of Evergreen .020 plastic rod. When the glue was well and truly dry the plastic bolt heads were filed to an even, but slightly more prominent length.

Once all the fin brackets were finished I noticed that the very heavy, bolted seam joint on the fin sleeve had been omitted by the manufacturer! I added this rather prominent detail using plastic strip, rod and Milliput.

Painting and weathering is almost complete. The dark red colour of the fuel cells and the first stage exhaust nozzles represents red primer because in reality these parts were made of sheet steel. This colour is a mix of Tamiya XF-7 Flat Red and XF-64 Red Brown. The rest of the missile was masked and sprayed various shades of silver and metallic grey from the wonderful range of Alclad II lacquers. Note also in this and the next shot the various screw holes, panel lines and other holes that have been added after careful study of reference photos. Some were added after painting was complete as new reference pics were discovered.

All shading and weathering was applied using the airbrush and a very thin mix of black/brown. The dark red areas ended up receiving a lot more shading than is seen here.

The plastic handles and shafts of the gun mount’s control wheels were replaced with brass wire and tube.

The Flak 41 gun mount construction complete. Note the brass pin protruding from the launch rail. This pin fits into a corresponding hole that has been drilled into the rocket and holds it securely in position.

A few minor alterations were made before painting was commenced.

Looking very bright in this shot before the dark red was made considerably darker.

 

GALLERY

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Zoukei-mura 1/32 Dornier Do 335 A-0 ‘Pfeil’

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Do 335 A-1, W.Nr. 240167 Oberpfaffenhofen April 1945. (speculative)

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Even if it’s not the first step in the instructions, I usually like to start with the assembly of the engine or, in this case, the engines. This kit provides two very acceptable representations of the DB 603 A twelve-cylinder inverted-vee liquid cooled engine. Even though Zoukei-mura include the completely hidden internal cylinder detail they don’t provide much of the very visible external wiring. The internal cylinders were removed from the front engine before assembly and the resulting cavity was filled with as much lead shot as I could cram in there. Once assembled and painted gloss black with a wash of flat earth, I added the external wiring using fine solder and jewellers wire. Also a small disc was cut from some P/E mesh found in my spares drawer and glued over the supercharger intake.

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Very busy under the front engine. This detail will be visible with the cowlings removed.

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Rear engine ready for installation. Most of the lower wiring detail was not added because it was never going to be seen. There will be lots of plumbing though.

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The ejection seat also received some extra details. These included a new parachute pack behind the headrest, new headrest and backrest padding, a beautiful set of HGW microtextile seat belts and, because I fixed the armrests in the upright position, some mounting detail was added under the armrest supports. The brass mounting clips for the shoulder harnesses were later painted black.

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Side consoles with replacement throttle control levers made from Evergreen plastic strip.

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Instrument panel in place with MDC instrument dial decals replacing those supplied in the kit. Instrument dial bezels have been painted individually.

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Wiring was added to the back of each instrument. This feature will be visible when the model is complete.

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Toe straps made from lead foil were added to the rudder pedals. A new oxygen hose was made to replace the short kit part by wrapping solder wire around a copper wire core.

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New reflector elements were cut from clear plastic sheet to replace the thick kit offering and a power cable made from solder wire was also added.

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Front engine, main armament, cockpit, oil and main fuel tanks and rear engine firewall all assembled and waiting for rear engine to be installed.

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This shot shows wiring added to the starboard cockpit console. Never to be seen again! The guns’ ammo boxes were also packed full of lead shot.

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The rear engine firewall with some extra plumbing and wiring.

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All its innards in place. To my astonishment everything fitted pretty much perfectly!

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Although not accurate, the radiator detail is still very nice.

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The back of the radiator showing the cooling flap actuator mechanism.

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After closer examination I determined that the radiator flaps were completely inaccurate and so replaced them with scratch-built items made from .005″ Evergreen plastic card.

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The main elements are now all together. At this point I am going to ask why on earth Zoukei-mura have insisted on moulding the majority of the parts of this kit in a very brittle, frosted semi-transparent plastic. They have also inexplicably moulded the wing mounted landing light cover and navigation light covers out of the same textured plastic!! I was able to polish the larger landing light cover to an acceptable state of clarity but the smaller nav light covers were impossible.

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The hardness of this translucent plastic also made the task of applying rivet detail all the more tedious. Fortunately I was after a subtle effect but still had to press very hard to get any result at all. Also, this brittle plastic almost caused a huge disaster when, after applying an oil wash to the silver painted interior of the starboard bomb bay, this large part actually cracked and broke in two! I was initially horrified and dumbstruck, but after closer examination I determined that the break was fairly clean and with aid of Tamiya extra thin cement and lots of super glue I was able to affect a very clean repair. Because of the liberal application of the CA glue to the fuselage interior the bomb bay doors would have to be glued shut.

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A new D/F loop was fashioned using a flat strip of spare P/E which was then attached to the base of the original kit part.

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Lower engine detail with radiator and exhausts attached.

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Complete fuselage and wings primed and ready for some camouflage.

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In this shot the undersurfaces have already been painted RLM 76 and the first of the upper surface greens (RLM 82) has been applied.

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RLM 81 Brown Violet was next.

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Decals have been applied in this shot. The fuselage cross was carefully masked and sprayed to avoid the multiple cuts that would be necessary for the decal to fit over the removable engine covers.

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Undersurfaces have received moderate to heavy weathering.

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After careful examination of photographic evidence I determined that the tyre tread pattern was usually worn pretty well completely smooth, so the kit tyres were sanded until there was only the vaguest hint of tread left.

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The flat moulded plastic catch hooks and air lines on the wheel hubs were replaced with scratch-built items and the tyres have been flat-spotted.

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The undercarriage legs are nicely moulded but some extra detail does need to be added. This will take the form of  brake lines on the main legs and hydraulic lines on the nose wheel leg.

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Nose wheel attached.

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Starboard wheel temporarily in place.

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Main undercarriage legs firmly glued to their doors with brake lines in place.

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The boarding ladder release handle was scratch-built using Evergreen plastic rod and card. The knob on the end was made by building up layers of white glue. The colour is purely speculative.

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The kits’ clear plastic pitot tube snapped in half before I could get it off the sprue so I replaced it with a much more accurate item made using Albion Alloys slide fit brass tube.

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The windscreen seems to have been moulded too flat which meant it was slightly wider than the cockpit rail. To pinch it in a bit, small holes were drilled into the bottom of the windscreen frame with corresponding holes drilled into the top of the cockpit wall. This little exercise was a pain but it did the trick.

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The location holes for the windscreen can be seen here. After closer examination of reference photos, I removed the knobs on the ends of the red canopy release and yellow canopy locking levers.

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Front engine cowlings removed.

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Front and rear engine cowls are all removable and when closed are held in place with small, strategically placed, blobs of Blu-Tack!

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Rear DB 603, starboard.

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Rear DB 603, port.

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The markings and paint scheme are purely speculative on my part mainly because I wanted to do an example of a Do 335 A-1 but didn’t want to do one with any external bare metal panels because usually any bare metal panels were covered with manufacturer’s stencilling.

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GALLERY

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Tamiya 1/32 Mitsubishi A6M2b ZERO Model 21

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Aircraft flown in the Pearl Harbour attack by Lt Saburo Shindo, Air superiority command, 2nd strike unit, aboard carrier Akagi, lead ship of Carrier Div. 1 Hawaii, December 8, 1941.

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The first step in my order of construction (step 40 in the kit instructions) was the beautiful little Nakajima ‘Sakae’ Model 12 engine. Here I have added a wiring harness and some other plumbing using various gauges of copper wire.

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Wired, plumbed and painted.

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The engine fully painted, assembled and ready for installation. The firewall, with its oil and fuel tanks attached, is only dry-fitted to the engine mount at this point.

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Cockpit elements complete. Lots of extra detail added here, including wiring, handles, pushrods and HGW’s brilliant micro textile seat belts. The main colour used for the cockpit interior is Tamiya XF-71 Cockpit Green with a good dash of Gunze Sangyo H58 Interior Green added to knock the brightness out of it.

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The instrument panel was next.

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Cockpit module complete and ready to be installed.

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With the interior components installed, the main construction was completed and painting commenced. After the application of the main cammo colour of Gunze H61 IJN Grey was completely dry, the weathering process began. This was commenced by carefully running the very sharp point of a 6B graphite pencil along and around all panel lines and fastener screw heads. These rather dark lines were then muted down by very carefully over spraying them with a thin mix of IJN Grey with a dash of my black/brown mix added. Before this colour was completely dry the entire surface of the model was polished using a few drops of water and the second finest Micromesh cloth. This formed a slurry of the shading colour which was wiped away using a soft cloth leaving this slightly darker, subtle colour in the recessed surface detail. After this process was complete I decided to mask and spray all the national and tactical markings and the wings’ red ‘Don’t Step’ safety lines. Once this was complete I very carefully polished the entire model using the finest Micromesh cloth. This gives the model a beautifully even, glass-like sheen.

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The sprayed red safety lines. Also in this shot can be seen that each rivet on the rear cockpit combing has been carefully dotted with a Prismacolor sliver pencil.

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The shiny surface can be seen a bit better in this rather poor quality shot. The engine has also been fixed in place at this point.

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Because the kit’s tail wheel is made to actually retract, Tamiya has left off its very prominent sealing boot which would interfere with its operation. I wanted to include this feature so some tiny attachment brackets were made from thin plastic strip and glued in place. The tail wheel was then permanently fixed in the fully extended position and the sealing boot was added by filling the gap around it with Milliput. Then, with the aid of some good reference photos, the putty was sculpted into the appropriate shape.

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Tail wheel with boot finished and installed.

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Folded and extended wing tips are provided and can be easily interchanged. These are the folded tips.

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Two sizes of wheel chocks are supplied, these larger ones are to be placed in front of the wheels while there are smaller ones to be placed at the rear. I could’t find any photographic evidence of the smaller rear chocks being used so I only finished the larger front ones. I added some extra detail by cutting a simple wood grain texture into each panel with the tip of a scalpel; adding end cap plates from plastic strip, and replacing the rather thick white string supplied in the kit with a much finer, smooth cord.

GALLERY

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Hasegawa 1/32 Focke-Wulf Fw 190 D-9

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These aircraft flew top cover for the unit’s departing and returning Me 262s and even though there is no official title for this small group of colourful Doras the word Papagei, meaning parrot, was used by the unit as one of its radio call signs. It is commonly thought that the red and white striped under surfaces of these D-9s and D-11s was adopted for quick recognition by the airfield’s flak gunners.

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The latest illustrations of this aircraft by Tom Tullis show the wing and horizontal tail upper surfaces as being RLM 75 Grey-Violet/ RLM 74 Grey-Green. As I finished this model twelve years ago following Tom’s original interpretation that all the upper surfaces were painted late war RLM 82 Bright Green and RLM 83 Dark Green, that’s the way it’s going to stay!

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Verkaaft’s mei Gwand ‘I foahr in himmel! Sell my clothes I’m going to heaven! It was said that this saying reflected Sachsenberg’s never-say-die attitude and his aggressive fighting spirit. He was awarded the Knight’s Cross of the Iron Cross and survived the war with a total of 104 victories.

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Sell my clothes I’m going to heaven!

 

Masudaya’s 1/5 Scale Automaton ‘Maria’ from Metropolis

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Maria—restored 2015

I purchased this vinyl model back in the 1980s and when I had my shop in the ’90s she stood proudly on display in the front window. At that time I had only given her a quick coat of gold lacquer but not bothered to fill any joins or correct any faults. So after 30 years I thought it was about time to give the old girl a makeover.

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With the original gold paint stripped back, major joins were filled with Milliput and Mr Surfacer liquid putty. The kit’s four solid, moulded-on straps that connected her legs to her body were removed and later replaced with more accurate items made from P/E brass strip.

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Her head was given a coat of Mr Base White 1000 primer to reveal any flaws that needed fixing. There were a few pin holes, but these were easily filled.

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The body was given a good coat of Tamiya Surface Primer Gray. The join around her waist still needed a bit more attention but I could not eliminate it completely and it is still just visible on the completed model.

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With her new connecting leg straps fitted, the model was given several coats of Alclad II Lacquer Pale Burnt Metal and now stands proudly in my dark grey display cabinet.

Tamiya 1/32 Mosquito FB Mk.VI

 

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Mosquito FB Mk.VI  HX922/EG-F as flown by Group Captain P.C. Pickard during Operation Jericho.

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Kit bombs with a little extra detail. The kit’s fusing prop blades were given a twist to add some pitch and small rings from the P/E spares drawer were added to their noses.

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The bombs were first given a coat of Tamiya XF-61 Dark Green. Then, with the airbrush pressure turned right down so the paint would spatter, a very thin mix of Tamiya XF-59 Desert Yellow was unevenly sprayed over the front three quarters of each bomb. Lots of scuffs and scratches were then added using various coloured pencils.

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The main gear doors, which had already been painted by Brett, were weathered with an oil wash to the silver interior and some careful airbrushed shading and streaking to the grey exterior.

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I decided to replace the kit’s clear plastic supercharger intake guards with scratch-built items made using  .010 x .030″ Evergreen plastic strip and some fine P/E mesh, again from the spares drawer.

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Once painted and fitted to the model they looked pretty good!

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The boarding ladder was painted using my mix of British interior green and given lots of scratches with a mix of dark grey and red brown.

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Once painted black with yellow tips, the prop blades were weathered using the same, thin, Desert Yellow mix used on the bombs. Scratches were applied to their edges using a Prismacolor silver pencil. The prop hubs were dirtied up with my black/brown mix.

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When the model was handed over to me the main construction had been completed by Brett Green. Brett had also masked the canopy frame and given the whole model a good coat of Tamiya AS11 Medium Sea Grey straight from the ‘rattle’ can so all I had to do was add the dark green camouflage. The outline for the green cammo was carefully sprayed freehand maintaining as tight a line as I could. A rough squiggle was then applied so I could easily see which side of the lines I had to fill in with the main coat. Spraying on the wrong side of the line is an easy mistake to make and it’s a mistake I have made plenty of times in the not so distant past!

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My choice for RAF dark green is always Gunze Sangyo H330. I know this is not the recommended colour for WW2 RAF aircraft but it’s the one I prefer to use.

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The area around the gun camera port was sprayed silver and then masked off with a small square of masking tape before the main green coat was applied. Once the green had been sprayed the mask was removed and the edge between the two colours was roughened up by some careful chipping of the green paint with the sharp end of a wooden toothpick.

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Gun dust, exhaust stains and general grime were all added with the airbrush and a very thin mix of Tamiya red brown and flat black. The tyres were given a very watery wash of Tamiya XF-59 Desert Yellow.

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Group Captain P.C. Pickard and his navigator Flight Lieutenant J.A. Broadley RNZAF were both killed at the end of the Amiens raid when this aircraft was attacked and shot down by a Focke Wulf 190 of JG26.

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These last two photos were taken by Brett and will appear in his latest ‘How To Build’ book.

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