Model Armour

T-34/76 Mod.1942 Formochka
  
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Steve Reids comprehensive build of the Dragon kit!



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When I heard Dragon was releasing this I immediately ordered one. I have seen some 'Formochka's' built using the old Tamiya 'Uralmash' turret and the Dragon hull. This kit makes life a lot easier!

 

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So what do you get in the kit?  If you have built any Dragon T-34 recently you'll be able to recognize at least some of the parts. The only truly 'new' part in the kit is the pressed turret sprue D. Good news really, because few things in life make me happier than more parts than I can use!

 

The kit includes a painting guide for 3 different vehicles. For you guys who can only build German....one of the marking options is a even a Beautepanzer!

 

If you are interested in building this kit you could do worse than prepare and do a few things....First, find a picture of the tank you want to build. I cleaned up the roadwheels before I did this, then couldn't find a picture of a 'Formochka' with the roadwheels that are actually provided in the kit! T-34's are like Shermans, and Panzer IV's...somewhere out there is a picture of an all steel wheeled 'Formochka' ...but I don't know where it is! I am going to use the solid dished roadwheels out of another Dragon kit. More on this later.

Second...be prepared to either do some easy modifications, or be criticized by rivet counters. I am probably in for both, but...if you see something I am overlooking then please do speak up. This will not be my last T-34 model - educate me!

Getting started

The roadwheels were going to wait for a bit later, but for now, I wanted to articulate the suspension, which is tough to do on the Dragon T-34's. The suspension arms are held in place by coil spring towers that do not move. To cut a long story short, I removed the springs from their towers and replaced the backs on the towers. I modified one for the right side, one for the left as shown below. I then poured a silicone mould of these parts, so after a couple of days I could cast enough copies for this tank and set the mould aside for future builds.

 

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Dive in
This kit uses the same hull as the Dragon T-34/76 mod 1942 hex 'soft-edge' kit #6424. Dimitri Kiyatkin produced an article in which he corrected the hull on this kit. So I made the same changes on my hull! This is a pic of the hull from the 'soft-edge' kit, which is on the left, and the start of the modifications to the 'Formochka' kit...on the right.

 

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Now the un-altered hull alone...

 

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And below is the altered hull. Notice that the cuts still need to be squared up. I have also cut off the fenders...

 

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No T-34 is properly complete without mangled fenders! I'm going to use the tea light technique I learned on ModelArmour, whereby the foil cup from a tea light candle is used. First...insert a rectangle of .040" styrene...

 

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Add the kit photoetch, a few strips (I used .010" X .030" styrene) and you have this...

 

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Here is what it will look like with the engine deck cover in place...

 

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Reference wise the T-34's can be problematic and it's very easy to go wrong should you aspire to a 'perfect' kit. No doubt this will not be the perfect 'Formochka' but I will attempt to fix areas and faults that I'm aware of. For example, Mark Rethoret, the only guy I know of who can look at the 'T-34 Mythical Weapon' book and immediately identify errors in it, sent me this picture...

 

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It shows that I have some work to do on the forward ends of the engine intake screens. I wish I had known this before I put on the photo etch parts!

 

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Then it was time to remove the areas marked by the red circles in the picture above. Then repair the surrounding areas and add a couple of small covers from brass.

 

Back to the shock absorber towers...I removed the mould from the mould box and poured 1 set of parts. Here is the result...

 

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I needed to use this mould to make 4 more sets. Minor point - you can see I also cast a new armoured MG cover for the Hull MG. The Dragon kits MG cover has been criticized because the sight hole above the MG is too high. You can plug this hole and drill another lower as Dimitri Kiyatkin did. I found a part from the old Tamiya kit in my spares box, shortened the snout on the cover, drilled out the hole for the MG and made a mould. Now I can cast as many as I want.

It was now time to tackle what I think was the biggest challenge of the build thus far. Here is the pic of the way the area forward of the engine intakes should have looked...

 

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So some surgery is required, as can be seen on this pic again...

 

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Basically I needed to cut along the red lines and remove the area inside whilst attempting to do as little damage as possible to the surrounding detail. The plastic in this area is actually quite thick, probably .060". I am using a genuine old school modelling trick that some of you have probably seen or used before. I am hoping it is new to some of you because it is a great trick to have in your arsenal.

The first step is to drill holes at each corner. A close up shot of the holes around the right side panel...

 

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Now here is the trick...

 

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Thread dental floss through one of the drilled holes and using a sawing action cut your way to the next hole. As long as your hull is held tightly this is really easy to control and make a nice accurate cut!

I clamped the hull on top of a small wood block as I did the sawing...

 

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Below are a couple of pics of the holes after minor clean up with an X-Acto knife.

The holes are not perfect or symmetrical, but they are going to be filled anyway. The goal was to remove the panels without damaging the surroundings. This technique worked great for that.

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With the holes cut I squared up the holes with an X-Acto knife and some small files, and then filled the holes with styrene. I started by gluing in a 'floor' beneath the holes so that I would have something to glue the sidewalls to. Then I boxed in the holes.

 

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You can also see that as I moved forward I realized that the bolts on the hull just behind the turret ring had to go. I shaved them off and then marked their locations with the point of a scriber. This was done out of habit, and it wasn't even necessary as it turned out!

Here is the start of my patch for the holes...

 

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Then this...

 

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Finally...cut and sand the forward section to match the turret rings curve and slide it in place...

 

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All that remains is to add the foil panels that Vinnie had described to me, and replace the 5 bolts I removed.

Whilst I worked on the deck I also occasionally poured some resin! Here are some of my finished bits...ooer Matron!


Hull MG armoured covers...

 

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Hull shock towers...

 

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Suspension springs...

 

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At this point the engine deck modifications were complete...

 

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The modifications on the rear were simple. The modifications on the front of the engine deck, much more difficult.


Turret forward...

 

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Turret turned left...

 

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Turret slightly left...

 

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Now the suspension. Shock absorber housings in place...

 

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The entire suspension mocked up is shown below. This minor change gives you a huge amount of latitude when you pose the model on the base.

 

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I finished the engine deck modifications and now this project was rolling forward at a much better pace.

It was at this point in the build I learned that the use of wheels from the Dragon kit #6092 would not actually be a good choice for this project. Not impossible...just not very likely. I thought I had it sorted by using these:

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Note: It is correct to build a Formochka with the roadwheels you get in the kit, but it is rare. I have a few pictures of Formochka's with the solid pressed roadwheels so I wanted to go that way.

Next I had to work on some basic groundwork. If I wanted to articulate the suspension the base would have to be made in parallel with the build of the model. Nothing fancy, just the basic ground contour made by gluing a couple of foam sheets together...

 

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Once that was dry I could carve it to the shape I needed.

Back to the model itself, and I ran into some minor fit issues. The rectangular hatch on the rear deck was too large and the round transmission access hatch on the upper rear plate was too large as well. The rectangular hatch could be sanded to fit. The round hatch needed work around the hinge... just remove the portion of the hatch behind the hinge and it fits nicely.

 

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Front hull...if you look at reference pics of T-34's the welds are ridiculous! Huge and sloppy...and great fun to model! Below is my front hull. I textured the Hull MG armour with Mr.Surfacer 1000 and added my resin MG shield. A strip of Styrene in front of the drivers hatch represented the bullet splash shield on the T-34. Strangely the kit did not include this, but the directions show it? When all was in place I stretched some sprue from another kit (contrasting colour - Tamiya Dark Green) and laid on my weld beads.

 

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The Front hull still needed weld beads around the tow hooks and some surgery and weld beads near the tracks. More minor issues arose when I started on the gun and the mantlet. Below is the source of the problem ...Part L19...

 

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Two portions of this part needed to be adjusted. You can see the shims I added on the right, these kept the gun mount from shifting side to side. The post in the centre of L19 attaches to the gun and gun shield. You need to shave the right side of it as well to centre the gun shield. This is what I am talking about...

 

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Sometimes (often) the fix creates another problem...the shims I added prevented the mantlet from fitting properly in the turret. So again some minor surgery was required.

Before...

 

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After....

 

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Below shows it all done. Now it fits like a glove! I added a Jordi Rubio 76 mm aluminium barrel and a weld bead (dark green again)...

 

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One more very minor fit issue I ran into...the lower hull rear. Unfortunately I only had one poor photo of this. The gaps on either end of this were visible. They were too wide to fix by squeezing the hull sides together. I shimmed each end by gluing on a piece of .005" styrene- trimming to shape and gluing in place...

 

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Overall I made a lot of progress and I was really pleased with this kit! There were some issues...but I don't want to make them seem larger than they were. Each was relatively minor.

At this point in the build I became completely side-tracked on another project which was to support this build...I worked all day and poured 3 resin moulds around midnight one evening. Morre on that later, but it would make a great improvement to the finished project!

 

Back to the main build...I already have the base I wa going to use so I measured that and glued together a couple of foam blocks to fit. Once dry, I carved my basic landscape...

 

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Next, grabbed the tank and make my best guess at normal ride height of the vehicle...i.e. how much room between the bottom of the hull and the ground. Temporarily attached a couple of spacers, in this case Styrene I-Beams...

 

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Picked my spot on the base...

 

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.....and start adding wheels!

 

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Remember that when a suspension component reaches its maximum travel (up or down) that is it. The wheel either comes off the ground (downward limit) or the suspension 'bottoms out', or on a T-34 hits the bump-stops (upward limit). You'll see some styrene shims added under the wheels in a couple of the pictures...those support the wheels which have reached their maximum downward travel while the glue dries.

Besides the shock absorber housing modifications covered earlier in this build, I needed to make one more change to the Dragon suspension. The forward roadwheels on each side do not have shock towers (in the kit). The suspension arms (parts A1) were fixed by a small tab which fitted into a corresponding cut out in the hull. Here, one tab is highlighted in black so you can see it...

 

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Those tabs needed to be removed and the arms were then free to move...

 

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Personal opinion - it takes a fair amount of effort to do this. So if you are going to bother, then go for it and make the tank traverse some rough terrain! It wasn't difficult, but it was too much effort involved to have your model driving over a twig

in the street!

At this point I had to make some wheel corrections. Side by side the difference is obvious.

 

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The correct roadwheels:

 

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This was my third set of wheels for this project! Five pairs per side, times three, carry the 8...that's 60 wheels. All because I cleaned seams first and looked second! For the truly committed...all setbacks are temporary!


So here we are back on track...

 

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There was also a correction I made to the drive wheel that I will cover later. The following are pictures of the kit mocked up, so that I could see roughly where I was headed. In these pics the wrong wheels are still on. But you get the idea...

 

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Next up were the turret parts. This is what I found with Dragons gun bits...

 

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....and this...

 

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I knew this area was going to need some help if it was going to be visible. I had the new AFV CLUB T-34/76 model 1942 with interior, but since I had been focusing on the Formochka I hadn't looked it over that thoroughly. Then I did. I found some great interior pieces, but I was still not ready to trash a $50 kit to get some detail parts for a $45 kit. I collected the bits I wanted to use, assembled them, filled knockouts and holes, removed the seams, and made a mould...

 

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.....and put the gun together

 

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And some other bits too...

 

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This is what it would look like through the hatches...

 

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I needed to add some small gear boxes, wiring, vision blocks, seats and ammo boxes on the floor etc. But it would look pretty good through the hatches.

Now that took me an entire modelling day, but all my future T-34/76's can now have a basic interior in about an hour! I need only pour the resin, clean up the parts and glue everything together. My copies have no seams and no knock-outs etc. Had I just put the AFV Club parts together and used them, that alone would have taken 2 or 3 hours. To me this shows the benefit of resin casting.

Mark Rethoret sent me some rather nice interior pics at this point from the Littlefield collections T-34/76 which is not a Formochka, but a great reference for paint colour, gun details, and general layout. Thanks for letting me use these Mark!

 

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Next...I added the tow shackles and latches to the rear of the hull and the radio pot on the right side of the hull, no problems. Then I started on the drivers hatch. The kit includes clear parts for the vision blocks. I wanted to show the armoured covers for the vision blocks opened. I added the right side armoured cover and then noticed that the left side cover was identical to the right. It should be a mirror image of the other one. So I had to cut the hinges off of the left cover and reposition them. Below is a picture of what I meant. Unfortunately...difficult to see...the hinge tabs are tiny!

This picture shows the corrected positions of the tabs...

 

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Note: This cover will fit without moving the hinge tabs, but it just doesn't look right. After that I went after another problem with the hull. The kit comes with rounded front fenders appropriate for this tank. But if you want to model them missing, which was common, you have to rebuild a small portion of the front hull. This is the area I needed to work on...

 

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I used .040" plasticard, cut the basic shape, glued it in place and filed it to shape.

 

Right side...

 

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Left side...

 

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Then I started on the brass. I was using an Aber Photo-etch set- T-34 Fenders. I also bent up all the tie-downs for the fenders and super-glued them on. This is time consuming stuff for me!

 

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Here are a couple of close-ups...

 

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That was relatively frustrating, since I didn't have a lot of photo-etch experience at that time. It came out well but it was actually kind of tiring! Since I planned on leaving the turret hatches opened I needed to add some detailing to the turret interior. So I scratch-built some of the basic shapes, just enough to catch some paint. I'll grant you this isn't pretty, but the drivers hatch will be closed, through the turret hatches this should look good enough...

 

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Next, I put the proper wheels on the hull and immediately noticed that the Factory 112 wheels sit farther out from the hull than all the other wheel types do. All that is required is to shorten the axles, but you need to know how short. I put one of the steel wheels on and used it as an alignment guide. When a T-34 damaged a wheel it was not uncommon for it to be replaced with whatever was readily available. I have been playing with this idea, and seeing the all steel wheels on there I had decided that it is staying. It added some character don't you think?

 

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Which lead naturally enough into job #2. Damaging the fenders. As I said I have very little experience with photoetch. To damage the brass I did what I would do with Styrene. Flipped the upper hull over and thinned the fenders with a sanding wheel with a Dremel motor-tool. Being very careful not to generate too much heat, I thinned the fenders. The heat did warp them a small amount, then I mangled them with a pair of tweezers. There are many, many pictures to use as reference.

 

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The picture below shows damage right above the all steel wheel, as if whatever event damaged the original wheel damaged the fender too.

 

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The front hull, inboard of the tracks, has a couple of prominent welds where the front hull joins the hull sides. The model shows this, but I wanedt to re-do those welds and make them more irregular. So I cut out the kit welds.


The right side...

 

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The left side...

 

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This is when the realization hit that I could not glue the hull together until the interior details were complete. So I shifted back to that work. I textured the interior of the turret with Mr.Surfacer 1000...

 

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This is a pressed steel turret, not cast, so I did this lightly...just enough texture so that when I applied a wash or filter the paint had something to grab onto. Then painted first black, then a thin coat of white...

 

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Now I could start the interior detailing. I had a Tank Workshop T-34/76 hull interior at one time. I painted, but never used the drivers area. So I am using it on this project. The Tank workshop kit was originally made for the old Tamiya T-34/76 so it took some hacking to make it fit. Again, this is not bolt for bolt modelling, just the basic shapes to support leaving the turret hatches open. The seats are scratch with cushions from the parts box- seat back cushions are coming...

 

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You can see that the view through the hatches is going to show more turret floor than anything else. In a T-34 the floor of the fighting compartment is the storage area for main gun ammunition. I was going to add the boxes. I borrowed an ammunition box from the AFV Club T-34/76. I cut off the lid and then scratchbuilt 5 boxes. I was going to cast a lid so I could show the ammo boxes open on the floor. A very easy way of providing some visual clutter beneath the 76mm gun.

 

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I primed the drivers hatch in black, put in the clear periscopes and glued it together, Like many modellers, I prime everything in black!

 

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If you look at T-34's you will often notice the contrast between the heavy armour and the shredded and mangled light metal fenders. I really wanted that contrast on my model. So I took the fenders off and annealed them.

 

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A great opportunity to point out that if you want to improve you cannot be afraid to be wrong! Next time I will anneal PE before I use it - less work and better results!
I also found some more parts from the Tank Workshop T-34 interior...again painted years ago and never used. They too will find a home in this model. More details...

 

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Earlier in the build I showed the ammo boxes that would be on the fighting compartment floor. At this point I made a mould of the lids and the boxes. First thing first though - annealed fenders are back on! Well worth the trouble as they bend much easier...

 

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Here is the gun breech through the right side turret hatch...

 

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The new ammo boxes I had cast up will provide a nice backdrop to what can really be seen, which will be the turret interior. Boxes in the background, lids in the foreground...

 

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Lids alone - these will go onto the white styrene boxes I made so that I can show some open boxes...

 

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Now some of the interior being primed black...

 

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Just to get a feel here are the boxes in the hull...

 

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With the hull top in place...

 

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The lower turret in place...

 

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...and the turret in place...

 

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I sprayed the interior and all my ammo boxes flat black. Then I airbrushed Tamiya Acrylic Flat White to establish a base colour. The White was applied in one thin coat- I want the interior to look well worn. This takes a little guess work since the reference pics I do have show restored Museum vehicles with fresh paint. Once that had cured I was able to move on to hand painting with Vallejo Acrylics. I hadn't been using these very long when this was written, (this was my second model with them), so I was still discovering things I liked about them. Thin and clean up with water is great of course, but I was even more impressed with how thinly they could be applied. No chipping yet, but the basic colours were there. One primed ammo box...

 

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A few of the instrument panels from the Tank Workshop T-34/76 interior...

 

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The overall shot. Seats weren't glued in place yet....

 

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The blue gas cylinder in the front was one of two used to start the diesel engine.
Some shots of the gun...


Left side...

 

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It really needed some oil paint washes to simulate that oily look of a main gun. But the Vallejo had to cure first.

Punch set with a couple of back-stops taped in place...

 

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All the punched styrene chopped in half...

 

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A couple of trimming steps to get the size right...

 

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I made a couple of jigs and cut all the corners at 45 deg. Corners on the rear of this part had more material removed that the front; hence two different jigs....

 

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You are looking at a heck of a lot of cuts to get here. Here are the cut-offs...

 

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Here are the "uprights"...

 

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Starting the assembly...

 

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Coming together now...

 

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Spacer and brass rod- the assembly jigs...

 

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And a couple finished parts...

 

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This is what I am making...

 

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One of those jobs that you get into and wish you had figured out an easier way to do it beforehand, but I was happy with the results! I was modelling these empty and that is important to the way I want to display the model ultimately. Hatches open, ammunition gone, interior ransacked...you get the idea.


Chips!

Everything was done in Vallejo Acrylics thinned with water. I believe the largest brush I used tonight was a 5/0. Chipping was entirely new to me then, so I would

improve over time. I think the driver and gunners seats looked good and the oil spills on the floor, but the chipping itself? Looks OK in person but through the camera lens it looks horrible! Gives me more appreciation for the guys who build models specifically to be photographed. That camera doesn't miss much.

 

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Next up was to finish the turret interior. I was getting close to closing the hull up. I marked the locations of the vision slits and pistol ports on the inside of the turret side. Tough to judge the location just by eye. I used a scrap of clear styrene and a permanent marker to make a template- then marked the locations on the inside.

The template...

 

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The marks...

 

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Now some of the bits I made for the turret interior;
Elevating crank - one of my resin bits, a gearbox from the old Tamiya T-34 kit, a styrene disk punched with a Waldron punch set, and a bit of stretched sprue.

 

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More bits...

 

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Painted black. While they were drying I made a couple of vision blocks out of styrene, thin sheet and strip.

 

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Results of more chipping practice!

 

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I painted all of the resin ammo boxes that I had made. Vallejo Russian Uniform over flat black primer. Followed by a wash of Russian Green. Then I painted the grab handles a mix of Khaki and Russian uniform lightened with White. Finally some chips using lightened Russian Green. I actually have more than I need so I can use the others in future projects, if not another T-34/76 then I'll use them to fill space on a display base. You'll remember that I made boxes with lids on, empty boxes, and separate lids. I want the turret floor to look like someone ransacked the tank looking for ammunition. There won't be any left inside.

The result...

 

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My enthusiasm for this project was back! Once I add some straps to the boxes and dirty it up with pigments the hull interior is all set. I made some great progress on this project. There was a tremendous amount of dry fitting, gluing, and touch up painting along the way.

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Here is the drivers seat area- all glued together...

 

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I wanted this vehicle to appear to have been stripped of ammunition. So I added the straps. Here they are in progress- wine foil painted Vallejo Khaki. I was informed after building these, that the straps were actually on the MG drums themselves, and not for holding the drums in the racks, so afterwards I had to remove them.

 

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Turret seats and the straps pushed in to sagging position. Seat posts still need to be weathered.

 

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Again, after showing these seats I was informed they were incorrect, so you'll see these changed later...


Here's the turret with the gun in place. The traverse motor is scratchbuilt from Evergreen styrene- 15 pieces!

 

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One more similar shot...

 

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The Dragon "Formochka" kit includes "U-shaped" seats. I looked for them when I was doing the ones above and couldn't find them. Then toward the end of the evening I did find them. I back-tracked and replaced them later. Here's the result. Straps came out in about 90 seconds with tweezers. I used the Dragon Formochka kit seats- textured with Mr. Surfacer 1200.

 

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And the gun...

 

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This is my first big job using Vallejo Acrylics and they are awesome. While painting the interior parts I'd paint four or five small parts; when I finished the last one the first would be dry. Then I could move on to a 2nd coat or a glaze of a lighter or darker colour. A great product! Gun mantlet is attached to the turret upper half at this point.
I should mention that this turret has one great feature for doing an interior. When you glue the turret top portion to the turret base, the interior seam is not visible. You can imagine what a hassle it would be to have to fill and finish a seam inside the turret!

 

I worked toward buttoning up the hull and turret. Just as I was about to glue the turret together I broke one of the turret crew member's seats off. It was a good thing really. When the turret and hull are glued together anything that breaks will be impossible to fix. So I reinforced every glue joint. I added some straps to the interior, a bag from the Dragon Russian tank riders figure set and some pigments. Looks more lived in.

Then glued the hull together. FINALLY!

 

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Then I moved onto the turret. The turret has the dual "Mickey Mouse" style hatches - no cupola for the commander. In between the hatches is a bolted section of the roof.

Thanks to some pictures that were emailed to me, unlike the kit - the bolted section should not have a flange for the hatch to rest on. Very easily carved away with hobby knife...

 

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Then glue the turret together again.... FINALLY!

 

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I added weld beads on either side of the mantlet - stretched sprue - painted with liquid cement - sliced up with a hobby knife and painted again with liquid cement. Note: the turret is resting on a spare hull as a temporary stand. This is not the hull I am using. Also all the openings have been sealed with strips of blue painters tape. This tape doesn't leave any residue and is easy to remove when the time comes.

 

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You'll note the black paint in the recesses- I didn't want any unpainted areas visible later. As I moved along I painted with Vallejo black. I have to rest the turret on a spare hull because it has a centre conduit made of stiff telephone wire - it will not sit flat!

 

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I had to fill a pretty large gap at the rear of the turret. I filled the gap with super glue and then sprinkled baking soda over it. The baking soda acts like a catalyst and immediately "flashes" the super glue as hard as a rock. Try it if you haven't already. The combination of super glue "flashed" using baking soda is immediately ready to file and sand into shape. No damage to the surroundings...

 

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Then it's on to everybody's favourite - cleaning up the track links! Lower hull is nearly ready for primer. Before I apply the primer I wanted to have the tracks built and set aside ready.

Track links- you hate em'. I hate em'. Finished all of the links without guide horns and 20 with guide horns in 90 minutes. Not bad- but not fun.

 

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The tracks actually present some unique challenges- since I have articulated the suspension, it will be taking up all the slack and the top run will be taught. Here are the links without guide horns...

 

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...and links with...

 

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Some short sections dry-fitted...

 

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Three short sections equals one long section - can't make this too long. A little liquid cement run between each joint. Then leave it alone for a couple of minutes...

 

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It is pretty solid after 2 minutes- I actually had to apply some force to make it follow the contour of the ground and the wheels. If it had not been allowed to dry for a bit then it may have stuck to the wheels and I didn't want that...

 

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Now make one for the other side- same routine.

 

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After two minutes lay this one under the opposite side. Tricky because it has to contact the wheels - even if that means it doesn't contact the ground. I can adjust the ground later if I have to.

 

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Here's a close up...

 

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You all know that track links have a proper orientation. This is not the time to ask yourself "Are the tracks pointing in the right direction?" But it is exactly when I did... ran around like a madman then found the directions. I got lucky this time though...

 

I used the drive wheels (rear) from the Cyber-Hobby Factory 112 T-34 kit - Mark Rethoret pointed out to me that these were more common. Unfortunately, the Factory 112 kit is the only Dragon kit (to my knowledge) that includes these. I should have made a mould of the parts, and I will when I get another set. On this day I wasn't in the mood to take a 24 hour delay in finishing the tracks.

This is how I did it. Cemented together 18 link sections, allowed them to dry for 2 minutes then braced them into place with thin wooden cocktail sticks. I didn't glue any of the idlers, drive sprockets or roadwheels in place. Instead I took up the final slack with the idlers and then glued the tracks to each wheel. This makes the entire suspension removable as one unit for painting. The only trick to this is to use liquid cement as sparingly as possible so as not to ruin the beautiful detail.

It went well- and I love Magic Tracks- but they do not build themselves....and they sure take a toll on your enthusiasm for a build. Hopefully the result is worth it- I know I am happy with it.

Getting started...

 

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Part way through the first side...

 

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Part way through the second side...

 

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You can and should use shorter sticks for bracing!

 

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Front view. Note in the left of the pic the idler isn't in the correct position - it is still not cemented in place here...

 

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Rear View...

 

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The end result...

 

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On the tank. Right side...

 

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Left side....

 

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Back to the turret! First note that the Formochka turret part is a nice piece! It has a nice texture which to my eyes doesn't need additional texturing. The Formochka turret was actually formed in a giant 5000 ton press out of 45mm thick plate.

I looked really closely and found one very faint mould parting line that had to be removed. Not in a place you would typically look. I marked the area with a red line here:

 

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I scraped it off with a blade and then painted it with liquid cement to remove any trace. You can see I did the same on the periscope. Painted on some liquid cement, that's where the shine came from! When I got to this point I recognized that the armoured ventilator dome and the grab handles on the turret did not have locating points. I had to draw these on with a pencil. If you are doing one of these out of the box, mark these before you have anything fragile glued on.

 

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Once I glued the ventilator dome in place I added the stretched sprue weld beads. The kit part had some weld texture, but I wanted a bit more.

Next up the hatches and the lifting eyes.

 

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The hatches actually used small latches to hold them open- the kit has these but the instructions do not call for them? They are tiny but worth adding. Here is a close up of one...

 

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The kit has some options with the turret- one periscope, two periscopes, one periscope and a dummy- I went with one. There is also an option with the rear of the turret. There is a plug, part number D5, in the kit. Looks like a pistol port? Depending on when the Formochka was made this could be there, be absent or there could be an antenna pot in the same location. The drawing I used didn't have the port, so part D5 stayed on the sprue.

Then onto the PE brass grab handle mounts. I used brass rod in place of the kit supplied plastic parts which had mould parting lines.

 

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After the picture above, I grabbed the T-34 Mythical Weapon book, which I had been using as a guide. There is an error in the scale drawings in the book, and in the Dragon Kit. I have pictures of two surviving "stamped" turrets and now that I had found the mistake I was going to have to fix it. I looked at the pics I had of preserved "Formochka" turrets. Ignore the text: Check out the Dome and its vent arrangement.

 

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T-34 Mythical weapon has some great shots of a "Formochka" turret on page 406. I looked especially close a second time and noticed that the "Formochka" has a unique ventilator dome design. It is smaller than the standard T-34 dome - the only part provided in the "Formochka" kit. Here is the fix - this is the kind of stuff I love to do.

Carefully cut off the kit ventilator dome...

 

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Save the kit part...

 

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Scrape, sand and paint the turret top with liquid cement to remove the sanding scratches...

 

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Start on a new ventilator dome...

 

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Plug the hole in the centre and texture with Mr. Surfacer 1200...

 

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Glue it on and do the weld beads again...

 

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Here is a comparison "old" vs. "new"...

 

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That took 4 hours - but I felt a lot better afterwards! Only for a short while though, before somebody pointed out that had misaligned the new dome. Ah well....

I carefully removed the 'new' ventilator dome. Beneath it the turret top had taken a bit of a beating - so I also had to shave off the two lifting rings. They were salvageable as well. I sanded the area and had to fill the points of contact from the ventilator dome. I just textured the turret top with Mr. Surfacer 1200. I let that dry and looked ahead at what needed to be done with the hull details.

Turret detail removed...

 

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Turret detail returned...

 

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I also found some minor instruction issues. These caps shown below needed to be added to the upper hull. The instructions show them installed, but not how they got there? I found the parts numbered C16 on the T-34 40/41 sprue (There is more than one 'C' sprue.)

 

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Here was something positive! The "Formochka" is based on a Factory no. 183 hull (In WWII T-34's were built in several factories). Factory 183 rear plates have a characteristic bolt pattern. I was prepared to shave off a bolt to represent this - but Dragon beat me to it!

 

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Well Done Dragon!

The rounded bow armour strip. Part number C3 from the T-34 40/41 sprue...

 

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I created a problem here when I removed the fenders. With the fenders removed I can see inside this part- so I had to cap this with two pieces of .010" styrene.

 

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Beneath this rounded bow armour the lower hull needed an armoured plate added. The instructions never mentioned adding it. The correct part is C8 from the T-34/85 A/B sprue.

Regarding the rounded armoured point of the bow. The fit and alignment were fine but there was a tiny little lip...

 

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I took a look at some T-34 pics and found that the bow was welded in place so this is an easy fix. Add weld beads!


Upper...

 

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Lower...

 

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Earlier in the build I removed the welds just inboard of the idler wheels where the front sloping armour attaches to the lower hulls side walls. I also added the welds here. Unfortunately I only have one awful picture of this.

 

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On to the rear! With all of the work on the interior going on, I had removed the photoetched engine vents provided with the Dragon kit earlier. When it came time to fit them again I couldn't find them. Rather than steal the parts from another Dragon kit, I used the parts from an Eduard SU-100 set, which is made for the Dragon kit...I soldered together what I needed. This was a first for me - inspired by what I had seen done on ModelArmour - particularly by Gary Boxall! I would get better at this in time - for now this would be hidden by the engine deck screens.

 

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The transmission you see below is a really old Commanders Models piece, and no longer available. I glued it in before adding the vents, then realized that it wouldn't be seen. It is glued in so solidly now that I was afraid of breaking other things whilst prying it out...so it is staying.

Next I primed this area with Tamiya Flat Black...

 

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Dry fit the transmission cover...

 

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Glued on the rear hull...

 

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Finally I soldered together the cooling vent screens and framework, these are from the Eduard SU-100 set again. Dragon's parts have rounded corners more correct for early T-34's. By the time the Formochka was being manufactured the screens should have 90 degree corners. (As shown).

 

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First a better pic of the hull welds...

 

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Then it was on to the stowage boxes for the fenders. There is a large one on the left front, and a small one on the right rear. The Dragon SU-100 kit includes one of these boxes, which I used. Being new to soldering PE at that time this looked pretty beat up...with the lid open it has exactly the look I wanted!

 

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Here is what I am learning- soldering takes time- but the joints are so much better than superglue. Having stuff break off when you are painting will not be a problem. The extra time is worth it. I didn't have a photo-etched box for the right rear, but I did have some details for the Dragon part. Unfortunately, the kit part looked a little heavy next to the PE part. So I made a box out of .010" styrene and then added the PE details...

 

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Then I moved on to the headlight bracket. I cut the lamp housing off, sanded the bracket down and drilled a hole where the wires are routed. I also drilled a hole into the top deck of the upper hull where the wire originates and ran a piece of .020" solder for the conduit. This is not the final set up - the bracket was drying.

 

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When I added the styrene stowage box I actually had to position it further aft than normal because of the major fender damage above the mismatched roadwheel. I was leaning toward painting the odd roadwheel and the stowage box differently than the rest of the tank. Correctly painted I might have been able to convey the impression of a previously damaged and rebuilt tank. I soldered together all of the handrails for the hull, and now I was working on the photo-etched tie downs on the fenders and progress was very slow. I don't remember ever handling a model so much - so I had to give it a good cleaning before priming.

 

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I needed to fix the gun shield - wash it- let dry and start the exterior paint. While it dried from the washing, I started on the base which will be part of this build as well.
Based upon input I received from other modellers, I added a section of styrene tubing to the back of the gun shield on the hull MG.

 

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I washed the model very carefully. Even so it loosened up a couple of pieces but nothing fell off! What a relief!

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I primed the mode l- psychologically a big leap for me - construction is my comfort zone! I let this cure for a couple of days.

 

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Here is the base I was going to use...

 

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Taking a page from Deano's book I wrapped it in plastic rather than taping the edges:

 

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Then I screwed my carved foam section to the base temporarily- can't have it shifting around...

 

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Check the tracks still work - nothing stupid happened since I built them.

 

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Then I started to figure out how to fill the dead space - I want to do a ruined industrial area.

 

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Now I needed to make a foundation for a building - this material is called drywall in the US. 1/2" thick. Since I just did the walls in my shop I have a lifetime supply leftover for 1/35th scale ruins!

 

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Wet this and the paper will come off with a little rubbing leaving this, looks like concrete to me. It cracks and crumbles just like it as well...

 

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I cut this up to make a foundation wall and a column as a vertical element...

 

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Now the groundwork begins. I used plaster coated mesh to cover the pink foam. This stuff...

 

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Good stuff- dip it in water put it in place and it sets up pretty quickly...

 

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Then I mix up Celluclay, white glue and water to the consistency of oatmeal - just like Shep Paine says in his book- How to build Dioramas. Below is the result: (Leaving the screw heads exposed so I can take them out later.

 

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Now I sprinkle on some cat litter - looks like rubble - takes glue and acrylic paint really well and its cheap!

 

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It's a start - I want to add a short railroad track section behind the tank. The building will need a lot of work too.



The base I discovered a few years ago when I was dealing with the operator of a trophy shop. They are an ideal size for a single piece of 1/35th scale armour. He sold me a box of 24 of them for $2.50 US each. He would never reveal his sources unfortunately. They are veneered particle board.

Here is where the model itself stood at this time. I had primed it with gray primer. I needed to have confidence that the next layers would stick to the brass, aluminium etc. and let that cure for a day. Then I airbrushed it Tamiya Flat Black (XF-1). And let that cure for a day.

I started with these Tamiya Colours...

 

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I painted everything with a thin coat of JGSDF Olive Drab (XF-74). I pained the large open areas of the panels. I left the details like tow hooks, vents etc alone. They get enough over-spray to tint them.

 

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Then I split the leftover paint into two containers. I mixed Desert Yellow (XF-59) into one batch to lighten the green and worked upward from the fenders, and then I mixed Red Brown (XF-64) and Flat Black into the second batch to darken it, and used that to work downward from the fenders. I went through two steps of darkening and lightening to arrive at what you see in the pictures below. The Fenders are not an absolute dividing line - where the fenders are missing I carried some of the darker tint upward. I also painted the underside of the turret in the darker blend...

 

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Whilst these colours are variations of the original JGSDF Olive Drab they are pretty dramatically different. Here is a shot of the highlighted transmission cover next to the darker hull underside...

 

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Finally, I mixed Red Brown and Black and airbrushed the tracks to establish their base colour...

 

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This shot shows the contrast between a highlighted upper hull part (drivers hatch) and the black and brown tinted suspension parts...

 

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I then applied some clear gloss. My plan was to whitewash over this - (hairspray technique). Here is what my test hull looked like. (This is an old Tamiya T-34 I am testing the whitewash technique on.)

 

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I took an old green hull and hair sprayed it. I used the salt technique on one side and just hairspray on the other.

 

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I completely over-sprayed one quarter of the hull white and kind of camouflage painted (white bands over green) the rest. Tamiya Flat White

 

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Once dry, I used a moistened cotton swab to wet the white then very gently used the cotton swab and a sharpened cocktail stick to remove the white. Really surprised at how easily it came off.

 

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First I applied 2 coats of clear enamel to seal the Green base. I painted the number 13 on the sides and rear of the turret. When that was dry 2 coats of hairspray - dried with a hair dryer- then one coat of Tamiya Acrylic White tinted with Desert Yellow and Black. Here are the results...

 

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I had been staring at it for a few hours - I think I took off too much of the white in some areas. The glacis had to have that strip worn back to green where the driver climbs into his hatch... I put a coat of clear gloss enamel over last nights work followed by two more coats of hairspray- then dried with a hairdryer. Sounds like a joke but with the acrylics it does no harm and really speeds up the drying time. Now I could move on to a second stage very quickly.

I tinted some Tamiya Flat white with a very small amount of Tamiya Flat Black acrylic and re-sprayed one light coat. Then I split the remaining white into 3 batches and tinted them: one with more black, one with desert yellow and one with red brown. These were very slight tints - just enough for some variation. Applied that with a make-up sponge - dabbing it on with almost a dry-brushing effect. After that dried I removed it using moistened Q-tips, toothpicks, and a small piece of scouring pad. Here's the result...

 

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The model had two distinct sub-projects going now: The base and the paint- with each day they come closer to merging into one. An update on the base - I had to add a couple of layers of celluclay to raise the base up to meet the tracks. You can also see the cement building foundation- primed in black and over-sprayed in gray.

 

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The more I thought about this the less I liked it - for a number of reasons I decided to change direction a bit.

 

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Here is what I was going to use - I can make these appear rusty and burned and add some colour to the scene.

 

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I painted markings on the turret, then scrubbed them with steel wool to fade them.

 

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I added mud to the suspension, tracks, and hull...a mix of pigments, MIG Productions Acrylic Resin and sand from the yard. First time doing that- very easy! I also loaded up a brush and then used my airbrush to blow some of the mud onto the hull, creating splatters. This is a widely known technique I believe I saw it first on the MIG pigments video by Adam Wilder. I liked the way it looked. Ultimately it had to be blended to match the base colours.

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I sprayed the model clear flat and unmasked the interior to see how it held up.

 

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Now posed on the base, one of the reasons can be recognised that I decided to go with I-beams rather than a brick wall. The building will not block the view of the tank...

 

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Here are some pics of the filter application. I used a blue filter- and a yellow filter- dirtied up the white nicely.

 

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The yellow looks pretty nasty, but the result was good I think.

 

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Then I glued in the exhausts - these are from Tiger Model Designs. The kit parts are fine, but these are $3.50 US a set. They are perfect and have a weld seam already added, well worth it purely as a short cut. No need to glue two halves together, just fill the seam and then check for a nice round opening. Open the package and paint.

 

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Moved on to the last of the weathering on the tank, a green filter on certain areas, some rust streaks and a start on the oil stains on the engine deck.

 

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Base is progressing as well- here are some shots with the black primer on...

 

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Sprayed some basic colours on everything. Screwed the foam terrain down onto the base, epoxied the wall onto the base and to the foam. Then I mixed up some more celluclay to patch over the screws. Placed the parts in their estimated positions, and discovered the wooden table I made wouldn't fit!

So the pics show the rough layout. I was considering how to add some colour when I realized that without the wooden work bench, there is no reason I can't torch the factory ruin. I'll use some rust technique on the girders and smoke exhaust technique on the concrete foundation.

 

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I was thinking of just scribing some planks onto the base and making it on of those Soviet factories with finished, polished hardwood floors! NOT!


At this time, somebody posted a period picture and I was struck by a few details

1. Lots of beams

2. The window frames survived

3. A low wall.

 

It made it pretty obvious to me that the building needed some real work, but I wanted to do this in such a way that the building would be interesting to look at, and did not seriously block the view of the tank. I love working with styrene so I was excited about getting a crack at it. Somebody mentioned the factory also needed a floor, so that was where I started. 0.020" styrene sheet cut to size with some expansion joints scribed in.

 

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I used Mr Surfacer 1200 and stippled the surface to give it some texture.

 

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Re-scribed the joints...

 

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Primed black, airbrushed Gray and slid it into place...

 

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Now for the window frames! I found these frames in the Mini-Art Building Accessories kit, includes everything but a building.

 

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So I started with this...

 

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Added some 0.030" by 0.040" strip...

 

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Then built this jig to keep everything square and added a strip up the centre...

 

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Here was the end result...

 

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That'll suggest ruins and the viewer can still look through it. Next the framework for the half wall and windows. Starts like this...

 

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Here is the frame...

 

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I decided to make the lower wall out of sheet metal since this was easy to damage. I
started with a Diet Coke can cut it into rectangles, sanded inside and out. There was some kind of film on it which had to be removed. Then I primed them. Finished parts on the right here...

 

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Then mangled some of the parts...

 

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I painted all the sheet metal and girder bits in a mix of Tamiya Brown and Black - altering the mix as I went along to make the parts look a little different from each other. Here is the assembled half wall and windows...

 

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Then I gritted my teeth and started gluing stuff in place; celluclay, cat litter and all the mangled metal bits....

 

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Check out that piece of sheet metal getting run over!

 

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I felt that if a building were blown up by bombing or artillery, some of these heavy girders might impale themselves in the ground; hence some are stuck in at various angles. Interesting thing I learned...when the interior floor space is a small area, all your rubble has to be stood up vertically or small!


Sample shot of the nearly finished scene...see the link at the end of this feature for the Photo Feature to see the FULLY finished result!

 

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PHOTO FEATURE: T-34/76 Model 1942 Formochka

 

 

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