Italeri Churchill Mk. III in 1/72 Scale

This is the Italeri Churchill Mk. III, which turns out is the re-boxed ESCI kit from 1988.  The kit has been updated with glue-able tracks, but still retains some ejector pin marks in bad locations.  Markings are from the kit decal sheet and represent a British Army Churchill serving with the King Force Detachment at El Alamein, November 1942.

Revell Sturmgeschütz IV of 394 StuG Brigade in 1/72 Scale

The Revell StuG IV is actually a re-boxing of the Matchbox kit from 1994.  It is a bit basic by today’s standards.  This translates to a reasonable parts count and easy assembly, but some clunky components and simplifications.  Some parts are easier to fix than others, my build features plastic card Schürzen but retains the kit’s simplified tracks.  The model is painted as a vehicle from 394 StuG Brigade in Normandy, June 1944.

Revell Sd. Kfz. 173 Jagdpanther of Abteilung 654 in 1/72 Scale

Schwere Panzerjäger-Abteilung 654 was the first unit which was equipped with the Jagdpanther, receiving the first two vehicles in March 1944.  In June it was deployed to Normandy, having only eight vehicles in total.  Their first combat action occurred on 30JUL44 near Saint Marting Du Bois.  Three 2. Kompanie Jagdpanthers engaged British Churchills of the 3rd Tank Battalion (Scots Guards), destroying eleven Churchills.  Another column of Churchills managed to flank the Jagdpanthers, disabling two and a battalion command tank.  The model represents a 2. Kompanie Jagdpanther from this engagement.

Construction here:

IBG Scammell Pioneer Tank Transporter Build in 1/72 Scale Part II

Several parts of the trailer are rendered in photoetch, including the side support frames and mounts for the jack stands. The sprue attachment points are visible on the bottoms of the frames. These look like scars but are actually sanded smooth.
The finished model measures 7.5 inches (19 cm), which is on the smaller side for a tank transporter.
After a coat of Mr. Surfacer 1000 everything got sprayed with Mr. Color 19 and oversprayed with Mr. Color 44 for contrast. The lighter 44 was used to highlight the horizontal surfaces and panel centers to break up the otherwise monochrome finish.
For the cab interior I painted the seats a dark brown and then used Tamiya Brown and Black washes to give it some depth. The tires were brush painted with Mr. Color Tire Black, appropriately enough.
The kit decals performed without problems. I fixed the cab roof panels in place, there is a slight gap which is easily addressed with Perfect Plastic Putty. I haven’t started the washes yet but there is a little “volunteer” shading coming through from washing the interior. The headlamps are fragile and I managed to break mine off during handling, what you see here are replacements made from plunge molding plastic sheet over the back end of a drill bit.
The model was weathered with Black and Brown Tamiya washes. Then Dull Aluminum and a Dark Brown were dabbed on with a bit of sponge, the areas of greatest wear on the trailer receiving the most attention. Finally specific chips were applied with dark brown eyeliner. The last “bustoffables” were put in place – windshield wipers, cables, and canvas shades – then the model got sprayed with Testors Dullcote to finish up.


I started this kit as a quick project while awaiting a box of modeling goodness from Hannants.  It’s not really a quick build though.  IBG has modeled every component of the Scammell Pioneer without regard as to whether it will be visible on the finished model or not, and many of these components are reproduced using photoetch.  This cuts both ways.  On one hand the model is very detailed, on the other assembly is complex and there is a constant issue with alignment.  My personal preference is for simplifying detail and combining parts to ease assembly, especially if the parts are in a location where the simplification can never be seen.

The instructions have a large number of steps but a relatively small number of parts used in each step.  There is also a finished render in each step to show how everything is supposed to fit together.  Still there are some areas which can be confusing, I think my trailer decking is mounted a bit too high.  There is still a little room for modelers to add to the kit, particularly if you find a bit of scratchbuilding preferable to fiddling with PE.

I found the kit fiddly to build but liked the subject, I have a soft spot for tank transporters.  It is not a “box shaker”, but if you can push through the assembly stage it makes for an eye-catching model.

Completed photographs here:

IBG Scammell Pioneer Tank Transporter Build in 1/72 Scale Part I

This is the IBG Scammell Pioneer Tank Transporter with TRCU30 Trailer, part of a family of Scammell truck kits released in 2020. I purchased the kit as part of my on-going fascination with tank transporters, this will be the third one I’ve constructed recently. I am hoping to knock this one out fairly quickly while waiting for the big box of Arma Hayates to arrive from Hannants.
Tank transporters build up into large vehicles when finished, and this one will be no exception. There are lots and lots of parts, ten sprues altogether. The box contains two copies of the sprue on the bottom left, four copies of the sprue on bottom right in order to account for the fourteen wheels of the prototype. I found it odd that there are no spares, you’d figure one would be carried. Both the cab and the frame have to be built up from their respective components, no slide molded wizardry here.
The final two sprues. The parts are well molded and sharp, but there is a mold seam on most parts which will need the attentions of an Xacto knife. Mold attachment points are on the thick side but clean up well. On many kits the photoetch fret is used to enhance detail, or provide an alternative to molded pieces. Not here. In this case the PE parts are required to complete the model and many are part of the structure.
This is the cab interior. The seat supports are PE which makes them a bit flimsy. The only way to ever see them would be if the doors were cut out and posed open. The various shift and brake levers were provided as PE parts, I replaced them with 0.015” round stock because it’s easier to work with and the levers weren’t really flat.
This is the state of the construction after Step 20 (of 35). Many of the PE parts are brackets to hold various rollers and pulleys. One set defied my attempts at alignment and was replaced with plastic card. I have left off several pieces of PE from the engine as they will be invisible with the hood panels in place. If you wanted to leave off the side panels and wire the engine it would be impressive, otherwise it is wasted detail.
Here the tractor section is complete except for the roof pieces which I will leave off so I can paint the interior. The white cover behind the cab is provided as PE. That was not going to work for me so I fabricated a replacement from Evergreen sheet. There is a mold seam down the centerline of all the tires but that can be removed with a sanding block.

Part II here:

Italeri Churchill Mk. III Build in 1/72 Scale

For some reason I thought this was a new tool Churchill kit from Italeri. I’m not sure where I got that impression, this is the old ESCI kit first released in 1988. In fact, even Italeri had issued previous boxings, so my curiosity of what Italeri would do with a new tool armor kit is still unsatisfied.
Two plastic sprues and flexible tracks are in what’s in the box, along with a small decal sheet with four marking options. Scalemates indicates there are new parts here, I’m guessing they would have to be the tracks. The instructions indicate the tracks are designed for CA glue, which does in fact work well. You also get a crew figure, a nice touch.
Each side of the suspension is constructed using only eight parts (including tracks). This is a mercy, as the breakdown of the Churchill suspension could have easily run into 40 – 50 parts, even using continuous band tracks. My personal preference is for buildability over a myriad of detail which cannot be easily seen, and alignment of all these bogeys as individual parts would have been a nightmare. These parts required some cleanup as there were mold seams and a little flash, the old ESCI molds are beginning to show their age.
The tracks reacted well to superglue. This Churchill variant concealed the return run of the tracks under an extensive fender system. The tracks turned out to be slightly long (or I stretched them during installation), but I was able to cut off the excess and hide the ends behind the air intakes. Pioneer tools are molded onto the engine deck, and handles are molded onto the hatches.
There are some seams to address with this kit, on the majority of the armor kits I have constructed this has not been much of an issue. There are also some annoying ejector pin marks in bad locations, visible here on the armor plate in front of the hull machine gunner’s position and in the turret trace over the track fenders. Filling and sanding these would result in lost detail so I filled them with Perfect Plastic Putty, which can be smoothed with a wet Q-Tip.
The camouflage was masked off using poster putty. This is one of the modeling supplies available at the supermarket, and is re-usable. It provides a solid demarcation between colors without as great of risk of paint seeping under as with masking tape.
Here are the colors used. The Sand FS 30475 was done first as layers of Mr. Color 44 and 19 to vary the tone, while the Extra Dark Sea Gray is a mix of 116 RLM 65 Black Gray and 366 Intermediate Sea Blue.
After decals and a second coat of Testors Glosscoat recesses were highlighted with a wash of Tamiya black panel line wash. I then added some chipping with a dark brown make-up applicator. The entire model then received a very thin coat of light tan “dust” to unify the finish, followed by Testors Dullcote. While the molds are beginning to show their age, the kit builds up well with a few enhancements.

Dragon Jagdpanzer IV L/70 Build in 1/72 Scale

Dragon’s kit number 7307 Jagdpanzer IV was originally released in 2005. There have been several re-boxings to account for different versions, and you can even buy assembled and painted models under their Dragon Armor line.
The lower hull is slide molded. The box contains several small sprues, many only containing a few parts. It must be a real trick to ensure all the needed parts make it into the box! Molding is crisp and many of the parts are quite small and delicate, so care must be used to get everything off the sprue without damage.
A big plus for the Dragon kits is their tracks. They react well to standard modeling glues and can be stretched to get the desired length. The kit also included a turned metal gun barrel which is a nice touch. There is also a small PE fret for those who want to mess with it.
Fit of the parts is excellent. The road wheels come with the hubs molded separately for those who would rather paint before assembly to save some delicate painting.
The majority of the tools are molded separately which makes them much easier to paint. Most of these wind up on the engine deck and will be added after the main camo is applied.
Camouflage is Mr. Color Field Green over Dark Yellow.
Here is the finished product. The camo pattern is from Kagero Top Colors 32, Pz.Kpfw. IV family. The book includes Cartograph decals in the three major armor modeling scales, 1/72 and those other two. The radio antenna is Nitenol wire.

More completed photos here:

Spearhead Audio Book Review

Spearhead: An American Tank Gunner, His Enemy, and a Collision of Lives in World War II

Authored by Adam Makos, Narrated by Johnathan McClain

Audiobook, 13 hours and 33 minutes

Published by Random House Audio

Language: English


The Spearhead was the U.S. Army’s 3rd Armored Division.  Specifically, the author follows the story of the Division’s 32rd Armored Regiment and 36th Armored Infantry Regiment as they fought their way across Europe and into Germany.  They are the units which were immortalized in the famous newsreel film of the tank duel in Cologne, and the report of that fight from a young war correspondent named Andy Rooney.

The author relies heavily on interviews from the actual participants, and allows the story to unfold in their own words.  There are several perspectives from the American side, and even a few from the German.  The reader gets a ground-level narrative of armored warfare and combined arms assaults, along with the terrible attrition as units remained in the front lines day after day.

There is no sugar coating the assault on Germany.  The American tankers were fighting with inferior equipment, and they knew it.  There is open distain for the Sherman tank whose gun could not defeat the frontal armor of many German tanks, and whose armor could not protect the crews from the German’s guns.  The Panther was a feared opponent, and could only be defeated if the Shermans were able to survive long enough to maneuver for a side shot.  In the last few months one of the American crews was issued a new Pershing which evened the odds, but most of the Regiment finished the war on the Sherman.

The German story is represented as well, from the perspective of Gustav Schaefer, a Panther crewman.  The Germans faced a deteriorating war situation against overwhelming odds.  Shaefer’s tanks was one of the few which survived to defend Cologne against the American onslaught, the reader is shown the battle for the city from his perspective.

This book is treasure for anyone wanting to study armored warfare on the Western Front.  The American way of war is the combined arms assault, the Germans employed a fluid defense in depth.  Each battle is the clash of these doctrines in detail from the viewpoint of those involved.  This story is well told and engaging, highly recommended.

Revell Sd. Kfz. 173 Jagdpanther Build in 1/72 Scale

Revell’s Jagdpanther kit 03111 was first released in 1997. Not a bad kit for its day, but it has been superseded by more recent releases. It does have a relatively modest parts count compared to the newer kits, so it should go together faster.
Parts layout is typical. The kit is provided with link and length tracks. One nice feature is seen on the sprue in the lower left corner, alternate parts for early and late production variants.
The main suspension assembles quickly, but pay attention to the different road wheel parts, each layer is slightly different. I added BBs again for weight, unnecessary but I like the feel.
The engine deck has open grills which allow you to see into the interior of the model. Having encountered this on previous builds of German armor, I had cast duplicates of the engine details from another kit and used one of these castings on this build.
The kit builds up quickly. I left off the side skirts as photographs of my intended subject show they were often removed.
Paints are Mr. Color 340 Dark Green over 39 Dark Yellow.
The finished model after an application of Tamiya black wash and Testors DullCoat. It’s surprising how big the Jagdpanther is, it will look good in the case with the other German AFVs.

More finished pictures here: