3-D Printed Cunningham T1 Light Tanks in 1/72 Scale

The Cunningham T1 was a series of prototype light tanks developed in America.  They were modified and rebuilt into a number of configurations, but were never formally adopted by the U.S. Army.  These were printed on a Creality printer using a file by “Turenkarn” here:  http://www.thingiverse.com/thing:2192170

The figure was converted from a Preisser Luftwaffe pilot.

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3-D Printed Vickers Mark IV Light Tank in 1/72 Scale

This is a Vickers Mk. VI light tank from designer “TigerAce1945” on Thingiverse here:  https://www.thingiverse.com/thing:2055879

The file was scaled to 1/72 and printed on a Creality LD-002R 3-D resin printer.  It is painted as one of the tanks defending Malta in the “stone wall” scheme.  The figure is converted from a Preisser Luftwaffe pilot.

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Cunningham T1 Light Tanks Build in 1/72 Scale

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The Cunningham T1 was a series of prototype light tanks developed in America. They were modified and rebuilt into a number of configurations, but were never formally adopted by the U.S. Army. Apparently, versions have become popular in the World of Tanks game, and I found the type interesting enough to print out a couple using a file by “Turenkarn” here: http://www.thingiverse.com/thing:2192170

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The mudguards didn’t come out too well on my prints as can be seen on the nearer hull. Fortunately this is pretty easily corrected using sheet styrene.

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An earlier iteration of the Cunningham had no mudguards at all so they were simply removed from the print. The 37 mm cannons and machine gun barrels were replaced by Albion Alloy tube.

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Mr. Surfacer 1000 smoothed out the printing layers well. The tanks were painted and weathered as usual from there.

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I wanted to display the tank on a base. Here are some small trees made from twisting copper wire from lamp cord. After bending to the desired shape, the trunks are fixed with superglue, primed with Mr. Surfacer 500, and painted. The foliage is from Woodland Scenics.

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The base was made using a small plaque and represents a dirt backroad.

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Here is the finished scene with a figure added for scale. The figure was converted using a Preisser Luftwaffe pilot as a base. Another fun little printer project to clear the pallet between more involved builds.

Vickers Mark VI Light Tank Build in 1/72 Scale

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I have a Creality LD-002R 3-D resin printer, it is small enough to fit on a corner of my workbench and not horribly expensive for what it can do. The printers are quite useful but you can easily go down the rabbit hole with these things. I found a file for a Vickers Mk. VI light tank from designer “TigerAce1945” on Thingiverse here: https://www.thingiverse.com/thing:2055879 I scaled it to 1/72 and soon it was ready to go.

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Assembly consists of removing the supports and placing the turret on the hull. The resin is cured by UV light, so I placed it in the sunshine and flipped it over after the supports were off to make sure everything hardened up completely. The resin is hard and a little on the brittle side but cuts and sands very much like typical model plastic or casting resin.

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The model would be fine for wargaming just as it was, but I wanted to jazz it up a bit as a display model using Evergreen strip and wire. The shovel and ax are separate prints. The towing eyes on the front of the hull and fire extinguisher are from the spares box. I rebuilt the stowage frame on the rear plate because the wall thickness was too much.

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A couple of coats of Mr. Surfacer 1000 smoothed out most of the printing layers. These were not all that bad, but the prints don’t yet have the same fidelity as injection molded kits. The technology is getting closer though and works well for many modeling tasks!

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Here is the model with the Malta “stone wall” camouflage prior to weathering. I love the scheme, and this is a quick and painless way to try to represent it.

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What better backdrop for a stone wall camouflage than a stone wall? I found a suitable example and printed a wall to go with the tank. The file is intended for 28 mm wargamers, but one of the neat things about printers is the files can be re-scaled within reason. The designer is “Ravenloth” on Thingiverse: https://www.thingiverse.com/thing:4231810

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Here is the wall mounted to a display base. Small pebbles from the driveway enhance the randomness of the wall and provide rubble where sections have fallen down.

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I added more rocks to the top of the wall to break up the flat profile. The small tree is a twisted wire trunk, scattered grass and tufts complete the terrain.

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The Vickers was finished off in the standard way with washes and chipping, then sprayed with DullCoat. The antenna is Nitenol wire, and there is some basic stowage added in the rack on the back.

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Here is the finished product, with a Preisser Luftwaffe figure modified to represent a British tanker added for scale. All in all an enjoyable little project which came together quickly.

Marine Corps Tank Battles in Vietnam Book Review

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Marine Corps Tank Battles in Vietnam

By Oscar E. Gilbert

Hardcover in dustjacket, 288 pages, photographs, bibliography, notes, and index

Published by Casemate 2007

Language: English

ISBN-10: 1-932033-66-1

ISBN-13: 978-1-932033-66-3

Dimensions: 6.0 x 1.2 x 9.0 inches

Despite the number of books published about the Viet Nam War, many people are unaware of the role played by armor, or that the U.S. Marines deployed armored units.  Perhaps this is due in part to the nature of their employment.  Armor rarely fought in units larger than platoons, and often in groups of only two or three tanks.  There were no large set-piece battles, the tanks were generally employed to defend bridges or firebases, or to support sweeps through the countryside.  The result is the tanks were disbursed and moved in small groups from place to place, many of the crews commenting that they had never even seen their Battalion commanders while in-country.

Not surprisingly, the constant movements and changes in unit assignments have made it very difficult for historians to document the histories of the armored Battalions in Viet Nam.  Sweeps and patrols in support of the myriad of operations tended to blend together for the crews to the point that even the men involved were unsure if they had actually been part of a specific operation.  I was surprised to learn how vulnerable the M48 was to the RPG-7, a great many crew casualties were caused by this weapon.  Another problem was mines.  While these rarely totally destroyed a tank they generally were enough to disable the track and suspension, taking the vehicle out of the fight.

This is the third of Gilbert’s “Marine Corps Tank Battles” books which I have read.  Like the others, the bulk of the text is derived from interviews with the Marines themselves, in their own words.  The opening chapter gives a history of the country leading up to the war which is well worth reading just on its own.  The book is well written, and I enjoy the first-hand perspectives from the Marines who were there.  Recommended.

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Takom MAZ-537 Tank Transporter Build in 1/72 Scale Part II

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Here is the chassis for the MAZ tractor. Internally I have added a printed resin engine to fill the space. Externally the molded-on grab handles have been replaced with wire and the boarding ladders have been braced with plastic stock.

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Here is the cab piece in place, a really beautiful slide-molded piece. The cab is just posed for the picture, I left it loose throughout construction to be able to paint the interior and set the driver figure inside.

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The tractor with the trailer. The PE is the best way to represent the mud guards at the front of the trailer, they are a little fiddly but not bad as PE parts go. I did not use the PE grab handles on the sides of the foldable ramps at the back of the trailer, preferring wire stock because it is round and can be set into holes so it won’t be knocked off. Along the sides of the trailer frame are tie-downs which are present in some photographs.

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Basic camouflage colors. This is a scheme worn by a transporter of the Afghani Northern Alliance, I like the contrast between the tractor and the trailer.

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This is a test-fit of the Trumpeter T-55. One thing to watch is to make sure the tank’s gun is elevated sufficiently to clear the spare tires mounted atop the trailer “goose neck”.

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I covered the paint with Testors Glosscoat and then added markings from Star Decals sheet 72-A 1050, then shot everything with Future (Klear). Future is an acrylic and provides some resistance to the oils and washes I use for weathering.

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Here the oils have been blended to simulate dirt and distress to the paint. The oils are relatively forgiving, they can be blended to achieve the effects desired or removed with a little thinner if you make a mistake. The engine and the floor of the cab are toned with oils.

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Here are the tractor and trailer with a misting of tan “dust” and sealed with a flat coat. The MAZ is in the markings of the Afghani Northern Alliance. The figure is from Paracel Miniatures, which I will show in detail next week.

Takom MAZ-537 Tank Transporter Build in 1/72 Scale Part I

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Here is the Takom MAZ-537 Russian Army Tank Transporter kit number 5004 released in 2019. Takom has also released the cargo truck version of the MAZ-537 chassis, but this boxing comes with the CHMZAP-524Z heavy trailer. I have become fascinated with tank transporters and there are now a few in the stash, like I needed another rabbit hole to explore!  I’ll be building this one as one in service with the Afghani Northern Alliance.

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There are five main sprues in the box. Molding is crisp and features sharp, finely engraved details. These are the detail parts for the MAZ tractor. Sprue attachment points are well located and my example had no flash on any of the parts. One odd thing is the sprues are square in cross section.

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Sprue “E” contains the main parts for the trailer chassis.

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More trailer parts on sprue “F”. These are mainly the folding ramps at the back of the trailer and the supporting structure at the front.

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Sprue “C” is the frame for the MAZ tractor. Wheels for both the tractor and trailer are rubber. There is a small PE fret, most of these parts make sense represented in PE and so were used. The main cab is a finely detailed example of slide-mold wizardry and a real gem.

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I started construction with the MAZ chassis, but there is no reason why the trailer could not be built first if you felt the desire, or in parallel while waiting for glue to set. The parts fit together well without any surprises, but pay attention to the part numbers as some parts are quite similar.

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After the MAZ chassis I skipped ahead in the construction sequence to rough out the trailer assembly. I wanted to get an idea of the size of this beast – just under a foot (30 cm) long! Massive for a 1/72 vehicle subject, but that is part of the appeal.

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Test fitting revealed that the area inside engine enclosure could be viewed from the rear. Not obvious at first but sure to be seen by inquisitive people with tiny flashlights. I found a Cummins diesel which could be sized to fit on Thingiverse and printed a copy to fill the void. I know this is not the prototypical unit for the MAZ but it will do well for the viewing angle. File here: https://www.thingiverse.com/thing:3774206

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Here is the resin engine mounted in the bay. The fan boxes in the cab are made from spare Academy B-29 bomb racks as are the side details in the engine bay floor. More spurious details but they will serve for what will be visible and prevent the see-through look at the cooling vents.

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The cab piece showing some added details. I shaved off all the grab handles and replaced them with wire, a simple fix which enhances the appearance of the model quite a bit. I carefully “rolled down” the windows in the clear doors with a Dremel tool, and opened up the roof hatch so I could pose a figure there on the finished model. The replacement roof hatch was made from parts from the spares box.

Trumpeter T-55 Build in 1/72 Scale

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This is Trumpeter’s T-55 tank, kit number 07284. It was released in 2009, a reboxing of the kit from the previous year to include the BTU-55 mine plow and Finish markings. I’ll be building mine as a machine from the Northern Alliance in Afghanistan so I won’t be needing the plow.

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The T-55 is a straight-forward design and the kit has relatively few parts. Everything is crisply molded. I was surprised that the 12.7 mm DShK heavy machine gun often seen mounted on the turret is not included.

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The running gear is as expected. The torsion arms are molded with the lower hull so that will make things easier. The tracks are the single piece rubber type which are resistant to glue. More difficult to work with but not a deal-breaker.

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The turret is well-molded with sharp detail. The grab bars are too thick, a limitation of what can be molded in this scale. I filled the mounting holes with Evergreen stock and superglue, the advantage this has over putty is it can be sanded right away.

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Photographs show that the T-55’s in Afghanistan were typically missing the fuel tanks at the back of the hull. I filled and sanded the mounting holes and made the mounting brackets from plastic stock.

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The driving lights are protected by brush bars, here made from wire stock. Photos show some of these guards mangled but they were always in place. The bottom of the hull is filled with BB’s set in casting resin to give the model heft.

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The grab bars were replaced with wire which is much closer to scale. This is a simple improvement which really enhances the overall look of the model. The fabric cover for the gun mantlet is made from Perfect Plastic Putty and Mr. Surfacer.

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The completed assembly prior to painting. The top run of the tracks should ride on the top of the road wheels. I pushed them down and glued them in place with super glue but it was a struggle.

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The Afghani vehicles sported some rather unusual and puzzling camouflage schemes. This is one of the more tame versions.

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The model was shot with a coat of Future (Klear) to preserve the paint during weathering and washes. Decals are from Star Decals sheet 72-A 1050. I used Tamiya black wash to bring out the details and oils for weathering.

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Here is the finished model under a layer of dust and Dullcoat. Markings are for a Northern Alliance T-55 from the “Zabati” unit near Bagram in 2001.