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.

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 need 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.

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

ASIN: B07M5HL8N2

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.

Revell Sturmgeschütz IV Build in 1/72 Scale

The Revell StuG IV kit 03101 is a re-box, the original was released by Matchbox in 1994. Even though it is not really that old it has been superseded by more recent releases. I was able to pick this one up at a model show at a giveaway price.

Inside the box are three sprues molded in a tan plastic. The Schürzen are molded as a single piece, but are easily replaced with panels cut from card which will allow for the overlap and will be thinner. The tracks are link and length. They are simplified and a bit too thick as well.
The suspension built up without any problems. I used epoxy to fix BBs in place to give the model a little heft. Many StuG IVs carried supplemental concrete armor on the hull, which was added using Perfect Plastic Putty. I added a layer of Zimmerit to the lower hull using Mr. Surfacer 500.
The kit’s barrel is equipped with a caricature of a muzzle brake. Not sure what they were thinking here, but that’s just not going to work. Fortunately a more accurate barrel from another kit was found in the spares box.
The kit is lacking many of the tools and spares commonly seen on the engine decks. I’d love to see a generic sprue of these available as an aftermarket item, they sure would come in handy! Back to the spares box again. The muffler was provided but the installation was not called out on the instructions. I have drilled out the exhaust pipe.
The StuG received a coat of Mr. Color 39 Dark Yellow over Mr. Surfacer 1000 primer. I use a Badger 150 general purpose workhorse airbrush for the majority of my painting, Mr. Color sprays well with a 50/50 mix of their Leveling Thinner.
The replacement Schürzen were taped to a card for painting, note the slight overlap of the panels. The green camouflage is Mr. Color 340 Dark Green FS 34097 applied with a Harder & Steenbeck Evolution.
The tracks are painted and stowage fixed in place, then the entire model was shot with Testors GlossCoat in preparation for washes and weathering. No decals on this one.
Here is the finished model after washes and a layer of DullCoat. I like these old armor kits as pallet cleansers if nothing else, they are fun and quick to build.

First to Fight Polish TKS Tankette Diorama Build in 1/72 Scale

Several of the blogs and boards I follow are devoted to the painting of (and/or gaming with) “minis”.  The work of these figure painters is fantastic and inspiring, but makes me more aware of the limitations of my own modeling skills.  I need practice, so I decided to add bases and figures to my recent batch of completed vehicles.

I’ve seen modelers try various ways of building bases on You Tube videos. This one didn’t look difficult and I already had most of the materials in the garage. This is just foam insulation glued to a wooden base. Instead of cutting the foam, I used the “fat lardie” method and contoured the foam by stepping on it on a concrete floor – worked like a charm!
The edges are dressed up with strips of 1 inch (25 mm) wide balsa wood from the Local Hobby Store. All this is glued with carpenter’s clue, clamped, and left to dry overnight.
I added surface contours with lightweight spackling compound. An advantage of the lightweight spackle is it can be compressed when dry without fracturing.
The base color is a suitable shade of acrylic beige wall paint. Cheap, and a quart will be a lifetime supply for modeling purposes.
I have become interested in the use of mounted cavalry during WWII, and surprisingly there are a few choices of figures available in 1/72 scale. These are First to Fight Polish Uhlans mounted on Zvezda horses. Turns out the Polish and Russian cavalry tack is similar, so only a few modifications were needed. The poses of the figures were modified, and reins and bedrolls are made from masking tape.
Here are the figures under a coat of Mr. Surfacer 1000. The biggest improvement is the replacement of the molded-on reins, the tape reins are more dynamic and can be mated with the figures’ hands. The Mr. Surfacer and subsequent paint layers are generally sufficient to bond the reins, but a little dab of superglue doesn’t hurt either!
The mini-diorama depicts a TKS supporting the advance of a unit of Uhlan cavalry. The ground cover is a mix of Woodland Scenics products. I made indentations in the grass where the tracks of the TKS passed by rolling a coin, an example of where the ability of the lightweight spackling compound to compress came in handy. I’m definitely not quick about the figure painting and basing yet, but I do like the effect!

First to Fight Polish TKS Tankette Build in 1/72 Scale

This is kit number PL1939-001 from Polish manufacturer First to Fight. It was initially released in 2013, and re-released in 2019 with a turned metal gun barrel. It is an interesting design, and quite small. It carried a crew of two and makes me wonder just where is the line for being too small to be considered a tank. The main gun is a 20mm cannon, there was another version which carried a machine gun instead, which First to Fight also kits.
There is only a single sprue which contains twelve parts, plus a turned brass barrel which is a very nice touch. The suspension is mercifully molded as a single piece for each side and is very well detailed. For many subjects this approach is adequate for 1/72 scale, and much easier to build (and align!) than a pile of tweezer-bait. Instructions and a painting guide are printed on the back of the box.
The hull is split into top and bottom pieces. There is a gap under the mudguards, which is not obvious on the finished model from normal viewing angles but only takes a couple of minutes to fill with plastic card.
Assembly complete. The brass barrel is a nice touch as the molded barrel would be difficult to clean up and keep straight. I cut off the handles on the front plates and replaced them with wire stock, a simple improvement which enhances the looks of the model.
The model was primed with Mr. Surfacer to check for flaws, and then with black Alclad primer.
I followed the illustration on the box art for the camouflage scheme. It is interesting that the colors are so similar to those adopted by the Wehrmacht in 1943.
Here is the finished model after a panel wash and a light coat of dust. This kit goes together well and its simplicity and low parts count makes it a perfect choice for a quick build.