Ostmodels Soviet SMK Heavy Tank in 1/72 Scale

This is the Soviet SMK Heavy Tank prototype built from the Ostmodels 1/72 scale resin kit.  It is an unconventional design which actually saw combat.  The utility of carrying multiple turrets on the same chassis is somewhat limited, but it was a design trend explored by several countries during the 1930s.  In the end even the Soviets decided a single turret design with increased protection was a better use of the weight and produced the KV-1 series.

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Ostmodels Char 2C Super-Heavy Tank in 1/72

 

This is the French Char 2C Super-Heavy Tank, available as a resin kit from Ostmodels.  The main hull is cast as one large piece which is a very good thing.  The model builds up quickly and is a good representation of the original.  It is quite big, I have posed it with Trumpeter’s Char 1B to give an indication of its size.  If you like building unusual subjects this one certainly fits the bill.

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Ostmodels Soviet SMK Heavy Tank Build in 1/72 Scale

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Here are the parts for the Ostmodels resin SMK heavy tank prototype.  Mercifully, there are no casting blocks of any consequence to remove.  There is a bit of mold flash though, clean up took about two hours.  The resin is slightly flexible.  This cuts both ways – while there is some distortion in some of the parts, it does make fitting the tracks easier.  Photographs and some history of the tank are here:  https://inchhighguy.wordpress.com/2019/07/03/soviet-smk-heavy-tank-description-and-kit-review/
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Because the hull is already one large casting most of the parts are in the tracks and suspension.  Like with the Char 2C I built earlier, Ostmodels provides extra track lengths.  There is some fitting work to be done here, the guide teeth on the tracks have to be trimmed back to allow the road wheels to fit, likewise the teeth of the drive sprocket should be trimmed where they would engage the track.  I removed the solid portions of the supports for the mudguards over the tracks and replaced them with Evergreen strip.  The two brass supports are scrap from a PE fret, which I used to add a little strength to try to help correct some distortion in the mudguard.
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Everything is in place in this view.  Ostmodels has cast three of the hatches separately which would allow modelers to insert figure busts if desired.  I went the route of just closing them up.  The barrel of the smaller turret and the rear facing machine gun were replaced with Albion tube, which was easier than cleaning up the castings and gives a better result.  There are no pioneer tools or towing cables provided in the kit.
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After assembly everything was given a coat of Mr. Surfacer 1000.  This revealed several small pinholes in the resin.  These were filled with Mr. Surfacer 500 and the excess wiped away.
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The model was then primed with Alclad black primer, followed by a coat of Mr. Color 511, Russian Green 4BO.  This laid down perfectly and the color looks right.  This was sealed with MM Glosscoat.
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The model was given two oil washes, both relatively thin.  The first layer was burnt umber, which was applied more densely on the running gear and lower hull.  The second layer was yellow, and was applied only to portions of the model.  The idea was to bring out some tonal variation and add complexity to the monotone finish.
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Next came the drybrushing.  The tracks and running gear received some Aluminum to bring out highlights.  The hull of the tank was drybrushed with a 50-50 mix of Mr. Color 4BO and Yellow.  This was applied to the raised surface detail and also blotched onto panels to simulate paint wear and streaking.  The weathering layers can be blended with thinner to achieve the desired color density.  In this case I wanted some dirt and wear, but not an excessive amount.
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The final layers were a wash of black acrylic to fill in the recesses, followed by a very thin layer of light tan airbrushed mainly on the lower hull to simulate dust.  Then the entire model was sealed with MM Flatcoat.   Done!  The SMK was an interesting and uncommon tank, I’m looking forward to taking it to the shows for the weird factor alone.

Ostmodels Resin French Char 2C Super Heavy Tank Build in 1/72 Scale

 

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What a beast!  I was itching to get started on this one so I dove right in.  The kit is nicely cast in a slightly flexible resin.  There are no casting blocks.  There is some resin webbing to be removed, and a few pinholes to be filled, but not more than one could reasonably anticipate.  The main body is one big piece which is quite a good thing.  There are 49 parts in total.  After a few hours with the trusty hobby knife everything was cleaned up and ready to go.  Put on your favorite podcast and it all goes by rather quickly.  History and photographs here:  inchhighguy.wordpress.com/2019/07/10/french-char-2c-super-heavy-tank-description-and-kit-review/
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I decided to get everything assembled before painting to ensure a solid join.  All gluing was done with superglue from the hardware store.  The first step was assembling the running gear and tracks, which consumes about half of the parts count.  This is where the flexibility of the resin is a real asset.  I was able to bend the track around the curves and glue it down incrementally.  No worries.  One tip is to mate the ends of the sections over something solid to give extra backing and support, this also makes for a broader gluing surface.  Mercifully, the plethora of small rollers on the bottoms of the side casements are hidden by skirts and only the ends of the track links can be seen on the bottom.  I used about 4.5 track sections on each side out of the 13 provided, so there is plenty of track to spare.
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Here is everything assembled and awaiting primer.  I replaced the four machine gun barrels with Albion tube to get a better shape and hollow ends.  There are what appear to be wiring conduits at the corners of the “superstructure”, I added these with beading wire.  Six shackles were added from spares, and PE fret was used for various bits of strapping and brackets.  I removed the resin antenna and will replace it with thinner stock at the completion of the build.
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A coat of Mr. Surfacer to check for flaws.  There were several pinholes on the underside of the main hull, but these were easily filled and in an inconspicuous location.  There were a few others in random locations which were filled with superglue and stretched sprue.  In all, pretty good for a casting this size.
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The camouflage was applied using poster putty for masks.  Looking at the pictures for my subject, the pattern was not applied evenly.  The green is more dense on the rear of the sponson on this side and the color separations are finer on the upper hull.  It makes me wonder if painting this tank was a team effort and each individual applied their own ideas about the striping.
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After the camo was cleaned up a coat of Testors Glosscoat was applied.  This provides a base for the decals and weathering and allows the model to be handled without wearing through the paint.  The tracks were painted scale black then drybrushed with silver.  Then the tracks were washed with browns.  the exhaust system was also painted, and paint chipping on the hull was picked out with a fine brush.  Then a diluted mix of light tans was applied where the tracks would deposit dirt and mud.  After that the model received an acrylic wash of black to pick out the details.  Decals are from the spares box.
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Finally, everything was sealed with a layer of Dullcoat and the antenna wire was glued in place.  One thing I struggled with were the exhausts and muffler systems on the upper deck.  The photographs of this tank show camouflage patterns on the surface of the mufflers, but the paint would surely burn off after even short periods running the engines.  Was the camo touched up and then the engines not run?  I preferred a bit of wear and dirt so went with the burnt off paint in the end.  Anyway, I really enjoyed this build, it was a lot of fun!  Plus this will likely be the oddest bit of tank modeling you’ll see today!

French Char 2C Super-Heavy Tank Description and Kit Review

The Char 2C was the result of a specification issued in 1916 by the General Headquarters of the French Army for a heavy breakthrough tank.  The tank was to be heavily armored and able to cross trenches 12 meters (13 feet) wide.  In 1918 the French ordered the manufacture of 300 units to be ready in time for the 1919 Spring offensive, but with the Armistice in November 1918 all urgency was removed.  Only ten Char 2C were eventually completed, the last being delivered to the French Army in 1923.

To this day, the Char 2C is arguably the largest production tank ever to enter military service.  With a weight of 76 tons (69 metric tonnes) and a length of almost 34 feet (10.3 meters) it is a monster.  The front and turret were protected with 35 mm armor, with 21 mm plate on the sides.  Maximum speed was 15 kph.

Being represented as “land battleships”, the tanks were numbered and named after regions of France.  These were 90 Poitou, 91 Provence, 92 Picardie, 93 Alsace, 94 Bretagne, 95 Touraine, 96 Anjou, 97 Normandie, 98 Berry, and 99 Champagne.  In the fall of 1939 Normandie was up-armored in an effort to render her immune to German guns and re-named Lorraine.  She emerged with frontal armor 90 mm thick and a weight of 84 tons (76 metric tonnes).

The Char 2C design had immense propaganda value for the French in the years between the wars, but by 1939 it was obsolete.  Despite their limitations, the ten Char 2C were mobilized to form the 51st Bataillon de Chars de Combat to defend against the German invasion.  Six of the tanks were immobilized by a fire while being transported by rail.  With no way to move the tanks, they were destroyed by their own crews to prevent them from falling into German hands.  One tank, the Champagne, was captured intact by the Germans and returned to Berlin as a war prize.  The Char 2C never actually saw combat.

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The Char 2C was armed with a 75mm ARCH 1897 gun in a rotating turret and four 8 mm machine guns, one in a rotating turret at the rear of the vehicle, one mounted in the forward hull, and in each side sponson.  The crew was twelve men.
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Transportation was always a problem, so special railroad trucks were designed to help move the vehicles.  The trucks each had three axles and bolted directly onto the hull, using the structure of the tank for support.
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Propulsion was provided by two 210 hp Chenu engines driving DC generators, which in turn powered an electric motor for each track.  The engines were later replaced with 250 hp Maybach engines which gave the tank a maximum speed of 15 kph (9.5 mph) over level ground.
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The propaganda value of the huge tanks was not lost upon the French, film and photographs often showed them on maneuvers or crushing obsolete fortifications.
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A fine study of Champagne in a segmented camouflage.  The complexity of her running gear is obvious, the complexity of her engineering system is implied.
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The up-armored Lorraine.  With a frontal and turret armor of 90 mm, she would have been a very difficult opponent for German gunners.
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Champagne was captured intact by the Germans and returned to the Reich as a war prize.  The Germans took several photographs for propaganda purposes.  The inscription painted on the side reads Erbeutet PzRgt 10, which translates as “Captured (by) Panzer Regiment 10”.  Depending on the film used this inscription is either very visible as shown here, or very subtle.
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In 1/72 scale the Char 2C is available in resin form from Ostmodels in Tasmania.  The kit comes packaged in a recloseable plastic bag.  Smaller parts are contained in a second bag.  The kit was packed well in a sturdy cardboard box and bubble wrap, and survived the trip to the USA with no apparent damage.  A list of Ostmodels kits in 1/72 and 1/76 scale can be seen at the Henk of Holland website here:  https://henk.fox3000.com/Ostmodels.htm
Kits can be ordered by contacting Mr. Anker J. Fuglsang by email at kerank@ozemail.com.au.
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This data sheet is provided, but no instructions.  Like the SMK reviewed last week I do not see this as a major obstacle for experienced modelers.
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If there was a steam powered tank design I would expect it to look something like this.  Here are the parts laid out with an exacto knife for scale.  The main hull casting is 145 mm long or almost 6 inches.  This will be a big one!  Being cast in resin the parts count is mercifully low.  Some parts clean up will be required but that is not difficult nor unexpected.

Soviet SMK Heavy Tank Description and Kit Review

In 1937 the Soviets issued a specification to replace the T-35 five turreted heavy tank then in service with the Red Army.  The specification called for an armor thickness of 60 mm, and multiple turrets were in vogue with Soviet tank designers at the time.  The first drafts of the SMK design were equipped with three turrets, but this was reduced to two when it was calculated that a three turret design could not be sufficiently armored.

The SMK was armed with 76.2 mm L-11 and 45 mm M1932 guns in superimposed turrets, along with two 7.62 mm and one 12.7 mm machine guns.  Armor was 60 mm on the front, turrets, and sides, 55 mm on the upper surfaces.  A 850 hp gasoline engine could drive the SMK at a maximum speed of 22 mph (35 kph).  Overall weight was 60 tons, crew was seven.

The specification also produced two competing designs, the T-100 which was similar in layout having two superimposed turrets, and the more conventional KV-1 with a single turret.  The SMK prototype and two examples each of the T-100 and KV-1 designs were formed into a heavy company of the 91st Tank Battalion for combat trials.  The battalion saw action against the Finns near Summa on 17 – 19 December 1939.  During the operation one of the KV-1 prototypes was evacuated after a Finnish round disabled its gun and the SMK prototype ran over a mine and was immobilized.  Because of its size it eventually had to be abandoned.  The Finns made attempts to tow the SMK from the area but also lacked anything heavy enough to move the 60 ton vehicle.  When the Soviets secured the area in March 1940 they were finally able to recover the SMK, using six T-28 tanks.  The SMK was transported back to the Soviet Union by rail, stripped of useable equipment and eventually scrapped.  The KV-1 entered production as the Red Army’s new heavy tank.

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The general layout of the SMK is seen in this view.  The 76 mm gun is in the upper turret, the 45 mm in the lower.
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The extra turret required a long chassis, 8.75 meters or almost 29 feet.  Weight was 55,000 kg or 60 tons.  Eventually it was realized that the additional turret was rarely beneficial and the added weight could be better used on a single-turret tank with heavier armor.
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Internal layout of the SMK was conventional, save for the second turret.  Ammunition capacity was generous with 150 rounds for the 76.2 mm and 300 rounds or 45 mm.  Almost 4,000 rounds were carried for the machine guns.
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Here the immobilized SMK is being inspected by the Finns.  Recovery and field repair of disabled tanks is a problem, when the tank is unusually heavy it can become especially difficult.  Minor mechanical issues, easily fixed in a depot, often result in the loss of the tank if it cannot be successfully recovered.
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In 1/72 scale the SMK is available in resin form from Ostmodels in Tasmania.  The kit comes packaged in a recloseable plastic bag.  Smaller parts are contained in a second bag.  The kit was packed well in a sturdy cardboard box and bubble wrap, and survived the trip to the USA with no apparent damage.  A list of Osmodels kits in 1/72 and 1/76 scale can be seen at the Henk of Holland website here:  https://henk.fox3000.com/Ostmodels.htm
Kits can be ordered by contacting Mr. Anker J. Fuglsang by email at kerank@ozemail.com.au.
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This data sheet is provided, but no instructions.  I do not see this as an obstacle for experienced modelers, the type is generally similar to the KV-1 and conforms to expectations for what should go where.
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Here are the parts laid out with an exacto knife for scale.  The main hull casting is 120 mm long or almost 5 inches.  This will be a big one!  Some parts clean up will be required but that is not difficult nor unexpected.  I am looking forward to building this one, expect a construction report soon!