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.

Sd. Kfz. 9 FAMO Halftrack Dioramas in 1/72 Scale

I present three dioramas (or are they vignettes) featuring Sd. Kfz. 9 FAMO Halftracks in 1/72 scale.  The first is a Planet Models resin kit with Black Dog accessories.  The figures are mainly from Preiser set 72505, augmented with others from one of their Luftwaffe sets.  The crew has taken a break for lunch in the shade of a tree.  The dog is painted to resemble one of my own.

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This scene is the Revell FAMO towing an Italeri sFH 18 Field Howitzer, both very nice kits.  The cargo is mainly Value Gear in the bed and Black Dog tarps on the fenders.  Figures are a mix of Preiser and modified artillerymen from the Italeri kit. Value Gear here: http://valuegeardetails.com/UniversalStowage72.html

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I have recently developed an affinity for tank transporters (like I needed another rabbit hole to climb in) so there will likely be more like this scene in the future.  This is the Trumpeter FAMO and transport trailer with a Zvezda Panzer IV.  Figures are from the CMK set designed for the FAMO and a few from Caesar, Value Gear stowage in the bed again.  I like the casual poses, particularly the bored guy on the back of the trailer.

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Build links and more finished pictures here:  https://inchhighguy.wordpress.com/?s=Sd.+Kfz.+9+FAMO

Trumpeter Sd. Kfz. 9 FAMO Halftrack in 1/72 Scale

This is Trumpeter’s FAMO kit number 07203 which was issued in 2005.  This kit has been issued in several versions and boxings over the years and is still available.  Trumpeter’s kit is the most detailed FAMO and also contains the most parts by far.  Track are individual links and have separately molded rubber pads.  I found the kit to be over-engineered and fiddly.  The advantages in detail will not be visible from normal viewing angles, but if you wanted to display a FAMO with the hood panels open or over on its side this would be the place to start.  Value Gear cargo is in the bed.

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Sd. Kfz. 9 FAMO Halftrack Comparison Build in 1/72 Scale Part III

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The kits were each primed with Mr. Surfacer 1000 to check for flaws, then recesses and shadow areas received a coat of Alclad black primer.
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The Planet Resin model was painted Panzer Gray with a darker mix from below and a lighter mix from above.
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This is the Revell kit with the tracks and rubber parts of the road wheels picked out.
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The Trumpeter kit got bands of green and brown camouflage colors.
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Here are all three together under a glosscoat after decals have been applied.
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The FAMO looks a bit naked without some cargo. Black Dog makes a nice set for the FAMO, the section for the bed is a large chunk of resin representing a mixed cargo load and a loose canvas cover. I liked this set for the Planet kit as it will help make up for the reduced surface detail compared to the other two models.
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The Black Dog resin is seen here painted in basic colors and sealed under a gloss coat. This is a good exercise in detail painting.
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I detailed the some of the cargo with the usual washes and drybrushing, but decided to try a new technique (for me) on the canvas bits by using oils. Black oils were brushed into the recesses and white onto the ridges, then the two were gently blended into grays. This is actually pretty easy to control and relaxing to apply, and I was pleased with the depth and contrast at the end. Like anything new it will take more practice to perfect but the initial results are promising. The rope coil is rigging rope from the Syren Ship Model Company and is woven as rope, not thread.
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For cargo in the remaining two FAMO I ordered the German Fuel Drum and German Ammo Crate sets from Value Gear. I purchased three sets with my order, and VG sent along a fourth set as a bonus! These are nice sets, and a lot easier than casting them yourself.  Value Gear here:  http://valuegeardetails.com/UniversalStowage72.html
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Here are both sets painted up, enough to load my two FAMO with a bunch left over.
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This is the finished Planet Models FAMO with the Black Dog resin set. The simplified construction is rugged and goes together easily, but it is not as detailed as the injection molded kits. This is the best choice for wargamers if you can find it. The Black Dog resin set adds visual interest while making the kit’s limited surface detail less noticeable.
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Revell’s kit is the best compromise between detail and buildability. Mine carries Value Gear cargo in the bed and Black Dog tarps on the fenders. I made the canvas supports from metal rod, the molded pieces in the stowed position were just not as convincing.

 

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The Trumpeter kit is the most detailed but is vastly over-engineered, especially in the case of the tracks and suspension which requires constant attention to align. Much of the detail is only visible from the underside so the extra effort is wasted. However, if a modeler wanted to model a FAMO with the hood open or the vehicle on its side, this would be the place to start.

Sd. Kfz. 9 FAMO Halftrack Comparison Build in 1/72 Scale Part II

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Here are the assembled chassis for each kit, Planet on the bottom, Revell in the middle, and Trumpeter on top. The Planet component is a single piece. The Revell assembly is sixteen pieces, Trumpeter’s forty-nine. Trumpeter’s is the most detailed of the three, but already you can see I’m having the beginnings of some alignment issues with the suspension.  The best plan is to correct these as they occur.

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Here the running gear is in place. This is an unflattering angle for the Planet model, even with some of the backing on the main suspension piece trimmed back. The Planet model is up to nineteen pieces at this stage, Revell is at an even fifty, while the Trumpeter kit is at eighty-eight. I suspect you’re detecting a theme by this point.

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The Planet tracks are rubber but attached with CA glue without issue. A trick when building multimedia kits is to make your own decisions when using the provided parts – some parts are easier to replace than to clean up, and photoetch parts do not represent three dimensional parts well. In this case some kit parts for the forward suspension were used as guides to fabricate replacements from metal rod.

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The Revell kit contains link and length track which is a good compromise. There is just enough track provided to make it all the way around the running gear, but no more. I’ll pull out my soapbox once again – on any tracked vehicle a little extra track would be most welcome, both as insurance against loss or error and for potential use as stowage on the vehicle. In the case of some tanks which used track as supplemental armor a lot of extra track would be welcome!

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The Trumpeter track is an exercise in frustration. Each link is individually molded with the rubber pad supplied as a separate piece. Seven sprue attachment points to clean up per link, forty-seven links needed per side. I have officially notified the Church of the miracle that was me getting all 188 of these pieces on the kit without losing any, I expect to be canonized soon as Saint Jeffrey, the patron Saint of not losing small model parts. You do get three extra links per side though in case you don’t light your candle in time.

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All three kits with the suspensions complete. Trumpeter is definitely the most detailed, but also suffers from being quite fiddly to align. Mud will be my friend. Much of the detail at this point is in places unlikely to be seen by the casual viewer.  The Revell kit features good detail and goes together well.  The Planet Model resin kit lacks fine detail, but is robust and easy to assemble.

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The Planet model has grab bars represented by PE parts which are intended to be mounted without the benefit of recessed locating holes. Revell and Trumpeter mold on ridges to represent the bars. On all three kits I replaced the grab bars with metal rod set into drilled holes. This is an easy improvement which is more realistic and quite robust.

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The Planet model provides several details in PE but many of these do not look right as flat parts and so were replaced. Here I have used the instrument panel, floor pedals, and steering wheel. The position indicators on the fenders and shift levers are insect pins. The grips on the steering wheel were built up with Mr. Surfacer.

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The assembled Revell kit with only a few of the most fragile detail parts left off. On all three models the cabs and beds are not yet glued to the suspension to make painting easier.

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The level of detail is best on the Trumpeter kit, slightly better than Revell and noticeably better than Planet. Both the Revell and Trumpeter kit needed a swipe of filler at the back of the hood but otherwise there were no fit issues.

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A side-by-side view to compare details.

Trumpeter Sd.Ah.116 Tank Transporter in 1/72 Scale

This is Trumpeter kit number 07249, the Sd.Ah.116 Tank Transporter.  This was normally seen with the Sd.Kfz. 8 or Sd.Kfz. 9 FAMO halftrack being used as the towing vehicle with various types of loads – lots of diorama potential with a little research.  I used this one to test various weathering techniques and was happy with the results, although there is much room left for improvement.  I have posed the trailer with a previous build of a StuG III which was one of the more common vehicles transported.

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Sd. Kfz. 9 FAMO Halftrack Comparison Build in 1/72 Scale Part I

For this build I’ll be assembling a small batch of the German army’s largest halftrack – the 18-ton Sd. Kfz. 9 “FAMO” using kits from three different manufacturers.  Each manufacturer has taken a different approach to their kits and I’m interested to see how each one builds up and how they look when complete.

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The first kit is Planet Model’s kit number MV 024. Released in 2002 this is a multimedia kit. The main parts are resin castings, supplemented with a small resin fret, rubber tracks, and a decal sheet. This kit was used as the basis for several different versions, but is now hard to find.

 

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The parts are well cast if somewhat simplified. The road wheels are cast as one piece per side, with the outer rows of wheels added separately. Likewise the frame is cast with the majority of the details in place. This all makes for a quick assembly with good alignment. The simplifications are not obvious from most normal viewing angles but are readily apparent when viewing the underside.

 

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The next kit is Revell’s offering from 2005, their kit number 03141. An injection molded kit with excellent detailing, it can still be found today reissued with different markings.

 

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The frame and body are built up from multiple parts contained on these two sprues. The attachment points for the road wheels are molded as part of the frame which will add strength and helps with alignment.

 

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The road wheels are all individual pieces and build up in layers like so many German designs. Tracks are link and length. The small sprue at the bottom right is for an earth spade to dig in while winching, there was a note in my kit which said it was not for use. An unusual choice as Revell later issued another boxing which used the spade.

 

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The third kit is Trumpeter’s number 07203, also issued in 2005 (apparently a good year for FAMO’s). This kit has also been through additional versions and boxings over the years and is still available.

 

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Trumpeter’s kit is the most detailed of the three and also contains the most parts by far. Why mold one piece when you can build the same assembly from three smaller pieces? Much of this detail will be visible only from the underside or by removing portions of the engine covers.

 

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The tires are rubber. The torsion arms are molded as separate pieces which is weaker and can lead to alignment issues. The parts are well molded and detailed but there are ejector pin marks on some of the parts, fortunately in locations not easily seen from normal viewing angles.

 

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The track links are beautifully molded but are the definition of over-engineering. Four track sprues are provided.  Each link is individually molded and the rubber pad is a separate piece. Seven sprue attachment points per link, fifty links per side. There is a helpful alignment tool to help keep everything pointed in the proper direction, but I would have preferred any other method of putting on the track in this scale.

Trumpeter Sd.Ah.116 Tank Transporter Build in 1/72 Scale

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This is Trumpeter kit number 07249, the Sd.Ah.116 Tank Transporter. This was usually seen being towed behind an Sd.Kfz. 8 or Sd.Kfz. 9 FAMO halftrack. The trailer was rated at 23 tons but could haul up to 28 tons, most commonly vehicles based upon the Panzer III were carried but there are several photos showing Panzer IVs as well.

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The parts are well molded and my example had no flash, but there are some ejector pin marks on the underside of some parts.

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The driver’s cab is a single piece of slide mold wizardry. A small length of thread is provided to represent rope but this is fuzzy and best replaced. You also get a short run of metal chain which is useful. Tires are the flexible vinyl type with the impossible-to-remove mold line down the center so hopefully the seam can be hidden with mud.

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The parts build up into three major assemblies, and these can be completed in any order you wish. I’d recommend jumping around a bit to allow for time for the glue to set as keeping these assemblies square and aligned will certainly make life easier later on.

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The built-up kit is 6.5 inches (165 mm) long, which is pretty impressive for a 1/72 model, with a towing vehicle it will really stretch out. I’ve begun to develop an interest in tank transporters so there will be more of these coming in the model pipeline.

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Paint on this one will be just the basic Panzer Dunkelgelb. My intention is to use this build to test various weathering techniques so I wanted a finish which could show the effects of being beaten up.

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Here the model has been assembled and the decals applied. The red and white stripe decals on the edges of the mudguards were too wide to fit properly so I just painted the markings. Everything is sealed with Future (Klear) which is an acrylic in order to protect the base coat from being worn away by solvents. The driver’s cab is not glued down at this point.

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The model after some simple washes with Tamiya Panel Line wash. I applied a black wash first, and then brown. I found I was able to modulate the effect that way and I used the brown wash to push the black wash around, removing it from areas where I didn’t want it and emphasizing areas where I did.

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Here are a few more weathering layers. Chipping was done by stippling on oil paint, dirt and mud is Vallejo weathering powder pressed into yellow ochre oil paint. I then misted a light layer of dust over the whole thing, which toned down the tires quite a bit.

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A detail shot of the rear section showing the weathering. In general this is the appearance I was hoping for but there is still room for improvement. There is no substitute for practice!