Esci Pz.Kpfw.IV in 1/72 scale

Esci German Tank pz.kpfw.IV ausf.g 1/72 Scale Model Kit Tank NEW

I picked two more Panzer IVs on eBay just like this one. Costing less than $10 each, such good value, even if they are the kits with the nasty vinyl tracks. I am now confident I can defeat the horrible things with a good dose of super glue and patience. I needed a couple more Panzer IVs to go with my Zvezda troop that I built previously. These Esci kits still hold up nicely, you just need to give them a bit more love than more modern kits. These two I made quite a few alterations to get them up to scratch.

First up is to sort out the tricky tracks. I managed to totally snap one of the tracks trying to wrap and glue them around the running gear, leaving a missing section. My solution for both vehicles was to scratch build side skirts to cover up the top section of the tracks. This gave me free reign to use wire to connect the tracks to the top return rollers, knowing it would all be covered up by the schurtzen. I used thin plastic card and the Zvezda skirts as a template. I also needed to build turret armour using the same plastic card superglued to thicker wire so it would retain its curved shape around the turret. This worked out quite well as I basically just tried to copy the Zvezda tanks.

One of my old Esci kits had a malformed gun barrel, so i bought a nice new metal one for a few dollars and replaced it. This was a great improvement too. I also picked up a tow cable to add. I drilled some holes and glued in aerials as usual. These kits let you leave the turret open so I did that on one tank ready for my AB figures crew man.

Paint job was a black undercoat followed by a Tamiya dark yellow spray. I then hand painted the green camo which was followed by a light overspray of dark yellow again. Gloss varnish and decals is followed by a MIG dark brown wash to pick out details. I did some chipping and scratching to make it all look nice and work, using a sponge and even just sand paper to leave some marks on the paintwork. After a matt varnish i used plenty of dusty pigments for the weathered look. My AB commander was painted and added and you can see him relaxing in his hatch below.

I was happy with the end result with all my additions and they fit in nicely with the two Zvezda kits i had made previously. Overall these Esci kits are great if you can be bothered to give them a little more love and attention.

 

 

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Zvezda Panzer IV Ausf H in 1/72 Scale

See the source image

Zvezda really do make some great kits in 1/72 scale. I have already made their Panther and also their Tiger. This Panzer IV is better than both of the big cats. I have built Panzer IVs from Esci, Dragon and Armourfast, but these Zvezda kits are better than any of them from all perspectives. The kits go together beautifully, have great detail, plenty of parts to keep you interested, and are decent value for money. This pair I picked up from the Ukraine via eBay at less than $15 AUD each. In my book that’s a bargain for something a lot better than a quick build kit.

After struggling for weeks with horrible tracks, these tracks are great and so easy to put together. The kit comes complete with side and turret skirts, which I chopped up a little, mainly inspired by the excellent box art. My one criticism is the commanders hatch is modelled closed with no option to open it. I added a couple of washing up brush bristle aerials just to finish the whole look off.

Painting was just a bright camo green on dark yellow plus some chipping and plenty of dirt and dust. I also built two Esci old Panzer IVs at the same time which I will post up next. They were a whole different ball game and gave me far more of a challenge to get up to scratch. If you need Panzer IVs for your German army run out and grab some of these!

 

Sentry Models Ruined House

So after quite a long time searching for Sentry Models fantastic buildings I stumbled upon them on a Facebook page. Very excited I ordered a few from Tony Raven who makes these great resin models. Not cheap to get them all the way to Australia, but to be honest they are so good, I really didn’t care about the postage. I picked up a ruined house, a big ruined terrace and another two storey ruin. Sculpting is just beautiful and the detail much better than anything I have managed to scratch build.

My first effort is the single ruin. I glued to an MDF base and then added a heap more of my own rubble to blend it in. This included some bought bricks and some home made rubble carefully crafted from smashing up house bricks with a ten pound hammer. A good coating of PVA glue and then a black and grey primer spray coat on top.

Painting was done using cheap acrylics and a couple of washes and highlights. I did also use some weathering pigments to blend things into the base. Oh and some charcoal for the charred bits here and there. Last touch was the flocking and a few tufty bits. I was very happy with how it turned out and cannot wait to get cracking on the others. I would recommend getting onto Facebook and finding Sentry/Ravensthorpe miniatures ASAP and picking up some of these for your table top.

I still haven’t managed to play a game in 2019, I guess I am just more of a modelling and painting nut than anything else……….

Esci Marder III in 1/72 Scale

Boxart Marder III 8010 ESCI

OK so I have finally been beaten by vinyl tracks. I am very sad to admit defeat. I have spent most of August working on a troop of Panzer IVs from Zvezda and Esci (vinyl tracks!), but I tried to finish off this old kit I picked up for pennies. Alas no it was not to be……. After many attempts trying to use my superglue and patience technique on this little guy I ended up with too much super glue and too little patience.

The kit was thrown in the garbage, something I am not proud of, but you have to draw a line somewhere. Buyers beware this one is a real dud. I think I better turn to Unimodel and buy their Marders as their kits are excellent.

Should have my panzers finished soon and I can get back to posting something more constructive!

 

 

“The Battle For Arnhem 1944-1945” by Anthony Tucker-Jones

The Battle for Arnhem 1944-1945

Another favourite classic war film of mine, and I am sure many others too, is “A Bridge Too Far”. People always mention the historical inaccuracies and problems with the filming and actors’ egos etc but I really enjoy it as a war movie. It is up there with “The Longest Day” with an all star cast and blockbuster sets and great effects for the time.

Behind the Hollywood version there is a truth that is both an amazing and bold military plan, verging on the foolhardy, and a great story of bravery and survival. Unfortunately the plan ultimately failed, but if successful could have shortened the war and stopped further suffering in occupied Europe. This visual history of the Battle Of Arnhem is an excellent summary of all the actions through some text and many pictures. It was more of a series of battles rather than one big one, involving airborne landings to capture bridges and create a pathway to the main objective of the Arnhem bridge. Once objectives were captured an armoured force was to make it’s way as a relief column to clear a pathway all the way to Arnhem. Field Marshal Montgomery underestimated the strength of German forces in the area and their ability to regroup and counterattack resulting in the failure of Operation Market Garden.

As a wargamer of World War Two I have a great interest in all aspects of this operation and I am very keen to recreate parts of the Arnhem battle. An airborne assault on a canal bridge or an armoured column under attack on a long road. There are many great ideas here. The photographs are fantastic and show many scenes of all the engagements and situations throughout the campaign. The writing is very clear and concise and accompanied with some very informative maps. Tracking the action and linking it to the pictures is easy and it makes for an excellent read. If you have any interest in Operation Market Garden and the Battle For Arnhem then this book is for you. Of course now I will need to dust off my copy of “A Bridge Too Far” and watch it again!

 

 

 

 

“Wargames Terrain and Buildings – The Napoleonic Wars” by Tony Harwood

Spending my time reading more while the model kits and paints remain locked away in our soon to be finished renovated home. Frustrating but lucky I have a decent supply of interesting books to fuel my hobby urges.

This one is all about scratch building terrain for your wargames table. Making terrain is one of my favourite parts of the hobby and I am always keen to read about how other people do it. What techniques they use, how they decide on what to build, and what materials they turn to. It is a very satisfying feeling to produce your own terrain and really not as difficult as some people may think. Using household items and readily available products you can achieve some really good results with some patience. Of course everything always boils down to how much time do you have? Buying houses is a much quicker option, but home made results I think are usually better.

Tony Harwood, in his book, goes through five or six of his terrain projects in detail and shows us clearly how he achieved his excellent results. This book is aimed at the Napoleonic period, but do not be put off if you are interested in World War Two (me) or the ancient world or anything else. It has relevance to anyone who wants to learn more about building terrain in any period in any scale. Tony starts with a sketch of the piece he wants to build, usually inspired by a photo or something he has seen in a book. Then a framework of cardboard, foam board or foam is built up to create the basic shapes. For extra strength he covers structures in paper and PVA glue. One thing he does not seem to do is leave window openings or removable roofs. Both for realism and playability I do like to leave windows as proper openings into the building and have removable roofs if possible to allow troops to be placed inside.

The go to material for Tony is DAS clay which he uses liberally in every project. This fast drying clay is brilliant for creating terrain as it can be moulded into anything and can be cut and carved. Once you have covered your structure in clay you can carve texture like bricks or stonework into it and make some very realistic effects. What I liked about Tony’s projects is he is happy to change his idea during the process and add and subtract bits and pieces to improve his design. Roofing is dealt with either store bought pantiles or cardboard roof tiles, both inexpensive or free solutions. There is an abundant use of bits of foam, balsa wood, plasticard, paper, card and even skewers. All stuff you can get hold of very easily.

I really enjoyed this book. Its a nice quick read with very clear and concise instructions. Tony’s techniques can be applied to any terrain structure you can come up with in any period you are keen on, so do not be put off if Napoleon is not your cup of tea. I love making terrain and this just adds fuel to my itchy fingers!

 

“M7 Priest: Rare Photographs from Wartime” by David Doyle

I have been unable to get any models built in the past month as we have been out of the house while getting some renovations done, and then we were overseas for three weeks on a most excellent holiday! So I am missing my hobby a bit and getting itchy fingers.

But luckily I can still read and write. My latest reading material is about another awesome Allied design from World War Two, the M7 Priest. It was a powerful 105mm howitzer placed on a Sherman hull, used for supporting infantry and attacks with some heavy firepower. It was used very effectively during the war and even after in later conflicts. I had just purchased two Priest kits made by Unimodel so it was excellent timing that I had this book for inspiration for when I actually get around to building them. Plastic kits of the Priest in 1/72 scale are very hard to find, and I think Unimodel must be one of the only manufacturers.  The Plastic Soldier Company make a Sexton, and I think Revell do a 1/76 scale Priest, but Unimodel maybe the only 1/72 scale producer.

Anyway the book is full of fantastic pictures, as the main title “Images of war” suggests. It does detail the design and development stages of the Priest, plus some specifications and performance of the vehicle. But most of all there are many, many shots of the tank in action in many different situations. They were used in multiple roles from blasting strong points, longer range artillery and even transporting troops. The main design was constant but details were fiddled with over the years and these slight differences are illustrated very well throughout the many photos.

If you have an interest in this particular vehicle or you are planning to build one in small scale this book is a great source of visual inspiration. I will be picking a couple of pictures out to use to base my kits on when my Priest models get to the front of the queue. I was very happy to add this book to my growing collection of reference material for military vehicles from World War Two. If you like tanks you will enjoy this book.