AB Figures SS Tank Killers

Its always total fun painting any figures from AB. The details are so clear and sharp that they really paint themselves. Once you get the paint on in the right places the rest really looks after itself. They really are the best 20mm figures out there, and even though significantly more expensive than any plastic figures i think its well worth it for the difference in quality. I did recently pick up some more British from CP Models, which look really good, Wartime Miniatures and also SHQ, so i will do a comparison of all them sometime.

But back to these SS troops packing Panzerfausts and Panzershrecks. I did my usual German camo scheme in greens and  browns the only difference was i had some cool new grassy tufts to try out on the bases. The poses from AB are just great, looking natural and realistic. I still have some loading crew, a trooper carrying the Panzershreck rounds and a couple more Panzerfaust firers, to paint next. But i am going to do a more Autumn camo scheme with them for a change. Anyway if you dont have any AB figures run out and get some, they are just brilliant!

Some photos of my tank killing team out on the Farm looking for Shermans.

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Trumpeter Sturmtiger (Late) 1/72 Scale

My last slightly obscure German vehicle I had in my pile of kits came out and was built this last week. The Sturmtiger was a support tank based on the Tiger chassis. Its not a vehicle I would get to use a lot but a lot of fun to have and build anyway. Trumpeter kits are excellent and this one did not disappoint.

Its a very easy kit to build as its mainly a box on a chassis with quite simple running gear. So it didn’t take too long to build. Everything fits together nicely as usual with Trumpeter. The instructions for the gun were a bit vague in parts and then didn’t match the picture on the front of the box. This was confusing. The picture on the box also misses off the MG gun in the hull which is weird. I had to consult some internet pictures and places to try and work out the main gun. I still think I got it a bit wrong, but the box art has missed a bit off totally (its the part that goes around the end of the main gun).

I realise after painting that I am not that happy with this Tiger’s paint job. My camo scheme went a bit screwy and needs more contrast. Also I added too much sand and dirt and it all came out looking a bit the same. I need to cut back on the dirt as with a Dunkelb yellow vehicle you need some contrast otherwise it all just looks a bit boring. The tracks would have looked better left the rusty colour I did prior to all the muck. Also this tank is very boxy and doesn’t have a huge amount of surface detail so I needed to spend more time picking out details with dark washes. Next time I will do a better job! I should also glue down bits of the top of the tracks to signify their weight.

For some reason there are no decals supplied. Not sure why, so you will need to dig up some spares.

Overall this is another wicked little kit from Trumpeter, not sure if anyone else actually makes a 1/72 scale Sturmtiger, but if you want one look no further!

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Hasegawa Sdkfz 251/1 Halftrack with AB Crew

I continued working through my backlog of German vehicles and troops. My buddy Jim from Combat HQ had mentioned German hanomags so i thought i would finish off a Hasegawa kit i had lying around. I have already reviewed this kit in a previous post, but this time wanted to put some grenadiers in the back making a fight of it. The kit itself is a good one, simple to build but more detailed than anything the Plastic Soldier Company do. The only poor thing about is the funny ribber tracks which are a bit crap. If i had some spares i would swap them.

The more exciting bit was choosing the crew and how they would fit in the back. I used some awesome AB figures as usual. This particular pack was made for fighting out of a half track. I also cut the top half off an Esci/Italeri side car machine gunner and glued him to someone else’s standing legs. He makes a nice cap wearing machine gunner at the front. For their camo i tried using a dark yellow instead of a light brown on one round of dots. This worked out well as it provides a better contrast to the other colours. I find with any German SS camo scheme i am doing it does not really matter which three colours i use. A base coat of green or khaki, with darker brown/black patches and red brown patches works nicely. Followed by layers of dots of lighter shades on the darker patches and darker dots on the lighter patches all work well. Its the contrasting colours that create the effect. From my research the range of colours and patterns was so wide it you can basically do whatever you like and it will turn out OK.

Following photos of my finished half track, plus him as part of a Panzer Grenadier unit with other half  tracks, a Kubelwagen and a Marder as support.

Unimodel Hetzer Flammpanzer 38(t)

This was the second of the Unimodel Kits i bought from the Ukraine, and one of my favourite little tanks. I actually bought two of the kits which is my usual habit. In these Unimodel kits you can usually build various different versions of the same tank as they include most of the parts. I thought i could do the same with this one and built a regular Hetzer with a normal gun barrel. This kit is missing the remote controlled MG which sits on the roof, so its not totally correct. I just realised i have forgotten to add an aerial too. I can fix that later.

The running gear and lower hull are the same as the Marder in my previous post, so based on the Pz.Kpfw 38 Light tank. Second time around i did a better job with the link and length tracks. That’s the part of the model that takes the longest, with the remainder being fairly straight forward. Some vague instructions make some of the smaller bits a bit tricky. I think i screwed up the drivers periscope a little and had to file down the top of it a bit as i had it glued at thee wrong angle. Also i wasn’t sure about the pipe from the hull to the exhaust and what angle to put it at. I left off the PE schurzen plates until after i had painted which made it easier to paint and weather the tracks and wheels.

I had a lot of fun with my torn sponge chipping and scratching effect on this little guy. Using Raw Umber, Black and Red Oxide i was braver with my sponging and created more weathering on all sides of the Hetzer. I like the way it came out so will keep on using this technique. Next up might try some really damaged and scratched effect. I also tried using Blutack as a masking for the camouflage paint job. This also worked well with my Tamiya spray cans, and i will try it again too.

I love these Unimodel Kits –  looking forward to building a Sherman some time soon.

Unimodel Sd.Kfz.139 Marder III in 1/72 scale

I am really enjoying building these Unimodel kits. They have a huge range covering loads of World War 2 vehicles, some of which are a bit more obscure. I pick these up directly from an excellent Ukrainian Hobby shop which stocks pretty much the whole range. You can find them at https://www.hobby.dn.ua. Its far better to buy these kits direct from Ukraine as they work out at much better value. Postage from Ukraine to Australia is very reasonable too. Anyway check them out. I did pick up some Hetzers and a Sherman at the same time, which are next in line for building.

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This Marder III is another of the German Self Propelled guns they came up with and its a pretty funny looking design. They just used the same chassis at the PzKpfw 38 Light Tank and jammed an AT gun on top. The hull and running gear are quite easy to build with four big wheels either side plus sprocket and drive wheel. The tracks are link and length and fitted really nicely. I always start with getting the sprocket wheel done first, but in this case it didn’t matter as the tracks all lined up perfectly.

The armour sections on the upper hull were a little bit tricky as the instructions tend to be a bit vague. Unimodel tend to include a little too many steps in their exploded diagrams so it can be hard to follow. Once i had fitted all the upper armour sections i found that the top rail would not fit across so i had to add an extra bit of plastic. No harm done. But the armour plate was the trickiest part of this model. You get some photo etched metal bits too. The basket at the back is metal you need to bend plus some other little bits here and there. Overall this was a lot of fun to build and a bit more challenging than the usual tank.

It doesn’t come with any crew, and for an open topped vehicle its crucial to have some crew hanging around doing their thing. I used AB Figures tank crew as usual. I had a lot of fun doing a peadot camo on their pants so i included a photo of them in mid paint under the magnifying glass light. The tank i tried a new camo scheme with green patches out lined in red brown. The kit comes with plenty of decals giving you options to do whatever you want. I liked this kit so much i immediately started work on one of the Unimodel Hetzers i also bought……

Trumpeter Sd.Kfz 184 Ferdinand “Elefant” 1/72 scale kit

I bought this kit from Hobby Easy in Hong Kong for an amazing $8.50 which was just too good to pass up. Also my buddy Jim Bambra who makes excellent wargaming rules at Combat HQ wanted some photos of an Elefant (not the big eared type), so i happily obliged with my build of this interesting tank.

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The more i build Trumpeter kits the more i like them. Enough detail for a bit of a challenge, but all the bits go together nicely without too much screwing around. I hate messing around with ill fitting parts. It’s no fun! This kit is great. A few little things should be mentioned. The instructions are not correct for the running gear assembly, so you really need to pay attention to the pictures and not the instructions to make sure you get the right wheels and the right suspension in the right places. Also there were two little spikey bits that go behind the sprocket wheels that i could not get into the right place and so i left them out. It didn’t matter as you cannot see them anyway in the final model. I did get some photo etched grills and stuff but they did not appear in the instructions and seem to have some from another version or something.

There are two options for the tracks. You can use the single piece rubber/vinyl or you can build the link and length type. I could not see how you could attach the link and length easily on the wheels unless you did them much earlier in the build than the instructions suggested. So i went for the single length tracks and they worked out fine.

All the hatches are moulded shut which is a shame, but i guess you could open them up with some knife work. It would be good to put a commander in there somewhere. I did a a two colour paint job, just yellow and green patches. Plus lots of dirt and mud and dust as usual. Its a cool kit and a cool looking tank. Much fun.

Trumpeter Jagdpanther in 1/72 scale

Trumpeter produce a huge range of 1/72 scale tanks and vehicles and where i am in Australia they are very affordable and easy to find. Only $10 a pop from my www.hobbyeasy.com, which i think is just great value. The Jagdpanther is a very cool tank and although not used in great numbers in Normandy i still really wanted to build one.

Previously i had built some Jagdpanthers from the English company Armourfast, but to be honest, this Trumpeter kit is 100% far and away totally better in every department. The kit is quite a simple build. The running gear goes together quickly with a couple of dozen wheels. I left the vinyl/rubber tracks off so i could paint them separately before attaching them to the tank later. The hull of the tank has plenty of great detail to add including spare tracks on each side, plus it has schurzen plates to add if you like. On this version i decided to leave them off so you can see the running gear more clearly. Some good decals are provided, with two different choices of numbers for the side of the tank.

I painted this by hand in a usual three colour camouflage scheme, but tried a brighter camo green than i normally use. I also tried some new techniques and products I hadn’t tried before. Firstly i bought some MIG products washes for British and German tanks. Normally i just use some raw/burnt umber mixed with a touch of black for a wash. I gave the tank a gloss varnish after finishing the camo scheme and then gave it a wash with the MIG wash for German vehicles. What a difference! I would recommend grabbing some of these as the effect is so much better than just the regular paint wash i was using.

I also tried some chipping weathering effects with a sponge that i had read about. This worked quite well with a contrasting paint colour to my tanks paintwork (i used burnt umber and raw umber mainly). I made sure i didn’t over do it. Also after reading a tutorial by Piers Brand on how he uses weathering powders on tanks i decided i wanted to try them out too. So another trip to BNA Model World, i bought a bunch of weathering powders, again from MIG, and used them on the tracks and running gear. Using them sparingly and keeping the effects subtle they certainly improve the look of the vehicle.

So i was very happy with the new techniques and products i tried this week. You can see the results in my finished Jagdpanther below.