Sunday, June 27, 2010

Tankograd Tokyo

The 18-y Tankovy Korpus takes shape!

I received my order of Pegasus Hobbies tanks and buildings, and this weekend has seen me busy putting together T-34/76's, KV-1's, and SU-152's, as well as starting work on some terrain pieces for use in our BKC games.

The Pegasus Hobbies models go together well, and once I got used to the rather ingenious design for putting together the torsion bars and road wheels, they proved really simple to put together.  These models have a surprising amount of good detail for what are almost snap-together kits, and the fit of parts is generally excellent.  

There are very few sink holes and gaps that need filling, which, after working on some older Fujimi kits recently, is something of a relief! Most are on the underside of the models, where they cannot be seen anyway.

The hardest part was adding the armoured rear plate to the hull, which had to line up with the hull top if the whole thing was to fit together smoothly.  It was a bit of a tricky fit, but nothing that liberal applications of liquid cement couldn't fix.

Assembling the tracks and running gear took some time for the first model.  But once I figured out how they went together, the pace picked up quickly and once I got into mass-production mode I was able to do both tracks on two vehicles in about 30 minutes or even less. 

The trick was to do two road wheels at a time, and  then snap the tracks to the locating holes in the chassis so that the glue holding each half of the road wheels together would set with the torsion bars in the right position.  

In the meantime work on something else, then go back and add the next pair and again line them up.  And so on, until the entire assembly finally just snaps into place and the locating pins on the torsion bars can then be glued from inside the chassis.  A lot harder to describe than it was to do!

Once this current batch of armour is put together, I will start work on detailing them.  While I really like the track assemblies, from the front and rear the tracks look a little plain due to moulding limitations.  I'll be adding some plastic rod to suggest a more "waffle-like" tread pattern which was distinctive of KV tanks. I also want to work on texturing the turrets of the KV-1s tanks, and opening the hatch of one of them for the commander.  

The lack of any decals provided with the kits is a bit of a drag, but as Pegasus Hobbies includes two tanks per box for a lot less than what other manufactures charge for one, I'm certainly not complaining.  Anyway there are a lot of commercial decals available both online and in my spares box.

The four KV-1s tanks will form the 36th Guards Heavy Tank Regiment (I need to order some decals for Guards units).  Those oh-so-sexy SU-152's will make up the 1543rd Self-Propelled Artillery Regiment.

Turning to the UM OT-34/76  kits I got a few weeks ago, I plucked up the courage to try and put together the chassis and running gear of one of them.  It went together much easier than I had ever dared to hope.  

The wheel assemblies looked alarmingly flimsy at first, but by the time I glued the tracks on- a relatively straight-forward task- the whole unit, once dried, has a lot of strength. 

As I mentioned in my last post, you can see I replaced the road wheels with those from an ESCI T-34 kit, with the front and rear wheels coming from a Fujimi model.  There was no real appreciable difference in size, and they did the job nicely.  Certainly a lot easier to work with than would have been the crappy vinyl tires that came with the original, and being all polystyrene I could use liquid cement which gave the whole track and wheel assembly greater strength.

Finally, I put together the Pegasus buildings. seen here with a resin model from Brittania Miniatures.
I was doing some reading about what Russian villages would have looked like at the time of the GPW, and decided that having them based on  strips of MDF as seen here would be both flexible and allow me to create the "look" of a typical Russian steppe village, such as Ponyri. Each base will a number of buildings with small gardens, fences, woodpiles etc. and the bases will be planed down at the edges and textured.

I have a few more buildings which I've ordered yet to come, and at some point in the future will add a church and train station.  As befitting any settlement within the Soviet Utopia, there will of course be a need for an administration building as well as a small grain silo to store the collective harvest. The silo will be scratch built, based on of all things an old Airfix Airfield Control Tower kit that Giovanni gave me.

This will be the month of plastic modelling.  I want to spray the models with surface primer and then spray on a black undercoat before airbrushing, but with the horrible humidity that we have here now (it's rainy season in Japan), that will have to wait for a while first.  Right now it is get the models built, let them dry thoroughly, and in the meantime paint up some infantry until the weather cooperates.

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