Thursday, 8 February 2018

Communist commercial succes

The T-55 is the most produced tank in world history with about 85.000 vehicles build until to today. The T-55 is the culmination of tank development between 1945 and 1958. It's a sort of 'cold war T-34'. Reliable, cheap and produced in large numbers. The T-55 is still in use in many countries in the world. It's principal successor is the T-72. The basic design has been updated and modified, the Finish Army even as 6 T-55 with a British Marksman turret installed om to top as an anti-aircraft weapon, that's just totally crazy! Follow the link to tanks-encyclopedia or wikipedia to read more. The T-55AM2B is a modernized East-German design. On prime portal there is a 'Walk around' series of photo's of the T-55AM2B.

A Sri-Lankan T-55AM2B. Image form Wikipedia

Several photo's my by myself of tank with pieces cut away. This particular vehicle was used at a tank school. It usually resides at the Panzer Museum in Munster (not the famous Münster, that is an entirely different place) but these photo's where taken in Soesterberg where it was on display in 2017.

The Revell model

In 1/72 there was not a lot of choice for modelers wanting to build a T-55. PST from Belarus has several models but these can be hard to come by. In 2016 Revell released a model of the 'basic' T-55A (Kit. No. 03304) and last year (2017) a model of the T-55 AM2B (Kit. No. 03306). This is a very, very good model. It is classified as 'skill level 4' and has somewhat fewer parts compared to most other 1/72 tanks from Revell. You can build 2 Russian, a German or a Hungarian version. All country versions are different from each other, the largest differences being the turret roof and infrared camera. There are two points that require some extra attention. The first point is the attachment of the tow cable on the front. You have to bend the tow cable in place. The plastic is quite thin so I hoped I could bend it after the cable was attached to the tank and the glue would hold in place. Unfortunately that doesn't work as the part is to stiff so it snapped. heating the part a bit in hot water and pre-bend it is necessary. The cable is carefully molded and looks and fits perfect otherwise. This is the first plastic cable I used since i can remember. The German/Hungarian style infrared camera is a polygon shaped piece and consists out of a upper and lower half. There is a noticeable gap after gluing which needs to be filled. This gap is in a recess that is a genuine part of the camera so filling in and sanding away extra filler can be difficult. The Russian version doesn't have this issue as it has a different type of camera. The handle bars on the square box in the turret are a bit co thick so the perfectionist might wants to replace these with metal wire.
These are things to take into consideration when building. The kit itself is simple perfect. The rubber side skirts are thinned out, the wheels look fantastic, the tracks fit perfect on this one. (I also build the T-55A version and there I had very minor fit issue which must be due to myself but I'm not sure what went wrong so do pay attention here). The characteristic track sag is beautifully molded as are the fuel tanks, infrared equipment, wind sensor, applique armor and all other parts. The rear fuel drums are molded in two halves and one half is already molded on the rear of the tank. I recommend first building these drums and then attaching the rear of the hull.

The photo's:

This is pretty much a perfect model kit. It just doesn't get much better detail and fit wise in a plastic kit. Only the previously mentioned handle bars are a bit thick but they can't be made thinner in plastic without a big change of breaking when the part is released from the mold. The assembly is easy, the part count not to large so appart from little children everyone should be able to make something nice out of this kit.

Wednesday, 3 January 2018

New for 2018

Happy new year all! 2018 has arrived so let's see if their is news about upcomming releases this years. More and more companies are using the strategy of announcing new releases all year round when the models are ready to appear on the market. That prevents disappointment when a release is rescheduled and possibly stops competition from entering the market with a similar item just before you release it. But there are still companies daring to announce up to a year (or two in the case of Trumpeter) what their plans are.


Revell's releases for the first quarter are already known sometime now but information about the later releases is now also known. Source I QI, soucre II QI Source I rest of 2018, source II rest of 2018.
Just released at the end of 2017 are in 1/72 the M2/M3 Bradley (Kit. No. 03143) this the first version of the Bradley IFV to see service and the model is a re-release. An other re-release is the Challenger I in 1/76 scale (Kit. No. 03308) this is a re-release of an old matchbox kit and includes a simple diorama base and rubber band tracks. The genuine 1/72 version with link & length tracks is also still available (kit. No. 03183) so be sure to get your preferred scale right.

For 2018 the following releases are planned:
1/72 Armour

  • 03265 M109 howitser US version. This is the early short barreled version. Expected in April.
  • 03262 Pz. Kfw. VI Tiger I H (re-release, January)
  • 03263 Sd.Kfz. 7 Late version (re-release plus some new parts, February)
  • 03264 SWS with 15 cm Panzerwerfer 42 (probably an ex-MACO kit, March)
  • 03266 Pz. Kfw. II Ausf. L 'Luchs' (probably an ex-MACO kit, June)
  • 03267 Pz. Kfw. IV 'Wirbelwind' (probably an ex-MACO kit, July)
  • 03268 German staff car G4 (upcoming ICM kit in a Revell box, August)
  • 03269 JS-2 (Existing Zvezda kit in a Revell box, August)
Not so much in the planning for modern armor fans this year but the last few years where good with the Leopard II variants, the T-55, M-109 and T-90. Maybe a (re)-release in modern armor will be made in the last quarter of 2018.

Other noticeable releases
Other releases announced that caught my eye are: Kit. No. 06767, 06768, 06769. Undisclosed releases linked to the STAR WARS 'Han Solo' themed film to be released in December of this year. In the new 'Technic series' a few releases of existing models but now with electronics for sounds, motors and light. The 1/32 scale Ju-88, the 1/16 scale VW 'Beetle' and the 1/72 scale Flower Class Corvette. In 1/144 scale the Antonov An-225 Mrija is announced, it must be an massive kit in even 1/144 scale. In 1/16 scale ICM's figures are released in a Revell box and the SWAT team member and SWAT team officer. In 1/72 the OV-10a Bronco is a fun release, this a Academy model in a Revell box. Finally 1/24 scale the Unimog road cleaner with snow plow and slat distribution system is re-released. A nice choice since these can be seen in many parts of Europe during the autumn and winter months.


Trumpeter certainly wasn't disappointing in 2017 with releases such as the Js-7, SAM 6, the CHTZS-65 and Komintern artillery tracktors, Js-4 and M1117 ASV. Also two versions of the T-72 in 1/16th scale and a M1A1 AIM Abrams in the same scale. Trumpeter also introduced rolled out their new technique to make tracks with a minimum of parts and a maximum of detail in big a fashion. New in 2017 where also the World Of Tanks themed releases with prototypes or planned but never build tanks. Planning to keep up the pace in 2018 Trumpeter announced a series of T-62 variants, T-80 variants, SU-152 variants but also a riveted and welded version of the interbellum T-28. In the World of Tanks series mainly german WWII with bigger guns are planned. The whole catalogue can be viewed here.

All in all I have the idea there are fewer releases announced for modern armor fans then in 2017 and 2017, but that finally gives a change to catch up on the stuff and build i because I feel I pilled under the spectacular releases from the last few years.

Wednesday, 6 December 2017

To the Skies! With the S-300 Air Defense System

The S-300 Air Defence System (NATO code name SA-10 Grumble)

The S-300 or SA-10 Grumble is a Russian Air Defense System. What the system is precisely made out of depends on the operator but usually there is an acquisition radar, antenna, communications station, missile launch system and of course the missile itself. In case of the S-300 it a very successful system not only against aircraft but also against cruise and ballistic missiles. The big question/challenge these days is can it work against stealth aircraft? Shooting down a fighter or bomber aircraft is very difficult because they are fast, agile and in case of stealth aircraft also difficult to track down. All parts of the S-300 system are made in a mobile version, so it doesn't require large radars in fixed positions that can easily be taken out. In the video below the deployment of the system. The missile's are first popped out of there transport and launch tube's and then ignited. Igniting them in the tube itself will melt the tube. Note the different radars and launch vehicles used.

A small film on how to attack an Air Defense System. It clearly shows that just having the best system, aircraft, radar or whatever in it self doesn't count. All parts have to cooperate in a very good manor to make an air strike or the defense against it succeed.

The PST kits

Several parts of the system have been recreated in 1/72 scale by PST and recently by Modelcollect also. PST created the following kits, all based on the MAZ truck:
  • 72050: 5P85S, the 'smart' or 'master' launcher system (TEL). The construction behind the driver cabin houses a receiver for signals from the command center and a broadcaster to pass these signals on to other launchers and missiles.
  • 72055: 5P85D, the 'dum' or 'slave' launcher system (TEL). This is the same vehicle as the 5P85S but it doesn't have a receiver and electronics to communicate with the command center. It receives signals from the smart launcher and passes them on the the missile.
  • 72060: The radar, mounted on the MAZ truck as well.
  • 72070: 15V148 commandpost
I build the 5P85S 'Smart Tel'. PST is a Belarussian company and I don't know when these kits are originally released but the parts don't look very impressive at first sight. The chassis of the truck is somewhat simplified, much to my relief since putting together 100 parts which won't be seen is not really my cup of tea. The construction used to hold the four launch tubes is somewhat bulky compared to the real thing but only the underside will be seen when the model is constructed in launch mode. In transport mode only the back of it is visible which has the right detail. The piston used to push up the launch tubes doesn't completely fit in it's housing but this is easily resolved by drilling the housing out a bit more. The part van also be omitted when making the model in transport mode since it is invisible then. The most difficult thing to correct is the fact that the launch tubes are all split into two halves but they don't match up at the 2nd and 3trd rim as counted from above. I decided to leave it as it was. An other issue easily resolved is the fact that the fenders have a recess for the stabilizers which don't match up precisely. The fenders are molded with a 'horizontal' surface as well. It isn't there in reality but probably added to make the model stronger. It is strong enough without these surfaces so I removed these. It also gives the model a more realistic look. It is the shaded area in the picture below that can be removed:

Strong points of this model kit are the inclusion of a sprue with clear parts, not only for the windows but also headlights, a full in complement of missiles and a good fit of parts. On my model the drivers cabin doesn't sit quite right but I think it because I misaligned the right side of the cabin. The model has 100 parts for the truck, an additional 40 for the wheels and 60 for the launch tubes and missiles so that is quite an impressive part count. The wheels appear to be a bit bulbous and seem to have a simplified thread pattern but this is mostly authentic actually.
This specific launcher is used by a myriad of countries around the world for 3 decades so there is a large variety of colors to choose from. Here are some examples:

I chose a elaborate scheme from a Slovakian vehicle for my model:

This kit is priced at the same price as the recent Modelcollect offerings so I think most modelers will go for that kit. For it's time it is probably a good kit and it still looks quite good for today's standards. I had a lot of fun building it, several things of what I thought where simplifications turned out to be right when I saw the video of the S-300 launch.

Thursday, 2 November 2017

An American Hero

TheAmerican 101st Airborne Division was founded in 1918 and has been nicknamed 'screaming eagle'. It is an elite force specializing in fighting (far) behind enemy lines to capture strategic targets on which an entire operation pivots. It is often the 'tip of the spear' in an assault, hence they are the first to fight in the most dangerous places. In Wold War II the 101st was significant in, for example, D-day, the battle of the bulge and the liberation of the Netherlands. These days the 101st is equipped with 280 helicopters, including 3 battalions of AH-64 Apaches and is able to deploy 4000 soldiers in a single airlifting operation.

Dragon have chosen to produce a figure depicting a soldier from the 101st during WWII (kit No. 1605). It is the only allied WWII soldier available as a plastic in 1/16 scale. The model is superb however! It consists out of only about 25 parts but the figure is as good as a white metal or resin production. The facial expression is very real as well. A base is included, I added the shoulder straps for the rifle my self. The American uniforms from WWII where not available in every color but there was a huge range of ockers, greens and everything in between. I went with the colors suggested at the box picture. Seeing the photo below from an reenactment that could very well be authentic. The main color is a mix of white and ocker (ocker brown, Revell's 36188) in about equal amounts. Darker and lighter shades are the same mix with more ocker or white respectively. The green is NATO Olive (Revell's 36146).


All colors used painting the figure. This model is easy to make and quite easy to paint so also recommended for beginners or even as a first model.

Tuesday, 3 October 2017

A small preview of the Riich model M109A6

Never available as a 1/72 plastic model before but now there is with the release of Riich Models M109A6 'Paladin' howitzer. The M109A2 version is also available. The M109 howitzer was used from 1963 on wards. The chassis is made from aluminum and shares a lot of parts with the M113 APC and M108 light howitser which is basically a M109 with a 105 MM gun while the M109 has a 155 mm gun. All M108's where rebuild as M109's after insufficient performance during the vietnam war. The firing range of the first models was 18 km and they had a crew of 6. It weight of the vehicle is with 27,5 tons quite low. Being in service for over half a century means a lot of updates and changes to systems. Currently the most modern version in service is the M109A6 with a crew of only 4 and a firing range of 22 km. An A7 version is being developed sharing parts with the M2/3 Bradley Fighting Vehicle and firing systems originally developed under other projects. The finishing of testing and starting of the production of the A7 version should start about now.

As said Riich model created a 1/72 model is the A2 (Kit No. 72001) and (Kit No. 72002) version. A model of the M922 Field Artillery Ammunition Support System (FAASV) is also planned (kit No. 72003). Revell will also release a G version this month. The pictures below are from the A6 version from Riich Model, click on the pictures for a lager version (Note that there are two of each sprue with the suspension and tracks, I just photo graphed two sides of the track sprue):

Riich Models have chosen a classical molding approach, so no slide molds and large parts with details on numerous surfaces but classical sprue's with a front and backside. There are about 100 parts on the hull and turret, suspension, wheels and tracks are 2 x 43 parts finally there are 8 photo etched parts. The detail is very good, tools are molded on the model which is not to every ones taste but I like it because as lose parts there are to fragile. The number of very small parts is limited but still they are there. At about € 21,00 it is more expensive then most other kits but what could be due to the photo etched parts. Riich Models certainly have created a gem of a kit with this release. Great to see the iconic M109 finally incarnate as 1/72 plastic model, after about 50 years it really was time. With a choice for both the A2 and A6 version you can build the most modern or most used version. One of the best features is the anti-skit relief on the front of the model and turret roof. this looks fantastic and is difficult to create yourself on this scale. The barrel is one piece except for the muzzle break faithfully reproducing the open structure of the muzzle break.