Tag Archives: Tamiya

Tamiya 1/35 Sturmgeschütz IV Sd.Kfz. 163 (35087) Build Review

It’s time to start the build of the StuG IV. I’m looking forward to this one because, in my limited experience, these older Tamiya kits are simple to build and fit is generally very good indeed. Because they were originally designed as motorised kits, the upper and lower hull are separate assemblies that can be joined later in the construction process, and that can make painting things like the roadwheels, sprocket idler and suspension a little simpler. I have decided to use the kit decals to model a StuG of Sturmgeschütz-Brigade 237 (formerly Sturmgeschütz-Abteilung 237). This unit was formed in February 1944 and took part in action on the Eastern Front in defence against the Soviet offensive known as Operation Bagration.

I’ll be going for an overall dunklegelb (dark yellow) finish without any additional camouflage. As ever, I’ll be brush painting just about everything and I hope to create a slightly battered looking StuG from the early Summer of 1944.

I begin with assembling the various part of the upper and lower hull and the main gun. And it’s immediately obvious that fit is simply superb. Everything assembles with no gaps; the placement of parts is generally clear and there is no need for filler anywhere.

I assemble the upper hull with the loader’s hatch open (I’ll be placing the figure from the kit in this hatch) but with the Commander’s hatch closed. In retrospect, I might have been better to leave the Commander’s hatch open because the kit includes a rather nice representation of the periscopic Commander’s sight.

I also work on the Schurzen side armour at this point. In the kit, all five panels on each side are modelled as a single piece. However, in reality these were separate plates so I carefully cut the armour into five pieces on each side. Each panel is provided with its own mounting points and I’m hoping that cutting out the individual panels will be enough to suggest that these are separate parts without bending the individual panels as I have seen done on some kits. This also gives me the option of leaving out one or more panels, something that was frequently seen on well-used vehicles.

I then spray everything with a base coat of Tamiya TS-68 from an aerosol can, simply because I have a little left in a can and at least it gives me a consistent base to work on.

I’ll be using MIG Jimenez acrylic paint for the main colour, with Dunklegelb Base and Dunklegelb Shine for highlights. One thing I do like about these paints is that they’re translucent, so I apply the Shine first to areas that would reflect more light…

Then I add a top coat of the Base colour, leaving the highlighted areas still just visible.

Next, I carefully paint chipped areas on the upper and lower hull as well as on the gun and mantlet. I use a dark grey to suggest an exposed undercoat and I try to keep it logical – raised areas and places where there would be likely to get wear show more chipping.  

Then, I paint the tyres on the roadwheels and return rollers – not one of my favourite jobs! I also paint the tools, tow cable, jack and MG34 at this stage, and I’m trying a different technique here. I paint all these items dark grey and then highlighted edges and worn areas with a soft pencil.

I’m fairly happy with the result and these are added to the hull and the decals are applied using Vallejo Decal Fix and Decal Softener. The decals are fine, though they do feel a little thick.

Then, and I fix the gun and mantlet in position – a nice touch is that the gun can both traverse and elevate when it’s in place. Everything then gets a coat of clear matte varnish before I start on the oil wash to bring out shadows. I use Abteilung oils dark mud, a fairly dark brown which contrasts nicely with the dark yellow finish. The fine panel detail makes highlighting recessed lines fairly simple.

Then I join the upper and lower hull parts. Hey, it’s starting to look like a StuG!

I assemble the exhaust and give it a coat of Tamiya white putty to simulate a rusty texture and then paint it orange before overpainting with a thick layer of the same oil paint I used for the shadow wash. I then use thinner to rub off some of the oil paint and this gives a blotchy finish that kind of looks like rust. I’m also happy with the effect of the pencil highlights on the tow cable.

Then the tracks get the same treatment as the tools – after a base coat of dark gunmetal and a coat of clear varnish, I use a pencil to add a soft metallic shine to raised areas. When they’re in place I’ll add some brown acrylic wash to suggest rust and dirt.

Wrestling the vinyl tracks into position is fairly simple. They aren’t too tight, though it would be difficult to simulate any sort of sag. However, on this kit the top run of the tracks will be hidden by the Schurzen plates, so this isn’t a major issue.

The figure is next and, once again, I’m really not sure about the information provided by Tamiya. The painting guide on the box. This shows the figure wearing a camouflaged jacket and a green cap and trousers.

The style of the unform is certainly correct with the wrap jacket, but all the references I can find suggest that StuG crews (who were members of the artillery rather than panzer troops) wore grey uniforms throughout the war. So, I give my crewman a grey uniform, which also means I don’t have to attempt a complex camouflage pattern, something I think I’d find very challenging in 1/35 – I have to admit that my figure painting skills aren’t the best! A pistol holster is included in the kit but, as the figure doesn’t have a belt, there isn’t anywhere to hang this. The kit also includes headphones, but these fit so badly on the figure’s head that I leave them off.

The last jobs are to add the two radio antenna and hang the Schurzen plates on either side – they don’t have to be glued in place, so you can display the finished kit with one or more plates missing. And that is the StuG IV pretty much done… 

 After Action Report

Other than adding some rusty texture to the exhaust with Tamiya white putty (and that was the only occasion I needed to use any filler on this kit), cutting the Schurzen side armour into individual plates and adding the radio antenna, this build is straight out of the box. I’m very happy with the result and the kit itself is a sheer pleasure to build. There aren’t a great many tiny parts and what there is fits perfectly. The instructions are generally clear (though I did struggle to understand where to place the rear towing hooks) and there is nothing really challenging in this build.

As with the other old Taimya 1/35 kits I have built, this was just fun and relaxing to build and paint. Perhaps the tracks could be better and there is a gap between the upper hull and the top of the roadwheels that can be seen from some angles through the open loader’s hatch, though it would be simple to fill this with plastic card – I failed to notice until I had joined the upper and lower hull.  I’m sure that more recent kits of the StuG IV provide more detail and things like stowage items on the outside of the hull. Nevertheless, this builds into a reasonable representation of a StuG IV for very little money.

Two generations of German tank destroyer in 1/35

Italeri Marder III behind

Overall, this kit is highly recommended and it might be especially appropriate for someone coming to 1/35 armour kits for the first time.

Related Posts

Tamiya 1/35 Sturmgeschütz IV Sd.Kfz. 163 (35087) In-Box Review and History

Tamiya 1/35 Sturmgeschütz IV Sd.Kfz. 163 (35087) In-Box Review and History

Introduction

I thoroughly enjoyed building a couple of Tamiya 1/35 kits from the 60s and 70s (The Panzer II and M41 Walker Bulldog, as you ask…). So, when I saw another Tamiya kit from the 70s in the Special Offer section of a kit vendor’s website, I didn’t hesitate. What I liked about those other kits was their relative simplicity, as well as the fact that despite being fifty plus years old, they still fit perfectly together to make a reasonable representation of the original.  

As you’ll know if you’re a regular reader, I don’t much care for lots of tiny parts or a pile of PE. Not only is my eyesight a whole lot worse than it was when I first built kits in the late 1960s, my fingers seem to have got clumsier too and I seem to spend more time than productive on my hands and knees trying to find tiny parts that I have dropped. That’s one of the reasons these old kit appeal to me, but of course there’s a downside in that they’re just not as detailed as some more recent kits.

The mould date on this kit is 1975, which makes it one of the earlier vehicles in the Military Miniatures series. Unsurprisingly, it shares the lower hull, suspension, running gear, Schurzen side armour and tracks from the Tamiya Panzer IV Ausf. H (35054) released in 1975. Like most other Tamiya kits of this period, it was originally produced as a motorised kit and you’ll find holes for switches and mounting places for batteries in the lower hull.  As ever here in Model Kit World, the question is: does this forty-five-year-old kit deserve your attention and your hard-earned cash?

History

The Sturmgeschütz (StuG) IV came about, like many other things in the chaos of wartime Nazi Germany, by accident and at the whim of Adolf Hitler. By early 1943, the value of the StuG III as an anti-tank weapon was very obvious and production of that vehicle increased until it outstripped that of most other German AFVs. However, the continuation of intense fighting on the Eastern Front and the Allied landings in North Africa meant that more still were needed. Krupp, manufacturers of the Panzer IV, submitted a design for a new StuG using modified superstructure from a StuG III Ausf. F mounted on a Panzer IV chassis in February 1943, but this was rejected. The StuG III was considered perfectly adequate and Krupp were directed instead to concentrate on development of the planned Panzerjäger IV, another assault gun that would be equipped with the same 7.5 cm L/70 main gun used on the Panther tank.

A Panzerjäger IV. A fine anti-tank weapon, but relatively few were built due to shortages of the L/70 gun.

Image: Bundesarchiv via WikiMedia Commons

However, a shortage of the 7.5 cm L/70 guns delayed production of the Panzerjäger IV and in November 1943 an Allied bombing raid on Berlin severely damaged the Altmärkische Kettenwerk (Alkett) works where the StuG III was produced. At a conference in early December, Hitler agreed that a proposal from Krupp for creating a new assault gun by combining the superstructure of the StuG III Ausf. G with the chassis of the Panzer IV should go ahead immediately.

A StuG IV draped with lots of spare track links in Ebling, East Prussia in February 1945.

Image: Bundesarchiv via WikiMedia Commons

Production of the StuG IV ran from December 1943 to March 1945 and totalled a little over eleven hundred vehicles. All were armed with the same 7.5 cm StuK 40 L/48 seen on the StuG III in a “Saukopf” (pig snout) mantlet and most were fitted with Schurzen side armour to protect against attack by hollow-charge projectiles and a rough, zimmerit anti-magnetic coating. By this stage of the war, most Sturmgeschütz (Assault Guns) were being as much used for their ability as tank-killers as for their original purpose of providing mobile fire support to infantry units.  No co-axial machine gun was fitted on the StuG IV but an MG34 on a shielded mount was provided on the upper hull. The StuG IV served on the Eastern front, in Italy and in Western Europe following the Allied landings in Normandy and it proved just as effective as the StuG III in the tank-killing role.

A StuG IV and crew

Image: Bundesarchiv via WikiMedia Commons

All German AFVs in World War Two were given an inventory number by the ordinance department. However and oddly, the StuG IV seems to have had two different numbers. This vehicle was classified as a Sonderkraftfahrzeug (Special Purpose Vehicle, usually abbreviated as Sd.Kfz.) and it appears on some versions of the ordinance department designation lists twice, as Sd.Kfz. 163, “Sturmgeschütz IV” and as Sd.Kfz. 167, “Sturmgeschütz IV mit 7,5 cm StuK 40”. I don’t really understand that as all StuG IVs were fitted with the same main gun but it probably explains why this kit is designated as “Sd.Kfz. 163” while almost all other StuG IV kits are shown as “Sd.Kfz. 167.” I suspect that Tamiya may have got it wrong here and the most common designation for this vehicle in Wermacht service seems to have been Sd.Kfz. 167.

What’s in the Box?

This box contains four sprues moulded in light brown plastic, the lower hull, two rubber-band style tracks, a set of soft plastic polycap retainers for the roadwheels, idlers and sprockets, a set of decals and the instructions.

The parts seem crisply moulded with good surface detail. A single figure in appropriate uniform is provided as well as Schurzen side armour and optional concrete block additional armour for the left and right sides of the hull front. No zimmerit finish is modelled.

Decals are provided for several units including 2nd Panzer Division, 9th Panzer Division, 116th Panzer Division and the Panzer-Lehr Division as well as three different Assault Gun Brigades. That covers vehicles serving on the Eastern Front and in Normandy, Belgium and Germany following the Allied landings. You can make up your own three-digit identification number because you are provided with several numerals in red with white outlines and a set of “kill” markings for the barrel are also included. The decal sheet actually references a different Tamiya kit – it’s from the Jagdpanzer IV kit (35088). But that kit doesn’t include side identification numbers, so I’m not quite sure what’s going on here.  

The suggested colour scheme is overall “dark yellow” which sounds right as all German tanks after February 1943 were finished in overall dunkelgelb. The instructions also correctly note that in the field, tanks were often camouflaged with brown (rotbraun) and green (olivgrün) paint applied either by brush or by spraying.

There are a total of well over 200 parts here, and detail generally looks good though there is a complete lack of any items representing stowage on the rear hull.

The flexible vinyl tracks have reasonable detail on the external surfaces but rather less on the inside – presumably this is a legacy from this kit’s motorised origin.

The instructions are the usual Tamiya fare and are generally clear with good, three-dimensional views of all steps of construction. The text is somewhat clumsy in terms of English usage, but there is nothing here that should cause any major problems. The instructions also provide a some very brief history of the StuG III and IV.

Would You Want One?

A quick look at the parts in the box suggests that this shares many good things with other early Tamiya kits: there aren’t too many tiny parts, what there is looks crisply moulded with decent surface detail and, going on my previous experience of similar kits, I’d expect everything to fit together nicely.

The lack of stowage bins and items for the rear hull is a little disappointing, but crafting these from scratch or the spares box shouldn’t be beyond the capacity of most modellers. The lack of a zimmerit finish is also notable as many, perhaps most, StuG IVs, carried this distinctive, wrinkled finish.

There are a number of alternatives if you fancy a kit of the StuG IV in 1/35 but you want something a little more modern and with additional detail. Dragon do a very nice early production StuG IV which is available both with and without zimmerit finish. Smart-Kit versions of this kit feature individual link tracks, PE parts in brass and nickel and a part-count of over nine hundred! Academy released a new-tool version of the StuG IV kit in 2018 to replace a previous version from 1986. This is another very nice kit featuring high detail, some slide-moulded parts and detailed vinyl tracks.

The thing is, this Tamiya kit, like many of the other early kits from the Military Miniatures series, is available for considerably less cash than either of those others. Does that matter? Well, the price isn’t a deal-breaker for most of us I guess, but this is available at somewhere between half and one third of the price of the others. I like that and I’m sure that this old kit can be turned into something decent. I’m really looking forward to this build!

Related Posts

Tamiya 1/35 Sturmgeschütz IV Sd.Kfz. 163 (35087) Build Review

Tamiya 1/35 3.7cm Antitank Gun PaK 35/36 (35035) Build Review

Construction of the PaK 35/36 itself is very straightforward and the instructions show clearly what’s needed. Fit of, for example, the main parts of the loading section and breech is not great and some filler is need to avoid a visible seam on the top. Getting the forward part of the barrel absolutely straight also takes a little bit of care.

The wheels, chassis and stabilising legs are all added. I am leaving off the shield until I have finished basic painting.

I then do a basic assembly of the main parts of the figures. Quite a lot of filler is needed, particularly at the shoulders and where the legs join on to the torsos. At least the poses don’t look too bad. The shell that the loader is clutching in his right hand really does look a little silly – it’s just too small, so I cut it off and I will replace it later with one of the loose shells from the kit.

I have made a small base out of an old picture frame and I try placing the gun and figures on this, just to see how everything will fit. I am aiming for a muddy lane, somewhere in Russia in the Autumn of 1941, and I have used some strips of plastic card to suggest the basic layout.

Then, it’s back to the gun. First, everything gets a lightened coat of Vallejo German Grey (I find the base colour too dark).

Then some light chipping is added and the tyres get a coat of dark grey.

Then, the shield is added and everything gets a wash of dark oil paint. And that’s pretty much the PaK finished.

Next, it’s on to painting the figures. The faces and hands are done in an approximate flesh colour and then a wash of dark brown oil paint is added. Then tunics are painted in green and belts, collars and epaulettes are added in black – the Tamiya paint scheme suggest bottle-green for the collars, but by the time of the Russian Campaign most German Army uniforms featured black collars. I use a fairly light green for the tunics because I intend to add a wash of dark green oil paint which will darken the overall colour and provide some shadow detail in folds and creases.

I’m going for grey rather than green for trousers as this seems to have been fairly common. Again, I use a light grey acrylic paint and then add a darker grey oil wash to darken things down and add shadows.

Finally, boots are painted dark grey and helmets and pieces of equipment are added. Here’s the finished commander figure.

I try the loader and gunner next to the gun. Neither relates particularly well to the PaK, and I still think the hands on the gunner look like bunches of bananas!

Nest, the base. I make the muddy ground out of exterior filler and add some small stones and debris from my wife’s cactus garden (don’t tell her!). I press the gun and figures into the filler before it’s completely dry so that all will appear to sit in rather than on the muddy surface.

Then it gets painted with several shades of brown – it looks very dark in this photo for some reason and the overall effect is actually much lighter.

Then, I make some “mud” out of a mix of brown paint, coffee grounds and PVA glue and add this to the tyres of the gun and the boots of the figures.

Then the figures and gun are placed on the base, ammo boxes are added and a few empty shell-casings scattered around. And it’s done…

After Action Report

This was straightforward and simple build, something I really appreciate. As far as I can tell, the PaK 35/36 is a reasonable representation of the actual weapon.

The figures aren’t as bad as I had expected, but they’re not up to current standards either. The poses are OK, but there is nothing dynamic or interesting and the lack of facial expressions is disappointing. It took a fair bit of filler to get reasonable joins and even then, they aren’t perfect.

That said, I’m not too unhappy with the finished result. The poses mean that the faces are mostly in shadow and/or hidden, which, given my lack of skill at painting faces, is probably a good thing. And given that this kit is just so cheap, it’s a great way of practising if, like me, you aren’t sure of your ability to paint 1/35 figures.

If you simply want to build a kit of the Pak 35/36, or if you’re going for a diorama and you can accept the limitations of early 1970s figures, I can heartily recommend this as a quick and satisfying build.

Related Posts

Tamiya 1/35 3.7cm Antitank Gun PaK 35/36 (35035) In-Box Review and History

Tamiya 1/35 3.7cm Antitank Gun PaK 35/36 (35035) In-Box Review and History

Introduction

This time, a review of another Tamiya 1/35 kit from the early 1970s; the PaK 35/36 first released in 1974 as number 35 in the Military Miniatures series. I find myself increasingly drawn to these older kits, though I’m not entirely certain why. Nostalgia, certainly, but I also appreciate the simplicity of these old kits. This one doesn’t seem to have changed at all since its first release, though it was re-boxed in 1988.

This kit was available silly-cheap here in Spain and, as ever, I was unable to resist a bargain. However, there is one thing that does worry me slightly about this kit; it comes with a crew of four. Now, building a tank or armoured vehicle buttoned-up and without figures is fine, but I don’t see how I can avoid using figures here. Are old Tamiya figures really as bad as some reviews seem to suggest? Will my less than perfect eyesight allow me to paint figures in any level of detail? Is this elderly, cheap kit worth spending time on?

Let’s take a look and find out…

History

The PanzerAbwehrKanone (PaK) 35/36 was developed by Rheinmetall as a crew-served anti-tank weapon light enough to be manouvred into position by its crew of three and capable of being towed behind a vehicle or pack animal. It began to enter service with the German Army in 1935 and it fitted well with the armoured tactics being developed at that time.

The German army was experimenting with panzer formations that used tanks supported by motorised infantry. Part of the doctrine inviolved the aggressive use of anti-tank weapons. While most nations still viewed these as mainly defensive weapons, in the German Army there were plans to use anti-tank weapons to support tank-led assaults. To be effective in this role the weapons had to be easily manouvrable and capable of being brought into action rapidly. The PaK 35/36 fitted this role well.

A PaK 35/36 on the Eastern Front

Fitted with an L45 barrel, the Pak 35/36 was capable of firing a variety of rounds including HE and armour-piercing. This weapon first saw service with German and Spanish troops fighting on the Nationalist side in the Spanish Civil War (1936 – 1939) where it proved very effective in use against Soviet-supplied light tanks such as the BT-5 and T-26.

By the beginning of World War Two, large numbers of PaK 35/36 were in use but, for the first time they came up against tanks such as the French Char B1 and the British Matilda which both had frontal armour that this weapon was unable to penetrate. When the German Army invaded Russia in 1941, the PaK 35/36 was still effective against Russian light tanks, but completely ineffective against the T-34 and KV series. By 1942 it had gained the contemptuous nickname Heeresanklopfgerat (Army Door Knocker) in the German Army.

A PaK 35/36 ready to fire a Stielgranate 41

An attempt was made to provide the PaK 35/35 with additional anti-armour capability with the introduction of the Stielgranate 41, a hollow-charge projectile with stabilising tail-fins that could be launched from the barrel of the gun. However, this proved inaccurate and required the gun to be dangerously close to its target. Production of the PaK 35/36 ended in 1942 though this weapon remained in German Army service until the end of World War Two. It was also fitted to some vehicles including the SdKfz 251 half-track in an attempt to provide a light, mobile, anti-armour weapon.

What’s in the Box?

The box contains just two sprues, one moulded in dark grey plastic and the other in a green/grey. There are also the usual Tamiya instructions in Japanese and English giving some detail of the history of the PaK 35/36, and that’s it. There are no decals here but then most of these guns carried no markings.

The grey sprue contains all the parts required to construct the gun itself. Mouldings are generally clean and fairly sharp and there is very little flash.

A nice surprise is the gun barrel itself – I had expected that I would have to drill this out, but it is moulded open. The wheels and tyres are nicely done with the correct five-bolt mounting, a hole in the wheel where the tyre valve would be accessed and “Continental” markings on the tyres.

Detail on the front of gun shield is good, but the reverse shows four fairly obvious sink-marks that will have to be cleaned-up. Parts are also provided to build a single Stielgranate 41 as well as three ammunition boxes and shell casings and un-fired shells.

Three parts are also provided to allow the PaK 35/36 to be mounted on the Tamiya 1/35 SdKfz 251 half-track.  

The other sprue contains parts for the four crew-members; the PaK 35/36 was generally served by a crew of three – commander, gunner and loader, but the kit also contains a fourth soldier, dragging up an additional ammunition box.

Detail on the figures looks sort of OK, but not nearly as sharp as you will see on modern 1/35 figures. The uniforms look reasonable for the early part of the war but things like hands are not particularly well done (the gunner notably seems to have a bunch of bananas attached to each wrist) and the faces are devoid of expression. It is difficult to tell if the poses are good until I actually start construction.

Would You Want One?

In terms of accuracy, what you get in the box isn’t bad and the addition of things like the ammunition boxes and Stielgranate 41 are nice touches. However, the supplied 3.7cm ammunition does not look particularly convincing and the shell that the loader is holding in his hand looks notably smaller than the others.

I simply don’t know enough about the PaK 35/36 to know if the parts modelled are accurate. Looking at photographs, the gun shield, wheels and towing/stabilising legs look reasonable but other parts seem to have been simplified or even left out entirely.

Overall, there is nothing here that makes me wince. The gun itself looks fairly simple to construct but I’m more than a little nervous about my ability to paint the figures effectively and I suppose that I will really have to think about constructing some sort of diorama base to display the gun and crew. Overall I’m looking forward to building this and, if it all goes wrong, at little more than the price of a couple of beers, I won’t have lost much.

Related Posts

Tamiya 1/35 3.7cm Antitank Gun PaK 35/36 (35035) Build Review

Tamiya 1/35 Walker Bulldog (MM155) Build Review

I began construction with the turret. The main gun is moulded in two halves, and it does take some careful sanding to remove evidence of the join. The upper and lower halves of the turret itself join on what would be a weld line on the original, and this continues at an angle to meet the top edge. It was fairly simple to sand a small bevel on the joining surfaces and add a small piece of plastic rod to replicate the weld.

Then I added the canvas blast-shield. I used tissue paper and PVA glue, carefully building up layers to achieve a suitably wrinkled look. I also added a small extension tube in front of the co-axial mg using clear plastic tubing, as that is what most photographs seem to show. It took several attempts to get a reasonable look, but I’m not too unhappy with the result.

I added the hatch and other parts to the turret and gave the canvas screen a quick coat of acrylic dark green, which showed up a couple of areas that needed further work. I also added a little filler to the rear of the turret to cover some small gaps.

Then, the turret got a coat of Vallejo spray olive drab.

Then I added the decals (I’m going for a tank of the JGSDF) and painted the canvas screen.

Next, I started work on the hull. The holes in the lower hull were filled using pieces of plastic card and Tamiya white putty.

I added the driver’s hatch and other parts to the upper hull and joined the upper and lower hull halves. Don’t forget to add the ends of the exhausts before you join the upper and lower halves of the hull – they insert from underneath. In retrospect, I should also have added some clear plastic to the interior of the driver’s vision slots – these are fairly large and obviously open on the finished model.

Then the hull got a coat of olive green and the exhausts were given some rough texture with Tamiya white putty and painted a rust colour – most photographs seem to show well rusted exhaust shields on M41s. I also added the decals to the hull at this stage.

Both hull and turret were given some light chipping before both were treated to a coat of clear varnish.

Then I added some shadows and general staining on both turret and hull with Abteilung Oils Dark Mud, which is actually a dark grey. I also applied a wash of dark brown oil to the canvas screen.

The Sprockets, roadwheels, return wheels and Idlers are all very cleanly moulded. I painted the tyres dark grey, a fairly easy task because there is a clear distinction in these parts, then these too were given a coat of varnish and a wash of Dark Mud.

The tracks were painted a fairly light gunmetal, the rubber blocks were painted dark grey and then a brown wash was applied to these, the running rear and lower hull.

Then it was on to final assembly. The only change I made was to replace the radio antenna with some thin plastic rod, though I kept the kit bases. With the addition of some streaks on the hull and turret using white oil paint, it was finished…   

After Action Report

I accept that this is not the most detailed or accurate 1/35 armour kit available, but, here’s the thing; I really enjoyed this build, far more than some other recent builds. Why? Well, it’s a simple and straightforward build for one thing. There is nothing challenging or complex here and very few tiny parts to be eaten by the carpet monster. Enjoyment is an under-rated factor in kit-building – after all, most of us do this for pleasure and relaxation and for me, this one really hit the spot.

Other than attempting to create a canvas screen round the mantlet and making a weld-bead on the turret, this is entirely out-of-the-box. I know, there are lots of other things I could have done including fabricating a tow cable, adding the strengthening struts on the side of the stowage boxes and other bits and pieces but you know what? I don’t care. I’m satisfied with the finished result and creating it provided me with several hours of pleasure. Add that to the fact that this is a very low-cost kit and you have something that is close to the definition of cheap and cheerful.

Despite its age, the parts in this kit are cleanly moulded, everything fits well and there is nothing complex or fiddly involved construction or painting. This is, in every sense, an old-school kit. You have to be prepared to either put in some time to make improvements or to simply accept this for what it is – a reasonable but not perfect representation of an M41. With those caveats, I heartily recommend this kit to anyone looking to while away a few pleasant evenings.

Now, all I need to find is a 1/35 Godzilla foot so I can build an appropriate diorama…

Related Posts

Tamiya 1/35 Walker Bulldog (MM155) In-Box Review and History

Tamiya 1/35 Walker Bulldog (MM155) In-Box Review and History

Introduction

When I recently bought the Tamiya Panzer II, I was amazed to discover that it dates from all the way back to 1971. The Panzer II is number nine in the Military Miniatures series and this kit, the M41 Walker Bulldog, is number fifty-five. Seeing that, I assumed that this was from the mid-1970s, but a bit of research reveals that this kit actually first appeared in 1964! It was re-boxed as part of the MM series in 1975, but this kit is heading for sixty-years old.

This must be one of the earliest Tamiya 1/35 tanks – their very first, a Panther, was introduced in 1962. This was originally produced as a motorised kit and this shows in several places – there are several openings in the lower hull intended for switches and connections, the roadwheels, idlers and sprockets are attached using polycap retainers so they can revolve and the rubber bands style tracks are designed as much for operation as for looks.   

I really enjoy building early kits – I don’t really care for a box full of tiny parts or lots of PE and older kits tend to be simpler in terms of construction and much lower in cost. I am still very much at the stage of re-learning my kit-building and painting skills so older kits are ideal. However, on some, detail can be missing or simplified and kits produced on fifty-plus year-old moulds can be less than perfect. Is this kit still worth your attention?

History

In 1947 work began in the US on the design of a light tank to replace the M24 Chaffee which had seen limited use in the later stages of World War Two. The main problem with the Chaffee was its 75mm main gun. Light tanks were traditionally not expected to fight other tanks, being more concerned with reconnaissance and infantry support, but experience with the M24 and the earlier M5 Stuart suggested that it was sensible for any light tank to be able to defend itself against enemy armour.

The intention was to create a tank that was sufficiently light to be air-transportable, faster than the M24, reasonably well-armoured and capable of mounting the powerful M32 76mm main gun. The sheer size of the breech block on the M32 meant that that the new tank was much larger and heavier than the M24. Although the M41 had similar armour thickness to the M24, the finished tank was five tons heavier, which made air-transport generally impracticable.

Suspension was provided by torsion bars with five road wheels on each side, the sprocket at the rear and idler at the front. The Continental AOS 895-3 6-cylinder gasoline engine gave good top speed at 45mph but range was limited to one hundred miles and the interior of the tank was cramped and noisy. The main gun was supplemented by a co-axial .30 cal Browning Machine-gun and a .50 cal Browning machine-gun mounted on a pintle close to the commander’s cupola.  

Production of the M41 began in 1952 at Cadillac’s Cleveland Tank Plant. This tank was initially identified as the Little Bulldog, but it was re-named the Walker Bulldog following the death of US General Walton Walker in a jeep accident in Korea on 1950. The M41 arrived too late to see combat in the Korean War, though some were shipped to US forces in Korea for evaluation. The original M41A1 was upgraded to become the A2 and then A3, but these changes were mainly to the engine and fuel injection systems and externally, all three variants are identical.

An M41 of the AVRN in Saigon, 1968

The M41 first saw combat in 1961 during the Bay of Pigs invasion. The CIA obtained five M41s and supplied these to Cuban exiles opposed to the regime of Fidel Castro. The M41s destroyed a number of Cuban T-34/85s before all were captured. The M41 was also used by US forces in Vietnam, but none saw combat against North-Vietnamese tanks. The Army of the Republic of Vietnam (AVRN) was supplied with large numbers of M41s by the US and this became the main tank used by that army. In Operation Lam Son 719 in 1971, M41s of the AVRN saw combat against North-Vietnamese T-54 and PT-76 tanks. Seven T-54s and sixteen PT-76s were destroyed by M41s during this action.

M41s of the Bundeswehr’s 3rd Panzer Division, 1957

The M41 was also used by several NATO countries and over one hundred M41s were supplied to the Japan Ground Self-Defense Force (JGSDF), the new Japanese Army created in 1954. The M41 saw combat with the JGSDF, but only against Godzilla; spoiler alert – the powerful 76mm main gun proved surprisingly ineffective in the anti-giant stompy monster role.

Production of the M41 ended in the 1950s and in early 1969 the M41 began to be replaced by the M551 Sheridan in US Army service.

What’s in the Box?

This box contains four sprues and the upper and lower hull sections, all moulded in dark green plastic. Items such as the roadwheels are nicely moulded but with prominent seams on the tyres. There are also two black, rubber-band style tracks, soft plastic polycap retainers for the roadwheels, idlers and sprockets, a set of decals and instructions.

There are a total of 125 parts here, but one whole sprue contains only parts and accessories for the three figures provided. The commander figure is just about useable, but the two infantrymen are not – both are wearing World War Two style uniforms and are therefore not appropriate for use with the post-war M41.

The upper hull is reasonably detailed and the moulding is very crisp indeed considering how old this kit is.

The torsion rod arms and other parts are all moulded integral with the lower hull, not something you would expect to see on a current 1/35 kit. There are also several holes in the lower hull that are there to accommodate switches and other items on the motorised version.

The polycap collars are used to mount the roadwheels, idlers and sprockets. The tracks have good detail on the outer surface but no detail at all on the inner surface other than the track horns. This is presumably a legacy from this kit’s motorised origins.

There are two things that are notably missing here; there is no tow cable, and these were fitted to all US tanks of this period, and the canvas blast-shroud over the mantlet is not included. The instructions go into a fair amount of detail on how to make a blast-shroud out of one of the plastic bags in which the kit parts are packed, but I suspect that there are better ways of doing this.

The instructions are generally clear with good, three-dimensional views of all steps of construction. The text is somewhat clumsy in terms of English usage, but there is nothing here that should cause any major problems. The instructions also provide a fairly detailed history of the M41 and here there is a strong clue to this kit’s age; the M41 is described as a current US tank and it is noted that it may be replaced by the M551 Sheridan at some point in the future – that actually happened in 1969.

Three sets of decals are provided, one for a US Army tank of an unidentified unit and two for tanks of the Japan Ground Self-Defense Force (JGSDF).  

Would You Want One?

Look, this is a kit that’s heading for sixty years old, so don’t expect current levels of detail or accuracy! That said, this is available very cheap, it certainly doesn’t look terrible in the box and it is a good way to practise those painting and weathering skills.

Be aware that you are going to have to fabricate at least the canvas blast shield on the mantlet – this is characteristic of virtually all M41s and the finished kit is going to look very odd without it. Some detail is also simplified or missing entirely – the bracing struts on the outside of the hull storage bins, for example, are missing and the radio antenna are too short and too fat. The good news is that the missing detail is fairly simple to add and the overall size and proportions of the main parts look right. The M41 was used by armies around the world, so with alternative decals and paint this kit could be built to represent a tank in another service.

There are relatively few other 1/35 scale M41s out there; the only one that I am aware of is the AFV Club M41A3 released in 2002. This is a very nicely detailed kit that includes a turned aluminium barrel, though you will still have to fabricate your own canvas blast screen. However, the AFV Club M41 is quite hard to find and it is three or more times the price of the Tamiya version. Is it three times as good? For me, the answer is; probably not.

What you get here is a kit that was state-of-the-art in the 1960s. It may not be in that league now, but it is still actually a pretty decent kit for not much money. I like kits that are simple to build and I’m willing to sacrifice a little detail for that, but you may feel differently. For me, I’m looking forward to building this one more than, for example, the more complex HobbyBoss T-37A I built recently. Old school can still be cool.    

Related Posts

Tamiya 1/35 Walker Bulldog (MM155) Build Review

Tamiya 1/35 Panzerkampfwagen II Ausf. F/G (MM109) Build Review

As ever, I begin by drilling out the main gun and, in this case, the MG34 as well. Then I assemble the turret. Everything fits well with no need for filler. There is some nice detail here including the weld where the gun-mount is fixed to the mantlet and welds on the upper edges of the turret. This really doesn’t feel like a fifty-year-old kit.

I glue plastic card inside the lower hull and fill the holes from the outside with Tamiya white putty – which is good stuff generally, but it does shrink badly so it always takes at least three passes to get a completely smooth finish.

Then it’s on to the roadwheels. I want to create a battered looking finished kit with chipped and discoloured paint. I haven’t tried this before as it is very difficult to achieve on small-scale kits. I know what I have in mind, but I’ll be using the roadwheels as a test area to see how it works. First, I spray the roadwheels with the base colour using Tamiya TS-68 in an aerosol can.

Then I add chipped areas using a very light sand.

Then I add darker areas in the centre of the largest chipped areas using Panzer Grey.

Then I paint on the tyres using a fairly light grey and give everything a coat of clear varnish.

Then I use Abteilung Oils Brown Shadow to emphasize shadows and suggest dirt and grime and finally I add a wash of acrylic light brown to represent dust on the tyres. Here are the finished wheels, sprockets and idlers. I’m happy with the result and I’ll use the same approach on the rest of the model.

The turret gets the same treatment, with decals added using Vallejo Decal Fix and Decal Softener before the chipping, varnish and oil highlighting.

I add the various lights, boxes and other parts on the upper hull. Everything fits very well and no filler is needed.

The upper hull then gets a coat of the base colour with TS-68. I’m impressed with this Tamiya spray can – it gives good, consistent, dense coverage and, even though the can is small, there is plenty of paint left when I’m done – I would guess that I have used less than half the can. One odd thing – the AK clear acrylic varnish I use doesn’t like this paint. It takes at least two coats to get a consistent finish and the Tamiya spray paint seems to repel the varnish – I haven’t found the same issue with Tamiya brush paints.

I add decals and chipping to the hull upper half and then give it a coat of clear varnish before doing more oil highlighting with the same colour used on the wheels.

I assemble the parts of the lower hull and then paint it in exactly the same way, though I add more staining and dirt on the sides. Once everything is dry, I join the upper and lower hull halves and add the roadwheels, idlers and sprockets.

Then, it’s on to the tracks. These are painted with a dark gunmetal base and lighter gunmetal highlights on the treads. Then everything gets a brown acrylic wash to represent rust and dirt.

Finally, the tools, exhaust and spare track links are added to the hull. And here’s the finished model.

After Action Report

I found this an enjoyable and stress-free build. There are no tiny parts and everything fits accurately and well. It really is hard to believe this kit is very nearly fifty years old. Other than the need to fill in holes in the hull bottom, the fact that this was originally created as a motorised kit doesn’t cause any problems. I built it completely OOB with the exception of drilling the gun barrels and exhaust and using some Tamiya white putty to add rusty texture to the exhaust.

This builds to a pretty reasonable and fairly accurate depiction of a Panzer II Ausf. F. OK, I know, there are all sort of extras like metal gun barrels, items stowed on the hull and PE kits that could be used to improve it further, but even straight out of the box this is a very reasonable kit for not a great deal of money. The figures provided with the kit look perfectly acceptable, and I haven’t used them simply because my figure-painting sills are very rusty indeed.

I really enjoyed working in 1/35 as opposed to 1/76 or 1/72. The scope for showing weathering and wear during painting is much greater, and I’ll probably try another couple of 1/35 kits. Overall, this is highly recommended and, because the Panzer II was such a small tank, display space shouldn’t be a problem – this is not much larger than a 1/72 Tiger, for example.

Related Posts

Tamiya 1/35 Panzerkampfwagen II Ausf. F/G (MM109) In-Box Review and History

Tamiya 1/35 Panzerkampfwagen II Ausf. F/G (MM109) In-Box Review and History

Introduction

OK, so this a little different, if only because it’s 1/35 scale and I generally build smaller scales. But hey, this was on sale at my on-line stockist for considerably less than a decent 1/72 tank kit and, even more importantly, it’s one I remember well from my youth.

I can recall seeing the early Tamiya Military Miniatures kits back in the early seventies. At that time, my model-making was pocket-money-funded and these kits were out of reach except, maybe, on Birthdays or Christmas. I do remember looking very closely at them and being impressed with what I saw. For me, kit-building is also a source of nostalgia for my youth and I was amazed to discover that this kit first appeared in 1971 – it’s almost fifty years old!

Tamiya started out as a lumber company but in 1960 it began making plastic model kits. In 1962 the company was re-named Tamiya Plastic Kogyo Co. and began to focus exclusively on plastic moulding. In 1962 they produced their first plastic tank it, a motorised Panther. This wasn’t created to a particular scale – it was built to be just large enough to accommodate batteries and an electric motor inside the hull. In his book ”Master Modeler: Creating the Tamiya Style” Shunsaku Tamiya noted:

“After the success of the Panther, I thought it would be a good idea for us to produce other tanks from different countries in the same scale. I measured the Panther and it turned out to be about 1/35 of the size of the original. This size had been chosen simply because it would accommodate a couple of B-type batteries. Tamiya’s 1/35 series tanks eventually got to be known around the world, but this is the slightly haphazard origin of their rather awkward scale.”

Having inadvertently invented the most popular scale for military modelling, in 1969 the company was re-launched once again as Tamiya Plastic Model Co and in the same year it began work on the Military Miniatures series of 1/35 scale figures and vehicles. In 1971 the first tank in the Military Miniatures series was launched; the Panzerkampfwagen II Ausf. F/G.

History

The Panzerkampfwagen II began as a stop-gap solution to a short-term problem, but it remained in service for far longer than anyone could have anticipated. In 1934 the only German tank in service was the tiny Panzer I. The designs of both the Panzer III and IV were well advanced, but production delays meant that it was clear that these tanks would not enter service as quickly as hoped. As a temporary measure, it was decided to accelerate the production of a new light tank which was originally intended as a training tank and which was expected to be phased-out when the Panzer III and IV finally entered service.

The outcome was the Panzer II, a ten-ton tank with a revolving turret housing a Rheinmetall KwK30 L55 20 mm quick-firing main gun, a weapon derived from the 2 cm FlaK 30 anti-aircraft gun. This gun was capable of firing both high explosive and armour-piercing rounds and had an astonishing capability of firing up to six hundred rounds per minute. Motive power came from a six-cylinder Maybach petrol engine developing 140hp. Five roadwheels on each side were each controlled by separate leaf-spring suspension units.

A Panzer II in May 1940, during the invasion of France. The tank in the background is a Panzer I but I have no idea why the commander of the Panzer II seems to be lacking a head!

Image; Bundesarchiv via WikiMedia Commons.

The Panzer II represented a distinct advance on the Panzer I; it allowed for a three-man crew (compared to two for the Panzer I) though the commander was also the gunner and loader. The extra crewman was a radio-operator with a position inside the hull, below the turret. The initial production variant, the Ausf. A, entered service in 1936 and by the time of the invasion of Poland in September 1939, this was the most common tank in German service.

The first major upgrade took place in late 1940 with the Ausf. F, which featured upgraded suspension, larger roadwheels, thicker armour and, for the first time, a commander’s cupola with periscopes. The Ausf. F was the final production version with over five hundred being produced. In 1942 a completely re-designed version, the Panzerspähwagen II Ausf. L Luchs (Lynx) was introduced. This was larger with different suspension and space for a four-man crew.

A column of Panzer II in North Africa, May 1941.

Image; Bundesarchiv via WikiMedia Commons.

Panzer IIs served on all fronts during World War Two and were used generally as scout vehicles – this was formally recognised when the later Luchs version was designated as an armoured scout vehicle rather than a tank. Attempts to up-gun and up-armour the Panzer II were frustrated by the engine which simply was not powerful enough to give adequate speed and range in a heavier tank. Production of the original Panzer II ended in December 1942 though examples continued in service for the remainder of the war. The Panzer II also provided the basis for, amongst many other things, the tank-hunting Marder and the Wespe self-propelled howitzer.

What’s in the Box?

This kit claims to be a Panzerkampfwagen II Ausf. F/G, but that is a little problematic. The Ausf. G was a planned new version of the Panzer II with improved suspension and a different configuration of roadwheels. This version did not make it into large scale production, being superceded by the Ausf. L Luchs, and this certainly doesn’t look like an Ausf. G. So, despite what it says on the box, it’s an Ausf. F.

Opening the box reveals four sprues moulded in light brown plastic as well as the upper and lower hull halves. I note that this kit is now manufactured in the Philippines, but I assume it uses the original moulds from 1971? Considering their age, first impressions are very good. There is no flash at all, detail is sharp, especially on the upper hull and turret and I can’t see any visible sink-marks.

One thing that is obvious is that this was originally offered as a motorised kit – the lower hull includes a battery compartment and there are holes for various switches. No motors or other electric parts are included and these holes will have to be filled.

There are just four sprues plus the upper and lower hull halves. However, two of the sprues contain only parts for four of the five figures that come with this kit – the fifth, the commander, is on one of the tank-part sprues. The suggested colour schemes and decals include tanks operating in North Africa and the figures come with appropriate Deutsches Afrikakorps (DAK) uniforms and equipment.

There are also a set of soft plastic tracks, though these have reasonable detail and they look more to scale than the rubber band type tracks provided with many 1/72 kits. There is also a small bag of black, soft nylon collars. These are used when affixing the roadwheels and sprockets and are another legacy from this kit’s motorised origin.  

The instructions are provided in both English and Japanese versions and include a brief history of DAK operations and some information about the Panzer II. They note that the principal difference between the Ausf. F and G was the fitment of a turret stowage bin, but that is certainly not my understanding.

The decal and colour scheme information is provided in Japanese only and in black and white, and the box-top illustration doesn’t help much either – it shows markings suggested for an Ausf. F but it also shows a stowage bin on the turret.

The decals are certainly appropriate for a Panzer II Ausf. F in North Africa as these were used by the DAK as part of the 15th and 21st Panzer Divisions from December 1941. Markings are also provided for 10th Panzer Division, which was involved in combat in Tunisia.

This looks like a simple kit to build – excluding the figures and their accessories, there are just seventy-five parts here.  But then, the Panzer II was a small and simple tank. Despite the age of the moulds, everything looks sharp and the level of detail is more than reasonable. Overall, I’m really looking forward to building this one.

Related Posts

Tamiya 1/35 Panzerkampfwagen II Ausf. F/G (MM109) Build Review