Saturday, 13 September 2014

T-34-85, Za Rodinu!

Privet Tovarishchi! Our glorious red army has received a powerful new armoured ally to help crush the fascists! Za Rodinu!

Yep, I've been painting more Bolt Action soviet gear, this time the awesome HobbyBoss T-34-85. I was going to write a bit about the T-34 but there is just so much on this legendary armoured vehicle that I'm going to wimp out and just direct you to Wikipedia. Now, a few things before we go on: First, that is a 1:48 scale vehicle, not the 1:56 scale "normally" associated with 28mm gaming. There are some historical gamers out there already burning me in effigy but bear with me. While tanks are actually always a little smaller (and much more cramped) than you imagine, there is a problem with "true" 28mm scale vehicles looking almost comically small alongside 28mm figs. The main reasons for this are: 1) the proportions, 28mm figs tend to be wider ("chunkier") than their height should indicate. 2) the base, even thin ones like Bolt Action use, raise up the infantry models even taller while the tanks lie on the table directly. So in order to make the game "feel right", Maisey (of the Beard Bunker) and I decided to use 1:48 as our preferred vehicle scale. The other advantage is that 1:48's are made for the scale modelling community and thus are incredibly well detailed.

If you've never made any historical figures the vehicles the scale modellers work with are epic in the level of detail they work in. This can mean some painfully fiddly work at times, my fumble fingered efforts with the tracks for example, but mean that all the tiny details are represented. There is even a complete interior, impossible to see unless the hatches are open. I didn't bother with the innards, keeping them for conversions, especially the stunning engine, every bit is modelled. Dozens of parts going to make up a proper, real looking engine. Destined for an Ork I think.

Before I break into the painting proper I should note a modelling consideration. It's easiest to paint these tanks with exposed running gear in sub assemblies. The wheels and sprockets pressed on to the suspension arms and the track run glued together (leave one link unglued to bend open) then disassemble it all for easy painting and (as shown here) weathering behind the road wheels.

Painting wise, Russian armour is one of the least interesting in terms of colour scheme. To paraphrase a Henry Ford quote: "Any colour as long as it's green!". In this case Val Cam Olive Green. Seriously. Almost all of this tank is simply painted in the one colour. I helped the contrasts a little with two drybrushed highlights, both a mix of Val Cam Olive Green and Val Green Grey increasing the amount of Green Grey for the second highlight. Then, seeing a need to further define the shadows, I added some black to the Val Cam Olive Green , thinned it with water and some Lahmian Medium and then ran this into the panel lines, vents, creases and shadows of the tank. The tracks got airbrushed with a Ammo Track Rust (appropriate huh?) and once dry, the contact areas all got a drybrush of AP Gunmetal. Contact areas mean the outer bits of the tracks, where the wheels run on the inside and the guide horns (those sticky-up bits on the inside of the tracks that keep them on the wheels), anywhere the tracks rub against stuff. Then it was slogan time:

my slogans came from propaganda posters found on this site
One of the more "rustic" aspects of Soviet armour in the second world war is that, unlike the fine precision of stencilled markings you see on every other army in the world at the time, they just got the crews to paint on the numbers by hand in their bestest, neatest handwriting. Thus you see a range of positioning, "fonts" and sizes. You also saw a lot of motivational slogans painted on their vehicles. This was common to most armies, you named your tanks. But the Soviets had commissars who were looking for "zeal", so zeal they got. On this tank the slogans read "I vow to destroy the enemy" and "be a hero!" both cribbed from propaganda posters of the time. These were simply hand painted on in Ceramite White as neatly as I could. For once, looking hand done would not be a problem for freehand.

Finally, in order to give the tank that "model not toy" thing and to break up an almost literal sea of green I broke out the weathering. Starting with mud build up on the running gear and tracks I used various mixes of AK Interactive/Mig Ammo enamels. Mostly Earth Effects, Fresh Mud and Dark Mud. These were loaded onto brushes and then blown off in spatters with bursts of air from the airbrush, sometimes I added dry pigments to thicken it up and make the mud more, well, muddy. This achieved I attached the running gear and moved on to putting the layers of dust and grime on the upper surfaces. A mix of AK Kursk Earth and Earth Effects was the right colour for what I had in mind. I sprayed odourless turps over the model to dampen it first then applied the enamel mix to the creases, flat surfaces and anywhere else dust would gather. As I gently dried off the result with the hair dryer I added little streaks and rainmarks with a brush, dragging it through the drying enamel to streak it. Finally I used some Streaking Grime to the upper edges of the turret to make with the muck and allowed a thin mix of the Earth Effects and Kursk Earth to pool in the fenders. Some drybrushed black near the exhausts and the gun barrel and job done.

So, do I like the result? Hell yes. I really loved the research and recreation elements (it's what draws me to historical gaming in the first place), the model is stunningly detailed for what is a (relatively) very cheap kit - I got mine for £18. With Warlord releasing Tank Wars recently as a Bolt Action supplement I foresee rather a lot of treadhead glee in my future. I'll let you know how it fares once I get it on the table.

Until next time folks


1 comment:

  1. Such amazing detail. (looks at his rhino tank). Yeah...just wow. Really nice job on the weathering as well.