GT-R Complete & Photos

I've wrapped up the build of the Tamiya GT-R kit.  By the time I was finishing up this kit, I was remembering why is was that I tried a wooden kit in the first place.  I get worn out on all the painting, the frustrations of various paint types not agreeing with one another, and the fragility of decals.  Although at least with this project, I took away a few valuable lessons that I can keep in mind for future similar projects.  Here are a few tidbits to remember:

- If it is going to be shiny, use lacquer.  Tamiya's gloss acrylics just never behave when airbrushed.
- Don't use the microSOL (aka Decal Melter) until the decal is in it's final place and already partly dry.
- If some of it will be painted over, remove the underlying chrome plating first, otherwise, the paint will just chip off, despite using primer.
- Give the aforementioned lacquer PLENTY of time to dry before putting masking tape on it.  Probably should wait 24 hours before trying.
- One should probably order a second set of decals for a project like this, as some are sure to be damaged.  Alternately, perhaps one could scan them, and buy a self-print decal sheet so one could make replacements (although I'm not sure about the quality difference here)
- Third party racing harness kits, while pretty cool, might not be worth the effort unless the car is an open wheel type.

Anyhow, with this project completed, I spent a few minutes photographing but this car and the last project (WWII BMW r75 motorcycle).  I recently purchased a new lens, which has some macro capabilities, and tried that out on this shoot.  I am pretty pleased with the results.  Here are a few images of the completed models:

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The full galleries are online and can be seen in the completed models section of this web site.

Next up:  Model Airways' Curtis 'Jenny' wooden plane.  Stay tuned for more model adventures!
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Looooooong Overdue Update...

So, yes, I realize I became one of those people that starts up a blog with all the intentions of keeping it updated, and then fell behind. But now I'm back and I've got a bunch of updates!

First and foremost, I've finished the Panzer III and have some photos of the finished project. I forgot to take photos of the outside, as I was putting everything together, so I really just have the images of the finished model. Everything on the outside was pretty straight forward, without all the complicated resin construction that the interior had.

The difficult bits of the exterior were really just the assembly of the individual-link plastic tracks and then the final assembly and weathering of the whole tank. I managed to get the tracks assembled by sticking the track links to a strip of thin masking tape, then draping that over the various wheels, and once in place, dabbing glue to where the tracks touch one another. I found that I could make each side in four or so sections, which still allowed me to take the tracks back off, paint them, and then, once the rest of the tank was painted, put the tracks back on again.

The painting was simply an airbrushed coat of dark yellow on most of the exterior, with a few of the detail parts picked out in other colors by hand. The road wheels were originally painted in German Grey, and then, using a plastic circle template as a mask, the centers were sprayed the same dark yellow as the rest of the tank. After the base coats were complete, I sprayed a slightly darker yellow into the nooks, crannies and corners to get a bit of shading. This was followed by a pass of drybrushing with a light tan to help pick out corners, details and texture.

Next came an extensive application of Mig Pigments. These are just colored powders, that get dusted onto the surface and then a bit of thinner is touched to the powder, and that helps it stick to the surface and flow into the texture of the surface and in between details. This serves to both further pick out detail when using a darker color pigment, and also to add dirt and grime when using lighter tones.

Once that was done, I cut a chunk of red oak for a base, put a few coats polyurethane on that and called it done! Since then, I have grown less happy with the base, feeling that it needed to better contrast with the model, so stay tuned for an update on that.

Here are a few images of the completed model, but see the completed models section of this web site for more.

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Panzer III Interior Paint

With the interior build pretty much complete, I moved on to added a bit of paint. From what I could gather, the Germans painted everything in a red primer and left it that way for non-crew areas and painted all the crew areas in a dull grey-green.

I began by airbrushing the whole interior with Mr Surfacer 1200 as a primer and to give it all a uniform color. Next I sprayed the red-brown color onto the engine compartment and onto the engine and radiator assemblies. I decided to leave the engine and radiator parts separate during the painting and weathering process to make things easier. Finally, I masked the engine area and sprayed the crew cabin in the grey green.

Next I spent a bit of time picking out a few details by hand and adding metallic spots on corners to simulate paint chips. Here you can see a little of that in progress:

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I followed that with a bit of dry brushing using a lighter tone to help pick out the details and raised bits. Next I tried out a technique that is new to me: the use of pigments. Pigment is the raw color component of many paints (although in a non-toxic version). I ordered a few sets of Mig Pigments from an online hobby store (since I have never seen more than a few jars locally), and now I've got 12 shades of rust, dirt, smoke and ash to choose from.

The jist of the pigments is that you sort of just use a dry brush to apply a variety of colors here and there, and then wet everything down with a thinner and use that to blend between colors and get the solution into all the cracks and crevices. I started out with a wash of black to help add contrast and pick out the details, and then followed up with various dirt and rust colors. I generally found it very easy to work with and I am quite pleased with the results.

A few images of paint and weathering (with the pigments):

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That pretty much wraps up the interior. There are a few odds and ends to take care of, like cementing the engine parts in place and connecting a few things with pipes. I'm sure there will also be a bit of work going into the upper hull build as well, but that is all for a later post.

Next: Onward with the construction!
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Panzer III Interior Build

So, it's been quite a while since I've updated so I've going to break this into two posts: one on the build and one about painting and weathering. First, the build:

I purchased resin interior and engine kits made by Verlinden. The interior kit was designed for a Tamiya version of the same tank, while the engine claimed it would fit both Tamiya and Dragon kits. When I got in there and slowly started piecing things together I discovered a few things:

First off, I'm not that crazy about working with large resin parts. There seems to be a ton of work to do just to get the part somewhere close to where it should be, since one needs to sand off a great deal of the overpour. There also seems to be a tendency of the large flat resin parts to warp a bit with the heat of sanding. I suppose these are things to learn about working with resin, and they will inform my future projects, but I just came away with the impression that resin is just plain less fun to work with compared to plastic or wood.

Next thing I learned was that the Tamiya version of the kit must not have all of the interior suspension parts that the Dragon kit does, as the resin parts had all of the same part cast into the floor of the interior. This gave me two options: cut away all the Dragon interior parts or cut away the resin parts. Since I thought the kit parts looked better than the resin parts, I opted for what was probably the hardest route, and decided to cut away the whole floor of the resin parts and replace it with a new version.

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In retrospect, a closer inspection of some reference photos could have saved me some trouble. I started with the impression that the floor inside the tank was a metal mesh, similar to what one would find on catwalks and other industrial settings. So I cut away all the floor, and found some fine screen, with the intention of using the screen for the floor to simulate the grating. This would allow the fancy suspension bit to be seen through the floor just a little bit. Later on, in my quest for find proper paint colors, I ran across some photos of a restored Panzer and it had flooring made of diamond plate, which is quite opaque. So, instead of the screen idea and instead of trying to find some scale diamond plate, I took some styrene sheet, heated it with a cooking torch (like for making creme brulee) and pressed the screen from a cooking splatter guard into it to form a criss-cross pattern that is similar to diamond plate.

Finally, I learned that the interior and engine kits both came with a firewall to go between. Once all the parts for the interior and exterior are in place, without any firewalls, they take up pretty much the whole interior, leaving not enough room for EITHER firewall. So, what I ended up having to do is to build a new firewall from scratch from styrene. I tried to get the general shape from both of the resin parts and even clipped off a few of the resin details and added them to the new version. I also found that I had to cut quite a bit off of the bottom of the engine in order to get it to sit low enough in the chassis for the upper hull pieces to be able to attach. This, of course, caused all the pipes to mis-align, so there are still a few things that will need tweaking once paint is done and I am cementing things into the hull.

Some images of the built-up interior and engine:

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And finally, with a coat of Mr Surfacer 1200 as a primer:

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Next: some paint!
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