Sunday, 8 July 2018

M60A2 Starship

The M60A2 "Starship" is a rare version (less then 600 build) of the M60 Patton tank. It was able to fire both conventional ammunition and missiles. It wasn't a military success, to much new technology in one vehicle but the lessons learned where valuable for tank development. It was the first tank to use a laser range and targeting system and a lot of this technology was later used on the M1 Abrams for example. The turret is the only difference with a M60A1 or A3 version on the outside. The A2 turret ha a very small profile, a desirable trait to have for a tank.

Esci had a plastic model of this tank, Italeri has the molds but has not released the kit. Modelltrans produces a resin conversion set for the very good Revell model. The turret features a nice cast texture. Maybe a little bit over scale but it doesn't look bad. The parts also include M48 outer roadwheels for the early version of the M60A2 but the wheels from Revell can also be used. There is also a choice between two gun barrels. The only part with a slight flaw is the searchlight which has a mold line running through it. I made a cover for the light from paper. This cover is seen on almost every photo of the actual tank. The stowage racks are molded with stuff in them but the smoke granate launches are still visible, some careful painting is needed to bring out all elements here.

I painted my tank in the 'tropical MERDC scheme'. There have been M60A2's painted in MERDC scheme's but I'm not sure if the tropical scheme has been featured on this particular version of the M60. I found the colors fresh however and fitting with a tank that is mainly famous for being a testbed for all sort of new technologies. The model is not weathered to emphasize it's modernity. Not that there is no mud or sand in the future but it just looks more futuristic this way.

The photo's. The past one shows the A2: Patton with the a A1 version:

Thursday, 14 June 2018

A touch of Dutch part II A6

In this previous post the upgrade of Dutch leopard II's to the A5 standard was mentioned. This was an initiative by German, Swiss and Dutch armies to upgrade existing Leopard II A4's. The result of this program (Kampfwertsteigerung or KWS in short) was the Leopard II A5 with improved armor and an electric rather then hydraulic turret turning system. The A6 is a further upgrade of this system installing an auxiliary engine, air conditioning and a longer barrel of 55 calibers rather then 44 lengthening the barrel with 1,32 meter (4 1/3 feet) which is also the most visible change of the vehicle. There a few small differences on the outside between Dutch and German Leopard II's.

  1. Side skirts: The Dutch version retained the A4 stype of side skirts.
  2. Smoke grenade launchers: The Dutch version has a 3x2 configuration while the German has a 2x4 configuration.
  3. Stowage box: On the darker picture a Dutch leopard II A6 at the Nationaal Militair Museum Soesterberg, The Netherlands. This one features an additional stowage box on the roof. This is not always fitted as can be seen on the other photo with a Dutch vehicle.

The model

Revell offers several types of Leopard II tanks including a dutch Leopard II A5 but not a Dutch Leopard II A6. (Revell does offer a Dutch A4 kit in 1/35, Hobbyboss a A5/A6 in 1/35). Making a A6 version can be done with Revell's kits in two separate ways:

I choice option 2, not the most logical option but I had the parts of the A4 still laying around and didn't want to waste them. I actually used the barrel from the Strv.122 and inreased the length with a piece of sprue cut to the right size. The original A6 kit is reviewed here. Below pictures of the build, the modifications are:
  1. Side skirts last 2/3 taken from non needed parts of the Revell 03105 Leopard II A5 KWS kit.
  2. Smoke launchers modified, there protective brackets are made from a metal can.
  3. A stowage box is created.

Modifications not particular for the Dutch version are the addition of an anti-slip coating on top of the tank and metal tow cables. I painted the vehicle as '120' from the National Militairy Musuem in Soesterberg, more pictures of the real vehicle here.

Photo's of the finished model. the A4 version could in real life actually be the very same vehicle since the A6 is a upgraded version of the A4.

Sunday, 10 June 2018

New Revell Website

A small news item! The Revell website has been renewed. The same information as always can be found but on slightly different places. The information of products has been merged with the shop. The building instructions can be found here.

Revell Germany and Revell USA has been bought by Hobbico a few years back but Hobbico had to fie for bankruptcy and Revell has been sold to a German company.

Thursday, 10 May 2018

Along the coast of the interior seaway

Early morning, misty and damp. A mother and small child walk through a dense part of forest where they have been sleeping under the cover of trees. They are heading towards an open field to catch the rays of the sun and warm a little before continuing their way along the coast of the western interior seaway. It is the cretaceous, 66.000.000 years BC.

The Tyrannosaurus Rex

The Tyrannosaurus Rex is probably the most famous dinosaur to date. It lived in what is now North-America during the last million years of the cretaceous, an geological time 145 million years to 65 million years ago. During the last few million years of the cretaceous the climate was hotter then today, probably due to volcanic activity. There was snowfall but this was restricted to mountains in polar regions. The sea level also was a lot higher compared to today flooding what now is the mid-west and dividing North-America in 3 large landmasses. The sea is called the 'western interior seaway' and was shallow, warm and full of life. The fauna of the time was much like it is today, only grasses had not evolved yet and broadleaved trees and flowers where relatively new. Large parts of North-America could very well have looked similar to a present day in summer with pine forests. On the west most landmass, Laramidia, the Tyrannosaurus Rex roamed.

The Tyrannosaurus Rex was a member of the Tyrannosauridea, a family of meat-eating dinosaurs walking on their hind legs and with tiny fore-arms living in what is now Asia and North-America. The fore arms are still the size of human arms and are fully developed so they are no vestigial parts of the animal. The Tyrannosaurus Rex probably didn't had 'feathers' or a very limited amount. The feathers that had evolved at this point are called 'dinofuzz' or filaments and are more primitive then the flight feathers of modern birds/dinosaurs. Here an interpretation of the Tyrannosauridea Yutyrannus Huali with filaments. This is a smaller member of he Tyrannosauridea form China and it looks like even scarier like this then with scales. A documentary on the Tyranosaurus Rex reveals the latest research on this beast:

The Tamiya Dinosaurs Diorama Series

In 1993 Tamiya released 7 diorama sets with dinosaurs in 1/35 scale. These sets are based on the scientific knowledge from the time. Most of it is still accurate until today for as far as I know with two noticeable exception:
  1. The Velociraptors are a lot smaller in reality then in set 60105. These are probably Deinonychus. A member of the dromaeosaurs family. This is the dinosaur featured in Micheal Critons book 'Jurassic Park' but somehow the name became 'velociraptor' in the movie version. These sets are released in the same year although they are are not official merchandise (that is good news for price and availability)
  2. The velociraptors/Deinonychus and oviraptor from the Mesozoic Creatures set (60107) had feathers. This was unknown at the time these sets where made.
In the 'Dinosaur Diorama Series' the following sets are available:
Item. No.Main subjectExtra accessories
60101ChasmosaurusJuvenile, small lizard, turtle, tree base, base plate
60102Tyrannosaurus Rex2 Cycads, Parasaurolophus bones, base plate
60103ParasaurolophusA Cycad, 3 flying reptiles, baseplate
60104Triceratops2 velociraptors, fishes, a small palm like plant, pine trunk, base plate
60105Velociraptors (6x)None
60106BrachiosaurusJuvenile, Archaeopteryx, base plate
60107Mesozoic setSet contains: Juvenile Parasaurolophus, Juvenile Tyrannosaurus Rex, Hypsilophodon, Oviraptor, Crocodile and Archaeopteryx
These sets are very nicely made, the accessories make it possible to faithfully recreate a piece of natural history in scale. Tamiya hired the Japanese Paleontologist/artist Kunihiko Hisa to assist in the creation of these sets. Apart from the Mesozoic set all sets include a figure for size comparison. All sets do include a booklet with a lot of information on the featured dinosaur. Although released alongside the Jurassic Park movie Tamiya made their own choice in what dinosaurs to model. I think it is great they didn't just include the most famous dinosaurs but also scientific and evolutionary important subjects such as the Hypsilophodon and Archaeopteryx. With the inclusion of the Parasaurolophus an iconic member of the too often ignored Hadrosaurus family is also included. Even the flora of the time hasn't been forgotten.

The Tyrannosaurus Rex

I build the Tyrannosaurus Rex from set 60102. The nameplate for the Tyrannosaurus suggests this could be in either present day Asia or North-America. The Tyrannosaurus Rex didn't live in Asia but the Tarbosaurus Bataar did 5 million years earlier. They are both Tyrannosauridea and look almost identical. The largest Tarbosaurus found is slightly smaller then the largest Tyrannosaurus Rex specimen. Also the Tarbosaurus arms are relatively smaller then those of the Tyrannosaurus Rex and it probarbly didn't have binoculair vision. The text suggests the Tyrannosaurus Rex also lived in Asia but that is not the case. The model can be build as a Tarbosaurus for all intents and purposes however. I suggest painting the eyes as side looking and leaving the model as it is when choosing to interped it as a Tarbosaurus.
The model can be build depicting the animal with it's jaws open or closed and in a walking or running position. The total model consists out of 17 parts. I usually don't build a lot of large scale models but I have a few 1/25 tanks and 1/16 figures. This model comes in a large box and it barley fits in, it is simply huge! The model is 37 cm long (1 foot, 2 inch), 14 cm (5 2/5 inch) high and 7 cm (2 4/5 inch) wide. I build mine in a walking, jaws closed position. A metal rod is included to attach the model more firmly to it's base but is doesn't look good. The model is well balanced and the rod is not needed when fixing the model to the base. Under one foot there is a peg for an even better attachment so I don't think the rod is needed even when building the model in running position. If you want to use the rod you have to remove a small section of plastic from the belly of the Tyrannosaurus Rex, so the model doesn't have a gaping hole when you don't use the rod.
For a Tamiya model a lot filler is required to get all the seams between the parts away. The attachment point of the head to the neck needs a bit more. There are no holes but there is a pronounced 'didge' there. The head does fits good and it is easy to make a strong connection however. I also made the juvenile Tyrannosaurus Rex from the 60107 Mesozoic set. This model has 8 parts and only a bit of filler on the legs and on the underside of the jaw was requerd. The arm fit but are easy too glue in the wrong position so extra attention is needed here. I made pine trees because they where also abundant in the cretaceous but the Cycads supplied are very nice and authentic. The instructions detail how to easily and fast make the leaves from green paper that is supplied in a more then sufficient quantity. I didn't use the Parasaurolophus bones because this animal lived a few milions of years prior of the Tyrannosaurus Rex. I decorated base plate with mosses and ferns.

The model with filler. The spot on the middel of the tail is a spill. On the next photo the model with the first two shades of ocker (Revell 88) lightend with white.

What colors dinosaurs have is unknown. Skin impressions give some clues and I am aware of only three dinosaurs of which the coloration is known. All are stripped and we are talking about a Hadrosaurus and 'bird like' species but not a Tyrannosauridea. Blue and green are generally difficult colors to produce for animals and most animals are 'counter shadeded' (light on the underside, darker on the top). Apart from that the sky is the limit when it comes to colors and patterns. I was inspired by a few birds of prey I saw often on my way to work in the summer so I painted them this color since birds literally are dinosaurs too. Many animals have brown as a camouflage because many animals are (partially) colorblind and reds/browns look the same to them as greens, that is why brown is so common on fur but also feathers.

The photo's of the finished model:

This was a very nice diorama and model fun to build. The model holds up well in the face of 25 years of new paleological finds and research. It is a nice change to recreate a piece of natural history still fueling the imagination today. Although the model is very long, the dinosaur itself should fit in most display cabinets. You don't have to be a brilliant model builder or painter to create something nice and complete from this set. It holds up very good in the face of the latest research. Highly recommended.

Okey, finally the most iconic scene from the movie that started it all:

Friday, 27 April 2018

Use the force Luke!

The Star Wars movies have seen a real revival the last decade and unsurprisingly new models have and are being released by several manufacturers. I decided to recreate the trench scene from 'Star Wars IV A New Hope' from 1977. Revell released several models from it's easy kit line as regular kits. So they do have a limited part count but are not prepainted. I used two Tie Figther's (kit No. 03605), Darth Vaders Tie Fighter (kit No. 03602) and the X-Wing (03601). The scale of these kits is not the same but close together according to the boxes. The Tie Fighter is advertised as being 1/110 scale but is actually closer to 1/65, almost twice the size! Normally this is only positive but in a diorama it just doesn't look right. In the picture below we see the pilot figures, when (approximately) the same scale all these figures should be the same size. The Tie Fighter Pilots (the two identical figures on the left )are clearly to large. Darth Vaders Tie Fighter and the X-wing pair up just fine.

The models are scaled in such a way they all fit in the same sized box, apparently you can fit a lot of Tie Tighter in a box. First I painted the figures and cockpits. The hatches of the The Fighter cockpits can be opened and the figures can be seen quite clearly through the cockpit glass. I darkened the cockpit glass of the X-wing fighter just as in the movies. I painted the Tie Fighters in Revell's 036176 Light Grey and highlighted some details with 036175 Dust Grey. I kept the look of the Tie Fighters as clean as possible just as in the movie. The X-Wing Fighter was painted as Like's Red 5 using pictures from the movie and heavily weathered. The models are very good and well detailed. There ware just panel lines on the wings is the X-Wing where the red identification markings go which might not be accurate, but then again it is stuff from a Sci-Fi movie so how accurate is accurate? I found painting the Tie Fighters quite a lot of work.the surface to be covered is massive and full of detail. There is a sharp well defined boundary between the black solar panels and the gray frame but this requires a lot of patience to get right. Surfaces are not easy to mask because of all the detail which is great. Painting the X-wing fighter was very easy in comparison. The Tie Fighers also come with a stand but the X-Wing doesn't.

On to the pictures:
The pilots can be seen quite good in the cockpits:

The models with kit numbers 03600 to 36010 seem all to be 'easy kits' repacked as normal models. So when you are looking to build a highly detailed with many parts this might not be you thing, looking for a highly detailed kit with a few parts? These are just your pick. At just € 6,95 you get a very nice model of a popular subject. The low part count doesn't compromise the detail or similarity to the movie models.