Tuesday, 20 June 2017

Mk. I Female - The first iron lady

The Mk.I 'female' was almost the same tank as the Mk.I 'male' tank but equipped with four machine guns instead of 2 machine guns and 2 sixpounder guns. Masterbox makes a great model of this tank (kit No. 72002), almost identical to their Mk.I 'male' reviewed here. Almost everything thing written their about the real thing and the model is applicable at the female version as well. More on british tanks from WWI can be read here so on to the photo's.

The box art features a intriguing color scheme:

I painted my model as recommended on the box. On the back of the box there is a color drawing and the colors are also numbered, the numbers can be found in a table describing the color. The descriptions just don't match the colors on the drawing.

With the Mk.I, also the Masterbox model:

The model can be made easily, virtually any camouflage scheme can be applied and it has a few photo etched parts that are quite easy to apply. what is not to like?

Saturday, 6 May 2017

A samurai army

Zvezda always had several sets of samurai in there catalog. In the last years they released new sets of samurai figures in hard plastic made from several parts. These figures are of a stunning quality and sold in (very) small boxes with about 5 figures on foot or 2 when it is a set of mounted figures. The following sets are available: 6401 Ashigaru-Yari, 6402 Ashigaru-Arquebus, 6404 Samurai Archers, 6405 Samurai No Dati, 6406 Ninja, 6411 Samurai Commanders, 6414 Ashigaru Archers, 6415 Peasants with Ammo supply, 6416 Mounted Samurai Archers. Like the previous sets these are samurai from the Sengoku or 'warring states' period 1500/1600. The samurai had reached the top of the societal ladder. There armies increasingly included a large number of warriors of lower status or 'foot warriors' these are the Ashigaru. There armor was mass produced, an army could include no less then 100.000 Ashigaru. I made a 'symbolic' army with a command unit (6411), cavalry, foot warriors (6401), archers (6414), logistics support (6415). One of the commanders is the 'hero unit' or special forces. I found buying a set of ninja's gave a relative to large section of special forces. There is one thing to take in consideration when building these figures: They can be assembled without glue, in order to get a tight fit between the parts the pegs are slighty larger then the holes. The plastic can split when you assemble the figur, especially when yu use glue aswell because the glue softens the plastic before evaporating. I trimmed the pegs down and glued the figures. The pictures, the fact that every unit has an individual flag on it's back give the army a very busy look:

The army:

The ashigaru with bow, yari and logistic support forming the backbone of the army:

The command unit:

In red the hero/special forces (This figure is from the commander set):

The cavalry:

I think it is great Zvezda makes these sets of hard plastic figures. They are easy to assemble and have great detail because the whole figure doesn't have to be releasable by a mold at once. Releasing multiple, very cheap sets with very specific figures is a interesting concept too. It makes it easy to build large army with specific ratio's of units (relatively lot of infantry just to name an example) when you play to Zvezda wargame but doesn't leave you with a lot of unused figures. I especially like many different kinds of 'special units' such as ninja and peasant support, there equivalents from other armies are hard if not impossible to find. Every set comes with a tactical cards, flags, individual bases and an extra base for the whole unit. At just €3,50 the sets are very cheap. Building an army as I did is slightly more expensive then buying two sets (cavalry and infantry) of 'normal' figures. the fact that you have a proper command unit and a support unit make it worth while however. Zvezda makes these smaller sets also with Napoloanic, WII and modern soldiers. The WII range is by far the most elaborated.

Thursday, 13 April 2017

Trumpeter AS-90

The AS-90

The AS-90 is build as a replacement of the M109 howitzer (also) used by the British army until the 90's. With it's 45 tons it is much heavier then the 23-ton M109 but considerably lighter then the 60 ton PZH2000. The gun has many automatic features to get the shells on target but is less advanced as the PZH2000. Almost 180 vehicles have been build for the British army and 120 turrets are being build for the Polish Army. These will be mated to a K9 Thunder chassis ad hull build in Korea.

The Trumpeter model

In cooperation with Pit Road Trumpeter produced a model of the AS-90 (Kit. No. 07221)and it is the only one available in 1/72. It is a model with a medium part count and is one of Trumpeters earlier releases. There are some impressive large slide molded parts in the box such as the turret, upper and lower hull. These parts do have mold seams running over the in 'unconventional' places due the to way the slide mold is build up. The mold seams are not very prominent so take a good look when sanding the turret clean. The towing cables are provided as lengths of wire. The tracks are link 7 length but they are slightly to wide to fit in the drive sprocket and hull so I ended up bending the long upper and lower parts around all wheels like the tracks of Revell's Leopard II A6 are intended to be used. A part you might want to a just is the rack on the top of the turret which has a solid engraved filling where there is mesh in reality. This can't be molded in plastic and I covered it up with a piece of cloth on my model. All hatches can be made open but the crewmen featured on the box are not included. The AS-90 has been painted in a ocker-green, all ocker, all green and black-green camouflage so there is quite some choice for colors. On to the photo's, the inside of the AS-90 is large and the plastic inside can't be seen usually but it is see-able on the photo due to the camera flash.

This model is nice to build but the difficulty with the tracks don't make it a model you should build as a first model.

Tuesday, 4 April 2017

A small preview of the FV-4005 Stage II 183mm JS tank killer

Here a small preview of one of ACE newest releases, the FV-4005 Stage II 183mm JS tank killer. This is the model of an experimental British tank destroyer developed during the 1950's. It was developed to counter the heavy JS-series tanks developed by the Soviet union. It consisted out of a massive 183 mm AT canon mounted in basically a pillbox on a centurion tank hull with earthspade added to the back, probably to withstand the recoil.

Ace released a model of this experiment. The hull is equal to the hull of the Centrurion Mk. III released in 2016 but the turret parts are new. As with all new ACE releases this model comes on sprues with parts numbers on them, greatly simplifying the task of finding the parts on the sprues. A small fret of photo-etched parts is also included, mainly for the structural ribs which are externally mounted on this vehicle. The detail on the parts is a bit soft compared to other brands. There is a lot less flash on the parts compared to earlier releases. The model has about 150 parts so it is not really suited for beginners. The tracks are a two piece vinyl affair which is not my favorite but they will do.

Photo's of the new parts

The instructions with the new parts:

The first sprue with new parts:

The second sprue and photo etched parts:

Thursday, 2 March 2017

Pride of the Rising Sun

HTV is short for 'H2 Transfer Vehicle' and is a cargo ship developed by the Japanese Aerospace eXploration Agency (JAXA). This 'Transfer Vehicle' is made as part of the Japanese contribution to the mission of the International Space Station (SS). This is the first ship of it's kind that docks by being picked up by the space stations robotic arm. This allowed for a less complicated docking mechanism leaving room for a lager 'front door' of the vehicle and enabling the transfer of lager items.

In order to get the HTV to the ISS JAXA had to develop a new rocket since the H-II A was to small to carry the transfer vehicle. Building on the experience of working with the H-II A the JAXA started developing the more capable H-II B. This rocket has a wider body and cargo hold and two main engines in the fuselage. To aid in the launch 4 solid rocket boosters are also fitted.

Launch of the H-II B

The Aoshima model

Aoshima makes a model of the H-II B and HTV launch vehicle in 1/350. One is the Spacecraft Series 4 model of the named vehicles with a plethora of special display parts the other release is Space Series 8 the H-II B and it's launchpad. The Spacecraft series 4 contains clear parts to show the interior of the second stage, falcion and payload, a stand to put the rocket on in a upright position, a 'blast smoke' stand to show the rocket lifting off and a third stand to show the rocket in an in flight position. There are actually more optional parts then parts for the rocket itself.

The parts are molded in clear or white plastic and fit together well. I did had to use filler for the solid rocket boosters which required me to repaint those parts. The typical orange color was a mixture of revells Clear Orange (36130) and brown (36185). The More yellowish like tint was made from sandy yellow (36116) which turned out to be a very close match. The photo's (I have to model now standing on it's own 6 engines rather than on this specific base which doesn't hold it straight in my case):

This is quite a nice model to build and at 20 cm tall and 4 cm wide it won't take a lot of space but the interior parts and lively colors do make it a very nice addition to any collection.