Friday, 23 December 2016

C2 MEXAS

The Leopard I was developed in the early sixties as a tank with an emphasis on good mobility. The Canadian Army deployed 127 of these tanks. 6 of them where modernized in the eighties receiving additional 'MEXAS' armor. MEXAS is short for Modular EXpandable ARmor. A total of 66 of these tanks where given this upgrade and are known as 'C2 Leopard MEXAS'. The difference between a standard leopard and a C2 MEXAS is huge. These upgraded models have been deployed on the Balkans and Afghanistan. The latter experience made the canadian army rethink it's decision to scrap all it's tracked tanks in favor of the M1128 Stryker Mobile Gun System which is basically a tank on wheels. The C2 is being phased out but replaced by the Leopard II.

There are no plastic models of the C2 MEXAS but Silesian Models makes a resin conversion for the Revell Leopard I kit. This is a very good conversion kit. There are a few little holes caused by air bubbles in the box on the back of the turret but these are barely visible and easily filled. The resin parts fit very well to the plastic parts of the Revell kit. The conversion kit is missing two dust slaps for the front of the tracks although these tent to fall off in reality as I have seen photo's of these slaps missing from one or two of the tracks. Also missing from my kit was the lower front armor plate but this one easily replaced by a rectangular plastic plate. The gun barrel seems to be a copy of the Revell item I used the original plastic part for my kit. In the photo below the green parts are the Revell kit, the grey ones are from the conversion set. I added two protection bars from styrene rod in front of the smoke dischargers as these are to fragile to be made from resin:

After I painted the model for a first time I added an extra course layer on the places where there is an anti-slip coating on the real vehicle, 3 jerrycans on the back of the turret and some stowage as I've seen these on many photo's. The anti-slip coating is a bit over scale, it would fit better on a 1/35 vehicle or a Merkava but it looks good non the less:

Finally the photo's of the finished model:

And the model with the Leopard I A4 and A5:

The conversion kit certainly en changes the appearance of the model. The detail is good and the fit of the parts as well. It is well suited if you have no experience with resin. At a price of €21,00 it is well worth the money since you almost get a completely new tank. One final remark, resin needs to be glued with superglue, simply the one available in Do It Yourself stores.

Saturday, 26 November 2016

A bumby ride!

MiniArt released a model of the WLA motorcycle in a few different varieties. The motorcycle is the same but the figures are different. The real motorcycle was produced by Harley and Davidson during WWII and the Korean War and was basically the civilian version painted olive drab. The headlight received a blackout light and the fenders where smaller preventing the buildup of mud.

The model from MiniArt is really a complicated affair with plastic, photo etched and clear parts topped off with a decal sheet. A total of 130 parts make up the model although the box it states 160 parts are included I consider the 130 more then enough. The photo etched parts include the spokes, metal rods holding the bags and rifle holder on the bike and other small details. A range of jigs if included to bend the parts in shape. In general the parts fit well but it was a difficult model to assemble due to the fact that a motorcycle is still small in 1/35 scale and many parts making up the frame have to be aliened perfectly. I noted the following when building the model:

  1. The photo etched spokes are not completely right when the come from the folding jigs included. I think the best thing to do before gluing them is to pull then through the wheels. Be careful though, they are extremely fragile.
  2. The spokes are made out of three identical photo etched parts and one that has a slightly larger hole for the inner axes to accommodate the front brake system.
  3. The parts making up the fore fork don't seem to align up in such a way that the fender is placed so the photo etched fender supports actually support to fender. I like to stress "don't seem to" because the alignments of these parts seems to require a precision far smaller then a tenth of a millimeter (0.004 inch) and I could have very well misaligned them. So be careful when assembling these parts.
  4. One side of the rifle holder must be hollowed out before the halves are glued together when it is to be build not holding a rifle.
  5. There is wire provided for the handbrake cables so you have to add your own.
I had trouble keeping the parts of the luggage carrier (top aft of the frame) together. The whole frame is made out of parts that though each other at the end points only they are misaligned easily and don't have a large surface for glue to stick on so the frame tents to tear itself apart quite fast making construction difficult. Also I lost quite some of the smaller parts. The engine is also made out of quite a large number of parts but they fit together well. As said the motorcycle is released in a few boxes including different figures. I made the version with a soldier lying on the ground hiding behind the cycle. As said I lost some of the smaller parts, where there where two of them I left the of the side laying on the ground. Unfortunately I also lost the rifle, I only had a German one as a replacement. Not a very likely scenario as I painted the figure as wearing a uniform only seen on the Pacific front.

The available sets are:

Recommended for experienced modelers only because the large number of very small parts having to fit perfectly together.

Saturday, 29 October 2016

Backbone of the NATO airforces

The F-16 Fighting Falcon is one of the most successful fighter jets in the sky at this moment. Production started 40 years ago with the F-16 as a air superiority fighter. Through the years F-16's where modernized and quipped with electronics, sensors and other improvements making it an all round fighter craft. The latest versions build are F-16E/F or block 52 versions which differ from other versions because of their externally mounted fuel tanks on the upper half of the fuselage. F-16 purchased in the seventies are often upgraded as well so an aircraft that looks as an F-16A on the outside can have the same specifications as an later build F-16C. The A/C/E versions are single seaters, the B/D/F versions double seaters. 4.500 F-16's have been build and it is only after 4 decades that they are slowly replaced by the Eurofighter or F-35 while other countries purchase new build versions.

In 1/144 scale several manufactures make an F-16 model. Trumpeter being the only one with a double seated version. Revell currently has 2 F-16 model in production at this moment. The F-16A (Kit no. 03971) and the F-16C (Kit no. 03992). The F-16C box has all the parts needed to build an A version however. I made a Dutch F-16. Internally these are all upgraded to the block 50 standard but are indistinguishable from an A version on the outside. The model had about 30 parts, is easy to build and has very good detail. The fuel tanks have a few raised panel lines which it sanded away because they are over scaled. The ECM pod is from the Dragon A-10 kit because the Revell version has no detail at all. I left the jet exhaust part off until the model was fully painted. This part is very well done, in older models the jet exhaust is often one of the less well done pieces of aircraft and a not so realistic part of the model. No such weak points here. Contrary to the (first) release of their F-15E this model comes with 2 full sets of both Air to Ground and Air to Air weapons.

For the colors I mainly looked at photo graphs. The model doesn't come with decals for a dutch version so I painted these myself. To create the titanium color of the exhaust i mixed Revells Aqua colors 'silver metalic' 036190 with 'sandy yellow 036166'. The cockpit canopy was painted with a highly diluted 'orange clear 036730'.

The build model:

Highly recommended, this backbone from many air forces can't be missing from any modern aircraft collection. Great to see such a large selection of ordinance included with this model.

Saturday, 24 September 2016

Renault FT-17: The first modern tank

The tank is an invention from the First World War designed to break the stalemate on the western front. The idea of an armored vehicle with guns or 'landship' is (apparently to simply) seen as coming from the British but it are the French who came up with the design that actually worked and still forms the blue print of all tanks designed ever since. All tanks used in the Great War where quite large and heavy. The only exception is the Renault FT-17. This is tank smaller then a small car though it is a bit higher. The other French tanks, the Clamond and Schneider CA-1 didn't perform as expected. They where to heavy and cumbersome was the conclusion so the French designed the FT-17. The absolute novelty was the rotating turret armed with a machine gun or 37mm canon. The tank also had relatively wide tracks. It's small size and weight also contributed to it's success. It's weight to power ratio was comparable with other successful tanks from the era though. There was a fire proof wall between the engine and crew compartment. This sounds logical but don't forget the Mk.I to Mk.V and AV-7 housed the engine in the same compartment as the crew. On the battlefield it was the most successful tank and also the most numerous with 3000 produced. An additional 700 where deployed by the American army. These licensed build tanks knows are known as the M1917. The 'ramp' on the back of the tank was fitted to prevent it from tipping over when driven up a steep slope. A tank is a compromise between mobility, armor and arms, this tank got it just right for the Great War. Apart from the weapons two different turrets exists, one is a casted or 'berliet' turret and one is made from plates riveted together. Most surviving examples have a berliet turret. There are two examples in The Netherlands not mentioned on wikipedia. One is in Overloon, it was used in WWII by the Germans and is repainted in light grey with german markings. The other one is in the National Military Museum and was used by the Dutch army to show to recruits what a tank actually looks like. Both have a casted turret.


Reenactments with the FT-17. Although small and driving at walking speed this was one of the most dangerous things you could see coming your way during world war I apart from bullets and bombshells. It seems silly nowadays but during the Great War machine guns in trenches formed an impenetrable defense until these things showed up.

A short piece of TV with the FT-17.

Models of the FT-17 have been scarce in any scale until recent years. Now they are available in 1/72, 1/35 and even 1/16. In 1/76 matchbox (now Revell has the molds) made a FT-17 and also included is a Char 1 Bis in the box. This model is not in production at the moment. The recent years Hät also released a model of both a berliet and riveted turret version. Be careful though, the versions of the models first made by Hät are made from polyethylene which can't be glued. RPM has by far the biggest selection of versions, including a smoke screen layer and radio version.

The best models are made by 'Flyhawk model' however. The offer both the cast turret (Kit. No. FH3000) and riveted (Kit. No. FH3001) version. You get two models in a box and both can be build as machine gun version or a canon version, or one of each of course. Photo etched parts are included for two surfaces which couldn't be detailed in the mold. Other photo etched parts include the transmission belt between drive axis and driving sprocket, handles for the drivers compartment and supports for the toolbox. The last two are also included in plastic for those who find the photo etched parts to fine and small. I used the toolbox supports from plastic because I find the photo etched parts looking to thin although they are probably on scale. Most of the tracks links are molded as one piece of hard plastic and can be painted before assembly. The drive sprocket can be build in such a way you can turn it. If you glue it solid in place be sure to put it in the right position because the tracks and sprocket interlock just like the real thing. The other thing to be careful with is the 'ramp' on the back of the tank. On the striped canon version I attached it to high. On the halves of the parts holding the road wheels there is one big protrusion used to fill release the part from the mold which must be removed. The spring on this part might be replaced with one made from wire but I didn't as the plastic one looks great when painted but that is really the only thinkable 'improvement' on this kit. The 'renault' logo on the sides of the tank is missing, probably due to licencing issues but that is beyond Flyhawk model. Both kits have about 30 parts.
With over 3000 build it can be painted in any color used in The Great War. Form monochrome green, brown or ocker to a 7 color scheme with black and while lines separating the different colors.

The photo's:

The FT-17's

Going over the trenches.

Watch out!

Along the Mk.I


With it's modern day counterpart, the LeClerc.

This model is really engineered with the modeler in mind. The parts fit together perfectly, the require virtually no clean up and with 30 parts each the number of parts is not too small and not to big either. The tedious work of cleaning numerous wheels and fitting tiny single track links is not needed. The photo etched parts are also optional leaving just three small parts per tank making it quite buildable for beginners as well. Great to see such a perfected model from this very important piece of tank history.

Saturday, 27 August 2016

Wear and tear on a real Leopard II A6

December 2014, the National Military Museum opened in Soesterberg. This museum houses the collections several other museums under one roof. Of special interest is the Leopard II A6 in the museum, it is the only A6 version on permanent display for as far as I am aware. The machine looks like as if it is driven straight from the battlefield in to the museum giving a real life example of the wear and tear on a real modern tank. It is driving on the tank range outside the museum right now! (August 27 and 28 2016) On to the photo's!
Also in the museum is the first modern tank, the FT-17. Very nice to see the first and latest tank in one museum.