T34/85 obr. 1943 & Brigada Komissar Dedov – finished
With the basic technique established with my T34s, I’m going to start preparing my next boxed set: the T34/85 obr. 1943 tankovy platoon. To make life a little more bearable (I’m going to try painting 7 tanks in one sitting!), I’m going to add abit of local colour by having a go at the Brigada Komissar M A Dedov blister and a T34/85 obr. 1944 (steady…). I’ll update you on current progress when I’ve cleaned up all the casts…
I find the filing, cutting and gluing terribly boring, but now that it’s done it doesn’t seem so bad. I had problems disloding 2 of the turrets from the hulls due to excessive glue. I got around it by using a pallet knife to ease the turret off and tweezers to remove the glue. I also discovered an effective way of gluing the gun barrels into the turrets. As the T34/85 turrets are flat prior to the addition of the cupola, I put a blob of super glue in the mount, stuck the barrel in and turned the whole thing upside down to rest. This meant that the gun barrel was supported by the flat surface I was working on (see below). As the glue hardened, I turned the turret the right way up and adjusted the barrel whilst the glue was still soft to ensure it was level.
All the resin hulls have been fine to work with, although I dropped one and the rear vender broke off. I haven’t glued in the rare earth magnets which is shame. I wasn’t able to do this because none of the hulls had a recess drilled in to receive the magnet. I don’t have the tools to do this and, without it, the turrets will sit too high in the hulls to be realistc. The tracks also required alot of work due to large the quantities of flash which have obscured some of the details on the tracks. Again, this is disappointing, butI don’t think it will detract from the overall look of the finished piece. After all, mass matters with Soviet tanks hordes, right? Not bourgeois individualism…:)
The photos below illustrate where I am today.
I’ve used my airbrush to undercoat black and lay down the base colour, Vallejo Model Air Russian Green (71017). But here’s where the problems set in. Like the T34s before then, I decided to highlight the upper parts of the hull and turret with a dusting of Camouflage Light Green (71006). As you can see, the ‘light dusting’ was a bit heavier than expected :). My airbrush also started to drip and spray in spurts resulting in irregular speckling and blobs across the models rather than the preferred smooth coat. I wondered if this was because the nozzle had started to clog, despite my use of a few drops of thinner. Doh!
Does anyone know why this could be happening?
The application of MIG Filter P245 Brown (for Dark Green) helps blend the two tones together and reduces the original luminosity. The hull on the left has been filtered, the one on the right is the original colour:
As an aside, I visited The Imperial War Museum Duxford for Remembrance Sunday and took this opportunity to film a walkaround of their T34/85 on display in the Land Warfare hall. As anyone who has visited this display will know, lighting is low so I apologise in advance for the poor quality of some of the shots, but it gives you a feel for the real thing and, hopefully, some indication of where to stick those new Polish decals coming out:
Talking of decals and inspired by Battlefront’s exemplar, I wanted to paint my t34/85s with a white stripe around the turret. However, after further reading I’ve gone off the idea. For a start, I think it would be quite fiddly (I was going to use masking tape) and, secondly, outside of the fighting in Berlin I don’t think the white stripe featured prominently. I say this after reading Stephen Hamiliton’s (2008.25) ‘Bloody Streets: The Soviet Assault on Berlin’ where, citing a ShAEF report dated 21/04/45, he states:
‘Still believing they [the Soviets] would run into U.S. or British units along the way [to Berlin], Stavka agreed with Eisenhower that Soviet tanks should be painted with a white stripe around the turret and a white cross on the top. It has been suggested that this stripe was designed for recognition of Soviet tanks and SP guns during the street fighting in Berlin, but in reality [Hamilton proposes] it was to differentiate their vehicles from the Western Allies. Studies of late war photos of Russian armour depict no vehicles outside of the fighting for Berlin carrying the white stripe. By the end of April the Soviet tank recognition marking changed from the white stripe to a small triangle on the turret. This change was caused by Gertman Panzers in the 9. Armee painting their tanks with the Soviet recognition stripes in an attempt to fool the Soviets during their breakout West. Again, a study of late war Soviet photos show the small triangle marking on vehicles involved in the Berlin fighting but nowhere else.’
Interesting. Irrespective of the precise motivation, the absence of the white stripe of AFVs outside of Berlin is confirmed by the range of illustrations I’ve been able to locate of late-war T34/85 turrets:
It is interesting to note that Battlefront have painted a considerably wider stripe around the turret than originally existed:
This certainly works, but I don’t think it’s for me…
Since last working on these, almost a month ago, I’ve come across a virtual T34 bible: Srednii Tank T34-76: Oruzhie Nashei Pobedy which I think translates something like T34/76 – weapon of victory (feel free to help me out here anytime!). The cover seems to have provided the inspiration for the Dedov figure (I can’t find any references to this guy, does anyone know if he really existed?):
As you can see, the turrets are virtually done:
I’ve opted for a simple application of the decals: numbers, a few slogans and a couple of diamonds. As my confidence grows in applying decals I thought I’d try cutting one of the numerals in half and applying it next to the flag to make it look like it was draped over the numbers. I was pleased with the result. It was a bit fiddly, but worth it in the end and, if you don’t panic and have a bit of patience, it’s not actually that difficult.
I’m not all that sure about the uniforms Komissars wore at the end of the War. I’ve tended to paint my ‘Komissars’ as NKVD men and left it at that. Even though this guy is a tanker, it’s clear he’s wearing officer’s dress so I’m going to paint him 094 Russian Uniform. When I first start painting my Soviets, I opted for Russian Uniform because it said exactly what it was on the tin (!). My re-education complete, I now realise that it’s more common to paint Soviet infantry in variants of Khaki. I’m happy to stay as I am, consoled by the fact that Russian uniforms came in a range of shades and, looking at source material for the end of the War, Vallejo seem to have got it pretty much right.
As for the chassis, the new book has sparked some inspiration and I’m attempting 1 fairly chipped, eroded and rusted old war-horse hull following this photo of a T34/76 taken in 1955:
I think I may have gone too rusty 🙂 As you can see from the other 2, the details are almost done:
I’m rushing these abit at present and want to get them done because they’ve been hanging around for sometime and Uncle Joe’s none too pleased.
Well, I’ve glued the tracks on, weathered them with a mixture of pigments and popped the turrets onto the chassis. I can recommend painting your turrets on large flat headed nails. I glued mine on with pva and they come off a treat.
I’ve adjusted the amount of rust represented on my old war-horse variant by running in some very watered down 096 Russian Green, and using some P025 Standard Rust pigment as well as pastels:
The others look much the same as this one:
I found that I got a few water- or tidal-marks when I fixed the pigment with MiG Pigment Fixer. This was remedied by a liberal application of MiG Thinner for Washes over the affected area (is there anything this stuff can’t do?).
So, that’s about it, T34/85s done. I’m happy with the final result and only have another 4 to do. Perhaps it’s time to take a break from Soviet armour 🙂