The Dragon 1/72 T-34-85 “Mod 1944”

Introduction:

As an appropriate follow-on to the Trumpeter Jadgpanther (my first attempt at an armour model) I chose this little 1/72 Dragon T-34-85. What a nice kit! The details are crisp, the fit is good, and the wheels are provided as individual pieces with little-to-no flash to deal with: nice. This all looked pretty good to an airplane guy who’s still coming to grips with armor models and all those #&$@%@ wheels 🙂


Background:

The T-34 is a Soviet medium tank that had a profound and lasting effect on the field of tank design. At its introduction in 1940, the T-34 possessed an unprecedented combination of firepower, mobility, protection and ruggedness. Its 76.2 mm (3 in) high-velocity tank gun provided a substantial increase in firepower over any of its contemporaries; its well-sloped armour was difficult to penetrate by most contemporary anti-tank weapons. When it was first encountered in 1941, German general Paul Ludwig Ewald von Kleist called it “the finest tank in the world” and Heinz Guderian affirmed the T-34’s “vast superiority” over existing German armour of the period. Although its armour and armament were surpassed later in the war, it has often been credited as the most effective, efficient and influential tank design of the Second World War.

The T-34 was the mainstay of Soviet armoured forces throughout the Second World War. Its design allowed it to be continuously refined to meet the constantly evolving needs of the Eastern Front: as the war went on it became more capable, but also quicker and cheaper to produce. Soviet industry would eventually produce over 80,000 T-34s of all variants, allowing steadily greater numbers to be fielded as the war progressed despite the loss of tens of thousands in combat against the German Wehrmacht. Replacing many light and medium tanks in Red Army service, it was the most-produced tank of the war, as well as the second most produced tank of all time (after its successor, the T-54/55 series). At 44,900 losses during the war, it also suffered the most tank losses of all time. Its development led directly to the T-54 and T-55 series of tanks, which in turn evolved into the later T-62, T-72, and T-90 that form the armoured core of many modern armies. T-34 variants were widely exported after World War II, and in 2010 the tank remained in limited front-line service with several developing countries.


The Build:

As is the norm in the MPS workshop, all sprues were soaked in a 50:50 solution of Windex and Denatured Alcohol (DA) to remove oils and mold release prior to any parts removal. The DA should be labeled for “Cleaning Glass,” and not be intended as a fuel (Wrong Type!). After a 2 hr soak in DA, the sprues were rinsed with warm water and set aside to dry.

All parts were removed from the sprues with God Hand parts nippers (awesome tool) and cleaned up with a new #11 blade, micro-files, and both #600 and 1,000 grit Alpha Abrasives.

 

The fit of this kit is excellent. Tamiya Thin Cement was used for most of the build and thick CA glue (Bob Smith Industries) was used for smaller parts.

 

After a few sessions of easy modeling, a nicely detailed “peanut scale” T-34 was ready for priming and paint: you know, my favourite part 🙂

Colour and Markings:

 

Mission Model Primers and Paints were used throughout the build. For detailed suggestions on Diluting and Spraying Mission Model Primers and Paints, scroll down to the Technical Notes Section at the end of this article

 

 

All primers and clear coats were applied with an H-S Evolution fitted with a 0.20mm tip.

 

Fine-Line work was done with an H-S Infinity fitted with a 0.20 or 0.15mm tip.

 


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After pre-shading, the model was shot with Mission Dark Olive (faded) that was lightened ~5% with Mission White. For detailed suggestions on Diluting and Spraying Mission Primers and Paints, scroll down to the Technical Notes section at the end of this article.

A note on Mr. Masking Sol R by Mr. Hobby:

Many liquid masks use ammonia as part of the diluent. Use of these types of masks on top of many acrylic paints (also based on ammonia) can lead the modeler to a world of pain, or at least torque him off significantly.

This is not the case with Sol R which can be used over Mission and many other acrylics. Note: The acrylic should be allowed to dry for at least 24 hrs. In addition, it would be best to test Sol R (and any new reagent) over the paint of your choice before putting it on your model 🙂    

Once the turret and hull stripes were shot, with Mission White, the model was given a coat of Mission Semi Gloss in preparation for pigments and washes.

Weathering:

The Jadgpanther, my previous armour build,  was an exercise in multi-color, fine-line airbrushing. In contrast, the single color of the T-34 provided an ideal palette on which to practice new weathering techniques; one of which is the use of rendered artist’s oils as described in the “Tank-Art” series of books by Michael Rinaldi (see below). But first, some “chipping with acrylics.

 

Rendered Artists Oils:

This is a new new technique for me and one that I really enjoy. Briefly, pea-sized dabs of artists oils (Flesh Tone, Yellow Ochre, Vandyke Brown, and Burnt Umber) were placed on a piece of cardboard to allow the heavy oils to leach from the pigments. 

The rendered pigments were then applied to the model as small blotches that were drawn out into the shape of a smear or smudge with an appropriately sized brush moist with Mona Lisa Odorless Thinner.  When dry, the pigments were locked in place with a coat of Mission Semi-Gloss.

The cycle: Rendered Oil–Semi gloss–Rendered Oil–can be used to apply multiple layers (and colors) of oils without the concern of loosing previous layers with sequential blending with thinner.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Additional weathering in the form of dust and smudges were applied with pigments that were then and locked  in place with a coat of Mission Semi-Gloss.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Tracks:

The nicely molded vinyl tracks tracks were first shot with Mission Black Primer. This was followed with a custom “Track Mix” composed of:

60% Mission Standard Rust            

30% Rotbraun

10% Worn Tire

That equates to a ratio of 6:3:1 respectively. This was lightened with a few drops of White for scale effect, diluted, and sprayed as described in the Technical Notes section below.

After the tracks were dry they received a wash of enamel-based AK Light Rust ((AK 046) which was then sealed with a coat of Mission Semi-Gloss. When this was dry, pigments (Vallejo Burnt Umber [73.110] and Vallejo Light Sienna [73.104]) were dabbed on with a short-bristled brush and locked in place with AK Pigment Fixer diluted to ~25% with Mona Lisa Odorless Thinner. After an additional coat of Mission Semi-Gloss, drops of a Dark Brown enamel filter (AK076) were carefully applied with a pin brush for shadows. The track ends were then joined using CA glue (Bob Smith) and the completed tracks maneuvered in place over the wheels. This was made easier by softening the vinyl tracks with a hair dryer.

Droop within the tracks was replicated by first warming the tracks (hair dryer again) then pushing them into place with toothpicks that immobilized them as they cooled. An additional round of weathering with pigments blended the completed tracks with the wheels and hull.

The finish was dulled and blended with a light coat of Mission Flat  

 

 

Conclusion:

Okay, that was a lot of fun 🙂 The Dragon 1/72 T-34 is a nice little kit that comes together quickly with little fuss. I’m starting to like these armour kits. Now, where’s that Dragon Sherman…… 

I gotta go paint some tank parts!

–John

 

 


Technical Notes

Diluting and Spraying Mission Primers:

I dilute Mission Primers 1:1 or 50:50 with Mission Thinner. No Polymix should be added. If it’s a dry or hot day, I’ll add a few drops of Liquitex Flow Aid to lessen tip dry. I usually spray diluted primer at 12-15psi. The size of the model determines the airbrush tip size used but usually between 0.20 to 0.40mm for 1/72, 1/48, and 1/35. I apply the primer first as a dry or tacky coat followed by a wet fill coat.

Diluting and Spraying Mission Paints:

To spray Mission paints I first prepare a solution of Mission Model Thinner to which Missions Polyurethane Mix Additive (Polymix: a flow and leveling agent) has been added to ~10%. I then dilute Mission Models Paints directly into this solution for spraying. Using a pre-mixed solution of Polymix and Thinner allows you to prepare paint dilutions in a much more reproducible way thereby ensuring the resulting mixes will spray in a predictable manner.

If counting drops is how you roll, no worries. Thinner-10 is roughly 1 drop of Polymix to ~10 drops of Thinner. If you prefer to work in ratios Thinner-10 equates to a ratio of Polymix to Thinner of 1:10. I prepare a large volume of Thinner-10 (40ml) and store this in an appropriate bottle for use when painting. Properly stored, Thinner-10 lasts for many months with no issues.

I then dilute Mission Paints with Thinner-10 using the following guidelines:

General Spraying

Dilute 60:40 with Thinner-10. That’s 6 parts Paint to 4 parts Thinner-10. Spray at ~12-15psi.

Fine-Line Spraying

Dilute 50:50 to 40:60 (depending on the job) with Thinner-10. Spray at ~10psi or less.

Modulation (spraying over pre-shading)

Dilute 50:50 to 40:60 with Thinner-10. That’s 1 part Paint to 1 part Thinner-10 and 4 parts to 6 parts Thinner-10, respectively. Spray at ~10-12 psi.

Spraying Mission Metallics:

I dilute Mission metallics 70:30 with Thinner-10. That’s 7 parts metallic paint to 3 parts Thinner-10. I apply diluted metallics as light, over-lapping dry coats. I let the preceding coat coat dry (sometimes aided by a hair dryer) before spraying the next coat. The metallic sheen will develop with successive coats.

Spraying Mission Clear Coats:

Mission Gloss Coat:

Dilute 40:60 with Thinner-10. That’s 4 parts Gloss to 6 parts Thinner-10. Spray at ~12-15psi. I like to build Mission Gloss up slowly using light over-lapping dry coats. Avoid getting too much gloss on the model as puddling and runs can occur.

Mission Flat Coat:

Dilute ~25:75 with Thinner. That’s 1 part Flat to 3 parts Thinner. Spray at ~12-15psi and apply as over-lapping, light, dry coats.

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