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The Weathering Special - How to Paint 1:72 Military Vehicles

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Oh Lord, I’ve died and gone to Heaven. A whole book dedicated to painting and weathering 1/72 armor. If you have misspent your life building armor in pipefitters scale, AKA 1/35, you should reject the Dark Side and come over to the Light side, we have milk and cookies. So let’s talk small scale advantages, do you have any idea of how many years it takes to run out of display space for 1/72 armor kits? So far I’ve been cranking them out for around 50 years. Still got display space. I should point out that “cranking them out” is a relative term. Sometimes the crank turns slowly, sometimes, a little faster. Any jokes about being cranky and you lose a finger. I cut my teeth on Airfix 1/76th kits and rode the wave of new kits from Fujimi, Hasegawa and Nitto into the 70’s. As a career Soldier, I could build tons of small scale armor and pack them in a few large cookie tins and move them every few years with hardly more than the occasional broken antenna and gun tube. I could always write it off as battle damage. They don’t take up a lot of build space either; half my bench is taken up by six in progress 1/35 kits. The other half by sixteen 1/72 scale kits. That gives you an idea of not only the space advantage, but also my total lack of discipline and inability to “oh look! a new Churchill”… um, focus. Anyway, getting back to my point, we are truly living in a golden age of small scale armor. For some reason, small scale armor builders harbor a Rodney Dangerfield attitude and it’s nice to get a little love from the modelling press.

The latest Weathering Magazine special is a large format softcover with some really nice graphics, sharp color photos with close up detail and informative captions. The translation in this volume is better than previous products from the Spanish Press. In addition to translators, they are using several native English speakers to provide corrections. That said there are still a few burps here and there, but nothing to get bent over. It goes without saying that Mig products are given pride of place, as this is a house magazine, but the techniques are truly product agnostic, so you can substitute whatever products you have littering your build space. My desk is covered by what looks like a zombie paint army, so I grab whatever comes to hand and try out the techniques with whatever is handy. I mean, come on, it’s 1/72 scale, no one’s probably even going to be able to see anything that small. So one thing I found interesting at the beginning of the book, they call 1/72 “The scale of the Knights”. In my experience, it’s always been the “scale of the braille”, or as we cognoscenti call it “the one true scale”. Not sure where this whole “knight” thing comes from, although I did spend the better part of a “knight” trying to build an Ace BRDM once. I’m better now.

The book is broken down into seven builds covering WWII and modern. The first is a scrapyard T-72A that has, as we say, seen better days. This is an Alex Clark build which you have probably seen before in other publications. He is immensely talented and he turns the Revell kit into a veritable meisterwerk of forlorn metal. His step by step weathering techniques are very helpful and there are a few photos interspersed in the article of actual rusted T-72 parts. If you like to build your kits with that distressed and rusted look, this will be right in your wheelhouse. The next one up in the batting order is an Afrika Korps Panzer Mark IVD. God only knows whose kit this is, as the manufacturer is not mentioned, although I surmise it is Revell. The main technique shown here is showing a worn desert paint job. The model represents a tank shipped over in panzer grey and repainted in theater. The model is then weathered using a variety of techniques to get that worn and faded look. The next article is by Mig using the S-Model BMD. Just a note about S-Model, these are very nicely detailed low parts count kits, although they do have a small PE fret included. These are sweet kits with great detail and, as Mig shows, really clean up well with a little TLC. The model depicted is from the current Ukraine Unpleasantness, and is a great step by step tutorial of the painting and weathering process.

Keeping with the modern armor thread is a Dragon USMC M1A1 from OIF 1 and a derelict Ace Type 59. What I like about this article is that the author did his homework on the different materials used to build the Abrams. Finally, someone is correctly depicting Abrams fenders that show aluminum under scratches and not a lick of rust. I also like that he modeled the Ace kit upside down, he probably saved a pound of filler by just filling and sanding the bottom. There’s a nice example of painting stowage on the tank, but I caution readers not to follow his example – you have to be able to fight the tank, which means seeing out the periscopes when buttoned up and being able to fire the turret machine guns backwards. I’m also showing a yellow card for lack of realism in having a crewman outside the vehicle with all of the hatches closed. It don’t work that way in combat zone my little babushkas. Ya gotta be able to get back inside in a hurry and none of them open from the outside when closed. Just a little note on the Combat Identification Panels (CIP), the brackets and mounts are all painted sand, unlike the author, who painted the brackets and mounts green. They come in a kit and are all in one color (although the kits come in sand, green and brown, all the contents of each kit are the same color). Bad luck that the author got a reviewer with intimate experience with the Abrams family and the CIP system. But hey, the weathering is nice.

The rest of the articles cover a nice variety of vehicles and methods, a Zvezda Tiger I, a TOXSO SCUD-D, which is way cool, and a Panzer ‘46 E-75 painting using the modulation technique. Frankly, this one does not look good, the weathering looks over the top and sloppy, and it does not look good in the close up photographs. That’s really the only major build burp in this product. The last piece is a Trumpeter T-34/85 in a three color scheme with that classic beat up, “we don’t care, we’re Russian” look.

Overall, this is a good product that I would recommend for the beginning and intermediate small scale armor builder interested in improving his or her painting and weathering techniques. If you are 1/35 scale armor modeler, come take a peek at the possibilities of 1/72 scale. I won’t tell anyone you looked, honest.

I purchased my copy from Last Cavalry at www.lastcavalry.com