I had heard very good things about this kit and wanted to an SPG. How it turned into what it did I have no idea. I think not realizing why we make some of our modeling decisions is a sign a Advanced Modelers Syndrome (AMS). I think it actually started when I decided to use some PE fenders. Then I saw one of the upper armors set and it all just went crazy.
Having seen several built up examples the kit is up to Dragon's usual standard being quite well detailed. How much did O gain by doing all of this? Of course there is a lot of improvement but it turned into more of "see if I can do it" thing since I had never used PE so extensively.
Because some of the hatches and doors would be open, scratch built details were added to the drivers compartment and the engine compartment.
The kit comes with the engine and transmission which were detailed with wiring and cables.
The build started at the page 1 of the kit instruction sheet with the lower hull, suspension and road wheels and at the same time ended anything that resembled "out of the box". The steps were generally followed in order. The difference being that many of the parts had to be constructed from brass before proceeding.
The photo etch began with sections of the hull. A shim was needed under the edge of the brass to compensate for the slight difference in thickness form the original plastic parts.. The triangular notches for the kit fenders, above the front of the 1st leaf spring, had to be filled.
This section should give you a feel for the general order of steps and how the sub-assemblies were put together. Also you can get an idea of when the "what do I paint when" decisions were made.
The final mock up before painting the exterior
to get to
The most tedious part of the entire build was without a doubt installing all the bolt heads. In the top right photo you can see a few of the individual bolts heads that needed to be placed into pre-drilled holes in most of the exterior brass. The hobby knife gives a idea of how tiny they are. The left side of the fighting compartment in this photo alone has about 145 bolts.
Several different ways of soldering and gluing were tried without success. I ended up doing the following. Each blot was picked up with a piece of rolled tape, as I describe in the Add 3-D to PE section in Tools and Tips, and placed in a hole. After a straight line section was filled I put a metal ruler on the line of bolts top hold them in place and carefully flipped the whole thing over. Now I am looking at the tiny bolts shafts sticking up out of the holes. a tiny drop of thin CA glue was placed on each one and allowed to seep into the holes. After the glue set any excess was cleaned off of both sides with a wire wheel chocked in my Dremel. A few popped out and had to be redone but this was the fastest way I came up with.
Most areas have pre-drilled strips that are installed on the back side of the armor plate. These were added, in the places where hey would be visible, after the 1st glue clean up was done. They fit perfectly over the exposed studs and were glued with thin CA in the same manner as before and cleaned up with the wire wheel.
The vehicle is going to have a winter white wash color scheme. The first thing to do was paint the exterior Tamiya flat white. An enamel filter, a 95/5 mix of thinner to paint, was mixed making a muddy color of some Italian Sand with a touch of Raw Umber and Burnt Sienna. A few light coat were sprayed over the entire surface. After it had dried a 1/2" wide flat brush with mineral sprints that was more than damp but not dripping wet was used to pull down the filter to make a streaky appearance.
After the tires are chunked up a bit, the road wheels are painted white they are mounted on a Dremel using the plastic tubes that are the handle part of cotton swabs. This can be bent a little to get the wheel to spin true. Some thinned Tamiya NATO Black is loaded into a soft pointed brush. This is touched to the slowly spinning wheel. Adjusting the pressure can get the brush to run just along the raised edge for the rim. Looks great and all the wheels are painted in just a few minutes.
The wheels are given a coat of raw umber artist oil paint. I use a flat stiff brush that is clean and dry to remove and blend the paint over the wheel. As the brush loads up, wipe it on a dry paper towel to get some of the pint out of the bristles. Usually, after the and cleaning on the paper towel there is enough pint that stays in the bristles that no much more happens. If I feel that more needs to come off I take a second brush and repeat the process. A paper towel barely damp with mineral spirits is wiped lightly over the surface removing paint from the high spots for contrasts. King of like a reverse dry brush. This give nice base for whatever weathering the wheels will get to fit in with the overall look the model will have.
Working in small sections, the same process described above was used on the vehicle. At this point I was kind of focus on what I planned to do next for the weathering and my head got out of picture taking mode. It consisted of MIG pigments, sludge washes, and pin washes. Some areas got several applications of the different components. A stiff dry brush with white paint that was almost completely wiped off on a paper towel was used to kind of scrub the open areas of the vehicle to lighten them a bit and a final dry brush of white to hit the high spots for the raised detail to pop out a little.