Su-122-54 - Newest Member of the T-54/55 Family from MiniArt DN Models Masks For Scale Models

Su-122-54 – Newest Member of the T-54/55 Family from MiniArt

Introduction:

MiniArt projects are often oriented towards interesting and rare vehicles. Their latest – Su-122-54 – is just like that. A self-propelled howitzer that few have heard about. Don’t be fooled by the name: this isn’t the Su-122 from WWII that you all recognize. This is larger vehicle, with bigger gun and different platform.

Su-122-54 is based on T-54 tanks and is built on T-54 platform. If you find it hard to recognize, it is because the wheels spacing is altered and the gap that you see on T-54/55 series is moved backwards. The low silhouette and the big gun makes this Su-122-54 look intimidating and fierce war machine, however it never saw much action in its short career.

Boxart:

Boxart is typical for Interior kits from MiniArt – featuring beautiful artwork depicting a moving vehicle with what resembles to be some massive military exercise, typical for the Soviet Union armed forces during that period. S hare is crossing in front of the vehicle, just to spice up the picture and even though this isn’t an interior kit, the boxing is equal to one.

SU-122-54 MiniArt 37035 review DN Models Masks for Scale Models

The difference, compared to other T-54/55 series from MiniArt is that it looks slightly thinner. And I mean interiored vehicles only here. I mention that because at first look you get a kit that seems like the interior series but it’s not. Not that this is a bad thing. If you ask me, just the contrary. It will speed up the build of this Su-122-54.

Instructions:

Despite the intimidating number of parts that MiniArt usually supply, the instructions are perfectly clear and understandable. They have outer pages that feature the color schemes and the sprue description and those are made from high quality glossy paper. The insides are not from glossy material nor feature colors, but the quality of everything else is kept.

SU-122-54 MiniArt 37035 review DN Models Masks for Scale Models

Once you get through a step and complete a portion of the kit, on the next one it appears in darker shade in general, so to keep the focus on the new elements that are supposed to be installed. That might not sound like much, but it eases the job significantly. And it is also a nice touch.

Each step of the build is clearly understandable, without much text, but not oversimplified either. That doesn’t make the kit easier to build, but it add to the relief a bit. One must know that this is far from what beginners would want to mess with. But that is MiniArt’s way after all.

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Sprues:

We have large number of parts, but considerably less than what we get with an interior kit. The suspension was given the proper attention, the exterior too, so everything is in order with the plastic. There is no compromises with anything and the sub-assemblies are as expected from MiniArt.

The box that I got came a bit smashed, but surprisingly, no parts were damaged on the inside. Everything is packed into one big envelope, so one might expect to see damages. But no. It was nice to see that everything was intact and in order. Nevermind that the envelope is crowded. It was OK.

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That speaks a lot about the new plastic material that MiniArt are using, which is flexible and doesn’t show the troubles that the companies were ill-famous about before. Even the thinnest parts can be bend /to a reasonable amount of course/ without cracking and working with it is now fun.

The abundance of sprues and elements is justified by the separate track links, sub-assemblies of the stowage boxes and suspension and exterior parts, which can satisfy even the most picky modelers in terms of kit quality. That makes the Ukrainian company very competitive and there is hardly any manufacturer as of this day, that can provide enough to compete in terms of detailing. Out of the box, the kit is brilliant.

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Decals and Paint Options:

Decal sheet is relatively small. It features technical stencils in Russian and combination of numbers for the sides of the vehicle. Su-122-54 was used in 50s and 60s and lack of any specific insignia is self-explanatory. The carrier film is barely visible and the decals look thin. The sheet is product of Decograph, a company that MiniArt chose as a supplier for their decal range.

SU-122-54 MiniArt 37035 review DN Models Masks for Scale Models

There are three options included in this kit, which explains the decal size and its contents. All the vehicles are Soviet Army and from the same era – 50s-60s of the 20th century. Two of the vehicles are painted in single-tone camouflage scheme. Khaki green, slightly paler than what we are used to see on Soviet tanks.

The third option is winter camouflage and it represents the most interesting of the three, since a lot can be done over the painting and the weathering of the vehicle. It is unlikely that those vehicles were painted in other than green, so winter camouflage is one thing that can improve the options included and MiniArt wisely used it.

SU-122-54 MiniArt 37035 review DN Models Masks for Scale Models

Of course, due to the lack of pictures and information about this vehicle, most of the realism cannot be confirmed and that gives the modeler a certain opportunity to alter the appearance to match one’s personal taste. After all, only 77 examples of the Su-122-54 were produced, thus playing with the final result is pretty much mandatory for any experience modeler. There is simply nothing else one can rely on building this piece.

SU-122-54 MiniArt 37035 review DN Models Masks for Scale Models

Photo-Etch:

As expected, the photo-etch from MiniArt is extraordinary. It is flexible, thin and most importantly very nicely executed. Especially the meshes. They are fragile and one can hardly believe that the details can be so small. But somehow MiniArt managed to do it.

I would suggest to avoid sanding those, or at least if one insists, it should be done with care. I had my fair share of damaged meshes, mostly due to me being unprepared, so I am giving my two cents here to try and spare you the eventual trouble.

SU-122-54 MiniArt 37035 review DN Models Masks for Scale Models

The rests are straps and some plates holding some of the plastic parts, which is nothing overly interesting, still spicing up the kit just about enough to satisfy the photo-etch fans out there. During the build, every once in a while you have to add PE parts here and there and in the end that adds to the fun of the process.

Conclusion:

This vehicle is a total mystery to me. Probably to many others as well. The only reason I know about it is MiniArt and when I started researching I found some information shared through War Thunder fans, which obviously used it in the gameplay.

Not surprisingly, MiniArt came up with something rare and interesting yet again. The kit is accurate most likely, considering where MiniArt are located and where those 122-54s were used. Researching about it might be a problem, but if you are not that into historical accuracy, one can turn this kit into a brilliant model, knowing what you get OOTB.

Ukrainian model maker widens the T-54 family and this seems to be a long-lasting process, since so many were build and transformed in one way or another. This member of the family is hardly recognizable, yet interesting and even without interior – demanding. It bears all the qualities of a MiniArt kit and it is a must have for any Soviet armor fan.

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SPG 155mm M40 from Tamiya

Tamiya is pushing itself back to the market, slowly but steadily. After their wonderful line of 32nd scale aircraft, 48th scale new tooling Tomcat and new tooling Sherman Easy Eight, they did a slight turn and made an M40 howitzer. It is 155mm howitzer, based on the Sherman tank, and the tooling is new, based on their Easy 8 new tooling from 2016. The E8 kit is superb with the only let down of tracks being vinyl. Tamiya released a vehicle based on the same chassis, using their already wonderful base, to provide with another kit, used mainly in different era - Korean War. Being experienced in building their Shermans, from M51 to Easy Eight, I must say that there is no flaws with those kits. So, there is nothing to wonder, when people are expecting the M40 to be flawless as well. As mentioned above, the vinyl tracks might be a problem for some, but the quality of Tamiya's kit proven, that there are no big issues with those. The great news here are that Tamiya is already releasing an upgrade set. The basic kit - #35351 - features photo-etch set. Although small, Tamiya M40 is in the high-end line already. In order to elevate it even more, Tamiya went further, giving us a Gun barrel set.
Tamiya M40 35351 new tool SPG US dn models gun barrel setpicture is taken from Scalemates.com
The gun barrel set features a wonderful gun barrel and shells. The barrel looks heavy, and it will be eventually tricky to install it and keep the balance of the kit itself. However, Tamiya are made in Japan and I doubt that the Japanese haven't think of a solution to that. Actually, they promised two different set - 12671 and 12671. I cannot tell what is the difference yet, but probably one will be more completed than the other or there will be oriented towards the Japanese and the International markets. The decals that Tamiya uses are kinda thick and we are all aware of it. So DN Models comes to the rescue here. In the shop - www.dnmodels.com - you can find allied stencils, which are pretty much the same as the markings used in Korea. You will find those usefull when it comes down to painting and weathering the vehicle. After all, it is a single-tone camouflage, and there are many tips and tricks to be used to make it shine, none of which are comparable with applying decals over it. All in all - Tamiya suprises again! A straight out of the well-known-path vehicle, just like their Su-76M released this year. This Tamiya M40 a nice add-on to any collection. Especially for howitzer fans like myself, the SPG is great news! Let's see what the aftermarket manufacturers are about to offer us! It is only a matter of time. Few months probably!
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Su-122 Initial Production w/ full Interior from MiniArt

Su-122 is a Soviet self-propelled howitzer and assault gun, based on T-34 platform. 122 comes from the caliber of the gun, which is M-30S howitzer. That vehicle was requested by the Soviet government and Army command, based on the bitter taste that Sturmgeschutz III left with the Russians. They quickly understood, that such vehicle is a key factor in armored warfare, and started asking the designers to provide one. The official production started in late 1942, and continued until summer of 1944, by which time more than 1100 has been built. There were no official variants of the vehicle, but there were some differences in between the production periods, making three sub-versions of Su-122 – Early, Mid and Late production runs. So far, we had a 35th scale option for that SPH from Tamiya. However, the tooling of that kit is old, and obsolete according to the current stream of new and sophisticated kits. Although Tamiya have satisfactory results with their set, especially when It comes down to fit and accuracy, the market demanded a substitute for the Su-122. MiniArt announced their plans of doing one, and spared the public the complexity of the kit that they plan to issue. If you have modeled T-34, you would know, that this is a relatively small tank, and Su-122 is pretty much similar. Although lower in height. So it was a huge surprise when MiniArt announced that their first Su-122 kit will be initial production version with full interior. And by full, they meant “full”. The kit is surprisingly detailed, surprisingly crowded and probably will be a challenge for most of the mid-level modelers, not to mention the newbies to the hobby. It has everything: driving and gunner compartments, engine, armament, transmission and separate track links. Everything is done in a manner not seen before in a scale model kit in 35th, and probably only Meng Model’s kits come close to that. Some of the parts are small, but you shouldn’t have to worry, since MiniArt are using new plastic material for already about an year. It prevents unpleasant cracking of the small and tiny details, and it is flexible enough. Full interior kits are a challenge to be completed, and trust me on this one, this Su-122 will not be any different. It will require time and patience, but you will be very rewarded once you finish it. The tricky part is how you will be able to paint all the details, and this is what I personally find to be the biggest challenge of this kit. Speaking of this – somebody once said: if it’s easy, it isn’t worth it. So, yeah, MiniArt made it worth a lot! Instruction sheet is made from nice and luxurious material, especially the parts where the description of the camouflage schemes are. Everything is in color /where it need to be of course/ and the booklet is pretty thick. Inside there are 6 variants, one captured German and the rest – Soviet vehicles. They are made in collaboration with MIG/Ammo, which guarantees proper colors and knowing MIG, adequate accuracy. In total, the kit features 828 parts, of which 729 are plastic, 4 are clear, 95 are photo-etched. Overall assembly steps does not look intimidating, especially on the outside. MiniArt kept it design relatively simple, cleverly adding options for side panels or hatches to be left aside for showing off the insides of the SPH. This shouldn’t fool you, because the box is huge and crowded, but that is because of the way engineers thought it should be. In conclusion, I first have to add that the kit is first of a series, which will include Mid- and Late- versions of Su-122 and will sent Tamiya into oblivion, at least for the foreseeable future. Also, I have to ad that this kit is not for the faint hearted. You have to know your way around plastic, you have to have time and not rush anything, and some idea of engineering decisions while installing already painted parts /if that is the way you work/. After that being said, I must conclude, that this kit is a state-of-plastic-art piece. It has everything you need in a box, the price is right, the fit /knowing MiniArt/ should be more than decent. Soviet/Russian armor fans, gotta have this for sure, and in my personal opinion, every armor modeler who is interested in “what is the future” of scale modeling subject should have this one. This is poetry in scale, music within plastic. I highly recommend this, you should have it! You can get this kit here: MiniArt 35175 Su-122 Initial Prod. Scroll down for a full video review of that kit.
Thanx to MiniArt for presenting me with such a beautiful kit for review!
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2S3 Akatsiya – Cold War Howitzer from Trumpeter 1:35

2S3 Akatsiya is the answer to the American M109 artillery piece. Its development started in the late 60s, and continued till 1971, when the first examples were accepted into service. It is a tracked vehicle, based on D-20 artillery gun, 152.4mm and its more popular by the name Akatsiya, than 2S3. It can fire up to 4 rounds in minute, which is very slow by the current standards, but 40 years ago it was decent. The vehicle was very maneuverable and gained popularity due to that fact. It saw service in many conflicts, most notable of those being Soviet-Afghan War, Iran-Iraq War, Gulf War, Syrian War and Ukrainian War. It is still in use today, and it is known as reliable and effective artillery piece, despite the fact that there are few newer generations howitzers available. Later versions of 2S3 were modified by the Russians with 155mm gun, new navigation and computers, and are still very popular. In this article, we will take a look at Trumpeter's Early Akatsiya, but have in mind that they have released "Late" one as well. This kit was missing for quite a while, and was very warmly welcomed when it came out in 2013. It was designed the previous year, and as you will see it feature most of the parts required by modelers from a 21st century kit. The box is typical Trumpeter, a bit thin-ish I might add, for that vehicle. It containes 530+ parts, and two different camo schemes. Along the goodies, are 30 sprues with individual track links, photo-etch set and very clean cast parts with a lot of details. All the welding marks are there, alongside many handles and rivets, which are quite realistic. Although at first it looks like a dull project in general, once built, the 2S3 is surprisingly good looking vehicle. The attention to detail that Trumpeter applied is visible on almost every part. Wheels are one good example for that. The threads and the hubs are looking superb, not too overdone, nor too simplified. Tracks as I mentioned above, are within 30 sprues, which are each shaped like a protective cage, and it is visible that the links are clickable. That eliminates the need of aftermarket tracks which usually is the biggest spend for a armor kit, sometimes even exceeding the price of the model itself. Trumpeter have proven their quality tracks, and I must say, that my experience, especially with their Su-122 and Komintern left me very satisfied with the results. As with them, the plastic material is brown, and the only difference I see here is that these promises to be more flexible because of the way they were engineered. The gun barrel is two halves, which is a bit of a let down. Trumpeter have shown before that they can do better. The detail there is not bad, but I would go for an aftermarket option. There is one, but I am not sure about the availability, depending on where you're located on the planet. Photo-etch and the decals are nothing special or major, but with Trumpeter they are always there. That is important. Photo etch is a bit thick, and Voyager might come handy here with their photo-etch set for the fenders and other add ons. The decals have all the numbers from 1 till 9, including zeros, and also the old USSR logos. They are two camo schemes - parade one and three tone camo, but the decals provide you with a lot more if you have some fantasy and picture sources. Overall, this will build into wonderful kit, and can be done OOTB, which makes it a good investment. The size is more than I expected, and especially with those separate track links and the attention to the minor details, Trumpeter won me. I choose the old Akatsiya because it is more widely used and gives you more options for camouflages, weathering and damages. However if you want, you can always get the Late version, as well as the Gvozdika, which is based on another chassis. Trumpeter made those kit too. I find this kit highly attractive, and highly recommended! You can get this kit here: 2S3 Akatsiya from Trumpeter 1/35 - Early version
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2S19 Msta-S 152mm Russian Self-Propelled Howitzer

2S19 Msta-S is a modern Russian Self-Propelled howitzer named after a Russian river, an important water route, part of the connecting route between Baltic and Black seas in the not-so-distant past. The vehicle itself is probably named after it, because it is a connection between the missing links in the modern Russian armor, and being a very important part of the land systems itself. As an artillery piece is sits right next to Panzerhaubitze PzH2000, PLZ 05, K9 Thunder and latest versions of Paladin. Especially the improved modern versions of 2S19. It also adds-on a segment of specific capabilities in the line of very wide range of systems used by the Russian Army like TOS-1A Buratino, BM-21 Grad and BM-30 Smerch. Msta-S is based on T-80 tank hull, but fitted with T-72 Engine. Sort of a hybrid in between those two vehicles, it started as a project back in the 80s, under code name Obyekt 316 or Ferma. It entered service is 1989, but first saw action in Second Chechen War 10 years later. It was also used in 2014 War in Donbass, by both sides. Separatists having only one captured, against Ukrainian Army who have it in service. Allegedly. It is a successor of 2S3 Akatsya Self-propelled artillery howitzer, and it is produced by Uraltransmash. 2S19 is used by Azerbaijan, Belarus, Ethiopia, Georgia, Ukraine, Venezuela, Morocco and of course - Russia. Recently it gained popularity with the show that it pulled off at the RAE 2013 and 2015, where splinter camo schemes were shown on both old and improved versions of Msta. Some demo firings were shown to the public, promoting this vehicle to potential new buyers. In 2013, Trumpeter released 35th scale 2S19 SPH #05574. The kit features one thousand /1000+!!/ parts and it is 34cm long once built. Everything is packed in their well-known boxes with green-blue-ish color and it is approximately the same size as their T-62/T-72 series of kits. Thousand parts might sound scary for inexperienced modelers, however it isn't. Trumpeter kits are really close as an idea to Tamiya, and they are more or less shake-and-bake thing. Yes, in this particular case this is not exactly right, but with minor skills and eventually some help, even the less experienced modeler can cope with that howitzer. For intermediate to advanced ones, it is a jewel. It presents various opportunities for improvements, weathering and camouflage schemes. The box is stashed, tracks are separate links on different sprues made from brown plastic. There are two PE sheets and a metal tow cable. Detail is second to none and I doubt that any company could've done it better. In 2016 Zvezda announced that they will release their own tooling of Msta-S, but it is not yet clear when and what it will be exactly. So for the moment, the only available choice is Trumpeter 05574 and it is not a bad one at all! Maybe, and I am speculating here - Trumpeter evaluated a museum article, and in reality it is not exactly the same as the operational Msta-S vehicles. But this is only my thoughts exposed here. They are based on the very similar camouflage presented in the kit, which resembles the one in their artillery museum, and not that of a service vehicles. However, the one in the St. Petersburg museum might be exactly matching the operational 2S19, so again - that is only my thoughts shared here. The sprues are full with minor parts and they are molded very clearly. At first glance, the only let down seen is the two piece gun barrel, and its two piece muzzle brake. Experts here and there mention, that it is a bit shorter than it should be. This is switchable for an aftermarket one from Orange Hobby or Magic Models. Trumpeter Msta-S is doable with their own barrel of course, but if you don't like sanding and putty, and you are measuring every millimeter,  metal gun barrel might be the way to go. It is not that expensive and adds realism to the kit. Detail of the Photo-Etch set is at high level, although compared to Meng Model or MiniArt for example, it is thicker and a bit chunky-looking. But they are second to none in that matter, so it is normal to have PE parts which are not exactly perfect in a Trumpeter kit. Still very good though. Photo-etch meshes are actually quite nice. They are comparable with the ones from the competitors mentioned above. The ones that looks thick to me are the parts that go on the top of the turret, but their overall idea is to look like that, so besides the thickness of the metal sheet itself, they are OK too. The suspension of Msta-S is a complex one in real life. There are shock absorbers which add additional stability when driving on a road and preventing the useless movement of the howitzer in its working condition. The corrugation of those parts is particularly nice, and it's a shame that they are somewhat hidden once everything is built. Wheels are also threaded pretty nicely and in general, the suspension detail is very good. The fenders have plenty of stowage boxes, which are not only molded perfectly, but they have additional handles from the photo etch sheets which adds more spice to the meal. I can guarantee that this will play with the nerves of non-patient modelers like myself, but in the end it will worth it. Especially before priming, the kit looks quite stunning. Tracks are made from 174 parts in total for both lengths and there is a tool-like molded plastic which helps you with the alignment of the track length. This was something that I first saw with Meng kits, but this molding was designed in 2012 and I am not sure which of those companies came up with it first. The turret also have some photo etch material over it. Very pleasantly looking is the detail over it - the rivets, the doors and the handles. Photo etch over the top also makes it pretty stunning once built before priming. The thing that seems intimidating is the separate conveyor for the ground ammo loading which is located in the back of the vehicle. It requires attention because there are several sub-assemblies and they include small parts, alignment and some PE too. Other than that, everything on the top part seems easy and straight forward. There are some complications with the anti-aircraft gun assembly /at least for me/ but they are there for every Russian tank with that. The camo schemes presented in the kit are two. There is one which is simple dark green, Russian Army logo and white number "341". That is pretty much all I can tell about it. The second one is Russian Army again, but this time modern colors, with sandy brown, light green and black. This is one more attractive option, although as I mentioned above, the camouflage with the soft edges of the paint does not seem like the one seen on the BMP-3s, T-90s and other modern vehicles in the Russian army. Whatever the case is, there are options for you to buy a camouflage masks set for a regular modern colors version from DN Models. That is standard modern Russian Army from the late 2000s, and early 2010s. In addition to that, the splinter camo showed on the last couple RAEs - on the T-90s, BMPTs and 2S19s is also available as a mask set as well. It is suitable for both: this version and the later version of Msta-S /2S19M2/. Depending on their final reveal, it will eventually fit the Zvezda kit too. Splinter camo scheme by itself, no matter on Msta or Terminator is very very attractive one, and DN Models wouldn't miss the opportunity to provide the modelers with that helping tool. In conclusion, I must say that this is a superb kit, with wonderful tooling. Suspension is great, the turret is complex enough to satisfy the pretentious modelers too. Tracks are very nice, and even though there are aftermarket sets from Trumpeter and other companies, I would still stick to the kit ones. The only let down is the gun barrel which might be a bit shorter than it has to be and the fact that is two halfs instead of one whole piece. That can be replaced with a metal one for sure. Overall I recommend this kit to any Russian Army collector or howitzer lover like myself. Honestly, I don't believe that Zvezda will pull off something much better if any at all. The kit worth every dime! Highly recommended! You can get this kit here: Trumpeter 2S19 Msta-S 152mm SPH Splinter camo mask set: RAE 2013 / RAE 2015 2S19s Modern Russian Army camo: 2S19 camouflage Modern Russian Army Check out the video unboxing too: https://youtu.be/aaFE1grgEG0  
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PZH 2000 Howitzer in F.C. Schalke 04 demo colors

PZH 2000 Howitzer is considered by many to be the best howitzer in the modern armor world. It is newer than many of its competitors and it is German - which guarantees its quality more or less. PZH 2000 is famous for his very high rate of fire - 10 to 13 rounds per minute and in between those two numbers stays only the heat. Even if it is 10 per minute it is extremely high rate for a howitzer with that caliber - 155mm. It is used by the armed forces of Italy, Netherlands, Lithuania, Greece, Qatar, Croatia and Germany and it is a main option for the obsolete versions of M109 in many other NATO countries. Panzerhaubitze 2000 is a product of Rheinmetall and Krauss-Maffei Wegmann. Again - names that stood over time and scream "quality". The kit for this particular project is from Meng Model, who have released two options on the market in 2014 and 2015. The second one is with additional armor and won't be our point of interest here. The first one is the one that it is used for the build and it is the correct one needed. The scale model kit itself is very accurate, with active suspension, movable tracks, metal gun barrel, photo-etch and many bells and whistles, typical for 21st century scale model kit. There is a substitute for it, in the face of Revell old-ish PZH-2000, which is cheaper and not so up-to-date. It is till usable, but many will pass on that because Meng Model is superior on many different levels. Meng is easy to be build and with great fit and realism. This is what we all aim for after all. The camo scheme is bright blue with white logos, soccer balls and stars all around it. It is dedicated to F.C. Schalke 04, one of the most famous and oldest German Football /soccer/ clubs. They have won seven German Championships and one UEFA Cup throughout their career, and are one of the most fan-devoted and fan-oriented clubs on the planet. The club has 140,000 members, making it the second-largest sports club in Germany and the sixth-largest sports club in the world in terms of membership. Ain't that a fan base?!? No wonder that somebody decided to paint one big gun in the colors of the club. It is fairly easily applicable over a 35th scale Panzerhaubitze 2000, when using DN Models mask set for it. It is designed for both Revell and Meng kits and are relatively easy to use. The only problem that might arise for un-experienced modelers are the thin lines between the ball's spots which should be made by hand, but nothing un-doable after all. The blue of the FC Schalke 04 is not a color that can easily be found in the color tables of Vallejo, Tamiya or MIG, however you can mix it by yourself using different paints from all of the brands available, or use some of the sci-fi colors. As a reference, the web is full with Schalke pictures, and it won't be a problem. Overall the project is relatively easy one, considering the minimal weathering of the tank and the availability of the mask set. The only challenge might be to get the proper shade of the blue, but even that is nothing that cannot be solved. Having in mind that the PZH 2000 is rather big even in 35th scale, it promises to be very attractive kit once finished, especially placed amongst dark, muddy and beaten armored vehicles in the same category and scale. A definite show-stopper! Thanx to my friend Michael for his pictures and will to build that kit as a test bed for DN Models F.C. Schalke 04 set. Take a look at the video he made, and take a closer look at his channel, it is definitely worth it!
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35.5cm Haubitze M.1 from Soar Art Workshop

35.5cm Haubitze M.1 was a German Heavy Siege howitzer which saw service between 1939 and 1945. It was developed by Rheinmetall before the Second World War to meet the army requirements for such a huge siege weapon. Total of eight 35.5cm Haubitze M.1 were produced during the war and they saw service in France and at the Eastern Front of course. It weighted 75 000kgs and the barrel was longer than 8m. The shell weight was slightly less than 600kg, so you get the idea what a beast we are talking here. Not much information about this weapon is left, and since siege howitzers are not usually war movie stars, it is doubtful that we can find plenty. Soar Art Workshop did it again with 35.5cm Haubitze M.1. They did it a while back with their humongous Dora in 35th scale, and now they are adding another beast to their line. Although smaller in size, this thing will be huge once built in 35th scale. The box is said to be around 50cm by 35cm by 10cm which is quite a packing. It is also mentioned that the Japanese company will add projectiles inside /probably metal ones/ as well as real springs for the movable parts of the kit. It is very freshly out, so it is not yet exactly clear what we will be getting. It is clear that the instruction booklet is A4 and made from great material, featuring around 30 pages. It is also certain that the moldings will be of a great Japanese quality. Second to none. The price seems to be high, above 100 Euros per kit, but with that size of the box you can imagine what we are dealing with here. Also, having in mind their enormous Dora kit, I doubt that Soar Art will give us something small anytime in the future. The release of this kit is great news because we are having a lot of movement on the howitzer market lately, especially with Takom's kits. Somehow armor modeling developed itself into tractor, artillery,truck and what-not modeling, which is good. I bet that there are a lot of fans of howitzers, and Soar Art thought about them with 35.5cm Haubitze M.1. More info about this kit will be published as soon as possible.
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China’s Big Gun – PLZ-05 from Meng Model

China's ambitions to become a world power are starting to be acknowledged by all, and that include model making companies. Being a Hong Kong company, Meng Model is not exactly what you would call "Chinese company", although on paper is exactly what it is. And me, not being their most devoted fan, was pretty skeptic when they announced a "new release", again promised to be very interesting and unusual. Then they released this kit. And slammed my expectations to the wall. This is not only rare vehicle, but modern, obscured in secrecy, unpopular /in the news and videos/ and most importantly - unexpected from a modeling company. I've said pretty much all I think in the video below, and here I will try to mention what I missed to say. First is the history of it. China begun developing this howitzer in the late 90s, or at least it is believed so. According to different sources, the first prototype was completed in 2003, and the People's Liberation Army of China begun accepting it into service in 2007. Others claim that it was accepted in 2009, but that really doesn't matter, as long as we know that now it is in active service.  It is developed by Norinco company as a successor to PLZ-45 which have some reputation and it is used by several armies around the World. Little is known about its combat experience, although it was used in local conflicts several times. Improved variant of PLZ-45 is the vehicle of our interest here, and unfortunately we know little about it. It is believed to be driven by 800-1000HP diesel engine, depending on the modification, maybe, but just maybe made by Deutz. The main gun is 155mm, with a barrel lenght caliber 52 or 55. Firing range is aboce 50km, believed to be 53km. It is a tracked vehicle with torsion bar suspension and with some armor, but not heavy one. Eventually to provide protection from small arms and battlefield shrapnels. The total weight of it is supposed to be 35 000kg. The turret resembles the one of 2S19 MSTA, and some claim that the semi-automatic ammunition loading system is copied from it too. It is claimed that there is an export and domestic market version which differ one from another. The kit is simple, which is not typical for Meng Model, but I mos' def' dig that!! It features goodies as a metal gun barrel, active suspension, 3 camo schemes, clear parts and nice decals. Being one of my favorite subjects, the Self-propelled howitzers were somewhat dull subjects up until last couple of years. Now Meng gave us this and alongside with PZH 2000 /2 versions/ and its AUF 1, the filled the gap that many wanted filled. I hope you will enjoy the video, and feel free to ask me whatever question about it anytime! You can get this kit here: Meng PLZ05
Picture of the real vehicle in the article is taken from ausairpower site
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Tank destroyer on Mars – Jagdtiger 1/35

The kit is Tamiya ,which builds up perfectly. There are two sets of tracks opted - rubber ones and plastic ones. I used the plastic ones, since they are curved perfectly, and I wanted my tank to appears like its moving with traveling speed, which meant that the track should be with some kind of tension on it.
The three tone camo is made with .3 airbrush - free hand. The spots are made with brush 5/0 and with diluted Tamiya and Gunze-Sangyo paints by hand. The colors are not the ones used on the camo lines, but some shades closer to that in order to show a bit more contrast on the vehicle.
There are no fenders, since every Jagdtiger I've heard about or saw on pictures, had no fenders on it once on the field. I have no clue, if they removed them on purpose or they damaged the tank along the way, but that is how it was. Or at least on the pictures I saw.
There is an option that Tamiya offers - with full interior, which unfortunately is not included in the kit itself.
There are some PE parts, as well as movable barrel. Not much to deal with, but enough I guess.
The model can be easily improved with Friul metal tracks and/or with Photo-etched aftermarket sets from other companies. Since by the time I started it, I had nothing in my stash for that particular tank /in terms of aftermarket/, I decided to use camo scheme which is more attractive, instead of making it with a lot of additional stuff. Me personally, I prefer to see a more colorful and well painted model, instead of a regular vehicle with tons of small details and stuff you hardly see. But again - that's me.
Weathering is done mostly with oil paints, different graphyte pencils, and washes and filters made by myself. I avoided MIG or AK Interactive in order to make the final result more close to what I had in mind - more colorful scheme, and not so much beaten up vehicle.
These tank killers were made sometime late during the war, which gave me the idea that the newer it look - the better.
Tank itself is one of the biggest AFV items I've ever build. Its size makes it attractive as much as the camouflage. Bigger size usually gives options for bigger battle damages, but of course, as I mentioned above - not in this case. Besides, bigger is better. Always.
The red-ish look of the tracks is other thing that I got as an idea only by accident. Just before starting this project I went hiking in a mountain 200 miles from my home and I noted pines very close in appearance to those that are shown on the boxart. Then I noted that the soil is kinda red, and I got some of it in my bottle of water that I always bring in my backpack. From the color of that sample I got the basic dirt color which I made from pastels and pigments. So even if to some it might appear very red, I saw that kind of a dirt in real life and I liked it so much that I decided to use it on my model.
The other thing I noted is that while I was hiking only my boots were red and the dust didn't covered my upper clothes or backpack. This is not the way it usually happens - even my hat becomes dusty after couple of hours on an outdoor wildlife journey. Well, not that time. However, I used this trick as well - I left the upper turret relatively clean.
For the diorama pad I tried to create scaled down road similar to the one I've walked. I didn't had that much of scaled down trees in stash as there were on the real road but I think it is enough. In the other way I guess it would've been harder to look at the model. It probably would appeared more like some kinda of a forest diorama instead of a tank dio /or vignette/ with couple of finishing touches -bushes or pines or whatever else.
I enjoyed building that model very much for couple of reasons. First, it is Tamiya and their models are always a pleasure to work with. Second, the camo scheme requires free-hand experience with the airbrush, and I find that to be the best part of painting and maybe of the modeling process itself. And last, but not least, German late-war Jagd- vehicles are one of my favorites. They are huge and they apparently were inspirational for all the future AFV industry. And even I didn't like Jagdtiger that much at the beginning, well - at the end it became my favorite Tank killer.
Hope that you like the finished product!
 
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1/35 M109A2 Doher – AFV Club + Legend

This item was one of my most challenging builds since I first touched a model. Not only because it features Legend Productions Resin conversion set but because the weathering is specific, and the model was a commission built for a guy, who really knows how it must look.
The kit used was AFV Club M109A2 howitzer, which is widely known, and very warm welcomed. It has tons of small pieces, but the final result is worth the hassle.  Additionally to that, I got Bison Decals, Legend Productions Doher Conversion set and AFV Club tracks. Last thing wasn't the best choice, since Friul tracks are way more effective, and they took just about same effort to be built. On the sides of the Doher, there are rails, were crates, backpacks and more stuff are attached. Those rails were the most difficult part of the whole project. They are photo-etched parts which are attached from one side to the hull, and on the other, they have resin parts. Besides, each rail has four attaching points, and each side has two aligned rails. Quite a measuring, I assure you!
Even with that, I finished the model for 3 weeks. The most time consuming were the tracks. As I've said before, Friul tracks is the best way to go. They need different weathering and assembly techniques, but on the other side, plastic tracks from AFV Club wasn't that much better then the vinyl ones supplied in the kit, nor as a detail or as a realism. As far as I am concerned, if I am gonna change the tracks of anything from this project on, it would be only with metal parts. They have weight and give unmatched look to the finished model.
Upon completion of the model itself I got onto the base pad and a booklet, which were meant to be a present for the future owner. I hire professional designer to make the book, took some in-process pictures of the build and combined them with pictures of the real deal. I ordered dark frame, and inside a placed the pre-cut diorama pad. I replicated a street, where concrete barriers and tripods are placed. Since the model and the pad was about to travel 6000 miles I wanted to keep it simple.
Booklet and the pad before packing and shipping
This is how it should look with tripods and concrete barriers on
I scratch built the concrete barriers and covered them with plaster which I later dented to make the look over used. The tripods are also scratch built. They aren't attached to the pad, so many different settings are possible. There is enough place for the model too.
The letters on the side match the booklet's
You can imagine the pad with the howitzer on it, but unfortunately I don't have pictures of them together. They were shipped at different times, and the owner didn't wanted to wait, since he liked his new model very much. He has quite large collection of models, and I am proud that some of my works are in his possession. So, the final result is - fully movable turret, movable barrel, diorama pad and a 14 page booklet with info about the whole build and the real thing. The new owner loves it! Me too. Thank you for watching, I hope you liked my work too!
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