I’ve been really busy supervising Trainee Funker, but I do get the occasional moment to look at my hobbies too. I’m pleased to report that, with the glorious sunny & warm Spring weather yesterday (and with Trainee Funker using his free time to nap), I finished the UM Models/UniModels SU-85s I’ve been working on for some time.

Here they are, with the one I completed some months ago on the left side facing right, and the other four I completed yesterday in the middle and on the right side, facing left:  . Detail of the company commander’s vehicle:  . Details of the muddiest vehicle – but it gets far muddier on the Eastern Front:  . A few of the vehicles on a different angle:  . An aerial view:  – it helps bring out the detail courtesy of the PE/photoetched brass grill on the back of each vehicle. Here’s the company commander’s tank again:  just to show the proper colour that I used (Citadel’s Catachan Green) – and again to show the side in the shade:  .

I’m glad they are finished. I especially found the roadwheels troublesome, both during assembly and painting. Having real rubber may be authentic, but it’s only authentic if no accidents happen to them like glue drips on them or paint splashes on them. If those happen, it’s all wasted, because then you have to paint the whole black rubber tyre black to cover up your mistakes.

I still like UM kits – I think they are pretty detailed and they do cover some creations no-one else covers. But any future purchases by me will exclude kits involving real rubber tyres wherever possible.

UM’s SU-85 and Dragon’s 251/10’s:  .

The SU-85:  . The 251/10’s:  and .

The 251/10 cannons were more difficult to assemble than the instructions suggested they should be. They required some carving and filing to get the barrels to properly fit through the gun shields.

The remaining 4 SU-85’s (making a company in total) have finished assembly and are now just awaiting painting.

The instructions are straightforward enough:  . The gun should be able to be raised and lowered from horizontal. Hence why they advise not to glue the centre part.

There are two lower ridges that stop the gun being lowered too far. Fair enough, but on this kit, they are a problem. Here’s the ridge on one side of the ball mounting:  and here’s the other  – it’s that ridge immediately after the curve section, in the middle of each photo. When these two halves are joined together, you can see the ridges towards the bottom of the ball mounting:  – right there above my thumb. Oh, you can also see that the top part is misaligned! That’s been the same on all five kits. It needs trimming.

Now, the problem with those two ridges is that they prevent the gun bracket being glued onto that moving part – all the parts just can’t fit, nor do they permit any movement of the gun! So, the instructions are basically wrong in regards to intent at this stage. To get the gun to fit into place at all, let alone at a horizontal or other angle, those two ridges have to go

So, trim those ridges off before letting any glue get near this part of the kit – I simply removed them using a scalpel, like so:  ; now, the ball mounting halves (with the moving bit in the middle which you glue the gun and gun shield to) can actually be glued together. Now you’re getting somewhere:  – just remember that when the glue has properly set, you need to trim off that misaligned top part so it matches. You can glue the assembled ball mounting into place now:  and you need to use some extra glue because fit of the ball mounting into the hull is not great:  – why isn’t that ball mounting uniform at the rear???!!! You could putty that, but you might do better with a scalpel or by using some extra glue. i’m a wargamer, so, I have ignored it if the two halves looked OK.

The kit itself looks the part and has some great detail – but test-fittings sans glue really are necessary at some points, just to make sure you can actually get the kit to agree with its own assembly instructions.

 

My revised order of assembly has helped correct one set of part fit issues with the UniModels SU-85 (СУ-85) kits currently on the table, but I felt like I came close to problems with a different part of the model. This time, it was at the rear  of one of the five units and is visible for the left vehicle in this photo:  – the vehicle on the right is to show the better fit. A big gap between the superstructure and the hull proper. So, out came the Tamiya putty to fill the gaping gap:  – and there was shrinkage of putty, so I had to apply another coat too. I’ll scrape off the excess where possible, but some of those bolts/rivets are now lost under putty, so I’ll have to disguise all the putty and fixes with a very thick coat of mud – quite acceptable, given what Russian roads where like in Spring and Autumn.

Looking elsewhere on these kits, my revised assembly steps solved most of the previously-mentioned superstructure fit problems, except in this instance:  – so some scalpel and nailfile work was needed to get that glacis plate to slide smoothly into place.

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Two piece mudguards that don’t have proper anchor points/fit grooves don’t help either:  and that can lead to me using glue as putty to try to lessen the gaps made by the mudguards not sitting flatly and not being in total alignment, as you can see here where superstructure meets mudguard:  . Hmmmm.

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The 251/10’s are coming along well:  .

 

I’ve completed the major stages of assembly of UniModel’s 1/72 scale SU-85 (or, if you are Russian, 333 UM 1/72 Самоходная артиллерийская установка СУ-85):   . It’s a well-detailed kit, but I think there must be better ways to actually assemble the kit than the way they suggest on the instruction sheet. Since this is the first of a company of 5 that I’m assembling, I’ll assemble the other 4 in a different way. The reason for wanting to do it differently is that, having followed their instructions, part fit of the superstructure to the hull was poor – out came the nail files and there was a lot of filing in order to get part fit, let alone accurate part fit. Not good. I’m reminded of some of the grizzles with assembly I had with the Marder III (h)’s of theirs that I did 4-5 years ago. So, we’ll see how the rest of them go. This one isn’t too bad, but it certainly isn’t going to be the company commander’s vehicle.

Also, I completed the Pegasus Hobbies 1/72 scale Russian Log house – Two storey (Large Karilian region izba) that I won as part of a number of job lots on eBay three years back. Mine looks like this from the front:  and like this at the rear: . It’s to scale, as you can see here, with 1/72 troops (ESCI/Italeri, in this instance):   . It’s meant to be a two-storey building, but there is no “first floor” provided, so I made one with leftover sheet styrene:  so I can have snipers upstairs if I want:  and the first floor sections easily lift out and away for when the door finally gets broken in and close-quarters combat (CQC) occurs:  . As you can see, it is a very big building. Great for diorama or scale modellers, but I think that for wargaming, it occupies too much of the tabletap. I don’t mind a factory or somesuch taking up big slabs of the tabletop, but I’m not so sure a large farmhouse (Russian: изба́) should share that right.

So, now I have a good collection of buildings by Pegasus and MiniArt for the Russian side of the Eastern Front (Ostfront):  – that should be enough for a few years.

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My Dragon 251/10’s are coming along a bit more slowly at the moment, as you have to paint the interiors before you can fully assemble the bodies:  .