Stephen C. Willoughby wrote a brilliant article for his local chapter of IPMS called

How Tanks Get Dirty: A column about tanks by an ex-tanker.

I found it the first time whilst reading more after learning the ‘Doug Chaltry technique’ and then lost it’s location because I forgot the keywords I used to find it the first time.

I recently rediscovered it and am glad that some of what he wrote had stuck with me and that I am going part of the way to reproducing armour that has been out & about as opposed to fresh off the assembly line or kept in a museum. And I wanted to share it with you!


Dragon SdKfz 251- detailing

December 9, 2011

My progress on the 251s has been very slow…to some degree I’ve actually been avoiding them. Painting over some errors seemed to be bigger in my mind than it actually was. You see, I’d used my version of the Doug Chaltry Technique on the tracks, and then painted the hull afterwards. The Desert Yellow splattered or dripped onto the tracks as I applied it very liberally and inaccurately. Fixing my mistakes using Boltgun Metal had become as big a job as painting the rubber on the roadwheels, which is a job requiring some time and skill.

When I actually got going, it only took 15 minutes to paint over any Desert Yellow splashes with Boltgun Metal…I thought it would take at least 45 minutes, maybe an hour.

This means that I am now up to the second last stage of painting, fixing any other mistakes and finalising details – making the pioneer tools look good; inking around hatches; correcting paint around wheel hubs, etc. The last stage is weathering and mud.



With a final black ink wash, what I call the Doug Chaltry technique for painting AFV tracks is done.

I use a mix of 25% Black Ink – 75% water. A previous mix in an earlier post was described as being like milk…well, this mix is like watery milk! Here it is going on the tracks…you can see the raised metal surfaces easily through it – the mix is simply adding some extra shading to crevices etc: and here you can see it pooling together: and to give you another perspective of its strength, here is an almost-dried spilt drop on the upper hull: .

Here are three photos of the final products, all dried: .

With that done, the finishing construction steps in Tankoberg could be undertaken. I glued the hulls onto the lower hulls/chassis, so that I had a whole tank. As the upper wouldn’t sit perfectly on the lower, I used my scalpels to do some trimming on the inside…a major lesson being to ignore UM Models’ assembly advice and not to glue the baggage/stowage that sits on the mudguards until all hull assembly is complete, otherwise it interferes with everything fitting together perfectly! I also had to cut grooves into one side to get a better fit.

I used woodworking clamps to hold the two halves in place for 45 minutes while I waited for the glue to dry.

Having pre-drilled holes in the right place on the hull before assembly, I was able to Zap-a-gap glue in place some 0.022″ diameter brass wire to represent the radio aerials.

Tomorrow: some fine detail glueing (holders for jerry cans etc.)  and some gap filling with putty. Wednesday or thursday…serious detail painting commences.

We’re over the first major hurdles now. In fact, we are pretty much at the middle…one way of reading Doug’s technique for painting AFV tracks would in fact suggest that we are at stage 4 of 6…representing the steel.

I liberally drybrush on my metallic paint, as tracks should appear well-worn unless the vehicle has just rolled off the assembly line or been fitted with brand-new tracks, in which case there would still be plenty of protective grease on them. Here’sa photo of the metal paint going on: . In this photo, one and a half of the visible tracks have been done: and now all done: .

Now I move down his instructions and commence again where he talks about making tracks look dirty. Step 5 is to apply a brown wash again, this one is 50%-50% Chestnut Ink and water:

When dry, the steel paint should be the strongest feature but it should be a bit “browned”, as you can see here: .

The final step is to add a very thin black wash. That’ll get done soon.

To continue the Doug Chaltry technique, a heavy wash of something to simulate rust needs to be applied.

I do this using Flesh Wash, which sadly is now RIP as a product. I’m going to write about making my own substitute in the future.

So here it is, being applied:

and this is what it looks like when it’s dry: .

For shading and shadowing, a thinned black wash is required. I use a mix of 50% Black Ink-50% water, liberally applied. The wash should be ‘milky’ as you brush it on. Here it is during brushing on: .

After drying, the results of these two washes should look something like this: .

I’ve mentioned a number of times that I use what I call “The Doug Chaltry technique” for painting AFV tracks. The links I had on this blog to thewebpage that I found it on probably don’t all point there now, as that webpage had an address and server change – so here’s a link to the correct page now.

Here are some photos showing my local variation of this technique using the paints and inks I prefer.

Before we start – tracks begin with basic black undercoat already sprayed on:  .

The first step in the technique is to apply a dark grey.  I use my homemade Panzer Grey. These photos hopefully will show the difference between my Panzer Grey and the undercoated black. In this photo, I’ve finished painting the grey on  two of the platoon of four vehicles, see the contrast:  .

One track black, the other grey: .

Spare links mounted on the roof or sides – before: and after: .

All four done: and here’s the detail of one of them: .

Somehow I got it in my head that the lower hull and undercarriage were Dark Green. I now know that this was not so – so I’m going to have to do some fancy painting to fix this.

Both halves of the kit are completed and were sprayed again with Chaos Black undercoat to ensure consistency. The muffler has not been glued on as it is positioned right near where the top half of the hull is glued to the bottom half, but this is only one piece; it will be quick to do and starting the ‘Doug Chaltry technique’ is far more important, as the technique involves many stages and takes time to finish.

I loaded extra supplies onto these kits, so they don’t look as sleek and streamlined as the kit boxes depict or recommend. Each one got extra track links; many got a water jerrycan; all got the optional extra toolbox and all are carrying a complete extra idler wheel. The extra idler wheel was to reflect that by the late part of the War (1944-1945) some German AFV maintenance crews knew that spares couldn’t be simply ordered from Berlin when requireded, thus some AFVs went about carrying plenty of spares/replacement parts of their own that had been taken off superceded vehicles or salvageable knocked-out vehicles.

So, it’s time to break out the Desert Yellow to get the basic Dunkelgelb coat complete and my vehicle component colour paints to get all of the ‘Doug Chaltry technique’ out of the way.

By the way, since I’m talking about UM, they recently redesigned their website. Here’s the link!

I took an incredible gamble that the “bridge” in the Fujimi /176 Diorama Accessory #38 might work for a quickly assembled timber bridge used for light & medium vehicles right across the Eastern Front – and lost. It’s a timber bridge for individual people only, not vehicles.

While sweeping away the cut-up pieces of bamboo skewers used to get ‘purr-fect’ Panther track sag (yes, I know, puns are very much welcomed here), I suddenly realised that I could use bamboo skewers and thin slices of 1mm sheet styrene to make a wooden/log bridge! So, I’ll do it while waiting for rivers to cure.


Speaking of the Panthers, I’ve finished the Doug Chaltry technique, so last parts of assembly can begin, as well as some preliminary painting.

The lead command Panther will have two crew out of hatches too. That’s going to be interesting.

OK, so I’ve broken my personal rules and ended up having too many kits on the go at the same time in TankoBerg.  I’ll blame Peter for this…we cooked up the idea to have a recon AFV game next time, and I’m sadly lacking in recon units. Earlier this Winter I had washed and undercoated the sprues of two Hasegawa Pumas – they have been sitting on a box lid since then and I decided to build them up, since Peter can loan me two more to make a platoon of 4.

The kit in question is the Hasegawa 1/72 #31152.  Doug Chaltry, writing for On the Way!, has already provided a comprehensive discussion of this kit, so I’m only going to pass some comments as a wargamer-modeller rather than master modeller.

Those comments:

  • although appearing to be challenging and complicated due to the high number of sprues and parts on the sprues, the instructions are clear and the stages you assemble things in are relevant. One instruction has been mis-translated – what has been provided in English is “After making it dry enough, it advances to the following distance”. I asked a Japanese colleague to provide a second opinion (second translation) – she said that what it means is  “Once all the glueing you’ve done at this stage is dry, then you can proceed to the next stage”. Sound advice, I found.
  • you can assemble some stages simultaneously. I was assembling the turret while glueing on the fiddly details to the vehicle body (spare wheel, wheel jack, tarpaulins etc.).
  • a nice-looking commander figure is provided. I’m going to keep them and use them with other kits where I know I’m not going to get a commander figure.
  • no problem with parts fitting, except for one mudguard (and only on one kit).
  • you’ll be left with some useful spares that could be used with other kits.

I finished all glueing today. Now, I have to be disciplined and finish off everything else that is still sitting around that was started prior to them (like that 250/3) and then I’ll tell you about painting them.

Back to Tigers

May 24, 2009

As I got closer to finishing the SdKfz 7/1, I commenced work on two command Tigers. They are the same Revell kit as before, except this time I had plenty of experience in assembling them (and knowing where to stop and do steps in a different order, as well as drill out the holes ahead of time) to draw upon.

This time, the track sag is a lot better…it looks a bit more natural then the previous four, where everything felt too angular. Instead of straight lines and sharp angles, the result was closer to a lazy curve, which is what I wanted.

The Doug Chaltry Technique was completed pretty quickly…I had two evening shifts the previous week and we had some warm weather too, so all those ink coats were done two each day rather than singly. I’d like to mention that the Eastern Express tracks that I used on the SdKfz 7/1 took the Doug Chaltry Technique wonderfully – so much so that if I see any more cheap at Swap-n-Sells, I’ll be buying them just to keep the tracks for when I have vinyl tracks to replace! (Yes, I do have kits yet to do with vinyl tracks, so stay tuned).

I don’t have star aerials to put on these two tanks. A colleague and fellow member of NWA has star aerials on his command vehicles and they look fantastic. I don’t have any and can’t think of any way to effectively kitbash them at this scale…I’d welcome advice if you, good readers, do. I’m just going to give them a second shorter aerial mounted through the roof of the turret.

Speaking of Nunawading Wargames Association, we had one of our two annual Sale Nights on Friday. I picked up (after cleaning and assessing them today): 50-odd conifers in 6mm-15mm scale, which will be perfect for my 15mm other wargaming interest; 10 conifers that will be ok for 1:72/1:76 and eight ready-made plastic kit trees. I’m not sure if they are Woodland Scenics Tree Armatures or an imitation. Either way, they are certainly very old and have been exposed to a lot of heat over their lifetimes, as the plastic has become pretty brittle and I snapped off lots of finer twigs and branches just trying to clean them up and get them ready for undercoating. There are enough major boughs and sturdy branches to proceed – I threw away the trees that didn’t survive the cleaning process.

The tree kits we perhaps the best buy of the night (for me), as now I have an excuse to make some trees in Autumn colours. I’ll probably go with Woodland Scenics for them, although if I can be impressed enough by Heki then I may explore that path just for this project. If my experimenting is successful, then I may decide to do more Autumn trees…