I completed my Soviet Armoured Car Company, bringing it to the recommended strength of five vehicles thanks to finishing the final three earlier this week. The final three are a BA-I (БА-И), BA-6 (БА-6) and BA-10 (БА-10). You’ll recall the first two vehicles of this company, finished back in February, were a BA-9 (БА-9) and a BA-6M. Here’s the whole company:  and from the air:  .

Here are the three recently completed vehicles together:   .

Here’s the  BA-I (БА-И) by itself:  . Now the BA-10 (БА-10):  . Lastly the funky-looking BA-6 (БА-6), first from the side  and then three quarter profile:  …great idea, just to whack the tank turret from the T-26 onto the armoured car body…

I really like this camouflage (камуфляж) scheme, that I got from this link: “BA-6 from the Separate Recon Battalion /1st Tank Division/1st Mechcorps, The North-western Front, Krasnogvardeysk (Gatchina) region, August 1941″ – it’s lots of fun to paint.

If you look closely at those trees in the background, you might recognise some of them from this earlier post of mine.

So, in the space of a few months I’ve added two more companies to my Soviet forces. That’s enough for now, as they are not my primary army. It’d be good to pick up a couple of Airfix T-34s (as kits or assembled) so I could complete my company of T-34/76s, but I’ve not seen any at the swap & sells this year…funny, as there were plenty of them around in the previous few years.

Now, strictly speaking the rules state that all vehicles in a company must look the same so they cannot be confused as others. I’m going to argue that they all have the same basic body and will play all as the same type, even if they actually are different models that I have. A whole company for $50 as opposed to having to pay full price for the same UM kit new…$225 for a company?! Sorry. I’m on a budget,these trainees aren’t cheap to train.

I’ll reiterate what I said about rubber tyres from the SU-85 kits (those were UM kits; these BA’s are UM kits too and they have real rubber tyres) – great if you can do them perfectly, but I cannot and so I have to paint over them, sometimes numerous times…and the effort to get them onto the hubcabs is a nuisance too. I’m happy with plastic tyres.

 

 

 

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:  .

 

Had some troubles with glueing the roadwheels into place. The instructions don’t want the two halves glued prior to glueing onto the axles, and I wouldn’t have done it anyway – see this photo and look in the section for Step/Phase 2:  .

When then trying to glue them into place, there is nothing to stop the inner roadwheel from ending up on an angle, which is what happens with some of them…see these two photos for examples of what can go wrong:   . See how some are on funny angles?

I was able to prevent some of them from sliding onto a funny angle by using toothpicks wedged into position that corrected or limited most movement/slippage…but when I took the toothpicks away after five minutes, everything looked good, so I walked away and did something else for a while. When I came back, some had reverted back to their funny angles. Curses.

Other tank kits have usually put a little lip or somesuch around the axle at the point where the wheel would be at the right distance along, to make sure wheels sit straight and flush on the axle. Why doesn’t UM do likewise? It would only require another mm or two of plastic and would not affect detail or realism that greatly, and make the kit slightly easier to assemble!

Anyway, as I said, there are some concerns about part fit with UM kits, as I experienced with the Marder III (h) kit. This wheel problem is one of the ones with this kit, it seems.

It probably doesn’t help that I’m a wargamer and doing these in bulk all at once…

 

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:  .

 

…is the Holcroft Pure Red Sable Brush Round Size 20/0.  Cost me $5.50 AUD or so, as it was on a discount.

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Work on a pair of 251/10’s is slow but steady. They are Dragon kits, and the kit is meant to have the rear of each vehicle with a hefty supply of jerrycans in racks. I”m thinking of omitting the jerrycans and just putting the normal benches there.

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The SU-85 (СУ-85) is coming along more slowly than the 251/10’s.

Peter and I were due for our second game last night but it had to be postponed, so I was left with an ’empty’ evening. I’ve been busy every friday night for a while now, and could have gone along to NWA regardless of having a game or not, to say hello to colleagues and see what was going on. I realised, though, that if I stayed home I could actually get some serious hobby work done…as lately I’ve not had much time for my Germans or my Russians. So I worked on prepping the sIG 33 crews and some Pegasus Russian farm houses.

Guests were due this afternoon but didn’t eventuate, so I’ve been able to get a good 4 hours over the last 24. The sIG 33s got a coat of Panzer Grey and the crews had their uniforms and boots done. The Russian farm houses had all undercoating done.

A Hasegawa 251/9 was washed and undercoated…I’ll be assembling it whilst waiting for the paint to dry on all these other things. Then the SU-85s (СУ-85)will come.

Paul over at ‘Plastic Warriors‘ has been ripping through terrain pieces lately. He commented two weeks ago that “One of the things I am finding while carrying out my scenery push is you can quite quickly put out lots of items if you just spend 10 minutes here and there.

At the time, I thought that he had made a good comment and moved on to other things. I wasn’t aware of the profound effect it had wreaked upon my subconscious until late last week, when each time I walked past my Hobby Room and felt that I didn’t have enough time to get anything meaningful done, his comment surfaced and screamed at me. So yesterday, I decided to act on this subconscious guilt.

I looked at the new trees I bought some months back that were sitting with some refurbished trees that were awaiting new bases. I thought to myself, “I’ll do them all at once!”. Then I fell into my usual trap of calculating how much time it would take to begin all of them and said to myself, “Nah, I don’t want to spend all that time just on trees”. Then I remembered Paul’s comment and though, “I’ll just start with the seven refurbished ones and only start the new ones when the refurbished ones are done and boxed away”.

Success! Then I saw the barbed wire fences that have waited for two years. I won’t do them all at once, I’ll just do two each time, amongst all the other things like painting 251/1’s and  assembling SU-85’s (СУ-85), until all are done. Thanks, Paul!