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Build report: Tamiya’s 1/35th Panzer IV Ausf. J

Several weeks ago, I finished my first armor-build since re-entering the modeling hobby, a Tamiya 1/48 M8 armored car. I enjoyed that, and I didn’t have to look far for my second armor project, thanks to a very generous gift from a brother on the forums.

I was a bit intimidated at first about building a German WWII subject. That seems to be the subject among armor builders, and I know I’ve seen some folks get highly critical about the most minor details. However, I figured you can’t learn something new without trying, so if I have to make a few mistakes to stretch myself- so be it

I’m happy to report I’ve stretched my modeling skills. And there’s plenty of room to grow. 🙂

One of the things about the construction of armored models is how simple it is. For the most part, it goes like this:

  1. Put the entire model together
  2. Paint it
  3. Add oil, mud, dirt, chips, fading, stains

Of course, the trick is really how well you do step number 3.

Construction of this kit was everything you’d expect from Tamiya. It went together perfectly. Little to no flash, a few ejector pin marks in a place here or there that needed to be dealt with. For the most part however, it was clip part off sprue, trim remaining connector bits, glue on. Repeat eighty or so times.

I did learn that Panzer IVs had lots and lots and lots of wheels. Which Tamiya, thankfully, chose to split in halves to double the fun. 😀

Painting was simple enough. A generous coat of that yellow color… I may be wrong but I think it was called “DunkinDonut”….. then some green, and finally some “Spitfire Seat Color” which I assume armor modelers call “Panzer Red Brown”. All were Pollyscale. All will be Tamiya next time. (It airbrushes so nicely….)

Decals were next. One tore. I left it on anyway. I was in a hurry to get to the weathering. That looked fun.

And it was…. kinda. I watched several DVDs about weathering German armor…. I read some great tutorials posted by Karl “the doog” Logan on the FSM forums, and read some great stuff from Adam Wilder. So I charged past the building and painting…. and headed to the weathering.

Well….. it looked easy enough.

It really makes me appreciate the guys who do this so well.

I followed a sort of mixture of the various methods I saw. Filters, oil washes, paint chipping, mud. The washes were no problem… though I did realize that I should have painted the tank a much lighter shade than I did…. good call on that one Karl.

The paint chipping….. I guess I need more practice. I tried several methods… mixed various colors…. none looked quite right to me. I ended up using a sort of steel grey looking mixture of simple white and black, dabbing it on with a short bristled brush. I tried a sponge as several people suggested, but it either seemed to under- or over-do the process. I started getting the hang of it, somewhat, by the time I was about 3/4 done. Then I got paint chippy happy, and for a while had a finish that simulated what a Panzer would have looked like if the crew did that Irish river dance stuff in golf shoes for 47 hours straight.

Thankfully oil paints rub off really, really easily.

So eventually I looked at it and said “if that ain’t good enough I don’t care”. 😀

I moved on to the mud and dirt. I had some pastel chalks…. various greys, black, white, brown, rust and pink. Not full-on armor weathering pigments, but some chalks from Hobby Lobby. (Which, in an odd side note, I always pronounce in Scooby Doo fashion as “Robby Robby”. Try it…. I’ll wait. Go on, try it. Wasn’t that fun?!)

Anyway…. I applied some, as I’d seen in the DVDs, and added some thinner to them. I applied a little…. it looked OK, I guess. But not really muddy. So I mixed some “mud”, and applied it. Still no good. So I held the various colors of chalks over the models tracks, and using the backside of a #11 blade, proceeded to shave off copious amounts of chalk until I fairly looked like Pigpen of “Peanuts” fame. I added some turpenoid thinner to set it.

I got a ton of either really, really dirty swamp mud from the bogs here in NC, or some really bad rust. On the front it looks like the tank went joy riding through a concrete factory.

I think I figured out how to muddy it up. Now I just have to figure out how to make it look like mud from somewhere in Europe.

I visited Europe once, in the Army. And got really muddy at a place called Hoenfells. But I don’t remember the mud looking like this.

But I digress…..

So I ended up with a Panzer IV that went together quite well and ended up looking like a fat, forty-ish guy in Homer Simpson pajamams tried to make it look like it had driven through the muds of Normandy or Caen or maybe the cotton field across from my neighborhood.

I highly recommend it. The kit, that is. You’ll have to make your own mud.