Academy M4A3 w/T-34 Calliope Update


I had good intentions with this kit and writing a build log. Really, I did. But, I just counted the photos and realized that over 100 photos with commentary is a bit much, so I will give a few comments and then post pics of the finished model.

First of all, I want to mention that this is my second Academy kit. The kit overall is pretty nice. There are a few detail things that are not to my liking, but easily fixed. Engine hatch grab handles come to mind. The ones on the kit are the solid, molded on type, and those were easily shaved off and replaced with some of the extra handles that come with the kit.

Fit is generally good with some not-too-difficult modifications to the rocket tubes to get everything to come together smoothly.

I built the kit mostly from the box, but added wiring to the rocket launcher assembly, and reworked the springs on the rocket launcher mounts to look a little better.

I also replaced the kit tracks. The ones in the kit are the rubber chevron type with extended end connectors, usually referred to as duckbill end connectors. The vehicle I was building had the steel chevron tracks, so I opted to go after market. The brand I chose was Kaizen.

I have messed with Kaizen tracks once before and really liked them, so I thought I would give them a try again. They are much cheaper than the metal tracks that are available and seem to be better quality than some of the other brands.

The one snag I ran into was that the drive sprockets were too narrow for the tracks. So, I had to cut the sprocket apart and add a spacer to make it wider.

Here is a photo of the tank I was recreating


And here is my version

And a few more.

And that, is that.

For my next review, I will cut back on the photos and be a little more general, with emphasis on modifications or fit issues.


A Quick Update

Hi-de-ho, volks. 

Just wanted to drop a quick post to let you know that I am not MIA, or off on safari. I have been working on my latest project, the Academy M4A3 Sherman with T-34 Calliope, in 1/35 scale. I am foregoing my usual multi-part build format on this one and am going to do one, big whopping post on the whole thing and see how it works. 

Here’s the kit.

I am going to try this format for builds so I can do some blogs about other stuff as well: other military related stuff that ties in with modeling; previews of upcoming reviews and builds; techniques and products…. kind of what I intended for this blog from the start.

Stay tuned for more upcoming stuff, and let me know what you think of the new plan in the comment section.

Tamiya 1/35 Panther Ausf D… Completed!

At long last, the Panther is finished.

If you have been following along, you already know that this was a kit that I built along with my English friend, Steve Mottram. We both built the same kit concurrently, and then we posted the results to our channels on YouTube (I’ll post mine below.)

As for my thoughts on the kit, I would say that if you like armor kits, this is a great one to add to the collection. Being a new-tool kit, the quality is outstanding. Molding is superb with very little to clean up. The detail is very nice without having an outrageously high parts count. The fit is excellent.

As noted in earlier posts, the only items I used that didn’t come in the box, were the grill set for the engine deck and tracks, both made by Tamiya specifically for this kit, and an aluminum barrel.

So, without further adieu, here are some photos of the Panther Ausf D.

And here is a link to my video.

Last Panther Construction Update

Today I will post up the last construction update on the Panther project before I post the final, completed project.

Now, oddly enough, I didn’t take any photos of the turret construction. Suffice it to say, the turret went together just fine and the only thing I did different was to use an aftermarket barrel. the kit barrel is actually quite nice since it is a slide molded affair, but my friend and co-buddy builder, Steve Mottram, took it upon himself to send me a very nice Aber aluminum barrel. The Aber barrel is extremely nice and the muzzle is much better than the kit supplied item. The only modification I had to make fot the barrel to fit, was to bore out the mantlet slightly to fit the barrel.

After I got the turret completed I primed the kit with Vallejo Black primer, then sprayed a base color of Model Master Acryl Dunkelgelb. In the left of this photo, you can see a sheet with color schemes. This is not the one that came with the kit. According to the Tamiya color call out sheet all three of the vehicles that can be built with the supplied markings, all three should be the tri-color camouflage. After a bit of additional research, the only color scheme that I could find, including the specific vehicle I am modeling, was the two-color scheme of dark yellow/and olive green. This would be the vehicle at the top of the page in the photo; vehicle 745 during the Kursk fighting. So, I decided to go with the two-color, since there are multiple references to this color.

While the paint was drying, I drilled out the pin holes on the spare track links.

Then I finished up the wheels with bare metal wear on the inner pairs of road wheels.

After that, I painted the camo pattern, painted and weathered the tracks, then moved on to decals, weathering and final assembly.

Next time…. the finished Panther.


Panther Progress

Last time we left off with the completion of the lower part of the lower hull. Today, it is on to the upper part.

First up were the hatches. As you can see in the photo, the surface detail is excellent… plenty of texture. Also, I am happy to point out, the hatch handles are separate parts. As I have pointed out in the past, there is nothing more annoying that molded on handles. They end up looking more like a flat piece sticking up at a right angle to the hatch. I can maybe see this type of handle molded on an older kit, but not on a new tool kit. The new Tamiya Sherman M4A3E8 that I built recently is an example. To make the hatches look right on that kit, one must shave off the molded-on handles and fabricate better ones from thin wire, or sprue. Fortunately, the Panther comes like this…


I continued with the assembly of the rest of the upper hull parts with no problems. Everything is molded quite nicely. The spare antenna tube, although molded in four pieces (two tube halves, and two end caps) went together with no problems. I light sanding of the two halves erased the very faint seam line. The attachment moldings are very nice and crisp. In step 10 I attached the tool bracket, but not the tools. I add those after painting has begun.

This concluded steps 9 through 12.

Steps 13 though 16 conclude assembly of the hull. I attached the tool bracket without tools on this side of the vehicle as well. I also did not install the wheels or tracks yet and the side skirts are removable. In this step I added the photo etch grills. These fit perfectly and were easy to remove from the fret and de-burr.

Here is a photo of the completed hull. All went well, with no surprises.

Getting Some Work Done On the Panther

The first steps involve the lower hull with suspension parts, and attachment points for the upper to lower hull assembly. I really like the way Tamiya is engineering their armor kits these days. They are made in a way that the hull makes a positive connection between the lower and upper potions without cement. I found this very helpful when I built the new tool Sherman M4A3E8 recently since I was able to assemble the hull then take it apart again for ease of painting, weathering and installing the tracks.

Another nice thing is ejector pin location. It seems that Tamiya is making an effort to ensure that ejector pin indents are in locations that aren’t visible… at least where they practical.

Here is an example on the idler wheels…

Next came assembly of the running gear. Molding was such that very little cleanup was necessary. I got everything together and put them is a safe place for later, since I won’t install them until after priming and painting.

The rear plate, which is next in the instructions, was pretty straightforward. The only thing I did contrary to the instructions, was to build the jack, but leave it off the vehicle for painting, and drill out the exhausts a bit to make them a little thinner.

The one on the left has been drilled out already.

With that done, the lower hull is complete.

So far, this kit has been very nice and easy to assemble. The detail is great, especially the rolled plate texture of the rear plate and the cast texture of the final drive housings at the front and the cast covers on the exhaust.

Nest time, I will start on the upper hull.

Panther Update

Back on June 20, I posted a brief review video of the new tool Tamiya Panther Ausf D in 1/35 scale. I have now had more than enough time to get to work on it.

I am a part of a Google+ YouTube Modellers group and have made a few friends (think video pen pals). Steve Mottram is one. He is a model builder from England and subscribed to my YouTube channel. He noticed that I was getting ready to build the Panther, and since he had one as well, asked if I would be interested in doing a buddy build with him.

For those who don’t know, a buddy build is where a couple of model builders pick a kit, or subject (like a particular battle) and build it at the same time, keeping up with one another’s progress. I was game, so we started. I will interject here that Steve wanted to send me something pertinent to our buddy build, so I emailed him my address. Lo and behold, a week or so later, a package arrived. In it was a book on modeling the Panther, and an aluminum barrel to replace the kit supplied plastic barrel. I was blown away. Very generous chap, Steve.

For this project I decided to add a couple of aftermarket items. In addition to the metal barrel Steve sent, I also got the photo etch grill set for the engine deck that Tamiya released to go with this kit, and a set of Kaizen individual link tracks.

Instructions and paint guide

Here are the parts.

The decals and bag with poly caps for the wheels and string for the tow rope.

The PE  grill set.

Kaizen tracks.

I am really digging the full color paint guides that Tamiya is including these days.

So, there you have it. Next time (like in the next few days) I will get some build photos and comments posted. In real-time, I am at the painting stage, so posts should be coming pretty regularly.

For those that are interested, here is a video about the buddy build.