Construction Notes, Modeling project

Revell Kampfpanzer Leopard – Part 2 – Some Construction Notes

This project didn’t exactly go as planned. Well, it did, but I did not document it as I initially wanted to, so there is a bunch of info on the lower hull and not much for the turret. I do however have extensive comments to formulate on this kit, now that I have built it, so sit tight and read on.

As I mentioned in the first part of this construction blog, I am going to represent a Belgian batch 3 vehicle, (the first sixteen vehicles Belgium received were batch 3 ). Revell’s kit is intended to build the more common batch 4 tank, but for some reason, I’m particularly fond of the initial engine exhausts of the cast, raised type.

I intend on building a vehicle inspired by a picture I’ve seen in Patrick Winnepenninckx’s Leopard 1(BE) Belgium’s Last MBT. On page 4, you can see a vehicle that is soon to go through its first update. What is notable about this vehicle is that it has been stripped of its tool clamps in order to receive the typical toolboxes that Belgian vehicles will soon be easily recognized for. Instead, you only see round bolts where the tool clamps would have been affixed. Those bolts remained in place underneath the toolboxes for the duration of the Leopard service life in the Belgium army.

Above – This tank was the inspiration for this build. Here we can see it’s a Batch 4 vehicle with D640As. I decided to make a Batch 3 with the older D139E2 ones, figuring there might be a couple of those earlier tanks that went through the same clamp-stripping procedure. Picture used with permission from Trackpad Publishing.

The actual tank I’m building from the markings provided in Revell’s box is a tank that you can see on the same page of the aforementioned book, a tank from the 4 Lanciers stationed in Soest, Germany.

The Lower Hull & running gear – Nothing fits perfectly.

Having no previous experience with Revell, I didn’t know what to expect in terms of overall quality, engineering, and ease of build. I was aware, however, of a certain reputation for sometimes having sub-par kits. I soon found out working on the lower hull.

Basically, nothing fits perfectly. It all fits okay-ish, but there are gaps all over the place that you need to address, and few parts fit with any authority. The hull is a multipart affair for which I see no good reason.

I decided to at least smooth the sponsons’ undersides a little to avoid an unsightly step from the hull side to the sponson.

Upper hull – Unnecessary work.

This one pic that says it all. here again, you need to add separate hull side slabs. This is likely to allow for variants, but it induces substantial filling work.

Since I did not intend on mounting the tools, I also had to fill all those massive mating notches intended for the tool clamps.

Another addition you may consider is to add weld seams. I did that using the putty method, which I am still getting a hold of, and here they look slightly inconsistent, sometime slightly too prominent. Still, I consider this a great addition. I added them on most parts of the vehicle where necessary except on top of the exhaust grille.

On the picture below you may also notice that the driver’s periscopes are pretty thick. I left them as is, but this is another point that could benefit from being replaced. Note that I also removed the kit’s molded-on fording plug chains. They will be replaced with PE ones from Leopard Club.

Below, you can see the hull more or less finished, with the punched styrene round bolts in lieu of the tool clamps. Some filling and weld seams were added, too, especially the thicker beads on the forward hull side.

I also detailed the kit’s NBC intake (I only remembered I had one from Leopard Club after the work was done!). I simply added bolts on top and a grill on the inner side. On these pictures the round bolts are too thick and have been replaced since.

Hull Rear

I don’t have many pictures of the hull rear, only this one, at the beginning of the work there. I removed the rear light stubs in order to replace them with the much nicer ones from Leopard Club. I also added weld seams where necessary (not shown here). This portion of the build went relatively easily. The toolbox handle should really be replaced by a thinner handle, however.

Glacis – Getting rid of those pesky fording plug chains.

The fording plugs and the small chains that hold them are a constant characteristic of the Leopard 1, but are rarely present on a kit, and when they are, it’s a molded-on affair that doesn’t look very convincing. For good reason, I might say: it’s a hard thing to model.

I had Leopard Club replacements but I had doubts about my ability to install them convincingly. In the end, it went pretty well, as the final picture of the build will attest, and I must say, it adds a very nice detail. I should have done that on the Wegmann launchers as well!

Rear deck – Fuel and filter handle.

Some reviewers mentioned that the hull grill isn’t properly represented, and they are right. From a modeling perspective, however, I would say it looks nice and crisp so I decided to keep it, but if you are after a more accurate representation, consider swapping it for some PE one.

The only thing I did on the rear deck was to shave off the molded-on handles and replaced them with copper wire. On the air filter covers (the right-most one on the picture below), apparently, there are two such handles on earlier vehicles, but I couldn’t locate any reference for this and went with the more common single handle. I used 0.4mm copper wire but I think 0.3mm would be more in scale.

You also need to fill the curious and unnecessary groove on the exhaust grill.

The Turret

One of the main things to correct on the turret is the cast texture which is both unrealistic and too coarse. This, however, can be easily fixed with Mr. Surfacer applied on the turret and some gentle sanding. This will tone done the kit’s original texture and make for a much more realistic result.

Another thing that may benefit from a little enhancement is to carve the turret rain gutter a tad to give it more volume.

My Impressions on Revell’s Kit.

Some noticeable errors.

In addition to the extensive list of items that some previous reviewers mentioned (see part one of this series for reference), there are a few other points that I feel the need to mention.

  • The Wegmann’s smoke launchers are MASSIVELY oversized. Judging from Michael Shackleton’s drawings (Leopard 1A5(BE) from The Leopard Trilogy, Volume 3, p. 441, the overall diameter should measure 2,40 mm at 1/35 scale. The kit’s sit at 3,03mm. It’s pretty obvious once they are mounted on the kit.
  • The same goes for the turret handrails and the rearview mirror posts. They are much too thick and I highly recommend you replace them. Both of these points make for a toyish look if you use the kit parts as I did. The turret basket bars are also too thick. In general, that’s the main thing about the kit: every bar and handle is always slightly out of scale, almost always on the thicker side. Consider replacing them all.
  • The periscope covers are too thick as well. A good PE replacement would be simple to procure or scratch build and would add a lot to the turret top and driver’s station.
  • I did not use the turret MG, as my target vehicle did not have one. I would have replaced it with an aftermarket one for sure, the kit ones are downright ugly!

Overall Thoughts

Revell’s Leopard 1 allows you to build an early Batch 3 or 4 Leopard 1, and it is the only mainstream kit out there that lets you do that. It’s also the only kit that lets you build a Dutch Leopard 1. With some work, you can obtain a pretty accurate replica, but by *some* work, I really mean a lot of work. Nothing is particularly complicated to do, but a lot of work nonetheless. There is a lot of things that you need to correct if you are after real accuracy. Some of those points are mentioned above.

As for me, I ran out of patience at some point and sprinted to the finish line, as I’m often prone to do, to get going on something else, and it shows. I did not take the time to address some of the more obvious issues and I’m left with a kit that looks okay-ish at most. I decided that my trajectory with it did not warrant the use of aftermarket tracks, but again, it shows. The kit tracks are not a good option. Vinyl tracks rarely are.

All this to say I did not find Revell kit a fun one. Not bad, but not fun. That’s mostly because I sit in a curious spot currently with my model building: As a busy father and professional, I do not have sufficient time to spend working on corrections, and I’m quite adamant when a kit requires me to do so. This is one of those kits.

Give it some real elbow juice and it holds the potential for a spectacular replica, but don’t cut corners!

And now, onward to painting this cat!

Project Specs

Revell Leopard 1 (03240)
Leopard Workshop Leopard I Improvement Set LW033 (Did not use all of it, in the end.)
Leopard 1 Mantlet Plugs LW005 – I highly recommend this little set. It doesn’t look like much but it provides something rarely seen correctly modeled on the Leopard 1.
Leopard SEM25/35 Aerials LW023 – This, too, I highly recommend. A simple addition that goes a long way!
Eureka XXL Towing Cable ER-3507

Construction Notes, Modeling project

Revell Kampfpanzer Leopard – Part 1: The Project

Although the Leopard 1 is my favorite AFV of all time, I only ever built one, the old Tamiya kit, when I was something like 12 years old. During all these years, I’ve accumulated a pretty decent amount of references on this vehicle and its many variants, but I never actually got around to building one (although I have many projects in mind involving it).

So after completing the Fulcrum, I wanted to get back to armor for a bit and decided it was about time to build a Leopard seriously. But which one? It’s always been the main problem. I won’t get into all the reasons why I find the Leopard so interesting, but let’s just say that it stands as a true symbol of the Cold War, the continuation of Germany’s relative competence in designing tanks, and one of the first true MBT. Plus it looks awesome.

So yeah, all variants of the Leopard are interesting, as my own inventory of kits will attest.

In the end, I decided to go with Revell’s. Now, I hear you all scream: “WHAT? Revell?!? This has to be the worst possible option!“. And, as we’ll likely confirm in the second installment of this series, you’d be right. Apart from Italeri’s 1A5 (not bad per se, just old) and Elite’s Dachs (a fiddly, warpy resin affair), all other kits on that stack are superior.

Yet, much to Revell’s credit, their kit is the only “recent” one offering the possibility to build an early variant from the first four batches, and it is also the only mainstream kit in existence that allows for building a Dutch tank straight out of the box.

Thus, from a subject matter perspective, it’s a viable option. You have a bunch of things to correct if you are into getting really precise and accurate, however, and the finer details of Leopard variants and batches can be confusing at times. As usual, good references help. Since I’m planning for a Belgian vehicle, here are the references that I am going to use.

As mentioned earlier, I’m getting serious with this build, at least for the construction part, and I decided to use a bunch of detailing sets to bring the kit to a more acceptable level of accuracy. Here are the sets I am going to use:

For the barrel, I wonder if I could get away with Barrel Depot’s M68 rifled Gun BD35009. It looks quite similar to the L7A3 without its thermal sleeve. This will need to be confirmed.

An interesting program, isn’t it?

Now, about those corrections, I could simply look carefully at Winnepenninckx’ book and infer what needs to be done. I will of course do that, but there are knowledgeable people out there that took the time to list a bunch of specific tweaks. Here they are if you fancy a project like this yourself.

Ok so with the specs of this project clearly set, let’s get going on the construction of this beast. This will form the basis of the second part of this blog.

Construction Notes, Modeling project, Product Review

Joycraft F-16D Viper Toon

Last year, Joycraft launched a new series of products: fully 3D-printed aircraft kits. You may recall a review I posted here a while ago of a book from that company, written by master modelers René Joyal and Jarek Rydzyski.

When Joycraft announced its first kit, I jumped on it for a number of reasons. First, it was a fully 3D printed kit, and I wanted to see firsthand how they would go about producing that, Second, well, Joycraft is awesome and I was pretty sure anything it would come up with would be interesting. So I preordered a kit, got it, and built it. Here’s how it went.

What’s in the box?

The kit came in a super neat package, a work of art in itself (which apparently will change a bit in future offerings to make it more efficient). All the parts were neatly glued on a sturdy cardboard plate. Right away I could see that the definition of the print was pretty crisp.

Getting down to work

The first order of business was to clean the parts. Now, let me tell you right away, it looks much worse than it actually is. It took me about an hour to prepare all the parts down to basic cleanup so that I would only have to finish cleaning up each part more precisely once ready to put it into place.

You need to be extra careful, however, to avoid breaking parts. It’s not a huge deal, but this is not like cast resin, and certainly not like injected styrene. 3D printing resin is brittle and fragile. In the course of the project, I broke a number of parts that weren’t too complicated to fix, but it was self-inflicted pain nonetheless.

The Kit

The kit is a pretty cool design of a pretty cool jet fighter. I am not, myself, a huge fan of toon planes, but this one struck a note and grabbed my attention. Contrary to most toon planes I’ve seen, this one keeps the right ‘vibe’ of the F-16, and even though it is a vastly simplified version of the original, it keeps its awesome aerodynamics and signature lines. It comes with a centerline tank and two wing tanks, two AIM-9M, two AIM-120C, and two AGM-88. In other words, it is armed to the teeth.

In the end, I went for a more sleek loadout, but that isn’t exactly a voluntary choice. Rather, I was the victim of my own inexperience.

The kit is pretty well engineered. The cockpit is not only very detailed, but it fits pretty well without any issues to speak of. I didn’t take pictures of all the kit’s details, but the flight stick, the throttles, and a bunch of switches are all fully present. This level of detail and crispness makes it very promising for the future: a kit of this level of quality won’t require additions.

The instructions are pretty clear as well most of the time, and the decals are from Cartograf and are of excellent quality. You get two options in the kit: a Polish and a Greek aircraft. (I decided to add a fictional squadron insignia on mine and cut a Corinthian Helmet I found on the Internet. )

There are two things that aren’t quite awesome, though. The two-parts fuselage and the canopy. The former requires a pretty hefty putty job while the latter implies that your sanding and polishing chops are up there. I guess this had the benefit of forcing me to put those skills to practice. Joycraft told me that their next offering, the F-16I Sufa, will come with a one-piece fuselage.

In addition, I think it is fair to say that while a cute little toon plane, this kit isn’t for beginners. Like I said, parts are fragile to prepare and handle, you need a solid knowledge of CA glue handling, and PLEASE DRY-FIT EVERYTHING.

Yup, this is why you don’t see my ship bristling with missiles. You not only need to clean the wing hardpoints locators, but you need to make absolutely certain they will slip-fit in those slits. I didn’t do that and, right at the end of the project, I started to try and wrestle them in, coming dangerously close to some catastrophic breakage. I deemed it safer to leave those ordnances alone.

Oh well, some more experience.

In the end, this project was a very satisfying change of pace. It wasn’t as simple a build as I had expected. It drilled home some basics that I, as an armor modeler, am not often required to put into practice. It was also an excellent demo of what 3D-printed modeling is likely to look like in the future, and I cannot wait to see what Joycraft will come up with for their next kits. I was so impressed with the quality of their kit that I ordered their Sufa right away.

Project Specs

Joycraft F-16D Toon

Construction Notes

Crazy Sideline: The Sanctuary 3 – Part 1

This has very little to do with the main focus of this blog, but who cares? I’m going on a limb here and I’m going to build and, hopefully, upgrade a spaceship.

The subject is the Sanctuary 3, a 1/200 (?) model that was included in Borderlands 3 Diamond Loot Chest each Gearbox developer (including Yours Truly) was given upon the release of that most awesome game. It has been sitting in the stash for a while and I decided to get a shot at it, not because I’m particularly fond of sci-fi subjects but because after working on Takom’s SA-N-12 I thought this might be another cool practice mule. I’ve had this idea for a while, after realizing most Star Wars ships have many parts of Tamiya panzer kits. Any random pic of the Millenium Falcon, for instance, reveals any number of 1/35 and 1/72 armor parts.

The Project

So here we are. The project is fairly simple: I’ll build the ship straight out of the box, then I’m going to scratch a few additional details using only spare parts. I’m not going for a super involved thing with DEL flashing in the boosters, etc. I’ll only add a bit of definition and relief, so to speak. It’s the painting part, and most specifically weathering, that’ll get a full serving.

The Kit

The kit doesn’t sport a brand per see, but I’m willing to bet it’s Revell, simply because it’s a snap-tite kit that is absolutely like Revell’s Star Wars kit. The fit is excellent, with a tolerance that makes for just the right amount of friction to make the parts hold while still being easy to mate. It took me about an hour and I was careful cleaning some parts and adding glue here and there to get better bonds.

As you can see in the following pictures, however, it’s not exactly a detailed kit. It is crude on the details, but considering it was a piece of merch sold in a videogame deluxe package, it makes total sense: the focus here is to allow fans to quickly obtain a nice replica of the spaceship they spent a good amount of time running in and flying on. As such, it is very well engineered.

The real fun will begin once the assembly is complete and I get to kitbash this into a somewhat more credible vessel. I don’t plan on making this a super intense crazy thing, mind you, but just improvising this into something a bit more realistic and cool. We’ll see.

Just to give you an idea of what I’m going for, here’s the center rear booster assembly before and after. It took me, I don’t know, ten minutes. It’s not much, but I really want to see where this can get. Thank goodness the kit’s styrene reacts well to both Mr. CementS and Tamiya Super Thin.