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Das Abteilung

A39 MkIICS Tortoise Assault Gun - Panzer 46

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The metal effect on the idlers and sprocket teeth is Mr Color Chrome Silver.  I've not used it before, but saw it in my LHS and thought I'd try it.  Dries very quickly, goes on smoothly. Dries quite aluminium-looking.  Label says it can be buffed to a shine.  Will have to try that on the idlers and sprocket teeth, both of which which would be well polished.

 

The tracks are more of a problem.  They were manganese steel, which is an interesting colour problem as manganese steel is a yellowy-brown colour, so it won't be shiny silver in the wear areas and it doesn't rust.  They might also have been painted black when new, like the spare links.  Here's a rear view of P1 at Bovington which shows what I mean about the colour.  Note no bright sheen on the inner running face.  I'm thinking that Tamiya Titanium Gold might be a starting point, with a touch of brown.  Because P1 has been out and about on the circuit at Bovington I've got a real life example to work with for track and suspension weathering, although I'm thinking more mud.  The soot stains on and around the exhaust are interesting: must be a leak or two.

 

I've realised that I've lost the small D handle on the intercom box - I know I fitted it from the etch set - and forgot to add the cable conduit underneath.  Tow cables need a bit of attention too.  Bit more rust on the towing attachments.

WrrQ3Xw.jpg

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So, tracks.  Finally got them all together.  I hadn't really noticed that the bogies are slightly offset left from right, so the track runs are not identical and not interchangeable.  One side ended up needing about 2/3 of a link at the end to fill the final gap, so I had to adjust the front and rear sag slightly to get a whole one in.  They seem to be made of ABS: the plastic has that slightly soapy feel to it and doesn't shave cleanly easily.  I used MEK to assemble them, which dries commendably quickly, but the assembled flat runs still felt a little fragile afterwards and not very rigid.  At first I thought I'd need 4 pieces, but to fit round the sprocket teeth it was easier to have the join at the front of the sprocket so it ended up as 3.

 

Colour was a problem. As noted above, the tracks were manganese steel which is a goldy-brown colour and not especially shiny.  I was going to mix something up but rummaging in the metallic paints drawer and looking inside jars I came across a pot of Burnt Metal acrylic by the Russian company Xoma. I bought quite a few of their paints and pigments from Hobby.dn.ua in Kiev.  Dirt cheap at under €1 a pot, and not bad apart from the old-fashioned pots.  That and the fact that some leaked on the journey, like this one.  Thins with Tamiya and Ultimate thinners.

 

Anyway, it seemed about right as a base colour before a brown wash and some dust, mud and a few oil or grease stains.  So after a few minutes' spraying this is the result, actually not a bad outcome.  I think a drybrush with Bronze will pick out the contact areas nicely.  As most British tank tracks were manganese I think I might need to get some more of this paint.  Interesting question: I wonder if Israeli-made Centurion tracks were also manganese steel?  Anyone know?  

 

5lU4w5V.jpg

 

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I think I may have got where I wanted for the base colour.  Two washes over with AK Interactive Track Wash and a bit of drybrushing with the base colour.  Strangely, when I went to remove the wash from the wear areas with a cotton bud moistened with thinners I found that the acrylic started to come away.  So I tried a brush, thinking that to perhaps be a bit softer: same thing.  Odd.  I've never had this problem with Homa paint before, but this is the first time I've used this colour and metallics can be tricky.  I'm wondering if it had anything to do with the ABS-like plastic the links are made from.  This is used in low-friction applications and maybe the paint just didn't bond.  So drybrushing instead of cleaning the wash off.  Seemed to work.  Next, weathering.

 

I know the colour is ususual, even odd. But you can clearly see the base metal colour in the real Tortoise pic above.  I've looked at all the WW2 British tanks at Bovington and the unpainted areas of the tracks are the same: they couldn't be any other colour because of their composition.  So at the risk of upsetting people I think we've been painting bare metal areas of British tracks the wrong colour.  They are neither shiny silver or graphite coloured, and not rusty.

 

XcXlxNX.jpg

 

wuP1E4c.jpg

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4 hours ago, Das Abteilung said:

...at the risk of upsetting people I think we've been painting bare metal areas of British tracks the wrong colour.  They are neither shiny silver or graphite coloured, and not rusty.

 

XcXlxNX.jpg

 

wuP1E4c.jpg

 

Go right ahead and upset people, sometimes things need a shakeup. Most modellers DON'T do any research, they just follow instructions or whatever guru/technique takes their fancy, and silver track wear has been the standard for 50 years (don't get me going on rusty tracks...). Which makes correct colours stand out, even if most judges at a show won't agree that you're right!

 

That looks very good (the model, as well as the tracks.)

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9 hours ago, Das Abteilung said:

So at the risk of upsetting people I think we've been painting bare metal areas of British tracks the wrong colour.  They are neither shiny silver or graphite coloured, and not rusty.

 

While I agree with much of what you say, it can't be applied to every case. A tank in a museum is going to have tracks that appear very different to one that is in the field . I accept that rust is unlikely to be present, but the rust colour could be if for instance, the tank is operating in an area where the local earth is of that colour, as in Vietnam. Also, and I'm surmising here as I'm no expert, but I wonder if the metal that the tracks of a Tortoise were made from was different to that on much earlier tanks like Cromwells.

 

John.  

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Cromwell used manganese steel tracks, as did Churchill at various times, also Valentine (and no doubt others); in fact quite a number of WW2 tanks from all nations used it. It lasted a lot longer than mild steel- 2500mi vs 500mi... it was also lighter and stronger. And doesn't rust.

 

Time for a rethink across the hobby, me'thinks.

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6 hours ago, Rob G said:

Most modellers DON'T do any research, they just follow instructions or whatever guru/technique takes their fancy, and silver track wear has been the standard for 50 years (don't get me going on rusty tracks...). Which makes correct colours stand out, even if most judges at a show won't agree that you're right!

The "track's color" debate is endless as there is only specific cases and research is paramount to do things realistically ... I guess it's easier when like me you're focusing on modern armour because photographic evidence is easily available (in color of course ;)).

 

For instance, for the Challenger 2, I have pics where tracks have a nice metallic sheen and some with much superficial rust ... the same for Chieftains and other post-ww2 british armour.

11 hours ago, Das Abteilung said:

So at the risk of upsetting people I think we've been painting bare metal areas of British tracks the wrong colour.  They are neither shiny silver or graphite coloured, and not rusty.

I like the color of your Tortoise's tracks ... and if people get upset, I can only conclude they don't understand it's just a hobby :P  

 

E

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Well thanks for not crucifying me lads!  I was expecting a bit of a beating. 

 

I'm not entirely convinced I've got the colour quite right yet, but it isn't far off. Might try something different next time, perhaps mix some brown in to start.  I think I've been different in using the base metal colour first rather than, say, black undercoat and then straight to a dark brown followed by bright highlights as seems to be common.  As I said, I toyed with the idea that they would have been painted black - and then of course there would be lots of black left in the treads.  But manganese steel doesn't need to be painted to protect it, so why do it?  Spare links were painted black for "bull" more than anything, and to reduce shine.

 

I take the point about museum pieces, and one does indeed need to be careful.  But you can't change the material the track links are cast from even if you paint them or clean them up.  Or get them muddy out on the arena.  But of course tracks could have been exchanged, possibly for non-original quality.

 

The addition of manganese to steel alloys used for tank tracks in the very early 40's was a real revolution in track life, extending their life by a factor of 5-6 - a huge operational and logistic advantage.  I don't claim to be any kind of expert on its current use, but I saw a closeup view of clean-ish Merkava tracks and they certainly appeared to have that goldy-brown tint on the spuds.

 

Perhaps it's about time one of the paint manufacturers had a look at this.  Among the plethora of metallic colours out there, no-one does a "manganese steel".  I've even had a look at the Warhammer paints, which I seem to have most of in my paint drawer.  Their Brass Scorpion comes close but is too red.

 

I started a bit of light mudding before work this morning just to see how it might look.  Originally I was thinking heavier mud but I'm not sure I'm up to that yet: it can go badly wrong and I don't want to spoil the vehicle.

vpE3ud9.jpg

 

 

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Another thought comes to me re the 'traditional' model track colour- once upon a time, the only metallic available was silver paint, and it became the default colour for anything 'metal'. Maybe that's become engraved upon the model-building collective conscious as the 'correct' way to do tracks, despite any research or attempts to change that. Hmm...

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And this is where it all goes horribly wrong.  Mud, in particular, is something I don't have a good handle on.  Maybe I should stick to dusty.  I'm also inherently lazy, and so tend to use pre-prepared products rather than making or mxing my own.

 

So here she is with some AK Interactive Dry Mud plus a dusting with MiG Dry Mud and Vallejo Light Sienna pigments and a few strategic dabs of Mig Oil & Grease Wash.  I stuck with dry mud without attempting wet as well: small steps.  Much of the previous effect is lost or hidden, but it would of course look very different without it.  And it was a bit dark and moody anyway.  I'm thinking of breaking out some WW1 kits after this - I have 3 MkIV's, a Whippet, an FT17 and a Schneider in the stash - so this might have been good practice for them.

 

All that remains now is to put it all together, following which it will ship over to Ready For Inspection.

 

FpXG6g3.jpg

 

JOhkt1O.jpg

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One final photo before moving over to Ready For Inspection.  I'm calling this "done" now.  Radio antennas added for A and B sets: 8' and 2' respectively.  The track modules didn't go together as well as I hoped or as well as I recall they did earlier.  One top run seemed to have warped.

 

Anyway, good, bad or ugly (yes!) - here she is.

MnMca2P.jpg

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