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How do you build and paint a tank


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Apologies, there may be a better place for this but it is about tanks and I mostly do WWII.

I find myself with an ever growing stash of models, mostly tanks and AFVs but an increasing procrasenation to get on and finish one.

When I was a kid I would make some decent models for my age and what I could afford. But I was carefree and I would just keep in without fear and complete a model within a weekend.

Now I am much older I can afford better kits, better tools, better materials but I find myself stuck or unable to continue because I'm over-thinking.

One of my perpetual dilemmas is the build paint order.

Most of the build blogs I see the kit completed, including tracks, tools, stowage, camoflage etc. and sprayed with primer.

Sure, I could do that no problem.

But then the next stage shows it painted, ready for weathering - hang on, how did that happen?

I can't get my head round how I would paint things like the tracks, tyres on wheels, the spade and pick axe etc.

Okay, I could argue that I can throw mud, dust and grime over it and that will hide the flaws but even so it seems really daunting.

Then again I do see a few articles on 'how do you paint tyres, how do you paint tracks - but they always show the wheels on cocktail sticks or the tracks laid out flat, not assembled on the model.

So how do you build and paint your tanks?

Cheers,

Nigel

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One really has to think things through, or at least give some consideration to the kind of problems you risk running into if you do things in the wrong order.

For example, trying to airbrush a fully assembled model, might be a bad idea, if you can't really get the spray into hard to reach cavities, which probably won't cover the area satisfactory.

One thing I learned recently, is that smaller details, might as well be glued on with super glue, after the whole model has been fully finished with all the layers of primer, paint, gloss coats, decals, gloss coat, wash and even more gloss coat and finally a coat of matte/satin varnish.

As for tank tracks and whether or not to glue all of that on to the bottom part, before or after gluing the bottom part to the main top part, probably depend on the model, how the parts best can be glued together.

Edited by Housesparrow
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For me it varies greatly depending on what I'm building. If I'm going for a mainly plastic kit out the box then I'll build up the large subassemblies, hull, turret, wheels separately and usually leave off the tools and other smaller parts until the main painting is done, always fitted before weathering though!

For more mixed media kits I tend to build as much as I can then paint, masking around small details as required.

The basis for my thinking is usually that I can attach plastic parts on after painting more easily than I can mask, but I can't (personally) attach PE and resin parts after painting without making a mess of the underlying paint (due to the more fiddly nature of the parts and the less forgiving nature of superglue!). So masking is the lesser of 2 evils in this case!

One exception I have found (to my detriment) is plastic single link tracks which are a nightmare to fit after painting!

Hope that helps a bit...

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One exception I have found (to my detriment) is plastic single link tracks which are a nightmare to fit after painting!

Hope that helps a bit...

Yes indeed, I see many pinned posts, articles and videos titled something high "how to paint realistic look tracks" but they always show rubber tracks laid out unjoined on a piece of paper.

But read comments and reviews and everyone is crying out for individual link, or run and link tracks and if a kit has rubber tracks it is usually called out as a negative in reviews. Even when a kit has rubber tracks more often the reviewer or poster will talk about getting after-market tracks.

It would be nice to see some of these 'how to paint realistic tracks' articles deal with individual links or link and run types.

Only a smaller minority of my stash has rubber tracks.

Cheers,

Nigel

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Yes indeed, I see many pinned posts, articles and videos titled something high "how to paint realistic look tracks" but they always show rubber tracks laid out unjoined on a piece of paper.

But read comments and reviews and everyone is crying out for individual link, or run and link tracks and if a kit has rubber tracks it is usually called out as a negative in reviews. Even when a kit has rubber tracks more often the reviewer or poster will talk about getting after-market tracks.

It would be nice to see some of these 'how to paint realistic tracks' articles deal with individual links or link and run types.

Only a smaller minority of my stash has rubber tracks.

Cheers,

Nigel

My issue is only really with the non workable plastic tracks, the click together workable ones are ok, as are the metal ones. The key is to plan ahead, bearing in mind also fenders etc might get in the way!

Phil

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I prefer workable tracks, ie individual links. It is easier to paint off the vehicle and laid out flat on the work bench. I will also leave the drive sprockets off (those are the wheels with guide teeth).

If there are both return rollers and fenders on the vehicle, the track will have to be threaded through in between these before joining as a continuous link. Yeah, it can be tricky, as somewhere in here you have to attach the sprocket wheels.

regards,

Jack

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I do the tracks in place, mind you I don't splash out on aftermarket. So I get them in place, highlight where you would expect to see fresh metal from road wear and then weather them! A lot!

I build everything in subsections and then assemble painted parts later.

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Here we are............a whole page or more on You Tube about painting tracks, resin, rubber and other types.....weathering included

https://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=how+to+paint+model+tank+tracks

Thanks, as you say there are a lot of youtube hits and I haven't looked at them all, BUT the ones that I have looked mostly have rubber or workable tracks on a type of tank that allow these to be added once the tank has been painted.

So far I have only found one (the KV-2 big turret) that has tracks (link and run in this case) that have been installed before painting. "This is going to be interesting I thought, because the tracks are close to fenders and the wheels have tyres". But when we get to the important part it shows painting the well exposed end on the idler and then as if by magic the tracks and tyres are painted. In fact the guide spends more time showing me how to blast the whole tank with a base os primer than how to paint those tracks and tyres on an assembled tank.

Others I have seen address the problem by applying large amounts of mud to cover everything to avoid the issue.

Cheers,

Nigel

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Nigel, when it comes to individual link tracks my way is to assemble a run using a length of masking tape laid sticky side up.

I then place each link on the tape until I have a decent length. I use Tamiya extra thin cement & run this into the gaps between each link.

I leave it for about 20 minutes for the cement to start going off & then fold the tracks around the wheels, adding sag as necessary.

That's then left until the cement has set fully. Even though the links are now fully set, there's still enough flex left to remove them from the wheels for painting.

Below are a couple of photos to illustrate my method as seen on my Dragon Panzer III.

IMG_0009.jpg

IMG_0011.jpg

You can see that I've painted & weathered the lower hull first. This is because I find it easier to do so when the tank has fenders that would make fitting the tracks very difficult if left to the end.

All ancillary parts such as tools, tow cables etc are painted off the tank & added using superglue once the main painting has been finished.

I hope this helps

Patrick

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Thanks Patrick,

So a few more questions. You have built the lower hull painted and weathered it then you apply the tracks and presumably paint those.

So I can see that this will give you pretty good access to the tracks for painting and allow you to the wheel tyres. And since the fenders are part of the upper hull you don't have to worry about it limiting access to the tracks.

Presumably you paint the upper hull seperately. So when you bring the upper and lower hulls together how do you deal with the joins and filling - and the fact that glue doesn't stick to paint. So do you have to repaint the bits around the joins?

And a different question - is that Panzer grey. I have a number of Panzer Grey models in my stash - panzer grey out of the bottle and seen in some wartime photos is very dark. But many models I see are a very much lighter grey.

Were there two different greys used for early panzers or is it just that modellers think the lighter grey looks better.

Cheers,

Nigel

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No worries Nigel!

The lower hull front & rear isn't painted at all, I've only done the hull sides. So I'll mask off the tracks once the hull is fully assembled & paint everything then.

Here's an example, my SU 152 where I used an old pair of latex gloves!

downloadfile-3.jpeg

As for German Grey, you're absolutely correct that it actually was a very dark grey, almost black.

I like to use lighter colours to get a scale effect. So although a Sherman might get an Olive Drab base coat, I'd then add yellow or tan to lighten it & hit the centre of the panels with that blend.

For the P3, I'm trying out a colour modulation scheme. The base colour will be a dark grey (actually Luftwaffe Grauviolet!), followed by probably 2 more shades of grey around the edges of panels & hatch covers.

Cheers

Patrick

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I assemble as much as possible, including tools, tow ropes etc. I do leave the tracks off for painting separately though. Turrets are only glued in place after all work is done, and only then if necessary.

Painting the tools etc. in situ isn't that tough, especially if you slip a bit of 10 thou plasticard between the tool and hull where possible or a little bit of masking tape.

The single link tracks I fully assemble, but leave one link unglued to facilitate getting them on after painting.

These are some pics of a1:35 Dragon Auflarungspanzer-38t I made a while ago, which show the basic steps I used. The tracks may look whole, but one link was left unglued at the top by the rear idler wheel.

http://mbiqmodels.com/gallery/armour/dragon-135-aufklaerungspanzer-38t-mit-2cm-kwk38/

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I assemble as much as possible, including tools, tow ropes etc. I do leave the tracks off for painting separately though. Turrets are only glued in place after all work is done, and only then if necessary.

Painting the tools etc. in situ isn't that tough, especially if you slip a bit of 10 thou plasticard between the tool and hull where possible or a little bit of masking tape.

The single link tracks I fully assemble, but leave one link unglued to facilitate getting them on after painting.

These are some pics of a1:35 Dragon Auflarungspanzer-38t I made a while ago, which show the basic steps I used. The tracks may look whole, but one link was left unglued at the top by the rear idler wheel.

http://mbiqmodels.com/gallery/armour/dragon-135-aufklaerungspanzer-38t-mit-2cm-kwk38/

Thanks for the advice. Very nice model. Unusual too - must look out for one of those for myself.

So with the tracks you assemble them round the wheels but leave one join unglued - and that give you enough flexibility and movement to get the tracks on and off the wheels.

What would you have done if the tank had fenders that covered the top of the tracks.

Cheers,

Nigel

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Thanks for the advice. Very nice model. Unusual too - must look out for one of those for myself.

So with the tracks you assemble them round the wheels but leave one join unglued - and that give you enough flexibility and movement to get the tracks on and off the wheels.

What would you have done if the tank had fenders that covered the top of the tracks.

Cheers,

Nigel

It would depend on the exact model, but I'd look at leaving the sproket, idler and road wheels off for the basic paint. Then fitting things together later. Or do the track in a top section then the rest. Basically have a good think about it before I tried anything, with the aim to have as much assembled as I can before painting.

The one thing to be aware of is that the tracks can shrink VERY slightly as the glue dries. It's never been critical for me though.

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It depends on the tank but generally I glue individual track links to the road wheels while they are loose on the hull and when dry remove them as sub assemblies;

DSCN1435+small.jpg

(although on this model the tracks were glued to the rear idlers, sprockets and return rollers as the road wheels are integral to the hull)
Tanks with individual links that are held together with end connectors are left off the model as these can be easily fitted later such as this Meng T-90;

DSCN1628+small.jpg

Edited by Andy K
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What would you have done if the tank had fenders that covered the top of the tracks.

Cheers,

Nigel

In answer to this, on a recent build of a King Tiger I drilled holes in the hull and side skirts and glued plastic pins in the skirts so that these could be fitted later

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Bit late to the party but my two pennies worth.

Individual link track. I assemble to the model using tape and extra-thin as outlined above, if you can't extract the drive sprocket then leave one join unglued. The road-wheels, sprockets,idlers and return rollers are tacked in place with PVA or a tiny amount of tube glue. Then I separate all the parts for painting.

Link and length. As above but usually leave one link unglued regardless as the moulded lengths don't flex like the glued joins which then split.

Rubber/vinyl tracks. Give them a good scrub with green pan scourer then a good scrub with a mild soap solution. I find this improves paint adhesion. Then as above. If the track is too long or short then be prepared to remove and adjust the idler to get it right.

When painting the lower hull sides do the underside of the fenders at the same time having first marked off any gluing surfaces.

Then I protect the suspension as above and paint the rest of the vehicle.

Final thought; I've found that using a fine permanent marker to do the outside face of the tyres on road-wheels gives a better finish than paint and is much easier.

HTH

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