Where the Streets Have No Name

As military modelers we often throw around the phrase; “living in the golden age of modeling”. And while it is certainly true that the variety and quality of the kits that are now available are mind-blowing, perhaps a more accurate term might be “accessibility”, meaning, that our access to real-life and real-time “inspiration” (for lack of a better term) is now unprecedented. The world is at our fingertips by simply logging into our Facebook feed, watching a YouTube video or by joining any one of the many specialized groups, we are provided with unfiltered access to world events. I wouldn’t imagine that when Trumpeter released the Russian 2S3 Akatsiya in 2013, they had any idea that these vehicles recent “claim to fame” would be in the deadly, close-quarter urban battlefields of Syria.  However, here it is – from the pictures and YouTube videos coming out of Syria that I found inspiration for my take on this Russian-built heavy hitter.

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Chariots of Firepower

The Merkava or ”Chariot” is Israel’s first domestically designed and produced main battle tank. It was developed in the late 1970’s after Israel was unable to procure the British Chieftain. Incorporating the lessons learned by the IDF during their past wars.

The Merkava was first used in combat during the 1982 Lebanon War, where Israel deployed 180 units.  The wartime experience brought to light some vehicle shortcomings. These shortcomings were noted and adjustments were designed into the MkII production models. The Mk.I tanks were retrofitted with some of the new Mk.II features – such as the installation of chain netting to the rear of the turret in order to eliminate a shot trap.  The results became known as the Mk.I Hybrid, which is the subject of this article.

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Shoot to Thrill

The images that have come to us during these past years from the Ukrainian Crisis have certainly have been compelling; often showing the despair, tragedy, and destruction that comes with war.  But for modelers, it has also provided us with a wealth of real-time, modern reference materials; captured and re-purposed vehicles with colorful identification bands, make-shift vehicles, improvised armor and gaudy camouflage schemes.  These “traditional” references are all well-n-good, but when you can combine armor with rock-n-roll – then you have it cranked to 11! 

The reference for this project came from 2 images, found online, showing a Ukraine force BRDM-2 situated on a lonely road – apparently providing check-point services.   A worn, scuffed and distressed vehicle that had obviously seen its share of use – including the requisite white I.D. stripes.  What makes this vehicle takes it to an 11 is the addition of a large AC/DC logo emblazed on either side the vehicle.  Oh yea, Rock-n-Roll, Baby!

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French Firepower AMX13/90

It’s usually at about this point in most modeling articles that the author provides a brief description of the vehicle in question.  Quite honestly, if I were to give any sort of technical or service description of the AMX-13/90 it would be at best a labored, semi-creative re-write of a Wikipedia description – or worse – simply blatant plagiarism.  That is to say, I really do not have any insight or particular knowledge into this vehicle – no more so than any of you could easily find for yourself with a few key-strokes.  What I can speak to, however, is to how this AFV’s relative obscurity (at least to me anyway) and quirky turret drew my attention.  The simple fact of the matter is that it looks pretty cool!    

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Full Metal Monster

In a letter written in 1487, Leonardo da Vinci wrote the following;

“I can make armored cars, safe and unassailable, which will enter the closed ranks of the enemy with their artillery, and no company of soldiers is so great that it will not break through them. And behind these our infantry will be able to follow quite unharmed and without any opposition.”

However, it wasn’t until 1915, following a demonstration of the Killen-Strait tractor, that a young First Lord of the Admiralty, Winston Churchill, pushed the sponsorship of the Landships Committee to investigate the potential of constructing a new weapon that, it was hoped, could to break the stalemate of trench warfare.  In 1916, a massive iron beast (given the name “tank” to protect its’ secrecy) rumbled across the barren battlefield and into history.

Their first operational use was in September at Flers-Courcelette, but this first attempt was a near disaster. Most of the tanks broke down on their way, others bogged down in the mud. However, despite the lack of training of their crews, some managed to reach their designated objective, if only too few. Only 59 were part of this attack, most of them being captured afterward by the Germans. The first issues quickly arrived at the War Office. When they appeared however through the fog, they had an uncanny psychological effect on the German troops, which fled their trenches, leaving their machine guns. The distant roar and clinging of the tracks, and later the slow-moving masses emerging from the fog which resembled nothing built yet were enough. But their ability to take punishment and return fire was compelled by the fact the Germans were caught completely unaware of their existence. A real surprise achieved by the well-guarded secret behind the name that stuck ever since, the “tank”.

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Puddle Jumper

The echo of a buzzing engine reverberates off of the steep mountain slopes while a small plane begins a quick descent towards a small, sparkling wilderness lake below.  A muffled thump and a splash announce the craft’s touchdown on the cold, crystal clear Alaskan waters.  The Puddle Jumper has arrived signaling another day’s adventure.  Whether you are making a small puddle, a stream or a deep clear water lake, using a two-part urethane resin can be a useful option when creating water effects.  In this article, we will see how to combine urethane resin along with some easily available water making products to make a clear water lake.

Building and painting aircraft is a bit outside my usual zone.  Building and painting civilian aircraft, especially a seaplane is, really outside my zone.  But, I gotta say I was pretty excited for the challenge.  Not only would the model subject be new and exciting, but creating a watery scene would certainly be a fun adventure.

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End of the Line

 

Retired from the tracks, many old locomotives find themselves left to decay in forgotten graveyards of steel and rust.   Once proud and powerful, the crippled Iron Horse is put out to pasture to await its fate with the cutting torch.  This HO scene portrays such a graveyard, the Last Stop for locomotives. 

This project began with a trip to my local train store to purchase an HO scale locomotive, which I did.  However, while talking with the store owner about my upcoming project he suggested that take a look at the Bachman scale train website were they offer replacement parts for those wishing to customize their trains.  A few mouse clicks later and I was awash in all sorts of extra locomotive goodies that would be perfect for adding to my scene.  And then without hesitation or remorse, I  proceeded to ruin a perfectly good HO scale engine by cutting off the front boiler hatch and removing all of the visible “guts”.  The purpose, of course, for this Iron Horse sacrifice is to portray an engine that looks as though it’s been abandoned, and scavenged for usable parts and scrap metal. 

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Aftermath, Berlin 1945

 

The “all clear” sirens wail as the morning sun casts a diffused glow over the smoldering ruins of the shattered city.  The Thousand Year Reich has become a wasteland; fear and desperation are the new realities for its citizens. From shelters and basements throughout Berlin, those fortunate enough to survive the past nights’ air raid return to their routine of existence in this desolate wasteland. 

This scene portrays Berlin as it might have been in the closing days of the war – or perhaps just after the war has ended.   The Battle for Berlin ended on May 2, 1945, and whether this scene takes place before or after that date is really a difference without a distinction for the inhabitants of the city.  For them, their reality is the desperate hopelessness of defeat.   Aftermath.

The Saloon Car from Bronco will be one of the focal points of this small Berlin vignette.  To better convey the wreckage caused by the bombing, I want to show a portion of the car’s roof crushed by the fallen rubble and so in order to do this, I’ll replace an area of the plastic roof with a thin brass sheet.  The plastic is removed using the cutting wheel on my Dremel tool and then the rough edges are cleaned-up and a few extra “dents” are added to the plastic. 

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Frankfurt Main AG

 

 

If there was ever one of those Just Do Something to Do Something projects, this is certainly it!!  I had contacted my friend Charlie Pritchett who is working with the TAKOM model company.  I took advantage of this knowing that if I asked for “something to work on” he’d find something that he’d like showcased for the line.  Fair enough!!   The offer was the T3 Transporter (VW) vans.  Takom offers two styles, a van edition, and a short-cab rear cargo version.  On the Takom website, both are conceptualized in German/NATO camo as they have history being used for general purpose vehicles.  That was going to be fine with me….however…..follow me….

On most days I ride my bike to work each day – 15 miles.  After arriving, I change my clothes and then walk to the nearby shops to bring back my morning cup of coffee.  About 2 blocks from my work there is a railroad crossing that, on most days, is a pain in the ass because my timing seems to always coincide with a long, slow train blocking my morning walk.

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Weathering the Rails

HeaderIf you happen to read these articles in any sort of sequential manner, you’ll notice that it’s been quite a while since I’ve updated.  Kinda sucks!  Not so much for you as I doubt that you pay too much attention to any of this, but for me indicates that either I’m not building models or that I’m lazy.  The truth lays somewhere in the middle – busy and lazy. (can the two co-exist?)  Well….sure, why not?

What I have been doing, in a modeling sense, is quite a few projects for AMMO of Mig Jimenez.  Again, if you read sequentially you’ll have followed my path within the industry….first with MIG Productions, then AK Interactive and now with AMMO.  I have enjoyed every aspect and very much appreciate the opportunities that I have been presented to me, but I am extremely happy working with the AMMO team and have enjoyed every minute of it. 

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