. . . and that could apply to either the progress I’ve made painting my Type 89 tanks, or the tanks themselves!
Since I knew the colours I wanted to paint them in, I’d already primed and undercoated them in Humbrol 110 not long after I assembled them (representing Japanese artillery brown). Next step was to blu-tak them onto paint tins to let me hold them for painting. I also blu-takked the turrets onto the hulls, leaving about a 1mm to 2mm gap between the turrets and hulls – this let me paint the camouflage fairly easily across the vehicles but without clogging up the turret join with paint!
First camouflage colour added was Vallejo bronze green and I added this in large, widely-spaced bands, the trick being to try and leave room for the dark brown camouflage colour to be added afterwards. I painted the green bands generally running over the top surfaces of the tanks from side to side. I can only paint so much camouflage before bogging down, so I painted the green on only one tank per evening to break it down into small, manageable chunks (even though it only took about 45 minutes per tank).
Next stage was to repeat the process with Vallejo chocolate, the theory being that I’d left enough space between the green bands to make this relatively easy. Surprisingly, this worked quite well, and all of the tanks have distinctly different camouflage patterns. I also didn’t need to add in any more green where I thought there might be too much of the lighter brown – in fact, I’ve tried to let the lighter brown predominate, so that the vehicles won’t look too dark once they get their shading/muckying wash. Once again, painted one set of chocolate bands per evening per tank. You can see in the picture below that I’ve left the gun and mantlet of the right-hand tank in light brown, even though a band of the dark brown goes across the turret front – this is because guns were supplied in the lighter artillery brown colour (so I’m led to believe).
Next steps will be to paint the tracks gunmetal grey (I adhere to the idea that no self-respecting tank commander would allow his tracks to go rusty, and would kick and cajole his crew into keeping the tracks greased up) and then add thin bands of golden brown over the three-tone camouflage scheme. The bands on real tanks were painted yellow, but I found it looked too stark and that Vallejo golden brown toned in better while still being visible. After that, I need to check that there’s room to add markings (Skytrex decals) and paint those areas in gloss varnish to act as a smooth surface for the transfers!
In addition to Steve Zaloga’s books on Pacific War armour and WW2 Japanese tanks, I’ve got the excellent bi-lingual Polish-English series on WW2 Japanese tanks from AJ-Press and these have some really good quality colour plates showing camouflage schemes and markings. After scouring the internet for the last volume, I managed to buy it from Australia and was lucky enough to know someone visiting the UK who could bring it over for me (the seller was reluctant to ship overseas)!
If this sounds exciting, I’d be surprised, because it really isn’t! But slow progress is progress nonetheless! Maybe I should have jumped back to my early school days in the 60s (Aaargh!), blobbed the camouflage colours on in big wet patches and blown the paint round with a straw! We’ve all done that, but maybe not in the 60s!