Well, I’ve actually managed to finish a couple of vehicles for this month’s Mechanical November painting challenge, both of them being 3-D printed models from Shapeways.  The models are both 1:72 WW2 subjects, a Netherlands East Indies Army Marmon Harrington CTLS light tank and a Japanese Army Nissan 80 truck.


I painted the Nissan 80 early in November and it’s a fairly simple paint job of Humbrol 110 (representing Japanese artillery brown, a standard finish) with a brown/black wash to shade it and mucky it up.  Since the cab is printed solid (in fact, the truck is printed as one piece), I painted the windows in a grey and added a bit of shade and highlight, which I think came out looking OK!  I bought this model because it’s different from the more common Type 94 truck, has a bit of character and I couldn’t find any other model of it in 1:72 scale.  The model is made from the basic “white natural versatile plastic” and has a slight grainy finish, but it’s not that obvious when it’s painted.  The Shapeways designer who created this model has an extensive portfolio of models available in a few scales – you can check them out here.


I’ve waited about 35 years for someone to produce a CTLS light tank, ever since I found out that they were used by the Dutch from Steve Zaloga’s Armour Of The Pacific War book!  You can get a resin one, but it’s got separate fiddly track links to fit and costs almost as much as the printed one!  The designer of the Shapeways model offered it in a few scales but not 1:72, so I asked if there was any chance it could be made available in that scale and he generously obliged (I should maybe add I have no affiliation with Shapeways or any of its designers)!  He’s also got a good range of models in different scales.


This model is offered in “smooth fine detail plastic” and is better for finer shapes but consequently more expensive.  The US Army took over those CTLS tanks that could not be delivered to the Netherlands East Indies and used them for training and local defence in WW2.  The US called them T14 and T16 light tanks – two models were produced of the CTLS, each with the limited traverse turret on either the right- or left-hand side of the vehicle.  Since they were meant to be used in pairs I bought one of each, but so far I’ve only finished the T16 version with the turret on the right-hand side.


This is a nice model that comes in two parts, turret and hull, with the machine guns already attached.  I followed Steve Zaloga’s description of Dutch Vickers light tanks and painted the upper portions in Vallejo bronze green with black shading added.  I painted the tracks, suspension, running gear and lower hull in Vallejo German camouflage black brown and then drybrushed it in Humbrol dark earth – this is a quick and easy way to mucky/shade trackwork that looks not half bad.  The whole vehicle then got a light drybrush with a sand mix to pick out the detail.  In these colours it matches other NEI army vehicles I’ve got.

Some people seem critical of 3-D printed models, but Shapeways appear to use fine grade materials and high resolution printers that produce a good finish (my understanding of the process is basic) so I’m more than happy with what I get.  The way I see it, I might pay more but don’t need to trim, file, fill or stick anything together, so I can get straight on with painting!  As far as Mechanical November’s concerned, this model has been ordered, printed, delivered and painted in November!


Just for completeness, it only seems fair to feature my only other NEI army tanks, two Vickers light tanks completely scratchbuilt from card around 1983/84 (again, inspired by Steve Zaloga’s book), one of which is shown above.  They’re in bronze green but just washed in earth to mucky them up, with hand-painted registration numbers but no shading or highlighting (I hadn’t really thought about that back then).  Just as well I can buy 3D printed models of less common tanks now, ’cause I don’t think I could manage to make such fiddly things these days!


    • Thanks Azazel! For such a small tank I think the T16/CTLS has quite a bit of character. I think the gun barrels are just thick enough for strength, but I’m trying to be careful when I drybrush them. Funnily enough, the more grainy, white, plastic is much stronger!

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  1. First off, great job on painting those. Fine looking minis and look really nice with your paints on them!

    Second, glad to hear someone else’s experience with Shapeways. The model in my Avatar pic is from Shapeways. I don’t know that I chose the right plastic, as it’s a bit fragile and I’d worry too much about it being used in a game. Also, a bit spendy, but sometimes that’s what you have to pay to get what you really like!

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    • Thanks, mate, appreciate your comments! I hadn’t realised your avatar model was a Shapeways model! I’ve found the cheaper white strong and flexible material much more durable and I can live with the slight grainy texture. But the fine detail material that the CTLS tank is in does work well! Agree with you on prices, I’m finding I can get 3-D prints of models I can’t get elsewhere, so might as well.

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    • Seeing Shapeways’ new (huge) price increase on the sort of stuff I buy, I have to say that I’m out. At least until I purchase my own 3-D printer (I’ve easily spent enough there to buy my own, so…)

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  2. Nice job on the truck and the CTLS tank. On the truck, I like the windows – nice touches there that I will file away for future use, thank you! As for the CTLS, I love obscure tanks. We actually deployed them to the Aleutians as well, but I don’t think they ever fired in anger up there. I am assuming that you can rotate the turret? Appreciate the link to Shapeways, though I will try (keyword try) to discipline myself to finish my current inventory before I branch out. Lovely work, great post!


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