Chinese Challenge!

As seems to be usual at the moment, I’m just scraping in for this month’s painting challenge over at Ann’s Immaterium! I’ve been busy enough working on wargaming stuff, just not much of that has been finished items.

Anyway, I’ve got two tanks painted this month, both WW2 Chinese vehicles in 20mm scale (see above). On the left a Vickers 6-ton tank and on the right a Vickers-Carden-Lloyd light amphibious tank. Both types were bought in small numbers by the Chinese in the 1930s. The camouflage scheme seems to be one applied to Vickers tanks sold abroad in this period and is probably the trickiest scheme I’ve ever had to paint.

I painted the Vickers 6-tonner first. The model is a four piece resin model from one of my favourite suppliers, Frontline Wargaming. I deliberated a lot over the colours to use and decided on what looked about right, settling on a sand, medium green and medium brown in patches outlined in black. I’ve seen colour artwork showing light grey patches in addition to the other three colours, but looking at monotone photographs and some other colour artwork that I’d consider reliable, I decided to go with the three main colours and the black lines.

The problem with this scheme is that each colour patch is only bordered by the other two colours (ignore the black for now) so I wasn’t sure about the best way to go about painting it! So, here’s how I did it, step by step (not as bad as it looks):

  1. primed the tank in Humbrol enamel Khaki Drill.
  2. used a Sharpie marker pen to draw in the black edges to the coloured patches.
  3. painted a few patches in Humbrol acrylic Olive Green, spaced apart a bit (technical term)!
  4. painted some adjoining patches in Vallejo Model Color German Camouflage Medium Brown.
  5. painted some adjoining patches in VMC German Camouflage Beige.
  6. repeated steps 3 to 5 until all patches were painted. Some patch shapes/sizes had to be adjusted to ensure that only two other colours bounded each patch.
  7. repainted all the patches in a second coat to ensure all were covered evenly (necessary, since I used a fine brush and had to ensure the Sharpie lines were covered).
  8. painted the chassis, tracks and running gear in VMC German Camouflage Black Brown.
  9. shaded recessed detail in the olive green areas with VMC German Camouflage Extra Dark Green.
  10. shaded recessed detail in the beige areas with VMC English Uniform (i.e. brownish khaki).
  11. shaded recessed detail in the brown areas with VMC German Camouflage Black Brown.
  12. lined in all the patches in black using a fine brush.
  13. drybrushed the lower areas of the vehicle and mudguards with Humbrol enamel Dark Earth.
  14. drybrushed the whole vehicle with a mix of Humbrol enamel Dark Earth and white to highlight raised detail. Unlike the Yugoslav S-I-d tankettes I didn’t pick out the edges of the beige areas since I thought over all they looked OK.
  15. varnished with a Railmatch matt varnish spray.

It was a lot of work and effectively I painted the tank twice! If the patches hadn’t been outlined in black, I could have used black to shade the recessed areas but that wasn’t going to work with black lining around the patches. By the same token, I’d normally use black-grey instead of black but the multi-colour camouflage really needed the patches to be outlined in black to make them stand out. This does tend to make the recessed shading more difficult to see, but close inspection suggests it all looks about right to me!

Since I’d got the Vickers 6-tonner painted, I thought I might as well paint the light amphibious tank as well while I’d got the method in my head. This was a 1:72 scale 3-D print that I got from Shapeways only a couple of weeks earlier. The model was actually the Russian T-33 amphibious prototype based on the Vickers vehicle so I had to make some changes to it. I added a water-cooled machine gun barrel and mantlet from plastic rod and then reshaped the front of the turret slightly. I wasn’t happy that these changes made the turret look right, so I then added Milliput around the turret sides and increased the height of the turret top, carefully filing these surfaces smooth and adding hatch details to the top. The layout of the T-33’s engine deck was not quite right for the original Vickers vehicle, but I couldn’t really do anything about that. The vehicle was painted in exactly the same manner as the 6-tonner, although I think I’d got the hang of drawing the patches in and so managed to get them smaller and closer to those on the real vehicles. In Chinese service these vehicles carried geometric signs on the turret sides in red surrounding either white writing or numbers, but I left these off in this case (my freehand skills are not that great these days, but the black patch lines would tend to draw attention away from the markings anyway, or that’s my excuse).

I’m really pleased at getting these two painted and Ann’s challenge really helped with that, particularly since I’d had the 6-tonner primed and hanging around for quite a few years!

Unfortunately, there’s a sad footnote to this post. I look on the Shapeways website regularly to check the latest model releases from my favourite model designers/creators. Last weekend I discovered that the creator of the T-33 amphibious tank model had passed away on Saturday morning, which came as a shock. I really like his models, so painting them, wargaming with them and appreciating the work that’s gone into designing and manufacturing them reminds me of what skill and passion can create!


  1. I think you’ve done an excellent job on what is a tricky camouflage pattern John, the overall effect is stunning.
    Such sad news on the artist passing away, at least you’ll always have the models to remind you of his work

    Liked by 4 people

  2. I was wondering how you were going to get on with that early war camo pattern, the use of a sharpie is brilliant! They look fantastic, I will have to bookmark this post for when I eventually get ’round to other than Europe and N. Africa vehicles from WWII!

    Liked by 4 people

    • Thanks Eric! πŸ™‚ The Sharpie is good for drawing out the patches, but dries with a slight purple tinge. I found a fine brush with black much easier for painting in the final black lines and, surprisingly, didn’t have to correct too many bits!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. More nice, little tanks! I enjoyed reading about the modifications you did and the camo tutorial is much appreciated. I like this pattern and might try it myself someday on something.

    I’m glad the painting challenge helped with getting them done. Too bad about the fellow who sold you the tanks. How sad.

    Liked by 4 people

    • Thanks Ann! πŸ™‚ The challenge definitely helped, since it makes me have a good look round to see what can be done next in the timeframe, while still letting me get on with other stuff that’s under way. Painting stuff aside, there does still seem to be a lot of sad news about unfortunately – we maybe sometimes take for granted that people we’ve never seen or met bring things into our lives that make the world a better place to be in (I’m not much good with philosophy, but I’m pretty sure my heart’s in the right place)!

      Liked by 3 people

  4. Really nice work. I liked the Chinese camo pattern and tanks, but had no idea how much of a challenge that was until reading into it. Some work!
    Also sorry to hear the passing of one your fave modelers.

    Liked by 5 people

  5. They look great, the dedication to paint each tank twice is to be commended, but the end result is well worth it.

    If I ever get back to painting any Armor your posts are going to be a godsend of information and “how to”…so thanks in advance.

    Liked by 4 people

    • Thanks Anthony! πŸ™‚ To be honest, once the black lines are painted in and the highlight drybrushed on any minor faults in the basic colours would hardly be visible. I don’t think I always pick the easiest methods, but generally I’m quite happy with the results!

      Liked by 2 people

    • Thanks Frank! πŸ™‚ One source I’ve got shows a Chinese 6-tonner later in the war in a much simpler scheme, but I really wanted mine for earlier operations around Shanghai so it had to be the fiddly scheme! I did break the painting into smaller tasks to make it that bit easier though!

      Liked by 2 people

  6. Excellent job on these tanks, as always! Out of curiosity, do you use your Chinese forces much in WWII wargaming? I read a book about Chiang Kai-Shek a while back (which was quite good) and as I recall he was an interesting leader and wasn’t necessarily playing to win in many battles he was involved in. Or at least that is how I remember it!

    Liked by 3 people

    • Thanks Jeff! πŸ™‚ I’ve still to use my WW2 Chinese against the Japanese. I’ve got one Chinese infantry battalion finished, but because they’re are smaller than their Japanese counterparts, and have fewer support weapons, I need to paint a second Chinese battalion. Figures for the second battalion are cleaned, based and primed so it’s just a case of getting round to it. I think Chinese theatre fighting is not well covered in English unfortunately – the impression I got with Chiang is that he knew the Allies would eventually defeat the Japanese so he was carefully husbanding his forces for the inevitable conflict with the Chinese communists after the war.

      Liked by 3 people

      • That is very impressive, John. You may be modest about it but you have a great collection! That’s exactly what Chiang did. He frustrated the English and Americans quite a bit but I think in many ways, he knew where the real struggle would be even though he ended up losing the battle for China ultimately.

        Liked by 3 people

  7. Another late review but I saw this post on email and was blown away- but not surprised as this is so right up your alley. And in your wheelhouse. Ok, I’m overanalogizing. Anyways, as far as early war camouflage, superb. And I know how tough that can be – like the sharpie idea! Sorry about the loss of your fave modeler, but you’re honoring him with such fine work John.

    Liked by 2 people

  8. I’m shocked you didn’t go with the four-tone combination, as I find that dash of silver grey to be what really sets the Chinese camo pattern apart from those of the rest of the world (not counting the French, who are in a calls of their own, obviously). Splendid work nonetheless. Knowing the six tonner to be far from Frontline’s best, I’m encouraged to see how a migraine-inducing scheme can go a long way in dolling it up. Because there is no way I’m going to build any more of the Mirage kits, as much as I enjoyed the experience.

    The minor conversion work done on the T-33 is also a stroke of genius, one I would never have figured out on my own. And yes, it’s a terrible shame about Jarlang. Though he proved incredibly impervious to my pleas for a Landsverk tractor, his enthusiasm for interwar vehicles is to be missed.

    Here’s hoping there’ll be more KMT additions in the coming weeks. I understand 1:72 Scale Miniatures (now there’s a name sillier than EWM!) is gearing up for a Chinese range later in the year. Given the variety of sculpts they’ve accorded their XIVth Army and Japanese lines, there’s reason to be excited, though in my heart of hearts I suspect that this comprehensiveness will be let down by their choice of sculptor.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Veroo! πŸ™‚ Sorry to disappoint you with the 6-tonner! πŸ˜‰ It would actually have been easier to include the grey patches believe it or not (since it makes it easier to keep the coloured patches further apart with the extra colour) but I wasn’t certain the accuracy of the grey. Most illustrations of the 6-tonner and the VCL amphibious light tank show them both in three colours, as does the Polish book I’ve got on the 6-tonner, so I went with them. The scheme does make you go a bit goggle-eyed though! Your Mirage 6-tonners really do look excellent though!

      The T-33/VCL turret was a case trial and error. I thought it might look alright just re-shaped, but the T-33’s raised hatch just looked wrong. Adding the Milliput let me make the turret bigger all round (which looked right) and put the correct shape to the turret front. The Shapeways white, strong and flexible material (or whatever it’s called now) does not file well, so I left the hull top details as they were rather than mess it up (and the camouflage makes it tricky to see anyway)! As you say, a shame to hear about Jarlang passing, but he certainly produced a load of interesting models.

      I’ve not heard of 1:72 Scale Miniatures so I’ll look them up. To be honest though, I’ve now got most of the models/figures I want for my Chinese either painted or prepared, so might not get much more (some infantry to do, plus a Renault UE with machine gun and a Tatra T72 light truck).


  9. Superb job as always. Thanks for the blow by blow method, that will be very handy indeed. Sorry about the designer. It’s a nice wee tribute to paint up one of his designs so nicely and that we can all appreciate his work.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks mate, much appreciated! πŸ™‚ I tend to use the same method on all my vehicles except those that get a brownish wash to fit in with my older stuff. Painting the tracks, running gear and lower hulls in a dark brown and then just drybrushing them in earth makes them way easier to paint.


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