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):
- primed the tank in Humbrol enamel Khaki Drill.
- used a Sharpie marker pen to draw in the black edges to the coloured patches.
- painted a few patches in Humbrol acrylic Olive Green, spaced apart a bit (technical term)!
- painted some adjoining patches in Vallejo Model Color German Camouflage Medium Brown.
- painted some adjoining patches in VMC German Camouflage Beige.
- 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.
- 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).
- painted the chassis, tracks and running gear in VMC German Camouflage Black Brown.
- shaded recessed detail in the olive green areas with VMC German Camouflage Extra Dark Green.
- shaded recessed detail in the beige areas with VMC English Uniform (i.e. brownish khaki).
- shaded recessed detail in the brown areas with VMC German Camouflage Black Brown.
- lined in all the patches in black using a fine brush.
- drybrushed the lower areas of the vehicle and mudguards with Humbrol enamel Dark Earth.
- 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.
- 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!