Session XXI


I abused translit.ru - that my former colleague Sergei used often for his writings - and wrote the characters down on a post-it note for copying. The main problem ended up being "which five work-related things am I going to use here, anyway?". In the end I did choose those pretty easily, hopefully not regretting my final choice later on, which'd cause annyoing repainting.


Department for Agitation and Propaganda

With the slogan-like texts ready I grabbed my tiniest paintbrush and the white VMA paint and started pondering which word would go into which turret. I thought that I'd decorate just the turrets, nothing else, so they'd be on the main turret, the gun turrets and the LMG ones. As the tank was for obvious reasons going with the project name "Arter", that was going to go to the main turret. The rest of the words/turrets combos kinda made sense to me. Of course someone who knows more about things (numbers, actually) could raise a bit of a hell about what's important and what isn't, but with my software developer's goggles this is how they got distributed :)


Onto the left side of the main turret I painted Arter, the name of my previous workplace that they changed to last spring. The whole APTEP-silliness started with a stylized name-logo where the R's looked more like P's. And when you remembered, that the cyrillic 'R' is 'P', we got plenty of bad humour out of that.

Painting the chars on the turret was slightly bothersome, thanks to the weird antenna monstrosity. I guess it ended up being readable.


The frontmost gun turret got the word/name IMS, as I worked a bit longer on that one (maybe a year), when I worked there. My original idea was to paint the words on one side only, but I ended up doing most of them on both sides. With the short words, because the fit in a reasonable manner.


Blueprint, html5-editor, process editor, a beloved child has many names. The main reason for me to use it here is that it was and still is quite a central tool in both products. That word was damn long and my handwriting wasn't that small, it didn't fit tolerably on that tiny turret-bucket twice.


QF or Qualitas Fennica didn't have any direct connection to my own everyday work, but as it was pretty important company-wise, I thought it'd make sense in this theme.


Architect, ARC, whatever people called it in speech and writing, was the other service I worked on for a bunch of years. That's why it got the place on the other gun turret, but ended up in the rear end of the tank.

All together now, comrades

Now I'm humbly apologizing the helpdesk gang, but I didn't come up with a way to mix helldesk in to this circus. I did spend an amount of time doing helpdesking too, so it'd fit in as well.


Session XX

The brushing stage

Now I had reached the paintbrush stage. Or at least I had never felt confident enough to do all this with an airbrush without wasting half a kilo of masking tape and an eyewatering amount of time. So: handcrafting called me.

The gun barrels were the first ones to be touched up, as some bits of them hadn't gotten a good coverage after all, you could see few patches of the primer showing through. Pah. After that I painted each LMG end poking through with plain black.


After the turrets I turned my sights towards the engineer's equipment and such. First I painted the insides of the lamp cupolas on the front, the iron bars (on the right side, next to the shovels) and the towcables with steel (VMA 71065 Steel). The rest of the metal parts, the shovels, the sawblade, both pickaxes and those somethings with oily steel (VMC 70865 Oily Steel). As I still remembered I touched up the LMG barrels a bit with the same paint to bring out the shapes a bit.

To complete the first session with the tools I painted the wood bits with light brown (VMA 71136 IJA Earth Brown). Ages ago I read an article where someone made his wooden parts look realistic by drawing the lines of the wood with a pencil. I kinda didn't think I'd ever be up for that. My apologies if I have rambled about this before, I know it may not be the first time. Nor the last.

Tracking, tracking, tracking...

I pondered unusually much on how to approach the caterpillar tracks this time. After the airbrushings they were still dark, but obviously much greener than what I needed. So I slapped on a layer of black with the intention of keeping that as the base, but didn't worry too much. After letting the black paint dry for a while I overpainted all of that with my brownish mix (VMA 71040 Burnt Umber + VGC 72011 Gory Red, this time I didn't add any orange).

These tracks are still waiting for their brown-red layer


Session XIX

Finishing up the base paintjob

I took some time to fix up the pieces, which kind of rounded out the second 45-min session so that despite what the posts claim, there was one more session but this made the time calculation easier. Anyway, I finished up the painting of the turrets and then I touched up some bits that had been shadowed.

Then I loaded up my airbrush with a bit of black paint and I sprayed that with a wide arc, from a decent distance, towards the rear deck, especially the engine's fan cover and the exhaust bits. Of course that made these areas stand out way too much, so I applied a fresh layer of Russian Green on top of all this to tone it down a bit. It ended up way better this way.


Session XVIII

Starting up

I began the painting by airbrushing the tracks and their immediate surroundings black (VMA 71057 Black) and the bottom of the hull and the side armour plates green (VMA 71017 Russian Green 4BO). Despite the small amount of stuff I did it took a surprisingly long time to get it all done. Maybe I was a bit rusty since it'd been ages since my last airbrushings.

The next evening I continued with the tank's deck and I also painted the first halves of the turrets (somehow I had forgotten them completely the previous evening). When the whole tank was decently greenified I took some light brown paint (VMA 71136 IJA Earth Brown) and sprayed it a bit on the deck, much more on the bottom areas, especially concentrating on the roadwheelery. I tried to get as believeable a light layer of crap I could manage.

The turrets looked pretty comical now that they were painted only from the bottom. I obviously wasn't going to leave them like that, so it was fine that they stood out like this in the wip pics.


Session XVII

A priming process in two acts


As usual, I blasted the primer on the model in two subsessions. I chose my starting side so that I'd have the most coverage. To achieve that I thought that the bottom part of the tank would be good, and as for the turrets I decided to prime the tops first. Naturally I forgot the cable wheel totally and that was the bit I intended to start with.


When I was done I left the bits to dry overnight and to my great surprise continued my priming the next evening. This time I started with the cable wheel, then finished up coating the turrets and finally the tank itself with the most weird bits and shapes. The side armour plates on the tank weren't up to my made-up requirements, so I gave them another layer of primer.

To wrap this session up I present a top-down image - and to break up the monotony of my photography a bit. That gave a pretty wintery feeling. Now it'll be nice to get back to the basic green painting.


Session XVI

Straightening up

A part of the armoured plates were grinning uglily, so I wanted to take care of them before proceeding. I didn't try anything more complicated than applying glue and squeezing the bits tightly together. Most of the bits got fixed, but I wasn't left with perfection, anyway.

A coin for scale, again


The rest of the gaps I was going to fill up with putty. But what did I find when I finally sat down and started unscrewing the cap? I immediately got a flashback (to last or even the previous year, maybe) when I touched the cap: I had only left it just a bit closed, so that it wouldn't dry up while I was applying the goo on something.

Apparently what I had used had been enough and I hadn't realized that it was still openish. All that remained was stuck inside the tube and utterly useless. Sigh.

So I went by the LHS on my way from work the next day and bought a new tube. I didn't care about the brand, so I picked up the first one I saw. The one I had earlier was Tamiya's, this was something called Mr. White Putty. It was a bit runnier than the thickish old one was, based on one trial run.

Sanding it all down

Erring on the side of caution I allowed the stuff to dry overnight and sanded the excesses off the next evening, resorting to a file in the more annoying corners. The left front of the tank looked a bit off, but that was caused by the extra gluing, not by putty that didn't feel like obeying abrasive behaviour.

I'd be priming this beast the next time(s)! On the seventeeth round, which'd be a questionable record even for me.


Session XV

The final construction post

This is the last post about the building part, trust me. I think I'll keep the same naming up until this is all done.

Side armour plates

To begin the end of this, I started by cutting off the left side's armour skirt pieces and cleaning them up from excess crap. Then I simply glued them on to the support structure, starting from the front.

No major problems occurred, other than that the armour skirts didn't just reach the deck armour at all. I did complain earlier that there were fitting issues between the deck and the tub. Here those just glared at you, as the top attatchment points of the plates didn't hit. Looking a bit further away (image 2) it didn't look too bad, but still.

The other half of the tank went just as quickly, with the same issues. I'd have to use a full session at least to putty and whoknowhowelse to fix these random things. That was going to be a post on its own, I didn't want to mix that stuff here this time.

The cable roll

My last missing piece was the cable roll, that was going to be installed to the left side of the turret cluster. I just superglued one end of the thread to the core and left it hanging. My idea was that I'd paint the roll separately and only after that and the tank were painted, I'd roll up the thread, superglue a bit near the end, cut the excess away and then glue the setup on the deck. There was enough thread for a couple of these, based on a very quick test.

The point of doing this in this order was that it wouldn't matter if and when the thread got painted on, as the ruined part of it would be hidden in the center of the roll. And the outer side would be weathered just like everthing else. As the thread's colour was just fine in my opinion, I wasn't going to paint it at all.

Schedule mumblings

At this point, when all the actual building was done and the hours locked in, I thought I'd ponder a bit on the numbers. So, I had 14 * 45 mins + this post's fifteen minutes (amazingly quick, I know!) clocked. That totaled in at 645 mins, that then turned into a slightly prettier form: 10h 45min.

Interesting, I'd say, especially as a number of earlier projects, where I've been marking down my hours (in a different way, but still) have been completely finished with these numbers. Those have all had a pretty small percentage spent on the actual building out of the whole project.

Where did all this time go, then? As we all know, a context switch is an expensive operation, and this is what has been going on a lot: 15 times starting up + doing something + wrapping up. So there's been a lot of repetition and sort of "extra" time. But a big reason for my suboptimal time usage was that my hobbying environment has changed quite a lot from what they were, say, a year ago. These 45min sessions have not been exactly full of 100% concentration, but that's life for you :)

I guess that if all my modeling projects were done in an NTP environment, they could be compared plausibly, but the real world has never behaved that way. Different models, makers and who knew what other variables were in play, all those have affected the time spent in each stage in curiously varied ways. I really wasn't going to build a dozen different versions of the same model just to get some data on this, so... yeah, this was a long build while others haven't been :p


Session XIV

Finalizing the main turret

Apparently I was so taken by the Joy of paint... I mean building, that I had completely forgotten to take more work in progress photos. Most of my time with the turret was eaten by cleaning up the cursed pieces, especially the flimsy antenna. I really had to be cautious with it and I guess I was half-paranoid, because I felt it was about to break either by bending or the knife. It didn't, but I guess I'd fixed it with a section (as many as necessary) of metal wire.

What was missing from the main turret was the "roof" with the commander's hatch and a few tiny bits. And that antenna, that I was just complaining about, it had to be attached somehow from a few, tiny points. I have to admit that I was pretty sceptical, but to my great surprise it didn't break, hadn't been malformed or mismeasured, but got attached just perfectly.

Almost done!

At this point of the text I'll say that because I had three photos, and especially as I had left the documenting part on hold, I really couldn't remember what I had done and how long anything had taken, because there was some time between these things. All I knew was that I had used up all my time for the session because I clearly remember lamenting that the building phase had to be extended one more session so that I'd get the armoured skirts on.

I guess I had had a good amount of details to be taken care of, because I just cannot believe that the turret's last few things had taken so long. No matter, the tank was almost built! Of course I could have  just left it as is and declared how it was what I'd planned all along. But that'd been a blatant lie, so maybe next time I get to say: we're done?


Session XIII

The main turret

After the tracks were done I finally got to work on the main turret. The construction order in the instructions was again somewhat curious, first I was to build the shell of the turret, then to proceed to assembling the gun itself.

There were a good amount of details in the gun itself, especially if one was to build the model with (at least) the main turret's hatches open. Or, if one felt brave enough, to paint the insides and keep the turret off the tank itself. I really didn't think I'd go for that, so most likely this was just going to be just my own sick ponderings (if someone reading this got inspired, goody).

The tank's main gun (a 76.2mm M27/32 (3" according to the converter)) looked fun and was a multiphase build. Technically that (and many other things in T-35) it was a bad idea, I've understood, but then again, many tank weapons were suboptimal during the early war years. I guess they got something broken with that gun in real life, but according to wikipedia the gun was replaced with a slightly better gun.


Now I couldn't remember if any of the tanks I'd built so far had a turret's details modeled this far. A typical turret had a couple of foldable bench-plates at best and that's been it. Here we had a proper-looking support structure and all :o These aforementioned beams were a pain in the donkey, as getting the top ring, the baseplate and these things aligned and cured properly wasn't that quick and easy. Some light and gentle swearing was required. In the end it all was just pretty good and I was quite content with it.

Turret assemblage

Gluing the heavyish gun-containing turret part onto the previous subassembly was hair-greying. Because of the mass differences I didn't even consider building it updright and then doing it upside down was still a bit complicated, as the baseplate was still heavy enough to bring some exta torsion to the show. Still, even this ended up being just fine.

The last "Emma" LMG was installed into this turret, of course. I wanted to glue it at a bit of an angle, to prevent all the spikes of this hedgehog from pointing into the same direction. Some gentle variety, you know?

All in all this was damn time consuming, as my three quarters were done and I felt like I had gotten nothing done. When packing stuff up I tried out the turret and then saw that hey, there was visible progress again.


Session XII

The pleasant rattle of the caterpillar tracks

When I returned back to my table I could take a step back and return to the track building parts I had skipped earlier. I wasn't really excited about this as they consisted of a bunch of long and short strips, and those have always been somewhat inconvenient to assemble. The instructions always have come with a "use so-and-so many bits and it'll be good" count and that has never been exact but they've always been "not close enough". So, having no better idea, I followed to guidelines and prepared a suggested amount of pieces per track.

The first track (for the left side) got assembled rather painlessly, even if I had to remove one individual link from the front end, because why in the Empire would the instructions and the reality agree on anything? Not that it was perfect even with that one extra link removed, there still was a bit of slack, but that was most likely because of the shaped top piece being slightly imperfectly set.

Next track went much quicker, which has always been the case: the first one taught me how the next one was to be done. This time I got the track aligned properly and as I had dropped off that one link before assembling, it was just the right size. Hooray!

Joining the main hull parts

I allowed the monstrosity to rest on its tracks for a bit, meanwhile I cleaned up the driver's vertical armour plate for installation. No matter how much I dry-fitted the armoured deck plate on the bottom hull, it didn't end up well-aligned at all, especially the rear of the tank. There'd be fixing later on, in the photo you could see the liquid glue bottle as a quick "hold it down, will ya?" solution. Again I left the side cutters and my hobby knife in the photo for scale.