Battlefront’s Cat Killers

Ever one for preserving symmetry and by way of offering some kinda balance on the blog, what with the previous post being some stuff about Battlefront’s Jagdpanthers, here’s some stuff about Battlefront’s Cat Killers box of joy.

The Build

So first up, there’s the possibility, again – see that Jagdpanther post – of making ten tanks from a box o’ five which, at Battlefront prices, is not to be lightly sniffed at. Those with magnet fetishes can go clever and complete the alternative bodies to switcheroo on the one chassis, while those of us with some spare PSC tracks, some plasticard and daydreams of actually being quite good modellers can go one stage further and scratchbuild five extra chassis. Whichever way you skin these cats, all ten can be fielded at one time if you’re cunning. ‘Skin these cats’? Panthers and Cat Killers? Cats. Skinning. See what I did there? ‘Skin these cats’? Quality.

Mind, when I say that, it suggests I’m gonna head straight off and do it or have already done so. I’m not. I am super slow at this kit building malarkey so it’ll be a while before any bonus SU100s show up on my table.

Anyhoo, back to the practical aspects of the kit and you do get a lot of spare bits on the sprue. Curious bits, too. Looks like some epic front mudguards (I think that’s what they must be), along with two extra gun barrels, hatches galore and more external fuel tanks than you could wave a petrol pump at. There’s also some odd storage boxes that plain don’t belong to these SUs.

With all these bits busying up the sprues you might think these tanks are a fiddly build but they are spare bits remember, and the main event really is stunningly simple to build: there’s just eleven pieces if you go with the conjoined spare fuel tanks and absolutely no construction cul-de-sacs or gotchas. Hell, there isn’t even a hull-mounted machine gun to snap when removing from the sprue. Stitching the five together was a breeze. To my mind the ethos down under is to get representative models on the table as quickly as possible, because that, and that alone, is the hobby. Game on. The ethos in Sussex is, I think, to offer an extra dimension to table-bound gamers and make the construction of the toys part of the pastime. I’m kinda more in tune with the latter approach, really. That’s my theory and I think it means I generally prefer PSC’s more sophisticated offerings.

That said, simple assembly or no, this box builds some very nice looking tabletop weaponry. The track detail, once again, trumps that from PSC and the proportions of the beasts ‘feels’ right. Whether they are scale or not, I know not. But the things look right, so I’m a happy tanker.

I elected to mess with the disposition of the external fuel tanks in pursuit of some faux wear and tear and individuality. I also drilled out the gun barrels but really wish I’d duffed up the mudguards, front and rear. Sometimes, sometimes, I’m in too much of a rush with these things.

The included decals you find in the box are a nice touch and there’s a good few of ‘em. If there were but another outfit touting plastic SUs only without a sheet of markings, you might be persuaded by that. Maybe. However, I am a model tank snob and don’t want my tanks looking like your tanks, thank you very much. So I went very simple with the adornments and just whacked on some simple unit numbers.

Painting

One reason to love the commies is the uniform colour scheme they used. I loved the simplicity of a single spray of paint after a bit of tri-colour tomfoolery with the fascists.

If the painting was easy and rewarding the weathering was extremely disappointing. I took my time and was really happy with the way the carefully applied pigments gave a real battle-weary and dusty look to the beasts. But, alas and alack, they just plain darkened and disappeared when a) I fixed them, and then, b) I sprayed a coat of Testors Dullcote over the whole piece. What the what? How did that happen? #EpicFail

I have a few Zevvzzedva KV-1s I built ages ago when, fueled with boyish eagerness to start my first army after Stiggers gave me a V3 rulebook, I bought too soon and without proper thought. I am prepared, in true communist style, to sacrifice one or two of them to experiment with pigments, hoping that the end justifies the means, as it were, and I can improve my pigment action. Because this was a very disappointing performance. And right now, I don’t have a pigment action.

Back with the paint pots, here’s what I gone done did by way of a paint recipe:

Bodywork – PSC Tank Warspray Russian
Tracks – Lifecolor Panzergrau (I think) washed with a lot of AK Interactive Track Wash
Road Wheels – Tamiya XF-85 Rubber Black
Engine covers – Brushed with a bit of Nuln Oil a few times.

Those simpe decal numbers recline on a fresh bed of Humbrol Gloss Cote, brushed first with a DecalFix jus and then a Humbrol Matt Cote glaze.

The whole enchilada was then washed down with AK Interactive Dark Wash for Green Vehicles before I hit the bodywork with some judicious 2B pencil work on the tracks and superstructure edges.

As stated earlier, Testors Dullcote finished things off.

Since photographing the little litter and looking at the snaps – highly recommended as a way of seeing anew what you think you’ve finished – I’ve hit them with a bit more wash ‘n’ pencil and generally tidied (dirtied) them and the commander up a tad more.

Winding Up

So here’s a thing; I like tanks. But, I think I like tank destroyers more. For starters, it’s a two-word name and the second word is, ‘destroyers’. Kewl. And I just can’t help but say that word in a Twisted Sister kinda way.

For the main course, there’s the look of the beasts; to me, they’re like chunky little iron forts on wheels. Double kewl.

Finally, afters and for pudding, and in the game we call Flames, there’s reasonable front armour and a pokey ol’ gun at solid points. What’s not to like?

The Krauts had the most iconic tank destroyers (“Destroyer. He’s… in… town…”). No question. The Allies? They either cheated and had turrets or put the guns on back-to-front. Which was stupid. But Ivan had proper, simple, eff-off, Ronseal jobs like these and Battlefront have done a solid job of replicating them. Bit pricey but nice.

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