Battlefront’s Heavy Assault Gun Company

I never really meant to tool up with these leviathans. But, ages and ages, and ages, ago I finally made the effort to walk the wrong way away from Brighton’s train terminus to try and find the Dice Saloon. And when I did find it, I discovered they were doing twenty percent off Flames stuff. They didn’t have anything I really wanted in stock but a discount is a discount and hard to ignore. Plus these brutes looked, well, brutish so… Mind, I then had to walk around the hip and trendy North Laine area of Brighton with a Warhammer bag – looking a colossal knob, therefore. But, Hell, twenty percent!

The Build

It’s always a shame that there’s no instructions with BF but then, t’internet is a pretty good substitute.

Having assembled one ISU to, in theory, reveal any gotchas and glitches, I then clipped, cleaned and compartmentalised all the bits to the others on another night, ready to stitch ’em together on a third. The remaining four tanks would come together in a very tractor-factory-production-like style. Comrade Stalin would have been proud. And this was a good plan.

Except… Except, I did the hatch ‘n’ driving light before the mantlet on my test build but then did all the mantlets first on my production run.

This was a mistake.

Trying to get the hatch piece on to it’s small locating lug with the bulk of that mantlet so close was a surprising bugger. And I couldn’t find my perishing tweezers. Anywhere. So that was a bit stressful and things got a bit messy but only #67 really carries any scars and primer and paint have hidden all the pain away, thankfully.

I did also have an issue when I couldn’t work out where the butt of the DShk AA-gun ended and the connection to the sprue began, so ended up with a weird sprue protrusion that I only discovered was a weird sprue protrusion when I got round to googling the gun to find out what colour to paint the weird-looking thing. By which time the guns were precariously mounted to the tanks. Trimming them back looked like it was going to be a right pain. Arse!

Actually, the mounting point of this AA-gun to the cupola is tiny and, inevitably, a weak spot, which leaves the final assembly very vulnerable but, let’s face it, it was always going to be at risk; little 15mm turret-mounted AA-guns always will be. Stupidly spinning one hatch around so the gun would dress to the left and look a bit more fancy just magnifies that vulnerability. Hey, you have to live with your life choices.

However, very surprisingly to me, all four rogue protrusions came off without detaching any of the guns from the hull. And they survived sanding smooth the nipple each was left with. Phew. Perhaps they aren’t going to be as susceptible to casual damage on the gaming table as I feared.

I did try to bend the locating pin of one DShk to give more of a barrel down look compared to the jaunty, standard pose of the others. Not sure that worked but I tried.

The 152mm gun barrel isn’t a tight fit and, I think, would easily droop if not held in place while your glue does it’s thang. So be aware and be sure and do a dry run to see if your mileage is varying. Definitely drill out yer barrels before marrying ’em up to the mantlet. Definitely. Ahem.

Moving on, the one-piece track assemblies, when proffered up to the hull, displayed an annoying camber and, if you decide to keep the buggers perpendicular to the ground they’re going to spend their life standing on, then you get an unavoidable gap at the front betwixt the fraction of the front hull on the track piece and the actual, gen-u-ine, hull. The spare tracks malarkey goes a long way to hiding this but I had hoped to chop those up a bit, remove some sections, to introduce more individuality. I elected not to in order to hide the joins. More than a bit annoying, really.

Early doors I figured I’d go to town on cutting up the mudguards, after all, they’re Russian, utilitarian and seriously abused right? An’ that always seems to mean duffed up like nobody’s business. Why we don’t see as  many British or American tanks modelled in quite such dereliction, I don’t know. Were our tankers more prissy? Or way more careful? Anyhoo, I wanted to remove vast scale swathes of Russian pig iron from the front of several of these fellas but, what with the way a tiny bit of the hull is included in the one-piece track component, what with the build dragging on and what with me being an impatient bugger, I didn’t. I just crimped and bent things in what I would describe as, a total kop out. Meh.

I am annoyed, actually. I think I missed a trick to create some very distinctive models there, the detail in the tracks is certainly all there on that top plane and deserves to be exposed. Next time.

Paint

Halfords white primer then:
Hull – Plastic Soldier Russian Warspray
Muzzle brake – Tamiya XF-85 Rubber Black
Running gear – the hull showing behind the running gear I gave two coats of AK Interactive Dark Brown Wash and then hit it a bit with AK Interactive Track Wash.
Road wheels – a light brush of Lifecolor  UA209 Signalbraun
Tracks – Vallejo 822 Black Brown but then overcoated with Tamiya XF10 Flat Brown, then washed with AK Interactive Track Wash, which added nothing. Precisely, nothing. AK Interactive Dark Brown for Green Vehicles did more. Drybrushed with Lifecolor Panzergrau and then stroked with a 2B pencil
Spare tracks – Lifecolor Panzergrau then sponged on some Rust Streaks (which went madly ORANGE!!) and Lifecolor stuff, too. Dampened it all down with more AK Dark Brown for Green Vehicles
DShk gun – Lifecolor Panzergrau, AK Interactive Engine oil wash
DShk handles – Vallejo 826 German Camp Medium Brown
DShk magazine – Vallejo 824 Russian Green
DShk magazine straps –
Headlight – Vallejo 989 Sky Grey
Grills – AK Interactive Engine Oil followed, because I wasn’t happy with that, by some Citadel Nuln Oil but still wasn’t happy so hit it with AK’s Dark Wash for Green Vehicles until I became indifferent.
Barrel cleaning rods (is that what they are, those things across the roof?) – on other models, I’ve seen these painted as either metal or wood. I elected for wood, for a shot of colour, and did them Tamiya XF-49 Khaki.
Exhausts and the derriere – Humbrol Weathering Powder (Smoke) with a few dabs of AK Interactive Pigment Fixer
Tanker uniform – Vallejo 879 Green Brown or Vallejo 868 Dark Seagreen
Tanker helmet – Vallejo 873 US Field Drab or Vallejo 868 Dark Seagreen brushed with a bit of Vallejo 871 Leather Brown (not that it shows)
Skin – Vallejo 955 Flat Flesh

I’m going off the Warspray brew; it really stinks to high Heaven and is pretty aggressive coming out of the can. As I have persevered with my Iwata, as I have come down on a nice Tamiya paint-to-thinners mix and as I have been getting the hang of the lying Rat Fink pressure gauge on my Chinese compressor, so has my confidence in this combo’ crept up and, although that feeling hangs on a thread, the sense of control they do give me was notably absent when I let rip with the PSC Russian green from the can. I really feared I was swamping the tanks with paint. Turns out that wasn’t the case and I’m much relieved (actually, the coverage on the running gear was pretty poor but that’s plain user error). Basically, I think I need to finish off that can and be rid. The upside of which is that I’ll have to acquire more Soviet armour. Nice.

In researching the beasts I found several black ‘n’ whites on the internet that showed some 152 muzzle brakes were black. I went with this as I think it helps break up the epic lump-o-green look the 122s are burdened with.

For some reason I experimented on No.13 using a bit of Lifecolor’s Signalbraun in the creases and crevices to try and simulate rust. I overdid it, really regretted it and didn’t treat the other quartet the same. To hide my error I broke out the AK Interactive Dark Wash yet again and gave the ‘rust’ several goings over to calm it down. This worked a treat and now I wish I had hit the others with the Lifecolor but, by this time, I was growing exceptionally weary of the tanks and wanted out so I didn’t go back and revisit them.

Among the many oversights the photos revealed was that the reserve tanks were missing a smear of AK Interactive Engine Oil. I will remedy that. Some of the other mistakes and omissions can go whistle Dixie.

Decals came out of the box and the numbers on the 122s were from, I think, a PSC set I had kicking about. I let a decal-sized area of gloss varnish dry then applied the decals, let them dry for several days and then went over them again with more gloss to seal the deal.

The last bit of acrylic was a brush coat of Vallejo Matt Varnish, 62062.

Finally, I scratched up the beasts all over with a 2B pencil.

Annoyingly, when I super-glued the cocktail stick on to lucky No.13 the fumes affected the Vallejo varnish and it bloomed. I doused this in yet more AK Interactive Dark Wash.

Winding Up

Well, the assembly is super easy really. Battlefront’s stuff is never quite as challenging as PSC’s but I think that’s deliberate on the New Zealanders’ part and the fact that there aren’t too many components should make for rapid progression to the gaming table, so mission accomplished from their point of view. And the final result is a pleasing model but I prefer something a tad more interesting at the construction phase.

Ironically, I made these cat-killing fellas around the same time as I made my Zvizzdah Tigers and whereas their overly simple tracks were a disappointment, the ISUs were extraordinary in their depth of detail; a depth that made them buggers to paint, if I’m honest. But the end result is much more pleasing to the eye. 

Which is generally true of the overall look of these big ‘uns. I think they have a kinda Stugs-on-steroids look that pleases me. Now, looking at the photos, and as ever, several things leap out at me as “D’oh!” elements. For instance, all those reserve fuel tanks seem a much lighter shade than the rest of the hulls. I should have done something (anything) with the exposed track teeth and more wash was needed on the commanders to bring out some facial detail.

None of which will really show once they’re at arms-length on the table. All in all, I’m very pleased with the way they’ve turned out.

And although they’ve been a year or two in getting to this point I suspect it’ll sadly be a year or two more before they have to square up to anything Kraut that Stiggers has, such is his backlog. Nevermind, I’m hoping the AT15 will be a deep joy to one of us.

 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *