Sunday, October 25

Read n’ Reviewed – Mike Rinaldi’s “TANKART IV German Armour” ….

Nine Models, Open top SPG’s, King Tigers, Panzer Grey, Disk camouflage, Ostketten, Panzer Yellow, green and brown – it sounds like Rinaldi Studio Press' latest opus “TANKART IV German Armour” is available. Let’s take a look at this all new volume and see what think after we finished reading it…
Read n’ Reviewed – “TANKART IV German Armour”
By Michael Rinaldi
Colour photographs throughout
English Text
224 pages in 8.5" x 9.5" (216mm x 241mm) format
Soft and hardcover
US ISBN: 978-0-9883363-4-8
Price $35 USD (plus shipping)
Available from the RSP website directly  
We have reviewed three of Mike Rinaldi’s books before – TANKART I was the first book concerned with German armour, TANKART II was WWII Allied armour and TANKART III featured Modern Armour. It’s time for part II of RSP’s work on the German armour of WWII as we have read their latest. If you REALLY want to know what this one is about more than a glance-over you's better strap yourselves in for a long one.
I say that because really you can review this type of book in a paragraph but you really will not learn much about the heart of it. The book tips it’s hat to the earlier works of Sheperd Paine and the inspiration he served. This series is however several decades on and times have changed & modelling standards have improved – would it build on the earlier books in this series and become something like what these books from Paine and Verlinden were to us as we were young modellers? Let’s see…

Colour coded pages separate the chapters for easy reference.
Weighing in at 224 pages, this book measures at 8.5" x 9.5" (216mm x 241mm) in a squarish but portrait format. The pages are thick with a heavy duty matt stock laminated cover which has held up pretty well both in transit and then over the two weeks I have carted it all around with me whilst reading it. The softcover is actually good because books this size in hardcover tend to get dog-eared when taking them anywhere and this one has kept it’s looks pretty well so far.

Another thing that helps is RSP's exclusive LayFlat Binding lay open and stay flat on the workbench. This helps when you are reading and doing. What this book was really meant to do. It is a guide you can take with you to the bench or wherever you get forced into making your models away from civilization and open flat. The binding is tough but flexible and mine still closes OK and no cracks on the spine are evident.
 This is how the book looks after taking all round the place in my bag for the last few weeks and pressing open hard - not bad..
While we are looking at looks it’s obvious now I know that the author has had some graphic design experience. The pages are laid out well and the dual text format is surprisingly easy to follow. The writing is in English only, and although that might be a problem to some I am sure that the one language approach makes for an easier to read book.
In all a total of nine models are shown in this book, seven of which have never been published before and two of these new models are the more difficult to get right open top SPG's – this will be interesting… On to the review of what’s inside.
Although this review goes thru the book blow by blow I will try not to give too much of it away. I’ll explain each chapter’s layout and general drive in my recollection.

The first thing i notice when looking at this book even in overview. I really enjoy how the author DOES NOT stick to one type of paint or weathering product. He does discuss in the book that having all of these new products are great but nothing stands out like practicing till perfect your technique before applying your chemicals to the model. This is shown thru the book and even though there are some that keep turning up (as they work better then others let’s face it) this is not a paint selling catalogue…

The author’s introduction is a bit of an insight to his mind-set of the writing – I have noticed that the time from the writing of the intro to the publishing has been many months – so I was interested to see if his philosophies had altered. It is always nice to hear from the heart of these guys what the best modellers think about this hobby to see if it’s anything like our own thoughts.
Mike has written this book with the theory that you might be familiar with his earlier works. TANKART Part IV bookends the first title in this four book series which is also focused on German armour. The colour schemes and types of vehicles compliment the first volume’s works in a way that you learn some different types of modelling. The author lets us know that he will be focusing on getting those basics you learnt in the first volume like almost second nature so you can move onwards (and hopefully upwards in skill) from this point of your modelling. He stresses on the theory of “perfect practice” which he explains in the book and hopefully this passes on to the reader – I know I like the theories presented here so far.

The introduction’s theory almost spills over into the first chapter which is called the Technique Proficiency chapter. This is all about getting the basics right. When I mean the basics it is a bit of a walkthrough of all the major weathering tricks you can do with tips on how to do it and how NOT to do it. From the pinwash, hairspray & whitewash chipping, using pigments and then the German specialty of applying the disk pattern camo.
Mike then walks us through many more of the basics that you need to nail down if you want to become an expert in German armour in SBS (Step by step) form. Whitewashing, and how to get the best (and correct shade) out of Panzer Grey in several different shades on this vehicle. Mike shows us several versions of this staple of the early German WWII colour scheme and we see how to create our own variation with something realistic that doesn’t delve into a light blue colour. Although there is a lot of artistic expression in this book Mike’s essays in this book always fall into the realism side rather than the artistic licence which I really appreciate.
We go even deeper in the next section, with the author’s tutorials of winter whitewashing. With four models in all three main scales of 1/72, 1/48 and 1/35, he shows us again a variation on a theme. The last chapter features the realistic differences in Panzer grey but there were many applications in the field and many different conditions of this paint, whether it be brand new, dirty with mud or almost worn off.

We start this in next section of the book with a look at the small scale 1/72nd Panzer IV F.1. This tiny tank is an interesting place to start because it’s hard to get the scale realism on such a small AFV, but it’s great to see other scales at work in this book. It lets us know the author is trying to include more modellers in his books. With this tank he shows us V.1, V.2 & V.3 (three different versions – all of which he will show you again later in the book) of the same principle of whitewash. Ranging from a quite opaque to a medium coverage to a full white and dirtied up little tank from dragon. All three schemes should be in any German armour modeller’s kitbag and to be honest this could work on not just grey WWII AFV’s.
We go “up” a scale now, with the 1/48th scale Tamiya Hetzer tank destroyer in another technique description. This is a late war version so the chipping takes on a different look in colour and scale realism as well. Again there are more and more people modelling in 48th scale and this looks as good as anything I have seen in 35th scale. The inclusion of these different scales is commendable.

The chipping here is in a different style in that it is rather sharp and not so worn. We also get the added SBS of the pinwash of the panels, filtering and mapping to show the white in different shades. The added details to the kit like the undercoated side skirts and stowage give this kit a look that many would like to replicate. Now we have a guide to do just that.

We then look at the third of these whitewashed vehicle step by steps. The “Elefant” tank destroyer in the larger 35th scale is next and boy isn’t it well done. The yellow/brown summer camo has been painted over with winter white. He made me laugh when he called it his “White Elefant” - far from it!
The large slabbed sides are broken up with Zimmerit and this surface is firstly whitewashed (Version 1 remember), then chipped, mapped (V.1) but mike isn’t happy with that. He pushes the envelope to the V.2 of whitewash, with a second layer adding depth and some mapping (V.3), before he stops to look at the whole vehicle’s overall look and composition and adds his thought on the realism of the model.

Another short gunned vehicle we might want to model is Tamiya’s 35th scale StuG III Auf.B. Mike’s last in this short series of whitewash masterclass takes us from a red undercoat to the panzer grey and then white winterized vehicle. Realism was a focus of this vehicle as Mike attempted to replicate a picture he had of one of his favourite tanks.

I like the planning that went into the painting of this vehicle. You can see the choices in the logical steps taken in these SBS. The chipping, pinwash, filtering and pigmentation on this StuG is really a treat to see and to me a thing I think I could have a crack at now I have seen it shown and shown again in this section.
The result of these skills – practiced to perfection and shown in several different strengths - is admirable and these sections are an impressive achievement and a very nice and compact lesson.

The book then goes on to the real meat – the major builds. After the Technical proficiency and whitewash chapter we get to the four main model chapters from the main author with an extra bonus chapter featuring Belgian modeller Mr.Mario Eens captured Char B1 bis in German service.  
For those who are not used to this format each of these chapters has a dual text narrative. The real story of the model in block text and then the SBS “Step by Step” sections that show the more in depth detail side by side. It sometimes is distracting to me, but as long as you take it all in bit by bit it is actually quite helpful and the block text adds to the build. Each of these sections is about thirty pages in length and we first look at the model as it is built unpainted as a starting step. The author talks a little about adding details before we go into the application of paint and product. 
First off we look at the king – the King Tiger with Zimmerit. Probably one of the most popular choices to a lot of German armour modellers this is a welcome sight to see. Put together in it’s bare state with the help of a friend, this tank is first presented in a bare, unpainted stage with highlights pointing to the  additions to the details of the stock tank the author is made that he will enhance with paint in his drive for scale realism.

The layers of the paint are shown in quick reference charts. Each layer is easy to recall in this dual text format with these little boxes. They feature not only paint call outs but tips on what you are looking at and most importantly the thoughts on the author about his progress, what he is trying to achieve and how his vision is faring so far. This insight is invaluable and if you take the time to read and take it all in I do think you will become a better modeller, or at least be more thoughtful about what you want to represent.
The very lightly whitewashed, heavily dirtied and snow covered tracked Kingtiger is then seen in a short wrap up with the author’s thoughts and lastly a picture map which covers each of the models steps in stages. This is unique to These series that I have seen and a great way to recall what was done and where in the chapter.
The second of Mike’s build chapter features is a little different in subject. The 35th scale Nashorn tank destroyer is next. Straight away you will see the many challenges to modellers with the mixed disk camouflage and open to the elements interior.
The hybrid of different gun and Hornisse body is added to with the wider Ostketten and other parts from the griffon PE set. We do not dilly-dally to long on the construction though, as we firstly though we look at the interior as this is a chance for the author to use his own OPR (oil paint rendering) along with chipping and scratching to create something that not only draws the eye but something that he feels he could call scale realistic.
We then go outside the slabs of this tank destroyer. Taking a look at the primer and base colours and then in short order look at applying the disk camouflage. Interestingly we are shown both this camo technique and the replacement gun and mantle with a striped camouflage. Tracks are an important part of any kit and the burnishing of these Ostketten tracks and weathering processes is discussed.
The end product, with tracks and armour weathered is pretty remarkable and the getting there is an entertaining read.

We go topless again again with the 35th scale Dragon kit of the Grille Ausf. M. It is nice to read about this model’s influence being in another model that he saw from an article. Not many book authors would stop to let us know about that, but this is just part of the train of thought in the dual format text approach in this book and the whole series. So its something of a tribute to another model he had read in an article, the author adds his own style to this kit that starts off with (selected) added details by Griffon’s extensive PE set.
This kit is built and painted from the inside out and this time we do see a lot more bout the model IN CONSTRUCTION which I kind of wish we saw more of at parts of this book. The intricate PE in the ammo storage, shelving, gun and crew cabin details. It’s great to see that this isn’t all the smart kit but a lot from the modeller himself. 
The interior is given the  same treatment we might see on the outside of Mike’s models, the weathering elements and painting effects using his OPR methods are explained, we see more of his thoughts on the WHY and HOW of his methods which really tie you into the process.
The striped camouflage is added to with an exploration of the new “Mr Paint” brand which I had not seen in action before. We also see some burnt and rusted exhaust painting tutorial with Lifecolor paints before we mode to the outside of the AFV with all of the weathering steps we have already seen explained in depth.

Next in a kitbash of Dragon and Tamiya parts we have a 35th scale Sturminfanteriegeshutz 33B in all of it’s panzer grey with whitewash over the top. This little known model is gradually getting further and further away from the King Tiger, the Nashorn and the Grille and I am really glad Mike has taken it onto himself to show such diversity in this book where there is something for everyone in the German armour field.
Several pages of construction (J) are followed by a Panzer Grey lesson with chipping and other weathering colours shown in the walk around and in the accompanying charts in the break out boxes of text. We look at how to achieve this basis in several layers that add to the SBS in the technique chapter.
Whitewash is applied ever so lightly and then the hairspray chipping method is revisited. It’s good to see this expanded on many times in this book and the perfect practice the author talks about in the opening chapters is displayed here in a payoff of all of the hard work. The whitewash is scraped pretty realistically and the tracks (resin) are discussed with the alternate way you should weather them to give these wide ostketten the look we are after in this scale. This is another kit that any of us would be proud to have made and a good way of finishing off the author’s own chapters.
For something different again we see another modeller’s work in this guest chapter. The very talented Belgian modeller Mr.Mario Eens is next – with his not-so-German-armour captured Char B1 bis french tank.
Although a departure it is no less important to show a Beutepanzer (Beute - trophy, Panzer - tank) here. Many modellers look for an alternative angle and Mario shows us how he attempts the same German Panzer Grey albeit on an unfamiliar but just as interesting shape.
Although this tank (called the PzKpfw 740B2 (f)) from Tamiya is a pretty accurate kit Mario added quite a lot of surface texture and extra details from the Voyager PE set to the construction which he shows us in detail with equally good pictures as the rest of the book, his writing is a little different to Mike’s, however I did like this chapter just as much and it did feel like a bonus at the end of the book. In the past these chapters were on figure modelling. But I guess people wanted “More tanks!” so this is why you get more German AFV than you might have bargained for.
The painting of this vehicle followed a different path, the mostly Vallejo colours were added to with oils and the drybrushing and chipping is approached a little differently which is nice to see.

Apart from the weathering and rust applied to the vehicle there was some extensive coverage shown of the detailing of the stowage, the track detailing and the realism of the vehicle once finished as a whole. Mari is a great modeller and his thoughts are just as interesting as the authors. Especially if you read the book all at once like I did. It’s always good to see another’s view on his hobby.
Well I think I have written too much already – see when you read this book it is pretty hard not to get caught up in it. The one thing I think that might be a setback to some are the sheer amount of information provided here and time you must spend to read it all. To me this book is best read in sections, a little every day and definitely this book is one you should examine before your next German armour project. Especially if you are attempting something like what I have shown you in this book review.

This is a thoughtful and involved book which more than takes up the mantle from the series so far. In fact it’s my new favourite of this series and I can see modellers of all genres learning something from this man and his work in print and plastic.

An achievement to improve on what has already been seen as some of the best books on this subject on the market today. Place your Shep Paine books to the side - 'cos THIS is the new normal.

Adam Norenberg

Thanks to Rinaldi Studios for sending this book to us to read and review – you can get the new “TANKART 4 German Armor” book from the RSP website directly  or their distributors worldwide.