Part Three of his article on this WWI light tank from MENG Models sees Andy add to his box review and construction review with now a painting and weathering to a very high standard. See how he did it and what he thought after building this kit in today’s build review…
Build Review Pt. III
Mk.A Whippet Medium Tank
Mk.A Whippet Medium Tank
Kit no. #TS021
RRP ¥3,871/ USD $31.49/ €29.39 (on Sale) from HobbylinkJapan
In the last part we got Meng new Whippet built up and ready for paint. The only decision was which scheme to go for. Meng give two colour options with the kit, but also supply decals for extra markings, including a Russian civil war example bearing the name Sphinx, and this is the one I decided to go with. Time to break out the paints.
Before starting, I drilled a hole in the base of the hull, to attach the threaded end of a mini tripod, which would act as a convenient handle during painting.
I didn't bother with a primer, instead going straight to a loose basecoat/pre-shade using Tamiya Dark Green. This was thinned with Gunze self-levelling thinner, which helps the paint bite into the surface of the plastic, and gives a good, strong base to the following paint layers.
After that, the main colour was applied using Gunze H48 Field Grey, to which a little Tamiya X-22 clear was added to leave a smooth finish. Some of the previous pre-shade was left along panel lines and in corners.
I wanted to end up with a very faded look to the paint, so the next step was to add a very pale green, for which I used Gunze H70 RLM02 Grey. All those angles and panels on the Whippet make it a great subject for some paint modulation. This was done in stages, masking off certain panels and spraying the paler colour to leave a dark to light graduation.
The modulated panels look quite dramatic compared to those yet to be done. The final effect will be much less stark after the weathering has been added.
The finished look after all the highlighting. This technique works really well on angular subjects like this, helping to emphasise the shape and volume of the vehicle.
Now it was time to pick out some of the finer details such as the bolt heads and the edges of panels and brackets. You'll need a steady hand and a good brush for this, but it's a worthwhile step. Without the highlighting, many of the small details begin to disappear during the weathering stages.
I'd left the front mounted fuel tank separate for painting, as the Russian Whippet I was doing had the tank painted with red and white I.D. Bands. After painting the sides in the base green, the top and front of the tank were painted white and the stripes masked, ready for the red.
After the red was applied, the making was removed to reveal the finished stripes. There was a bit of overspray here and there, mainly due to the masking tape running over the rivets. I didn't bother to clean this up as the weathering would hide much of it, and the stripes wouldn't have been painted that cleanly on the original vehicle either.
The last step before weathering was to add the decals. The code numbers, Sphinx name and Russian roundel come as one piece, but here I cut the number away and added that first, followed by a light over-spray of the pale green to fade the number slightly.
On to the weathering, and the first step was to add some paint chipping with a dark brown. Some areas, such as the grouser hangers on the sides, were masked off to limit the chipping to those areas. A piece of torn sponge was dipped in the paint then, having first removed most of the paint on a paper towel, dabbed randomly onto the surface using tweezers to hold the sponge.
It's important to think about where you add the paint chips. Areas like the floor in front of the entry door would get far more wear and tear than other, less exposed, areas. Always add the effect gradually. It's much easier to add more later, than remove existing ones.
With the chipping done, the fuel tank was attached and the whole model got a clear coat to protect it from the upcoming washes and weathering.
A dark brown pin wash was added around the details, then oil rendering was applied to add more tonal variation to the finish. A piece of cardboard was used as a palette to allow some of the oil to soak away, which will help the paint dry faster.
The oils were applied around details, then blended with a clean brush. This helped to deepen the shadows and add more contrast to the finish. Lighter colours were used in the same way to add highlights.
The washes and oil rendering really start to bring the model to life, adding more depth to the finish. As a preparatory step to the mud weathering, an earth coloured wash was splattered around the track frames and hull sides. All this was left for a couple of days to fully dry, then a light coat of satin varnish was applied, ready for the next step.
To get the mud weathering underway, I scattered dry garden soil onto the mud chutes and around the running gear. The soil was moved around with a brush until it looked like a natural build up, then fixed in place with a sand & gravel glue. If the glue is carefully applied with a brush, capillary action will draw it through the soil without disturbing it.
After the soil was dry, a wetter mud mix was made from AMMO pigments mixed with earth effects enamel wash and white spirit. A little static grass was added to the mix, which was then washed over the mud chutes and track frame. As the mix dried, the edges were blended and softened with white spirit and a clean brush.
More pigments were applied dry to the upper hull, and worked into the surface with a soft brush. Heavier applications of pigment were fixed with a pigment fixer.
Up till now, I'd kept the exhaust pipes separate, as I wanted to add some hairspray chipping to them. They were first primed with AMMO Rust primer, then painted with watered down acrylic medium. While the medium was still wet, different rust toned pigments were stippled on to the surface.
When the acrylic medium has dried, the pigments were fixed solidly in place, and left a very realistic rust texture. This would be fine as a finished effect, but I wanted to show remnants of the original paint remaining on the exhaust.
To achieve this, the parts were given a couple of light coats of hairspray and, once dry, a misted coat of AMMO Stone Grey (A.MIG-075). The grey was given a few minutes to dry, then the surface was moistened with warm water and lightly scrubbed with a stiff bristled brush, until the paint began to chip. Once I'd got the level of chipping I was after, I left the paint to fully dry.
With the exhausts fitted, we're getting near the end of the build. Before the tracks were added, I gave the muddy areas a light over-spray of earth coloured Tamiya acrylics to blend in any patchy areas, followed by a selective wash of dark brown oil paint to show damp areas of mud.
Now the tracks, and the only point where I struggled with the kit. When I'd originally made up the track runs, I'd added an extra link, as the recommended 68 links didn't seem long enough. In the end, the extra one wasn't needed, but I still couldn't quite get the ends to meet. Every time I tried to clip them together, they'd split apart somewhere else. There isn't quite enough give between the links for them to stretch enough to clip the ends together. On top of that, the small dimples that hold the links together aren't really big enough, and the resulting join is very weak.
In the end, I found the best solution was to clip away the teeth on the driving wheel, which allowed the tracks to sit tighter against the frame and gave enough slack to join the ends. The drive sprockets can't be seen once the tracks are in place, so the lack of teeth doesn't affect the final look.
So, I finally got the tracks fitted. Even now they remained quite fragile and any rough handling would cause them to split apart again. In hindsight, it would probably be better to glue them in place during the build, although doing it that way does make painting trickier.
The same pigments that had been used for the hull, were mixed with white spirit to make a thick wash, then painted over the tracks.
AMMO gun metal pigment was rubbed over the raised areas of the track with a make-up applicator. A quick polish with a cloth leaves a very realistic metallic finish. The same pigment was rubbed over the machine guns, and around the edges of some of the hull panels.
To finish the build, the track spuds were added along the rails on the side of the hull. They'd been given a woodgrain texture, and this was emphasised with a dark wash.
And that puts the wraps on Meng's Whippet. It was a fun build, and the painting was just as enjoyable. If there's a weak point with the kit, it's the very fragile track links, but it's not a big enough issue to spoil what, in every other respect, is a fantastic model. The rest of the detailing is excellent, and you can really go wild on the weathering. And best of all, the kit is cracking value. So buy one, buy two... buy a whole fleet. You won't regret it.
Here she is, completed and in detail...
...And all built up.
Thanks to MENG for sending this kit for us to build and review