Wednesday, January 11

Build Guide: Macson Tan's take on Takom's 35th scale G6 Rhino Self-Propelled Howitzer

Now we have looked at the kit in the box we thought we would show you just how good you can make it - Macson Tan shows us how he built his 1/35th scale G6 Rhino SANDF Self-Propelled Howitzer from Takom. Let's see just how he did it in the year's first build guide here on TMN...
Build Guide: G6 Rhino SANDF Self-Propelled Howitzer
by Takom
1/35th scale
Injection moulded plastic in grey and clear + photo-etched parts
Price: ¥6,640/ USD $56.15/ €54.05 from Hobbylink Japan

Part  I: Takom G6 Rhino In-Box Review
Part II: building the Kit

The kit I used for this project was TAKOM 1:35 G6 RHINO 155MM SANDF SELF-PROPELLED HOWITZER released in July 2016 (No.2052) Painting and marking guide – “SANDF” Camouflage (South Africa National Defense Forces.) Adam reviewed this kit for TMN just last week - he liked what he saw, but would I like the build?

Not only did the kit include a clearly presented set of assembly instructions, there was a simple choice of two painting/marking schemes for vehicles in the “SANDF”. This is the scheme that I have chosen to adorn my 35th scale model of the G6.
Building THE G6-Rhino
The first few stages also call for the assembly a workable stabiliser legs which you can lowered position so if you want to depict the model kit in the firing position. Contraction follow by the driver's cab and the front wheels are steerable and Takom has made a great attempt to replicating the mechanism. The underside lower hull is well detailed and simple to assemble. Various air/hydraulic/electrical lines can be added by DIY, but since they would be hardly visible, I opted to ignore these.
 The offset axles on the rear suspension swing arms. Lower hull body was test-fitted at this stage to check for any problems. So far, so good! (Step 6-9) I've jumped about a bit on the instruction sheet to assembly the workable stabiliser leg (step 12.)
The front wheel steering was offset during construction. The interior includes a dashboard and driver controls that are perfectly fit straight from the box. The single seat is also provided for the driver's position.
The steering linkages needed to flattened with a heated screwdriver. Take note if you want the front wheel steering moveable, DO NOT attach C3 & C4 (stage 15.) After this, you have to paint and assemble the cockpit area before you can continue with step 10 onwards.
The kit includes clear windowpanes for the interior. I sprayed all the windows with 2 coats of a diluted mixture of Tamiya X-25 Clear Green. Then leave it aside to dry before handling. The green colour represents the ballistic proof glass as seen in many reference pictures on the internet, and in other reference sources.

After airbrushing the surface primer as base colours (Vallejo 73.600 White), it was now time to spend some time to paint the interior of the driver’s cab.
Although very little of the interior is visible behind the tinted windows, painting the details is another enjoyable moment too. Test fitting the tinted glass with windowpanes to make sure everything was in the correct place or the upper half would not fit in place was done.
As usual, there are parts like the windscreen wiper which can be installed at the last stage.

I used the AK Interactive dark brown wash and interior wash added depth to the driver cab’s interior. Some further detail was achieved with Vallejo water-based acrylics and a dry brush was used to pick out interior details.
It is just a pity once it was covered nothing much is shown when viewed from the outside of the vehicle. The kit provides a set of decals for the dashboard. However, since these would be hardly visible, I left them out.
Until now, the fit of the joints on the kit have been excellent. Nothing much needed to be sanded either which is nice and a time saver.

After I was satisfied with the detail painting and dry brushing, also the cab windows in position and glued, I carefully masked the tinted glass in preparation for the exterior painting.

A piece of workable windscreen protector panel was fit into place. Do not glue it.
Drivers cab is together now, and the major components of the hull are fully in place. Now we move on to the upper hull (stages 13-25). 
The top of the upper hull is a quite complex part of the kit, and there are quite a few small parts to cement in place; careful attention is needed here, and whatever you do - do not rush this part of the build, just bear in mind some parts are very fragile, like side mirror and ladders, which I would advise you to be install on the last stage.(stage 19)
So far, with the aid of a clear set of assembly instructions provided, the assembly has been quite easy, with everything fitting exactly how it is supposed to. Two pieces photo-etched grille need to be fit in the next step, (stage 18) just some mesh that tends to place in correct position, but a drop of 3 sec instant glue quickly fixes everything in place. The appearance looked just great! The site panel supports some accessories that will be visible (Stage 21 & 26) We should not overlook these parts.
As usual, I skipped laying the rubber of the x6 vinyl tyres until the painting was done. The set of tyres are can be installed and removed at will, so painting is going to be much easier.(stage 27)

The Turret Final Assembly
The top and bottom of the turret are joined. The turret was found to have a great fit of parts, good detail and was easy to construct. (Stage 28-36) An interior is not included with the kit and therefore the 2 turret hatches are left closed.
3 pieces of clear parts need to cement around the turret hatches on both side.(stage 29-30)

Mainly to avoid some tricky masking, leave the stowage compartment box at a site if you wish to paint in separate colours tone. (stage 31.E)
Please take note for the turret basket panel’s mesh.(TP5) There is 1 extra PE set for replacement of this part. Its stated “Please use this new part” on the PE set. (stage 32.) Two sets of smoke grenade launcher are attached at both site cover with protection bar.(stage 33)
The all plastic 155mm gun barrel is beautifully moulded. No need for an aftermarket addition here. Assembling the barrel with turret and mantlet required a little more focus. Having made minor sanding to the barrel seamline. (Stage 37-39) if you follow the instruction carefully and without cement the barrel, the 155mm SPH gun barrel can adjust 75’ in firing position.
Ready To Paint
With all the sub-assemblies finished I put everything together apart from the wheels and vinyl tyres.These would be put on after the painting was completed.

Before starting with the paintwork. The model was made dust free and checked for any cement marks or greasy fingers etc. The first overall coat of the model body was airbrushed with Vallejo Surface Primer (73.602 Black) + Highlight (73.600 White). 
Followed by the base coat –Yellow Grey with Vallejo Model Colour Stone Grey (70.884) + Medium Grey (70.987). To add the depth to the model I then added Vallejo Model Colour Sand Yellow (70.916) + White (70.951) and airbrushed this mixture on all panels trying to avoid the corners and shape edges. By the way, my selection for this model kit is the “SANDF” 3 tones camouflage as reference given.
The same process of airbrushed colour mixture to the 2nd part of the model which is the upper turret. This helps speed the work of painting since the priming and the base colour are applied at the same time.
Camouflage Scheme
With any camouflage scheme, it’s always a good idea to start with the lighter shades as it is always recommended to ensure a good, thin but even coverage. In this case, my base coat was already one of the camouflage tones. So I followed with the green camouflage strips with the help of blue-tack masking technique+ plastic cover in the large  area. 
I then airbrushed little by little. Some free- hand retouching is needed to complete the camouflage scheme.
The use of Vallejo Model Colour (70.896 Ger.C.Extra Dark Green)+ Vallejo Model Colour (70.895 Gunship Green) instead is just a matter of taste as I simply preferred that darker shade this time. Before applying the camouflage green colour, I lightened it with a small amount of white. By the way, I also swapped the AMMO MIG colours of the camouflage pattern showed in the instructions to mostly Vallejo Model Colour by using the online app called “Hobby Color Converter”

With the 2nd camouflage base tone applied, Blue-Tack was removed from the relevant areas in preparation for the 3rd camouflage colour which is the “Earth” – Vallejo Model Colour (70.843 Cork Brown)+(70.854 Brown Glaze)
Some fading of these camouflage shades is applied by spraying Bronze green (70.897) and Tan Yellow (70.912). The former is just to darken some panel lines, while the Tan Yellow adds some light dust here and there in the areas. Sprayed over the model working from the centre of each area outwards to create a 3-dimensionalsional look for the model. I then added a little white to the balance mixed colour and applied to the centre of selected panels to show sun bleaching and wear.
Once all was dry ( I left the model overnight) I carefully check again the camouflage pattern & touch up using hand paint. Then I assembled the upper turret with the lower hull.
Pin washes and oil filters have brought the previous work together while emphasising the details nicely.
The weathering was started by AK interactive and Mig Production’s weathering pigments around the lower surface as South African red dust has stained the body over the year.
With an overall coat of clear varnish applied, I was ready to apply the simple decals given by TAKOM. After I applied the decals, I then settled for a series of oil paint washes using “OPR” oil paint rendering technique (Thanks Mike Rinaldi) through all the panel lines by using Natural Umber and other shades of brown/green and a light dry-brushing of the base colour to emphasise the raised details or just to tone down the previous wash.

To suggest paint wear on the tread plate areas, black/brown oil paint was very lightly dry-brushed across the surfaces and along the edges. I then painted some of the smaller details, such as side indicator lights, exhaust panel, aerial mounts and tyres with Vallejo acrylics.

A torn piece of sponge was dipped in Vallejo black acrylic paint, test on a piece of paper, then dabbed in random patterns around the area of wear & tear. Some areas that came in for special attention were the hatches and windscreen protection shield, which was further enhanced with a fine-tipped paint brush, using the same Vallejo Black and the original base colour - Stone Grey & Medium Grey

Final Weathering
The weathering was started by a mix of AK interactive and Mig Production’s weathering pigments around the lower surface to replicate South African red dust that had stained the body over the year's use. The wheels received a wash of Basic Earth oil paint to accentuate the tread a little more. For the tyres, pigments were applied in the gaps of the wheel hubs and the tyres patterns.
A little of mud splashes were applied up to the rear of the vehicle, created through the use of AK pigments with a brush. After satisfied with all the paint jobs & weathering effects, I sealed a final satin matt coat with an airbrush. Set the G-6 Rhino in “Firing Position” on the red base wooden plate for display. A simple description sheet was print & I’m quite happy with the final outcome. Take me about 20 days on & off of enjoyable time for building this beast.
The Takom have made a great attempt to replicating the mechanism. The workable stabiliser legs can set lowered position so if you want to depict the model kit in the firing position. The 155mm Gun was left standing up in firing position.
The TAKOM’s G6-Rhino is a wonderful example of how a detailed, accurate and satisfying-to-build kit can be created without the need for extra parts or a wealth of after-market material. 
Sure we all love PE, aluminium barrels etc. If you fancy a no nonsense, easy to build model kit that looks imposing on the shelf, this new G6-Rhino SPG is perfect choice that you are looking for. Perhaps a nice set of resin set of weighted wheels and the outcome will be much superb. Hopefully, DEF Models will bring out a set of resin wheels for it.
Macson Tan

Thanks to Takom for sending this kit to us to build and review. Check out their latest news on their FB page...