Monday, November 5

Painting & Weathering Guide: PLA Main Battle Tank ZTZ96B from MENG Models in 1/35th scale.

Clayton has Meng's new 35th scale Main Battle tank of the PLA on his workbench,  and in a flash he has it all built up and ready to paint - see how he got it done so fast, and maybe what this kit has to make it such an easy kit to make in his build guide...

Painting Guide: PLA Main Battle Tank ZTZ96B. 
From MENG Models
Product Code# TS-034
1/35th scale
Product Link on the Meng Website
Price: ¥5,440/ $53.12 USD/ €43.15 at Hobbylink Japan

Today: Painting and Weathering Guide
It has been some time since I shared the build review on this kit. The model has been on the shelf waiting for me to finalise the mask set for the unique digital camouflage scheme this tank wore. Finally, the bench space opened up and it was time to get a start on the paintwork on the model, so with crossed fingers I set about trying to replicate the digital camouflage scheme.

The mask set was drawn in Adobe Illustrator and cut on one of my plotters here at work. I had tested a number of different masking materials but needed to use a high tack film due to the anti-slip texture on the surface of the model. This meant the paintwork needed to be bulletproof so the high tack film didn’t remove any of the underlying paint.

Using the Chinese Colours Paint set from AK, I first sprayed AK4243 – PLA Dark Green. The model was left to dry for a couple of days to ensure the paint was fully cured.

The first layer of the paint mask was then applied and a layer of AK4246 – PLA Red Sand was sprayed over the model. The running gear had been painted earlier and fitted in this picture. I used cling wrap as a crude mask to avoid overspray.
The second layer of the paint mask was then applied and AK4247 – PLA Sand Yellow was sprayed. The paint masks were then removed revealing the pattern. The anti-slip texture in the model made using the mask very tricky because it didn’t want to adhere to it properly. It also presented issues with the paint bleeding under the mask. It wasn’t tragic, but more annoying than anything.
The stowage tubs looked very empty, so I added a little interest with some old Verlinden Camo net I had in the stash. I didn’t have anything appropriate for the Chinese stowage, so figured that just added some texture and interest to the model, and was plausible for essentially a training/parade tank.

In an attempt to unite the colours on the model, a light filter of Tan was applied
The first of many oil washes was then applied using Industrial Earth oil paint.
There is always a fine line when painting a scheme like this. The block camouflage can tend to make the model look a little toy-like. I engaged a post shading technique now and added some subtle shadows and detail using a heavily thinned mix of Red Brown and black. I find the alcohol-based thinner allows the shading to dry softer to the eye… I find it works better than post shading with a standard acrylic.
Small details were highlighted using a lightened mix of the Sand Yellow.
Panel detail is further enhanced with a wash of Shadow Brown in select areas. 
A buff colour oil paint is now applied to the side skirts using a fine brush in an attempt to simulate superficial scratching and scuffing along the sides.
A thinned mix of Light Flesh and Buff oil paint is now flicked over the entire model. This helped to add an additional layer of depth, texture and interest to the paintwork.
Some stretched sprue for aerials and a few touch-ups here and there would see the model completed.


I’m not sure how I feel about this model. If you study it in detail it is very easy to find the flaws in the paintwork and given my time again I would put a little more effort into setting the base colours down better. I made the mistake of dumping too much paint down over the masks and didn’t get the defined lines the scheme demands. All that said, I find myself looking at the model sitting in the cabinet and being drawn to it. It is indeed unique and really does set itself apart from all of the other models around it.

Some pictures of the kit's details & the masking job result up close

From a technical point of view, the AK Interactive paints performed very well, and the Chinese Colours paint set is highly recommended for anyone looking to replicate some of these digital camouflage schemes.

The ZTZ in a wider walk around... 

The model itself is sound without being brilliant. It is an easy build and certainly represents the subject well, but in some respects, I think the construction will be a little oversimplified for some. I am talking about things like grab handles and the finer details being moulded into the bulk of the model. Some will love that, but others will be looking for something a little more ‘posable’. The fact that the details are moulded in place probably makes the complex painting a little easier, so it isn’t all bad.

The tank with the addition of a bit of groundwork - it looks great don't you think?
If you are looking to extend your collection of modern Chinese Armour, then this Meng kit is definitely worth consideration. It presents as an accessible build to modellers of most skill levels however the paint schemes will test some.

Clayton Ockerby

Thanks to Meng Models for sending Clayton this kit to review and make up for you all.
Thanks also to AK Interactive for sending the paints and weathering gear to Clayton for this build
See more of Clayton’s work at his website “Workbench Hobbies” or join him on his Facebook page