While I have been eagerly awaiting the new Q1/18 releases from Rubicon for what seems like an eternity, there were a few items that I really was looking forward to reviewing. Besides the new crew for US Armor and Tank Destroyers (another blog post in the near future), the recent partnership Rubicon developed with Heer46 really interested me. You see, Heer46 makes really cool paper tanks, and one of them in particular was calling to me: the Italian P43(Bis) heavy tank.
Rubicon was generous enough to send me one for review. Incidentally it arrived within two days, which was made more astonishing given that they shipped the item the very same day the kit arrived at their warehouse in New England (an unreal turnaround time). Given all the trouble they went through, just a standard unboxing review wouldn’t do. So along with an unboxing, I decided to also put together a brief painting tutorial. I also decided to challenge myself by picking one of the most difficult camouflage patterns for Italy that I could find. #YOLO… I guess, or something.
But I’m getting ahead of myself. Let’s first get the unboxing out of the way.
Unboxing and Assembly
I am no stranger to resin kits. Most are in multiple parts that barely fit together and have a ton of mold lines and thick flashing to remove. This task is only improved (he says sarcastically) by the fact that resin is basically Satan’s dandruff, in that it desperately wants to give you cancer if you inhale it. So for me, working with a resin tank kit means lots of PPE and wet-sanding.
So I was preparing myself mentally for the daunting task of sweating through a dust mask and latex gloves in the daunting Pennsylvania spring heat when I peeled back the lid and, to my surprise, found the best multi-piece resin kit I have ever seen in my life. Hands down. Not a speck of flashing, no mold lines, just perfect pieces of resin ready for glue.
Consisting of a hull, left and right tracks, a turret, two gun options (a 90/53 and a 90/42), the kit is basic and truly ready for assembly (I still recommend washing the components as there may be a few sticky bits on the kit from the mold removal process). Along with the basics above, there were two plates (one for the bottom of the hull and one for the bottom of the turret), which I assume are left off so the experienced (so not me) modeler can add in some interior details if they so wished. The assembly was smooth and without issue.
The detail was excellent and crisp and I couldn’t wait to get started on painting it up. But the tank was still missing some ‘life’. That is, it was missing the feeling of being a ‘lived in’ tank. So I added some stowage; nearly all of it from Value Gear Details. If you aren’t familiar with Value Gear Details, you should become acquainted with them. Their stowage is excellent on all levels and I use their sets for nearly everything.
Finally I primed the whole set in Necrotic Flesh primer from Army Painter. It is finally ready for painting.
Painting the P43(Bis)
Being that this is a paper tank and one meant for mid-late war, the camouflage pattern I chose is basically a bunch of jagged ‘amoeba-type’ shapes painted in brown and green which are outlined in a desert yellow or sandy color. It’s hard to explain in words, so here are a bunch of period images of Italian tanks in this camouflage scheme:
One thing I noticed immediately while researching this pattern is that it extends to the suspension system and wheels on most of the images, while also wrapping around the bottom front and rear of the chassis. In other words, I will have to paint this pattern on nearly every inch of this tank. Hurray!
Well, I was pretty motivated at this point. Ignorance is bliss. Sigh.
The first step is optional because we are covering up most of the tank in a camouflage pattern anyway, but if you want the subtle (and I mean subtle) modulation in color follow Steps 1 & 2 of my Sherman camouflage tutorial here. That will get you to this point:
Now if you want, you can leave it here. Paint the tracks, add some desert weathering effects, paint the stowage and details, slap some Italian decals on it, and call it done. Ready for the arid theatres of Bolt Action and Konflikt ’47.
But we’re going the full monty here. This is our goal:
Keep in mind, I don’t have an airbrush, so everything I do is done freehand with a regular brush. I stared at the patterns for a while and finally decided on a way to handle this complex pattern. It may not be the best way, but it worked for me.
Here are the paints I used to create the green and brown spots. I know they aren’t actually spots, but let’s call them that because I am too tired to figure out a real name for them. Spots it is.
Red Leather and German Camo Black Brown are combined in a roughly three-to-one ratio respectively. This will give you a slight reddish hue to the brown spots without looking too much like a terracotta roof tile.
For the green spots, it is a bit more complicated; a lot of it has to do with eyeing it out. I used Camo Olive Green and Deep Green in a roughly one-to-one mixture, but I would be lying if I said that it was a purely 1:1 mix. And to be realistic, the green doesn’t have to be a perfect match to what I have done here. I might even go a little more subdued on the green on future projects like this.
I. The Spots
To start, I figured to paint on the brown spots first. This way I could work around them with the green spots. The idea is to paint the brown spots over every surface you want to have the camouflage pattern. If you follow along with my interpretation of this pattern, be sure to spread them out. Though on some patterns there are brown spots bunched together; in clumps so this part is entirely your prerogative.
To create the shapes, you will need to add some glaze medium or water to thin down your brown mixture to a milky consistency (whole milk, folks…not skim milk). Like with the camouflage patterning on my Sherman, the technique starts by tracing an outline using the thinned down paint in the designs you want. The benefit to this technique is that if (or in my case, when) you make a mistake, it is easier to clean it up right away. The less paint that needs to be removed, the better. Then all you have to do is paint the outlined spots in. I recommend making the spots about as big as a finger nail or roughly a half inch or so (though intentionally vary them in size a little).
Here is where the tank was at after about a half hour. And this is about where you want to be at to achieve the look I did.
II. Green Spots
Once we have the brown spots painted on, the most difficult part is ahead. Full disclosure, it took me a few hours to paint in all the green spots. Exactly how many? Well if I told you, you might stop reading and give up. I want to inspire you, not tear down your hopes and dreams (that’s the job of real life).
The trick now is to paint the green spots in a way that they interact with, but don’t connect with, the brown spots. You want to leave an outline of the sandy base layer showing around each spot (both brown and green). So steady your hands and don’t drink any caffeinated beverages. Put on some easy listening, light a lava lamp, get your beanbag loungin’ on. Whatever you have to do to get into the mood to paint little green amoebas everywhere on this tank (I mean, as long as it causes no harm to others), do it to get there.
Basically you’re just going to do this for a while…
Nope, keep it going…
Now the turret….
Yeah, the barrel of the gun too.
Forgot the wheels…
Alright, there we go! Now that it is 2AM, you can either (a) paint all the remaining details like a champion or (b) go to bed like the weakling that you are. (I opted for the second option…)
Let’s assume you are awesome and not a weakling like me.
The next part is pretty straight forward. I would recommend the reader check out my Tesla Sherman tutorial linked above for the detailing steps. The one thing I did differently is that I used Vallejo Game Effects Dry Rust wash to bring our the panel lines and rivets by carefully applied the wash in targeted areas.
If you are interested in the paints I used for most of the detailing work, here they are (click on the images to see the caption, which explains what the paints were for):
It may seem like I am skipping this part, but much of what I did here, I covered there. And this post is long enough as it is. However if anyone has specific questions, please be sure to post them in the comment section below!
IV. Completed Tank!
This is a top-notch kit. By far one of the best resin kits I have ever assembled and painted. There were no miscasts, no rough edges, no seam lines, no flashing, no huge chunks of resin that need to be sanded down… just flat out a spectacular kit.
If you are on the fence, or wonder what in the hell you are going to do with a paper tank, well, let me snap you out of that nonsense. You can’t go wrong with it. House rule it, or create a diorama, or put it in your personal collection. It is worth it.
If Heer46 and Rubicon put out additional Italian kits, I will buy them and paint them. I will do it; do you hear me, fellas? I mean it…
I hope you all enjoyed this tutorial and please like, subscribe, and share!