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I decided to take the plunge and try my hand at making a diorama. It’s not something I have experience with so it’s a whole new field for me. 1/35th scale is just a bit to large though and a bit to bank breaking and, trust me, the bank is pretty broken to begin with.

So I’m going to do it in 1/72nd scale instead; it’s more affordable and I can fit it in into my display case a whole lot easier.

I’m calling the diorama War in Chechnya and it’s going to be really simple; I’m getting a Russian tank, a T-80 in this case, some Chechen rebel figures and I’m hopefully going to create a snow-scape ambush scene. That sounds simple enough to me. It’s going be a long-term project though because I can’t afford to purchase all of the materials upfront but who needs to rush anyway?

The T-80 Main Battle Tank

A little background history on the T-80; before the First Chechen War, which sparked off in 1994, the T-80 had never been used in anger. It remained untested with rather inexperienced crews which would prove disastrous in the beginning.

The Chechen defenders, on the other hand, were well experienced and pretty well equipped. Many of them were former members of the Russian military who had served and survived the brutal war in Afghanistan, they had the experience and they still had the equipment.

It was during the Battle of Grozny, the Chechen capital, that the T-80’s suffered the most. They were sent in unsupported by infantry and were quickly overwhelmed by RPG’s. Lacking Explosive Reactive Armour the RPG’s punched through into the ammunition storage in the hull causing a catastrophic explosion. Lessons were learned during that battle, that’s for sure.


You need look no further than Revell for a T-80 in 1/72nd scale as they have three versions of the same kit available, although two of those versions might be rare. The kit has its origins with Matchbox but it’s a good kit without real issues.

The first version of the kit was released by Revell in 1995 and is pictured above, that’s the kit I have. It’s simply a Revell reboxing of the Matchbox kit with no updates which is a shame. You see when Matchbox designed the kit they made a curious decision to leave the turret rather bare. The kit is missing an IR searchlight, smoke grenade launchers, a bustle rack and one or two storage boxes. This version of the kit isn’t readily available anymore but you can still pick it up second hand, guess where in Dublin I got mine?

The second version of this kit is a T-80B and Revell has added all the missing turret grubbins back in. The third version is a T-80BV which further adds Explosive Reactive Armour blocks to the tank. The T-80B is the main release from Revell and the one readily available from stores; I’m not sure about the BV though.


Now I’m not terribly concerned with bustle racks and storage boxes, I plan to buy some aftermarket stowage anyway and cover the turret with it. But I can’t let the searchlight and smoke dischargers go, they’re prominent features on a Russian MBT and have been since the 1950’s and the T-55.

What I plan to do is pick up a Revell T-72M1, which is a fine kit, and borrow its searchlight and smoke launchers. That kit will then go into a different diorama further on up the road, a Gulf War diorama. As it happens I’ve seen many a picture of Iraqi T-72’s with their smoke launchers and so on.

That’s pretty much the introduction to a long and hopefully successful build blog. Wish me luck because I think I’ll need it.

By the way, is it alright to post WIP diorama's here or is this section just for the finished article?

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Sounds like a fun project Logan. Like you I also enjoy building modern Russian armor. Good luck. Also before you spend alot on expensive aftermarket stuff to update your tanks purchase some pastic sheet and hone your scratch building skills!

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The Lower Hull & Tracks

My plan for the tank is to build it up and add the missing turret details when I have them. Then I’ll paint it but only partially weather it. The tank will be finished well ahead of the base and I can’t be certain I’ll pull off the exact same colour mud twice.


I’ve started construction with the lower hull which comes in three pieces, a tub and two sidewalls which already have the suspension included. The fit was more or less good with just a few little gaps. I filled those in with Liquid Green Stuff and did a little sanding.

Liquid Green Stuff is a product from Games Workshop and small amounts of work it’s perfect. Small gaps, dents, scratches and so on are no problem for this stuff. It comes in a small pot, the same style pots as all other Games Workshop paints, and it is water based. So you can just dip a brush in, apply it where needed and wash the brush out in water, it’ll come right off. It’s great for sanding as well.

I’ve used a few other fillers and putties before that just don’t work out like this does. For example I tried Revell Modelling Putty, Plasto, which I found very difficult to use and sand away. I’ve also used Vallejo Plastic Putty but I found that when I tried to sand it, it would just crumble and this happened even after a full day of drying. So yeah, I’d recommend Liquid Green Stuff.


Each of the road wheels and the idlers come in two parts and join together with next to no problems. You just need to check each one for any bit of flash that might be present because it could cause the halves to misalign slightly which will cost you later.

The sprocket caused me no end of problems, it comes in three pieces with a disc in the middle and not sure why. I think the disc is supposed to keep the teeth of the tracks in line but on the kit it’s awkward. Again you need to be careful otherwise the next part can get pretty messed up.


Revell, and I guess Matchbox before them, favour link and length track sections which I have a love\hate relationship with. I prefer them to vinyl tracks because vinyl is difficult to work with in any scale, let alone 1/72nd. At the same time I find you need to be very precise with link and length or you’ll fall short.


The link sections partially wrap around the idler and the sprocket and then you hook the lengths into those. To add some extra realism you can bend the length sections where they meet the idlers and sprockets, it makes them look less angled and square.


As you can see my tracks look a little off at the front and at the back two. Something has gone slightly wrong with the positioning of the idlers and the sprockets which is a bit annoying. In fact in order to get the back tracks links to fit properly I cut a few teeth off of the sprocket. It’s not too big a deal really because once it goes onto the base surrounded by snow and mud you’ll probably not notice, I hope.


Because my tracks are slightly bent at the front and the back the top track length wouldn’t fit without a gap on both sides. That’s why I said to be careful up above. The return rollers are also lacking in detail, they’re really just round pegs. It doesn’t really matter though because the T-80 has rubber skirts along its flanks and when they’re fitted to the upper hull and the upper hull is fitted to the lower hull you can’t see up the upper track run or the return rollers. I don’t really feel like fooling around with more track if you’re not going to see it anyway, especially once it’s fitted to the base.

That’s all for now, there’s only a few pieces to be added to the upper hull before its joined to the lower hull. These kits can go together in no time at all.

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Just to let you guys know that there will be a brief intermission of about a week with the build log. I just realised I’m riding the limits of my broadband allowance for this month.

I can’t risk uploading more pictures or I’ll end up facing ridiculous extra charges that I’m not particularly passionate about paying. Them’s the breaks I guess.

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Alright, so I can't upload any pictures for the next week but I can still make a small post and ask a few questions.

You'll often see Russian tanks carrying extra fuel in the form of two fuel barrels mounted on the rear of the vehicle. In reality my tank would presumably be no different as it would be on extended operations in Chechnya; that extra fuel would come in handy.

However after examining the external fuel tanks on my T-80 kit I'm not very satisfied. The barrels come in two halves and the overall join is poor in my opinion.

First of all there are several strips of banding that wrap around the barrel. Where the two halves meet the banding is out of sync, sticking out to far at one side. This is difficult to explain without pictures. Secondly, there is a seam running down the length of the barrel where the halves meet. This seam runs across the banding and looks very awkward to clean up and sand flat.

Finally on each flat end of the barrels there is a prominent step between the halves and that too looks very awkward to fix. So I'm caught in a dilemma, I want to use the fuel tanks but I might not be able to fix them. I've been thinking about concealing them instead.

I had a thought about wrapping the barrels in a tarp. Perhaps the crew have done it in a crude attempt at keeping the cold away from the tanks. Perhaps the barrels were picked up at a depot and, for whatever reason, were left in their original colour which is bright and compromises the camouflage on the tank and so the crew tried to hide them.

Anyone have any thoughts on what I should do here or whether covering the tanks up is a good idea?

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Alright, so I can't upload any pictures for the next week but I can still make a small post and ask a few questions.

You'll often see Russian tanks carrying extra fuel in the form of two fuel barrels mounted on the rear of the vehicle. In reality my tank would presumably be no different as it would be on extended operations in Chechnya; that extra fuel would come in handy.


Anyone have any thoughts on what I should do here or whether covering the tanks up is a good idea?

I wouldn't be too sure that they would be carrying extra fuel. Maybe rookie crews might do that, but I'm certain that veterans would not leave fuel in such a vulnerable position. It could be used to disable the tank or burn the crew if they bailed out.

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I wouldn't be too sure that they would be carrying extra fuel. Maybe rookie crews might do that, but I'm certain that veterans would not leave fuel in such a vulnerable position. It could be used to disable the tank or burn the crew if they bailed out.

I'm starting to think the same. Someone else on another forum suggested I look at a few wartime pictures, which I honestly should've done to begin with, and I'm not seeing the extra tanks in use so I'm just going to leave them off.

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Well I’m back and I have some pictures.

Upper Hull


There isn’t really a lot of work to be done to the upper hull; most of it is already moulded in. For example along each side of the tank you can see the storage boxes already in place. The various tools you usually find on a tank are, I presume, stored inside the box so you don’t need to add any to tank.


Before the upper hull and lower hull are joined together there are a few bits and pieces to add on. These include the drivers hatch and the front headlights; both can be glued into place from beneath the hull which is always a nice clean technique. You’ll see from the picture above there is some room for improvement with the kit, especially around the engine bay. A bit of scratch building with styrene strip and wire mesh could produce a better example but at the moment I’m not terribly pushed.

Eduard and Extratech both issued photo-etched sets for this tank but this occurred around 1995 and as far as I can tell they have gone out of production. Now Lucky Model has the Eduard set listed on their website as Available which presumably means they’re sourcing it from somewhere or they just forgot to remove it from their website.


I noticed a small depression on the prow of my T-80. It sits just above a peg which is used to join the hulls together. A little Liquid Green Stuff sanded lightly can take care of that. The two small square impressions you see there are for the tow hooks which I left off until the area was sanded, just in case I knocked it off.


The joining of the two hull halves is pretty interesting, particularly down the sides. The hull was designed to join at the front and read, but along the sides the hulls don’t touch. There’s a small gap running the length of the tank which I think is pretty odd. Now you can’t exactly see it once the side skirts go on without turning the tank over but it’s worth mentioning because at first I thought it was a nasty defect. It isn’t however so there is no need to worry.

The back end on my tank needs a bit of work as you can see. Again Liquid Green Stuff and some light sanding can fix that right up. It could probably be avoided however by the careful placement of the rear wall to the lower hull. I’m certain I didn’t quite place mine correctly but it’s all worked out in the end. In the previous pictures you may have noticed two brackets on the rear deck of the T-80, as far as I’m aware they’re for holding a third fuel drum although I’ve only see one picture with the drum actually fitted.


The T-80 is the first Russian tank to feature a gas turbine engine and so the exhaust is located at the rear of the vehicle. It’s another area of the tank that could benefit from some wire mesh if you’re so inclined. I’m not really interested, at least not in this build; I’d just prefer to keep things simple. A little bit of sanding was required to keep flush the join between the hull and the exhaust. You can see there are a few little bumps and lumps that you need to be mindful of, although I doubt anyone would notice them missing.


T-80 tanks are typically fitted with rubber side skirts which provide limited protection to the upper track run and the side of the hull. However one of the problems the T-80 has encountered is that a well placed RPG hit can punch straight through the hull and into the ammunition storage. As you can imagine the following explosion is pretty devastating. It’s not uncommon for ERA blocks to be fitted over the skirts now as a result.

The skirts are the last addition to the lower hull; they should ideally be fitted one at a time and given plenty of time for the glue to set. It’s very easy to knock them out of place or fit them at an awkward angle. I noticed mine tended to stray off path at the rear of the tank.

With the side skirts finished that also finishes the construction of the lower hull and now I can move onto the turret. Watch this space.

Edited by AlcatrazLogan
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I've run into a bit of wall in regards the figures for the diorama. I had originally planned on getting these, a set of Chechen Rebels from Orion, but I'm finding them hard to source at a reasonable price. I'm also finding it hard to source any alternatives. There's seems to be a lack of modern Russian figures in 1/72nd at the moment and a definite lack of anyone holding an RPG.

In fact the closest I've come to finding a set of figures with RPG's is an Italeri set of Viet Cong but somehow I doubt the Chechen's would be running around the snow in shorts!

I'm appealing for help here guys; I'm looking for four to five figures armed with Russian weapons. They can either look like militia or soldiers as the Chechen's would have been comprised of both. If anyone knows of anything, at a reasonable price, please post a link up here.


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Turret - Part I

Since the T-54 Russian tanks have featured a characteristic dome shaped turret. I think a lot of people refer to it as a mushroom shape but I think it looks more like the head of rivet. Anyway, the T-80 features a similar shape most of the way around the turret. The back of the T-80’s turret is vertical but Revell\Matchbox have it a more an angle which is incorrect according to a review I’ve read. You could work at reshaping this part but I’ll decline; I have more than enough work cut out for more trying to reshape the front end of an A-10 Warthog at the moment.


From the picture above we have the turret, the 125mm smoothbore cannon, a deep-wading snorkel apparatus, a storage bin and the Commanders vision block. What isn’t present in this picture are two hatches, a 12.7mm anti-aircraft gun and of course the missing IR searchlight and smoke dischargers... lest we forget.


The turret comes in two halves and the fit isn’t perfect. On my own kit the bottom half formed a lip where it met the top half and this continued around the sides of the turret. Liquid Green Stuff and some sandpaper sorted the problem out quickly enough but care has to be taken as there are various indentations and impressions around the turret for bits and pieces.

In fact this is where this kit has me a little confused. There are more indentations on the turret for what is provided in the kit. For example it appears indentations were put in place for the bustle rack but the bustle rack wasn’t provided. Furthermore the painting and marking diagram with the kit shows the bustle rack fitted but the build diagrams make no mention of it. Try making sense of all that.


Bit uncommon for me but I’m giving it a go adding some extra detail to the tank. The gunner’s vision block is a box with a recessed sight. The kit comes with it moulded solid and in a brief fit of, what I can only assume to be, foolish insanity I took my pin vice and drilled a small hole into the box. Now I’m working on enlarging the hole until I have enough room to square it off. Hopefully it all works out; otherwise I’ll have to plug it back up and pretend it never happened. One thing I have noticed from these pictures though is the lack of a coaxial port for the 7.62mm machine gun; it should be just to the left of the main gun. I might have to do something about that.


Speaking of the main gun; I’ve also taken the pin vice to it and drilled out the barrel just a small bit. With the interior painted black it should look deep. The cannon is a Russian 125mm smoothbore that can fire a variety of ammunition included guided missiles which is a neat feature. It certainly looks fearsome when fitted to the turret. The cannon comes as one solid piece in the kit which is a godsend because every other cylinder which comes in two halves on the kit has an atrocious fit. The snorkel in the first picture is going to take a fair bit of work to get clean.

Along each side of the cannon is a seam running along its length but these only need a little patience to remove. The canvas manlet cover comes in two halves which, when put together, produces two seams that’ll also need to be removed. It’s a shame too because the canvas shroud has some nicely moulded detail in it and it is far too easy to lose it along the sides. I don’t understand why companies do not pay more attention to how things fit together; even more modern kits can have some ghastly mistakes in them that could’ve easily been avoided with some extra vigilance and quality control.


Moving onto the tank commander’s vision block there’s another small problem. In the first picture above the flat area is where the vision block is fitted. I’ve put down some green stuff just where that flat area ends to provide a visual guide. In the next two shots you may be able to see that the vision block is overhanging its flat mount by a significant amount. You can see it is sitting right over the green stuff.

What I’ve done, and haven’t pictured yet, is sliced off a section from the back of block so that it fits onto the plate. Then, because it leaves a hole in the rear of the block, I filled that area in with two layers of green stuff which were next gently sanded flat. The side of the vision block was also sanded to make it fit better but I’m not too worried about the sides because a storage box will be concealing it.

That’s the start of the turret. The next update should see parts donated from a T-72, the cannon fitted and the hatches installed.

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Turret – Part II

Onwards and upwards with the T-80’s turret:


In the above set of pictures you’re pretty much looking at everything provided in the kit for the turret minus the snorkel and machine gun. I think you would agree that it is pretty bare looking. It’s not totally without merit though; the gunners hatch can be posed open and the interior detail is nice for this scale. Also the various vision blocks around the turret also look pretty nice.

I suppose it is worth clarifying the different T-80’s available from Revell. I have the old T-80 from 1995 which is a direct copy of a Matchbox kit from what I’ve read. This is the kit to be avoided if you want a more faithful rendition of the turret. Revell have two other T-80 kits on the market including a T-80B and a T-80BV. Both of these kits have an extra sprue that includes all of the missing detail on the turret and I think Revell redesigned the machine gun as well. As far as I’m aware the T-80B is the main production model at the moment, the T-80BV has been discontinued for the time being but I bet you can still find them.

For 1/35th scale modellers Revell also have a T-80UD but, honestly, I know absolutely nothing about the kit.


I’ve also mounted the cannon to the turret. It sits onto a very small tab jutting out from the top of the turret. When I fitted the cannon on I noticed it was canting to one side so I applied a little pressure to help if sit flat and the tab gave way; too much pressure and tad bit too much glue I reckon. No big deal though, I got the cannon fitted into place though I was left with that step between the canvas and the hull that you can see in the picture above. That’ll be sorted out with Liquid Green Stuff in another set of pictures later on.

Cannibalising the T-72

When you’re short on cash it’s always a good plan to start your projects around your birthday, well assuming you have a supportive partner that is. The T-72M1 from Revell is a really nice kit bursting with details. It also includes decals for East Germany, Finland and Iraq.

Now as it happens one of the other diorama ideas I have floating around involves an abandoned Iraqi T-72. I won’t be getting around to doing that until sometime later this year or perhaps next. In the meantime I can happily take some gear from the T-72 for the T-80; the Iraqis won’t be needing it.

I should probably state at this point that the accuracy of my T-80 versus the real deal is about the take a nosedive. To create a more complete looking take I’m using my artistic license in taking these parts and adding them to the T-80. If I was working on a 1/35th scale tank I’d give some series thought to scratch building items from styrene and I’d give more credence to how accurate the tank looks. But in 1/72nd scale I just couldn’t scratch build this stuff, the smoke launchers are tiny and I couldn’t make them myself. I’m sure someone can though and fair play to that person for doing it. Anyway, on with the build.


First of all I’ll be taking a tow cable. The T-72 kit comes with two tow cables, one for the front of the tank and one for the back. The T-80 kit comes with none despite the fact that the box art clearly displays one. Box art can be misleading at times.

The tow cable needs to be handled delicately as it can break pretty easily. There were a few times when I was cutting off the excess plastic left over from the sprue tabs that I thought it was about the snap. I think it adds some nice extra detail to the front of the tank and it should add some extra colour and weathering possibilities once I get to that stage.


Next I’m adding these two little storage boxes. I think these are supposed to ammo cans for the machine gun on the T-72 or they might be something else entirely. Either way, they look quite nice sitting on the side of the T-80 and frankly I think the T-80 needs a little busying up.


Now we come to one of the main reasons I decided to part out the T-72, the Infra-Red Searchlight. The searchlight goes together pretty easily and only needs a little modification to be transferred over to the T-80. Coming out the back of the searchlight is a long arm that I cut down into a much smaller stub as otherwise it would be sticking out from the T-80 is a strange way; the T-80 and T-72 have differently slopes to the front of their turrets.

Beside the searchlight in the first picture above is the guide arm that fits onto the searchlight and then hooks into the mantlet. Presumably the guide arm pulls the searchlight along when the cannon elevates. Unfortunately the guide arm didn’t survive removal from the sprue, it was just too small, too delicate and it broke it half pretty easily.

So I cheated. I was having trouble getting the searchlight to sit still on the front of turret as the glue was setting so I actually attached the side of the searching to the mantlet cover. The searchlight should probably be off to the left a little more but it doesn’t look terribly out of place and I doubt anyone is going to notice. In fact, forget I said anything.


The second reason I decided to part out the T-72 was the lack of smoke grenade launchers with this version of the T-80 kit. When placing the T-72’s smoke launchers I carefully looked over a copy of the instructions from the T-80B and tried to match them in placement and position with those on a T-80. I think I got them fairly close. I mean they’re not perfect but they look the part and that is what is important to me in this build. As you can see from the bottommost picture the T-80’s turret is starting to look much busier and dare I say proper.

Turret – Part III


Next up is the kit supplied machine gun and this threw me for loop for quite a while. I just couldn’t figure out how it was supposed to attach to the commanders cupola. In the end I just glued it into place in the vague hope that I’d gotten it right. The machine gun is lacking a fair bit in detail and I believe in the other two Revell kits it was redesigned.

The round dome shape of the commander’s cupola and the lack of any obvious trigger mechanism on the gun have lead me to suspect it might be remotely operated from inside the vehicle. The T-80 was certainly supposed to have been fitted with enough advanced technology that the Russians decided to not to export it. Then again it could just be laziness and poor moulding on behalf of Matchbox. Perhaps someone with better knowledge in Soviet\Russian armour would know?


Earlier I said I would fix the step in between the cannon and the turret hull. The first thing I did was brush on a generous amount of Liquid Green Stuff around the area and gave it a while to dry. For the next step I didn’t really want to whip out the sandpaper because I was afraid of sanding off the texture of the canvas mantlet cover. Instead I took a wide flat paint brush, a No. 4 I think, heavily laden with water and went after the green stuff.

By pressing hard into the green stuff I was able to pull it off where I didn’t want it. With some pressure and plenty of water it’ll just dissolve away. Some tissue is handy for removing excess water. By gently brushing over the green stuff I was gradually able to smooth it down where I did want it. The idea was to fill in the step creating a bit of ramp between the turret and canvas. It takes patience but works quite well. The green stuff will wash very easily out the brush as well.


The final piece of the turret puzzle, as far as the kit goes, is the damn snorkel. I say damn snorkel because I found the entire fit and feel of the thing to be very disappointing. The snorkel comes in two semi circle halves that fit together, exactly like the fuel drums, and of course they don’t line up properly. You get seams and misaligned banding once again.

Then two boxes fit into the back of the snorkel and they seemed to fit in a little wonky for me. That is to say there didn’t seem to be a way to fit them flat and flush to the snorkel. Finally a plate fits in one side and that fit fine. Unfortunately the other side of the snorkel doesn’t look so fine.

That it’s alright, for I have a cunning plan. One that should add some colour variation to the finished build.


About two years ago when I got back into modelling my girlfriend dallied around with a couple 1/72nd scale armour kits. It was a passing phase really but during that time she built Revell’s T-80B and I’ve been using it to check the fit of various things.

Now it is serving as a test bed for my plan to deal with the snorkel; I’m going to throw a tarp over it. A nice and simple, plain old water and PVA glue tissue paper tarp. It looks quite good when it dries too.

I’ll add one to mine after the painting stage and before the weathering stage. It’ll provide a nice bit of colour to back of the tank and cover up the awful looking snorkel.

So that’s about it for now. The tank is more or less built to the kits specifications. I’m toying around with the idea of adding in some extra detailing so that might very well be my next update.

Edited by AlcatrazLogan
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Detailing the T-80

Based on this picture here I noticed the T-80 has some thick cables running across the turret to the smoke dischargers and the searchlight. I thought that was an interesting feature on the tank that I could replicate so I went online to see what I could find in the way of fine wire.

Sure enough you can buy fine copper wire in small diameter from companies like Eureka XXL but then I thought to myself I could probably find something just as good locally. First I checked the website of my local art supply shop and came up empty. Then, for whatever reason, it clicked that I should check my local fishing store instead.


What I found is a product called Uni Soft Wire which is used for creating tackles or some such thing. I can honestly say I have never fished a day in my life. This stuff appears to be a made of a thread wrapped in a metal foil. It’s very soft and very pliable and comes in a variety of sizes.


While working with the wire I tried out a variety of glue in order to secure it to the tank. I first tried super glue because I wasn’t sure anything else would bond with the metal foil. I use a cheap, generic brand of super glue that comes in a set of 12 tubes from a €2 Store. When applied carefully it’s quite good and I sometimes use it for filling seams on aircraft models. Anyway, the super glue proved to be too awkward to use. It was sticking me to the wire more than it was sticking the wire to the tank.

I then moved onto Revell Contacta Clear, glue that dries clear so that it can be used with aircraft canopies and so on. I wanted to ensure there wasn’t a nasty mess running along the hull alongside the wire but in the end I didn’t think Contacta Clear wasn’t strong enough.

Finally I switched to my regular glue, Revell Contacta. It’s great for gluing plastic together and funnily enough it had no problems gluing the wire down. I think in the future though I might try out PVA glue because in the end the wire, despite being very pliable, was quite fiddly which isn’t great when you’re using glue that can melt plastic.


Alright, on this side of the turret I took a section of cable and ran it from the commander’s cupola down to the smoke dischargers. I glued in a black disc to represent the one found in the reference picture and, hopefully, once I get some primer on the tank it’ll all look good. Another section of wire was glued from the black disc down into the back of the searchlight. I deliberately tried to get some bends into the wire to make it look more realistic or at least interesting.


I had a lot of trouble on the other side of turret. I removed some pieces of cable a couple of times because it just didn’t look right. Of course this all got messy which is why I’m trying PVA next time. If it works it means less potential damage to the plastic.

For cutting the wire I used the same clippers I use for cutting sprue. You have to be careful when cutting the wire because if you pull it while making the cut you’ll start pulling the thread out. Fluffy thread and polystyrene cement are not a good combination.


Finally I decided to add two cables to the hull running from the headlights towards the turret. I test fitted the turret and it’ll slot into place over the wires without causing problems so I’m just going to leave them in place. I reckon once the painting on the tank is finished I’ll be gluing the turret down.


Overall I like the addition of the added cabling but I do think I could’ve down it better and certainly I could’ve made it much cleaner. I hope that once the primer goes down I’m not left with crudes blotches of glue everywhere because it’ll only be awkward to sand down. Time will tell.

A few people on a couple of different forums have mentioned that the machine gun looks a little soft in detail. I agree that it does and I’ve actually gone looking for pictures of the real thing so see how it should look. I found three pictures of 1/35th scale models that are pretty illustrative:

# Picture One

# Picture Two

# Picture Three

You can’t beat the detail packed into a 35th scale model. As you can see the machine gun sits in a shaped cradle over the commander’s hatch. It is a remote weapon station setup as I had guessed.


Now this is the machine gun on the T-80. The shaped cradle is moulded in place and it looks like it might be backwards but maybe it doesn’t matter which way it goes around? I think the gun looks a little over scale in appearance as well. I’d love to find a replacement but I want to keep the one that is in the T-72 kit for the T-72.

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Picking Up Some Goodies

I’ve got a small update here for you guys, just to show off a few things I recently picked up for the diorama build.


When I couldn’t find the set of Chechen rebels I was after I had another look online and found this set from Armory. It’s a trio of modern Russian tankers and they look quite good in person. There’s a bit of flash and a few mould lines but otherwise the detail is fantastic.

Subsequently I’ve had a slight rethink of my diorama idea. Rather than going for the classic ambush scene that I was planning on before I’ve going to do something much smaller that’ll show the T-80 at rest with the crew hanging around it. Not as exciting but it is practical. The diorama will still be set during winter though so instead of calling in War in Chechnya I’m renaming it Winter in Chechnya. I’ll rename the build log if I can.


I’ve also purchased a stowage set from Legend Productions which, although designed for the M1 Abrams, should come in pretty handy. I’ll only be using one or two pieces for the T-80 as Russian tanks don’t seem to be as heavily kitted out as their American counterparts. The rest I’ll save for other projects. The detail on the individual pieces is quite good, especially on the straps around the baggage.

As you can see I purchased both sets from JadarHobby which is based in Poland. It’s a great source for Eastern European manufacturers and it’s especially handy for those of use living in the Eurozone as we don’t have to convert currency. Apparently the Euro is good for something...

Two weeks ago I also purchased a book which should prove invaluable for the entire project. The book is Braille Scale Modelling by Sven-Åke Grufstedt, a real master at modelling in 1/72nd scale. I’ve always found his work to be educational so when he released the book I had to buy the full 90 page version.

It’s quite a detailed book as it goes into several painting and weathering techniques before going into a step by step process of painting a French LeClerc MBT and building a diorama around it.


Some of the techniques, including applying filters, involve oil paints which is something I haven’t tried before. I’ve always been interested though as I’ve seen it used countless times in magazines and other build logs. So I picked up a cheap set at my local art supply store; the tubes only contain 12ml each but it should be enough for now.

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I'm lucky in that my fingers are not too thick but I do have a bad habit of dropping things... a lot. It's a good thing I work over a tile floor.

Stowage Option I

Although most pictures of Russian tanks in action would indicate a distinct lack of external stowage I may have found two pictures that are the exception to the rule.

# Picture One

# Picture Two

Now the second picture is a real interesting one. In fact if you had the room it might make for an interesting diorama. I think I’ll save a copy of it actually.

Anyway, as you can see from the picture both the tank and the BMP in the middle of the road are kitted out with extra stowage, mostly crates from the look of them. It also looks like the tank has a canvas tarp on the back of the turret too. I haven’t been able to figure out what that vehicle is on the left hand side of the picture, anyone have any ideas?

Besides the diorama potential that picture provides it is also a boon because I do want to add some stowage to the T-80. One side of the turret is still pretty bare and a couple of bags will help fill up the space. The Legend set also came with a couple of crates so now I have an excuse to use one.


So here is what I’m thinking of adding; just two bags and a crate. One of the bags is a rucksack and the other looks like a bundled up tarp. I’m also adding a wooden crate to the back of the turret. Of course I’m still committed to adding a homemade tarp over the snorkel. The one in the picture is just another experiment; this time I didn’t use as many layers as before and now more shape is showing through which is nice. The stowage is all attached temporarily with PVA glue so that I can remove it easily.

The area between the baggage and the smoke dischargers will have a three digit decal fitted as will the large stowage box on the other side of the turret. Unsurprisingly the kit decals have yellowed with age but as they used to be white they wouldn’t be much use. White decals don’t blend well with white camouflage. I do have some black decals left over from an AH-1 kit that I think should work perfectly.

So, what does everyone think of the stowage layout?

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Prime Details

Another small update from myself and this time there is some paint involved.


Halfords Grey is my primer of choice at the moment. It’s a nice clear shade of grey and the can is very generous in size. I’ve used Humbrol primer in the past but the can is very small for the price locally and just runs out to fast. I’ve also used Games Workshop primer in the past but I’ve found it to be very fumy and my apartment isn’t greatly ventilated.

After attaching the wire which, as it turns out, is not actually wire but tinsel I was afraid the turret and hull would come out looking messy and in need of sanding. I’m happy to say that everything came out looking pretty well and it shouldn’t need extra work.

Before I primed the T-80 I gently popped off the drivers hatch and repositioned it so that I could place one of the Armory figures there. I decided that since it may be possible to see the interior past the figures that I should at least put down an interior colour. This, of course, required some research but I finally came across these pictures which show the interior as being a greyish blue colour.


For the interior colour I brushed on Vallejo Intermediate Blue which pretty much does the trick. Vallejo paints are great for hand painting, they brush on very smooth.


When I had finished with the interior I noticed I hadn’t finished with the gunners vision block. I thought about squaring off even more but I decided against it. The files I have are just too large for such a small job; I really need to invest in a mini-file set. Instead I turned the turret over and put down a drop of super glue into the impression for the vision block. I left that to dry and afterwards flipped the turret back over, standing it with the cannon pointing straight into the air.

Taking a paintbrush I covered it in Revell Contacta Clear and dropped a dollop right into the hole for the vision block on top of the dried super glue. I left it to dry and did it again to build up the glue. Revell Contacta Clear dries clear and so I was left with a pretty decent lens effect. It actually looks much better in person than in the picture.


Finally I’ve taken some time to paint the stowage up a little. I’ve started with the one above which is either a big bag full of stuff or a bundled up tarp. Either way I decided to go for a light greyish blue colour so I painted it with Vallejo Blue Grey Pale and followed that up with a wash using Citadel Shade Nuln Oil. Some of you might be using Citadel Wash Badab Black, well in their new paint system it has been replaced by Nuln Oil. Despite having an unpronounceable name, so much so that I’ve taken to calling in Nun Oil, it’s actually better than Babab Black. It’s thinner and has much better flow characteristics. The price hasn’t changed either.

I’m still not fully decided on the colour of this piece. I’ll have to wait until the tank is camouflaged to see if the looks right.


Next up is the crate for the back of the turret. I painted this with Citadel Snakebite Leather and again have given it a wash with Nuln Oil. Games Workshop makes a great range of paints that are rich in colour as well as a great range of washes. Snakebite Leather is no longer available but has been replaced by Balor Brown in the new paint system.

I have to say that I really like the crate. Although it is slight there is some wood grain effect engraved into the resin which is a nice touch from Legend. I’m very happy with the stowage set although I find the resin has a funky smell to it that bothers me if I’m working with it for too long.

Anyway, next up I’m going to start painting the T-80 using a forced contrast technique from the Braille Scale Modelling book. Hopefully it works out.

Edited by AlcatrazLogan
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Forced Contrast

In painting the T-80 I’m trying to follow the techniques layed out in the Braille Scale Modelling eBook and the first one on the list is Forced Contrast.

Forced Contrast is a little like pre-shading on an aircraft. The idea is to put down a dark basecoat before your main colour. When you begin putting down the main colour you work from the centre of panels, or other logical areas, and slowly airbrush out to the edges. If all goes right you should be left with dark edges which provide a semblance of depth, shadow and contrast.

Before I continue I should mention this isn’t the first attempt at painting the T-80. Yesterday I tried out Forced Contrast and moved onto the Hairspray Technique. Then I camouflaged the tank with white and afterwards began chipping which quickly went overboard...

Basically I learned three things from using hairspray:

1. Hairspray really darkens down colours. The Olive Green paint coat I had originally given the T-80 went very dark very fast.

2. It’s very easy to go overboard with chipping. By the time I was done the T-80 looked like it had spent a year going through one long continuous bramble bush.

3. Beware using your partners hair products, they may just be overpoweringly scented...

Anyway, back to the task at hand. Obviously blacks and greys are pretty good as a basecoat for forced contrast but you’re not restricted there. If you’re doing a green tank you could try a dark green basecoat for example. You always have options.

I could’ve used the technique off of the Halfords Grey primer I had put down previously but I find that some greys tend to pull towards blue. It could just be my eyes playing tricks on me mind you. The Halfords Grey definitely seems to have a blue tinge to my eyes so I decided to go for a much darker grey.


The dark grey that I chose for the basecoat is Revell Aqua Color Tank Grey which is the darkest grey that I have. It’s gone on quite well considering the previous paint scheme that is underneath it, including hairspray.


Yesterday when I painted the tank I chose Revell Olive Green for the green coat but once the hairspray went on it went very dark and I didn’t like it very much. Today I mixed together Olive Green and Revell White to produce a much lighter green. In fact it’s quite a pale green I’ve put down but I’m hoping once the hairspray goes onto the model it’ll darken down and it’ll look proper.

The Forced Contrast didn't quite work though. As you can see from the pictures the shadows that are supposed to be there aren't. I'm going to put that down to two things:

1. My airbrushing skills need a bit of work.

2. My airbrush probably isn't suitable for subtle and fine paint work.

Still, you don't get anywhere without trying first and I might be able to improve on the technique in future builds.

The next step will be to put down a matt coat of varnish. Underneath these two layers of paint is hairspray from the previous painting attempt and I want to seal it off before I put down fresh hairspray and try chipping again. If I don’t put down the matt varnish I’m afraid once I begin chipping I might wear it down to far to the old paint coat which would not be desirable in the slightest.

However I probably won’t get another update up until next week as I’m travelling down to the IPMS Ireland Nationals on Friday and it’ll be a busy weekend.

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Hairspray Technique

I’m back and with another update although I wasn’t sure I’d make it this week. I spent a busy weekend at the IPMS Ireland Nationals and was quite chuffed to win a medal in the competition. Unfortunately I also contracted a pretty build cold that built up over the weekend so that by Sunday evening I was feeling terrible. I’m still trying to shake the cough.


During my last update I said that I was going to apply a matt coat to the T-80 before proceeding. I wanted to do this in order to seal in my previous attempt at using hairspray. I used Vallejo Matt Varnish straight from the bottle and applied it lightly with a brush.

In the picture above you may notice that around the engine deck, the drivers hatch and other areas of the tank that the grey is showing through. That’s forced contrast at work, providing a sense of shadow and depth to the model. Although in this case it is very slight and it won’t last long once the white goes on.


The hairspray that I’m using is Wella Silvikrin, apparently it produces a natural hold for... I really don’t care. I’m using it because it was already sitting in my bathroom. Otherwise I would have bought the cheapest possible brand I could find, possibly one without Parfum as an ingredient. Once I applied this I was engulfed in a sickly-sweet cloud that set my cough off something fierce.


I applied the hairspray in two quick passes and at a distance, not because of scented clouds of death but rather to ensure I did not build up a thick coat on the tank. It seems to me to be all too easy to coat a model very thickly with hairspray and lose detail in the process. It goes without saying that you do not touch the model just after application unless you fancy a nicely detailed and ridged fingerprint marring your work. Hairspray is effectively a form of glue used the combat the wind and the 1980’s so caution all round. Thankfully it does dry very fast but I’d still leave it for a couple of hours just to be sure.

The hairspray also goes down very glossy, as you can see, and one might be persuaded to try it out as an alternative to gloss varnish or Future. Do not be fooled though as the entire purpose behind the hairspray is that it reacts to heat. With a little hot water the hairspray comes right off taking the overlaying coat of paint with it. Many decal softening and setting solutions get hot as part of their process and would undoubtedly affect the hairspray resulting in a mess.


I gave the hairspray about an hour and thirty minutes to dry out before I gingerly poked it with a toothpick just to be sure it wasn’t still tacky. The camouflage scheme that I intend to use, which may well by fictional as that is a picture of an RC model, has most of the tank in white with green ribbons snaking across the vehicle. So, I broke out the Blu Tack and spend quite a while laying down the ribbons, just taking my time as I went. I pulled the Blu Tack out into long thin sections and then used a toothpick to flatten the edges to ensure I wouldn’t get any overspray or bleeding.


I used Revell Aqua Color White for the white and I misted in over the model in successive coats as I didn’t really want a bright white or a full looking white. The way I envisage this camouflage scheme is that the tank started out solid green with the white added later, possibly in a field depot, and as such is more easily damaged. I also didn’t bother painting the bottom of the tank in white as I presume the crew wouldn’t either for the same reason; no-one is going to see it.


Next came the fun part of slowing removing the Blu Tack and checking out the results. Of course some time has passed in order to let the white cure properly. The results, I think, are fantastic. There are only one or two small cases of overspray and because of what I’ll be doing next that is easily fixed. This is only my second time painting camouflage using the airbrush and I’m becoming more grateful for it with each successful use.

The Revell acrylics airbrush very well but they do need to be thinned a bit before use. A mixture of water and their own of brand thinner will sort that out. A little Vallejo Drying Retarder can be added to the mix to ensure it the paint doesn’t dry out as it passes through the airbrush.

For the next step, chipping of the hairspray, you’ll need three things:

1. A tub or bottle of warm water but nothing too hot either. This process needs to be conducted delicately, at least in 1/72nd scale, or you’ll quickly go too far.

2. A brush with short, sharp, stiff bristles in order to chip the paint. The best idea is to take one of your older banjaxed brushes and clip the bristles down close to the handle.

3. Patience. Think about where you want to do the chipping and how you want the tank to look at the end and then carefully proceed.


I decided to go for some generally large paint flaking across the tank with more worn down wear and tear around the hatches, storage boxes and side skirts. I had a lot of fun doing this although I realise I could’ve gone for a more subtle approach. I like to think it works though.

Basically what you do is take your paintbrush and dip it in the water and then dip it onto some paper towel to take away the excess water because what you don’t want is water running all over the model. Next pick an area you want the chipping to appear and either begin gently stabbing it with the brush or rubbing it. It really depends on the effect you’re going for. Either way the warm water causes the hairspray to melt taking the overlaying coat of paint with it. The reason I stated patience above is because it is very easy to go on a chipping frenzy and suddenly you’re left with Tankenstein or Aerozilla. The beauty of using this technique though is you can be as subtle as you like and just produce some scratches here and there if you wish; it’s all down to personal choice really.

There are a few alternatives to using the hairspray technique. You can use salt weathering to produce a more random look of paint flecking. Alternatively you can brush down small areas of liquid mask and then remove them when required to produce the desired effect. I imagine any liquid mask would work but I know that AK interactive brought out something recently especially for doing just this.

My next update will involve detail painting various parts of the T-80 so that is where it will start coming to life. However first I think I’ll put down another matt coat and seal the hairspray in again just for safety.

Thanks for watching.

Edited by AlcatrazLogan
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Detail Painting – Part I

In between some other commitments which have been keeping me busy I’ve been doing a little detail painting. It’s been slow going as I’ve mostly been hung up on painting the tracks and the rubber rims on the road wheels. Thanks to the tips and suggestions offered up to me across a couple of forums I’m now back on track... no pun intended.

When detail painting I like to use Vallejo Model Color and Vallejo Panzer Aces as they’re both very brush friendly and rich in colour too. Of course Revell Aqua Color and Games Workshop paints stand by to fill in where necessary.


I started off with the tow cable on the front hull plate of the T-80. It was painted with Vallejo Oily Steel and the bracket blocks that hold it to the hull were painted with Vallejo Natural Steel, though you couldn’t tell. I followed that up by giving it a wash with Citadel Shade: Nuln Oil to darken and dirty up the metal. I can’t recommend Citadel Shades enough, they’re great washes with a nice range of colours and the flow characteristics are great too. If you can get them locally you should give them a try.


Next I started on the headlights. Revell recommended a silver colour and as both of my Vallejo steel paints are a little on the dark side I decided to use Revell Aluminium. Now I wanted to create a lens effect so I took a brush and coated it with a small dollop of Revell Contacta Clear. I carefully placed the dollop onto the headlight after standing the T-80 upright. The pictures may not do it justice but it looks good in person.


The periscopes were painted with two coats of Vallejo Intense Blue and then I coated all three periscopes with Revell Contacta Clear for the glass effect again.


Finally I painted the rear lights with Vallejo Flat Red and again used Contacta Clear for the lens effect. For the exhaust I painted the each little square black and then gave it a wash with Nuln Oil. After it had dried a short while I took the same brush I used for chipping the hairspray and rubbed it back and forth to wear the paint back down. Later on I’ll be adding some weathering around the exhaust, soot stains and so forth.

At the moment I’m working on the tracks and the wheels and then I’ll start on the turret. October is going to be a bit busy for me so the updates will be slow in coming but they will keep coming.

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