Modeling Basics Part I - Basic Construction by Doug Chaltry
25 June 2000 email: doug(at)
There really are no techniques that are unique to small-scale armor modeling. The basics are the same regardless of the type of model being built. Keep in mind simple things, such as:
  • Never twist parts from a sprue, use clippers (this is especially important for the really small parts that can be found on small-scale models)
  • Always sand off the nubs left from the clippers, as well as any flash and seams (cannon barrels are notorious for having awful seams)
  • Remove any ejection pin marks, either by sanding or filling with putty (if you enter into contests, a single ejection pin mark is enough to eliminate your vehicle from the competition)
  • Always, always, always test fit. Many small scale models are resin kits which require the use of super glue. Test fitting is critical when using super glue.

About the only suggestion that I have for building small-scale armor models that may not be readily apparent to beginner modelers, is that you should not necessarily follow the assembly sequence in the instructions. Most kits I have seen follow the same assembly sequence: build the lower hull, attach the wheels, attach the tracks, build the upper hull, and then glue the two hull parts together. Many times, this sequence is not practical when it comes to the painting of your kit. Normally, it is easiest to paint everything at once, i.e., after the lower and upper hulls have been glued together. But if you already have the wheels and tracks on, painting is then complicated.

This is my normal construction sequence:

  • I first build the entire hull. First the lower hull, then the upper hull, and I attach the two. Any filling and sanding to be done, is therefore done prior to painting the two hull halves. With the exception of the bogie wheels, I glue on every part that is going to be painted the same color as the base hull color, as long as it won't interfere with ease of handling the model.
  • I then build the entire turret following the same guidelines as the hull.
  • After the main construction is complete, I paint the vehicle. I paint the hull, the turret, and the bogie wheels while they are still on the sprue. I apply the wash to everything, and then the overcoat of paint, and drybrush. (See article on painting for some simple painting suggestions.)
  • After the painting, I cut the wheels off the sprues, clean them up, and then paint the tires, if necessary, repeating the wash and drybrushing for them. While they dry, I paint the tracks, usually while on their sprue. After everything is dry, I then attach the wheels to the hull, followed by the tracks. If there are any final parts to be attached, such as tools or tow cables, I paint them separate, and then attach them to the vehicle.
  • Now that assembly is complete, I touch up wherever the paint needs it (like where the track links were glued together, etc.). Then it is time to weather the vehicle. First, I apply any decals that are needed. It's important to put on the decals before the weathering, so they get weathered too. Else they will look fake. As for stowage, it depends on what you want for the final look. Some you may want to attach before the weathering, some after. Remember, anything that you attach after weathering will look new.

However, with the advent of the hard plastic link-and-length style of tracks, I find myself sometimes following the proscribed sequence for ease of assembly of the tracks, but then it really screws up the logical painting sequence. I end up painting the two hulls, glueing them together after I attach the painted wheels and tracks, and then touching up the hull join areas, while masking off the tracks.

I find that it is very difficult to attach the tracks to vehicles that have overhanging side hull sponsons that cover the tops of the bogie wheels. In instances such as these, it is actually easier to glue on the tracks before attaching the upper hull. Unless, of course, the side sponsons are actually part of the lower hull, as is the case with Revell's new Tiger kits (one of my few complaints about those kits).

That sums up the basic construction procedure. Please refer to the other articles for specific techniques, such as painting and weathering.

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