Wednesday, 18 October 2017

T-55A Medium Tank [WIP - Decals and Wash; prep work before the weathering process]

Before the weathering process for the T-55A even begins, there were some prep work that needed to be done first. There is no set way to prep for weathering and in this case it involved the application of decals, the painting of a key non-metallic part of the tank and finally the application of washes. Each when combined forms an underlying canvas onto which weathering effects will later take shape.

T-55A turret work-in-progress: Painting gun mantlet's canvas sheath as well as applying decals and washes 
Turret is still missing dirt streaks and rust stains, which will be added later in the weathering process

To protect the underlying paint as well as provide a suitable surface tension for the decals and enamel wash, a water-based semi-gloss clear coat (Mr Hobby Top Coat) was sprayed onto the basecoat. Once the clear coat had dried at least overnight, the decal set for a Czechoslovakian T-55A was fixed onto the turret using a combination of Mr Hobby's Mr Mark Setter and Mr Mark Softer. The former provided extra adhesiveness underneath the decals while the latter helped soften the decal and helped it conform better to the curved shape of the turret as well as grooves of the storage box. 

Mr Mark Setter provided extra adhesiveness while Mr Mark Softer helped the decal conform to the turret shape

After the decals, it was time to paint the canvas sheath on the turret. Now you might be wandering why a canvas sheath is covering the gun mantlet. As I understand it, the sheath is there to prevent water and dirt from getting into the mantlet. During the painting process, I used Vallejo Model Color 70.921 English Uniform, 70.880 Khaki Grey and 70.821 German Camouflage Beige WWII as well as a Citadel wash of Agrax Earthshade to achieve a fairly realistic looking canvas texture. 

Canvas sheath (for the gun mantlet)  was painted with a Vallejo Model Color triad and finished off with a Citadel wash

Then a dark brown wash was applied judiciously on the tank hull and turret. And because an enamel wash (AK Interactive Dark Brown Wash for Green Vehicles) was used, any excess of it was easily cleaned off using either a brush or cotton bud dampened slightly with white spirit.  

An enamel wash of dark brown hues was applied to create the first impressions of depth on the tank

Shown below are the same photographs (as the first two) of the tank turret after its canvas was painted as well as after decals and some wash had been applied. The only difference was that a white instead of black background was used. There are arguments for and against using either a white or black background when taking shots of the tank so essentially it's just a matter of taste.

T-55A turret work-in-progress, this time against a white background
Czechoslovakian flag symbol and canvas add colour variety to the turret's predominantly olive green hue

Using a wash helps define any edges and grooves on the tank. In addition, the wash creates depth to the whole piece versus the flat looking basecoat only paint job. It's important to note that the wash will darken/brown ever slightly when a semi-gloss clear coat is sprayed over it. So at this point in time I'm not too worried about the wash taking on a seemingly greyish tint after it has dried.

Although the dark brown wash seems to take on a greyish tint after drying ...
... the dull hues (as seen above) will become darker and more brownish once a semi-gloss clear coat is applied
Clockwise from the top are the idler wheel, drive sprocket and road wheels
A simple wash sans any weathering already increases the sense of depth to the tank parts
Before (right) and after (left) a dark brown wash was applied to the tank hull

Work on the T-55A has now past the halfway point to around the 66% mark. Major milestones in the future include weathering, installing and painting the tracks, getting a realistic wood effect on the unditching log/beam, and most importantly paint the tank commander. My AFV paint job mantra is that a good figure can save a bad tank but not vice versa. That I will leave for last. The next milestone is to weather the T-55A as a tank in operation for a few months or even a year. As to how that would look like I admittedly have no idea. So I'm going to play the creative license card and see you soon in the next work-in-progress blog post of the 1/35 scale Tamiya T-55A Medium Tank.


  1. Well done, talentuous man!

    1. Thank you Phil, yet another step towards completion.

  2. I always love your work! Perfection :)

  3. Nice work the decals look really good and smooth almost like they are hand done.

    1. Tamiya decals are thicker than Bandai ones but they blend surprisingly well onto the vehicle's surface. Even then it wouldn't hurt for some added weathering to further blend the decals into the overall colour scheme.

  4. Replies
    1. Thank you Moiterei. AFVs are certainly very time consuming. A lot more work goes into the background, at least when compared to figure painting.

  5. Now this is the point where it is no more a mere model tank and comes to true life. Looking forward to seeing this one finished :)

    1. Exactly, I like reaching that step where the fun begins !
      Briliant work so far !

    2. Thanks guys. Sorry you had to read about all the boring stuff preceding this. Hopefully in the future I will get to the good stuff faster and hold back on the boring steps. ^_^

  6. Looks fantastic ! Love the green !

    1. Thanks Mario ... the green is kinda nice. A bit too olivey for the version at hand but it's the closest colour I have at hand in a spray can.


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