TD Battalions were organized separate from armored and infantry divisions. They would then be assigned to divisions as dictated by Army or Crop Commanders. The original battalions were equipped and organized with armored personnel carriers mounted with flat trajectory artillery guns. From inception to stand-down, the TD doctrine evolved and changed along with its primary weapon, the tank destroyer. The central concept remained the same however. TDs were lighter and faster while their guns were larger than the main battle guns on contemporary American tanks. The mission: Defeat enemy armor with weapons specifically designed for long-range encounters. While a TD could knock out the enemy, it lacked protection against accurate return fire from anything other than small arms fire. For example to minimize weight, the TD turret lacked a top, exposing the crew to mortar fire and even a lobbed grenade. Tree bursts were a constant threat to the exposed crew. Stealth, by using the terrain, as well as its mobility was its protection.
Without giving too much information, this project was initiated at the request of my good friend Luciano Rodreguiez. Many of you know him from his excellent models (in 1/48th scale) and for
his tireless dedication to the promotion of the scale and modeling in general. The task was simple; build "something" in 1/48th scale and then place it into a small scene. Of course, knowing Lu a figure would also be expected!!!
I decided upon the M10 Tank Destroyer from Tamiya. This particular kit represents one of Tamiy'a earlier 1/48 scale efforts which "features" a cast metal hull. This feature is supposed to give a sense of weight to the model, but in reality it just makes fitting a little more difficult. Along with the basic kit I decided to embellish with some photo etched parts from Hauler. I believe 3 sets of etch in all; one for the interior and two were used on the exterior. By far the most fiddly work was the replacing all of the small tie-downs that adorn the turret sides. The rear stowage boxes were scratch built based loosely based upon a period photograph.
In all honesty this is one of those projects that I had no clear idea of what the final outcome would look like – no clear vision of what I wanted to do. This led to a lot of hesitation and second guessing on my part. I knew that I wanted to play around with some painting techniques which suggested to me that I either present a burnt-out or a white washed finish. In my photo and reference searches I came across a white washed TD with an interesting pattern. The wash had obviously been hand applied in broad bands. I decided that this would be my inspiration and direction. A winter scene it would be!
Initial base color painting followed my usual method of first applying a darker color and then adding lighter colors over top for highlights and interest. Knowing that I would be later applying a white wash layer over top I didn't concern
myself with being too "artistic" with the base color application. Once I had my base colors on the fun really began. I sealed the base color with a layer of Future. This is something that I routinely do on all of my models, but it is particularly important on this model knowing the harsh scrubbing that I would doing later on the white wash. After the Future had dried I applied 2 light coats of hair spray (yes, the "hair spray" technique. As an aside, I was at Euro in 2006 when Phil unveiled his Panzer IV with which he debuted this technique. It was incredible – perfectly executed – with a result like nothing I had seen before. Hat's off Phil! Ok…2 light coats of hair spray and then set aside to dry for about an hour.
I knew that the winter camouflage would be a little tricky. As I see it the problem with trying to replicate "hand painted" camouflage – be it white wash or mud – is that if not done properly it just looks like a messy brush job. To achieve the "hand" painted camouflage I used a two step process. The first step was to lay down the basic color foundation using my airbrush. The trick here is to be very random in the thickness of the application – allowing some areas to be almost translucent while giving other areas more coverage. I also maintained the idea of the broad stripes as seen on my inspiration photo. Over top of the airbrushed white I hand brushed an additional layer of white for the "hand painted" look. The airbrush gave me sufficient coverage while the hand brush gave me the brush marks.
After allowing about and hour or so for the paint to dry it was time to scrub it off – The Hair Spray Technique! With a small cup of warm water, a very stiff (old) brush and a toothpick or two I scrubbed, rubbed and scratched the white washed areas. Contrary to what one would expect this can be a very controlled process – just take your time. In the end I spent about 2 hours divided into 3 sessions to get the results you see here.
More traditional weathering methods followed using MIG Productions Washes, Filters and Oil paints. From time to time during the weathering process I would re-apply white paint in certain areas in order to regain some of the sparkle and brightness that I was loosing due to scrubbing and weathering. The final weathering steps included a light round using MIG pigments and MIG oils.
The base was created by first sculpting the ground/snow with plaster. The snow is created from Micro Balloons – the accumulation was created by alternating a layer of airbrushed Future and then Micro Balloons – Future – Micro Balloons. It took a while and it's messy. The tree was created from Asparagus fern and a wooden dowel. The figures were painted using Vallejo paints. Two of the fellows are from the MIG Productions range while the third is from The Bodi.
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