Airbrushing Armour – Flak 38(t) Ausf. M Late

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The Flakpanzer 38(t) auf Selbstfahrlafette 38(t) Ausf M, better known as Flakpanzer 38(t) is German self-propelled anti-aircraft gun that was designed around the chassis of the Czech LT-38 tank. Built from November 1943 to February 1944, entering service in 1944 Serving on both western and eastern front for a relatively short period of time. In early 1945, the Flakpanzer 38(t)’s single 2cm FlaK was no longer sufficient to ward off enemy aircraft, and it became easy prey for Allied fighter-bombers. However, its ability to fold armored structure around the FlaK very low, made it useful against enemy infantry and unarmoured or lightly armoured vehicles.

The Kit

Dragon has managed once again to accurately represent another piece of WWII armor and fill the box with lots of goodies that just shout ‘come and get me’ so nothing so new here. Plastic parts, photo-etched parts, metal towing cable, magic tracks and a tiny sheet of decals should be enough to satisfy any modellers ‘greed’ or should it!? The moment i emptied the box becomes noticeable that the kit could really use a nice metal barrel for the FlaK. Not saying that the plastic barrel is not nice and well detailed but, you know, that can never be the same, right? Apart from that barrel we got short and a magic tracks that i personally hate, this is a great kit and should come together with no problems at all and build to a stunning replica with just a bit of patience and effort.

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Main parts assembled and well known Dragon level and clarity of details

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Flat brown as base cote

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A couple very light coats of Desert yellow mainly on the panels and large areas while subtly leaving the Flat brown to show trough

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Further darkening of the panel lines and edges with Desert yellow and black followed by a bit messy oil wash

Construction

Every time just before the build of Dragon’s kit i get nervous about the instructions as in many cases, some parts are not reflecting the real model building process and often the steps are over packed with sub-steps creating a real mess and a constant need for double checking of everything. What i want to say is, double check each step prior to assembly. After carefully analyzing the instructions everything was pretty much straight forward and the kit went together like a charm. Although the Dragon’s magic track system gives more realism to the model than the vinyl tracks do, it’s simply not fun at all to assemble two hundred tiny bits while thinking of that famous saying: ‘modelling is fun!’. To add to this is Dragon’s genius idea of putting assembled tracks on at the very end of the build process, well i would really like to see someone actually doing this without losing all the nerves, hair and the tracks as well! Once you have the track sections sorted out, bent and in right shape, all the rest will fallow thanks to Dragon’s brilliant engineering on the rest of the kit.

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Wash is blended using a soft brush moistened with enamel thinner. The model still looks rough.

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To smooth and blend everything together, a very thin coat of Vallejo Yellow and desert yellow has been applied.

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Scratches and paint chipping done with alcohol wet swab and gently rubbed over some parts revealing the brown underneath.

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Using a clean and DRY soft brush start making gentle downward movements over the oil paint until you get a smooth surface

Painting

Dragon has given us a choice of six marking options and four different paint schemes for this kit with overall ‘dark yellow’ being my favorite here. Before i move on with the painting i want to make groups of sub-assemblies so i can manipulate and handle those much easier so the group brake down should be something like this: chassis, FlaK gun system, folding FlaK shield, wheels and tracks, tools and all the tiny pieces that are left there. Painting begins with Tamiya XF-10 Flat brown as a base coat and appropriate tone to go under the XF-59 Desert yellow that will come over in very thin coat allowing the brown to show trough around the edges and panel lines, a sort of inverted post shading. After spraying the desert yellow i am adding a drop or two of black and enough thinner into the mix for further spraying over panel lines and model edges. Once we’ve done airbrushing the paint shades it’s time for a first round of oil washes and further enhancement of the recessed details. For the wash, i am using artists oils over the Tamiya’s flat finish paint as this combination is simply the best for various model painting tasks and techniques, some of them will be explained further in the text. Properly thinned Burnt umber is preferred for the job mainly because it gives that dirty and greasy look to the model and while trying to keep the oil wash in recessed areas some overflow is welcomed too.

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White and yellow oil ‘dots’ applied by fine pointed brush and by using ‘stubbing’ brush motion blend the light tones down.

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Again, apply burn umber, smooth it down, apply bits of light oil paints and again blend it all together.

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Fronts parts are done and the FlaK cradle section is next

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The entire model has been treated with oil paints and looks more used and warn now, a thing we want to achieve

Ok, a few minutes later when the wash is dry a brush moistened with enamel thinner is used to gently blend the wash down by making light and slow motions with the brush over the oil paint stains. Don’t overdo but try just to soften the edges between burnt umber wash and base paint. The model is now ready to receive the final, very light coat of Vallejo 71028 Sand yellow mixed with 71002 Yellow in 50-50 ratio. This could be done with Tamiya paints as well, perhaps a XF-60 dark yellow as the idea is to give the model s bit more color tone variation but also to blend together everything we’ve done so far. Well, now is the moment to finish it off with artist oils which will give us that cool dirty and used look. Start on a flat and larger surface just to get a grip of it before moving on to the other areas and remember to work on the other sub-assemblies of the model simultaneously. Try to keep it simple: Burnt umber over entire surface followed by a few light tones at the center of the panels and then using ‘stubbing’ brush motion to blend it in, experiment and have fun and you will be surprised over the results! I am going to place the decals directly on to the oil paint and if necessary, touch it up a bit again to blend everything together as we don’t want those decals to look new.

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Track disks are to receive more heavy treatment with oils, too clean at this stage.

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Dirty, burned and rusty exhaust pipe received various red/brown shades of pigments applied with ‘stubbing’ brush motion over wet oils.

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The same ‘pigments over wet oils’ technique is used here for the tracks and the MIG pigments are the best for this type of job

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Wheels are too dark here and about to receive some further touch ups with white oil paint and a bit of blending.

Now set the model aside for at least 24 hours allowing oils to dry before applying the flat cote. While we are waiting for the paint to dry, we can work on wheels, tracks and other parts that will be treated with pigments. The same procedure with oil paints applies here but this time we will be adding pigments directly on the wet oils to get something like mud and dirt by combining a few different pigment colors. When everything is painted and weathered i am about to put all the components together carefully not to mess up something at the very end. And the last thing but not least, RB Model Flak metal barrel painted with Alclad II Gun metal, a black-bluish shiny finish, comes like a cherry on the cake to our prize winning FlaK38.
At the end, this was another very fun to build model brought to us by Dragon and although i do have some minor negative things to say about it, mainly the instructions and magic tracks, i really did enjoy building it! Go get one for yourself, you will not be disappointed!

Model, Text and photos by:
Aleksandar Pocuc

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