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The Last Panther in Pomerania

by Rhodes Williams

Painting and Weathering

Thus far fifty hours had been invested into construction. I read that Mr. James Blackwell spends 30% of his time in construction and 70% in painting and finishing. I was in trouble. Before I applied the base coat, I removed the IR sets and mesh engine deck grills to paint separately. I also removed the Aber side skirts allowing me access the roadwheels and caterpillars without interference.

I saw an interesting rendition of the ambush scheme on a Panther G in Military Miniatures in Review No. 11-12 Spring 1997. The model had been built and painted by Masahiro Doi who many know from amongst others, Armour Modeling Magazine. His Panther lacked any ambush scheme on the hull deck and turret lid. I thought I would like to do something similar allowing the use the "pre-shading" method.

I skipped the priming process and using a Badger 150 airbrush sprayed on several coats of 30% Humbrol "Flat Black" #33 to 70% thinner to begin the "pre-shading" process. This would also double as the primer coat. I prefer Best Kleen "No Odor Thinner" as it does not ponk and dries quite quickly. The first few coats are nearly invisible, but after they dry it goes on quickly and very thin. As I opted to pass on any interior detail I also painted the interior flat black. Any exposed interior details were painted Panzer buff and washed with an oil wash of 80% Raw Umber 20% black thinned to 20/80 with thinner . Once dry I drybrushed with the Buff to bring out some detail on the interior of the cupola.  The periscopes were painted flat black and drybrushed with gray and Model Master "Steel".

With the minimal interior details completed I began the "pre-shading" process. I mixed Humbrol colours #153 (Red oxide) at 70% with #113 (Brown) 20%, and #33 (Flat Black) 10% and thinned it down 40/60. I blew it though my airbrush using 5 psi. into the centers of panels. The harsh lines were then misted by lowering the pressure to 2 psi to create a nice fade between the black "pre-shade" and the oxide primer. This same process was used on the roadwheels using a circular motion.

Once the oxide-primer was set, I added the Dunkelgelb and Dunkelgrun hard edge camouflage using a soft paint brush. Be sure to thin the pant adequately to avoid brush lines. I kept the ambush scheme to a minimum so as to reveal as much of the red primer coat as possible. The small "spots" were added with a spotter brush, Dunkelgelb over the Red Oxide and Dunkelgrun, Oxide Primer over the Dunkelgelb. Once this was completed on the hull, turret and side skirts, I went to work on the caterpillars. As they were already sprayed flat black, I simply airbrushed them with a very thin wash of Raw Umber and set them aside to dry. Once sufficiently dry I washed them with several coats of Rustall to give them an extremely worn out look. The results were pleasing.

Once the basic camouflage scheme was hardened I airbrushed it with Testors "Dullcoat Lacquer" (#1160) to seal and protect the paint from the subsequent oil washes. As I was modeling a Panther during the very closing days of the war I skipped adding decals. The basic wash consisted of a mix of 80% Raw Umber 20% black which was then thinned at a ratio of 20% oil paint to 80% thinner. This was airbrushed on at a psi of 20. A heavier wash was laid into the subassemblies and running gear. I found by laying the model carefully on its side and spraying into the roadwheels it settles in nice and even. With regard to the hull and turret I sprayed on several coats to almost obliterate the camouflage scheme. Before the oils had set I took a fine brush and washed in a direction gravity would cause staining to run. This broke up the wash and simulate extreme exposure to the elements and combat.

After the wash had set, I set about rusting the hull and turret. This was done with Liquitex acrylic "Burnt Sienna" mixed to a ratio of 40/60 with distilled water. Then with a fine brush and capillary action, I laid the paint into all the nooks and crannies and around raised details such as handles and the improved weld seams. Heavy rusting took several coats but was done sparingly as to not totally erase the flat black "pre-shading". I also laid in, using a thicker brush, a few coats of "rust" on the fire trap mufflers as these were nothing more than thin steel and tended to rust after exposure to continual heat. I also washed a few of the shell hits and bouncing blows with "rust" to differentiate between older and more recent hits. I also heavily rusted around the bolts in the roadwheels. When this was finished I took a fine brush and painted the rubber roadwheels flat black. The black I reserve for this is cheap nasty latex house paint from Orchard Hardware. It dries brilliantly flat, almost gray. It was then dry brushed with shades of gray.

Next I mixed some water based flat black and airbrushed the scorching caused by shell hits both large and small caliber on the hull, turret and side skirts. This mixture was quite thin and required several hits with the airbrush to achieve proper coverage. At the same time I blew some flat black on the 7.5cm muzzle brake to simulate cordite staining, the close defense machine guns in the bow and port and to simulate exhaust staining on the engine deck.

Touching the weld seams with khaki to bring out the detail came next. I did also do a bit of drybrushing with Testors "Steel" on the guide horns where they were in constant contact with the roadwheels and on the exterior tracks, but only on the cleats where they made heavy impact with the road surface. I drybrushed a bit of steel onto the edges of the hull and turret that were prone to excessive wear.

Finished with the drybrushing, I thinned the steel paint and with a fine pointed spotter brush reproduced scratches from combat, element wear and crew scuffing. This was laid in heavy at high contact points such as around the crew hatches and engine access hatch. To simulate the impact of shell hits and glancing blows I took an old frayed brush, dipped it into the steel, wiped the brush nearly clean and scrubbed it into the black scorching.

Painting the IR sets came next. These had been removed and to a certain extent deconstructed and mounted using cryno glue onto toothpicks for ease of painting and detailing. They were airbrushed using Humbrol Dunkelgelb (#93) and washed with a thin coat of Raw Umber oils. Once dry I used the capillary effect to bring out all of the details using water based Raw Umber. The focusing knobs and power couplings were painted flat black and drybrushed with gray and Testors "Steel". The red identification numbering was painted on upside down with Testors "Red" as per references in "Panther in Detail". The optics and lamps were painted with Raw Umber and the centres touched with purple as I am reliably informed the optics appeared this colour in sunlight. The power cables were made of TechStar "Styrene Rod .20" (#TC3014) and painted with water based Burnt Sienna and washed with flat black.

To achieve the glass periscopes and rear convoy light realistically I painted them first with Raw Umber and painted the centres with Humbrol #80 (Bright Green). To achieve the glassy effect I then mixed "Aristocrat" two part resin and laid it in with a fine brush on all the glass surfaces. Artists pastels were ground up in a variety of colours, mostly rust orange and dark brown and laid in with a fine brush to simulate running rust stains and with a wider brush for the burnt effect on the rear deck plate on a rear starboard hull side where a penetration shot caused the radiator to burn.

Lastly, I wanted to add some serious gunk. I mixed Hudson & Allen "Static Grass" (#9617) with coffee grounds, fine sand, a large amount of flower bed soil and Polly S Colors "Dark Earth Brown" (#500064), "Military Medium Brown" (#500065), and "Field Drab" (#500830) mixing it with water to create serious spring thaw quagmire. This was applied once some of the water was absorbed by the soil until it resembled porridge. This was then applied using a thin brush very heavily to the sub-assemblies, roadwheels and tracks, being sure not to completely cover the nice rusted effect. I also added splattered mud to the lower front hull plate, rear plate and hull sides. Some splashing was even added to the turret. The nice part about adding real Mother Earth is that when it dries it lightens, looking quite natural.

After completing the Panther I set it aside whilst I got started on the diorama lay out.

The Dragon kit unpainted. It's almost a shame to cover all the detail work done with paint.
Arse end of the Panther. Note the tow cable made of twisted brass wire.
The unpainted crew
Shanghai-Dragon's Panther Ausf. G IR
The gunner's and driver's IR gear. Note the heavy scraping from wear and tear and the rusting about the bolts of the driver's hatch done with brunt sienna paint. The Aber hatch gear is quite visible without the figurine, but almost completely blocked when installed. Two-part resin gives the lens a nice convex appearance.
The G from the front end

The completed commander's IR gear. I thought I had this accurate until I received Waldemar Trojka's book. The scratches on the Dunkelgelb painted units was done with flat black and a 10/0 spotter brush


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