Detailing the Tamiya West German Marder 1
West German Marder-1, Mechanized Infantry Combat Vehicle,
PanzerGrenadier Battalion 342, West German Bundeswehr, 1989
After burning myself out with AMS, I thought I would try something new and foreign to me. I decided I would, dare I say, build a kit out of the box! With my kit collection staring me in the face, I decided on Tamiyas Marder Mechanized Infantry Combat Vehicle. This kit offered several things that appealed to me at the time I decided to build it. First, it is a really cool looking vehicle. Second, the kit is really nice and goes together fast and easy. Third, I had a set of Tamiya after market decals I wanted to use on the model. (This sheet has some really interesting unit markings that add color to the finished model).
A brief overview of the Tamiya kit before we move on to the construction. This is the original kit release of the Marder without the Milan anti-tank missile launcher, and is armed with the rear mounted 7.62mm machine gun. The kit comes with a complete engine/transmission compartment that has an operating hood. (Ill get back to this a little later). All hatches are separate for the turret and hull, but no interior is provided. (One of the major complaints I have heard from other modellers). In addition, the kit provides the option of fitting the standard side skirts, or the smaller drive sprocket/idler shields. I personally have no other complaints about this kit. There was no flash, and very few ejection pin marks. After reviewing my references, Tamiya did miss some small things, like the very tiny lifting hooks on the turret, and the latches on the feed covers for the 20mm cannon. These are easily fixed by adding yourself, or just dont mess with it like I did.
I started construction with the running gear and encountered no problems. Everything is typical Tamiya, with the use of polycaps. I left the side skirts off my model, as per my references, so I could complete the whole assembly. With that out of the way, I turned my attention to the engine compartment. This is a model in itself. The engine and transmission are a single module that drops into the open engine bay when built and painted. Ten to twelve other pieces are added to complete the assembly. You really have to see the detail on these parts to appreciate it.
I lied when I said I was going to build the kit out of the box. (Some habits die hard)!
These are a few missing items I added to the engine compartment:
The built, painted, and weathered engine compartment was glued into the upper hull. When that was dry, I glued the upper and lower hull together. Make sure the engine compartment is located properly, or you may find yourself saying some serious four-letter words because the upper and lower hull wont go together. After some manipulating, I got the upper and lower hull together, and had to use just a tiny amount of putty on the front seam. The upper hull required a couple of minor things done to it. The Drivers, Commanders and rear hull periscopes were filled with Evergreen plastic strips, as you can see through them into the hull. The rear mounted 7.62mm machine gun barrel was drilled out. After painting, all periscope glass was simulated with clear gloss and the headlight glass made with 5-minute epoxy.
My next step was the turret. This is really quite simple to build. The main gun is very nice, consisting of five pieces. The only thing to do is drill out the flash suppresser on the end of the barrel, as well as the coax machine gun after assembly. I had a little bit of trouble with the sight box mount. The main gun will elevate and depress, along with the sight box. The mounting piece is molded on the side of the main gun and slides through a hole in the turret mount. I didnt clean the mold seam up very well initially on the mounting post. After working the seam off the part, everything worked fine. The gun mount also didnt fit very well to the top of the turret. I ended up with some small gaps that needed to be puttied. I believe this was more my fault than with the kit. The Gunners and Commanders periscopes arent quite accurate, as the molding is a little oversimplified. I left them alone. I finished the turret by adding the smoke grenade dischargers. The dischargers could use a little extra detail by adding the chains for the caps, but once again I left them as is.
Once construction of the kit was complete, I turned my attention to painting and finishing. As I was modeling an early Marder, I painted mine in an overall Forest Green color. An almost perfect match for this color is Model Master 34079 Dark Green. The model was airbrushed, washed with Model Master Flat Black, then dry brushed with the dark green lightened with Model Master Gulf War Armor Sand. I glossed the spots for the placement of the decals. I used the kit bridge classification marker, as well as the vehicle numbers & German crosses. This was the weakest part of the kit to be sure. The decals were old and VERY thick. I decided to use Tamiyas Modern Military Decal Sheet A for the tactical signs and German 1st PanzerGrenadier Brigade Markings. This set tended to work out much better than the kit decals, and the unit markings are very slick looking black armored nights on a red background shield. My last finishing touch for the painting process was to spray the entire model with Polly Scale clear flat to seal the decals, and flatten any glossy spots from the dry brushing of the model.
The kit stowage is modest, but useable. The two tarps were brush painted Model Master Olive Drab mixed with gloss to make them look waterproof. I then washed them to bring out the detail. The camouflage net mounted on the engine compartment door is lacking. I spruced it up by adding Hudson & Allen green colored Forrest Litter white glued to it to represent all the folds, as well as to give it some kind of camo pattern. This was the first time I tried this trick, and it turned out to be real easy and looks pretty cool.
To wrap up the model I tried one other technique I have been working on for the past several models. I like for the taillights, reflectors, and turn blinkers to really look like what you see in real life. I have found that by applying Testors chrome silver on the taillights & turn blinkers then coating with Tamiya clear red, yellow, or orange, (depending what your working on), you can actually achieve a very realistic looking reflector. Just be sure the chrome silver is very thoroughly stirred for maximum shininess, and that it is completely covered by the Tamiya clears. (It looks bad to see the silver underneath) I did the turn blinkers, taillights, and convoy markers in this manner. These turned out to be the best ones I have done so far.
The last thing I always do to my models is add the antennas. I have tried several methods for reproducing them. Since this model required straight antennas, rather than being tied down, I used K & S .015 steel wire super glued into the antenna bases after being drilled out. The steel wire stays straighter than sprue, and maintains a constant thickness. In addition, it is stronger than sprue if you drill the holes deep enough. Once I made sure the antennas were straight and parallel, I glued the model to its base and was finished.
I had a lot of fun with this kit. It was simple, well detailed, and looks great out of the box. This one will look good next to the most modern versions released by Tamiya and Revell. Highly recommended for all skill levels and Modern German Army fans.
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