Compared to a modern main battle tank such as a fancy Leopard, Challenger or Abrams, a WWII design does look quite ridiculous, with its bulky shape, flat armor, and lack of modern technology such as ERA and stabilizers.
Seventy years ago, the mere sight of such a machine caused trembles of fear among soldiers. Back then, the world was painted in black and white and the Leopard was only a prototype for a reconnaissance vehicle. After recording numerous victories in Europe by swiftly taking control of countries / regions, Hitler had the crazy idea of conquering the USSR and repopulating it with ethnic Germans. If you’re curious about the topic, the entire operation has a pretty comprehensive Wikipedia page.
During Operation Barbarossa, the Germans had some of their first contacts with many Soviet armor designs, including the infamous KV-2. Well, it is infamous right now, but back then, it was a total mystery. Robin Cross & David Willey’s book Tanks – 100 Years of Armoured Warfare tells the story of one such encounter:
Two days into Barbarossa, 6th Panzer Division found its supply route blocked by an unknown tank. Believed to have been a KV-2, it stayed there for two days. Its first victims were 12 supply trucks, which were then followed by two 50mm anti-tank guns. An 88mm gun was knocked out at a range of over 900 metres. The Germans then mounted a night raid in which two satchel charges were attached to the Russian tank. They were blown, but the tank continued to fire. Next morning, a feint attack was made by light panzers while another 88mm gun was brought up to finish the tank off. The tank was finally silenced when two assault engineers pushed stick grenades through a hole at the base of the turret. Only two of the 88mm rounds fired at the KV-2 had penetrated its armour, while the 50mm shells had succeeded only in leaving blue carbonized streak marks on its hull.
Drawing inspiration from WWII Soviet tank manufacturing, I set my eye on the cheapest KV-2 kit that I could find and I bought it in an instant. OK, OK, I ended up buying a KV-1 and a KV-1S with it as well, but those will come at a much later date (if any).
So Ark Models… Oh, if you are ever left wondering why Tamiya charges so much more for a kit when an Eastern European manufacturer can make due with lower costs, just buy yourself an Ark Models product. Here’s what I mean:
- Flash city – 90% of the parts had at least a seam line that needed clean-up.
- Poor instruction sheet, although the kit is so simple, you could pretty much wrap it up without any help
- Low quality rubber tracks
- Low quality plastic – areas where the it’s so thin that it literally melts in your hands. Good luck you’re building a tank and can call it battle damage!
All things considered, I somehow managed to pull through with the build. The top and bottom parts of the hull did not want to align though, whatever I tried.
The paint job
After a painful build process and a one-year rest on my shelf, I decided I had to make it… er… shine. Paint it up, I mean. So what’s the plan?
First up, primer. I mainly use Vallejo Gray Surface Primer (Acrylic-Polyurethane) which, as long as the plastic is clean, bonds very well with the model. Paint also sticks nicely to it. I read some horror stories about the black variant, but I have never tried that one personally.
Paint & Decals
For the base coat I used Vallejo Model Air Russian Green. Unless you plan on doing lighter-colored weathering for your Russian tanks, I wouldn’t recommend spraying it straight out of the bottle. The end-result will turn out way too dark and any details would be mostly hidden. You can try to mix it up with a bit of white; it should result in a pretty nice light shade of green.
Historically, the KV-2 apparently had no messages written on it, but why should mine be historically accurate? Having some spare decals from an SU-100 kit turned out to be a good solution.
A two-step process for this project. First up, some simple rusty sponge chipping (only the chipping was rusty; the sponge, not so much). Shading the corners, trying to simulate a color modulation technique. After seeing how dark it turned out, I knew there was a way to fix it.
Pigments, pigments, pigments. A combination of Dark Rust and European Earth from AK Interactive seemed to do the trick. A bit of pigment fixer was needed on the tracks. Other than that, it applied quite easily.
After experiencing the low quality of the Ark Models KV’s, I want to fast build the other two kits. Afterwards, I’ll try out some new techniques, including turning one of them into a rusted wreck.
Have you had any bad experiences with models? What was your worst quality kit so far?