Trumpeter 1/35 Strv 103B MBT "S-Tank"
Model, Text and Photos by: Nick Cortese
The Stridsvagn ("combat wagon") 103, which was developed in the late 50's served well for the Swedish army and close to 300 of both the "B" and the "upgraded C" variants were manufactured. To say the very least it was quite a unique vehicle not only visually, but in that it's fixed 105mm gun pivoted on a truly unique hydraulic suspension system which unfortunately proved to be too sensitive which in turn was responsible for many delays and breakdowns.
With its faults, the Swedish Army did use the Stridsvagn 103 from the early 1960's until suprisingly 2001 when it was taken out of service and replaced by the Leopard Main Battle Tank.
When Trumpeter released it's much anticipated Stridsvagn 103 C battle tank a while back I couldn't wait to get my hands on this neat looking Swedish tank. This is the very first ever attempt at an injected molded kit and the results are quite nice and well worth the money. Trumpeter have certainly gained a note of respectability with the quality of there recent kits and certainly this is one of them.
The kit contents consist of mainly 3 dark green sprues with over 230 parts, acceptable vinyl tracks and a small decal sheet. At first glance one notices the overall molding quality is excellent and the minimal knock-out pin marks
The scope of this particular project was to be a simple out of the box build. And at the time of it's release there were no after market Barrels and or etch as a matter of fact there are still no replacement track that are available, although Trumpeter did release the later "C" variant, which has it's fuel tanks for it's side armour and upgraded tracks but nothing in the way of replacement tracks for both variants oh, well!!
The first thing, as always, was to soak the plastic sprues in a bath of lukewarm dishwashing liquid, just to get some of the mold release off, and rinse off with cold water. I find clean plastic really glues together and paint adheres so much better after a quick washing. As per instructions, I assembled the vehicle without any problems.
This first thing I noticed is that the upper hull is extremely well done, bustling with crisp "angular" details throughout which brings to mind an almost futuristic, sci-fi look to it.
Much of the kit is centered on the upper and lower hulls which fit together without a hitch and notably the lower suspension is "workable" in that it can be positioned like the real vehicle in lowered front tilted position for an even more dramatic presentation.
The 105mm gun is a 2 piece affair which after some careful sanding, I dabbed on a thin coating of Mr. Sufacer 1000 to uniform the barrel to give it a nice even texture.
The dozer blade can be displayed in it "lowered position" which was for me was another reason for doing this project. I wanted to try practice a couple of weathering experiments and the dozer blade was one of the features I initially wanted to focus on.
The only real let down of course are the vinyl tracks, which especially for this type of kit where a realistic type sag is really good for the optimum effect. Unfortunately , when test fitting the tracks I found that they were way too loose and to compensate, I simply cut off two "links" from each track length and in the end looked a bit more acceptable to my eye.
Unfortunately the tools are some lacking in detail and there are some small areas that need filler but I am pleased with the overall ease of the build itself.
After checking some color references and in-action photos, I decided that Tamiya (XF 22) would be a pretty close match as the base color. Thinking ahead, I also wanted to have the front "plow" in position to feature some mud weathering, which would add a nice realistic touch to the overall final effect.
Even though the kit plastic is a dark green color, the usual pre-shading method of Tamiya Flat Black (XF 1) was used throughout the underside, wheels and in areas that would cast a shadow only.
With my trusty ready to go, a heavily thinned and a slightly lightened base color of Tamiya German Grey (XF 22) was airbrushed throughout the main body, leaving the black pre-shade just barely visible, giving an illusion of depth. Because of its dark color, I found it difficult to get a true, realistic dimensional look, so I went back and applied an even lighter shade of base color to the "raised" areas, slowly building up shades and layers of color and giving a sense of depth and dimension to the model.
At this point I airbrushed a tiny amount of gloss coat in specified areas for the decals, quickly sealing them after application with a quick layer of dull coat.
Once the base coat and decals were done,
I proceeded to "post-shade," which is essentially the same as how
I did the "pre-shading," but with a custom mixture of Tamiya Black
(XF1) and Tamiya Red Brown (XF64) heavily thinned, of course, and applied the
same exact way!
After this process, I applied ground pastel chalk to simulate mud weathering throughout the underside, wheels and front plow. The actual color of the pastels isn't really important at this point, mainly because I applied a light coat of Buff (XF57) that will seal the pastel application and give an overall dry, dusty look.
To achieve an easy mud type effect, first
start by brushing a bit of Tamiya thinner onto an area where you would like
to replicate the appearance of mud. After applying the thinner, gently drop
a bit of powered pastel onto the still wet area, wait a couple of seconds, and
then blow away the access pastel chalk
The Basic rule of thumb is carefully working in small areas at a time which the most important factor to getting good results. With some patience and practice you can easily build up layers of mud with this technique, which can be really enhancing the overall realism of the finished kit.
Final dust streaking was accomplished with a heavily thinned Tamiya Buff (XF57) applied vertically to the upper hull of the vehicle in conjunction with pastel chalk of the same color. The final touch was a combination of light colored pastel applications throughout the top of the vehicle, giving the vehicle a busy, worn-out look.
This was applied in very small built up layers of pastels using a regular brush and just dropping a tiny amount of pastel dust onto the area and then brushing the chalk dust off in different directions giving a worn, dusty effect. A planned, systematic approach to painting and weathering is paramount to getting the proper final results, giving me more confidence to tackle more complex paint schemes.
The neat, "sci-fi" look of Trumpeter's excellent Strv 103B MBT "S-TANK" is a perfect platform to try new airbrushing and weathering techniques. There is some debate over the scale length of the vehicle, however if you overlook this detail, a fine looking model can be built strait out of the box with no real problems
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