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Waiting for Assistance

n by Bengt Johansson
n photos by Martin Waligorski 


The M113 ranks as the most widely-produced armoured tracked vehicle ever, with over 80,000 units manufactured  in  more than 40 different variants. Despite its initial introduction as far back as 1960, the M113 is is still in service today. Upgraded, reconfigured, and introduced as new systems, it is also likely to remain in the inventory of many armed forces including US Army for the initial part of the 21st century.

The M113 Armored Personnel Carrier was the first modern "battle taxi", developed to transport infantry forces on the fully mechanized battlefield. As such it became one of the icons of the Vietnam war. 

The vehicle was fitted with a 2-stroke six-cylinder Detroit diesel engine providing power through a 3-speed automatic gearbox and steering differential. A novel feature was that the body was built of aircraft quality aluminum alloy, giving  strength comparable to that of conventional steel armour but with much smaller weight. This distinct weight advantage allowed the M113 to utilize a relatively small engine, carry a large payload cross-country and even swim through smaller streams and lakes.

The main armament was  devised as a single .50-calibre machine gun plus secondary .30-calibre gun, but with the operational deployment the range of the carried weapons quickly expanded.

The model

Academy has produced this detailed kit of the M113 in 1993. At the time it was one of the most competent armour klits around and a commendable attempt on Academy's side to produce a kit that included "everything". Over ten years later it still is of good quality and an excellent value for money. The kit provides a choice between rubber and link-to-link tracks. Details include things like separate suspension arms, interior of the driver's compartment, engine and transmission.  There are also five figures included. Academy's kits are definitely still the best 1/35 M113s available at this time, superior to the Tamiya and Italeri offerings.

The original Academy release represented the  M113A1 armed with two M60 guns, a .50-calibre gun and a 106mm recoilles gun. In fact you can choose between 4 different vehicles: a US M113A1 ACAV, South Korean M113, Australian M113 or a US flamethrower version. Should you want something more out of the ordinary, there is an array of conversion possibilities, for example from AFV Club or Firestorm Models.

My model has been built 100% out-of-the-box. The kit was fun to put together with many detailed parts including the engine and positionable hatches. There were a few  fit/alignment problems underway but nothing really serious.

Figures included in the kit (that of the Vietnamese woman was among them!) and all the extra equipment were arranged into a simple engine breakdown diorama.  The only additions I made to kit contents were the jerrycans, a pack of rolled blankets and the strap of the M16 carried by the soldier beside the vehicle. I entitled the scene "Waiting for Assistance".

Painting the model

Having recently talked with aircraft builders on a club meeting I have made modifications to my usual painting process particularly regarding  preparation for decals and washes.  Previously I have not fully appreciated how much a gloss surface means for the outcome of these steps. 

  1. The model was primed with Citadel Chaos Black acrylic, a marvellous paint which I can warmly recomend to anyone.
     
  2. Next I airbrushed the lightly coloured areas of the vehicle like the interior or the inside of the hatches. I used Tamiya white but also flesh colour for that dirty white look.
     
  3. The model was now heavily dry-brushed with a mixture of Humbrol white and sand colours to create highlights contrasting with the black undercoat.  These were applied particularly to all exposed edges on the top side of the model.
     
  4. Now was the time for the Olive Drab coat. I mixed an arbitraly chosen Tamiya drab green with about 50% Tamiya Clear and sprayed it thinly on the model. Mixing with clear helps to obtain a semi-transluscent coat essential to preserve the effect of pre-shading.
     
  5. Having reviewed the result, I mixed a different (also arbitraly chosen) green shade with 50% Clear and shot another thin coat. 
     
  6. The resulting finish was sealed with another coat of Tamiya Clear in preparation for the decals.
     
  7. Decals were applied followed by another coat of Tamiya Clear. 

With decals applied and sealed it was time for the weathering to begin!

Weathering

  1. Using fine brush, I applied scratches and chipped paint. The colours used were yellow-green (supposed to simulate primer), various browns and black-greys.
     
  2. A traditional dark wash was now applied to enhance the shadowy areas. Thanks to the glossy surface the wash proved very easy get exactly where I wanted it, with only minimal corrections necessary.
     
  3. Next followed a soft spray of red-brown dust directed mostly on the lower parts of the vehicle.
     
  4. I made another round of scratches and paint chipping. When making signs of wear like these, it is beneficial to do in several turns to introduce variety to the colour, density, and orientation of the marks.  This time I also added signs of wear and damage to the rubber side fenders, these can be easily seen on the photos of the model.
     
  5. Now the model was basically ready, sans the remaining glossy look. I have used Panduro's matt varnish for the completely flat lower areas of the model and Flugger's Acrylic Varnish Gloss Factor 20 for the slightly-satin rest of the hull. Both these products are household rather than hobby paints, but I find them well-suited for my modelling needs. Many matt finishes available to in model paint ranges are known for a degree of unpredictability. On the other hand, a well-sorted household paint shop will be able to mix fine clear acrylic paint with any desired gloss rate from 0 to 100, giving a highly reliable clear finish with just that right degree of shine. 
     
  6. As the last step, I rubbed some additional dust using brown and red-brown pastel chalks.

The end result

I am very pleased with the way this model turned out. Particularly the decals look prefectly. Contrary to what people say about Academy decals, I wouldn't be afraid to use them again in another project. This is because I could learn from modellers specializing in other areas than my own, and then snap up and adopt one or two of their techniques. Invaluable!

Additional images, click to enlarge

johansson_m113_02.jpg (35807 byte)
open_2003_armour_a 088.jpg (65940 byte) open_2003_armour_a 091.jpg (64876 byte)

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