S-Model ZTZ-99A MBT 1/72 Unpacked

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The Box – slightly damaged

I had plans of doing some painting today however one thing and another conspired to prevent that from happening. I therefore decided to have a look at the contents of a couple of the kits I had acquired recently – sort of get used to the contents before making them.

The Type 99 (Chinese: 99式; pinyin: Jiǔjiǔshì) or ZTZ99 is a Chinese third generation main battle tank (MBT). The tank entered People’s Liberation Army Ground Force (PLAGF) service in 2001. I originally thought the S-Model kit was expensive until I realised that the 1+1 on the box meant that there were two vehicles inside the box.

From Wikipedia: 99A, the Improved Type 99. Prototype testing was underway by August 2007 and believed to be the standard deployed Type 99 variant in 2011; upgradable from Type 99. The improved main gun may fire an Invar-type ATGM. It mounts 3rd generation (Relikt-type) ERA, and an active protection system. Has a new turret with “arrow shaped” applique armor. The larger turret may have improved armour and a commander’s periscope, and the tank may have an integrated propulsion system. Has a semi-automatic transmission.

Once I realised that the number of pieces in the box did not look quite so daunting.

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The Sprues

Two sprues make up most of the parts. As with tanks, the first question is the tracks. Unlike older kits, the tracks here are moulded to some of the rollers with additional tracks to wrap around the idler and the drive sprocket.

The pieces are crisply moulded and appear as though they will be easy to remove from the sprue. I did not notice any flash with a quick look. At 1/72 scale this is a large tank, larger I think than the T-64 in my collection and that I will look at later.

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Photo-Etched Parts and the instruction sheet

Perhaps the best part though are the Photo-Etched parts. These are very finely modelled and will add very fine detail to various parts of the tank.

Currently the only users of the type 99A are the People’s Republic of China with 4 battalions of Type 99A (124 tanks) in service as of December 2015.

I am thinking to start this tank (or one of the other ones I purchased) this week.

Overall I like the model and I am looking forward to putting knife and glue to it.

I am also wondering what to do with the second vehicle.

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Modern Naval – the Aircraft

A small piece of the lead pile
A small piece of the lead pile

As the next cab off the rank here in Thomo’s Manila Hole, and given that I have finished the repairs on the three modern fleets, I thought I would finish off the aircraft. Yes, they don’t look much like an air force or three at the moment but they will form the basis of the aircraft for the Indian, Chinese and Japanese Naval forces. So, what is being used? The aircraft are 1/1250th scale and a combination of Cap Aero and 617 Squadron, from Magister Militum. This scale was originally made I guess to provide aircraft for the 1/1250th scale ship collections as some of the aircraft in the ranges are carrier born aircraft with wings folded.

Anyway, in the collection are the following.

For the Indians:

  • Il-38 May
  • Tu-142 Bear
  • MiG-29K Fulcrum
  • Westland Sea King
  • Ka-27 Helix masquerading as Ka-28 and/or Ka-31
  • Sea Harrier
  • BR.1050 Alize

For the Chinese:

  • Tu-26 Badger
  • MiG-21 Fishbed masquerading as Chengdu J-7
  • Su-34 Flanker masquerading as Shenyang J-15
  • Su-30 Flanker
  • Ka-27 Helix masquerading as Ka-28 and/or Ka-31

And lastly, for the Japanese:

  • P-2H Neptune masquerading as a Kawasaki P-2J
  • F-16 Falcon masquerading as Mitsubishi F-2
  • Sikorsky Sea Hawk masquerading as Mitsubishi H-60
  • Sikorsky Super Stallion
  • F4 Phantom

And then to round all that out is a packet of mixed missiles. Of course, at 1/1250th scale and with my ailing eyes, one missiles is going to look like another.

Having looked at the models and started to prepare for the mounting I must admit that the Cap Aero are superior to the 617 Squadron models.The 617 models are fine in and of themselves, it’s just that the Cap Aero are a little finer – wings, tail planes and what detail there is is cleaner. I would recommend both ranges however, but I would recommend Cap Aero ahead of 617 Squadron. Just my opinion mind.

Next step, stick a brass pole into them and set the bases up.

First Batch of Repairs

The damaged aircraft

The damaged aircraft

As I finally had a painting area set up I thought I would start repairing the Balikbayan Box damage – the damage after the move from Singapore to Manila. The 1/1250 scale aircraft were the first cab off the rank.

The damaged aircraft were an Indian Naval Air Force Il-38 May and a Chinese People’s Liberation Army Navy Aircraft Tu-26 Badger. The Il-38 had developed a really weird dihederal during transport.

So, dihederal corrected and a touch of super glue Gel and the aircraft are as good as new.

What is a little more interesting at the moment are the coins.

The aircraft, repaired and in the air again
The aircraft, repaired and in the air again

There is a collection of 10 and 25 piso coins on the table as well. These are reasonably new here from what I can determine and whilst the 25 piso one looks brass and the 10 piso coin looks copper, both are magnetic.

I noticed the same thing in Singapore with the new coins there, Regardless of the silver appearance, they were also magnetic. I’m starting to wonder now either what the metal is they are made of or what is added to the coin to give it the magnetic features.

The reason I have the coins is that I am thinking of attaching them to the underside of the aircraft bases to give them a little more stability. Anyway, first repairs complete! 🙂

The coins are adhering to the magnet under the base
The coins are adhering to the magnet under the base

India launches Vikrant – home-made carrier

The International Business Times reported yesterday that India Launches First Homemade Aircraft Carrier, Raising Alarms In China ((The Indian press is referred to her as the INS Vikrant but as she has not been commissioned just ‘Vikrant’ is more appropriate)). The Vikrant will be around 37,500-40,000 tonnes and carry 30 aircraft including MiG-29K, Light Combat Aircraft and Kamov Ka-31 helicopters. The Light Combat Aircraft are Indian designed and built.

Given the time to finish construction and then go through the maker’s and working up trials before commissioning I would guess that by 2020 India will be capable of having two carrier battle-groups in the Indian Ocean and possibly the Pacific.

The International Business Times noted:

The Vikrant’s high-grade steel was manufactured by the Steel Authority of India, while all the design and manufacturing was accomplished domestically. But the Vikrant warship, which is 260 meters (853 feet) long and 60 meters (197 feet) wide, is at least three years behind schedule and set to undergo extensive trials in the year 2016. By the end of 2018, Vikrant is expected to be commissioned and join the Indian navy.

Currently the Indian Navy operates a single aircraft carrier, the INS Viraat which is the ex-British Navy’s HMS Hermes and the oldest operating carrier in the world. She is likely to be decommissioned in 2019. The Indians also purchased the Admiral Gorshkov from Russia a few years back and after much haggling and argument, a final price for improvements was agreed. The Admiral Gorshkov will be renamed Vikramaditya when commissioned into the Indian Navy. The Vikramaditya is expected to be delivered later this year.

PLAN Complete

The PLAN fleet complete
The PLAN fleet complete

Well, except for a few aircraft!

There, to the left, gentle reader, is the PLAN set ready to take on the Indian fleet. I am tempted now to consider some Japanese, maybe a European fleet of some sort or perhaps a ragtag South-East Asian fleet defending their combined oil interests from the Chinese.

I am a little annoyed however as this time I had some problems with the varnishing. I am using the same Acrylic varnish that I have used for the last two years without any problem however this time it seems to have crazed some of the paintwork – in particular, the flight deck of the Liaoning.

Click on the image to see the crazing on the flight deck
Click on the image to see the crazing on the flight deck

I am not sure whether the varnish is the issue or whether it is because I did not use Games Workshop’s Citadel painting on this one – but rather Army Painter colours. I will need to go back and have a chat perhaps to the nice folks at Paradigm Infinitum here in Midpoint, Singapore to see whether anyone else has reported a similar problem.

I will do some testing of various paints on a flat surface in the next few days, when I get a chance, and report back.

Don’t you just hate it when this happens?

In the meantime, the two fleets are now safely accommodated in their semi-permanent home – a Scottish shortbread tin.

The Indian Navy on the left and the Chinese Navy on the right ... ready for red force/blue force naval exercises!
The Indian Navy on the left and the Chinese Navy on the right … ready for red force/blue force naval exercises!

And yes, that is a spare Russian carrier at the bottom – maybe I should build a fleet around it!

Work in Progress – the PLAN almost finished

Work in Progress - the PLAN fleet gets its name labels
Work in Progress – the PLAN fleet gets its name labels

Just down to adding the labels which I will finish tonight with a bit of luck. After that, wait 24 hours for all glue to dry and then a varnish in a satin finish acrylic varnish and they are done, ready to face the might of the Indian Navy.

Their biggest advantage is the size of the PLAN carrier, the Liaoning. Their disadvantage with that is that the Indians have been operating carriers for a number of years.

One project for 2013 almost completed … oh, except for the bloody aircraft!

Vikramaditya begins sea trials at the White Sea

2013-05-18 22.29.23It is almost time to paint another carrier I think. It seems that the Indian Navy’s Vikramaditya begins sea trials at the White Sea and so will be India’s next carrier. This was originally the Russian Admiral Gorshkov. There were four vessels in that group – the Minsk, Kiev, Baku and Novorossiysk with the Baku becoming the Admiral Gorshkov.

My painted model of what was the Admiral Gorshkov is to the right. The Minsk was sold to China to become a museum ship and I visited her in Shenzhen in about 2002 or 2003. I have some photos around somewhere ((note to self … sort the bazillion digit photos laying around on disk drives at home)). Interestingly the Kiev was also sold to a Chinese company and is part of a theme park in Tainjin. I’m sure the Chinese learned a lot from the carriers they purchased over the years. HMAS Melbourne was also sold to Chinese interests at the end of her service life.

800px-VikraThe Vikramaditya has been extensively modernised and changed from the original Admiral Gorshkov with the removal of the cruise missile silos and such that used to be carried forward on these vessels. There would also have been an increase in hanger space as a result permitting a greater complement of aircraft.

The carrier itself it a little smaller than the Chinese Liaoning, displacing 45,400 tons (compared to the 66,000 tons with full load). Length is 283 metres (overall) compared to the 304.5 metres of the Liaoning. Beam is 51m (75M9 and draught is 10.2m (10.5m). So the Chinese carrier will still look bigger than the Indian carrier side-by-side.

Both vessels will achieve 32 knots at speed with endurance of 4,000 nautical miles (3,850 in the case of the Liaoning).

The Chinese are expecting to have 30 J-15s as their main air strike capacity whilst the Indians are looking at 16 MiG-29K. The Chinese vessel will likely have 24 helicopters compared to the 10 on the Indian vessel with the Indians opting for Ka-28 helicopters ASW, Ka-31 helicopters AEW and maybe some Indian produced HAL Dhruv.

I think India will need another carrier!

The PLAN – the first ship completed

Well, I did paint the submarines already but they are technically boats so this is definitely the first of the PLAN ships.

The Liaoning finished
The Liaoning finished – port-side view – labelled and with the sea base painted. I am particularly happy with the way the deck markings came out. I’m feeling so confident with them now that I am starting to plan the painting of the carriers for the American and Japanese side for the Battle of the Philippines Sea.
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The Liaoning finished. The starboard view of the Liaoning. There was a lot of confusing information on the Internet concerning the deck markings but I managed to find some satellite shots that confirmed the marking positions. As she is armed with about 30 J-15s along with 24 Super Frelons (Z-8s) and Ka-31s there are less helicopter marked landing spots on the deck than previously thought or planned. I guess the fighter pilots get confused with too may markings.
A Pilot's eye view
A pilot’s eye view of the Liaoning although it does look like he is coming in too high. I am still debating with myself whether or not to paint the arrestor cables in across the landing path.
The Vikrant and Liaoning together
The Liaoning finished – port-side comparison with the INS Vikrant. Whilst India will soon be a three carrier navy, the next two shots provide some idea of scale between the Liaoning and the Vikrant.
The Liaoning finished - port-side comparison with the INS Vikrant
The Liaoning finished – port-side comparison with the INS Vikrant. There is a very sizeable difference between the two carriers.

Mucking around with DBA terrain tonight – back to the PLAN tomorrow night I think.