M4A3 (Tamiya) Build #17 – Turret Painting, Assembling Commander’s Hatch & Cupola, Adding Turret Cheek Armor, Misc. Turret Exterior Details

The periscopes were added:

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 Then generic crud was added using pastels:

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I used a sandwich bag to mask off the breech and hit the mantlet and barrel with a coat of primer, which showed me I needed to do a little more blending where I widened the mantlet:

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The commander’s cupola has a rough cast texture that I replicated by brushing color on. I about drove myself to drink (any excuse is a good one, I think) trying to mask off the clear areas. And given that my hands ain’t quite as steady as they were, oh, thirty years ago (and I’m sure drink had nothing to do with that), I didn’t have much more luck using a small brush around those areas, either. And then I realized that until it sets up and cures, acrylic paint is very easily removed. I took a few toothpicks and sharpened the ends to chisel tips, and scraped the paint from where I wanted it, inside and out (it came out looking much better than it appears in these photos):

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With the cupola done, next up was to assemble the hatch components (the hinge pin will be trimmed and added later):

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It seems the Kiss of Death ™ for me is when I tell myself, “Don’t forget to do this.” It doesn’t seem to matter what “this” is because as soon as that thought passes through my head, I forget it. One of the things I told myself was, “Don’t forget to add the cast-in armor thickening at the gunner’s position on the turret.” And true to form, I promptly forgot I had to do that (evidently having the thing right in front of my face isn’t reminder enough).

I checked reference photos and outlined where I want the thickened area to be with a pencil:

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I like Milliput putty. Once it’s fully cured, it’s hard and dense (much like my skull). On the way to that dense hardness, there’s a stage a couple of hours along where it’s easy to rough shape. It’s a two-part item and the directions say to mix equal quantities together. I think this should get “equal quantities” fairly close:

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Kneaded and mixed, the putty was applied:

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A couple of hours later I came back and roughed in the shape:

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Then came back the following day when it was fully cured and finished shaping the area and added putty for a seamless finish:

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Then I did the final blending of the edges. If there’s a trick to this part it’s in NOT making the surface too smooth. If you ever see (or have seen) the turret of a tank, the surface is not smoothly finished:

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There is a locking hasp on the outside of the loader’s hatch. I replicated the flat using .010″ (.254mm) brass stock and the loop using 28 gauge wire (and yes, they lineup perfectly):

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Turret details go on next.

For all its size, there isn’t much room inside a tank for the crew. And the crew, being people first, collect things; ruck sacks, small arms, dirty pictures (well, I would), food, it’s a long list. The only other place they can hang their gear is on the outside of the tank (except for the dirty pictures, those get kept inside and safe). It was quite common for rear-area depots and maintenance crews in the field to add brackets (provided by TMD again) that things could be attached to:

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To check fit and appearance, I put the kit-supplied rucksacks in place on the brackets and the molded-on “straps” weren’t doing it for me. I cut the molded-on straps off and made replacements from lead foil (I’ll touch up the paint later):

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Then I hung them from the brackets to see if I liked the effect:

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Yeah…I like that effect just fine.

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