Creating nicely defined and (equally important) properly proportioned hard-edge camouflage patterns on tanks has long been the bane of many an AFV modeller.
Step forward those clever Russian blokes at TANK (aka TAHK), who've come up with a wizard wheeze in the shape of ready-to-use self-adhesive masks (or "Masking For Comoflage", as it says on the pack) for that specific purpose.
These masks eliminate, at a stroke, the need for all that messing about with Silly Putty and Blutack, or the tedious & time-consuming scribing and cutting out of your own masks.
You get one sheet of masks per pack, with each sheet measuring 20cm x 14cm and consisting of a varying number of slate grey, self-adhesive masks on a smooth backing sheet. Also included is a sheet of ordinary paper of exactly the same size, clearly showing the precise shape and size of each individual mask, and its respective position on the backing sheet. This "pattern" sheet makes choosing the right mask a breeze each time.
Having made your choice, you simply peel off your mask and apply it to where you want it on your model. I tried them out first on an old hulk, followed by a Tamiya 1/35 Hetzer base-coated in Tamiya XF-60. I found that they stuck down very smoothly on the larger flat surfaces, and could also be made to snuggle nice and tight around slightly raised or recessed details (such as hinges and panel lines) by just gently rubbing on them with a fingernail and/or the tips of modelling tweezers. A careful small incision or two with a sharp craft knife allows them to sit neatly around grab handles and the like, though it's probably best to leave off larger items such as spare tracks and tow ropes.
With your individual masks in place, you simply spray on your second camo colour. Then (for a 3-tone scheme) mask off some more for the third colour, spray that on and the job’s done - you've got your camo pattern. The hardest part (particularly on a 3-tone scheme) is choosing exactly where to place each mask and trying to picture how the unmasked "jigsaw pieces" of the paint job will all relate to each other, so that the finished paintwork will "look right".
When it came to removing the masks for the "big reveal", I was very pleasantly surprised to find that they'd done their job superbly, and that all my hard edges were just that - "hard", sharp and beautifully demarcated. No touch-ups needed.
However, I have to mark the product down slightly because I found that the masks do have a tendency to leave behind occasional spots of their "sticky" residue on the paintwork - and in true keeping with Sod's Law, this was invariably in prominent locations on the model.
I remedied this by dabbing (very carefully and gently) at the offending residue spots with the sticky side of a piece of Tamiya modelling tape to lift them off. Ideally though, such measures shouldn't be necessary at all, so maybe TANK should consider tweaking the adhesive formula to allow improved peeling-off from the model.
As the accompanying pictures (hopefully) show, there are various sheets of masks available to suit various scales and pattern types - from gentle curves to intricate "squiggles". You can of course trim the masks still further with a small pair of nail scissors or similar, though on the Hetzer I found that such minor trimming was only needed in couple of spots.
All in all then, these masks are a clever and handy solution to a long-standing problem for many modellers. Fans of late-war German AFVs in particular could do a lot worse than pick up a couple of sheets.
My regular online modelling e-tailer in Germany is currently knocking them out for 3.95 Euros per sheet, which I think is a reasonable price to pay when you consider how easy they are to use and the time saved.
Highs: Massive time saver, simplicity of use, nice variety of sheets for different hard-edge patterns, beautifully sharp edges.Lows: Tendency to leave behind spots of adhesive residue on the paintwork.Verdict: Takes much of the dread and drudgery out of creating nice hard-edged camo patterns.
About Steve Riley (Kuno-Von-Dodenburg) FROM: ENGLAND - NORTH, UNITED KINGDOM
I've been building models since childhood - but with several l-o-n-g breaks (I built maybe 3 kits and a handful of 1/35 figures during all of the 1980s).
A visit to EuroMil '98 rekindled my interest in a big way and I got back into figures. Armour (Great War to Vietnam) followed a few years ago, ...