Weathering a tank shows what a tank has gone through. The modeler must ask himself: Has it properly been taken care of at a tank depot? Has it seen combat? How long has the tank been out without a wash? These build up the stories behind a tank. Every scratch. Every speck of dirt.
For the Leopard 1A5, I wanted to make it seem like the tank was engaged in an actual battle. Although the Cold War never began, (Thankfully!) I wanted to create an alternate historical background where the Soviets actually did engage in all-out with with NATO.
Thus, I imagined what sort of conditions that my tank would probably go through. For this, some tank analysis is necessary.
The Leopard 1A5 was never designed with armor in mind. After World War II the newly-founded Bundeswehr began a doctine in which mobility and firepower were more important than armor. Advancements in missile technology made any sort of armor obsolete.
The Leopard 1A5 would likely be used as a flanking tank, using its superior mobility to surround or encircle enemies before finishing them off, or using superior hunter killer tactics to ambush oncoming Soviet forces.
In other words, it’d be doing a lot of moving around, away from the tank depot. Therefore, I began work on the tracks and sideskirts.
I first added some Vallejo European Dust Wash mixed with a tiny bit of Light sienna pigments to the roadwheels and sideskirts.
First, I applied a simple layer of Tamiya XF-57 Buff. Nice and thin, this provides a ‘dust’ effect on the tracks, skirt, and roadwheels. As a tank moves quickly over ground, its tracks will easily pick up dust (especially the case in loose, dry soil or in desert areas)
On the rear, I didn’t realize I’d forgotten to paint the road lights! I used some Testors Enamels to fix up that issue quickly.
Fun fact: The Leopard tank is actually Road-legal!
I then re-applied some of Vallejo’s European Dust wash to the entire tank. This helps blend together everything.
Next I applied some NATO Rainmarks from AK-Interactive. This provides a nice streaking effect. There’s no real tutorial on how to use this product available anywhere, so I decided to figure it out myself.
I’ll demonstrate my method of streaking using the engine deck.
Here are some simple NATO streaks applied using a thin brush. After about 10 seconds, I used AK Interactive White spirit on a brush and blended them using vertical motions.
Looks a little better! So then afterwards I applied a thin layer of European dust again, and used a thick brush to blend them again using vertical motions.
As you can see, the finished effect is a very subtle streaking on an armored plate.
Here’s the finished result on the sideskirts, using more streaks.
But at an angle with a light, the streaks come out looking beautiful!
Here’s the same effect on the front of the hull, as well as a view on the tracks. At first I was worried the effect was too dramatic until I saw re-checked my reference photos.
Looks about right!
And then something odd happened here, the pigment I used for the engine exhaust vents turned into white, with a super-glue like texture. I attributed this to applying clear coat on the vents before the pigment binder was fully dry.
All fixed with a layer of Tamiya Nato Black.
Some more streaking effects on the front of the tank as well as showing the chipping and rusting effects. To create chipping, I drybrushed a layer of Tamiya Gunmetal lightly over certain surfaces for highlights and in some places I placed some Vallejo Chocolate Brown to indicate rust. Europe is a rainy place!
The Gunner’s Primary Sight wasn’t too appealing to look at on the kit so I added a small piece of square sprue to make the sight look more appealing.
Looks much better with such a simple detail.
And that completes the weathering process for the Leopard 1! This was an excellent test of various techniques that I had wanted to try for the first time, and the outcome looks very realistic. When I began to build it I never figured it’d turn out looking this well!
Coming up very soon, I’ll be showcasing the Leopard 1 in a photo gallery, along with some historical background and plans for displaying the model. And of course, some future projects I have planned.
Stay tuned for more content, “On the way!” -Chris