Building DML's T19 105mm Howitzer Motor Carriage
Modeling the U.S. Army in WWII

Painting and Weathering

Before painting, the .50 cal machine gun needed some attention. DML, in one more attempt to confuse the issue, shows the .30 Browning in both the D36960 cradle and the cradle assembly for the Tripod Mount M1917A1—though unnecessarily adding on the M49 ring mount.

The .50 can fit the D36960 cradle if you cut off the rear elevating mechanism (the t-shaped appendage with the disk on the underside of the gun) and angle it so that the bar spans between the arms of the cradle, once you remove the inner brace. DML could improve upong the engineering of these pieces by making the braces whole on one arm rather than splitting them in the middle, which creates an annoying seam. Unfortunately, because the ammo box is molded onto the D36960 cradle, you need to maintain the machine gun in a position parallel to the top of the box; in real life, the ammo box would rotate in accordance with the gun so the belted ammo would not bind.

The red and white aiming posts were easier to paint that I anticipated. I sprayed part G10 white, and after that dried I masked the piece with 1/8" Pactra masking tape. I left some space to paint metallic grey on the sharpened ends and the caps on the opposite ends that joined the halves of the posts together. Since there were two pair, I nipped off the point on the third visible stake half, since only two were inserted into the ground when laying the gun.

After spraying the masked piece red, I added the metallic grey and some OD to the clips that secured the posts to the vehicle. It appears they usually were carried in a canvas bag, so I ran some Lifecolor Olive Drab Light Mustard around the base the posts rest on. A bit of weathering and that was it!

I kept the gun separate vehicle during the painting and weathering process. The front seats in the cab also were left out because installing them would make it impossible to insert the gun nto the modified trail.

I received complimentary sets of Lifecolor's U.S. Olive Drab and Camoflauge paints as I was building this kit, so I took this opportunity to try them out. I was very pleased how well they worked with my Iwata HP-C Plus airbrush. Lifecolor recommends thinning them with their brand of thinnor or water. I didn't have any thinner on hand, so I used distilled water, just a drop per half cup of paint (i.e., the cup on the airbrush, not a drinking cup!). The paint flows well through the brush and I didn't have the clogging at the tipt that sometimes occurs with Model Master or PollyScale paints, though that might mean I got lucky and hit the right combination of paint and air pressure.

The Lifecolor OD set provides six different shades of olive drab, including four federal standards and two faded hues. I started with the darkest lusterless drab FS 33070 and proceded with successive thin coats in lighter colors. The shadowing and variations don't show up quite as well under the bright photography lights.

After the base coat, more details were painted. Since the tracks need to be painted in place, I used my airbrush to get most of the work done and a brush to catch anything I missed. There was some overspray on the HT walls, but that would be covered with dust down the road, so to speak.

The tires had been painted separately and were added to the axles. I usually paint tools separately, but this time I opted to glue them on during construction and paint them in place. The handles got a base coat with Lifecolor's Olive Drab Red Tone from the camo set, which really is a good color for natural wood. After the paint was dry, I gave the parts a heavy wash of Turpenoid and burnt sienna. The metal parts got a dark grey base coat highlighted with pencil graphite and a touch of aluminum color paint, topped with a wash to pull it together. Prior to the applying the decals, the half-track exterior got a shot of gloss varnish.

The DML decals are very thin and snuggle down nicely, but I was disappointed in two respects: there are no decals for the dashboard instrument dials and information plaques, and the registration numbers are individual instead of a string, requiring time and effort applying and aligning each number (think of them as the equivalent of indy link tracks). As I'd done gone through that process recently on some other models, I opted for the choice of least effort: "Evelyn," of the 7th Regimental Combat Team of the 3rd Infantry Division stationed in Rabat Morrocco in late 1942. This vehicle appears as a color plate in Zaloga's half-track book from Concord.

For several months prior to December 1942, Army regulations called for vehicles, including those used in the North African invasion, to be painted with blue drab letters and yellow stars. Unfortunately, all of the decal numbers and stars are white, but alternatives are available from Archer Fine Transfers and Fingerprint Designs if you want that initial look of Operation Torch.

Oddly, the kit does not include nstrument guages and data plates for the dashboard, a serious omission in my book. Fortunately, Archer Fine Transfers again comes to the rescue with a set of nearly a dozen little transfers that can be applied wet (and one marking that needs to be rubbed onto the glove box door—I recommend doing that before applying the other water slide markings). The Archer set is a good investment as it can mark four half-tracks.

One significant aspect where the old Tamiya kit decals beat the DML's is the star on the protective radiator louvers. Mr. T's nose art has helpful hash marks on either side of the star to enable you to easily cut them in sections for louvers in the open position. With DML, you need to measure, calculate, and mark them yourself. I cut out the star and stuck it to the sticky side of a Post-it note, then taped down the left and right edges to hold the star steady. I measureed and marked the divisions on either side of the star, and then used my straightedge to guide the hobby knife across the decal. Be careful as you center the star sections horizontally on the louvers, and bring them down to the bottom edge of the louver. You have to envision in your mind that if the louvers were closed, a solid star would be presented. Naturally, if you opt for the closed louver grill part in the kit, you can just drape your star over the piece, just as it would have been painted after the mask had been fixed over the louvers. The vehicle then got a wash with Turpenoid and burnt umber.

Once the half-track and gun were dry, faded OD was stipled onto surfaces to provide some color variations and suggest wear.

With the basic painting and weathering completed, I turned to accessorizing the T19 with a variety of Tamiya and Verlinden items. The rations boxes are the early war type from Pre-size. I made the camo netting bundle and two-part epoxy tarps on the fender and sleeping bags tied to the back wall. The vehicle then was weathered with dry powders from MMP to give the dusty look of North Africa.

For more photos, visit the Gallery.



Modeling the U.S. Army in WWII © Timothy S. Streeter