I finally got the Merkava completed to the extent of being ready to paint. I primed it with Tamiya rattlecan primer, fine, light gray. It is on the shelf, ready to paint. I decided that the original color I had mixed which was supposed to be a light gray with a hint of green was more of an olive green than I like. Too dark in comparison with many of the color photos I am using as references. 

My next actions will be to mix up a better shade of Tamiya paint and to decide whether or not to pre-shade it. I’ve done this on aircraft with sometimes good effect. The goal would be to get some “shadows” in the recesses and angles, and to hit the primed surface with random spots of dark color, maybe even black but probably a dark brown, to put some color variation over the whole. I’m not sure about this since if overdone the model will look like a patchwork creation instead of an good representation of an actual vehicle. I have already decided to keep the weathering, wear, damage and dirt to a minimum anyway so post-paint effects might be more effective.

I’m certainly not going to be chipping a lot of paint, if any. I do not like the mad chipping effects I see on too many armor models. I suppose they are chipped, rusted and banged around to resemble war-weary, badly used vehicles that barely made it through some giant winter tank battle. But, when I look at period photos, both WWII and modern armor, I don’t see all this chipping and rusting damage except for shot up, burned and trashed vehicles. Anyway, no crazy chipping for me.

So, the Merkava is in the “pondering” stage.

While pondering these deep questions I broke out the Meng Bradley IFV with full interior and started going through the basic assembly steps. At first, it was not going well. Not that the instructions were unclear or the parts not fitting but that the kit designers were obsessive-compulsive multi-part fanatics. Now, I don’t mind if a kit has a high parts count. This is often indicative of a good level of detail. But, there are kits, and this is one of them, in which a high parts count becomes inflated because the designers decided to break simple components into multiple parts. Now, often this is driven by moulding requirements, but in many instances it is not. 

The running gear on the Meng’s Bradley is designed to create a flexible suspension system. This is also a who-needs-it? feature. Surely the vast majority of modelers don’t need or want a workable suspension on their AFVs. If so, they are quite capable of making the necessary modifications themselves. Not only is this a bother, but breaking down each suspension arm into multiple components that serve no obvious purpose other than to increase the parts count and build time seems to me useless, frustrating and completely unnecessary. This odious task is made even more unpleasant by not sizing some of the parts correctly. As the photos will show, it was necessary to enlarge the holes in all of the suspension arms in order for them to fit over their companion piece and be “operational”. 

Meng: If you are going to the trouble to design and produce moving suspension components for a model, at least do it right. I should not have to pay for sloppy products.

Counting the component parts needed to make up the road wheels and suspension items there are one hundred and twenty of them. They all have to be clipped and cleaned up, and some have to be modified to fit. Fortunately, I was binge watching Manhunt from Netflix on my iPad whilst doggedly plowing through the suspension parts so it was bearable. Barely.

Once that was out of the way, I began to work on making the various assemblies for the interior and body of the vehicle. There are many of these. And, they all fit nicely and, so far unlike the suspension gremlins, nothing is amiss. Fun modeling. 

I’ve decided to create as many mini-models (assemblies) as possible, paint them individually with the airbrush and hand brush the details and add decals before bringing them all together as a vehicle. I think the design lends itself to this approach. I am amazed at the number of small assemblies that go to make up the Bradley. The overall design is such that, in general, the lower superstructure and internal components, the top, or roof of the vehicle and it’s components, the applied armor and the turret, inside and out, can be constructed individually, painted, detailed and even in some instances weathered before assembling them all into one vehicle.
There are plenty of open hatches and doorways and a big rear ramp to be left open to show off the interesting interior.This build will require much more time that I originally thought in order to do it well and do it justice. Fine. More modeling time for the buck. I’d rather be working on quality and extensive detail than to fix a manufacturer or designer’s poor product.

The assemblies above represent only a fraction of what is to come.

The Bradley is a significant and extremely interesting example of modern warfare strategy and tactics as expressed in an actual combat vehicle. So far I ‘d say the Meng kit is the best one going even if it attempts working suspension. And, get one if you are at all interested in modern armor. Or, even if you are not and want something detailed, funky and fun. Mostly