Roco Minitanks PZH2000 155 SPGMatthew W. Malogorski
After spending way too many hours building, detailing, and painting 1/35th scale kits (and getting nothing finished), I wanted to do something that was fun, and most of all, quick to finish. Roco kits provide just such a treat. They are small, have a reasonable amount of parts, and are exquisitely detailed and accurate.
This kit of the PZH 2000 really caught my eye when I saw it at my local hobby shop. Kit #730 comes in one of those long Roco boxes with the model almost completely assembled in one end, and a nicely bagged set of four sprues in the other. Yeah, FOUR sprues containing an additional twenty four parts! I was VERY surprised to say the least!
You get a lot for $14.00. The pre-assembled parts include the upper and lower hull with detachable suspension/tracks, and upper and lower turret halves with one-piece gun barrel that elevates and depresses. These parts can be disassembled for cleanup and painting, and then glued back together. The hull is detailed with front and rear tow hooks, front headlights & mounts, headlight brush guards, gun barrel travel lock, and rear view mirrors. The engine grills, non-skid surfaces, bolt details, and reactive armor attachment points are absolutely beautiful. After reviewing what photos I have, it appears Roco did not miss a thing. The turret receives a number of parts, and the molding is as sweet as the hull. All three hatches are separate and the left side hatch gets a machine gun ring mount. The turret front gets smoke grenade dischargers and a sensor of some sort. Antennae mounts, convoy marker light, and a couple other pieces I cant identify complete the rear of the turret. Did I fail to mention that the complete reactive armor array for the turret and hull is also included? The missing item in all Roco kits is the decals and color schemes. This one is no exception. Youll have to scrounge to get markings, or make your own. The color schemes and paint numbers can be found else where. (See the end of this article for paint and reference info).
Lets get to the construction of the model. This kit is a breeze, with only a minor snag here or there. However, A few modifications were made to improve the appearance of the model. The upper and lower hull required no filler after being permanently glued together. Other than the usual clean up of mold seams and sprue attachment points, no hull parts presented any problems. One modification to the hull was to fill in the hole underneath the gun travel lock with plastic strip, as the travel lock sits a little high in its mount, and you can see into the hull. This was a real easy fix. M.V. lenses were added to the headlights. All Roco kits lack detailed tracks, and the biggest modification done to the model was to add 56 track pads to the outside surfaces of the lower track runs that are visible. I made the track pads from .10 x .60 Evergreen strip cut with a Northwest Shortlines Chopper. I then glued the pads on the tracks, keeping them straight and square by sliding a piece of plastic strip the appropriate thickness in between the pads and down the middle of the track run.
The turret required the most work to get the kit up to speed. Because the upper and lower turret halves trap the gun barrel into place, allowing it to elevate and depress, you must work on the gun before you glue the turret halves together. The gun barrel has the worst mold seam in the kit, and required careful scraping and sanding to remove. Once that was done, I drilled out the end of the barrel with a pin vise, and boxed in the breech end of the gun mount with sheet plastic. If you dont do this last step, viewers will be able to look into an empty turret. The barrel required one other modification, and that is to add a foul weather cover out of tissue soaked in white glue. This was done after painting. The mg ring mount does not fit well. The problem is the mounting pins are too thick to fit in the holes around the hatch. I solved this problem by sanding down the mounting pins with a file and then gluing in place. One complaint I have is that this kit does not include an MG3 machine gun for the mg ring. I left my model unarmed for now. The smoke grenade dischargers have one raised ejector pin mark on each of them, as well as mold seams. I sanded away the pin marks easy enough, but the dischargers are really tiny and are hard to clean up. Once done they look very nice. The rear formation light gets painted with Tamiya clear orange after the camouflage is finished. Stretched sprue antennas complete the turret.
After all the modifications were complete, I airbrushed the NATO three tone camouflage scheme of Green, Black, and Brown, using Model Master enamels. The colors are 34102 Medium Green, 37038 Flat Black, and 30117 Military Brown. I sprayed the black first to give the model depth and to avoid a wash later. The brown was next, followed by the Green. I have had enough practice with the airbrush to be able to do it by hand, so no masking was needed. (Its only taken 20 years of practice!) I dry-brushed all of the lovely detail with the main colors lightened with Model Master Gulf War Armor Sand. The tracks are painted Model Master Dark Earth and Flat Black for the track pads. When done, I used the Armor Sand dry-brushed straight out of the bottle for a little more contrast. Weathering was accomplished using a dark Chocolate brown pastel chalk. I mixed this in with the Armor Sand paint to make "mud" that was VERY sparingly applied to the tracks and running gear. The pastel was then applied to the side skirts and lower hull to represent road dust per my photos. (The earth in parts of Germany are a very dark color). Remember, in this scale a little bit of weathering goes a long way. (Little being the key word!)
Well, there you have it, one PZH 2000 in about 4 hours! This is one incredibly cool kit, and I believe, the only one available until Revell releases their 1/35th scale version. I highly recommend this kit to anyone who likes modern armor or not. It is simple to build and looks great! Get one!
The Website for Defense Industries: http://www.army.technology.com/projects/pzh2000/index.html
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