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135
Well-Traveled Italian MBT

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I do a lot of traveling for work, so I like to bring a kit along to break the monotony of living in hotel rooms. Since I'm limited by how much will fit in my suitcase, I prefer to bring something that will make a solid, straightforward build: good fit, good detail, and hassle-free building so I can travel with a small set of basic tools. Trumpeter's Ariete fit the bill perfectly. It’s an interesting subject, and although this kit was issued almost 15 years ago, it builds up very well and has fantastic detail right out of the box. It travelled with me all summer: Jefferson City, MO; St. Cloud, MN; Gaylord, MI; Milan, IL with final assembly and painting done at home in New Jersey.

Fit was a bit of an issue, since it needed a good amount of filler where the two front armour plates come together, but that was the only fit-issue I encountered. I made a couple of modifications to the kit: I replaced the grab handles with brass wire, and added lifting rings to the cover over the main sight. Trumpeter overlooked the slot for the coaxial machine gun to the left of the main gun. I attempted to add it, but wasn’t happy with my efforts. Luckily, during my research, I read that the crew frequently covers the slot with duct tape to keep dust out of the turret, so I simulated the tape with aluminum foil.

I used the kit-supplied string for the tow cable, but in hindsight I should have replaced it. Even after it was painted it had that “rope” look to it. So, after careful contemplation over a few beers, I had the bright idea to run a lighter across the string to de-fuzz it. However, the thinned paint wasn't quite dry yet, and...WHOOSH! Flaming string. I put it out right away, with only a minor scorch that blended in with the weathering. I was lucky. Don’t try this at home! One of my modelling friends suggested beeswax as a safer alternative. That was good advice.

It’s primed with Tamiya Flat Black and base-coated with Tamiya NATO Green. I highlighted with a 50:50 mix of Tamiya NATO Green and Flat Flesh. Detail painting was done with Testors Enamels. Optics and lights were painted with Tamiya Clear colors. I made my own decals for the first time with this model. If you’ve never done it, it’s not as hard as you might think, Plus, there’s plenty of information from the members here on Armorama. It started with a great walkaround of an Ariete I found in a post in the Forums.

I wanted to give my Ariete the same markings, so I had to make decals. The “VIII”, “132”, vehicle registration numbers, and the black boxes on the front and back of the hull were all made on MS Word (That took a little trial and error). I bought decal paper for laser jet printers from Micro-Mark, and used the printer at my office. Once printed, I used 3 light coats of Krylon Crystal Clear Acrylic spray to seal them. I applied them over a coat of Future, and then sealed them with two more coats. I found the decal paper to be elastic and a little thick…it’s most evident on the large numbers on the turret. The registration numbers on the front and back of the hull were applied over white decal paper. The Italian flags and yellow Weight Classification disc came from the kit markings. It took 4 coats of Testors Lusterless spray lacquer to even out the finish, but that helped hide the thick decals.

The tank in the pictures is in very good shape, so I kept weathering to a minimum. I did a selective pin wash of Windsor and Newton Raw Umber oil paint and then dry-brushed a mix of Testors Rust and Gunmetal to show worn areas. I added a little rust here and there, and did an overall dry-brushing of Testors Armor Sand. I dusted the lower parts of the vehicle with Tamiya Buff thinned about 80:20. I finished up with Mig and AK interactive pastels on the exhaust, Future on the lights and optics, and a guitar-string antenna.

Despite its age, this was a great kit. It’s an unconventional subject with great detail and fit. I really enjoyed building it and I’m very happy with how it came out. Overall, I’m satisfied with how the homemade decals worked out, too. I’ll see about doing that more often to try to master the skill.

And remember, kids, don’t play with fire.

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About the Author

About Chris Green (cdharwins)
FROM: NEW JERSEY, UNITED STATES

I've been modelling almost all of my life. When I was about 12, I got Tamiya's M4 Sherman for Christmas. It became my masterpiece, since I used all the parts. The kit came with one of those color Tamiya brochures, with cool pictures of other kits in the military minatures line, and I was hooked. ...


Comments

that is just a really nice model
MAR 20, 2015 - 02:11 AM
Chris, wonderful work!
MAR 20, 2015 - 02:59 AM
Nice work. Great detailing!
MAR 20, 2015 - 03:50 AM
I've always liked the beautiful Trumpeter Ariete kit. but it has one very odd flaw--they forgot the coaxial machine gun port to the left of the main gun barrel. Cutting a perfect, narrow slot with rounded ends is a nuisance, but there is an easy fix. Italian tank crews typically cover the port with green plastic tape to keep dust out of the turret (and of course, it can be shot through if necessary). Just paint some decal film a suitable green, and slice it into narrow strips, and apply several strips to cover the nonexistent port. This error is also present on the later variant (also offered by Trumpeter), which has the later gun barrel and the appliqué armor, as deployed in Iraq.
MAR 20, 2015 - 06:58 AM
Thanks for all the kind words, gents. I had a great time with this kit...I highly recommend it. I'd like to build the up-armored version at some point. @Gerald...I made an attempt at the slot for the coax, but I didn't like the result. I did exactly as you described: made duct tape. Chris
MAR 20, 2015 - 07:35 AM
Great build. Nice weathering that is not overdone. Thanks for sharing
MAR 20, 2015 - 04:14 PM
Great job with an under-represented AFV and nationality!
MAR 21, 2015 - 07:29 PM
Chris, that really looks good. I think that's the first Ariete I have seen built up. Great finish, sir. Best wishes, Ian
MAR 22, 2015 - 02:04 AM
Nice, smooth, naturally flowing weathering. Good and subtle right between Verlinden and Tank Art!!
MAR 22, 2015 - 11:13 PM
Great job, thanks for sharing
JUL 04, 2015 - 03:06 AM