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Painting Soviet Armour for WWIII: Team Yankee

Painting Soviet Armour for WWIII: Team Yankee
with Joe Saunders
If you play any Warsaw Pact/Soviet Force in WWIII Team Yankee you have to get used to painting armour. Large amounts of it! When faced with such a situation, I usually choose to create a paint scheme that I enjoy and that I can replicate across a large number of models in an efficient way. In particular I try to streamline the process by adding or removing steps to simplify and speed up the process as I see fit. 

In this article I would like to share with you the method I use for painting my Soviet tanks.Though the scheme I use has some resemblance to actual Soviet paint schemes, I chose this one because I like the way it looks, and did not try to reproduce the appearance of any particular vehicles or markings from a time or place.

The subject I chose is a T-64 which I had in my collection, but obviously this method would work on any model.  Below I give a step by step approach on how I achieved the scheme. I used an airbrush in the process and I give specific colours.If you lack the appropriate tool or colour and you want to reproduce this scheme, just go ahead and substitute in whatever technique or product you think is appropriate.

Painting Soviet Armour for WWIII: Team Yankee

#1 Assembly:  I prepare the model as per the instructions.  (You can add any of the optional features or crew you would like. In this case I just kept it basic.)

Painting Soviet Armour for WWIII: Team Yankee

#2 Primer: Using a black airbrush primer I give the model 2 coats.   I try to avoid applying one heavy coat to avoid obscuring detail and to keep a smooth finish to build upon.  If you don’t have an airbrush, I would suggest any spray-can matt black paint that is safe for plastic.

Painting Soviet Armour for WWIII: Team Yankee

#3 Basecoat: Using my airbrush, I proceed in 2 sperate stages for this step:

A) I spray a coating of Vallejo Model Air Medium Brown over the whole model.

B) Now I add UK Light Stone to create a 50/50 mix with the Medium Brown. I spray this very gradually trying to make it brighter on the leading edges of panels and upper surfaces.

Painting Soviet Armour for WWIII: Team Yankee

#4 Airbrush Highlight: Now I take pure UK Light Stone and airbrush it focusing on the very edges of plates and the upper surfaces that would reflect the light. 

Painting Soviet Armour for WWIII: Team Yankee

#5 Camouflage: Taking Vallejo Model Air Olive Green, I airbrush wavy green lines over the model. I try to get about 30% of the model covered with it so I can still show the majority of the basecoat.  I try to keep the camouflage lines continuous and let them “fade out” near the edges.

Painting Soviet Armour for WWIII: Team Yankee

#6 Dry-Brush Highlight: At this point I prepare to dry-brush Vallejo Iraqi Sand over the model. To do this I apply the paint to a large brush then wipe most of it off on a paper towel. When just a hint of the pigment remains I gently flick it back and forth across the upper surfaces of the model depositing the paint on only the most raised areas. (I try to avoid the tracks and machine gun.)

Painting Soviet Armour for WWIII: Team Yankee

#7 Wash: With the dry-brush applied, the model now has a very bright and somewhat chalky appearance.  I tone this down and build depth by apply a coat of Army Painter Strong Tone to the entire model.  As it dries it settles into the cracks building definition.  It also works as a filter to obscure the gradients between layers of paint.  (Please note: If the dry-brush is precise and I want a newer, less worn look to the model, I skip this step.)

Painting Soviet Armour for WWIII: Team Yankee

#8 Decals: To prepare to ad decals, first I take a fine brush and paint on black lines bordering the camouflage, then I paint gloss acrylic varnish on the model where I want to put the decals.  Next, I soak the decals in water for a few minutes (how long depends on the decal). When the decal comes free of the backing, I slide it onto the varnished surface and remove any excess water with a paper towel.  The gloss varnish hides the edges around the decal which is sometimes called silvering.  After about an hour, the decals have dried so I take my airbrush and give the model 2 coats of satin varnish to protect the previous work and prepare for the next step.

Painting Soviet Armour for WWIII: Team Yankee

#9 Pin Wash: For this step I use enamel Dark Wash by Mig Ammo but you could use any black or dark brown acrylic ink too. I tend to favour enamel because the contrast is gradual and often it is quicker to use because it can flow by capillary action. (Always varnish before this step if you are using enamels as they can damage acrylic paints.) Taking a fine brush, I paint in the crevices and depressions on the model creating further contrast between higher and lower points on the tank.

Painting Soviet Armour for WWIII: Team Yankee

#10 Highlight: Pin washes can sometimes darken the model.  As a result, I take a large brush and mix 3 parts Vallejo Iraqi Sand to 1 part white acrylic paint and lightly drybrush the upper areas of the tank as in step 6. (Please note I find this step can be optional depending on how bright you want the model to appear.)

Painting Soviet Armour for WWIII: Team Yankee

#11 Details: At this point I moved onto the small details that really give the model life. I start by painting anything that was not part of the hull black. That included the machine gun, gun mantlet cover, lights, smoke grenade launchers and tracks. Then I dry brushed the machine gun and grenade launchers Vallejo Dark Sea Grey and highlighted them Wolf Grey. The gun mantlet cover was painted Vallejo Earth Brown then was highlighted by adding white to the paint and repainting towards the edges. The lenses on the lights were blended from a dark blue up to a light blue by adding gradually more Wolf Grey to a dark blue acrylic paint. Once I was happy with the progression of blue tones, I painted 2 dots of pure white on each of the lenses. One went in the darkest area and one in the lightest area. (I left the tracks painted black at this point.)

Painting Soviet Armour for WWIII: Team Yankee

#11 Chipping: Chipping adds damage and wear and tear to the model to create a sense of realism.  It also increases the visual interest of the model.  However, if you want the model to appear new, well maintained or fresh out of the factory, you can skip this step. First, I mix 3 parts white to 1 part Iraqi Sand and paint dots and streaks on the surface of the model where damage and wear on the paintwork may occur.  I keep the chips large enough so I can paint inside them, but I don’t overdo the coverage.  Next, I take Vallejo Hull Red and paint irregular patches within the “chips” to show where the damage has gone through all of the paint or where it has started to rust. 

Painting Soviet Armour for WWIII: Team Yankee

#12 Chipping: Chipping adds damage and wear and tear to the model to create a sense of realism.  It also increases the visual interest of the model.  However, if you want the model to appear new, well maintained or fresh out of the factory, you can skip this step. First, I mix 3 parts white to 1 part Iraqi Sand and paint dots and streaks on the surface of the model where damage and wear on the paintwork may occur.  I keep the chips large enough so I can paint inside them, but I don’t overdo the coverage.  Next, I take Vallejo Hull Red and paint irregular patches within the “chips” to show where the damage has gone through all of the paint or where it has started to rust. 

Painting Soviet Armour for WWIII: Team Yankee

#13 Weathering: Now I decide to add a sense of time and place to the model with some weathering. Using brown and orange acrylic inks (you could use enamels for this too), I work rust tone streaks into the paint around the chips. Next, I dry-brush and stipple Earth Brown followed by Iraqi Sand over the hull and tracks. (Stippling is done by making a jabbing motion with the paint brush.) This completes the painting. I then give the model 2 coats of satin varnish (although you could use matt varnish for a duller finish).

Painting Soviet Armour for WWIII: Team Yankee

#14 Completed Model: The T-64 is now done and ready for the table!

Painting Soviet Armour for WWIII: Team Yankee

Simplifying the Paint Scheme
Like any painting method, the procedures and products used can be changed to suit what you have on hand and the time you have set aside for the task. I painted this model to a fairly high standard. It would be good for display or on the games table. If I was preparing a model like this in a large batch I would likely omit some steps to speed up and simplify the process. In particular I would consider skipping chipping or the second drybrush highlight and scale back the weathering. This would reduce the time each model takes to paint, but they would still look good along with the “rank and file” of the army.

Conclusion
Whether you paint just to get your models on the table, or if you like to take your models into the realms of fine art, I encourage you push yourself to broaden your skills from one project to the next.  Painting the models for Team Yankee (or Flames of War) can be as enjoyable as the game itself.  If you have not discovered this aspect of the hobby, I encourage you to check it out!
~Joe


Last Updated On Thursday, March 25, 2021 by Luke at Battlefront