by: Rick Cooper [ ]
Originally published on:
The Czech Skoda PA-II Turtle seems like a strange subject for Takom to tackle, but they have not shied away from unusual subjects as can be seen with their KV-5. St. Chamond, and mix of modern and WWI subjects. The Turtle was a between the wars design that never quite worked out despite the best of intentions. It appears that 12 of the vehicles were ordered, tested, and then rejected for a number of issues. The main issue seems to be that it had extremely limited off road capability which is normally a deal breaker for a military vehicle. Despite this rejection the small number of Turtles had an interesting career; they were present when the pro-Nazi putsch was repressed in Austria in 1934, they helped to suppress the riots that ensued along the Croatian border. Several were seized by the Germans and soldiered on as radio cars until the end of the war. The vehicleís career sounds like the old adage; if at first you donít succeed, try, try, and try again!
Without having EVER built anything even remotely close to this vehicle I had no idea what would confront me when I opened the box. A quick glance and inventory shocked me with the extremely limited number of parts, far less than 100 for the whole thing. The large one piece molding of the vehicles body dominated with four additional sprues, two identical sprue A offerings and two identical sprue B sets, four vinyl tires, a small clear sprue, small instruction booklet and set of decals, and a very nice foldout with the full color schemes for the five decal options provided. It looked like I could get this thing finished in about two hours if I didnít get distracted. After getting distracted seven or eight times; SQUIRREL! I did finish the whole thing (not counting the painting) in about four hours, I donít remember the last time I finished anything that quickly.
Because of the Pushmi-pullya nature of the vehicle most every building step is repeated in the construction. The undercarriage comes first and went together easily enough although the construction did leave a few large gaps around the differential casings. I didnít worry about mine as it would be underneath and painted black, if you do fix this small issue add twenty minutes to your expected build time! Take care in the construction and the wheels are steerable and can roll providing hours of entertainment if that is your thing. Actually, the steering mechanism can be mounted for static display which is my normal modus operandi but the steerable feature was so easy to do with a simple tie rod and care with your solvent that I added the feature to both front and back.
The floorboard of the vehicle is constructed in two pieces and butt jointed together which I thought would be tricky, instead Takom has added a locking cross tie that holds it all together nicely. I would advise that you let it set for at least fifteen or twenty minutes before you do anything with it. The instructions have you add the wheels but I just sat the whole thing aside for an hour or so and worked on the outer turtle shell.
The top of the shell; certainly not a turret nor really a casemate, is built up of four main parts and glued together and then added to the shell. It is a bit hard to describe, the pictures do a better job of showing what you need to do here. Two pieces of the top come together in a tricky butt joint and then come together with the other two butt jointed pieces giving you something like a Stormtrooper helmet that drop fits onto the main body. Well, in a perfect world thatís what happens, in reality the fit takes some finessing. I glued down one quadrant at a time and held on for dear life giving it about five minutes or so to get a good hold before moving on to another quadrant and doing the same. I repeated the process until all were snug down against the main body. You might try some thicker CA glue from the inside for a quicker go at it but I was afraid that it would leak onto the surface of the shell and didnít want that headache so I opted for the longer way around. The main body of the Turtle does have some mold lines that you may want to clean up a bit, particularly if you are doing the one monochrome German radio car scheme. I was going to paint it up in the Moravian police HQ scheme which is busy to say the least and felt like the multi-colored paint job would effectively hide any mold lines. You can be the judge with the photographs.
The hatches and machine guns were left out until the body was finished. They are simple affairs; the machine guns do need the muzzle drilled out and then pop into the sockets provided. The hatches may be able to be positioned open but as there is no interior I just glued them down. No hatch handles are provided and honestly it doesnít appear that they were so equipped. Iím guessing that they were strictly for egress and observation and never intended for access to the vehicle as the large car style doors provided access. The wheels feature a split rim type assembly which captures the largish axle pin which allows the wheels the freedom to roll after assembly.
After I was happy with the turtle shell I turned it over and added the inside walls of the fenders and popped the chassis in. The inner walls of the fenders left a nice gap, but I knew that it would all be painted flat black and be mostly hidden by the wheels so I left it as it was and didnít fuss with it. You may want to fill in the admittedly large gaps, but after it was all done you canít really see much of anything. The chassis/floor of the vehicle actually did just pop into place with a bit of cringe worthy flexing of the floor. I expected it to break in two where it had been butt joined but it held just fine and in fact the fit was so strong I didnít really need glue. Add the four freewheeling wheels and voila, now you are ready for the painting stage.
While the building stage went quickly the painting stage was a bit more intensive. I could have chosen the captured German vehicle in which case an appropriate shade of gray was all that was required, but I opted for the more interesting five color scheme just for fun. The color call outs are all from the Ammo from Mig line that I have only a spotty representation of so I matched as best I could with Humbrol enamels. I wanted to work with the Humbrolís due to the way in which they can be brush painted easily. I felt like brush painting would be a far easier task than the airbrush with masking off each of the colors. Allow me to digress a bit, I used a Tamiya spray can of TS-46 Light Sand which seemed to come pretty close to the desired Mig 061 Warm Sand Yellow and provided a good strong base on which to work. I tried to work from the lightest colors toward the darker in order to avoid issues with lighter colors over darker. Next I opted to thin some Humbrol 31 Slate Gray as a match for Mig 059 Gray. Using a good brush and a lightly drawn pencil outline the gray went on much easier than I thought it would. I substituted Humbrol 120 Light Green for Mig 068 Light Green Khaki, Humbrol 30 Dark Green for Mig 915 Dark Green, and Humbrol 98 Chocolate for Mig 076 Brown Soil. I canít vouch for how closely my color choices match but they passed my eyeball test.
The borders between each of the color patches all have that World War I looking black border. I pulled out a Sharpie felt pen and had the whole thing done in about an hour of careful work. The ink from the felt marker was remarkably shiny but once I gave everything a coat of Vallejo Satin Varnish it knocked out the shine completely. At that point I added the decals which were very well done; perfect register and very thin. The only thing left was to add the clear headlight lenses which had a very nice fit and probably would have been fine without any glue at all; just to be safe I used a dab of white glue. A very light wash and some dust mainly for the tires and that was it.
While it is not a perfect kit it was certainly a fun build. The build caused no real headaches at all despite my thinking that I would run into some issues with the butt joints however they were much easier than I would have believed. Their seemed to be a void of detail around the doors, hatches, and machine guns but that may be because the actual vehicle was fairly void of detail as well. The painting may be the kind of challenge that some look forward to, if it is not your cup of tea you do have the gray option available. I would recommend the kit to anyone looking for an easy or unusual build; it certainly looks distinctive on the shelf!