Leopard 1A4 – Assembling and painting

This Leopard 1 model is well detailed, I had no difficulties in assembling it. Then I chose a solid color painting scheme for its camouflage.

Looking for a "modern one" I came across this 1974 kit, reissued by Italeri (using the brand of that period, Italaerei) in a limited-edition "Vintage Collection" series.

The kit is made of three dark-green polystyrene sprues, plus a pair of vinyl tracks, a decal sheet containing the German Army insignia, a plastic mesh for the engine bay cover and, of course, the instruction sheet, easy to follow and complete with photos of the real tank. Despite being a 40-years-old kit, it doesn't show its age: the details are crisp and in some points there are even the weldings. The overall quality is more than good.


I built the kit out-of-the-box, except for the tracks, for which I chose the excellent metal ATL-141 by Friulmodel, and for the handles, made with brass wire.

The assembling has been simple, the joints fit well except in a few points that I had to fill with some putty.

Painting and decals

I made the overall painting with the airbrush, whereas I colored the details with a brush. After a first coat of primer, I sprayed with black color all the recesses, especially in the lower part of the hull and of the turret.

After that I applied the base color, that is Lifecolor UA303 (FS 34094 Green), thinned 50%-50% with distilled water and eventually I faded in the center of the panels with higher and higher ratios of Lifecolor UA223 (Olive Drab Faded Type 1). I tried to modulate the fading in order to give the impression of the sunlight coming roughly from the front left direction.

This was the first time I used Lifecolor acrylic paints, and I was positively impressed: they are more transparent than the Vallejo I usually use, and that means that more coats are needed to obtain an optimal cover, but also that you have more control with the shading. The only drawback is the surface drying time, longer of that (almost instant) of Vallejo colors but still no more than 1-2 minutes. That means that you have to wait more between spraying two differents coats on the same spot.

From the left: UA303 (FS 34094 Green), UA223 (Olive Drab Faded Type 1).

I painted the details with a fine paintbrush, using the following Vallejo Model Color acrylic paints:

  • tarpaulin covering the gun mantlet: two parts of 70.914 Green Ochre and one of 70.976 Buff;
  • wooden parts: two parts of the previous mix plus one of 70.985 Hull Red;
  • bare metal parts (tools, machine gun, tracks): a base of 70.950 Black, waiting for the next steps;
  • rubber parts (smoke discharger plugs, track threads, mirror cones): 50% black and 50% 70.965 Prussian Blue;
  • tail lights: red ones with 70.957 Flat Red, orange ones with 2 parts of 70.953 Flat Yellow plus one of Flat Red;
  • highlighting of protruding parts: 70.967 Olive Green.

Before applying the decals, I painted the related parts with a coat of clear varnish, in order to avoid the "silvering" effect.

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