Let’s do some tanks! Soviet KV-1a platoon for “What a Tanker”

I have been working on getting a fleet of tanks for the What a Tanker game from the Too Fat Lardies company.   It’s a great game and has been a true hit with my gaming club, the Mass Pikemen.  I have been working on building up a flexible group of tanks, and so far I am up to 71 tanks in 15mm/1:100 scale – not including ones needing assembly and painting.

My sources have been eBay, hobby stores, and Facebook.  If I waited to paint them all, I would never do another project, so finding some mostly painted resin (and reasonably priced) models from Wargame Models in Ohio has helped shorten the process.  Mostly I just washed and varnished the ones I have gotten from WMIO.

One group acquisition was from another source on eBay – it was a resin Soviet KV-1 platoon consisting of 5 KV-1’s heavy tanks, 2 T-26 light tanks, 2 BA-64 armored cars, and 2 trucks.  I do not know the manufacturer.  They had been given some sort of dark brown coating with splashes of lighter brown.  They color-wise did not look particularly like Soviet tanks from 1941.  This platoon is the main subject of this blog post.

0 Group of tanks
My tank fleet grows – the KV-1 platoon is in the upper left.
1 KV platoon unpainted
The platoon as I got it in the brown colors.  I decided to make the heavy tanks as the KV-1a version.  All of the turrets were not magnetized, which I did do as well as part of this project.
2 magnets
I removed the resin post on the turret and drilled out 1/8″ holes in it and widened the preexisting hole in the hull.  I got some nice neodymium 1/8″ x 1/16″ magnets for magnetizing from totalElement.com.

It was necessary to use a Sharpie to mark one end of the 1/8″ magnets such that I inserted them in the correct alignment (I did not want the turrets “blowing off” prematurely!).  I glued the magnets into the holes with Gorilla Glue.

3 magnet turret KV1a
Each turret originally had this post that I removed and drilled underneath.
4 drill and magnet turret KV1a
Magnetized K-V1a turret
5 BA 64 repair
BA-64 turret showing my repair of the gun.  It was thin resin.  The other resin gun broke later as well so these are not sturdy.

I needed to find a way to paint the figures without damaging the paint, and tanks were new to me.  I decided to take advantage of the magnets on the turrets here.  I used small nails inserted into styrofoam blocks (the kind used for flower crafts).  For the hulls, I masked the tracks for secondary painting, and such that I could hold them safely.

6 priming turrets
How many turrets can fit on the head of a nail?
7 priming hulls with masking
The hulls masked for priming.

I airbrushed/primed the figures with Vallejo “Surface Primer – Russian Green”.

8 all primed
The platoon primed.

I then gave the figures an airbrushed base coat with a thinned coat of Vallejo Panzer Series “Camouflage Olive Green”.

9 all primed
The platoon base coated.
10 close up base coat
Close up shot of one of the KV-1a hills after base coating.

These looked too drab, and not very Soviet green looking.  I moved on to adding Vallejo Mecha Color “Green” with a light airbrushing.  Next, I used a brush to dry brush Vallejo Mecha Color “Light Green” on the figures.  I was able to then give the figures an appropriate light green by using Citadel “Biel-Tan Green” as a shade.  It worked!

11 contrast after light green and Biel-tan
Contrast the before shading (turret on left) and after (turret on right).  The light green helped give depth to the shaded turrets and hulls.  I darkened everything with an additional shade – Citadel “Athonian Camoshade”.
12 close up hulls after green wash
Before the “Athonian Camoshade”…
13 after wash with athonian camoshade
…and after adding the darker shade.

At this point, I removed the masking and painted the tracks.  I then wanted to add some mud, dirt, and dust with pigments.  I used several Vallejo pigments and binders (all listed at the end of this post).  These models are small, (about 3″ long by 1½” wide by 1¾” high so I wanted to give enough weathering without overwhelming them.

14 adding the pigments
An in-progress pic of weathering one of the hulls.
15 ready for varnish
All of the weathering done and the vehicles ready for varnish.
16 varnish hull
KV-1a hull varnished.
17 t26 varnish hull
T-26 hull varnished.
18 all done
The platoon nice and dirty with the mud of Mother Russia.

This was my first attempt at painting any WWII tank models.  I think I can do better, but early war Soviet tanks are pretty simple, as they had not usually added any markings.  It will not be my last, and I am hoping that I get better with more tries.  This project also is my first submission for Azazel’s November Community painting challenge – Mechanical November ’18.  If you have not checked out his blog, it’s worth a look.  Also, my next few posts will showcase tanks, so I hope you enjoy.

Now for some eye candy!

19 5 KV1a
All five KV-1a’s with different angles to view.  Ignore the giant tetrahedrons please!
20 5 KV1a
Front view
21 5 KV1a rear
Rear view.  I “mudded” them up a bit here.
22 the platoon
The combat vehicles move out.
23 one of each
One of each AFV I painted plus 2 trucks.
24 KV1a in town
KV-1a in an urban setting.
25 T26 in town
T-26 in town (what’s left of it anyway).
26 BA 64 in town

I hope that you enjoyed this post.  Please let me know your thoughts and feedback below in the comments section.

Thanks for looking!


  1. Citadel “Imperium Primer”
  2. Vallejo “Surface Primer – Russian Green”
  3. Vallejo “Flow Improver”
  4. Vallejo “Airbrush Thinner”
  5. Testors “Universal Acrylic Thinner”
  6. Vallejo Panzer Series “Camouflage Olive Green”
  7. Vallejo Mecha Color “Green”
  8. Vallejo Mecha Color “Light Green”
  9. Citadel “Biel-Tan Green” (shade)
  10. Citadel “Athonian Camoshade” (shade)
  11. Vallejo “Surface Primer – Black”
  12. Elmer’s White Glue
  13. Vallejo “Pigment Binder”
  14. Vallejo “Burnt Umber” (pigment)
  15. Vallejo “Industrial Splash Mud” (weathering)
  16. Vallejo “Light Sienna” (pigment)
  17. Vallejo “Light Slate Grey” (pigment)
  18. Gorilla Glue
  19. Vallejo Mecha Varnish “Matt Varnish”

Thanks again for looking and for your feedback!

Author: Mark A. Morin

This site is where I will discuss stuff that I find interesting and that includes family, friends, golf, gaming, and Boston sports!

30 thoughts on “Let’s do some tanks! Soviet KV-1a platoon for “What a Tanker””

    1. I tried to show less mud on the turrets, as that is what is expected. I have been in M60A3’s and driven them, and the mud rarely got high. I did use some light pigments as dust, but they didn’t really show on the pics. They are small!

      Liked by 2 people

  1. Very nice work here, Mark. The BA-64s are interesting – I didn’t know they existed, but was wondering why you had SdKfz 221s in your Soviet force for a few minutes there until Dr.Google came to my aid. And KV-1s, eh? Veeeery Interesting…. Are they 15mm or 20mm?

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Nice! I haven’t tried painting anything at this scale before, but I’m impressed with what you did there. I have played What a Tanker though, 28mm scale with 40k tanks – great fun 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

      1. Yeah, we just selected an existing tank profile based on what the model looked like (this was an Old Hammer event, so there were a lot of weird & wonderful conversions), and then just converted everything to inches 🙂

        Liked by 2 people

  3. I just love KV-1s and really like your muddy platoon! Funnily enough, I found the Vallejo Russian Green primer too dark, but the camouflage green spot on (similar to Humbrol olive green I’ve used in the past) but your highlighting and washing has come out well. And like yourself, I don’t usually put much in the way of markings on earlier Russian WW2 tanks! Looking forward to seeing your next batch, whatever they might be!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Superb- Glad to see you are obey the Soviet maxim of quantity has a quality all of its own. That said your painting methods to good by itself. You’ll not be short of game options for sure.



    Liked by 1 person

  5. Nice job with the paint and weathering, those KV-1 models that you found on Ebay are from Wargames Models as well. They a good inexpensive models and are the only way that I was able to afford the huge numbers of tanks that an early WW2 Russian army demands back when we were playing Flames of War. Have fun playing WaT!

    You might want to look at these house rules; https://spqvi.com/2018/11/05/house-rules-what-a-tanker/ They smooth out play and get rid of the frustrating situation of getting into a perfect firing position and rolling no “Fire” dice, or being unable to move for lack of “Move” dice

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks on the kind words about the KV-1s, it’s appreciated! I did look at your rules, and thanks very much for sharing them. You obviously thought a lot about this. I guess I’d push back on your rules changes as I personally like the frustration factor- it adds a fog of war aspect to what basically is a beer and pretzels game. In combat, stuff happens that frustrates soldiers. Mechanical issues, human issues, etc. So, some days you’re the bug, some days the windshield. It also raises some drama, which is fun too. Yes,that may ruin your plans, but in War, plans can fail even if perfectly executed. I get your point on the ramming, which did occur on the Eastern front by the Soviets a lot, but without momentum it would not work that well, so is it 3 dice or 2? I take your point but ii also think that 3 makes that a bit rarer. So I would say kudos on the thought and mods, and if they work for you, great!

      I have been using the game at our club meetings, and keeping it simple and fun is the goal, so the dashboards I use make the game very easy to pick up. Adding additional charts for me would significantly detract from that simplicity. With that said, I have added the 2 BA-64’s as I described in the last Mass Pikemen post, as well as trucks, but they were mostly cosmetic in that the trucks just moved. The BA-64’s just could force tanks to button up at half range, unless they rolled double 6’s.


  6. 71 tanks? You never do anything half arsed, do you? Looking forward to follow along with interest as I have been toying with WW2 Eastern Front for a long while. I am thinking of using Battlegroup rules, but still not sure about 15mm vs 20mm. I like your application of mud and dust, need to achieve something similar, as I usually paint things “too clean”.


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