Tamiya 1/3 M106 Mortar Carrier Build Review
|Date of Review
|M106 Mortar Carrier
|Ammo tube layout had very poor fit
|Out of Production
The M106 is one of many adaptations of the versatile M113 armored personnel carrier (APC). The M113 family would be one of the most adaptable vehicles in the US Army's inventory until the advent of the M998 'Hummer'. In the case of the M106, the M113 is modified with a hinged door system over the rear of the vehicle to expose the 107mm mortar that can either be fired from a turntable mount on the floor of the vehicle or dismounted and fired outside the vehicle. Internal ammo racks are installed on the inside walls of the M106 to carry up to 88 mortar rounds. The equipment needed to operate the mortar outside the vehicle is mounted to the outside of the M106. The baseplate provides a dual purpose, as it not only serves as the foundation for the base of the mortar outside the vehicle, it also serves as additional armor protecting the fuel tank while mounted on the vehicle.
The Tamiya M106 is one of several M113-based kits that have been in their product line for many years. These include the basic M113, the M113 w/ACAV shields, the M557 command post, and the M113A1 that features the Royal Australian Army's gun turret. The M106 kit features a highly detailed interior, though it doesn't provide the engine compartment details found in the basic M113 kits.
When I spotted this kit at my local hobby establishment, I was looking for a good straight-out-of-the-box project to test out some painting and weathering techniques. Having built this kit years ago, I recalled that aside from a few minor annoyances, this kit goes together smoothly.
As this mission of this project was to try out some new (to me) painting and weathering techniques, I built this kit with no aftermarket products (save a few decals) and didn't even bother with filling in pin marks in the plastic.
Assembly of the road wheels and lower hull is very straightforward. The first step was to eliminate the slot in the bottom of the hull with some Evergreen styrene. The other hole in the bottom of the hull is for part A1 which interlocks the top of the hull should you want to make that removable. I glued A1 into place and filled the area with several applications of Mr. Surfacer 500. Once this was dry, I wet-sanded the bottom of the hull baby smooth.
I didn't exactly follow the kit instructions as they would have you add exterior details throughout the assembly process and I only wanted those details that were part of the basic hull (and share the same colors). All of the remaining exterior details were added after painting, decals and weathering.
The one major pain in the backside in this kit is featured in Step 5, assembly of the 107mm ammo racks. They didn't fit very well the first time I built this kit and even with some careful adjustments this time around, they still don't go together well. These racks are quite visible with the mortar doors and the rear ramp open, so if you want to build a contest-quality M106, please consider scratch-building replacements. As this kit was merely a paint target, I assembled them the best I could and filled in the gaps with Mr. Surfacer 500.
Painting & Weathering
I pre-painted the interior components as well as the hull interior surfaces Olive Green. I masked off the appropriate areas and painted the driver’s compartment Interior Green. Wherever practical, I used variations of dark and olive green on interior containers and storage racks to break up the monotony of Olive Green without appearing non-military. I also lightened some of the base colors with a bit of white to highlight illuminated areas, then darkened the base colors with a bit of black to create shadows.
One trick I recently learned was to clean my airbrush with Windex (ammonia-based window cleaner). The difference is dramatic if you airbrush with acrylics as I do – the acrylics break down on contact with Windex and I can now thoroughly clean my airbrush between colors without dismantling. You’ll see similar results with paint brushes, in fact, some brushes that I thought were clean and had been unused for months became even cleaner using the Windex.
Once the interior was complete and the outer hull was assembled, I sprayed the entire outer surface with Dark Green. Next I filled in the panel areas with Olive Green, leaving the edges Dark Green. When I was satisfied with the multi-hue effect, I shot the outside with a coat of thinned Future. This provided a smooth surface to apply decals.
Once the markings were settled into place, I began weathering all of the surfaces that were close to the ground with a wash of Burnt Sienna. This mixture was also applied to the rear ramp and around the areas that the crew would move through inside the vehicle. Additional oil washes were added to replicate movement through brush, followed by a wash of black to bring out the shadowed areas. I used my airbrush to blow-dry each application of wash. Note: To keep the area from smelling too strong, I found an odorless Mineral Spirits at my hardware store. Using this to create my oil-based washes has been very successful so far and each coat has dried absolutely flat (no glossy appearance). I finally went over the outside hull with a dry brush with medium gray to bring out details.
Once all of this had thoroughly dried, I added the remaining details and once again used some variations of Olive Green for the various boxes and tools, as well as adding wooden handles and worn tool edges for contrast. To the finished product, I applied one more coat of wash, this time a light brown and light gray mixture to replicate dust and to blend everything together.
The final results look pretty nice. Once I was finished, I did look at some reference material to see how close to reality I stayed and was pleased with the outcome. It wasn’t until I was putting this article together that I noticed in the photos that I installed the mortar forward instead of to the rear, but I can fix that another time.
The use of shade variations on monocolored subjects like the M106, M113 or even the M4 Sherman provides a bit of visual impact without straying from color realism. The use of oil-based washes provide additional depth to the subject without harming the underlying finish. If you put the wash on too heavy, brush pure mineral spirits over the area to wash it away and try again. No harm, no foul.
Now that I’ve had a chance to try this out on a simple project, it’s time to apply this to more serious projects! Try it, you’ll like it!