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"Free, or Low Cost 1/144th Oil Storage Tanks" Topic

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Mako1113 Mar 2017 12:52 p.m. PST

I was watching a TY video last night, going over their rules for night attacks – linked on their website currently, and it is quite good, so worth checking out.

I've been making a list of "must-have", as well as "desired" terrain for my Cold War gaming in West Germany, and the video reminded me to add another item to that list – oil storage tanks, for a more modern, industrial look.

The TY / BF ones look nice, and could even probably be used in a pinch for larger, 1/144th scale tanks, if you have the extra cash available for such things.

However, if you are like me, and are on a strict budget, or want to save some money for buy more armor and troops, then "free" oil storage tanks, and/or very inexpensive ones are the way to go.

Looking at them, it struck me that everyday household items might be used to represent different sizes of them.

From the video, the diameter of the FOW / TY tanks is roughly that of the overall length of a T-72 tank, including the barrel overhang to the front. Not sure what that is in 1/100th scale, but it is probably about 4.5" – 5" in diameter, given that my 1/144th scale ones measure out at about 3" in overall length. Height seems to be about that of the width.

Looking at some photos on-line, some have a fairly decent sized rim at either the top or bottom of the tanks, while others do not. The larger ones seem to be about half the height of their width – one reference photo mentioned it as being 120' across and 48' high, and IIRC, being able to store 96,000 gallons of fuel.

At that size, in 1/144th scale, that'd be 10" in diameter, so perhaps a bit large for the gaming table, unless you have a huge one, since these are normally grouped in clusters of many storage tanks. Clearly, there are other sizes and shapes too, so we'll stick to smaller ones.

So, my idea for the free ones is to use 8 oz. peanut, cashew, or other nut cans for these, once you've eaten, and/or removed the contents, and then spray painting them the desired color – usually flat white, though I have seen silver and black ones too. These appear to be about 3.5" – 4" in diameter, so virtually the same diameter as the TY ones, when accounting for 1/144th scale.

The FOW / TY ones appear to be gray, perhaps representing a dirty and dusty metal one.

The plastic rimmed lid can be left on, to serve as either the top or foundation of the fuel tanks. If you prefer a rimless one, just remove the lid, and cut off the rim, or use a thin sheet of styrene (Dollar Store signs work well for this), and cut to shape and size, and glue in place.

For a bit of variety, you can even vary the level of the tank caps, and/or lids, since some appear to move up and down inside the storage tanks, as they are filled/drained. Paint the inside with a rust colored paint, and/or flat white, as desired. Small, plastic cap lids, or wood blocks can be glued into place in the cans with hot-glue, and then the lid applied, to keep the styrene, or plastic lid in place inside of the oil storage container.

As a final detailing point, you can add a ladder, or curved stairway if you like to them. For the latter, a thin strip of styrene glued up the side at a fairly steep angle will work. These seem to only go about 1/4 – 1/3 of the way around the tanks, as they extend from bottom to top, so you can also ignore them on most, if not all tanks, if you prefer.

Other items for storage tanks include spray can lids, like those for paint cans, hairspray, plastic cake and brownie frosting containers, etc., etc., since oil tanks come in a variety of sizes. There are also some round ones too (instead of cylindrical ones), which usually have numerous tubes/stalks below them, to keep them off the ground. You can use wooden dowels, styrene tubing, or even old pens to make those, if you are up to the challenge. Again, spray flat white to finish.

If you want larger tanks, thin-walled PVC tubing can be cut to size as well, if you have access to a hacksaw, and/or bandsaw (I really need one of the latter for various projects). Pick your desired diameter (6" would probably be ideal), cut to the desired height, and then cut out a circular piece of styrene for the lid(s).

Note – some/many tanks are slightly domed on top, but some are not, so you can ignore, or model that too, as desired, if you have the tools, and/or skills to make that happen. A couple of sheets of styrene, glued together at the rim, and with a small raised piece of dowel (or other disk) glued into the center will help make that shape, if you want the curved look.

Sorry, I don't have any photos to share, since I need to acquire some of the shorter cans, but I suspect you can easily visualize what I'm talking about, in the interim.

I hope this idea helps you to create a more industrialized look on your Cold War era gaming table.

haywire Supporting Member of TMP13 Mar 2017 6:21 p.m. PST

Here is the introduction article.


The nice thing is lately they have added measurements to their terrain so you can get a good approx. of size


PVC Tubing End Caps also make a good option for oil tanks.

Chicken Wire fencing or cut down "granny grate" can also be used to make ladders.

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