Saturday, 26 October 2013

Mini Post - German WW2 SdKfz 222 and 223

The Leichter Panzerspahwagen (Light Armoured Reconnaissance Vehicle) were a series of four wheeled vehicles developed by the German Army between 1935 and 1944.
The two variants modelled are the SdKfz 222, which was armed with a 2 cm Cannon and an MG 34 Machine Gun and the SdKfz 223, which was armed with just the MG 34 Machine Gun.   It was, however, fitted with a large "bed frame" type antenna over the top of the vehicle.   It operated as a Radio Car in this role.

The models were constructed from 20 and 40 thou plastic sheet.   Evergreen styrene strips and shapes were also used.   The wheels were from Ertl toy tractors, detailed with the little triangular "hub caps".

The main armament on the 222's was made from plastic tube of various diameters and the MG 34s were from the Airfix Multi-Pose set.   The anti-grenade netting on the turrets was made up from Eduard fine mesh of the correct type as was the rear engine grill on the rear deck.
The turrets are able to rotate and the armament can elevate and depress. 

The aerial frame on the 223 was made up from brass wire, soldered to wire supports.   The 222s were painted with Tamiya Panzer Grey and the 223 in Model Master Afrika Mustard.   Fairly generic decals from an Archer Fine Transfers sheet were used for both models

As a postscript, the 222 series of vehicles were examined by Russian designers before they made the very similar BA 64, which will be the subject of a future post.

Saturday, 19 October 2013

WW2 German PzKpfw II

The PzKpfw II was designed in 1935 as a stopgap measure while the larger German tanks were being developed.   The tank was made in various marks, the most obvious difference between them was the curved bow of the Aus C as opposed to the sloped armour of the Aus F but later many Aus C's were given add on armour giving them an appearance similiar to the later marks.   Aus E and D also had different suspension to the remainder of the models.

I built six of these tanks in total, three Aus C and three Aus F.   Four were for a fellow modeller in the United States whilst I kept two for myself.

Construction began with the lower hulls.   30 thou plastic sheet was used and reinforced where the suspension units entered the hulls.   The actual suspension arms were also made up, laminating styrene strip to make the springs.   Jigs were used to ensure holes and alignment of parts was uniform.   The bows on the Aus Cs were originally made from sanded pine but I eventually skinned these with 10 thou sheet.

The upper hulls were made next, again from 30 thou sheet, with 20 thou overlays where panels were to be represented.   The various grills and openings on the rear engine decks were made up and cut in.

The shapes of the upper hulls differ slightly in that the Aus C's had a few angles and the Aus F's had a straight front plate.   A start was made on the turrets, which are basically the same for the two marks being modelled except that the early C's had basic hatches for the tank commander whilst the F's had a cupola with vision blocks.   Many F's were also fitted with a rear mounted turret bustle. 

I employed resin castings for the first time and was generally happy with the results.   60 road wheels were cast, the masters being made up from styrene sheet turned in a Dremel, slices of knitting needle and 30 thou rivets.   I also used resin for casting the drive sprockets and the rear idlers.   The rear idlers presented a challenge in that they are slightly domed outwards on a flat surface.   I recreated the slight dome by  carefully cutting a circle out of a ping pong ball and gluing that to a disc of the required diameter and height.   Castings were made and then detailed to represent the two types of idler and then castings were made of the completed idlers.

Construction of the tracks was made by using 20 thou sheet cut into strips with a pair of Pinking Shears.   This gave a series of triangles along one edge.   These were then cut down in length and height until the required size for the links was achieved.   A piece of 40 x 40 thou was then added with a slight offset to the rear edge of each link.   This allowed the points of the two triangles to be glued to the offset of the next link and so on.   A simple jig was used to ensure alignment.   Originally, the completed of lengths of made up track were applied directly to the tanks but this proved a bit flimsy so a strip of 10 thou was added around the driver/road wheels/idler assembly.

Turrets were made up from 30 thou sheet and the main armament was turned up in my hobby lathe.   They were then detailed to represent the two types of turret being modelled.   The main armament is able to elevate and depress.

The tanks were then detailed with storage boxes, headlights, exhausts and that strange channel thing on the left hand side.   Notek lights were made by the method that Shep Paine outlines in his book "Modelling Tanks and Military Vehicles", a very useful book indeed.   All the large details were left unattached so that painting would be easier.

The Aus F model (left) was painted with Model Master Afrika Mustard and fairly generic decals were applied.   The Aus C (right) was painted with Tamiya German Grey and again decals are generic.   The tracks on both were painted with Vallejo Acrylics using a mixture of Beasty Brown, Cold Grey and Gunmetal.

Saturday, 12 October 2013

Cows with Guns!

No they are not packing Uzi's.   Rather they are hauling 4.7 inch Naval Guns.   I wanted a few more examples of the Britain's 4.7" so I thought I would have a go at making some.   I ended up constructing three in total.   One per the original Britain's model, one as a Coastal/Garrison gun and one as a shipborne piece, destined for a planned Gunboat in the style of HMVS Albert.

The Royal Navy long had experience of landing ship's guns, mounted on extemporized carriages to support it's Landing Parties and the British Army.   This was particularly true during the Boer War.   Whilst the Bullock teams consisted of at least 14 beasts per gun, I chose to model just the 4 as I have a games room not a warehouse!

The Guns themselves were modelled from the Britain's 4.7 but breech blocks were added instead of the spring firing attachment.   The barrels were turned/sanded/filed up from pine dowel in a very old Black and Decker drill mounted in a benchvise. (I have since purchased a Proxxon Hobby Lathe!)   The remainder of the gun was formed from various sizes of plastic sheet and shapes.   Aluminium  and copper tubing was also used at the breech end.   The bases upon which two of the guns sit were made from the bottom section of plastic egg cups.   The various curved sections were formed by wrapping the plastic sheet around a suitably sized former and immersing in hot water for a few minutes and then into iced water to set.    Rivets were applied using 30 thou rod slices applied individually.

Of course, the guns now needed limbers.   A plan of the 4.7" Limber was obtained from the State Library of Victoria's online resources (highly recommended, all free) and they were constructed accordingly.   30 and 40 thou plastic sheet for the bodies and Evergreen strip for the strapping.

The wheels were constructed using 47 mm PVC pipe and were drilled using a Dremel drill press with the drill head mounted horizontally on a slight angle.   This gave the spokes a slight splay as per the prototype.   I hope to illustrate this method of making spoked wheels in a future post.

To haul the guns, you need bullocks.   Britains made a model in the Zoo range many years ago of a suitable beast, but they are a bit thin on the ground these days.   Steers from Classic Toy Soldiers were used but with their horns shortened and positions changed to give some variety.   Yokes were carved from wood and fitted with wire hoops and eyes so that the tow poles could be attached in a realistic manner.   The cows were painted with Vallejo acrylics and washes.   Finally, Guns, Limbers and Cows were attached to perspex offcuts that had been coated with white glue, sawdust and paint.   The Guns are detachable from the Limbers so that they can be deployed on the tabletop.

Saturday, 5 October 2013

WW1 French Schneider CA1 Char d' Assaut Part 1

The French Army introduced the Schneider in 1917 in order to to try and break the stalemate of trench warfare.   The design was not overly succesful, being basically an armoured box with limited main armament traverse.   Early marks were also susceptible to catching fire and were known by their crews as "mobile coffins".

As with the Renault FTs, the running gear was constructed first.  13 tanks were to be made with a 14th to be made into a Gun Tractor.   The front idler wheels were cut from aluminium tube and fitted with spokes and the rear drivers were made the in the same manner as described in previous posts.   Running wheels were cut from slices of knitting needle.   Again, simple jigs were made up to keep everything uniform.

Running gear sponsons completed.   They are attached to the lower hulls by means of extended axles which slot into holes in the side of the hulls.

The lower hulls were made next.   Fairly straight forward, 40 thou styrene sheet the main component.   The angled bow plates did prove a little tricky but a card template made the job a lot easier.

The upper hulls were then started, being constructed from 30 thou with 20 thou overlays for the panels.   The upper hull was designed to mate closely with the lower hull and bows.

As the main armament only had a traverse of some 13 degrees, I made the gun fixed.   However I wanted the Hotchkiss Machine Guns to traverse, so the following method was used.   Wooden beads of the correct diameter formed the Ball Turrets.   The hole through the middle of the bead was used for MG attachment.   To allow the Ball Turrets to swivel, I heat formed cups and made "plungers" to hold them against the exterior of the hull.   The picture explains a lot better than I can.

In Part 2 I will complete the build description and illustrate the method of painting.

Wednesday, 2 October 2013

Mini Post - Western Desert Matilda Infantry Tanks

I described the construction of specialist Australian Matilda tanks in an earlier post and part of that build was two Gun Tanks as used by the British in the Desert Campaign.

The major difference was the addition of the fuel tanks on the rear of the tanks and the extended track guards at the front and rear and of course the normal 2 Pdr gun.
The tanks were finished in the early Caunter scheme which was provided by the excellent Xtracolour set of three paints for this purpose.