As promised, here are the photos of the four StuGs I’ve been working on while tackling the tree armatures over the last few months.

The group photo:  .

The Italeri StuGs:   – yes I deliberately did one without the MG-34 set up behind it’s shield. I did that for variety; for recognition eg. ‘Peter’s just blown up my 2IC vehicle, dang it!!!” and also because the default position was shield down and MG-34 stowed inside the StuG anway! It also added to the appearance that that StuG is en route to somewhere else and so isn’t meant to be expecting trouble, hence the jerrycans stowed on its rear deck. I’m modelling a StuG that I saw in a photo from the Bundesarchiv. Closeup photo of this StuG:  . Here’s the two of them one last time, from above:  .

Now the Revell StuGs:     . I’m very happy with how these Revell StuGs turned out – I was using the cammo pattern that Revell recommended –  – but I applied camouflage on the lower sides, where the return rollers and roadwheels were – unlike Revell, who advise to leave it plain DunkelGelb. Why leave those sides plain when they show cammo going to the very bottow of the lower front and rear???

Now I have a platoon of StuGs that I did myself. No more repainted dodgy Airfix stand-ins! To battle!

…was the Panther. Here are my seven Panthers, built from now out-of-production (OOP) 1/72 Revell kits #031070389 (Panther Ausf. D/Ausf. A) & #031590389 (Panther & Deutsche Fallschirmjäger).

A whole platoon plus two company command vehicles. Star aerials/umbrella aerials are having to wait until I get thin enough brass wire.

Mine are based on a very famous GrossDeutschland Panther…you can find it in the Bundesarchiv. Do a search for:  Bild 101I-712-0498-34

You should only get one result…and it’s a photo in many German armour books.

ESCI’s 1/72 Wespe kit. An original, not the recent Italeri re-release. Purchased at a Swap & Sell.

While some lucky AFVs received very solid, evenly applied Winter camouflage coats using air-compressed sprayguns (spraygun seen in use here) many had thinned out or poorly-mixed whitewash applied in varying fashiuons – often using ordinary brushes such as these gents do to their Tiger here, but using brooms and even dipping rags into the mixutre then smacking the rag against the vehicle was not unknown.

The whitewash often didn’t stay on for very long, either, leading to all sorts of streaking and fading. This is what I’ve tried to replicate in this kit.

Overall, this kit was pretty easy to assemble. The rack on the left side for holding jerrycans was not standard-issue, however…therefore if I do up a platoon, most won’t have that rack and they certainly won’t have the spare box that I added on the right.

 

After working through information sources like the Bundesarchiv, “German armoured cars of World War Two”, some Squadron/Signal publications as well as search engines like Google and Duck Duck Go, I decided I needed to see what the definitive text “Encyclopaedia of German Tanks of World War Two” (Peter Chamberlain & Hilary Doyle with technical editor Thomas Jentz, 1999, Cassell:  London) could tell me about star/umbrella (some were called ‘crow’s foot’) aerials (as I knew some of the pictures included vehicles with these types of aerial).

The Panzerbefehlswagen mit 5cm KwK39 L/60 entry showed two different vehicles that both had an aerial with 4 clearly identifable prongs. The prongs all began where the main aerial ended and radiated out at a 135 degree angle. This is probably a ‘crow’s foot’ aerial.

The Artillerie-Panzerbeobachtungswagen (Panzerkampfwagen III) (Sd Kfz 143) had an identical aerial, clearly painted dunkelgelb.

The Sturmpanzer IV (Sd Kfz 166) had a very different arrangement. It had quite a tall aerial with at least three prongs. The aerial extended upwards quite a way beyond the short prongs…in fact, the prongs are probably about 1/3 of the way from the top of the aerial, and are probably only about 1/6 of the length of the main aerial.

Two different Panzerbefehlswagen mit 7.5cm KwK42 L/70 (Panther) vehicles has two diferent star aerials.  One was an aerial with 6 clearly identifable prongs. The prongs all began where the main aerial ended and radiated out at a 135 degree angle – a variation on the ‘crow’s foot’ aerial. The other was a tall aerial with 6 prongs, the prongs about 1/3 of the way from the top of the aerial, like that for the Sturmpanzer IV (Sd Kfz 166).

When I reached the section on semi-tracked vehicles, the types of star aerial I had seen most of prior to this research began to crop up. The Sd Kfz 250/3 without frame aerial had a star aerial with 6 prongs, the prongs beginning at the end of the main aerial. The Sd Kfz 250/5 leichte Beobachtungspanzerwagen had the same.

Armoured Cars – the S Pz Sp Wg (Fu) (Sd Kfz 232) 8-Rad had the same as the Sd Kfz 250s mentioned above.

The Panzerfunkwagen (Sd Kfz 263) 8-Rad had an aerial with 5 very long prongs radiating from the main aerial, but the main aerial continued upwards after the prongs for another foot, then had a thin vertical prong off it’s top. This seems to be the same as that star aerial photo I found in the Bundesarchiv and which I linked to in an earlier post.  “Encyclopaedia of German Tanks of World War Two” suggests that that particular vehicle may in fact be a Sd Kfz 247 Ausf B, by the way.

The photos in “Encyclopaedia of German Tanks of World War Two” are sometimes  more illustrative than those in “German armoured cars of World War Two”, as they are published showing the vehicle at a further distance from the camera – so you can see the whole aerial. This is certainly true of the photos of the Sd Kfz 234/2 Puma – you can see a 4-prong ‘crow’s foot’ aerial in the former text, whereas you have no idea it’s a star aerial at all in the latter.

A learned friend tells me that it’s extremely likely prongs could be folded out (as seen in the photos)  or folded back against the main aerial if circumstances required. Some prongs may even have ben able to be folded out to horizontal.

It’s best for me to conclude that there were a number of types of star aerials in use, with different main aerial lengths, different numbers of prongs and different prong lengths. Not all prongs were fixed, either. As long as you are consistent by giving all identical vehicles identical types of star aerials, that should satisfy most serious WWII buffs. I’ll be sure to do this with all my Pumas and with any other vehicles I decide  (or assembly instructions insist on or the texts indicate) will have star aerials.

I used Brass Wire that I bought from a model train hobby shop (which is also where I get a lot of my terrain materials, like Woodland Scenics products).  The main aerial is made from 0.033″ diameter wire, with the prongs coming off it made from 0.022″ diameter.

Now, as you saw from my August 23 blog post, “ICM’s Sd.Kfz. 222, cars, bikes and aerials!“, the finished star aerials look a little bit thick and chunky. To do a new set of vehicles (since I’ll do any more 234/2s with the same wire for the sake of uniformity) I’ll be using thinner diameter brass wire – probably the 0.022” for the main aerial and then the next thinnest type that I can purchase from the model train shop for the prongs. I’d probably also use a less viscous bottle of Flash Cyanoacrylate, so that I don’t have to trim away any excess dried glue. Still, these were the only materials I had on hand or could purchase – so, I’m fine with what I’ve done so far and learnt from the process. Next time, I’ll try to order some materials in advance and not rush things.

I’d done some research to try to determine how many prongs these aerials had – the historical photos I had access to in various books showed vehicles with 6 prongs, vehicles with 5 prongs and vehicles with 5 main prongs plus one small horizontal prong. Hasegawa’s instructions for the kit seem to advocate a 4 prong aerial. Since I rediscovered the online Bundesarchiv earlier in the month, I spent some time ploughing through that, doing very general/broad searches like ‘ostfront 1941’, ‘ostfront 1942’ etc.

Here is one illustrative result: GrossDeutschland on the march.  You can see that, unlike Hasegawa’s suggestion that the main aerial stopped at the prongs, that the main aerial did go a little higher or feature a verticle sub-prong after the prongs. I have photos of two different Sd. Kfz. 263s (in Milsom & Chamberlain’s 1974 book ‘German armoured cars of World War Two’) with 5 prong aerials but showing that the main aerial continued after the prongs or had a vertical sub-prong. I’m not sure about how often a horizontal sub-prong just under the bigger prongs was used (you can see what I’m talking about in the Bundesarchiv example above). Looking through images using different search engines, I mostly saw 5-prong versions of what Hasegawa recommend modellers do. I’ve no doubt that there were different types of star/umbrella aerials…I was just hoping to find something more definitive than I did.

Tankoberg has stopped assembling and is now just painting. The Pumas presented an interesting question – should I paint the sets of axles in dunkelgelb or just with bare metal?

I set out using Google and also a new search engine, Duck Duck Go, to see what I could find. Certainly, searching images turned up lots of beautifully painted model kits in a number of scales, but none clearly showed axles. Even walk-around photos of museum vehicles didn’t oblige! While diligently going through the first 20 pages of results for a search, I found step-by-step photos of a model kit WIP (work in progress) in 1:6 scale.  Egonzinc’s Sdkfz. 234/2 “Puma” *Building the Model” was very informative and I, like those who have already commented on that discussion board, also wish to congratulate him heartily for such fantastic work.

I elected to follow his example and paint my kits’ axles (and also the undercarriage) dunkelgelb, not base metal, just as Egonzinc had done.

Next day, still testing out Duck Duck Go, I did some more general searches about painting Sd.Kfz. 234/2s (or any of the 234 family, since I have a 234/3 and will be buying some 234/1s eventually). As with the searches discussed above, I found a lot of photos and text about how modellers were painting or had painted them – but that wasn’t what I wanted. I’d searched my historical books and had seen photos of actual combat vehicles in plain dunkelgelb, two-tone camouflage and also three-tone camouflage. The Hasegawa kit assembly instruction sheet and box that the kit came in has a painting guide for three-tone camouflage, for a vehicle in action. So, the paint scheme is dark yellow, red brown and olive green in a mottled pattern – and this vehicle is on the Western Front, in Normandy. I’m interested in Eastern Front!

More searches unsued. “German  armoured cars of World War Two” (Milsom & Chamberlain 1974, Arms and armour Press, London) was clearly showing me vehicles with different paint and camouflage schemes! So did Bundesarchiv. So did historical black and white photos from other websites.

An examination of one result hit the jackpot – an English translation of the web page Sd Kfz 234/2 by Francisco Javier Cabeza & Carlos Martín. It had everything I wanted – authoritative text and historical photographs in colour. The Combat Use section is most helpful. Paint schemes and camouflage schemes are discussed as thoroughly as sources allow, as well as markings and divisional insignia. Francisco and Carlos have referred to some texts I own and also some I don’t, but I consider what is on their web site to be accurate and their sources to be high quality – therefore I’m acting on the  information they present.

I noted that the SS Panzer Division used three-tone cammo’d Pumas (but then, SS units usually got the best quality equipment). I decided that since mine were to be Eastern Front, I’d leave them as dunkelgelb but with proper markings. I’ve got some Hetzer tank-hunters who will get a heavy three-tone camouflage scheme and I’m going to do my Panthers in three-tone camouflage too.

Painting has been done with more vigour since this historical research and very fortunate pair of discoveries! Research is a wonderful thing.

So far, ICM 1:72 kit #72411 has been very straightforward to assemble. Part fit has been very good. There’s been a little bit of flash on the mudguards but otherwise it’s needed nothing but glue and cleaning up where I’ve cut each piece from it’s sprue. Assembly instructions are pretty clear – there’s one stage where one action is meant to be done three more times…but you get the drift from the pictures.

Also rolling along the Tankoberg assembly lines have been a Hasegawa Kubelwagen and BMW motorbike w/ sidecar – kit #31112 which I picked up last weekend at an IPMS Swap & Sell.

I’ve been experimenting with something else, too. After researching and consulting a number of sources online and in person, I decided to go ahead and try to make star/umbrella aerials for my Pumas, as I am well aware that they were used on these vehicles. Consulting photos in books and from the Bundesarchiv (the picture archives of the Federal Archives of Germany) left me a little unsure of how many prongs such an aerial should have…some vehicles had 6 prongs, some had 5. I decided to go with 5 for my Pumas after seeing a 251 with a 5-prong aerial and two different Sd. Kfz 263s with 5-prong aerials.

They aren’t so hard to make. Here are the steps I took:

One: Collect these materials – brass wire of two different thicknesses; some superglue or, in my case, Flash Cyanoacrylate (dangerous stuff but powerful); needlenose piers; wire cutters and lastly clamps or a modeller’s mate like this one to hold things for you.Aerials 1.

Two: shape the thinner brass wire into a triangular shape. Aerials 2. Also cut yourself a reasonable length of the thicker brass wire – in my case, about 5 – 6 inches.

Three: bend the two ends so that they run parallel and can touch each other flatly. Lock the thick brass wire into one clamp of the modeller’s mate and lock the thin brass triangular bit into the other clamp – bring the flat ends of the triangular wire so that they touch flatly along the thick wire and superglue them into place: Aerials 3. Let everything dry.

Four: repeat Two and Three with another triangle, except it needs to be at an angle of about 75 degrees to the first triangle. You’ll need to cut off one side of the glued-on triangle to permit this. When all is dry, cut off the side of the second triangle – now you should have 4 prongs radiating off from the thick brass wire.

Five: make the last prong and glue it on to make 5 prongs – hopefully the two triangles you glued on and cut away result in 5 fairly evenly-spaced prongs. Aerials 4

Six: when everything’s dry, take out of the clamp and use a scalpel to cut away any excess lumps of glue.

Seven: use the wire cutters to cut the prongs to a suitable anduniform length: Aerials 5.

Eight: stickytape the aerial to something and undercoat it: Aerials 6

Nine: glue into place on the vehicle and paint when the glue’s dry. Aerials 7 It’s that easy!