The UM Hetzers received their final bodywork in Tankoberg this morning and were photographed (when the bodywork was dry) at lunch. Here they are: . I’m very happy with them – just disappointed that it took me so long to finish them.

This is UM Models’ kit #UM 356, which is a Commander’s vehicle. I didn’t include the second radio mount which sits on the left side of the vehicle; I did utilise the remote-control MG and it’s shield which mercifully is included in the kit box, so you can build this kit either way.

As this vehicle began to leave Skoda and BMM (the two manufacturers) in midsummer 1944, I figured to paint it as a muddy vehicle, thus allowing it to represent the 3 seasons it was used in.

I attached the shadow/outline-disrupting foliage with ordinary PVA glue this time. My thinking was that I didn’t want to use plastic glue for it and certainly didn’t want to use any cyanoacrylate glue, as cyanoacrylate discolours surrounding paintwork meaning you have to paint the area where you use it again. PVA dries matt clear and, with the spray of Dullcote to seal & protect it, should disappear from view completely. I’m happy with the result.

I have so many tank hunter units now, more than normal tanks! I have Jagdpanthers, Marder III(h)’s, these Hetzers…I should really try to concentrate on normal Panzer III’s & IV’s, but they haven’t turned up at Swap & Sells this year! I don’t have enough of either III’s or IV’s for a platoon and don’t want to pay full price for kits either. Have to keep watching Ebay, I guess.

Panzerbefehlswagen Panthers

August 22, 2010

Back in March this year my Panthers rolled off the production line at Tankoberg and I gave you all a good look at them. I mentioned that aerials would have to wait until I had more supplies of brass wire.

Not only have I been able to obtain plenty of brass wire in the gauges I had previously used, I was able to get plenty in other gauges as well. For those that are interested, I use Detail Associates’ brass wire: . I had held off doing the Panthers’ aerials as I wanted more 0.022″ wire, which I have decided is my standard for aerials from now on (only using the 0.033″ to represent very thick aerials…some StuGs had them).

I had been able to buy 0.012″ and 0.015″ which meant I was able to try some thinner wire for star aerials/umbrella aerials, as I felt the last lot of star/umbrella aerials looked too thick, too heavy, too out of scale and thus totally unrealistic (well, totally unrealistic for my taste).

The last lot were also the first lot of star/umbrella  aerials…you can see them  on some Sd. Kfz. 234/2 Pumas on this link. I commenced assembling them on this link, you may want to read that first, and I completed them on this link.

Here are photos of the second lot, finished and in situ: .

What was different this time? As decided in those posts from last year, the main aerial is of 0.022″ thickness, and the prongs/ribs coming off the main aerial are 0.012″. Also, I used Zap’s Zap-a-gap Medium viscosity instead of the Flash Cyanoacrylate in Thick viscosity. The Flash thick cyanoacrylate made the join look far too oversized. They are still oversized, but I feel I’ve reached the limit, given the techniques and materials available to me.

Most importantly, I feel that I’ve reached the right balance of appearance with practicality/durability with this second attempt. I could have used even thinner wire, but in my opinion it wouldn’t be durable enough. Thinner wire would require some putty or plugging with bits of plastic or filling with extra glue as the drillbit I use to drill the aerial’s anchor hole into the vehicle is already the finest I have and the 0.022″ has plenty of space when it’s placed into that hole, so going even thinner seems silly. Also, when bumped the 0.022″ springs straight back into place whereas the 0.012″ stays bent and that means I have to spend time bending them back into paint and repainting paint that flakes off bent wire…so the practicality/durability combination seem to have been found for star aerials in 1/72 scale, as far as I’m concerned.

The IG-18s that I have been working on whilst doing the caulk rivers are old RAFM pewter 20mm WWII blister packs. The guns themselves were in 5 or 6 pieces – the two wheels, the gun itself, the mid-section of the shield, the carriage of the gun and then I think the rest of the shield…or maybe the carriage and the rest of the shield were all one part…

They were cleaned up, glued together with thick Flash Cyanoacrylate and undercoated quite some time ago and have sat around causing small guilt trips whenever I faced the spare hobby table where they were sitting and waiting, along with lots of figures from whom the corresponding gun crews would be chosen from.

Once painted, they fitted nicely onto 40mm x 40mm bases. The Panzerfaust: Armoured Fist rules (page 11) stipulate that, as Light Guns, the IG-18 only needs two figures on its base to represent its crew. So, here they are, six based guns: and here is some of the detail:

The crews are figures from Pegasus Hobbies’ Granatwerfer kit, Italeri’s 251/1 kit, Airfix’s sd. Kfz. 234 kit and Italeri’s German Infantry.

The guns were done in my homemade Panzer Grey, with varying amounts of dust coating them.

I wanted to get good track sag for my 1/72 scale Panzer V Panthers (kit# 03107 by Revell), as evidenced in some of the photos over at “Juggernauts of the Second World War”. The Revell kit I’m using has length-and-link tracks, and very nice they are too. To get good track sag, I knew I’d have to coat the top length piece of tracks liberally with glue in order to heat it and slightly melt it into shape. This meant using a powerful superglue.

I had been using Flash Cyanoacrylate (thick mixture) but it was too thick…almost like putty…and that was going to be completely inappropriate for what I wanted. I didn’t want dried lumpy bits everywhere or ‘blocky’ or ‘clogged up’ tracks. I needed a extremely fast curing superglue that was less viscous.

I was advised to try Zap’s Zap-a-gap, medium. It’s not too watery – I was advised that the ‘thin’ that they make can, in the hands of someone unused to it (ie. me!), easily run and ruin work.

It did the job perfectly, good track sag was obtained on my models to match the photo evidence I had of actual track sag on these vehicles: (yes, that’s three kits on top of each other). A nice gentle curve above and then resting on the tops of the roadwheels.

As well as Zap-a-gap, another essential tool was required – some things to hold/wedge the tracks in place while the glue cured. Here’s a photo of what I used: – pieces of bamboo skewers that you buy to make satay skewers/shashliks and pieces of wooden disposable chopsticks/kwaizu/hashii, all cut into 3/4 inch lengths. Wedged in between the track and the body, it held the tracks in contact with the roadwheels at the right place and with the curing effects of Zap-a-gap (the slight melting that allows some re-shaping) I got perfect track sag.


The small river/stream will have to wait a few days or weekends, sorry all. I’ve got too much on the work table again – all these Panthers, that last Horch AA car and four PaK 40 crews that have been sitting round waiting for paint and basing.

Having found an original bottle of Citadel Black Ink at a sale, I decided that using a little of it in order to make my own ink was an urgent task. I’ve written earlier about Citadel changing their inks. I’m not impressed with their decision to only sell very-watered down inks – you can water down a stronger product but you can’t make a weaker product stronger!

Using some of my recently acquired, now extremely precious Black Ink, I made a colour card to compare it to their new ink called Radab Black. Here’s the colour card:Black ink 1The difference is very noticeable – you can see how much lighter Radab Black is. Very watered down.

Now, I like a mix of about 50% original Black Ink and 50% water for the inking that I do around the hatches of AFVs…the hatch becomes nicely shaded and the vehicle looks much more three-dimensional (as well as more realistic!).

I used 50% Chaos Black paint and 50% water to try to make Citadel Black Ink. Black ink 2 As you can can see from that colour card, 50% paint watered down was too strong. It seemed logical to try a mix half that strength, 25% Chaos Black paint and 75% water, as you can see on that same card. I felt that I was getting closer to the original product, but was still not there quite yet.

I then went right down to a ratio of  (about) 1 part paint to 5 parts water, or about 15%. This was pretty good, as you can see: Black ink 3 but 20% Chaos Black to 80% water is what I’ll comfortably call Citadel Black Ink.

I have sealed the original Black Ink bottle with cellotape and made sure the cap was very tightly screwed on. I did the same with the original brown inks I have. Making my own versions of the brown inks is a task that can wait a little while, as I have two bottles of each so there’s less urgency to do so. I did make a point of sealing them and making sure their caps were extremely tightly screwed on. I may even keep all these in the fridge during the upcoming summer.

As for AFVs – at a different sale I bought a Roden Sd.Kfz. 263. Assembling the wheels (see stage 1 on the assembly instructions Henk has on his website) has been unnecessarily difficult. Each wheel has it’s own axle – and trying to get those axles to sit properly while glueing everything led to me stuffing one up horribly. All I could do was cut all of it away, drill new holes for everything and use some brass rod (secured with Flash Cyanoacrylate glue) as a substitute. It worked much better! Why didn’t they just do one axle, moulded on an angle, for two wheels?! Hasegawa have made assembling their wheels and axles into a pleasure, why can’t Roden?? I’m not sure if I’ll buy any of their 232s if it’s going to so annoying…

Apart from this grizzle, the rest of the kit has been easy. It looks OK…I feel some of the surface detail could have been raised a little more off the surface to make it more distinct – I guess I’ll see if I’m right about that whenI come to paint it.

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!