StuGs and StuGs

March 24, 2011

I’m currently working on two Sf. Kfz. 142 Stug III Ausf. Gs from Italeri (kit #7021) and two Revell StuG 40 Ausf. Gs which are currently out of print.

I have previously built one of the Italeri kits and found it very straightforward. The Revell kit is also very straightforward. The differences are in the detail and how the level of detail can affect assembly.

The Italeri kit’s length & link tracks are quite simplified, with the guidance teeth being merely slight pimples – hardly what they should be (or could be). While this makes glueing them quite easy, it also quite easy to misalign them on a number of axes – which I did, and had to sever parts off and re-glue them. I also came to realise that when I stuck on extra pieces of track as improvised armour, they were sitting wrong side up!

Revell uses length & link too but they are beautifully formed and finely detailed. They are a nuisance to cut off the sprue (use a scalpel, not clippers) but when glueing them in place it was impossible to misalign – the guidance teeth kept everything in control and the fit of individual links into each other led to very close-fit positioning and a realistic appearance.

When these 4 are finished, Im going to work on some opposing units – Russian ISU SPGs!

 

Eastern Suburbs Scale Modelling Club had their annual swap & sell yesterday. I’ve attended at least three of these and don’t recall others having been held on a public holiday long weekend. Because we have today (Monday) off (Labour Day), not as many people stayed in Melbourne for the weekend and it was reflected in attendence. The queue didn’t stretch down and around as it has done every other time and you could walk around inside the venue without much difficulty (unlike last year where there were serious bottlenecks at either end of the venue…honestly, vendors selling books should be outside or in a seperate room because too many people crowd around their table and then spend at least five minutes flicking through titles causing bottlenecks as kit buyers not interested in books can’t get through the book mob to the other vendors without real pushing & shoving, whereas some people can approach and leave a vendor selling just model kits in about 15 seconds if they have a good eye and the vendor has nothing they want).

I was pretty disappointed with what I got. Not that I didn’t get anything – here’s a photo of what I got:  – 7 kits (all not started and complete, some still in shrinkwrapping) and two books for a total of $110, including my $2 entry fee.

I was disappointed because I was hoping to get some more Revell Panzer III & Panzer IV kits, enough to make up platoons with the kits I already have. If not those, some more Italeri StuGs (with the length & link tracks) or Revell StuGs . If not those, some Panzer IIs or Panzer 38s!

Still. I did get a nice Platoon HQ halftrack with a 28mm L61 sPzB 41 on it and one more 234/2.

As well as Truck Month and that shed, I did have some Sd Kfz 251/1s on the go. As of today, everything is completed and Dullcoted and getting stored in boxes whilst they await a chance to be played with in a game.

Time to show you photos of the lot. With flash and without.

Here’s the resin 8-rad Sd Kfz 231 that I got in those two big eBay wins last year:    . I think it’s 1/76 scale.

The Roden Opel Blitz – you’ll see I did include the perspex window panes:   .

Italeri’s 251/1 (I’ve had these sitting around for probably two and half years now – and I’m thinking a softskin troop carrier month may be in order sometime this year as I have some Dragon ones to do too):   .

Lastly, the Airfix engine shed. Both sheds have turned out a little differently (not withstanding the wooden end room being a different colour) but I like them both. Here it is:      .

Good to have all things off the tables and shelves and ready to be used.

The next things to be worked on are two Italeri StuG IIIGs and two Revell StuG IIIGs plus there will be new episodes of the continuing saga of Hob-e-tac, as I use it to make thirteen trees.

A bonus for Truck Month – I’ve just finished Dullcoting and protecting my 1/76 or smaller white metal Mercedes Kfz 72!  This vehicle was discussed back on this post from last year. Here’s a photo without my camera’s flash:  . I don’t know how often it’s going to be used…it has a huge carrying and towing capacity but it’s actual size makes it look puny when next to other vehicles that it should actually dwarf…maybe it’ll only be used as a very special vehicle or objective. We’ll see.

Some of the heavy cars I got from eBay are finished too. Here’s a Platoon HQ vehicle, camera flash on:  and now without the flash:  and here are the section vehicles, which I suspect are Steyr 1500’s…   .

The white striping on the windows is my attempt at replicating what my opponent Peter had done when he had a go at painting reflections on the windows of some Rumanian vehicles. Here’s his blog post where you can see what he did. I was trying to represent the white patch/stripe of glare you see when you look at a car’s windows. I think what Peter’s done is probably better than what I did.

Quick whip-round of things still being worked on – engine shed as it was yesterday:  and here are the 251/1s and the Opel Blitz (with completed vehicles for me to copy from):  .

Today the humidity was pretty high…it lessened after 3pm so I decided to Dullcote at 5pm. Humidity seems to be staying constant now so I can do some painting after dinner.

I’ve been doing some research for Truck Month and by far the most helpful website about the Opel Blitz/опель блиц that I’ve found is the Oldtimer Gallery’s Opel Company section run by Andrei Bogomolov.

The gallery is a gallery of photos (approximately 120 of them), many in black & white but a few in colour (from Signal magazine or private collections), from the period or close after.
It is comprehensive, showing as many models and variants as possible: truck bodies, bus bodies, Sanitätskraftwagens, Kastenlieferwagens… very useful for dioramas, but for us wargamers, for seeing paint schemes and camouflage patterns.

***

The Roden Opel Blitz kit I’ve been working on has been delayed but yesterday I had some free time and caught up. Parts of the chassis are complete, I’ve done the majority of the tray and have made inroads with the cab. I’m now going to paint all the remaining pieces of the cab while they sit on the sprues, as I won’t be able to later…the brush can’t reach in to the the seats, the floor and parts of the cab interior.

The steam engine/locomotive shed has had to wait while I got more Scorched Brown – I ran out trying to make some homemade brown ink and need two coats of Scorched Brown for the roof tiles.

I’ve also been working on those resin Horch or Steyr heavy cars plus a platoon of  Italeri 251/1s, so there is a lot of half-finished stuff to be juggled on my hobby tables at the moment. Still, Truck Month has priority so the Opel Blitz is what I’m trying to spend most of my time on.

The weather here is not very conducive to painting or glueing so activity in the hobby room has pretty much ceased becuase things are taking much longer to dry. However it’s nowhere near as bad as up North.

I made a start on the second locomotive/engine shed on saturday when it was darned hot and dry.  I began here: . As I said in a previous post, I bought this and the one you’ve already seen a few days ago secondhand through a model railways shop. Both of them were extremely reasonably priced: – given that the Italeri ‘country house’ series cost 4-5 times that on average, this was practically free.

Out of the plastic bag, you have the ‘already-assembled and already-painted by the previous owner’ building plus the two doors: I particularly like the little tin-roofed add-on room at the back with the sodium-bulb lamp…really gives a great 1920s-1950s feel to the piece and in my mind grounds it definitely in the period I’m working with.

I was originally thinking about trying to remove the existing paint job but that is a very involving process – also I found with the first shed that simply and carefully applying a good spray-on undercoat covered and sealed the previous paint without any side reactions occurring. Removing the previous paint was thus unnecessary – it wasn’t doing any harm staying there and it’s removal would not add detail to the kit because it is not thickly coating the kit.

I prepared my spraypainting area – a section of cardboard box with extra cardboard to prevent the spraypaint wafting away too far and coating things it is not meant to and commenced undercoating with Citadel’s “Chaos Black” spray undercoat in small steps, first doing one external side: and then the other. The inside also has to be done:  . After painting all surfaces and letting it dry for a good while, I then inspected to see if I’d missed anything or if there was somewhere than needed a thicker coating.

When I was fully satisfied, I was left with this: .

Since then I realised I had to seal up some two holes in the roof that I’d overlooked and also had to cut off some excess plastic. I’ve also installed the missing brace for the fan that at first I thought I’d ignore. The building needs a little bit of respraying just to cover up where I’ve done work since, but as far as this blog is concerned, I’m up to the first stage of painting.

PS: I used Google’s Image search and found out who the manufacturer of these sheds are – Airfix! Have a look at this link. Thanks to DL McCarthy for having the information on his Airfix Model Railways website.

I realised during a game of Panzerfaust: Armoured Fist last year (last year being the year ended last night, 2010 – Happy New Year 2011 to regular readers!) that when I deploy my beefy 120mm Mortar Platoon, I’m meant to have a Fire Control base accompanying it. I decided to get rid of some loose figures by making up the required base, plus use up some of those Italeri German motorcycles by making up bases of FAOs on motorbikes.

They were all finished yesterday – the 40 degree celsius heatwave we had here drying out the last paintwork extremely quickly. Here are some photos of all three bases together – front:  and now rear:  .

Close-ups of the Fire Control base – front:  and rear:  .

Motorcycle-riding FAOs – front:  and rear:  .

Glad to finish them…they’ve been sitting around taking up space and effort.

The figures are a mix – Italeri, Revell and Pegasus Hobbies.

The logs that the binocular-wielding FAOs are propping themselves against are worth mentioning. Regular readers would know that I choose real sticks & twigs from nature, paintstakingly saw them using a tiny sawblade and then use them unpainted in my bases and terrain. This time I decided that I couldn’t use twigs from nature as I didn’t have anything suitable in my hobby room and aren’t sure at the moment where to look for fresh supplies. Also, if I did find real twigs they were going to have to fit under the height of the raised leg of the FAO figure – even harder to ensure. I wondered if the two plastic logs supplied with the Hasegawa kit MT30 ( 31130 – GERMAN INFANTRY ATTACK GROUP) would suffice…

I dug them out of a spares box and found that the middle of the big log from that kit would be suitable! I cut the big log into two, filed its bottom so it would sit nicely on the bases and then added the rest of the features. Painting the log to make it look realistic was going to be a real challenge…wood that’s fallen is different in colour to living wood – so I used both a fresh wood base colour, then an aged wood greyish-brown and finally a drybrushing of plain grey. Then I glued some bright green flock onto one side to represent moss (you can’t see it very clearly in the photos above, unfortunately).

They turned out really well and look great in real life.

***

I’m over halfway done with those Matchbox 1/76 Wespes I won on Ebay last November, plus some railway buildings I’ve tinkered with over the months. The decals for the Wespes went on an hour ago and then it’s cammo time. Next come the final fiddly details, then weathering, Dullcoting and at last they’ll be ready for war.

Best link of 2010

December 20, 2010

There have been some great discoveries and resources that I’ve linked to over the year. With Christmas almost upon us and my hobby-work time almost entirely on hold until Boxing Day and the few days off that I have between Christmas and New Year, I thought that I’d write a brief review of some of the best things I’ve linked to over the year.

There were eight links that I felt were good finds or great resources this year. They are as follows:

Italeri’s poll for feedback about what model kits they should make;

The Ultimate Model Paint Conversion Chart;

Tim’s Wargaming Stuff blog post on how to base trees that come with no bases;

On the Volkhov – a blog with German & Russian soldier reminiscences of action on the Volkhov front;

HistoryNet’s Operation Barbarossa: Albano Castelletto Recalls His Time with the Voloire Regiment on the Russian Front webpage;

Gary Kennedy’s Battalion Organisation during the Second World War website where I was able to learn about German reconaissance forces;

British Pathe’s website where you can see newsreels and film footage from the time; and lastly

Paul’s “Plastic Warriors” blog posts where he instructs how to model figures in trenches & foxholes.

While I’m strongly tempted to give the award for best overall link to British Pathe (who nicely commented on this blog and thanked me for using their content in a novel way), I’m actually going to give it to Skoblin’s On the Volkhov blog. As well as translations of reminiscences he also provides suitable photos when he can get them. It was very useful for understanding the terrain of the area and led to strengthening the detail I applied to a game this year. He wrote to me and said there will be more content someday, too.

Still, please have a look through all the others – there may be something there that you find particularly brilliant too.

If I don’t write another post between now and Christmas, I’d like to wish you all the wargamer’s Christmas blessing: “Peace on Earth, war on the table”.

In the middle of the year I came across a painting technique new to me that I thought I would one day trial. Will over at Will’s Wargames Blog has a post where he mentioned that he had achieved a mottled camouflage pattern by painting using a sponge. I thought that this was well worth trying at a later date – the later date being now, when I’m painting up my ESCI/Italeri Opel Blitz Ambulance variant truck as a mobile HQ.

I wanted the mobile HQ to have a camouflage paint scheme, so last week I bought a common washing sponge (for cleaning around the house or washing the car…you know the kind! Artificial sponge in a yellow or orange colour…why, here’s a photo of the one I used:  ). It cost something like $2.59 at the supermarket.

Last night I decided to try out how I thought this technique would work. I decided to tear pieces off the sponge, roughly trim the torn off piece using my scalpel and then, whilst holding it with tweezers, dip it in paint and then dab it onto the Opel Blitz. Should be easy, right?

I made sure the sponge was holding plenty of paint before each application; pressed it against the truck for a couple of seconds then removed it, pressing it on a second time if the paint was too thin. When I had the green splotches of paint placed to my satisfaction, I cleaned up and made myself a cup of tea.

When I came back, I saw I had applied the paint too thickly! Big air bubbles mired in the thick paint weren’t popping and instead of the paint lying smoothly and flatly, it had lots of texture to it. I grabbed a brush and tried to flatten it, which just went and caused all sorts of trouble, as some splotches of paint had a ‘skin” on them around the edges whereas others didn’t and touching any of it with the brush just made the lumpy ridge-like textures worse. Have a look at how it looked (once I conceded defeat and laid down my brush):  . See those ridges, hills, lumps and so on?

Tonight I decided to try applying the brown paint but I thought I could avoid the mistakes made last night thorough applying the paint at normal strength and thickness by tonight watering it down to 50% consistency.

Seemed to be logical.

Couldn’t see how I could stuff it up this time.

But I forgot about gravity.

When I applied this ‘thinner’ paint on the sides of the Opel Blitz, it just ran straight down the sides and pooled underneath, making a mess of some of what I’d already done. I’m typing this while I wait for the whole mess to thoroughly dry out and I’ll try to paint over my mistakes tonight if I have time. If it looks really bad, I may try to hide it (no irony intended) by glueing some lichen over it.

I think this is still a valid technique of painting camouflage, but paint strength is obviously a factor in success (or failure) as is the technique of applying it to the model.

Keepin’ on truckin’

November 16, 2010

I’ve been working on three Opel trucks:  – they are coming along pretty well, too. All are from ESCI or its partners/new owners: -Opel Ambulance by ESCI; -a standard Opel Blitz transport truck by ESCI-ERTL; and lastly – the standard Opel Blitz now done by Italeri.

I’m not going to do the Ambulance as an Ambulance, instead it will be a mobile HQ so I can cammo it up and it can be an objective in it’s own right in games. The other two I’m doing in early War paint schemes, Dark Grey.

ESCI’s Opel Blitzes are pretty simple when compared to Roden’s Opel Blitzes. Hence, I’ve added to these ESCI Blitzes…from out of the spares box I was able to fashion the width indicator poles which I’ve placed on the front mudguards of each truck. I found an excess in the moulding of the Military Wheels’ Gaz-AAs that I made some years back and through scalpel work and lots of glueing, made it into a wing mirror for the Ambulance. Extra sprue, trimmed with my scalpel, became the spotlights that I’ve added to the driver’s side exterior on each truck, mimicking the spotlight Roden provides.

The Roden kit overall is fiddly…that’s the tradeoff for the high detail. I like the ease of assembling these ESCI/Italeri kits, but they need the extra detail to really bring them to life and make them stand out.

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Paul from Plastic Warriors: 1/76 & 1/72 Plastic Soldiers and Armour has been very helpful with my white metal truck from EBay. He sent me this link to a US-based group of WWII re-enactors, the 716 Signals Kompanie. As well as great photos, the text explains that: “The Mercedes version of the (pre-war Kfz 72’s) truck used a much smaller front fender, longer running boards and mounted spare wheels on both sides of the hood.” That sounds like my truck…so, perhaps what I have is a white metal 1/76 scale Mercedes Kfz 72 with cargo tray?

That same link also helped me learn about the little triangle of plastic I added over the cab of the two plain Opel Blitzes you see in the first photo (which I did because that little triangle comes as a dedicated part of the Roden kit)…that little triangle “…over the windscreen is a trailer towing indicator.” So, there you go! If it’s raised, the truck is towing something (most likely for me, guns). If it’s lowered, it’s not towing.

Thanks again to Paul, too!