Hello all,

My Dragon Models 1/72 scale Sd.Kfz 251/1 D’s are potentially one step away from being finished: .

When I started them, I thought that I might glue lichen on their sides to represent added foliage, as many German forces did to their vehicles in the last 2-3 years of the war. You can see a historical example of this ‘foliage as additional camouflage’ practice here. I’ve already done this to some of my vehicles, like my 234/3’s and my Hetzers.

Now I’m not sure I want to do this. The 234/3’s and the Hetzers aren’t meant to get so much game use compared to the 251/1’s. If they aren’t getting so much game use, I figure they can be a little more delicate and elaborate! Lichen on them is fine!

But I’m now not sure about adding lichen to these 251/1 D’s. These 251/1’s don’t have good vantage/attachment points to secure the lichen, so it’s possible that I could botch what I do. I don’t want to botch what has gone pretty well! The other 251’s I’ve done or are yet to do aren’t going to have lichen attached…plus it’s only an average of $10-15 per kit at swap-n-sells to get more if these ones do end up looking tatty after a couple of years. To topit all off, I’ve only been averaging 4 games a year lately…

Still, I’m thinking that they are fine as they are and that I don’t have to be so realistic all the time. Maybe I’m lazy and just want them off my table? Dunno.

So, readers, I’m turning this over to you. Do I follow through and add the lichen to them, or stop now?

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.

I have literally just stopped painting and fired up my computer to bring you some photos of the camouflage I’ve just painted onto the UM Models Hetzers. Some of you may have thought “I thought he’d given up on those” – well, they have had lower priority lately, but yesterday and today they received a very generous portion of attention, with interest accrued during the recent quiet times.

Here’s how they are looking: .

My sourcebook, “Hetzer: Jagdpanzer 38” by V Francev, CK Kliment & M Kopecky (MBI, Praha, 2001) states that camouflage for the second lot of Hetzers was applied directly in the factories of BMM and Skoda Werke; “although the width of the colour fields and their shape differed slightly vehicle to vehicle, their placement always stayed the same” (p. 65). Oh well…my widths, shapes and placement all vary and each vehicle looks unique. I like this camouflage pattern and followed it as best as I could tank to tank…the green, brown and yellow all interlink on the historical units and at times I’ve tried to replicate that with these tanks, with varying success.

Hopefully these little tank destroyers will have all camouflage and detail painting finished by next weekend so I can varnish them and get them out of the way.

With a final black ink wash, what I call the Doug Chaltry technique for painting AFV tracks is done.

I use a mix of 25% Black Ink – 75% water. A previous mix in an earlier post was described as being like milk…well, this mix is like watery milk! Here it is going on the tracks…you can see the raised metal surfaces easily through it – the mix is simply adding some extra shading to crevices etc: and here you can see it pooling together: and to give you another perspective of its strength, here is an almost-dried spilt drop on the upper hull: .

Here are three photos of the final products, all dried: .

With that done, the finishing construction steps in Tankoberg could be undertaken. I glued the hulls onto the lower hulls/chassis, so that I had a whole tank. As the upper wouldn’t sit perfectly on the lower, I used my scalpels to do some trimming on the inside…a major lesson being to ignore UM Models’ assembly advice and not to glue the baggage/stowage that sits on the mudguards until all hull assembly is complete, otherwise it interferes with everything fitting together perfectly! I also had to cut grooves into one side to get a better fit.

I used woodworking clamps to hold the two halves in place for 45 minutes while I waited for the glue to dry.

Having pre-drilled holes in the right place on the hull before assembly, I was able to Zap-a-gap glue in place some 0.022″ diameter brass wire to represent the radio aerials.

Tomorrow: some fine detail glueing (holders for jerry cans etc.)  and some gap filling with putty. Wednesday or thursday…serious detail painting commences.

We’re over the first major hurdles now. In fact, we are pretty much at the middle…one way of reading Doug’s technique for painting AFV tracks would in fact suggest that we are at stage 4 of 6…representing the steel.

I liberally drybrush on my metallic paint, as tracks should appear well-worn unless the vehicle has just rolled off the assembly line or been fitted with brand-new tracks, in which case there would still be plenty of protective grease on them. Here’sa photo of the metal paint going on: . In this photo, one and a half of the visible tracks have been done: and now all done: .

Now I move down his instructions and commence again where he talks about making tracks look dirty. Step 5 is to apply a brown wash again, this one is 50%-50% Chestnut Ink and water:

When dry, the steel paint should be the strongest feature but it should be a bit “browned”, as you can see here: .

The final step is to add a very thin black wash. That’ll get done soon.

To continue the Doug Chaltry technique, a heavy wash of something to simulate rust needs to be applied.

I do this using Flesh Wash, which sadly is now RIP as a product. I’m going to write about making my own substitute in the future.

So here it is, being applied:

and this is what it looks like when it’s dry: .

For shading and shadowing, a thinned black wash is required. I use a mix of 50% Black Ink-50% water, liberally applied. The wash should be ‘milky’ as you brush it on. Here it is during brushing on: .

After drying, the results of these two washes should look something like this: .

I’ve mentioned a number of times that I use what I call “The Doug Chaltry technique” for painting AFV tracks. The links I had on this blog to thewebpage that I found it on probably don’t all point there now, as that webpage had an address and server change – so here’s a link to the correct page now.

Here are some photos showing my local variation of this technique using the paints and inks I prefer.

Before we start – tracks begin with basic black undercoat already sprayed on:  .

The first step in the technique is to apply a dark grey.  I use my homemade Panzer Grey. These photos hopefully will show the difference between my Panzer Grey and the undercoated black. In this photo, I’ve finished painting the grey on  two of the platoon of four vehicles, see the contrast:  .

One track black, the other grey: .

Spare links mounted on the roof or sides – before: and after: .

All four done: and here’s the detail of one of them: .

Somehow I got it in my head that the lower hull and undercarriage were Dark Green. I now know that this was not so – so I’m going to have to do some fancy painting to fix this.

Both halves of the kit are completed and were sprayed again with Chaos Black undercoat to ensure consistency. The muffler has not been glued on as it is positioned right near where the top half of the hull is glued to the bottom half, but this is only one piece; it will be quick to do and starting the ‘Doug Chaltry technique’ is far more important, as the technique involves many stages and takes time to finish.

I loaded extra supplies onto these kits, so they don’t look as sleek and streamlined as the kit boxes depict or recommend. Each one got extra track links; many got a water jerrycan; all got the optional extra toolbox and all are carrying a complete extra idler wheel. The extra idler wheel was to reflect that by the late part of the War (1944-1945) some German AFV maintenance crews knew that spares couldn’t be simply ordered from Berlin when requireded, thus some AFVs went about carrying plenty of spares/replacement parts of their own that had been taken off superceded vehicles or salvageable knocked-out vehicles.

So, it’s time to break out the Desert Yellow to get the basic Dunkelgelb coat complete and my vehicle component colour paints to get all of the ‘Doug Chaltry technique’ out of the way.

By the way, since I’m talking about UM, they recently redesigned their website. Here’s the link!

I’m over a third of the way done, but not halfway. The chassis and lower hull were all finished last weekend, the last couple of nights have been finishing off the fiddly detail on the upper hull. Here’s a pic:

The ‘fiddly detail’ is the photoetched brass parts. I enjoyed the challenge of the remote-controlled, roof-mounted machinegun shield and have previous experience with a previous UM tank-destroyer kit in  folding and shaping the ammo box so they were done in a minute each. The thin guards over the periscope were a bit frustrating but well worth the effort.  However, I have decided not to do the folding and glueing of the spare mudguard supports and the front mudguurd braces – they are too fiddly and I couldn’t get the brass to fold properly! I was careful but I still stuffed it! Like Paul over at ‘Plastic Warriors’, I’m not a rivet-counter…I like accuracy when I build something… but this is meant to be a fun hobby – getting worked up over two non-essential parts is not fun at all. Thus, they were ditched. I personally think the rear mudguard support could have been done in plastic…they have fine plastic moulding on other parts of the kit…

If you’re interested in which particular kit I’m working on, here’s a link to a very good vendor’s product description.

While waiting for glue to bond and/or dry, I’m working on more wargaming terrain. Here’s a pic: Thick, tall clumps of bushes and blackberry (or similar)…copses or thickets…tall enough to block vision (“lines of sight” to use the military term) for infantry and also most vehicles. I deliberately use the tallest lichen clumps I can. They will be used for the Leningrad region game coming up in July and also for Pripyat Marshes games.

Back in the middle of February I brought to your attention Andy from Terragenesis’ assessment of Woodland Scenics’ scenery-making products. I mentioned that I would try his suggestion of attaching foliage clumps to tree armatures using superglue instead of Hob-e-tac.

On Sunday I found some time inbetween glueing individual track links onto the Hetzers to have a go at doing this with one of the many armatures I won on an Ebay auction back during Summer.

I used Zap-A-Gap Medium thickness as my superglue (it’s the only one I have, anyway). It’s not too viscuous, it’s like a liquid. I’ve used a rival brand’s Thick thickness superglue before, and it was more like a putty. I was using the same clump foliage as I’ve used before to make trees.

The Zap-a-gap flowed and ran too freely over the armatures which resulted in some on my fingers – I had to work quickly to stop my fingers sticking together. The fumes were very strong – not only was the smell almost overpowering but my eyes were temporarily ‘stung’ too. The foliage could move around quite freely for maybe a whole minute as the Zap-a-gap didn’t instantaneously ‘grip’ and bond the foliage clumps – because I didn’t want my fingers becoming permanently stuck to things due to the superglue, I didn’t make any real effort to pick up and hold fallen clumps in place until they adhered. With Hob-e-tac, you can hold in place – it’s a powerful glue but doesn’t stick skin to skin together in five seconds like superglue does.

24 hours later I inspected the final product (such as it was). Limb ends were exposed when they should be covered with foliage; foliage wasn’t so well placed; because I hadn’t been able to hold some clumps in place, many clumps were only stuck on by the tiniest amount of their surface – some  dangled like Christmas tree baubles! There was also white discolouration where the glue had run down the limb or trunk and had not had anything stuck to it.

My assessment of this was that it was not worth the effort. The fumes stopped me using the Hobby Room for anything else for the rest of the night; coverage of the clumps onto the armature were poorly placed and not too well adhered; the white discolouration would require me to repaint and drybrush which is an unreasonable use of my time.

Re-reading Andy’s article showed me that one part of this could be alleviated by using thick viscuous superglue (which is what he’d done) but my thoughts are that it’s still not worth the effort. I’d rather apply Hob-e-tac twice and then spray very thickly with watered-down PVA glue to get a permanent, tough bonded product that can be based and used fairly quickly, rather than having to add extra steps of painting the tree to cover up white discolourations and THEN basing it etc.

I’m glad I tried, though – I need to re-flock some small pine trees I have and had pencilled in superglue for it. I’ll do them with straight PVA or Hob-e-tac.