I really enjoy making this particular Hasegawa kit…I’m not sure why. I guess it’s appearance just appeals to me – sleek and deadly?

This finished model has the crew member that is supplied in the kit and also has different colour lichen used as vehicle camouflage. Otherwise what you see is the same as what I did with the first one last year or so. Here it is as if being used in a game: .

Now for detail – closeups in three-quarter profile:

Getting a good photo “at ground level” isn’t easy with my now-ancient digital camera but I had luck with this one: and here’s some detail of the crewman, who I’ve named Hans: .

I commenced work on this kit as something to fill in time while working on those three Opel truck kits from earlier. That’s something I have been doing for a very long time and it helps improve workflow and productivity – while working on a group of vehicles or troops (all the same type), have a couple of completely different vehicles or troops to work on sitting on the side. That way, while you wait for the glue or paint to dry on the main group, you can work on something completely different in the meantime. The benefits are that you don’t get up and walk away and get distracted by other things whilst you wait for glue/paint to dry and you get more things finished (which means you can buy more things to work on in the future!).

I get distracted and may not return to the hobby tables for hours or days if I don’t have a ‘side project’ readily available, and that really slows down getting anything completed at all.

The Opel Blitz cargo trucks and the Opel Ambulance (I’ve assembled and painted it to be a mobile HQ) are finished!                               With the camera flash switched off, the colour is more like this:  .

I mentioned in the preceding post that I was trying to paint the camouflage on the Opel Ambulance using pieces of sponge dipped into paint of varying strengths and that things had not gone according to plan.

Well, after some advice from regular readers, I had another go, and managed to correct many of my earlier mistakes. How I did that is recorded in that preceding post’s Comments, to whit: “So far, spreading the paint around with the sponge after application is helping, it makes the whole lot an even layer of paint. Going back to full-strength paint helped too. I pressed the paint-loaded sponge against the model, released it for a couple of seconds, then lightly pressed again and using the very tip of the sponge, spread the paint around ‘inside’ the splotch to make it even.”

So, my technique for painting cammo with a sponge is:

  1.  Dip the torn-off piece of sponge into full-strength paint.
  2. Press it against the vehicle for a moment, moving it around slightly. This is important and must be done each time you reach Stage 2, so that each time, the shape of the paint is not quite the same.
  3. Stop pressing it against the vehicle for a moment.
  4. Look on the vehicle for where the paint is too thick or has bubbles in it. Gently dab the sponge against it to even it out and pop the bubbles.
  5. When satisfied, go back to Step 1.

I did have to correct extra unwanted splatters with the base colour and did “improve” the shape of some paint spots by going back later and working on them with a brush, but only where I felt it was necessary.

So there it is. Good luck with it! If you improve my technique, be sure to let us all know how.

I’m proud of the aerial recognition flag on the bonnet of one of the Opel Blitz cargo trucks:  . It was done by first cutting up a washing instruction tag off one of my old heavy metal t-shirts into the right shape and size rectangle; covering that rectangle on both sides with PVA glue and then affixing it to the bonnet. Next, I had already collected some strings from individual tea bags – I cut them into four pieces of approximately the right length, coated them in PVA glue and placed them at each corner of the flag, connecting them to the flag and to the mudguard. When all was dry, the tag was painted thickly with Skull White. When the paint was dry, a decal of the swastika flag was applied over the top. When that was dry, Blood Red was used to paint over any remaining white. Brown Ink at 50% strength was used to darken the strings so they looked like hemp rope. Done!

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!