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.

Löwe on the streets

August 25, 2009

The Sd. Kfz 250/3 (an ESCI kit re-released by Italeri) that I’d been working on is finished, as is a house that I’d bought a couple of years back from Battlefield Accessories. Here they are together: Lowe and Battlefield Accessories

The light green flock on the wall was to simulate moss growing on the northern side of the building…but it’s a little too light in colour, I think. Should be a bit darker. Oh well, you don’t know until you try.

This house is a Ruined Building from the Battlefield Accessories range. Resin kits, simple to assemble and customise. Fairly good detail – except the interior could have used more effort, like window frames and door frames, which it lacks – so the interior is all flat with no detail. Mine has painted up pretty well – I painted it to match the railway station I did some time ago (see much earlier posts on this blog about the railway station).

‘Löwe’ was done with my home-made Dark Grey paint and features my first attempt at making my own air-recognition flag. The flag has turned out OK and I learned a lot doing it. I’ll save how I made it for another blog post but I’m keen to try other methods, like using tissues heavily doused with PVA glue and then painted.

This 250/3 Schutzenpanzerwagen was then given a heavy coat of dust, as I decided that it would represent a vehicle from Operation Barbarossa…and many vehicles on that campaign got very heavily coated with dust while on the march.

Here’s a few more pics of it: Lowe 1 Lowe 2

Lowe 3 Lowe 4

You can see that I didn’t hesitate to make this a GrossDeutschland vehicle…how could I resist, when Italeri nicely provided me with a ‘stahlhelm’ decal on their decal sheet?!

I’ve commenced painting the ICM Sd. Kfz 222, and it will look similar to the above as I’ve decided to paint it as a vehicle from the same campaign.

It was either tonight or tomorrow night for another blog post – tonight won the die roll.

With the Sd.Kfz. 250/3 nearly done and just waiting to get some materials to make star/umbrella aerials for the Sd.Kfz. 234/2 Pumas, I feel I can begin to assemble ICM’s kit #72411. The drive train, axles and such are detailed but mostly pre-assembled!

Have a look at the relevant  sprue:  Sd.Kfz 222 sprue scanand the assembly instructions: Sd.Kfz 222 assembly scan

This recon AFV clash game is looking good!

OK, so I’ve broken my personal rules and ended up having too many kits on the go at the same time in TankoBerg.  I’ll blame Peter for this…we cooked up the idea to have a recon AFV game next time, and I’m sadly lacking in recon units. Earlier this Winter I had washed and undercoated the sprues of two Hasegawa Pumas – they have been sitting on a box lid since then and I decided to build them up, since Peter can loan me two more to make a platoon of 4.

The kit in question is the Hasegawa 1/72 #31152.  Doug Chaltry, writing for On the Way!, has already provided a comprehensive discussion of this kit, so I’m only going to pass some comments as a wargamer-modeller rather than master modeller.

Those comments:

  • although appearing to be challenging and complicated due to the high number of sprues and parts on the sprues, the instructions are clear and the stages you assemble things in are relevant. One instruction has been mis-translated – what has been provided in English is “After making it dry enough, it advances to the following distance”. I asked a Japanese colleague to provide a second opinion (second translation) – she said that what it means is  “Once all the glueing you’ve done at this stage is dry, then you can proceed to the next stage”. Sound advice, I found.
  • you can assemble some stages simultaneously. I was assembling the turret while glueing on the fiddly details to the vehicle body (spare wheel, wheel jack, tarpaulins etc.).
  • a nice-looking commander figure is provided. I’m going to keep them and use them with other kits where I know I’m not going to get a commander figure.
  • no problem with parts fitting, except for one mudguard (and only on one kit).
  • you’ll be left with some useful spares that could be used with other kits.

I finished all glueing today. Now, I have to be disciplined and finish off everything else that is still sitting around that was started prior to them (like that 250/3) and then I’ll tell you about painting them.

Last week I needed some good interior photographs of the Sd.Kfz. 250/3 leichter Funkpanzerwagen, to see exactly how the FuG12 radio should be glued into the Italeri kit (the instructions provided weren’t clear on this point). I wanted to know if the radio and it’s frame should be pressed up against the rear wall, or should there be a gap? How about the side wall?

I worked my way through Horst Scheibert’s “Schutzenpanzerwagen: war horse of the Panzer Grenadiers” (Schiffer Publishing, 1992) and found some dandy photos but none met these precise needs.  I turned to Google, that well-known search engine, and began working through the pages of results that I got for my searches.

Now, I know most people will try a new search or give up completely after looking through one or two pages of results for a search, but I don’t. Given that for most simple searches you’ll get over 100,000 results, to give up after looking at the first two pages of results means that you are giving up after only looking at 20 of those 100,000 – which is a miniscule 0.02% of the results.  I usually start to think about trying another search after the first 10 pages, and will usually do it after looking through the first 20 pages of results if nothing worthwhile comes up whilst checking.

My successful Google search was as follows:  sdkfz 250/3, and I searched with the default “the web” setting.

Result #6 was

Sd.Kfz 250/3 Greif 1:16 GPM

Sd.Kfz 250 “Greif” 1:16 GPM. CONSTRUCTION REPORT · HOME. ©Johnny Svensson 2007.

Johnny Svensson is/was assembling a paper-card 250/3, in 1:16 scale. He provides nice, clear colour photos of both unassembled components and then step-by-step photos as each part is glued into place. Page 3 had all the clear, well-illuminated photos that I needed. My thanks to Johnny for such a thorough report and also for putting it all online for all to see! Thank you, sir, and well done!
So, that was from a successful Google Search. I tried over an hour with many unsuccessful search combinations before I got to that particulr result. Other searches I tried were things like:
  • 250/3
  • 250/3 photo
  • 250/3 interior
  • 250/3 interior photo
  • 250/3 cabin
  • 250/3 radio frame
  • etc.
With those unsuccessful searches, I looked through many pages of results, and began to consider the next permutation of the search terms after page 10 of results.
What is obvious from all this (and what I hope you learn from this) is that there is no “magic search” that will always get what you want. You have to try a few different search terms & search combintions and be prepared to spend some time checking results you get.  Don’t discard the results you get too quickly, either! Check at least 10 pages of results for each search.

The 250/3 is assembled – another Tankoberg production. Apart from those one-piece vinyl tracks, it was quick and straightforward (and twice those tracks have detached themselves from their glue and required more gluing and clamping…I sprayed the finished unit with more Chaos Black to hopefully seal and fix those tracks, as I’ve heard the same tactic used by another modeller (sparying one-piece tracks with spraycan products to fix/set them)). Even the overhead aerial arrangement turned out not to be so difficult or fiddly, holding and keeping a good shape.

My problem with it is that I then tried to position one of the three crew figures supplied in its cabin…and failed. He was far too big. I already had my suspicions when I looked at the bench for the radio operators in the cabin and decided it was a bit undersized, but now I’ve confirmed it. I’m not sure what scale the vehicle itself is – maybe 1/76? Maybe even a bit smaller? The crew figures are definitely 1/72.  A funker doing his job and using that bench would be sitting with his chin resting on his knees, it’s so low.The MG looks 1/72…perhaps it’s certain parts of the kit where, for simplicity, they made decisions that some features would be smaller? Thus,  the MG is 1/72 but the cabin is 1/80 or something?

This means I’m not going to put crew figures (there are three supplied with this Italeri kit) in it at all. Yay, I’ve got three figures as spares. Boo, I like open-top vehicles to have some crew figure/s involved – otherwise, on the wargames table, it looks like all these empty, crew-less vehicles are moving around under remote control.

One-piece vinyl tracks

July 21, 2009

…really are a pain. Italeri’s 250/3 kit is a direct re-release of the ESCI kit – they haven’t yet got rid of the one-piece vinyl tracks for this kit, as they have with a good number of other kits where you now get solid styrene “length and link” tracks. (Italeri, if you read this, could you please change over all your 1:72 kits to “length and link” tracks, please?)

I also did not follow the instructions for the kit, which recommend that you assemble the wheels and running gears and then glue the one-piece vinyl tracks on, before then glueing all this to the chassis of the vehicle. No, I went and assembled the wheels and running gears and glued them onto the chassis (and congratulated myself for the kit’s assembly moving forward so rapidly!) and then further compounded my error by glueing the mudguards on.

This meant that I wasgoing to have to try to slip, slide and fit the tracks on when everything else was already in place, which significantly reduces the space and room to try to achieve that.  Further, with the wheels and gears already attached to the chassis, getting the tracks in place requires more glue than normal and using lots of broken-up matchsticks and broken-up bamboo satay skewers to push, prop and hold everything into place – which is fiddly and often requires many attempts (plus foul language) until success. If I had instead assembled the wheels and running gears and then glued on the tracks as per the instructions, I could have much more easily and simply clamped the vinyl tracks in place using bulldog clips or clothes pegs – thus saving time, breath and glue.

The kit looks nice, so far. Another blog entry very soon – I have a dispute with the instructions to discuss.

This terrain project is finished, and I’m pretty happy with the outcome: Hills with pins and shadow

The hills in the above photo haven’t had the pins/tacks removed. I’ve put my 1:72 UM Marder III (h) on the larger, to give you some idea of scale.  The spraying of Scenic Cement yesterday and application of extra coarse turf worked perfectly to plug the spots where the first and second glueing attempts with PVA glue failed to thickly coat the area. I also added a few patches of flock/scatter on top of the Scenic Cement to provide extra texture – that too worked well.

The Marder III(h) above is casting a strong shadow against the smaller hill. I’ve talked in earlier posts about how shadows can reveal an AFV’s location – the above example is a practical demonstration of that. Now it should be evident why, in the latter half of WWII, German AFVs stayed under cover during the day or attached lots of branches and foliage to their AFVs if they had to move during the day…because the hard angles and unnaturally-shaped shadows really are noticeable.

These next two photos are of the hills/mountains with pins/tacks removed from their bases, so they look as if they are being used as scenery in a wargame: Hills unpinned aerial Hills unpinned ground

I’ve realised with some previously-made hills, I used a finer grade of talus to represent small rocks which I could have done here…I’ll use them with the next lot of mountains / steep hills that I make.

The BZ-35 Refuellers are coming along well – they are receiving a careful solid coating of Catachan Green, which perfectly models the green the Soviets used on their softskins and AFVs.

I’ve commenced assembly of a 1:72  Sd. Kfz. 250/3 by Italeri (kit No. 7034), which was one of kits I bought at the Model Expo Swap & Sell on the Queen’s Birthday Weekend back in June.  It’ll end up being used as a reconnaissance vehicle for encounter scenario games.

Yesterday I began work on painting up a building (4 inch square walls) from Battlefield Accessories. It’ll have the same paint scheme that I used with the AMRI railway station that I painted up last year, for re-creating the fighting around Mga Railway Station in North-western Russia.