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.

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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requireded, thus some AFVs went about carrying plenty of spares/replacement parts of their own that had been taken off superceded vehicles or salvageable knocked-out vehicles.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.

It’s been some time since I worked on either troops or AFVs. Although my Panzer V Panthers remain technically incomplete (I haven’t done the aerials yet – I was able to buy some more brass wire but not enough to make 7 aerials and have enough to waste), I’m up to speed and have enough infantry and infantry support bases to do plenty of infantry scenarios (thanks to completing those IG-18s).

I’ve decided to turn my attention to a kit I was extremely lucky to purchase last year – UM’s Jagdpanzer 38(t) Hetzer (Commander’s version). 6 or 7 were being sold for $5 AUD each at a swap & sell last year. I purchased four, enough for a section. I then asked around about whether I can use these as normal vehicles and received a number of confirming replies. This was fantastic, as this kit does come with the roof-mounted remote-controlled machinegun, but it’s not assembled and put on this kit.

There’s already some good commentary about Hetzer kits in 1/72 scale. The kit I’m doing, for your own reference, is this one (have a look at Henk’s site for more photos, assembly instruction sheet scans, etc.)

I’ve commenced with doing the lower chassis, assembling the hull, suspension and roadwheels. Tonight will be the bogies and outer parts of the drive wheels, then the labourious process of glueing together the length & link tracks can occur.

I find UM’s kits to be very good – good instructions and well-cast parts.

Oh, the other thing I need to alter in the assembly is to only provide one aerial, not two. I may need to cut or file off the second aerial mount…I’ll have to check my excellent Polish bi-lingual Hetzer reference  book to see.

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.

Over a year ago I discussed general principles of camouflage on vehicles in this post. This post also introduced some of you to the wonderful Lone Sentry website, a great place for primary documents.

In my discussion, I quoted a section about the failings of camouflage painting (or perhaps that a well-painted camouflage scheme alone cannot solve all problems). The section prior to that which I quoted discusses using natural materials to aid vehicle camouflage (and is called, not surprisingly, Natural Materials).

All this was thrust back to the foreground of my modelling thinking a few days ago, because of a YouTube video I found serendipitously after trialling a another video which was Recommended for me at login. The video is called Restored Jagdpanzer Hetzer:

It’s the first eight (8) seconds that interested me. The Hetzer begins in the shade of some trees before driving out into full sunlight. The disruptive camouflage paint scheme in combination with the clumpy shade from the branches overhead really help to break up the silhouette and shape of the Hetzer.

It’s a lovely example of how a camouflage scheme can contribute greatly to concealment – I hope you enjoy it as I did, and learn from it (or have the theory neatly illustrated by it).

I didn’t end up using 6lb fishing line to secure the lichen to those Jagdpanthers…nor did I go into heavier gauged lines that I have, like 15lbs, 25 lbs or even 35lbs. This was because I realised I wanted to have the “wire” or “rope” tied around the lichen – if I painted the fishing line with Shadow Grey first and then tried to tie the fishing line around the lichen, I knew the paint was just going to come straight off. There was no way to paint the Shadow Grey on after tying the line around the lichen first.

I realised that string would be a good substitute for rope at those scales (1:72 & 1: 76). The twine I have in my toolbox was too coarse and shedding its fibres too freely. The different balls of string I saw in newsagents were no better.

While drinking my morning cup of tea at work, I saw the solution right in front of me – to use the string from the teabag. String on teabags? If you’ve no idea what I’m talking about, here’s a picture.

I saved the strings, brought them home, completely immersed them in Flesh Wash to give them a good, dark colour and let them dry. When dry, I tried using one – perfect results.

So all that remains with those Jagdpanthers is to paint on some fresh mud using Vermin Brown, then apply a coat of protective Dullcote, and they are finished.

The “felled trees” impassable-to-vehicles terrain piece is finished!

felled-ground-4

felled-ground-5

I was unconvinced that I’d done a good job until after the Dullcote was dry – I don’t know why, and I’m sure lots of wargamers and modellers probably don’t add a protective varnish coat to terrain, but I find it has a slight darkening affect but also makes the ingredients look more natural and more to scale.

With this piece, I was just going to stick to using the Dark Green Bushes…but I ent all out and even added some Forest-blend bushes as well. They turned out pretty well! I did expend all my “useful” lichen, though, so I went and picked up three single packs of lichen (natural colour, light green and medium green) so I can work on some big hills over Christmas (more about this another time).

Here’s two Jagdpanthers so that you can see the camouflage patterns / scheme that I used: jagdpanthers-close-to-finish

Today I finished all the annoying details and applied the decals. Tomorrow is just fixing up the remaining odds & ends with Desert Yellow and then I can do the weathering with Kommando Khaki.

The Tigers also had all detail finished and will get final Desert Yellow touching-up tomorrow, but I didn’t get up to decals. I really want to finish these Jagdpanthers, so I’m driving hard (bad pun, I know) to finish them first, so that the Tigers can get more care (because I can use them more in games).

Jagdpanthers, trees and wire

December 10, 2008

The one thing I neglected to mention about camouflage for the Jagdpanthers is that because the Allies had air superiority by the time Jagdpanthers were entering service, many German vehicles had additional camouflage added to them by draping or securing tree limbs and branches to them, to further break up their silhouette.  This certainly happened to Jagdpanthers – there is plenty of photo evidence of them having foliage draped over them to break up their shape and also to provide localised camouflage so that they could be used in ambushes, which was an effective tactic for these tank hunters.

I’m going to replicate this by glueing lichen to my completed models and then securing the lichen to the vehicle hull with 6lbs fishing line, to represent wire, which was often used for that purpose.

So, once I’ve finished the fine detail and corrected any mistakes, the glue comes back out, lichen and fishing line get glued on, any last mistakes are fixed and then lastly on goes the Dullcote and then they get “blooded” in a game.

I’ve provided a scan of Revell’s own painting instructions for these Jagdpanthers:

The colour code is as follows: revell-jagdpanther-paint-scheme-suggestion

  1. A = “Matt Sand”, #16
  2. B = “Lake Green”, #48
  3. C = “Matt Brick”, #37

and those names and numbers are for Revell’s own line of paints.

The reason I posted that scan is to show some more Jagdpanther camouflage schemes / patterns…not stripes, not mottling (still not exactly sure what mottling really is) and not plain DunkelGelb. I suppose more of a disruptive scheme?