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.

Panzerbefehlswagen Panthers

August 22, 2010

Back in March this year my Panthers rolled off the production line at Tankoberg and I gave you all a good look at them. I mentioned that aerials would have to wait until I had more supplies of brass wire.

Not only have I been able to obtain plenty of brass wire in the gauges I had previously used, I was able to get plenty in other gauges as well. For those that are interested, I use Detail Associates’ brass wire: . I had held off doing the Panthers’ aerials as I wanted more 0.022″ wire, which I have decided is my standard for aerials from now on (only using the 0.033″ to represent very thick aerials…some StuGs had them).

I had been able to buy 0.012″ and 0.015″ which meant I was able to try some thinner wire for star aerials/umbrella aerials, as I felt the last lot of star/umbrella aerials looked too thick, too heavy, too out of scale and thus totally unrealistic (well, totally unrealistic for my taste).

The last lot were also the first lot of star/umbrella  aerials…you can see them  on some Sd. Kfz. 234/2 Pumas on this link. I commenced assembling them on this link, you may want to read that first, and I completed them on this link.

Here are photos of the second lot, finished and in situ: .

What was different this time? As decided in those posts from last year, the main aerial is of 0.022″ thickness, and the prongs/ribs coming off the main aerial are 0.012″. Also, I used Zap’s Zap-a-gap Medium viscosity instead of the Flash Cyanoacrylate in Thick viscosity. The Flash thick cyanoacrylate made the join look far too oversized. They are still oversized, but I feel I’ve reached the limit, given the techniques and materials available to me.

Most importantly, I feel that I’ve reached the right balance of appearance with practicality/durability with this second attempt. I could have used even thinner wire, but in my opinion it wouldn’t be durable enough. Thinner wire would require some putty or plugging with bits of plastic or filling with extra glue as the drillbit I use to drill the aerial’s anchor hole into the vehicle is already the finest I have and the 0.022″ has plenty of space when it’s placed into that hole, so going even thinner seems silly. Also, when bumped the 0.022″ springs straight back into place whereas the 0.012″ stays bent and that means I have to spend time bending them back into paint and repainting paint that flakes off bent wire…so the practicality/durability combination seem to have been found for star aerials in 1/72 scale, as far as I’m concerned.

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.

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.

I wanted to get good track sag for my 1/72 scale Panzer V Panthers (kit# 03107 by Revell), as evidenced in some of the photos over at “Juggernauts of the Second World War”. The Revell kit I’m using has length-and-link tracks, and very nice they are too. To get good track sag, I knew I’d have to coat the top length piece of tracks liberally with glue in order to heat it and slightly melt it into shape. This meant using a powerful superglue.

I had been using Flash Cyanoacrylate (thick mixture) but it was too thick…almost like putty…and that was going to be completely inappropriate for what I wanted. I didn’t want dried lumpy bits everywhere or ‘blocky’ or ‘clogged up’ tracks. I needed a extremely fast curing superglue that was less viscous.

I was advised to try Zap’s Zap-a-gap, medium. It’s not too watery – I was advised that the ‘thin’ that they make can, in the hands of someone unused to it (ie. me!), easily run and ruin work.

It did the job perfectly, good track sag was obtained on my models to match the photo evidence I had of actual track sag on these vehicles: (yes, that’s three kits on top of each other). A nice gentle curve above and then resting on the tops of the roadwheels.

As well as Zap-a-gap, another essential tool was required – some things to hold/wedge the tracks in place while the glue cured. Here’s a photo of what I used: – pieces of bamboo skewers that you buy to make satay skewers/shashliks and pieces of wooden disposable chopsticks/kwaizu/hashii, all cut into 3/4 inch lengths. Wedged in between the track and the body, it held the tracks in contact with the roadwheels at the right place and with the curing effects of Zap-a-gap (the slight melting that allows some re-shaping) I got perfect track sag.

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The small river/stream will have to wait a few days or weekends, sorry all. I’ve got too much on the work table again – all these Panthers, that last Horch AA car and four PaK 40 crews that have been sitting round waiting for paint and basing.