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Dragon StuG IV Early Production Smart Kit

 
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Bill Plunk



Joined: 17 Sep 2006
Posts: 1770

PostPosted: Sun Mar 14, 2010 6:44 pm    Post subject: Dragon StuG IV Early Production Smart Kit Reply with quote

Build log for Dragon Smart Kit # 6520 Sdkfz 167 StuG IV Early Production with Atak Zimmerit and ModelKasten SK-17 replacement tracks.



Last edited by Bill Plunk on Sun Nov 08, 2015 11:46 am; edited 1 time in total
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Bill Plunk



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Posts: 1770

PostPosted: Sun Mar 14, 2010 6:51 pm    Post subject: WIP 03-14-10 Reply with quote

Ever since this kit was released at the end of 2009 I've been wanting to get to it and things finally worked out to allow me to build the StuG IV. I had to wait a little while for the Atak zimmerit to be available since this kit definitely needs zim to be accurate and other projects got in the way in the meantime but now this one's finally getting its due.

I did things a little differently and built up the MK tracks right at the outset instead of waiting until later in the build. I had some time on my hands while my previous build project was finishing up so I took full advantage of it and assembled two runs of 96 links each and will add the extra links 3-4 links I'll need for the full run later when I can test for fit and sag. Before committing that far, I assembled the kit sprockets and tested them with a short run of MK links just to be sure everything would play nice.

I also managed to complete today the rest of the elements called for in Step 1 which included the assembly of the idlers. I opted for the cast-type idler and added the PE inserts as called for in the instructions. I also opted for the simple design steel return rollers for no other reason than they had fewer clean-up points vs. the type with the reinforcing ribs. All 32 of the road wheel halves were removed from the sprues and cleaned up. The rear halves all had some minor flash on the back where they mount to the suspension arms so each one had to be cleaned up with a sharp #11 blade. Each road wheel half also had a mold seam that needed to be removed, easily accomplished with a sanding stick although somewhat time consuming due to the number of parts involved.



That's as far as things got but the build is underway! More progress to come for sure.
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Bill Plunk



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PostPosted: Sat Mar 20, 2010 4:03 pm    Post subject: WIP 03-20-10 Reply with quote

More progress has been made on the StuG front from last time and I continued on with Step 2 in the instructions. This step is a fairly simple step as it deals with the details on the rear hull plate prior to its installation into the hull. There are two small bolts on the top edge that need to be removed as they were the fastening points for the retention bands on the auxiliary turret traverse motor exhaust that wasn't fitted to the StuG IVs. You have to orient yourself carefully with the diagram to be sure you're removing the right bolts but otherwise this is no problem. The option of the square or round blanking plate for where the exhaust would have exited the hull is provided but since the Atak zim set has the square cutout, I went with that one. The tow point was assembled and installed as well to round things out.



Step 3 deals with the lower hull tub and the first order of business is to remove part of the stiffening ribs molded in place in the middle of the tub. Since the tub is a standard Pz IV hull, these ribs have to go in order for the StuG casemate to install properly. These were cut down with sprue cutters and then the remainder removed with a micro chisel and sanded smooth. The small mold stubs along the top of the hull were also removed, these aren't called out in the instructions but experience with previous Smart Kit Pz IV family builds makes it old hat to know to remove them. The rear plate from Step 2 was installed along with the front nose plate. The nose plate also received the front tow points and the openings for the tow pins had to be slightly opened up with a round needle file for the pins to fit properly but everything else worked as designed. The front portions of the final drive housings were added as well to complete the step.



Step 4 begins work on the suspension components, adding the final drive housings to either side as well as the two-part rubber bump stops and the mount points for the suspension bogeys. The rear tow hooks are also added in this step. The Atak zim set provides single panels for the lower hull and additional small strips for the areas around the final drive housings, making it pretty straightforward to add the zim to these areas. The Atak panels required some minor trimming on the openings for the return roller mounts as well as some adjustments around a couple of the bump stops but otherwise fit very well to the hull. I glued the large panels in place with Gator Grip glue to allow for adjustments and some work time and then followed that up with regular Testors liquid glue around the edges. The capillary action pulled the liquid glue into the small spaces left between the panel and the hull and made for a nice tight join. On the smaller panels I just used the liquid glue approach due to their small size and tight spaces. I also added the front hull zim panels at this stage as well using the same methods. There is a little bit of a raised area present around the tops of the final drive housings, this will get trimmed down once the glacis plate is fitted to provide for a seamless join.







Step 5 returns to the rear hull plate and installs the idler mounts as well as the exhaust. The Atak set provides multiple small panels to properly zim this area which makes it much easier to work around the complex surfaces vs. using a single large panel with a lot of cutouts. These panels were installed with liquid glue due to their small size. The instructions do have some confusion/error in the parts call-out for the bases of the idler mounts. In the small sub-assembly diagram, they refer to parts B13/12 but in the main diagram they are labelled B15/B14. The B sprue actually includes 3 different styles of idler mount and the front page of the instructions has all but the B13/12 combination marked as "not for use". However in checking reference photos, the style presented for B15/14 are seen on the "early" model StuGs that this kit covers so I opted for those. It's also important to install parts B2/B3 before you add the bases for the idler mounts as they form part of the attachment surface for the bases and it's much easier to add them first vs. later. I also added the starter crank access pipe and cap at this point before installing the muffler due to the tight spaces involved.



Rounding out Step 5 is the muffler/exhaust assembly. This consists of 9 parts all by itself and the fit tolerances to the hull are pretty tight especially with the exhaust pipes and their curved armored trays. I needed to trim back a little on the Atak strips around where the pipes install since the Atak arrangement doesn't take into account the fact that the armored trays need to make contact with the hull. Some careful work with the sharp tip of a #11 blade fixed that problem and the muffler/exhaust was installed.



Next up will be the glacis and adding the rest of the suspension components.
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Bill Plunk



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PostPosted: Mon Mar 22, 2010 9:38 pm    Post subject: WIP 03-22-10 Reply with quote

I had originally meant to post the updates yesterday but got sidetracked by some odds and ends so the update is today but really was a culmination of the weekend activity!

Picking up from the previous update, I worked on Step 6 which calls for the construction and installation of the glacis plate, the spare track run at the front, and the suspension elements.

The glacis plate was replaced with the Atak-supplied zim resin part which is a perfect match for the kit part right down to the molded in locator holes and cutouts in the zim holes for the track holder parts. The holes were opened up from the underside using a # 72 finger drill and slightly enlarged with the tip of a sharp # 11 blade but the track and holders will be installed later after painting.

The Atak set also includes resin brake access hatches and armored vent covers which were added to the glacis plate with CA gel. The plate was then matched up with the styrene shelf that will support the edge of the top deck plate extension on the casemate and the plate glued to the hull with CA gel. The Atak set also includes a small strip of zim to create a seamless pattern with the hull nose plate as a nice added bonus. To complete the step, I also installed the suspension bogeys to each side using regular glue but left off the wheels, sprockets, idlers, and return rollers for later when it comes time to install the tracks.



Continuing on to Step 7, this deals with the assembly of the engine deck. First up was the rear plate of the deck which I decided to zim prior to installation to the rest of the deck by adding the appropriate Atak panel. The panel needed some modifications in order to accommodate the three spare track links mounted to the rear, so I glued the panel in place first, then drilled out the locator holes from the other side of the styrene part and then trimmed away the required amount of the panel to allow the links to fit correctly. The links themselves were left off for now but I did install the mount hooks for the tow cables.



The rest of the deck was assembled as per the instructions and the zim panels added to the side of the air intakes. These panels have the locator holes provided for mounting the gun cleaning rods on the one side and the shovel on the other which will make it much easier to add those items later on.



That brought me to Step 8 which deals with the fenders and their various gear. The instructions would have you install everything to the fenders and then add the fenders to the hull in Step 9 but that runs a high risk of potential damage and/or complications so I left all the tools and gear off for now. I did add the front mud flaps and the requisite zim panels for them but had to customize the panels provided a little bit for the extension above the hinges. The panel the Atak set provides isn't quite the right size for some reason so I trimmed it and used the bits and scraps left over to rig up a suitable coverage based on reference photos. The panels for the rear mud flaps required only a small amount of trimming for them to fit correctly and I left them separate until after the fenders were installed. I've learned from previous Pz IV family builds that it's better to install them this way due to the tight way they fit in relation to the rear plate.



Step 9 installs assembles and installs the floor of the fighting compartment and, for some reason, DML chose not to mold any sort of pattern into the floor even though it's a custom made set of parts for the StuG IV. I corrected this by adding some strips of generic non-skid pattern PE plate from Lion Roar. It's not perfect but will do the trick for the small amount of space that will be visible through the open loader's hatch since I want to display this one with the top MG deployed for a little variety.

The fenders were installed and I discovered an irony with the zim pattern...the beautiful pattern at the front of the hull around the final drive creates a clearance issue with the front mud flaps so I ended up having to trim and sand most of it down in order to get the fenders to sit properly. DML kept the engineering of the fenders the same from their non-zim Pz IV kits so there's no margin of error for the slight thickness created by the pattern...even though Atak stayed true to accuracy with their design, the physics don't allow for it. It's not a big deal since the area in question isn't visible but is something to take note of if you are using the Atak set on your build.

The rear mud flaps were then added along with the tension springs and the PE reflector for the left flap. I also added the PE air intake cover flaps and added the wing nuts using parts A58 that are never called out in the instructions but are there for use if you know where to look for them. The wing nuts are tall and needed their posts to be trimmed down to look right but they add a nice little bit of detail. What's more, they provide you with more than double that you need so these are also handy to keep around in the spares bin.



Next up will be assembling the gun and working on some of the various interior details.
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Bill Plunk



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PostPosted: Sat Mar 27, 2010 8:28 pm    Post subject: WIP 03-27-10 Reply with quote

A very productive session today with a lot of pics to go with it so I'll just dive right in.

Step 10 begins the work on the main gun and is actually organized in three sub-steps to complete the full step. The first sub-step assembles the breech end of the gun along with the recoil guards. This assembly goes together fairly easily although you do have to give some thought as to the order of things. I started with the front halves E3/E2 and slowly worked my way backwards. The two part breech has a solid fit but there is a slight seam that results that has to be carefully sanded to create the unified block look.



The next sub-assembly deals with the external portion of the gun and the mantlet. The instructions would have you glue the barrel into the mantlet at this point but this could cause problems if you aren't careful since the base of the barrel has a D-shaped tab that is supposed to fit into the neck of the breech half of the gun and you don't join these together until Step 14 when it's time to install the gun and mantlet into the casemate, so I left them separate for now as a precaution.



The third sub-assembly is the creation of the gunner's side of the gun mount. This adds 7 parts to the gun mount and then the step is completed by joining the two halves of the mount together. If you follow the instructions and don't apply any glue to the trunnion pins, the gun will remain able to elevate and has enough friction in the fit to hold its position without glue. I also added parts E18 and E19 to complete the base at this point even though those aren't show as installed until Step 14, it makes sense to add them now in preparation for painting. Step 10 also calls for the assembly of the holder for the two "C" towing hooks but I put that off until later since they aren't actually installed for some time in the instructions.



Step 11 deals with the inserts for the interior sides of the casemate structure and the first order of business is to modify them to conform to the StuG IV vs. the StuG III G hull. This requires that the lower portion be removed, I did this using sprue cutters and then trimmed/sanded the area smooth as needed. In the pic below you can see one modified and one still in its original state to get an idea of how much needs to be removed.



Once that's taken care of, the radio gear that goes in the side sponsons is assembled and added. To save on plastic, DML designed these as multi-part assemblies that are hollow on the inside and the faces of the radios have some very nice raised detail as a result. Since I will only be displaying the loader's hatches open, I drilled out holes with a #72 finger drill in that side's radios for a little wiring to be added later on. This step also calls for the construction of the spare wheel box and installation of the wheels but I will leave that for later after I get the casemate installed and prior to paint.



Step 12 is a big step, it deals with the casemate itself and since I'm adding the zim, required a lot of attention in that department as well. I started by removing the two bolts on either side that aren't indicated until Step 15 that need to be removed to allow the schurzen rails to mount properly. It's much easier removing them now vs. with the casemate installed as directed in the instructions. I then added the zim panels starting with the commander's side and working my way around, again using the same combo of Gator Grip glue and liquid glue as needed. The zim panels did not include cut outs for the lifting eyes on the casemate sides so those had to be glued directly to the panel using CA gel. I used Squadron white putty to fill the gaps between the panels where needed.

The radio inserts were also added and the driver's hood assembled and installed as directed. The zim panel for the left side needed to have a cut-out created to take the lifting eye on that side, easily done with a #11 blade. I also removed the small molded on pistol port to allow the panel to fit properly and replaced the right side bolted-on armor plate with the resin piece provided in the Atak set. I also had to do some hunting for the small triangular pieces that install into the gun opening. The instructions label these as parts K39/40 but no such parts are present on the K sprue. They are in fact on the G sprue and are parts G23/24. I also opted for the PE version of the C-hook holder and installed that in front of the casemate vs. on the right side fender...this piece of gear moved around on different vehicles so the choice is up to you on where to place it although that choice isn't indicated until Step 14.



For the panel on the left side of the casemate, a little bit more work was needed. Since this side receives the 2 3-link spare track holders, I had to create cut-outs for the bases of those holders in the panel. This required some very careful cutting and measuring to get it just right since the cuts had to go almost to the base of the panel but not quite.



Last but not least, I added the rear panel. It's important to install this first before adding the exhaust fan cover or the antenna mounts due to the size of the cutouts provided. The Atak set does include a small circular piece just for the armored cover so it too was zimmed and then installed with CA gel to the panel. I cut off the small antenna stubs molded into the antenna bases and drilled out mount holes with a #72 finger drill to allow for installation of RB Models 2m brass antennas later on to complete the step.

On a side note, this step also presents the option of installing an angled rain guard, part K5, but this isn't an accurate feature for the time-frame that the other features of the kit represents so I left it off. This, along with other parts marked as not for use, are appropriate for a later StuG IV so the hint is there that DML will likely issue a "mid" or "late" production variant some time in the future.



With that step out of the way, I could now paint and detail the interior in anticipation of installing all the different elements into the lower hull. I applied a coat of Testors Model Master enamel Panzer Interior Buff by airbrush to the gun and various interior portions of the fighting compartment that would be visible through the loader's hatch. I detailed the breech with non-buffing Metalizer Gunmetal, dry brushed some Steel, and used enamel Silver for the chromed breech block surfaces. I applied a wash of Raw Umber and then dry brushed more of the Panzer Interior Buff over that to create a weathered appearance.

I also added a spent shell basket courtesy of a spare part left over from a DML Pz III N build. After playing around with it, I can see why DML didn't include a shell catcher basket in this kit...the dimensions on the interior don't allow for one to be properly attached to the extended holder arms provided and still allow the gun to elevate properly...which is a big issue due to the way you have to install the gun in order for everything to fit properly...more on that in a little bit. I just wanted the basket there to occupy the blank space and the way I have it installed it would interfere with the gun recoil but is a compromise vs. not having anything present at all. As I mentioned, it's not possible to do this accurately so it's the best possible solution under the circumstances. I didn't bother with painting/detailing the gunner's side since after a test fit with the roof and the gun in place nothing from that side is visible anyhow.



For the rest of the interior, I painted the floor with my own custom mix of Red Oxide primer by hand and weathered it by dry brushing enamel Steel, stippling on more Red Oxide, then stippling some Raw Sienna for a slightly muddy/dirty appearance....even though most of it won't be seen once the roof is on, it's there if you look! I also detailed the radios and added some wiring in the form of 0.5mm diameter solder installed with CA gel and painted with Flat Black. One key detail that the kit doesn't provide that is very prominent/visible on the real vehicle is the MP40 mounted on the rear wall so I added that using a left-over gun out of the spares bin and rigged up a simple square bracket from a spare Eduard PE fret. The part was about twice the size I needed it to be so I cut it down and re-glued the necessary folding parts to reduce the size, then glued it to the wall with CA gel and voila! MP40 and holder. There should be a 2nd smaller holder for the barrel to achieve 100% accuracy but I couldn't really make that one work out after a couple of attempts so abandoned it in favor of just using the one.







Step 13 deals with the exterior components of the roof including the commander's cupola, so I skipped that for the moment and proceeded directly to Step 14. This is an incredibly tricky step as it installs the gun into the fighting compartment, installs the casemate to the hull, and installs the exterior gun barrel and mantlet to the gun...and also adds the roof (which I haven't finished yet). What makes this tricky is that there's a very specific order that you have to do all these things in or it will not work properly...and there's only ONE way it will all work...so I studied this very carefully and did lots of dry-fitting before committing to glue. So, here goes...this is the order you have to do it in:

1) You must install the mantle to the breech portion of the gun
2) You must then elevate the gun to it's highest possible elevation which in turn depresses the recoil guard at the base to it's lowest point
3) You must then slip the elevated gun, from the bottom, up over the bottom lip of the opening in the casemate. This is a tough thing to do and you have to be patient because the tolerances around the mantlet are tight but if you carefully work at it, you can get it all to fit. Don't force it though and make absolutely sure the mantlet glue has set up properly to avoid an accidental separation of the mantlet from the breech.
4) You must then place the casemate and the gun together onto the lower hull, which means you have to simultaneously glue the base of the gun into the mount plate and glue the casemate to its mount points on the fender. Test the gun elevation carefully as pressure on the mantlet front end can cause the base to lift up from the mount plate which can cause major problems if it comes all the way undone.
5) After you have this all glued in place, you then add part C12 to the top of the casemate gun opening and that essentially secures the gun in place permanently.

If you pull all that off successfully, you get a very nice solid installation of the gun and casemate sans the roof. I did encounter one small fit problem with the front where the extension plate meets the glacis and I'm not sure if this is the result of the replacement using the Atak plate or not, but the gap that resulted was substantial enough that I had to use some styrene rod to fill it vs. putty. I placed a length of rod, applied liquid glue, and used a squared off toothpick end to gently prod and push it down into the gap and resolve the issue.

Last but not least, I did have a small issue with the front mud flaps wanting to flare out at a slight angle so I used some CA gel to glue the bottom corners securely to the hull side just over the final drive housings to solve that little irritation.



I told you it was a productive day! Next up will be the completion of the roof and cupola, installation of some of the details on the fenders and other miscellaneous items and then it will be time for paint!
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Bill Plunk



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PostPosted: Sun Mar 28, 2010 6:57 pm    Post subject: WIP 03-28-10 Reply with quote

As is often the case, the amount of work I had left to do was deceiving and I didn't quite get to the paint stage as planned. I did however get everything done that was needed prior to paint so there shouldn't be any delays in getting to that next weekend. I rounded out Step 14 by installing the roof plate for the casemate using liquid glue and careful finger pressure to get a good join all around.

The next order of business now that the gun and casemate were installed was to revisit some of the earlier steps and complete some of the missing items. I added the external portion of the gun barrel as originally called for in Step 10 and also installed the Bosch light, fire extinguisher, and triangular front schurzen mounts from Step 8. I added the Bosch light conduit wiring using 0.5mm solder after drilling out the connector end on the light base and a matching hole into the glacis with a #72 finger drill.

I also added the base supports, parts K14, from Step 8 for the spare road wheel box and assembled the box as called for in Step 11 but left the road wheels out for the time being. At some point along the way, perhaps in shipping, one of the support arms for the box got snapped off and lost so I had to rig a replacement. On sprue A there was a very close part in the form of A46 that was the right width so I glued it in place and the cut the length down to match the other arm and allow the box to sit properly. The box was installed to the casemate side with the base of the box glued to the supports using CA gel since the base was PE.



I also applied a little bit of Silver paint to the backs of the driver's periscopes so that once painted the silver will still show in the clear face. The faces themselves will be masked with small amounts of blue tack poster putty prior to paint to preserve their look. I left off all the other tools which will be detailed off the vehicle and installed after painting.



That brought me back to Step 13 which deals with the commander's cupola and the loader's hatches. The opening for the loader's hatch was masked off before installing the hatches themselves to make it easier to work in that space and still protect the work done on the interior. The rear half of the hatch was added first since the front half needed to align properly with the raised MG shield to sit at the correct angle. The instructions for showing the hatches open and the shield raised have an error, the arrow that points to part K40 should really match up with the front half of the hatch and not the MG34 as shown so you have to pay attention to not make a mistake here. K40 is a tiny part that needs to be added to the MG shield and is the small pin that hooks to the front hatch in order to properly support the shield. The shield can't stand up on its own and depends on this support to hold it upright so it's a very important, if small, detail to get right under the circumstances. The small tab on the front of the hatch that connects to this pin has a hole molded open in it but it was too small so I very carefully opened it up with the tip of a brand new #11 blade. Then in a careful bit of choreography, I added the shield and the front hatch together using liquid glue and small adjustments to get them both lined up properly and let it set.

While that was setting up, I constructed the commander's cupola. This is a multi-part assembly also covered in Step 13 and the most important part is the PE inner ring, part MA31. This is a PE strip that has to be curved to provide the backing for the 7 mounted periscopes. The strip itself is very thin PE and flexible but still has some spring to it so I carefully annealed it over a gas flame and after gluing one end to the back of the cupola, used a paint brush handle to gently shape the required circular form. Once shaped, I used small amounts of CA gel to secure it to the supports between each periscope. The periscopes were then added using the clear parts provided. The commander's hatch and the top ring were added last and I opted to close-up the commander's hatch and didn't mount the "rabbit ears" scope due to the fact that the kit part was damaged and missing one of the "ears".

I also noticed that I hadn't caught two rather prominent ejector marks on the back of the mantlet before I installed it so those were carefully filled with putty and sanded down to eliminate them.



All that was left was Step 15 which calls for the mounting of the schurzen rails and the schurzen themselves. I decided some time back that I would do this one as a vehicle in Normandy so wasn't going to fit the plates but the rails were assembled and installed as directed in the instructions. The supports had small mold seams on both the outer and inner surfaces so these were carefully sanded down on the outer surfaces and removed on the inner surfaces with some careful trimming with the #11 blade. I did check to be sure before installing them that it's still possible to add the shovel and gun cleaning rods in their mount points on the sides of the air intakes. The space is tight but workable so that will make it easier to detail them separately and install after painting vs. detailing in place on the vehicle.



Now I can truly say that the next step will be paint...it just won't happen until next weekend!
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Bill Plunk



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PostPosted: Sun Apr 04, 2010 4:13 pm    Post subject: WIP 04-04-10 Reply with quote

I had to travel out of town Friday and Saturday but got back in last night and decided to make the most of my Easter Sunday and get the paint work done. Weather was beautiful, just right in terms of temperature, so I went straight to work.

First up was the primer coat of Model Master enamel Italian Dark Brown applied by airbrush. This allowed me to check all the putty work done with the zim panels in particular and I touched up a couple of spots that the primer showed needed a little extra attention.



This was followed by the base coat which is my own custom mix for Dunkelgelb using a 50/50 combination of MM enamel Panzer Dunkelgelb and Light Gray. This is applied in multiple thin passes over the primer coat until it's built up to the level needed vs. single heavy thick coats that can obscure detail in the process.



When I started on this kit I had looked at the various finishes presented on the guide in the instruction sheet and I settled on the pattern for a vehicle with the 17 PzGrenDiv, "Gotz von Berlichingen" in Normandy, 1944. The pattern is Olivgrun in a cross-hatched/fishnet disruptive pattern and I applied this freehand using MM enamel Khaki. The Aztek has an adjustable needle that works with the double-action and I used that to my advantage in applying the pattern. I cleaned up a couple of areas using the base coat color and then thinned down what was left in the cup to roughly a wash-like consistency. This mixture was sprayed from a distance of about 12" from the vehicle to blend the two colors together and provide a slight fading effect overall.



I also painted up all the road wheels, sprockets, idlers, and return rollers. These were primered just like the hull and the road wheels received their rubber portions via airbrushed MM enamel Gunmetal. The hubs were painted by airbrush with the same mixture as the hull using a draftsman's circle template to mask the rubber portions.



This will now get a chance to sit and cure up thoroughly before the next stages. In the meantime, I'll be working on all the details that go on the fenders and hull and start adding those as well.
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Bill Plunk



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PostPosted: Thu Apr 08, 2010 7:25 pm    Post subject: WIP 04-08-10 Reply with quote

In an effort to make up for the lost day last weekend, I've been working on some of the details a little here and there over the course of the week. First up were the road wheels, I assembled all the halves together and then glued them in place on the suspension. The return rollers had their steel contact surfaces painted with non-buffing Metalizer Gunmetal and then were dry brushed with MM enamel Steel before they were installed. I also started picking out some of the other details like the gunner's sight and the periscopes for the driver and the commander's cupola. These were also painted with the non-buffing Metalizer Gunmetal using a fine pointed brush.



The next round of effort focused in on the remaining details and gear for the fenders and the spare tracks for the hull nose and glacis. This meant a return to Step 8 in the instructions and a quick check to make sure I had all the tools taken care of. For the left side fender the long and short crow bars were added along with the idler tension wrenches, wire cutters, and the gun cleaning rods. All of the metallic portions were painted with Metalizer Gunmetal and then lightly dry brushed with enamel Steel and the clamps hand detailed using the base coat color for the hull. On the wire cutters I used Italian Dark Brown for their Bakelite handles and enamel Gunmetal for their rubber end caps.

The gun cleaning rods had their wood portions detailed starting with a base coat of my own tan-ish "wood" color mix followed by a wash of MM enamel Leather. Once the wash was dry, I applied some burnt umber artist pastels with a soft brush to deepen their look and add more variation. The threaded ends were detailed with non-buffing Metalizer Steel and the brush cover painted with a 50-50 mix of Panzer Schwarzgrau/Russian Armor Green to simulate a field gray canvas color. For added detail, I drilled out the threaded ends on the top rod that's visible from the rear as well as the lower two ends on the front. Last but not least, the two spare road wheels were also installed into their stowage box and the top retaining rod added as called for in Steps 11/12.



For the hull nose and glacis, the two C hooks were detailed the same way as the metallic tools and installed into their holder and the PE top bent to shape and locked down with the wing nut. The glacis spare track run was assembled as called for in Step 5 and I glued the links together with regular glue and used the open holes in the Atak resin plate to hold the links in place while they dried. Once the glue had set, I removed the now solid run and applied a base coat of MM non-buffing Metalizer Gunmetal followed by a heavy dry brushing of enamel Steel, a wash of thinned enamel Rust, and a final 2nd dry brushing of MM enamel Burnt Umber.

I applied this same treatment to the spare track run of 10 links for the hull nose. I added some additional detail by drilling out the first and last track links with a #76 finger drill to show the missing pin openings for those links.



The right fender got its due as well with the addition of the crank starter, axe, track joining hook, jack block, and heavy wrench as well as the casemate side-mounted spare links and shovel. The metallic portions were painted the same as those on the other side, ditto for the wood portions. On the jack block, I used the sharp tip of a brand new #11 blade to scribe in a wood-grain pattern which showed up beautifully with the application of the Leather wash. I also detailed and installed the MG34 in the splinter shield. The only remaining detail for this side is the jack itself which I will finish and install shortly.



Bringing up the rear, literally, were the rear hull details. The three spare links and their mounts were detailed and installed as called for in Step 7. The lenses of the Notek light were picked out with Tamiya Clear Green and the rear reflector painted with regular Testors enamel Flat Red. The exhaust received some detail attention prior to painting in the form of drilling out the pipe on the top a bit with a drill bit and then carefully thinning it out further with a #11 blade to get it to a more in-scale thickness vs. what the kit part had started out with. The exhaust was base coated with MM Non-buffing Metalizer Gunmetal and then given 2 successive thinned Rust wash treatments. This was followed by dry brushed enamel Burnt Umber and additional treatment with black artist pastels to the exhaust pipe mouth for a slightly sooty appearance. I'm going to add a tow cable to the mounts later on after weathering so that was left off for now.



Next up will be the tracks and their installation.
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Bill Plunk



Joined: 17 Sep 2006
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PostPosted: Sun Apr 11, 2010 6:03 pm    Post subject: WIP 04-11-10 Reply with quote

Progress this weekend was good, everything is now ready for the weathering process to start next weekend so the focus was on clearing up the remaining odds and ends in anticipation of that.

First order of business was the tracks. I test fit the MK tracks along with the sprockets and idlers and determined that 99 links gave me just the right look, so 3 additional links were added to the runs I'd assembled back at the beginning of the build. The runs were given a primer coat of MM enamel Flat Black by airbrush followed by an airbrushed application of MM Non-Buffing Metalizer Gunmetal. I'd read that the lacquer-based paints need 24 hours to cure properly so I decided to see how they would handle if I did this...and let them sit overnight before continuing. I applied a dry brushing of enamel Steel followed by a wash of enamel Raw Umber and I think the added cure time for the Metalizer has a benefit as it seemed much more durable vs. my previous experiences. Something to file away for the future.




In preparation for the tracks' installation, I dry brushed the sprocket teeth with Steel and Burnt Umber and also stippled some Burnt Umber on the lower hull and suspension elements to show some wear. The tracks were fed in place over the return rollers and idlers and then the sprockets added and glued into place on the final drive housings. Once the sprockets had set a bit, the ends of the track runs were joined with the MK pins and that was that.

Since I was working with the Burnt Umber, I also added some slight scratching/wear along the "teeth" of the schurzen rails by lightly stippling and dry brushing them. Even though the plates aren't fitted on the finished build, they likely were at some point prior to removal by the crew so a little wear made sense to me visually speaking.



The next step was the application of an overall sealing coat of Future acrylic floor polish by airbrush. This was allowed to sit for about 1-2 hours and thoroughly dry before I added the decal markings. The markings are very simple, just the three crosses and a two-band kill marking for the gun barrel. These were added using Solvaset to insure they snugged down tight to the painted surface. The crosses in particular needed careful attention to conform to the zimmed surfaces, so multiple applications and a little gentle coaching here and there with a wooden toothpick did the trick.







I applied a 2nd application of Future over the decal areas and in a couple of spots where the first coat was a little thin in order to insure the finish is adequately protected during the weathering phases. Since this vehicle has a zim pattern, this is even more important due to the dramatically increased surface area I will be dealing with. The Future will be nice and fully cured by next weekend when I expect to start the final leg of the journey!
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Bill Plunk



Joined: 17 Sep 2006
Posts: 1770

PostPosted: Sun Apr 18, 2010 6:40 pm    Post subject: WIP 04-18-10 Reply with quote

This one is almost to the finish line...but not quite there after this weekend's efforts. I had to spend most of the day yesterday working in the yard to clear some weeds and take care of various odds/ends before the summer heat got here so today was really the only day I could devote to the build.

The weathering process began with the application of an overall wash of enamel Raw Umber. I used a round 0 brush and applied the wash in a mostly horizontal fashion section by section.



Once that had dried, I followed it with the application of a dot filter using enamel Raw Sienna, Flat White, and the 50-50 hull base coat mix. Small dots of paint were applied to the model surface and then a square tip brush lightly moistened with clean thinner was used to blend the dots together. In order to avoid "flooding" the surface with thinner, I dip the square tip brush in clean thinner then touch it 2 or 3 times to a paper towel to wick away the excess. When the brush starts to get too loaded with paint, it would get dipped again the in clean thinner and wiped clean then the process repeated. In the next two pics you can see the "before" and "after" using the casemate roof as an example surface.





This process was applied to the model as a whole except for the lower hull sides since those will be weathered with pigments. For the areas that had zim, I applied the blending strokes in the direction of the zim pattern in order to keep the effect consistent in those areas and also add some depth to the painted zim surfaces. While working with the clean thinner, I wore a breather mask to avoid fume exposure and also had the fan going and the window open for maximum circulation as a safety precaution.



This was followed up with a pin wash application of enamel Burnt Umber. This was applied using a 10/0 fine tip brush to all the various panel lines, weld lines, screw heads, etc. to bring out the details. Using the same brush and clean thinner, I carefully removed any excess or "blooming" of the wash.





I'll let this sit overnight and will check the details with a fresh set of eyes tomorrow to see if there are any additional adjustments that are needed. Then it will be on to the lower hull for the pigment treatment.
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Bill Plunk



Joined: 17 Sep 2006
Posts: 1770

PostPosted: Sat Apr 24, 2010 7:49 pm    Post subject: WIP and Completion 04-24-10 Reply with quote

The last remaining hurdle was cleared today and this build got across the finish line! The first thing I needed to do was give the whole vehicle a once-over to see if there were any spots needing adjustments from the filter/wash treatments applied earlier. I made a couple of small adjustments and then applied a sealing coat of Testors Lusterless Flat via spray can. This removed all the remaining shine from the Future application, dulled the finish, and also provided some "tooth" to facilitate the use of pigments on the lower hull and running gear.

For the pigment application, I mixed up a dry powder combination using Mig Rubble Dust, Dark Mud, and Europe Dust in an old prescription bottle lid I keep around for just this type of thing. After playing around with the color ratios a bit, I had the mixture I wanted and I added tap water that I had added a drop of dish-washing liquid to in order to break the surface tension. The consistency of the wet mixture is watery since I didn't want to apply the pigments as a paste, I was just using the water as a carrier. This was applied using a round 0 sable brush where desired and allowed to air dry. This took about an hour or so and looked like this...



It's rough but that's ok because the next steps are designed to remove the excess and smooth things out to get it the way I wanted it. I first used a series of stiff bristled brushes to gently remove the excess powder. I wear a sanding/dust mask while doing this to avoid inhaling the very fine particles that go airborne and hang around in the air. Then I used a combination of wet and dry q-tip ends to remove more pigment and adjust things, working carefully a section at a time.



At this point it of course becomes much more difficult to handle the model to avoid disturbing the pigments so I always leave that step to the very end or as close as possible. The last remaining thing was to install the tow cable on the rear deck as well as the radio antennas. The antennas were installed using RB models brass 2m antennas and CA gel. These were painted with MM Non-Buffing Metalizer Gunmetal to complete their look.

The tow cable is something the instructions handle in Step 7 and it's very very important that you take into consideration that the length they quote, 150mm, is for the entire tow cable including the styrene ends and not the length of the cable between the ends. I've never liked the braided steel wire that DML provides since it's very stiff and springy, so I replaced the wire with similar diameter crochet rope thread. I cut the rope to the required length and glued the ends into the styrene cable ends with CA gel. To prevent the thread from going hairy once painted, I dipped the whole cable in Future and let it air dry. This has the added benefit of hardening the thread but not to the point that it isn't still flexible enough to bend into the required shape. The cable was then painted with Non-Buffing Metalizer Gunmetal and the same mix I used for the hull color earlier for the collars. The cable was installed onto the hooks and I had the length just right that it will stay on the hooks without any gluing, so it worked out perfectly.



With that out of the way, it was time to reset the white balance in the camera and take the final walk-around shots.



















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Bill Plunk



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Posts: 1770

PostPosted: Wed Jan 26, 2011 4:29 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

This build has also been featured in the Feb 2011 Issue of Scale Military Modeler International.



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