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Dragon Bison II
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Bill Plunk



Joined: 17 Sep 2006
Posts: 1770

PostPosted: Sat Jan 28, 2012 4:29 pm    Post subject: Dragon Bison II Reply with quote

Build log for Dragon kit#6440 Bison II 15cm s.IG 33 (Sfl.) auf Pzkpfw II with Model Kasten workable tracks.



Last edited by Bill Plunk on Sun Nov 08, 2015 11:43 am; edited 1 time in total
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Bill Plunk



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PostPosted: Sat Jan 28, 2012 4:36 pm    Post subject: WIP 01-28-12 Reply with quote

I started in on a new project today that I had received as a Christmas present from my loving wife. The kit is a new one and builds on DML's previous Pz II kits with new parts specifically for the Bison II configuration.

Work began with Step 1 in terms of cleaning up all the road wheels and return rollers by sanding away their mold seams, assembling the idlers, and getting the sprockets off the sprues. Step 1 also wants you to install the wheels onto the suspension arms but that's not really a good idea in my opinion and I left them off for easier painting and detailing later on as a matter of course. The step instructions have some minor errors...you should chose the "fancy" type of sprocket E2 for both sides and not use one fancy E2 and one plain E3 as the instructions indicate.



Step 2 installs the suspension elements from Step 1 onto the lower hull along with the front hull plate and final drive housings. The instruction diagram that shows the arrangement for the suspension parts left side vs. right side has the first five suspension parts reversed, something you find out quickly enough when you try to install them to the hull. The sprockets and idlers were left off to facilitate track installation later on.



Next up will be more work on the lower hull.
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Bill Plunk



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PostPosted: Mon Jan 30, 2012 6:11 pm    Post subject: WIP 01-30-12 Reply with quote

More progress to report today in terms of work done on the lower hull.

Continuing on with Step 3, the rear hull plate is installed to the hull tub. I installed the plate first then added the rear lifting eyes, idler mount bracing bar, tow pintle, and crank starter cap as called for in the instructions.



Step 4 is a busy step as it deals with much of the interior of the open fighting compartment. Molded-in locater lines help with the placement of the bracing beams at the front and rear but you do have to be careful to get parts M35/36 aligned correctly at the front. One end is slightly lower than the other and the lower end goes at the rear. I installed the bases to the lower hull first and then added the cross beams instead of assembling it outside the hull as one unit as the instructions indicate. It's a good idea to install the bases, add the front cross beam, then install the drive shaft tunnel on the hull side, then add the 2nd cross beam to insure everything plays nice and sits correctly.

I also installed the base of the radio operator's seat and the rack mount for the radio transformer but left off the actual seats, the transformer, and the MP40 ammo pouches until after the interior is painted and ready for detailing. Last but not least the rear hull firewall and gun trail spike mount was added along with the rear hull bolt flange to round out the step.



Step 5 assembles the driver's armored box and the large fender/glacis stowage box as a single unit. The kit provides interior details for the side vision port and a pad for the top driver's hatch...but since the box mounts directly onto a solid glacis plate and there's no interior provided, these were left closed up and those details skipped.



Step 6 is an important, but slightly odd, step in the kit assembly. I say odd because it wants you to install the fenders directly to the glacis without using the lower hull to insure proper alignment. What is odder still is that the instructions don't actually have a step where you do install the fenders and glacis to the lower hull...they just magically show up that way in the final Step 21 of the instructions!

So, with that in mind, I first installed the glacis to the lower hull and let that set up. Then I added the fenders to either side and found it necessary to trim the front tab edges slightly to get them to line up properly with the glacis edge. The contact points with the lower hull aren't very wide so it's important to make sure each fender lines up flush and level on both sides.

Once the fenders were set, I added the angled braces and Bosch lights, using a #76 finger drill and 0.5mm diameter solder to add the missing conduit wiring. I also installed the front tow points from Step 21, the glacis access hatches, and the siren and hatch stop. The stowage box/driver's box combo from Step 5 was also installed to round things out.



Next up will be starting work on the fighting compartment upper sections.
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Bill Plunk



Joined: 17 Sep 2006
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PostPosted: Fri Feb 03, 2012 4:13 pm    Post subject: WIP 02-03-12 Reply with quote

After careful study of the instructions and how the various components of the fighting compartment fit together, I decided to skip ahead to Step 10 and construct the rear portion first. Everything in the fighting compartment has to align within fairly tight space tolerances so it made sense to start at the back and work my way forward.

Step 10 assembles the rear hull portion out of three sections. The firewall section is molded with 2 of the brass shell base holders empty but the openings are molded solid. I corrected this with a drill bit and pin vise followed by careful sanding with a round needle file. I also installed the engine compartment intake inserts that are called for in Step 13 to insure everything played nice and to provide a little more structural rigidity to the top plate during the assembly.

I also assembled and installed the muffler to the rear plate. While not shown in the photo below, improved on the hollow exhaust pipe by deepening the opening and thinning out the sides of the pipe to be more in-scale with a combination of a drill bit and sharp #11 blade point.



I was going to complete the rest of the assemblies for the rear plate top as called for in Steps 11 and 14 but thought better of it after a test fit revealed that I was going to need to apply some pressure to get a good join with the fender on the right side of the hull. I did go ahead and install the hatch and PE grills and will add the other parts after the interior is painted, the gun installed, and the rear compartment glued in place.

I returned to Step 7 which deals with the upper right side panel of the fighting compartment. The kit provides a choice of what details to install here but for some reason doesn't call out the choice until Step 9, so if you aren't paying attention you can miss it. The choice is between two ready 15cm rounds or a large stowage box mounted between the angled support braces. Good interior photos of the Bison II don't exist and none survived the war so DML has done some speculation here of what might or might not have been there and either option is plausible in my opinion. I chose to go with the large stowage box.

I have to point out a potential pitfall at this stage and it deals with the angled support braces. They are shown in Step 7 attached directly to the side panel but the panel doesn't have any guide as to how they should be placed. If you go with the 2 ready round option that helps but the real locations are determined by the tab slots on the fender, so it's best if you install the braces to the fender and not to the panel as directed. Test fits along with the rear hull portion provide a guide as to how deep the large box should be mounted as it has to overhang the fender edge and not sit flush.

Important note: the rear hull portion IS NOT INSTALLED at this point, only dry-fit...it needs to remain loose to allow for the gun trail to be installed correctly in later steps.



That took me across the way to the left side of the compartment. There are a couple of things that have to be taken into consideration on this side. The first is that while the instructions call for 2 radio sets to be assembled in Step 9 (one receiver, one transmitter), the kit provides enough parts to assemble just 1. The missing parts are the mount frames RD4 and RD8, so I was able to fit only the transmitter because I had already assembled it before I discovered the parts shortage. I moved the transformer from behind the radio to next to it to fill the gap left by the missing 2nd unit and used a #76 finger drill to prep the radio and transformer to take wiring later on. The base of the transformer was glued down but both the radio and the actual transformer were dry fit only to test the layout and will be painted separately before final installation.

The other item for consideration are the 6 charge boxes, installed in two stacks of 3. These have raised lines molded on them top and bottom that make it difficult to "stack" them if not removed. They also add to the height of the stack slightly so removing them not only makes it easier to install them it also insures they sit the correct height under the panel overhang.

I added the other interior items that mount directly to the panel and used small strips of blue masking tape to test fit the panel and make sure everything sat correctly.

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Bill Plunk



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PostPosted: Sat Feb 11, 2012 6:27 pm    Post subject: WIP 02-11-12 Reply with quote

Made a lot of progress with the build and completed the sIG 33 gun. Work on this begins in Steps 15 and 16 and deals with the sides of the gun carriage. One of the expedient characteristics of the Bison II was the fact that they essentially took a regular sIG33 and plopped it into a Pz II modified hull with very little changes to the actual sIG33 itself.

I did a couple of modifications. I drilled out the holes in the gun sight elevation/range calculation mechanism to provide some detail and I held off installing parts A26/27 until I had added the rear spade plate in Step 17 (not that it really matters much as that entire portion gets hidden away by the rear compartments). I also didn't install the optics portion of the gun sight as those are provided as clear parts and I want to detail them separately before installation later on.

In hindsight, I would have held off installing the hand wheels as their attachment points are very small and in subsequent steps they had a tendency to be in the way and get knocked off repeatedly.





Steps 17 and 18 add parts to the interior and exterior and bring the two halves of the gun mount together. You have to give some thought to this in terms of the order you do this as there are a lot of parts that all have to line up just so to keep the halves in alignment. I found that the best approach was gluing all the necessary inside parts to the right frame side as called for, then gluing the two halves together, then adding all the different additional detail parts. The one exception was part A50, this has a very snug fit at the front and should be added before gluing the halves together.

One area that you have to be extremely careful with is adding the rear spade and towing eye. These are essential to line up the gun carriage correctly in the vehicle lower hull but there's no guide provided to get the spade exactly centered, so I broke out my small metal mm ruler and used that to insure I got things centered correctly before committing to glue.



Step 19 is a very involved step. It assembles the gun and recoil sled as well as the recoil housing trays. A small amount of putty was needed along the join line of the breech halves but otherwise the gun itself assembled cleanly. I left the breech block removable to facilitate detail painting later on. The gun itself is also removable for the same reason.





That took me to Step 20 and deals with the front splinter shields. The instruction diagram isn't too clear on exactly how the support arms for the left side shield should install...you need to have the curved support inside the L shaped support in order for it to line up properly to the holes on the gun mount. I added the support rods first and test fit them to insure they held at the right angle and let them set a bit before installing the shields to the gun mount. I left off the PE chalk boards for now and will add them later after painting.





I also did a test fit with all of the other hull interior components to make sure I had things aligned correctly.



Now everything is broken down and the interior is ready for painting which is the next step to come!

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Bill Plunk



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PostPosted: Fri Feb 17, 2012 4:03 pm    Post subject: WIP 02-17-12 Reply with quote

Managed to get the interior base painting done. I masked off the contact surfaces on the fender and hull front edges that are critical to getting all the compartment panels to join properly to avoid having to scrape paint later on. I applied a primer coat of MM enamel Italian Dark Brown by air brush and let that air dry.



This was followed by an airbrushed coat of MM enamel Afrika Grunbraun (Testors version of RAL 8000). Because of the tight spaces on the hull front once the gun is installed, I also painted some of the exterior areas while it's still easy to get to them without becoming a contortionist.



I also discovered during the painting process that the splinter shields limit the elevation on the sIG33...something I hadn't fully anticipated. This is the maximum elevation that the gun can be posed at before the splinter shield interferes with the guard on the recoil tray (part B19). I'm not sure if this is a limitation that was also on the actual vehicle but it's something for the builder to be aware of. I intend to pose the gun in a flat elevation in the final analysis so it's not a big deal to me in the long-run, but will make life a little more interesting in terms of painting the camo scheme to the vehicle exterior later on.

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Bill Plunk



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PostPosted: Sun Feb 19, 2012 6:24 pm    Post subject: WIP 02-19-12 Reply with quote

The devil's always in the details and the cramped interior of this little gun buggy is no different.

I started in by weathering the floor of the fighting compartment. The Bison IIs were prototype vehicles that weren't originally meant for N. Africa so I'm running with the scenario that they would've been originally painted Panzer Gray before receiving their Tropen paint prior to shipment across the Med. To that end, I added some scuffing/wear to the floor using a round 0 sable brush and stippling first Panzer Schwarzgrau and then Burnt Umber in random patterns until I had the wear to the level desired. I blended the stippling back into the original paint work by lightly dry brushing the RAL 8000 base coat used earlier. Free space is at a premium in the fighting compartment so I assumed that any open spot like the top of the large box, the drive shaft cover, the open space beside the box, etc. would be used to move stuff around and wear in the process.



Also spent a good bit of time on the miscellaneous details like the crew seats, the radio gear, and the ammo pouches for the MP40s.



Still more to come in this department!
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Bill Plunk



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Posts: 1770

PostPosted: Wed Feb 22, 2012 3:52 pm    Post subject: WIP 02-22-12 Reply with quote

Made some progress in terms of moving in a lot of the furniture that I'd worked on previously. I used 0.5mm solder to wire up the transformer, battery, and radio to each other. The wire was painted with MM enamel Gunmetal and secured in place with CA gel in the holes I'd pre-drilled previously.

I also installed the gunner's and radio operator's seats. The gunner's seat is a little tough to get into position as there's not a lot of room to work with. This is a case where angled tweezers are your friend for sure. The radio operator's seat has to be positioned just so to avoid a problem with the rear compartment section, so it's a good idea to dry fit the rear compartment and then glue the seat in position.



The other side of the compartment also received the loader's seat and the MP40 ammo pouches. I also applied a pin wash of Burnt Umber to the raised detail (and the other compartment sections as well) and then lightly dry brushed the RAL 8000 base coat to highlight and blend back in to the finish a bit.



The other compartment sections received detail attention as well. The charge casing rack was detailed with MM non-buffing Metalizer Brass and the commander's seat installed. The kit-supplied PE holders for the gas mask containers were used to mount the containers to the compartment side wall and the fire extinguisher detailed. Last but not least, I added the antenna wire to the mast elevation mechanism and will connect it up to the radio when the compartment is fully assembled.



Next up is detailing the gun and then the compartment will get assembled.
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Bill Plunk



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PostPosted: Thu Feb 23, 2012 5:20 pm    Post subject: WIP 02-23-12 Reply with quote

More progress to report. I completed the detailing on the sIG33 using MM non-buffing Metalizer Gunmetal and non-buffing Metalizer Steel to detail the breech. I opted for the elevated version of the artillery sight which DML provides as clear parts, making it trickier to paint and detail them. I also used the Metalizer Steel for the recoil rails and dry brushed Burnt Umber over them to create a bare metal look. Last but not least I added the kit-supplied PE range/calculation boards.

I decided to treat the gun like a mini-kit for weathering and applied a Future coat by airbrush and let that dry and cure overnight. I applied an overall thinned wash of Raw Umber to the gun and followed that with a pin wash of Burnt Umber to bring out all the different bolt and raised detail. Excess wash was cleaned up using clean thinner and then the gun dull coated with an application of Testors MM Lusterless Flat in the spray can.







With the gun details finished, it was time to install it into position. The rear compartment portion has a tighter fit now with the commander's seat fitted so I had to kind of fit the two of them into place simultaneously for the seat to clear the clamps holding the gun equilibrator housings. I used liquid glue around the perimeter of the rear compartment and finger pressure to secure it in place. I didn't glue down the front of the gun splinter shields just yet.

As you can see from the pic below, the fighting compartment is a very tight/cramped space and all of the DML-supplied components have to be installed carefully to play nice with each other in the final result.



That left the side panels as the remaining element for the fighting compartment assembly. I added the left side first since it was supported by the angled braces and then the right side followed. By not gluing down the splinter shields until after the side compartments were fitted, I had some wiggle room to be able to slide the panels into position and make sure they were lined up correctly and at the right angle with the fenders. Then the front splinter shields were secured in place to complete the day's activities.




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Bill Plunk



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PostPosted: Mon Feb 27, 2012 3:41 pm    Post subject: WIP 02-27-12 Reply with quote

Work has been steady since the last update focusing on the exterior details. I went back through the instructions paying particular attention to Steps 7, 11, and 14 and adding things that I'd skipped over before. The rear deck received the ammo and storage boxes and the intake doors were added in the open position. I also modified the antenna mount using only the base from the kit supplied antenna and drilled it out with a #74 finger drill to take an RB Models brass antenna later on. Instead of the kit-supplied 3-part tool clamp for the wire cutters, I used a Grifon 2-part clamp instead.

Trickiest part of the exterior was the jerry can racks. There aren't any locater guides provided so these were placed using the instruction diagrams as a guide and working from the rear of the hull forward. I used Gator Grip glue instead of CA to allow some work time and flexibility in placing them. After the racks were in place, I added the belt straps with CA gel.





The rear hull also received some details in the form of the mud guards and lights from Step 8 and the lifting hooks from Step 10 that I'd overlooked previously.



I also assembled the jerry cans from Step 12 and have to warn other builders that DML has done their usual trick with the jerry can parts in terms of the PE design not matching the actual kit parts that are provided. The PE parts and instruction diagram show the can halves with three mount pins that the PE part is supposed to fit neatly over as it also has three holes provided. The reality is that the halves only have two pins and neither of them will line up with the PE part...so to assemble the cans, you have to remove the bottom pin completely and eyeball the placement of the PE insert. Normally this is the result of DML just reusing available parts from a previous kit and throwing them in but in this case the PE fret was designed specifically for the Bison II so why they didn't design the PE parts to fit correctly is a bit of a mystery.

I also cleaned up the fighting compartment tarp frame supports as those will be painted separately and installed after the exterior is painted. This will allow me to mask off the interior and protect it from over spray.



Next up will be the remaining exterior paint work and applying the camo pattern.
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Bill Plunk



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PostPosted: Wed Mar 07, 2012 4:21 pm    Post subject: WIP 03-07-12 Reply with quote

This one sat a little bit longer than I expected it to between updates but it's time to post the next round of progress.

I used small strips of blue painter's tape to mask off the interior and protect it while I finished the rest of the paint work on the exterior. I laid down an airbrushed primer coat of MM Italian Dark Brown over the unpainted surfaces from before and followed that up with the base coat of MM Afrika Grunbraun to complete the RAL 8000 base paint scheme.



At the same time, I did the paint work for the wheels and return rollers. Same primer coat treatment as the hull followed by an airbrushed application of MM Gunmetal (enamel paint, not the Metalizer) for the rubber portions. I used a circle template to mask off the rubber rims and airbrushed the RAL 8000 for the hubs. The wheels were mounted on wooden toothpicks with small amounts of blue tack poster putty to make it easier to handle them during the painting process.



The wheels were set off to the side to dry and work continued on the hull with the application of the disruptive Tropen camo scheme commonly used in N. Africa at the end of 1941 when the Bisons were shipped over. I used MM Afrika Khakibraun (Testors' version of RAL 7008) to create a disruptive pattern covering roughly 1/3 of the vehicle.

The masking tape was removed and the only spot that will need a little touch up are the tops of the MP40s, otherwise the interior was well protected.









Next up will be getting the road wheels installed and working on the exterior details.
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Bill Plunk



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PostPosted: Fri Mar 09, 2012 4:57 pm    Post subject: WIP 03-09-12 Reply with quote

Small update to post, I spent some time working on the lower hull and suspension. I detailed the springs with MM non-buffing Metalizer Gunmetal and followed that up with a wash of enamel Rust and also added some light scuffing/wear to the hull elements and road wheels. I used a round 00 brush and stippled some enamel Burnt Umber to simulate wear and then installed the road wheels and return rollers to both sides.





Work continues on the remaining exterior details particularly all the tools and gear for the compartment sides.
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Bill Plunk



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PostPosted: Sun Mar 11, 2012 12:01 pm    Post subject: WIP 03-11-12 Reply with quote

The latest round of effort centered on getting the external details completed. That meant focusing on the tools and getting them painted and detailed prior to their installation. I used the non-buffing metalizer Gunmetal for the metal portions on all the tools and lightly dry brushed some enamel Steel to show wear and create a metallic look. The molded-on tool clasps have hollow handles but the openings vary from part to part. Rather than try to thin those down to a more in-scale appearance, I clipped them off with sprue cutters and replaced them with Griffon PE handles. I added some wood grain detail to the jack block with the sharp point of a #11 blade prior to painting. The wood portions of the block and the handles on the shovel and axe were detailed with a base coat of lightened Panzer Dunkelgelb followed by a thin wash of enamel Leather and a light dusting of burnt umber artist pastels to create their look.



Tools were then installed on the compartment sides but not before some slight modifications were necessary. The crow bars need their small mount pins removed so they will sit flush (no mount holes or niches are provided for them) and the same is true for the shovel's center clamp. The instruction diagram in Step 7 also incorrectly shows the shovel's center clamp installing to a niche at the front of the compartment...that's actually where the top support post for the shovel end oval holder goes...so you have to be paying attention during installation! I started the install at the top and worked my way down, placing the tools one at a time and adding the little PE details for the shovel and crow bars as each was put into position.

I also detailed and installed the water cans for the hull sides. These had been base coated when I did the hull painting and I used strips of masking tape to create first the horizontal bar and then the vertical stripe by airbrushing some enamel Light Gray. Spouts were detailed using the same method as the metal portions of the tools. The cans were secured in place with the leather straps (detailed with MM enamel Leather and a light application of burnt umber artist pastels) and small amounts of CA gel.





Rear hull also received some detail work. The muffler finish is a combination of a base coat of MM metalizer Gunmetal and two successive applications of a thin wash of enamel Rust. The wash applications require a light touch to avoid lifting the metalizer so plenty of time is needed between the applications to let the wash dry and build up the effect.

The crank starter and the jack were also installed once the muffler was done, the jack block was added to its place on the engine deck, and the fender lights detailed. I used Tamiya Clear Green for the Notek light and Clear Red for the brake light to round things out.

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Bill Plunk



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PostPosted: Sat Mar 24, 2012 6:10 pm    Post subject: WIP 03-24-12 Reply with quote

Hard to believe that I let 2 weeks go by without an update on this build but Spring has arrived here in the Borderland and various things have conspired to keep me away from the bench as a result. I managed to squeeze in bits of time here and there until I finally had enough pulled together to justify an update, so here goes.

First off I went ahead and added the fighting compartment canvas tarp supports that are called for in the final Step 21 diagrams. I encountered a slight problem in that the "tall" version of the gun sight interfered with the placement of the first support so I had to move it forward a bit vs. using the kit-supplied location marks. This isn't an issue with the regular "short" sight and my guess would be that DML designed the placement only with that type in place.

I also did a test fit with the idlers and realized that they are designed to fit only one way into their mounts due to a "hex" nut pin on their base and a slightly oval form to the hull mount opening. I removed the hex pin and carefully removed paint and lightly sanded the mount opening with a round needle file to give me a little more flexibility so that I could adjust each idler slightly when it comes time to fit the tracks. The idlers are not permanently glued just yet.



ModelKasten tracks are a time-consuming assembly project so I typically will work on them a little bit at a time to avoid boredom and repetition. The set I'm using doesn't come with a jig and has one of the mount pins already molded in place, so the links assemble fairly easily. There are three sprue connection points on each link that need minor clean-up if you've got a good pair of sprue cutters and a sharp #11 blade handy. The links are "handed" with the molded on pin representing the outside pin for either Left or Right. I worked 10 links at a time until I had two runs of 100 links each assembled.



The DML instructions call for 110 links per side so I used a bit of blue-tack poster putty to temporarily mount the sprockets and checked out how many links I needed. Turned out that 111 were needed for the left side and 112 for the right to get the idlers aligned properly on both sides and the sag about the same. The tracks are held together with small pieces of masking tape and will be removed for painting and weathering before final installation.






I went ahead and glued the idlers into position and will let them set up overnight so that I have a fixed reference point for the sag later on. Next up will be applying some Future to seal everything up for the decals and weathering stages.
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Bill Plunk



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PostPosted: Sun Apr 01, 2012 3:51 pm    Post subject: WIP 04-01-12 Reply with quote

Not an April Fool's Day joke...I really do have an update!

Sealed up the entire vehicle with a coat of Future applied by airbrush and let that set up overnight. Decals were added and treated with a dose of Walther's Solvaset to insure they snugged down tight and didn't silver. Once the decals were dry, a second coat of Future was applied to seal in the decals and protect them from the weathering stages to come. Markings are fairly simple, just a set of balkenkreuze and the DAK insignias. The kit has the DAK insignia as multi-part pieces for the swastika portion and for the life of me I couldn't figure out how to align them to get the look right even after multiple attempts...so I went with the straight palm trees as-is instead.







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