I finished up a couple more halftracks from Armourfast. These come two in a box and are really reasonably priced. But they do lack detail, especially in the one piece track and wheel area. But if you want some good value vehicles to bulk up the numbers then look no further. They go together in minutes and you can always dress them up with extras and crew.
So that’s what I did with these two. I had a spare Pak 36 gun from somewhere which I added to the top of one vehicle (I think it was a Plastic Soldier Company spare I had). This was teamed up with some Zvezda crew men from their 88mm gun kit. On reflection I would change the position of the crew as it looks a bit like they are doing a loading conga in the back of the half track. For the other vehicle I used my favourite AB figures for the crew, including a machine gunner and a couple of seated guys. Spent way too long doing the camo schemes again but it’s a fun past time.
I tried something new with my camouflage on the half tracks by first painting the green pattern in dark green with a brush, but then giving them a fine respray with my dunkelb spray can. It fades the camo quite nicely. Since I refuse to think about an airbrush this is as far as I will go without breaking my own strict modelling rules of engagement!
I wanted to buy some more alternative German vehicles that I could not find in plastic model kit form anywhere. One of the companies who make a few of these rarer vehicles is the Rapid Fire Ready to Roll Vehicles you can find here Rapid Fire. These were two Hotchkiss German SPGS, one 75mm and one 105mm. Also a halftrack with a Pak 40 75mm gun. Rapid Fire is a ruleset I have, but have not yet tried out yet. Their website is a great source for all sorts of things and worth a look.
Their vehicles come in resin and metal, with the tank barrels usually being in metal. They are pretty inexpensive and have a decent range of British, German and American vehicles. I haven’t seen so many other resin castings to compare them to, but i was pretty happy with the detail. They come on bases already moulded. All i had to do was file down a view bits here and there and then superglue the barrels onto the main chassis. Hey presto the vehicle is finished.
The open top SPGs and halftrack were crying out for some AB figures crew and so I happily obliged with a few guys in camp and black jackets. It took me about two weeks to finish off painting all the camp on the crew men due to the camo pattern i did on all their pants. Then of course, once they are in place in their vehicles you cannot see so much of all my painstaking spotty came schemes……… Plenty of photos below!
Sadly this model kit maker, I think from Germany, has stopped producing these kits anymore. So you’re only chance of picking one up is on eBay or some similar shop somewhere. I was lucky enough to grab four different MACO kits on eBay a while ago. There are really cool half tracks and some excellent anti aircraft vehicles too.
So I was itching to build one of these and picked out the sWS cargo halftrack to begin. My first observation is that it is a massive vehicle. I think a good metre or longer than the 251 series half tracks. The kit parts are amazing, delicate and detailed. The tracks are link and length and are probably the best tracks I have found so far in a small scale kit. I tend to glue the single links together and create a curve slowly before attempting to add them to the sprocket wheel. This worked well with this kit. The tracks are so nice and thin they bend easily to the running gear. Inside the cabin there is also a good amount of detail, and you could add your own driver or crew member if you wanted to. The roof hatch can also be modelled open. I left mine closed and didn’t add any crew. This is a fab little kit. I cannot wait to try out the other ones I have in my stash. Painting was just the usual dunkelb followed by a brown wash over gloss varnish. The tracks were base coated in german dark grey and then rusted with powders. I did quite a lot of sponge chipping and wearing using black, raw umber and red oxide. I may have slightly over done this part so my cargo half track does look like he has transported a lot of cargo. The only decals to add were number plates on the front and back. To finish it all off i added plenty of earth and sand powders.
All I can say if you can find a MACO kit anywhere you should buy at least one just to check them out. I hope maybe someone will pick up production again as they really are top notch.
Another German vehicle finished this week, but this time one of their excellent eight wheeled armoured cars. This kit is from Roden, who do a good range of all the eight wheeled armoured cars and other lesser known vehicles. I bought this one from my friends at Metro Hobbies. Its a funny looking vehicle but will come in very handy for reconnaissance and scouting missions.
The kit is fun to build with most of the challenge coming in building the under carriage. The wheels and axles and suspension are done in this soft black plastic which I found quite tricky to work with. I manage to snap one axle without much effort, and found it difficult to get the wheel alignment nice and straight. Four wheels each side means there is a fair bit of aligning to do. Apart from that I lost a light to the carpet monster and struggled a little with the mirrors and other bits on the hull.
On reflection I think I should have painted this German grey and then done some highlighting to try and pick out more of the details on the vehicle. Doing a green camo stripe type thing seems to lose a lot of the detail and leaves him looking a bit boxy and flat. Anyway I have two more versions of this eight wheeler in the box so next time I will try something different.
Apologies for the fuzzy photos, blame my crappy camera phone……….
I completed another Dragon StuG kit this week. It coincided with another delivery from Dragon Models in the USA. I have found them a great source for cheaper Dragon kits and if you buy three or four kits the postage from the US to Australia is only USD 12. Great value I think. They always have discounted kits and promotions on their website, so its well worth checking out. You can usually find stuff at USD 8-10 per kit which is a bargain I think for Dragon Kits. Have a look at Dragon Models USA
So onto my latest StuG kit. Its one of the new Dragon quick build models, so very easy to put together. The tracks are one piece affairs which fit around the sprocket and drive wheels. The whole kit has minimal pieces, and being a turret less tank, even fewer than normal. I still feel a little disappointed with such an easy, fast build for a Dragon kit, but the end result is still a very nicely detailed vehicle. I guess I was happy to spend more time on the painting and decorating this time. If you can find these type of kits for less than USD 10 then I think its good value. If you want a more complicated and challenging model I would be buying Trumpeter or Unimodel versions.
I kept this one a plain dunkelb yellow, but tried out some more chipping affects with a sponge. I used a black, a brown and a rust colour, and ended up overdoing the chips. I think its very easy to over do it. So I painted over some of the panels with more dunkelb and it seemed to fix the problem. Every where I read that with chipping and scratching less is always more! I think I proved a point. Lots of mud and dirt and dust with various powders and pastes was added. I then lined up my new StuG with two other friends (one a Trumpeter kit and the other another Dragon). Nice looking unit read for action.
Dragon Models in the USA had a 40% off sale back on Superbowl Sunday and I could not resist picking up some more kits with such a big discount! Some German big cats that came out at USD 6 a kit with such a decent discount. If you buy four kits from the USA the shipping is still only USD 18 total to Australia so it ended up being a great shopping deal. Now Dragon kits are usually a treat for me as you can pay more for them but it’s worth it as the complexity and detail can be considerably better than other model producers. This particular kit Dragon have aimed at simplifying everything, and its a bit of a disappointment to be honest.
They have started doing the wheels and tracks as one piece parts that you just add onto the lower hull onto the drive and sprocket wheels. The number of parts has been drastically reduced so the model can be built in really quick time. So they are definitely aiming for more of a wargamers’ market I think. The detail is nice but its all moulded on. The Panzer IV is a simple tank anyway, so I found this build a bit easy and the tank came out really plain. As a direct comparison I had just finished my Hasegawa Jagdpanzer kit which was much more of a challenge and had far better detail.
You can see I have put my Dragon Panzer next to my other Panzer IVs to complete the troop. The other kits are two Armourfast and one Esci. There is no difference between the Dragon Kit and the Armourfast ones, except perhaps the track and wheel detail is better on the Dragon one. The Esci kit is a real pain to build (for pain read challenge), but in hindsight comes out the best, with its cool side skirts and extra armour. Pricewise I would only be buying this Dragon kit if you can find a super deal at USD 6-8 per kit, otherwise you may as well just buy cheaper quick build kits from Armourfast or Plastic Soldier Company.
Photos follow with the Dragon kit on its own, plus hanging out with his troop buddies. The other Panzer IV kits are detailed in other posts on my blog. I think I will try a Hasegawa Panzer IV next and maybe get another Esci/Italeri one just for the hell of it!
Continuing my German armour building plans i got my hands on this Jagdpanzer kit from Hasegawa. Again the best Japanese on line hobby shop have this at a great price compared to everywhere else, especially for those of us in Australia! Hasegawa kits just keep surprising me, each new one I build, the more I like them!
The Jagdpanzer is another German tank destroyer that i am not sure was used too much in Normandy. I am guessing it was used more on the Eastern front, but i could be wrong. Anyway i wanted to build one and i am sure it will be happy to fit in with my Stugs and Hetzers. The kit comes in the usual Hasegawa grey plastic which is really easy to cut and glue. Wheels are simple and go straight onto the bottom hull. Eight along the bottom and then four return rollers on the top. You need to make sure you keep the lower hull and upper hull separate before painting them and after painting the tracks. The tracks need to go onto the lower hull before gluing the two together otherwise it will be very tricky to get them on. The tracks are the one piece rubbery type so give them a good stretch to make sure they fit OK without straining on the drive and sprocket wheels. You do not want to snap anything off……
The upper hull is pretty straightforward but it does not miss any detail. You have to open a couple of holes and also fill a couple of others. On the front of the hull there is one bigger area to fill which i made a total pigs ear of. I made such a mess with my filler and sanding i had to cover it up with extra track. Great way to cover my mistakes! I also added some more track along the front and the usual washing up brush plastic bristle aerial. If you haven’t tried that yet i suggest getting a $2 washing up brush from Woolworths with plastic bristles. Hey presto, 200 plastic aerials! I was super impressed with the detail and the challenge of this kit. Hatches can be open or closed, and I have a commander in the painting queue soon to be added.
Painting started with an undercoat of matt black followed by dunkelb dark yellow. Then i did a red brown and bright green camo pattern. Gloss varnish, followed by decals and dark brown wash and finally some chipping using a sponge. Its the usual process but i was happy how it all came out. I had also based the tank on 3mm mdf as usual. After a coat or three of matt varnish i used mud, dirt and various weathering powders to create the final dirty finish. The base was completed with tufts and flock and a little static grass.
This kit is excellent and a great balance between a challenging build without being frustrating. For a wargamer i do not think you will find a better version of this tank. I also made some camouflage foliage for the crew to further hide their vehicle so I will detail them in my next post.