Rubicon SdKfz250/1, Blitzkrieg MarderII, Perry SdKfz250/1 …..
Finished the first three vehicles. Well sort of, still got the width indicators and aerials to add but embarrassingly I seem to have run out of suitable wire …..
Finalised the stowage and detailing on these three. Added tool clamps, a stowage bin, ammo crate and tarp, spare track and gun cradle to the MarderII. Put straps on the Perry 250/1 for the hanging bags using thread tape cut into fine strips, made a replacement MG shield and repositioned the gun mount back and down. The Rubicon 250 got an added Jerry can rack.
So they’re all ready for the final paint work now …
Just a little progress. the Perry 250 is looking a tad better with stowage and the base lining done.
Blitzkrieg MarderII ….
More from the DAK project. Blitzkrieg MarderII and Perry 250/1 with the base paint laid on.
The Blitzkrieg MarderII is quite a nice moulding for the most part with little of the 3D master lines a lot of Blitzkrieg kits have. The Pak40 mounting needed the sides filing back to fit so look up some reference pics if you’re assembling one. The gun barrel itself is a very (very) rough casting and despite being straightened 3 time with hot water/chilling refuses to stay completely straight. It’s looks a little big/thick too, over 1/48th in thickness compared to the Tamiya kits I have here. I’d replace it with something but I don’t have a muzzle brake, however with the above taking into account it’s going to look pretty nice when finished.
I also did a quick side by side comparison with the Perry 250/1 and Rubicon 250/1 halftracks. Suffice to say the Perry one is not a favourite of mine, (way off in shape and rough casting quality, mostly shape though). The front MG shield has to go as well, not sure what it’s doing so I’ll make a new shield and mount. I will save it with stowage and paint but …. not a recommended buy though (unlike Perry figures) 🙂
Perry vrs. Rubicon SdKfz250/1 halftrack comparison
Waxing lyrical …
A bit of old school Necromundia. Dug pics of these guys out due to some recent discussions about a change of pace and direction for when the modern project wraps up (admittedly still a looooong way off). The general discussion was around small scale skirmishes such as Necromundia and Mordhiem being ideal for some stress-less modelling and gaming, in some respects better at those things than more common core projects.
Not that the modern project (or our WW2 or ’46) is stressfull, not in the full negative sense of the word anyway. We love doing those projects or we wouldn’t, full stop. But they do bring their own level of stress. There’s a level of expectation around a big project that can lead to burn out if not managed, especially with one as involved as the current modern one. It has rules to write and develop with all those pitfalls, after all everyone is a rules warrior right? and thinks rules development is easy. There’s also external and outside quality expectations – the need to be different and better, deadlines and there’s some difficult modelling involved. Now a lot of these factors are self imposed and we wouldn’t change them but they do have a habit of running away in scope.
So something like these guys, looking forward to playing with them or even modelling something similar but newer, is a project that doesn’t have the same pressure. There’s no historical colours or organisation to follow. You don’t have to be an ‘expert” on them and their equipment and it has a foreseeable finish to it, unlike core projects/periods that are on-going in that there’s always more stuff to be added. With small war bands the change ups that keep them fresh are more likely to be in campaigns, character development and the way they’re played, not in introducing new units that have to be technically balanced or are needed to counter another opposing unit or are wanted just for the couple of times they may get to the table for variety.
Of course adding a few extra gang members is still a temptation, but it’s a different sort of modelling project, one or two figures at a time and selected purely for entertainment. We think projects like these are needed to maintain some perspective, should be more common (for all of us) and always something to look fwd too ….
Rubicon SdKfz250/1 …..
Buttoned the top up and did a little basic blending and shading. Probably wont do much more on this now until some of the other vehicles get to the same stage that way I can tweak the final finish if required to help them look more of a “group”. Also moved to headlights back into the correct or at least one of the correct mounting locations. I assume Rubicon moulded them to the top of the front plate for simplicity – ie being sort of close to the real mounting and to save having two separate fiddly lights to add. Looks much better to my eye now …
Rubicon 250/1 …..
Just a quick look at the 1/56th Rubicon SdKfz250/1. I was in too much of a rush to get sprue pics but in summary it’s a pretty nice bit of kit. Very accurate overall in shape and with optional parts to build a 253 version. So I whipped on the base paint and though I’d try to get the look of the “hairspray” chipping technique that the big boys get to use i.e. those with airbrushes 😉 – but using my old faithful brushes.
Base paint was Humbrol Enamel Grey 27 for this as I figured laying down acrylics over enamel might allow me to rub off and distress the top coat a bit. Top was just some Vallejo desert colour, not sure which I just grabbed it for the experiment. Making it look worn turned out to be fairly quick and easy and I think it’s turned out pretty good so far. Bear in mind this is just the base paint, with a few more layers, touch ups, detailing and then usual washes/shading/dusting I think this should end up looking pretty ok.
CROWS finished ….
The CROWS is pretty much finished and ready for painting I think. Very hard to photograph due to the bits being mostly white so I had to faff around with the colour to show some of the detail. The pics are still not the best and it does look somewhat better IRL …..
Some CROWS (XM153) reference pics from the interwebs (and included for discussion only). As you can see the are several detail differences (and more in the pics in my stash) in both gun shield and overall fitting between various installations. I took some liberties with my version partly because of scale and my ability to scratchbuild and partly as it’s for wargaming use, not for diorama or competition entry.
Bradley and CROWS wip ….
Made some mesh grills for the Bradley air-conditioning units from thin wire, superglue and lots of “bleep” words.
Then while the iron was hot I cranked out the base shape of the XM153 CROWS remote weapons station. Still got a fair bit of detailing to do on it (apart from tidying that is) such as adding the cartridge collection shopping baskets, various rivets, gun cradle mounting gubbins, remote firing adaptor, ammo feed chute – lid and latches and the rain covers for the optics.
The base shape is pretty repeatable now I have dimensions I’m happy with so I should be able to make a few more, some for the other Abrams and one “swappable” for the MATVs.
Shading and lining …..
Base lining and shading done on the T90A and Bradley. There are some details now to add as some were left off during the handling/painting process then it’s decals and final weathering.
The next lot of ERA blocks were shipped so late next week I can start on the Abrams and second Bradley.
And so what’s left to do on these guys ….
Periscopes for the TCs hatch
Covers for the Shitora system laser detectors
Cross wind sensor
Unditching log (mandatory on all Russian AFVs)
IR lamp (on top of the LH turret top smoke dischargers)
Front mudguard springs
Left hand turret bin footrest
Side plate footloops
MG ammo belt
Replacement wheels (and maybe tracks)
Armoured TC glass
Mesh over gunners primary sight
Clamps for tow cable
Headrest for TC hatch
Mesh for air conditioning units
IFF panels (maybe as I haven’t seen any fitted on BUSK Bradleys)
Current vehicle batch primed …..
Well decided that these guys are ready for paint and so gave them an enamel primer undercoat. Pretty pleased with how much more “tank” like they look with a uniform base paint on. Next step is to decide on the correct shade and then lay on the basecoats with acrylic. The primer has shown up a few areas that need some tidying up and smoothing of some of the file marks so after fixing those it’s painting action …. at least until my next lot of parts shows up 🙂
M2A3 Bradley …
And a couple of on table shots …..
BMP3 progress ….
Fortunately not much to do to these boys compared to the Bradley and T90 although I may add some side ERA to the third vehicle when that arrives later to make the numbers up to a platoon. Add ons are just really cosmetic goodness, front MG brush guards, a few grab handles, wiring for the turret laser and searchlight and thickening up the hatches which are quite a bit more prominent on the real vehicle.
And some final detailing on the T90 and Bradley which are now pretty much ready to undercoat. The remaining final detailing will be added after most of the painting is completed …
T90 conversion progress ….
The T90A (welded turret) conversion is almost ready for paint. A raft of small changes have been made in addition to the major part of the job the welded turret itself. The welded turret sides were built up using 2mm styrene. Gaps were filled with Milliput and smoothed off before adding the Kontakt ERA blocks from 1.5mm sheet.
Some useful T90A reference pics from the internets (from open web sources) and included for discussion purposes only.
And the latest progress. Almost finished and ready for paint. Still a few very minor things to add (springs for the front mudflaps, port for the loaders hatch, unditching log and inner ring / second breather hose and cover flap for the fuel tanks …. I might still try and correct the road wheel spokes too but I’m not so sure about that yet.
A little carpentry ….
Hunting for something to make the ERA (explosive reactive armour) blocks from proved tricky for a while. Sounds easy doesn’t it, after all it’s just some plastic blocks/strips. However none of the plastic sheet on hand including some acrylic was thick enough and would prove difficult to cut accurately anyway.
After much searching I went alternative and looked at the wood strip supply. I finally found something that looked close and after some measurements decided it looked almost perfect to get both the required hull length and side rail depth. I cut a test piece and decided it worked well enough to crack on with.
The wood strip is bass wood used in picture framing (1/4″ x 3/16″) and should be readily available at hardware outlets, which is handy as I’ll need more including a thicker depth for the Bradley tiles. Ideally this should be done by creating a strip of tiles with it’s mounting backing plates and then casting it in resin for the multiple copies required. I may …. still try this if I can fund some resin but as finding that amount of spare cash is unlikely I’ll probably have to carry on manually.
Either way the strip was marked to the length required for the double stacked block (13mm as the Abrams side skirt is 14mm), cut to size with the diamond saw and then cleaned up by a gentle sanding. A half way line to simulate the 2 separate blocks was marked and then an impression cut into the block with the saw. I painted it with some Vallejo Sand to seal it and check that the grain didn’t show. Being a denser wood required for picture framing all was good as so the test block was ticked off.
The Abrams has 32x ARAT XM19 ERA Blocks (31 plus a spacer block) fitted to mounting rails attached to the side skirts and so I cut 16 (to be cut to simulate doubles) blocks. I’m not sure yet how detailed the backing mounts will be yet, there’s a line to be drawn in the detail somewhere ….. 🙂
ABRAMs TUSK ERA – ARAT-1 XM19 and ARAT-2 XM32
The Abrams can be currently retrofitted with ERA bocks as part of the TUSK (Tank Urban Survivability Kit) upgrade. Amongst other upgrades which are modular and it is possible to see some tanks with mixed equipment fits, the ERA system is fitted to mounting rails attached to the tanks side rails. This can be done with a field install kit and by troops on deployment.
The block part of the system is called ARAT-1 (Abrams Reactive Armour Tile) and the blocks are designated XM-19. The mounting package also includes brush guards fitted to the front and rear side rails. Note the front side rail on each side of the vehicle is replaced by a specialised and thinner plate although I won’t be modelling this.
To create a TUSKII level package, ARAT-2 curved tiles, XM-32, are further mounted to the side XM-19 blocks and to the sides of the turret.
REF Pics included from web sources and for discussion only. I believe some are from the excellent looking Tankograd publication M1A2 SEPv2 which is highly recommended as a modelling resource.
And a couple of general Abrams ref pics from exercises held in Eastern Europe and showing the look I’m hoping to achieve as well as the CROWs remote weapons systems fitted to the turret roof.
Assembly wips ….
Decided to post all the various wips from the project into one series but give them each a separate “feature” once final painting is finished.
T90A Welded Turret conversion
First step was to prepare some scale plans for the base T90, the T90A welded turret and the prototype T90MS Tagil. I reduced some reference plans until hull width matched a scale 1/50th. The Empress T90 was within a mm or so width wise but a little short in overall length. Not much I can do about that but I’m planning to fit extra fuel tanks on the rear so the length wont be an issue, not that it is, just covering it off from a completeness point of view.
The tracks fit inside the upper hull track guard and against a chamfered edge and with a lip to provide fore/aft location. I had to file off the upper outer edge to get them to sit down properly. I also relieved the inside of the front idlers to simulate the bearing housing because the wheel sits so far forward of the front plate and is visible.
The first step was to remove the turret bins, ERA blocks and fittings using a razor saw. I then ground the turret into the basic welded shape using a bench grinder, the dremel and files. Next the shape will be tuned then flat plates made from plasticard attached. Any gaps will be filled and the whole thing sanded and filed into the final profile. Last steps will be to add back in all the removed details …..
Abrams TUSK conversion
The only work so far was to grind out the tank commanders hatch so a crewman can be fitted to one of the tanks.
Bradley BUSK conversion
One vehicle is going to have the twin air-conditioning units fitted and so I removed the rear stowage bins with the trusty razor saw. Both vehicles had their front headlights removed so that the front BUSK ERA plate can be fitted. The headlights will be put back in place on top of the new block. I also started grinding down the inside of the hull turret ring. I’m planning to build up the base of the turret so that it fits better/more securely. In the past I’ve just drilled and pinned the turret on but as the ring is so shallow it was difficult to seat properly. I’ll probably grind this down about the same distance again and if the experiment works all vehicles except the BMPs will get the same treatment.
Modern battlegroup project ….
The start of what will probably an on-going period or project for us, large scale moderns. We have the troops (gee almost 200 or so Empress Modern Infantry from various nations), we have the rules (almost anyway, the set is currently being worked on in collaboration with the Empress Ladz) and now we have the tanks, or at least some of them!
We put together what is basically a “starter” set of vehicles for both the Russians and Americans to fight out some “what-if” conflicts on the table. We’ll probably push the numbers up to correct platoon establishments as both time and more importantly funds, allow. For now though we have 2x M1A2 Abrams and 2x Bradley IFVs for the Americans, and 3x T90s and 2x BMP3 IFVs for the Russians.
The bulk of these will be modified in some way as you should now expect 🙂 For the Russians I’m toying with updating a T90 into a T90A with the later welded turret and maybe even taking another a step further to try a T90MS, although I’m not sure about that one. The BMP3s will pretty much be a straight paint although they will probably get a few small details added such as added grab handles etc.
The American vehicles will both be updated to the present armour and equipment standard with the Abrams getting a TUSK II or III outfit including side ERA blocks and probably a CROWs remote weapon station and the Bradleys will get the same, ERA, CITV etc. I’d like to do one with the rear air conditioning units but they wouldn’t be on Europeans Bradleys, although maybe one could have been “transferred” from hotter climes and the units not removed …..