M1A1 Abrams – Gasoline 1/48th – Fire Team build log5

Almost ready for paint …..

Most of the detailing is finished now. Got the Duke Jammers mounted, pretty happy with the solution too as it’s solid enough not to worry about knocks while handling. Tidied up the APU by fitting a shim to the back and adding access panels and handles. Also added handles to the infantry phone and coms boxes. Replaced the end of the gun muzzle and added tow cables and tie straps to the turret sides. Filled the bustle rack extension with stowage, fitted jerry cans and mounts, tow hook and finally fitted a heavy tank tow bar to the front hull.

Still on the to do list is to fill the tops of the Duke jammers, add caps to the smoke dischargers, straps to the rear jerry cans, rear tow cable, loaders armour shield and to finish the CWS.

Q

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Added details ………

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M1A1 Abrams – Gasoline 1/48th – Fire Team build log4

Detailing continues ………..

Managed to finish scratching the major details, the exhaust deep wading trunking, smoke dischargers and the rear turret bustle extension. I also added the turret ammo bins for the smoke launchers, lifting lugs to the gun mantlet, rear mounted infantry phone/coms boxes and front and rear towing/lift eyes. Another day should see all the bits in place except those that won’t be fitted until after most of the painting has been completed.

Q

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And a few closer shots of the details added so far ……..

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M1A1 Abrams – Gasoline 1/48th – Fire Team build log3

Basic detailing started ……

Began working on adding details to the turret starting with the most obvious stuff, Gun Mantlet, CITV station, Smoke grenade ammo lockers, CWS – Commanders Weapons Station (Cupola) and the GPS – Gunners Primary Sight.

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Gun Mantlet

As supplied this is inset too far back into the turret. The Leading edges should be visible when viewed from any side angle. I spaced out the mantlet to move it forward by fitting a scrap resin block to the turret. The gaps were filled and the top guide plate (which I couldn’t find reference photos for anyway) was removed. I scribed the characteristic plates into the side of the gun mantlet and fitted replacement strips to the top along with a new hinged debris cover. Still to add are the three lift/accessory mounting lugs and maybe lengthen the end portion of the gun barrel as it appears to be approx 3-5mm short.

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M1A1 Gun Mantlet

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CITV station

Previously I had removed the characteristic CITV ( Commanders Independent Thermal Viewer ), which is only fitted to Army M1A2s and not the Marine M1A1 HAs and HCs. I fitted a plasticard cover and added PE brass nuts from the modelling stash box.

Smoke Grenade Ammo bins

On all pics I’ve checked the storage bins for the smoke grenade launchers (situated on the turret front sides) should be mounted lower so I cut them off. When I replace them I’ll add a few details and space them out from the hull slightly

GPS – Gunners Primary Sight

The armoured cover for the Hughs GPS-LOS (gunners primary sight – line of sight) is pretty basic as supplied. No doors are supplied and detail is basic. I added a new roof and sides so that I could model the gun sight doors open and added two square blocks to represent the armoured glass sight covers.

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CWS

The Commanders Weapons Station or cupola is the biggest change I’ve made so far. I originally intended to fudge things by fitting the existing cupola and just adding the different M1A1 MG, but there are major visual difference to the shape and it kept nagging at me until I caved and decided to scratch it. While not 100% accurate I think the final result is closer to the correct M1A! CWS that under paint it should look ok. All parts are scrap styrene filed and shaped apart from the hatch, which is original but trimmed to fit the smaller cupola.

The pic below (from the web for discussion purposes only) shows the M1A1 CWS on the left and the later cupola and flexible 50cal mounting from the M1A2 on the right.

CWS M1A1 vrs M1A2

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Finally a few shots showing where things are currently ………

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M1A1 Abrams – Gasoline 1/48th – Fire Team build log2

Basic assembly of the Abrams ……

As part of the a project to build some vehciles to use with our in-house modern skirmish rules, Fire Team, I decided to build the Gasoline 1/48th Abrams, converting it from the kits M1A2 standard to the M1A1 Marine version. It’s a kit I’d always wanted to build so the timing was perfect, even if the build and detail changes require a little planning.

Before adding details and mods the first step was to get the thing assembled and looking like an Abrams. Being a full resin kit it has features that have to be dealt with like large moulding plugs and moulding flash and parts alignment takes some care. The plugs are cut off with a coping saw and then filed flat using first a rasp file to get any big bits worn down, then files and finally fine grade wet n dry taped to the bench. Test fit as you sand and slow down when getting close, it’s easier to take off a tiny bit more than go “oops” and sand too far ending up with a gap you’ve created just for funsies.

The kit has a few small alignment issues. The tracks are a little pigeon toed and on one run were misaligned a little. Not much but it catches my eye as I’m a bit picky about how tracks and wheels sit. There aren’t many options to fix unfortunately. If this were a pure display or competition model I’d cut of the tracks, separate the links and realign them, but I just don’t have the time. The road wheels don’t have a positive fit and what lugs are there cause the wheel to sit proud of the lower track run, easy fix, remove the lugs while fixing, again the key thing is to make sure the are sitting down and are aligned properly while glueing. At this stage I’m trusting in the paint god to hide any small issues …..

One thing I chose to do before setting the hull and tracks together was to Dremel out the area around the rear drive sprockets. Many M1s and most (all?) Marine Abrams on deployment seem to have the rear track guard piece removed and I thought it would make a nice detail change to have. No detail is supplied in this area and it’s a solid resin plug. Again I’m not going crazy by levelling and adding detail, just hollowing out and going for an impression of space.

The only other minor detail changes to get done at this intitial stage was to remove the Simfire smoke candle launcher on the top of the gun mantlet as this is only fitted for training purposes while in the US, to cut of the CITV image sensor from the left turret top ( a cover plate with bolts will go on later), and to cut off the gun muzzle tip with laser reference and to turn it around. For some reason the kit has this moulded on facing backwards ……

Apart from all that, it was fix it all with superglue while checking to make sure things were all aligned and square (I may have mentioned this once or twice already lol) …

Q

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Contruction steps ……..

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Oshkosh M-ATVs – Empress Miniatures 28mm build log2

Got most of the detail work done prior to base painting ……..

Finished off most of the detail work on the two M-ATVs and they’re now ready for priming. As usual (and mentioned in the previous log post) some stuff will get added after most of the paint work is completed, either the more fragile stuff like the wing mirrors or the things I’m likely to stick myself in the eye with like the aerials, these have 4 each.

So what have I added so far ?

lifting eyes on the lower hull sides and the upper rear of the cabin
support chains for the steps
front grill mesh
Rhino front mounted IED jammer
power supply boxes for the DUKE jamming system mounted on the rear cabin
rear access step ladder
mounting bracket for the spare wheel
hatch for the gunners O-GPK (Objective Gunner Protective Kit) turret
mounting brackets for the truck and turret wing mirrors
turret joystick slew controller
turret stowage rack
wiring for the aerials and low light TV drivers aid
Ibis Tek tow bar
coil springs and lower suspension arms (on 1 and undecided if I’ll do the back and the other vehicle yet)

Still to add …….

Aerials (4 per vehicle) and some wiring for them
Flexible cover for the Harris AN/PRC-152 SINCGARS radio (left rear)
tow shackles
emergency door pulls
tie straps for the Rhino and tow bar
side mesh for the rear stowage bins
various stowage bits to the rear bins

Anyways, priming tomorrow and on to assembling the Abrams and the rest of the British ……….

Q

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Group shot size comparison with an Empress M1A2 Bradley and airfix 1/48th Land Rover

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Build detail shots

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Detail close ups

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Oshkosh M-ATVs – Empress Miniatures 28mm buld log 1

The first of a few moderns on the project bench, a pair of M-ATVs from Empress Miniatures.

Assembled a pair of M-ATVs from Empress to go with our moderns and to be used with our in-house modern skirmish rule-set, Fire Team. The first thing that needs to be said is that these boys are big units. The only way to hide these things would be to find a building and drive into it for cover, and it’d have to be an American sized building at that, they stand over the Abrams and dwarf the British Jackals, which I thought were pretty big vehicles anyway. I must admit I’m unconvinced of their use outside of patrolling a tertiary warzone or policing duties but I guess time and combat success will tell the tale ….

And the models ….. they comprise 15 resin and 15 white metal parts. The resin is impressive, being very crisply moulded with very little clean up required to get the major parts flush and aligned. There were a couple of minor issues, while filing I did “break” through the resin surface and exposed a couple of sinkholes but a little Tamiya epoxy putty should fix them ok and one of my turrets was close to being a miscast. It looks like the moulds shifted during pouring with the top being off centre to the base and one side pretty roughly cast, although after some clean up and paint I suspect only I’ll notice. The white metal parts are ok and typical quality for mixed media wargaming kits.

I made a couple of detail changes, drilling and filling out the armoured glass windows on the turrets and pre-drilling holes for aerials and some wiring to be added later. There’s a few extra details I’ll add after basic painting too, just the usual stuff, tow shackles, some chain, mirrors, front grill mesh, rear mudguards, step ladder and spare wheel bracket, the aerials and wiring for them and the ECM gear, and some mesh and stowage to the rear storage cages …… at some stage I might try making a CROWs remote weapons system mount as seen on the current vehicles, which should be just a plug in swap for the manned armoured weapon station.

Q

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A few ref pics filched from the web to whet the appetite ………

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The kit and basic assembly ……….

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Assembled vehicles ………

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Airfix Warrior – Crew fitting 2

Airfix Warrior crew finished ……

Finally got these guys finsihed and in the Warrior for a few pics. I haven’t decided yet if they’ll be fixed in place permantly but at the moment they’re removeable so that I can do the final finishing on the Warrior. A lot of work to get ’em up to model standard but I’m pretty happy with how they look in place ……

Brent

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Airfix Warrior – Modern British MTP uniform 2

MTP test fig finished ………..

Well I finished the test trooper in MTP. Improved the detail on the Helmet by adding a replacement NVG mounting strap and clips. While painting I realised I should have replaced the platoon comms microphone. I’d previously replaced the ones on the turret TC and Gunner, figuring the crew headsets and mics were more prominent. I should have done the troopers too in hindsight, too late for this guy but I’ll track the others down and fix em …….

Anyway the paint went on ok. I decided to paint the body armour, knapsack and some of the pouches in plain DDPM to add some contrast to the camoflage. As Keith mentions in a comment on the first MTP installment, when painting modern camo especially, the packs and details can get lost in the camo. While that may be the idea (lol) it doesn’t make for a very visual figure. So the plain webbing helps and I also spent a bit of extra time working on the shading / shadows.

All in all and while it’s taken some effort, I think the plain and soft Airfix figures can scrub up pretty well. Which is just as well as there aren’t any other options available in 1/48th yet …….

Q

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I’m often asked about the colours I use. Well I usually mix my paint and current use mostly last generation (out of production) GW acrylics. This makes it really a moot point to try and detail the ratios of each colour used. Instead I’ve been producing colour swatches of paints as I mix them. That means when I come to re-mix a batch, even using a different paint system, I can faff about with my alchemaic blending until I have a pretty close match to my favourite colour.

Below are the primary colours I settled on for my MTP camo test.

Pea Green base – the whole uniform gets this as a base colour
Mid Green diruptor – this goes on next, covering roughly 25% of the uniform
Dark Earth disuptor – the third colour added to cover roughly 25% of the uniform
Desert DDPM base – my base colour for DDPM. Used as an light accent colour at roughly 5% or less
Dark Chocolate Brown (not shown) – the final dark accent colour, apply sparingly at around 5% or less

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MTP Pal-1

Airfix Warrior – Modern British MTP uniform 1

Mini update ………

Or to use it’s official designation;

Multi Terrain Pattern Personal Clothing System Combat Uniform (MTP PCS CU) which started entering service in 2011 replacing the old Combat Soldier ’95 system which had a vareity of uniforms for different situations. Personally after looking at many ref pics I think the MTP does a great job in both desert and temperate surroundings. It just looks tricky to paint lol

So, I started experimenting with painting the current uniform MTP (also sometimes called multicam) on one of the troopers. In theatre pics often show a mix of uniform types so I was thinking of painting the two troopers in MTP and the vehicle crew in the earlier desert pattern DPM figuring the groundpunders would be the first to get the newer issued uniforms. Interestingly the US also adopted multicam after first rejecting it and now having largely abandoned their “digital” pattern experiment …….

Anyway I had to mix all the colours to match the reference pics, in which the shades often appear quite pale and subdued.

I’ve attached some assorted MTP pics below showing how variations in lighting (and probably fading esp in the Afghanistan pic) effect the colour hues.

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And here’s my first attempt. I’m pretty happy with it so I’ll carry on and complete both of the troopers who will be standing in the fighting hatch.

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Airfix Warrior – crew fitting1

My attempt at fitting crew figs to the Warrior …….

Following on from the fitting of the Jackal crew here are my modified Airfix crew figs for the Warrior. They’re made using a mix of figures from the Airfix Crew figure and Patrol sets plus a few bits from the spare box.

They are as follows ;

The track commander is a seated guy from the crew set. His right arm is from the crew set standing gunner.
The gunner is from the patrol set. His arms are from Bandai tank crew.
One standing trooper is stock from the patrol set.
The second standing guy is the gunner from the crew set. His right arm holding the Saw is from the patrol set and his left is his own arm but with an inverted Bandai hand supporting the mag.

I drilled and pinned the heads and filled any arm and head gaps with greenstuff. I had to re-build the arms where I had cut and modifed them and added pouches to the upper arms and body armour webbing to both of the turret figures. Not the best (my greenstuffing skills are naff) but once covered with paint they should look ok.

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I’ve also carried out a bit of PIP (Product Improvement) on them. Fistly I scribed undercuts around the webbing and pouches, The Airfix plastic is soft (as is the detail) but easily worked with a little patience and no more difficult than working with any other figures. I added helmet mics and earpieces to the commander and gunner and had a go at adding the elastic turns ups often seen on the Brit helmets. Feeling adventurous I added the webbing foliage camo strips to the gunner for some variety. Worked out pretty well I think. I used thread tape (very thin) stuck down to a glass microscope plate. Then it was easy to cut the strips to size and add them with thin CA.

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Finally I added a couple of detail shots of how I added the wiring to the ECM/COMs platforms. I drilled into the bottom of the aerial mountings added passed the whole thing through the mounting hole. Then I fixed them with CA and once dry bent the wiring up into place and trimmed to fit …..

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Fire Team – 28mm Modern Skirmish rules

Recently we dusted of some of our in-house rules sets . . .

and realised that it wouldn’t take much to bring them up to date as we’ve been using most of the rules mechanisms for quite some time and they play pretty smoothly. As with all out rules we’re always streamlining them but the overall concept is for them to play as a sort of amalgam of all the books we read, with the emphasis on “feeling” right for the period. With our interest (and about 1000hrs of U-Tube Afghanistan doco watching under our belts) we decided to tackle our Modern Skirmish rule set first – Fire Team.

* Note in due course our WW2 Skirmish, WW2 Company, Modern Company, Project ’46 Alternate War and Infected Survival Rules, Knights of the Sky WW1 Aero and Rodger Young (Sci-Fi Starship combat) will all be tarted up and hopefully made available for free / donation.

Soooo while my brother was ripping into some of the nice new Empress Miniatures 28mm modern figs my task was to tackle the vehicles and as one of the first I chose to build a USMC M1A1.

While we’re confessing things I’m also at a bit of a crossroads in deciding how to model it. I’m getting the impressive resin 1/48th Gasoline M1A2 kit. Now the only M1s in Afghanistan were the M1A1s of the Marine 1st Battalion. To depect one of these tanks properly I’d have to backdate the Gasoline kit, then partially upgrade it with selected TUSK1 components.

Further complication things is that we plan to make a HMMMWV unit later in the year. Given that it will be based on the Tamiya 1/48th kits and the upgrade armour and weapons turrets commonly seen on Afghanistan deployed vehicles aren’t available for them, it would make more sense to finish both the M1 and the Hummers as vehicles from the second Iraq War.

At the moment I’m undecided. I guess when the Abrams turns up (it’s on order at the moment) I’ll have a look at it and work out how much work is involved in converting it to the later USMC Afghanistan standard.

Q

.My loose plan is to depict a heavily used vehicle and use it as a chance to go to town with contrasts and weathering. My reference pic below is this tasty looking USMC vehicle pictured from the Iraqi conflict though current Afghanistan deployed vehicles have been upgrade with newer equipment.
Some of the upgrades applied to the Abrams include SEP (Systems Enhancement Programme) and TUSK (Tank Urban Survival Kit) which include the following components, a Thermal Imaging sight for the loader, CROWs remote weapons station for the tank commander, Armoured Gun shield for the loader, rear mounted Tank/Infantry telephone and an improved armour kit comprising reactive armour tiles and rear mounted slats. Recently DUKE anti IED jammers have also been fitted to the service fleet. Note I don’t intend to add all this stuff . . . . though I might . . . . add . . . . some . . . . .

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OIF Abrams

Abrams Tusk upgrades

Well that’s all for now apart from waiting for the bits to arrive. Feel free to comment on the build once I get going and ask any questions which I’ll be glad to try and answer (except the dumb ones you’re thinking up Craig!)

Brent
Aka Queeg

Airfix 1/48th Warrior – build log 10

Detailing basically completed over the weekend ……..

Pretty much as the can says, added the final details. There’s still more I could do but have to draw the line somewhere.

And while we’re talking about detailing I thought it might be interesting to add a list of the additions made to the basic kit ;

From the Airfix PE set
Replaced the front and rear fenders,
Upper hull and rear air-con unit grills,
Turret vison blocks
Turret sight grills and window wipers
Driver hatch windows
Turret and upper hatch handles
Rear ecm/aerial plate mountings
Fire extinguisher clamps and frames
Front hull tool rack and fittings
Gun mantlet spent round ejection port cover
Gun mantlet mounting brackets (honestly no idea what they’re for lol)
Brackets on the headlight clusters used for fitting drivers mirrors
Headlight and taillight cluster brush guards

Scratch additons
Replace kit hatch handles with wire (20)
Added rain covers to driver hatch viewing ports
Turret spent round deflection plate
Turret lifting lugs (5)
Replaced all kit aerials with various sized wire
Added wiring to the rear mounted ECM/Sat nav/Bowman coms aerials
Fitted stowage rolls and made tie down straps and hooks
Added turret mounted side stowage box
Made a Kinetic tow rope (old IPod cable)
Added towing shackles (none supplied with the kit)
Thinned the slat armour with scalpel and file (not really an addition but loads of work)
Fitted RHS drivers aid/width indicator pole
Added detailling to the front mounted IED jammers.
Thinned (didn’t replace with PE as its too thin) the three wire cutter/deflector bars

Lol … I think that’s about it ……..

Q

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Airfix 1/48th BAE Warrior – build log 9

The last build log entry before final details, weathering and the final money shot pics …..

Yup, it’s all over and done. Well its at about 85-90% but the assembly and basic paint part of the build is all complete. Still have some details to add, stowage, tow cabels and hooks, crew, ECM and SAT nav aerials and the wiring for them. I also have a few broken small parts to re-fit, the mudflap and some door handles. Then it’s final weathering and it’s ready for the all important finished money shots …..

Q

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Airfix 1/48th BAE Warrior – build log 8

Made a start on fitting the slat armour ……

I decided to try and scratch build the rear panel as I need the practise (my scratch skills are average) and to see how long it would take and thus if scratching the whole lot was practical.

Using the kit part as a guide it was a basic if time-consuming process. First I cut the outer frame and drilled and fitted the three-wire upright supports. Then cut and drilled the slats, fitting them down over the wires and superglued them in place.

If I’d made a jig to cut things square and to the same length it would have been even easier but I wanted to see the result first. To make matters harder I broke the drill of choice and had to use a slightly larger one for the holes in the slats, this made if a nightmare to get them secured with glue. Possibly my superglue is past it’s best also and takes a while to set off. Anyway all done and about 2hours work. It would be less with a jig but it’s still tedious and a mental strain.

I think it looks good (read – more in scale) and I managed to replicate the ragged look most slats carry after a little service. I’d definitely do all of it this way if the Warrior was going on a diorama base or in a comp for its hero factor, but for gaming and my sanity I went back to hand thinning the kit pieces with a scalpel and file.

Q

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And with one side fitted ……..
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Airfix 1/48th BAE Warrior – build log 7

Big update this, worked on the Warrior all day for the first time this week as unfortunately we’ve had a family bereavment to start 2014 off with …… (thinking of you Gary)

Anyway laid on the base coat and lightened it. Put on the initial pin washes and some shading. Kept it minimal at this stage as I’ll wait for the slat armour to go on before I can get a decent feel for how the whole thing ties together. I still might yet add a filter to change the overall base colour shade a little which is still bothering me, not sure.

This has also been a departure for me as the base colours were Humbrol Enamel this time instead of GW acrylics. I’ve still used acrylic in places for detialing but my stock of the old style GWs is dwindling fast and the new paint is shite compared to the old stuff. It has the consistancy of housepaint and I just can’t get a feel for it yet, not on tanks anyway.

I also sealed the base enamel with varnish and have used old school oils for the pin washes. Again mostly because my stock of GW Chestnut Ink has almost run out and I’m trying to settle on alternatives that match my painting style ….. Yoda forsees much trickiness and gnashing of teeth ahead …….

Q

Pin washed and ready for the slat armour to go on ….
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Base coat and hightlighting completed …….
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Airfix 1/48th BAE Warrior – build log 6

Primed and ready for finishing paint …..

Finished the grab handles and hatches today then primed it with Tamiya enamel (TS-3 from a rattlecan). I’m hping to paint and finish the hull before fitting the hull slat armour. Also after most of the painting is completed it’ll get the last of the details including, some stowage – packs and boxes, towing shackles and tow cables, a spare roadwheel or two if I can find something close enough to the corret size in the spares box.

Q

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Airfix 1/48th BAE Warrior – build log 5

Getting closer to painting ……..

Almost all the PE is on now. Got to add the turret hatches (the filler on the ejector pin holes, which were huge, is still drying) and to make and fit the grab handles, about 20 in all. Some of the PE won’t be able to go on until after painting, the headlight, tail ight and turret IR sensor bin brush guards will all have to wait. Also glass has to be be added to the turret crew add on armour last after final varnishing.

Same goes for the the ECM and sat nav package aerials. They will get in the way of handling during painting so they’ll also be a late addition. I’m also not even sure if I’ll be able to mount them sercurely to the PE plates yet so might have to revert to the kit platic offerings yet, we’ll see ……

Q

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Slat Armour

I attempted to thin down the kit plastic slat armour a little also. Managed to get it clsoe to half the thickness of the original. Still way overscale but a bit better at least. It would have been nice if the Airfix PE set had included slats or even if they had made it available as an additional PE set …..

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Airfix 1/48th BAE Warrior – build log 4

It’s starting to look like a Warrior now ….

Cut out the hole for the top PE vent and added the top deck grills. Finally attached the upper hull permantly then added the the side armour and fitted the ECM and nav suite electrical cables. No issues with this stage as the fit of parts overall is very good.

One PE grill, the one immediately in front of the turret on the left upper hull, didn’t quite fit as it’s supplied angles didn’t quite match the plastic vent. I just filled the small gaps with thin CA. Fingers crossed this part stays attached during painting as it small and doesn’t have a lot of contact area. Fishing it out of the hull with it buttoned up will be a mission. If I’d thought about I could have blocked off the underside of the vent with plasticard ……..

Q

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Airfix 1/48th Supercat HMT600 Coyote TSV – wip

Posting catch up pics of the Coyote 6×6 Tactical Support Vehicle build.

Basically the Coyote is essentially the same kit as the Jackal but with an extra drive transfer case and wheels and a longer supply deck. As such the build comments made for the Jackal assembly hold true for the Coyote. The rear deck fit is more positive than the Jackals however due to the extra frame req for the second set of drive wheels. Once built however it’s got a real heft and presense to it. It would look awesome loaded down with gear and supplies …….

Q

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