Sunday, April 24, 2016

Army Men Scratch Builds and Adaptations.

My previous posting being concerned with adaptations and scratch-building equipment for my WW2 armies, it seemed appropriate this this one focused upon my Army Men project.
Kiivar field howitzers.
At last I have assembled a 3-gun battery of Kiivar field howitzers.  The trails, breech blocks and such are made of balsa; lollipop sticks have gone into other parts of the construction.  The gun barrels are exhausted felt-tip pen barrels. I have yet to add tow loops to the ends of the trails.

Kiivar field howitzers in battery...
The wheels have been slowly collected from small spice and herb jars bought at the local supermarket.  Future collection might go into limbers.  The measuring/surveying staffs (?) I added for a bit of colour,  Only the centre piece has one on its left-hand side as well.
With tractors.  Limbers yet to be built.  That will probably
require collecting more road wheels...
The over-scale jeeps I acquired with some Army Men soldiery I bought a couple of years back have become the prime movers for these howitzers.  One is lacking a windscreen, and I'm thinking of placing a card or paper tilt on all of these.  Two used to be in Raesharn service,  but I figured that they were needed more to draw these.

Towards the end of 2014, Brian gave me the dark green vehicle below.

Comparison of sizes between the AA vehicle and the
Army Men tank.

Very soon I gave it the addition to the sides of the vehicle to disguise the
flush casting of the hull side and road wheels.
It was pretty battered, had no tracks, and the whole side skirt and road wheel assembly was one flush piece.  I began at once by cutting and pasting a length of card plastic along the bottom edge of the skirt to suggest that the road wheels were behind.  I also added a cardboard shield.  As the shield was a bit flimsy and flollopy, I recently added side pieces better to protect the crew and to make the shield firmer.

The vehicle has been painted in Raesharn's distinctive camouflage pattern.  Having been added later, the side pieces of the shield will need to be painted also.

How the finished tracks look on the AA vehicle.
The underside of the vehicle I made from lollipop stick braced to push the inward curving sides outwards.  The ends of the lollipop sticks I hoped would suggest drive sprockets and such.  I then enclosed all this with balsa to give the thing an overall solid look.  The tracks are made from non-slip matting - a different design from that which I used for the vehicles in my previous posting.  Blue again, I slolloped black paint over it and added a silver coating semi-drybrushed over it.  
Hasn't turned out too badly, methinks.  I may add a rust coloured wash over it all later.
That gun shield does need some tidying up...

At the moment, there is but one crew man visible.  This is from a NATO figure wearing a beret.  I decided that Raesharn tank men wear red berets (again, just to add a bit of colour).  I have yet to find another figure I am willing to sacrifice to place on the other side of the gun.  I'd like him to sport a beret as well..  These figures I cut with wire cutters at roughly the upper half or third of the torso, then jam them in beside the twin AA cannon.
AA vehicle traversing rough country...

HQ radio lorry.
This here is an HQ Staff Radio lorry in Kiivar service.  It started out in life as a 'Fort Knox' truck, complete with a combination lock rear door.  I have done nothing about that door - I find the feature attractive for no other reason than that it's there.
Div HQ:  Radio lorry and staff car.
The HQ lorry in the company of a General Officer's staff car.  Some touching up needs doing on the latter.

Friday, April 15, 2016

Scratch Builds and Extempores

Second hand Tiger I with new gun and mantlet.
Once again my blog spot has been too long neglected.  Maybe one day I'll be able to devote more time to it.  It is not as if I haven't the available time.  Motivation is far from abundant coin right now. Well, that is enough of whingeing.

Where the mantlet came from.  The inky bit was shaved down
that the gun barrel could fit over it so it could be glued firmly.
Some weeks ago I expressed (commenting on someone else's blog) my admiration for the scratch building skills of  the late John Sandars, of  Sandskrieg fame.  Someone suggested that I post something about my own scratch building efforts.  I have done on occasion in the past, but I do have some recent efforts to show.  Most of these are really fixes to models that had bits missing, rather than scratch builds per se.

The above Tiger II came into my possession minus gun and mantlet.  The whole thing had to be constructed from something.  An exhausted felt-tip pen provided just the thing, as you see, the gun barrel formed from plastic tube (cotton bud with the buds removed).  The muzzle brake was carved from a larger bored plastic tube.  Normally I have used ball pen reservoir for this, but though the plastic is softer, the harder plastic of the tube gives you better definition.  It isn't perfect, but I'm happy enough with the way the muzzle brake turned out.

Add caption
 These pictures show my new method of fashioning tank tracks.  I have been experimenting with strapping, recently.  Though it has its points, I found it not quite satisfactory.  Brian of A Fist Full of Plastic has used this method, but added strips to the visible bits to add to the 'trackish' look to the tracks.

The Fujimi StuGIIID and ESCI JagdTiger in these pictures came without tracks.  Not sure why in the former's case, as it was a mint kit still in its plastic wrapping when I bought it second hand.  I'm not complaining very hard, though, as in the same box was a StuGIIIG, and that did have tracks.  I have yet to build it.
Trackless models with their new tracks.
 I used the type of rubberised matting used in crockery cupboards to stop stuff from sliding about.  I have used it for much the same purpose for my war games stuff, but have discovered a downside.  it tends to stick to whatever is placed in it, with rather irritating consequences when you pick them up.  But cut to a reasonable width, I find they make very good looking tank tracks.
Showing off the matting tank tracks:  blue matting cut to width
and length and draped around the running gear, painted black
and dry-brushed over with silver.  I'll probably add a water
'rust colour' over all later on.
You can get this stuff in black, but what I used, as you can see from the background of some of these pictures, the mat I used is blue.  This stuff doesn't take paint all that well - you really have to slop it on thick.  In my view that is no bad thing!
The JagdTiger in rough 'factory finish' showing its paces...

To conclude this posting: a couple of genuine scratch builds.  These are two portees from the Western Desert campaign, that I build maybe twenty-odd years ago.  The 6pr portee was a direct copy of a John Sandars design, I think from his Airfix book on the Eighth Army.  I just used whatever bits of cardboard, wire and balsa that came to hand.  only the wheels are rubber wheels, very slightly over-scale, actually, but not by much.  The overhead rack could use a tidy-up, and the covered wheel should have been centred, but at the time I made this, I couldn't work it out from the diagram, and had no other informative source to hand.
AT portees.  The 6pr is Airfix.

The 2pr portee was done from photographs.  It turned out OK, I thought, but the gun not quite so satisfactorily.  I was going to make the shield in one piece, but noticed that occasionally the hinged top was placed 'down'.  Not the best option.  
I still have to stick a driver in the cab, and the gun crew is around
somewhere.  It can fit under the trails of the gun for mounted

More on this topic to come...