Thursday, 3 December 2015

Techtip X: Zimmerit

Zimmerit was a anti-magnetic pasted used by the Wehrmacht during world war II. The Germans developed a magnetic bomb to be used by infantry to knock out tanks and other armoured vehicles. A soldier was to walk up to tank, attach the grate and set it off. Expecting the allies to copy this weapon the Wehrmacht also developed this anti-magnetic paste to counter this threat. Zimmerit was applied to vehicles produced between December 1943 and September 1944. The application of zimmerit was stopped because of the fear it would catch fie then a vehicle was hit by an enemy shell. It turned out that the allies never developed magnetic grades and also the zimmerit would not ignite when hit by a shell. So both the reason to apply it and to stop with it's application proved to be false. It did gave the vehicles build with this layer a very distinctive look. The zimmerit was applied in three different styles:
  • Horizontal stripes
  • Squares
  • Squares with vertical stripes
  • Waffle pattern
I'm not sure the pattern where applied to prevent vacuum bombs from sucking on the surface.

Making model zimmerit

When building certain vehicles you might want to recreate zimmerit. This is often done by adding a layer of paste on the surface of a model and form a pattern on it then the paste is still wet. Here you find more techniques. An other way of recreating the patterns is by applying a very thin layer of plastic sheet to the model, cut along it's edges of the model surface below and the scribe in the pattern with a (blunt) knife or scriber. It is important to use a thick, slow(er) drying glue to apply the plastic sheet. The glue also has to be spread to from a thin layer otherwise are bubbles from causing the sheet not to be glued to the supporting surface locally. Thin glue isn't ideal to use, it dries to fast in one spot and dissolves to much of the plastic sheet on other places. When cutting the pattern in to the layer the layer will fall off at these locations. This is something that some modellers find a welcome effect to simulate zimmerit broken off. A few diagrams to make thing clear:

The tools needed: Thick glue, a piece of scrap plastic card to smooth out the glue, a piece of good card roughly cut to the size of the surface below, a sharp knife to cut the plastic card in precisely the same shape as the surface below, a scriber or a blunt knife to cut in the patterns.

Applying the plastic sheet right.

Applying the plastic sheet wrong causing air bubbles to from under the sheet. On some places this might be wanted but you don't want this to occur random.

The following picture is the process of creating a squares with vertical stripes pattern on the 1/25 Panther A. the picture can be magnified by clicking on it:

A magnification of the result.

A sketch of the patterns, the waffle pattern can't be created with this technique.

Finally a few pictures of this technique applied to a few models, these are all 1/72 scale. Note the individually applied 'tiles' on the mantled of the Panther:

Wednesday, 4 November 2015

Duel at the shoreline

The Mongol are quite (in)famous for conquering and terrorising a large part of the Eurasian landmass during the thirteenth century. Almost equally famous is the failure to capture Japan because the fleet build to ship the Mongol armies across the sea where destroyed by a typhoon. During the second invasion this happened 7 weeks after the Mongol landed so the Japanese had to do some serious fighting to repel them. The destruction of the Mongol ships deprived them of support and sealed the fate of the invasion. The samurai are of course the elite Japanese warriors of this time, called 'Kamagura period' in Japanese history.

Several sets of Mongol and Samurai have been made most noticeably by Zvezda. Their set 'golden horde' product No. 8076 being the latest. A complete review of this set can be seen at plastic soldier review. The pastic is of a type where acrylic paint doesn't stick so well on so a priming with oil based paint is important.
Zvezda have also produced a number of sets involving the Samurai. Their latest sets are very small and cheap involving a few figures of a specific unit type. The figures are made from a few parts of styrene making it easy to sand away the moulding seams. The parts fit together without glue. At some places the fit is a bit to tight causing the parts with the cavity to break so I recommend thinning the pegs of the parts to be inserted in an other part and use glue anyway.
Although very differently produced both sets have splendid detail. The sets of samurai also have the benefit of having almost no duplicate figures so you can easily make an army with uniquely posed figures. For this diorama I bought the 'Mounted Samurai' Product No. 6407.

I made and painted both figures and placed them on small base de depicting the shoreline at a beach. The Mongol is slightly on seaside 'symbolising' it is an overseas invader. The samurai is slightly on the beach side 'symbolising' it is a defender from the land. The only problem with this scene is that the samurai has armour and a flag on his back seen only during the Edo period two centuries later. I could not get a 1/72 figure with the right armour style so this will have to do. For an accurate depiction of a samurai from the Kamagura period and a discussion of their armour see the review of the 1/16 Mini Art model.

The photo's:

Both sets have splendid figures despite being quite differently moulded. Both highly recommended.

Sunday, 25 October 2015

LAV AT version

The LAV-AT is an abbreviation of 'Light Armoured Vehicle-Anti Tank' and it is a vehicle with a complicated family. The LAV is based on the Piranha armoured vehicle developed by the Swiss manufacturer 'General Dynamics European Land Systems – Mowag GmbH'. This manufacturer builds most vehicles in use by European armies. It is also build in licence in Canada and the United States of America. There are 5 generations of this vehicle and 4x4, 6x6, 8x8 and 10x10 variations have been build with the 8x8 being the most common. The vehicle serves as a platform for a number of variations ranging from engineering vehicles to Air Defence variants. Specialised parts such as turrets and engines from a range of different manufacturers can be used. So there is a lot of variants of this vehicle to go around with the US Army Stryker no doubt being the most famous.

The subject of this post is the LAV-AT in use by the US Marines. This is an amphibious version of the LAV. The maximum speed in the water is 10 km/h and on land 100 km/h. The model is a version of the 'old' AT version in use since 1983. Work is done on a upgraded version to be in use until at least 2035. The 'old' AT version is armed with 2 wire controlled missiles in a small semi-robotic turret.

The model

The model of the LAV-AT is Trumpeter Kit. no 07271. It model is not very complex. The biggest parts are the under and upper side of the hull. The upper side contain a lot of detail, jerry cans, cable cutters, smoke granate launchers and exhaust are among the parts to be added separately. Lifting eye are moulded as solid protuberances and a hole should be drilled trough them. On the underside some parts for the suspention have to be fitted. The tires on the wheels are made from real rubber saving you the trouble of painting them separately. The model can be painted in a standard NATO three tone camouflage scheme.

The photo's of the finished model:

Here two photo's of the LAV with the most common version the Stryker and US Army's M1 Abrams. Note how heigh the missile launchers of the LAV-AT can be raised.

The model is simple to build. The semi-robotic turret is quite a unique feature of this specific version giving it a very distinctive look. Recommended for beginners also.
From the entire 'Piranha' family Trumpeter produces:

  • 07255 Stryker
  • 07269 LAV-R (Recovery version with a crane)
  • 07270 LAV-C2 (Command and control version)
  • 07271 LAV-AT (Anti-tank version)

Wednesday, 9 September 2015

Rames II

Rames II was one of the most successful Pharaohs to rule Egypt. One of his most important achievements is to defeat the sea people's. These where people that raided coastal area's just like the Vikings would do more then a millennium later. The biggest differences with actual Vikings is that these sea people's actually did wear horned helmets. Rames II defeated them successfully in 1278 Before Christ. Rames II ruled until 1213 Before Christ retaking a lot territory previously lost. A lot more about Rames II can be read on the Wikipedia page dedicated to him.

Andrea Miniatures makes a figure of this famous Pharaoh (product no. SG-F119). The figure on these pictures is made by 'Don Italeri'. He mentions that the main parts of the body should fit together slightly closer at the height of the leopard skin but the fit is perfect otherwise. I painted the figure and the result can be seen here. The photo's are not my best but the figure is back with it's builder so I can't take better ones.

this is a very nice figure of an Egyptian Pharaoh. At slightly over €20,00 it is not very expensive for a metal figure. The 'stairs' and accessors are included.

Sunday, 19 July 2015

King of the bulge

The King Tiger or Tiger II was developed in WWII as a heavy tank using the 88mm KwK 43 anti-tank gun. This gun barrel has the same diameter as the gun of the famous Tiger I but a longer barrel and a lager cartridge with propellent giving the round a higher muzzle velocity. An other but lager difference between the Tiger I and Tiger II is the shape of the armour. With the Tiger I the armour is welded together at straight angles placing the armour perpendicular to an incoming round. The Tiger II has armour at an angle from horizontal able to deflect an incoming round much like the Panther tank. Both Porsche and Henschel developed a turret for the King Tiger. 50 King Tiger's where equipped with the Porsche turret having a round front while the Henschel turret has a straight one. The King Tiger was in use from September 1944 until the and of the second world war. The King Tiger was made famous by it's deployment during the battle of the Bulge.

The Revell model

Revell produces models of both the Porsche (Kit. No. 03138) and Henschel (Kit. No. 03129) version of the King Tiger.

The model is quite a good one although not as good as their later releases. I added lifting eyes, engine covers and fasteners for the spare track links of metal. This is not my best model, check out Florin David's work for a better made example.

Sunday, 5 July 2015

1/25 Tamiya Tiger I Re-Released

Interesting news for fans of big scale models. Tamiya re-released their 1/25 Tiger I (Kit. No. 30611)yesterday. It is available at Hobby Link Japan for about €70,00 (9.310 Yen). Aber produces a nice set of mesh to go over the engine intakes as well.
The kit is from 1968 and has an interior. I'm not an expert on the accuracy of the interior but is seems better than nothing en quite sufficient when viewed through the hatches. The model is sold for insame prices on the second hand market so this is a good opportunity to get one at a fair price.

Sunday, 31 May 2015

Pz.Kfw. IV Mainstay of the german army

The Pz.Kfw. IV

The Pz.Kfw. IV is often regarded as the workhorse of the german army during world war 2. Pz.Kkw. is an abbreviation of 'Panzer Kampfwagen' literally translated 'Armoured War wagon'. Originally designed in the late '30 as a support vehicle for infantry the Pz.Kfw. IV was equipped with a short barrel 75 mm howitzer. The main battle tank of the german army was the Pz.Kfw. III armed with a 50 mm AT gun. After the german army encountered the Sovjet T34 and KV-1 heavy tanks a far more heavier anti-tank weapon was needed. The Pz.Kfw. IV's where equipped with a long barred 75mm AT gun and increased armour. Various models and variations within these models led to the H version of the tank which was the optimum in armour (extra thick on the front and 'side skirts'), weight (25.000 kg), speed (16 km/h), off road performance and armature (75 mm AT gun with 990m/s muzzle velocity) that could be reached with this basic design. The H model had 'side skirts', extra armour plating hanging loosely on the sides of the tank, on the turret and hull. The plates on the hull where prone to falling off when driving through densely grown area's. It often also was produced with zimmerit. The suspension of the front road wheels was also improved to better support the extra weight the tank put on because of the heavier gun and armour. As a main battle tank the Pz.Kfw.IV was superseded by the Panther. The Pz.Kfw. IV chassis also served as a basis for many, many vehicles produced for the german army in WWII with various roles other than 'standard tank'. These include:

  • The Brümmbar, a Pz.Kfw. IV with an 150mm short barrel howitzer in an heavly armed 'pillbox'.
  • The Nashorn, a Pz.Kfw. IV with the 88 mm KwK 43 in a open topped lightly armoured supper structure.
  • The Hümmel, a Pz.Kfw. IV with the 150 mm sFH18 in a open topped lightly armoured supper structure.
  • The wirbelwind, a Pz.Kfw IV with an open topped turret supporting the FlaK 38 quadruple 20 mm anti aircraft gun.
  • The Ostwind, a Pz.Kfw IV with an open topped turret supporting the FlaK 36/37 single 37 mm anti aircraft gun.
  • The Möbelwagen, a Pz.Kfw IV with a platform supporting the FlaK 37/37 single 37 mm anti aircraft gun.
  • The Stümgeschutz IV, basically a StuG. III top on a Pz.Kfw. Chassis.
  • The Panzerjäger IV, a turretless tank hunter equipped with a 75 mm KwK 42 high velocity gun, the same gun as in the Panther tank.

The Revell model

Revell re-released their model of the Pz.Kfw. IV H (Kit. No. 03184) and this model almost perfect. It features fine detail, separate hatches, side skirts for both the turret and hull. Two small things are missing; The rain guards and grabhandles above the side doors of the turret, and; The bar holding the spare track links on the front hull. The drive wheels stick out from the hull a bit to wide (or the road and idler wheels are to close to the hull). This makes the tracks look weird when viewed from the front:

This is something to be mindfull of when you build the model. The problem can be solved by placind the road and idler wheels further outward on their pegs. I build the model with all hatches open. The opening on the sides of the turret require extra work, the hatches are provided seperately but there is no opening in the turret part as is designed to be made with the 'doors' shut so you have to make this opening yourself. For the turret I also made an interior with plastic card, rod and parts from the Pz.Kfw. IV turret interior of the Fujimi kit. This turned out to be absolutely unnecessary because you absolutely can't see a thing even though there are opened hatches from three sides. The openings in the hull are a bit larger as those in the turret but in reality the area directly under them had a chair with empty space for the crew member. The radio, gearbox, machine gun and other equipment was placed on the sides of this 'void'. I didn't made these because I was afraid it won't be seen like the turret interior. I blanked off the openings under the crew hatches in the hull with a black painted piece of plastic card. I did made my own side skirts on turret and hull. The turret skirts also have hatches and there are made open. In all hatches opening mechanism are installed. Finally I added 5 crew members from the 'Panzer crew' set of Caesar miniatures. These figures are very well done, I think they are even better then the average 1/35 figure let alone 1/72 figures. Some figures in the set feature a separated legs and torso so you can vary with the poses. I painted the model sand yellow with a light brown camouflage, gave it mild wash and applied pastels to simulate dust.

On to the photo's.

The Pz. Kfw. IV H and some of it's variants.

The Pz.Kfw. IV H with it's American counter part. The M4A3 76mm Sherman.

The Pz.Kfw. IV H with it's modern equivalent, the leopard II.

Both the Pz.Kfw.IV Ausf. H model and figure are among the best products in 1/72 scale today on the market. Both are recommended, beginners as well.