Sd. Kfz. 9 FAMO Halftrack Base Construction in 1/72 Scale

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I never know what to call these – bases, dioramas, or vignettes. The modeling definitions differ from what is described in the dictionary, and IPMS has imposed rather arbitrary criteria of their own for show categories which has resulted in some humorous anecdotes. Personally I think basing a model adds a lot to the presentation but I am usually so eager to start the next build that I skip the base entirely and move on. This time I decided to resist that impulse. Here is the start – a 4.5” x 12” (11.4 x 30.5 cm) section of Oak trim from the hardware store with some strips glued in the corner to vary the terrain.
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I also picked up some spackle to shape the groundwork. This type really is lighter than you would expect, likely microballoons are part of the mix.
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The spackle is spread over the base and smoothed. After letting it set up a bit I made tire tracks by rolling some spare wheels over the road area and then added track marks by pressing the model into the mix. I also made sure to press the model into the groundwork where it will be located in the final scene. The dirt color was mixed from several old bottles of acrylic paints – at last I found a use for them. There is a crack in the spackle despite what the label says, fortunately in a place which will be covered by weeds.
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These trees are made by twisting the wire in lamp cord. This was my first time trying this method, I found it an enjoyable exercise. I printed pictures of bare trees so I could be reminded of what I was trying to achieve. The solder on the trunk of the tree to the right didn’t work well, the copper wire dissipated the heat too quickly. In the end I used CA to bond the wires which did work.
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Here are the trees after two coats of Mr. Surfacer 500, a coat of RLM 02, and wash of Tamiya black wash. I applied all that with a brush, I think it would go better with an airbrush next time. These trees are roughly 4” (10 cm) in height, more or less.
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I made a few smaller trees as well, these are roughly 1.5” (3 cm) or so. The “foliage” is from Woodland Scenics, commonly used by model railroaders. I have accumulated quite a variety of their products over the years, fueled by a combination of clearance sales and my over-active ambitions.
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Here is a corner landscaped with various Woodland Scenics turfs and bushes. The brighter green grass tufts are another model railroad product from Bachman, these are the 6 mm size tufts.
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The vertical element of this base is provided by one of the larger trees. When trees grow in isolation they tend to spread out their branches like this one, in groups they grow higher but more narrowly
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Preiser figures are really nice but hard to find, I’ve had this set for awhile and have been looking for a good excuse to use it. There are twelve figures in this set and an abundance of head and equipment options so it will not be difficult to make each figure unique.
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An assortment of figures pinned to sprues and primed for painting. These are a mix of Preiser, Caesar, CMK, and modified artillerymen from the Italeri howitzer kit. Figures are difficult to paint well in 1/72 scale so I have been haunting wargaming blogs and boards looking to pick up some tips. No substitute for practice though!
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The finished scene incorporates vehicles and figures onto the base. I prefer figures in casual poses, it is much more common to be attending to basic maintenance or daily routine activities than charging into combat. I have made a base for each of my three recently completed FAMOs, each with trees of different heights and various numbers of figures to give the IPMS judges some fun deciding if they are dioramas or vignettes!