Hasegawa Heinkel He 111 Build in 1/72 Scale Part I

He111_01
This is the Hasegawa He-111H-6 kit which was first issued in 2004. This will be my third time building this kit (fourth if you count the He-111Z as two) so this time I’ll be modifying it to H-20 standard, a rather simple conversion.
He111_02
The kit has been criticized in some circles for having over-emphasized panel lines. There is some justification to this, although there are many examples of kits with panel lines which are worse. They are not far enough out of scale to bother me so I plan on leaving them as they are.
He111_03
The detail sprues contain a few options. Hasegawa has provided three different types of exhausts which I believe covers all the major options. There are bomb bay doors or alternatively two different types of external racks which could be mounted in their place.
He111_04
I also have on hand some Eduard PE frets. These were intended for the He-111Z Zwilling boxing, but I got them at a discount several years ago so there is enough to outfit two standard He 111s. I’ll be using the parts which are useful, but PE can be a pain to work with and many parts do not offer a significant advantage over kit parts so I’ll only use some. PE can be helpful as it gives you a choice but I don’t feel every part should be used every time.
He111_05
Here is one application where the PE has some advantage. The kit wheelwells are a little on the shallow side and have some really inconvenient ejector pin marks. The top of the well is removed with a Dremel tool which deepens the part and then the interior is replaced with PE parts.
He111_06
Not much of the interior is visible on this kit. The front cockpit greenhouse is the exception, and well worth the effort to add some extra detail. The clear parts have minimal distortion, also there is a sliding hatch over the pilot’s position so much of the interior in this compartment can be seen.
He111_07
Here is the cockpit with several selected PE parts to enhance the detail. The most easily visible additions are the seat belts and the yellow wiring for the instruments.
He111_08
Throttle levers are 1/700 ship railing, this allows for several levers to be installed at once and ensures that they all point in the same direction. I find this much easier to deal with than the separate levers on the PE fret.

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

FAMODio_01
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.
FAMODio_02
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.
FAMODio_03
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.
FAMODio_04
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.
FAMODio_05
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.
FAMODio_06
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.
FAMODio_07
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.
FAMODio_08
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
FAMODio_09
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.
FAMODio_10
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!
FAMODio_11
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!

Sd. Kfz. 9 FAMO Halftrack Comparison Build in 1/72 Scale Part III

FAMO_21
The kits were each primed with Mr. Surfacer 1000 to check for flaws, then recesses and shadow areas received a coat of Alclad black primer.
FAMO_22
The Planet Resin model was painted Panzer Gray with a darker mix from below and a lighter mix from above.
FAMO_23
This is the Revell kit with the tracks and rubber parts of the road wheels picked out.
FAMO_24
The Trumpeter kit got bands of green and brown camouflage colors.
FAMO_25
Here are all three together under a glosscoat after decals have been applied.
FAMO_26
The FAMO looks a bit naked without some cargo. Black Dog makes a nice set for the FAMO, the section for the bed is a large chunk of resin representing a mixed cargo load and a loose canvas cover. I liked this set for the Planet kit as it will help make up for the reduced surface detail compared to the other two models.
FAMO_26b
The Black Dog resin is seen here painted in basic colors and sealed under a gloss coat. This is a good exercise in detail painting.
FAMO_27
I detailed the some of the cargo with the usual washes and drybrushing, but decided to try a new technique (for me) on the canvas bits by using oils. Black oils were brushed into the recesses and white onto the ridges, then the two were gently blended into grays. This is actually pretty easy to control and relaxing to apply, and I was pleased with the depth and contrast at the end. Like anything new it will take more practice to perfect but the initial results are promising. The rope coil is rigging rope from the Syren Ship Model Company and is woven as rope, not thread.
FAMO_28
For cargo in the remaining two FAMO I ordered the German Fuel Drum and German Ammo Crate sets from Value Gear. I purchased three sets with my order, and VG sent along a fourth set as a bonus! These are nice sets, and a lot easier than casting them yourself.  Value Gear here:  http://valuegeardetails.com/UniversalStowage72.html
FAMO_28b
Here are both sets painted up, enough to load my two FAMO with a bunch left over.
FAMO_29
This is the finished Planet Models FAMO with the Black Dog resin set. The simplified construction is rugged and goes together easily, but it is not as detailed as the injection molded kits. This is the best choice for wargamers if you can find it. The Black Dog resin set adds visual interest while making the kit’s limited surface detail less noticeable.
FAMO_30
Revell’s kit is the best compromise between detail and buildability. Mine carries Value Gear cargo in the bed and Black Dog tarps on the fenders. I made the canvas supports from metal rod, the molded pieces in the stowed position were just not as convincing.

 

FAMO_31
The Trumpeter kit is the most detailed but is vastly over-engineered, especially in the case of the tracks and suspension which requires constant attention to align. Much of the detail is only visible from the underside so the extra effort is wasted. However, if a modeler wanted to model a FAMO with the hood open or the vehicle on its side, this would be the place to start.

Sd. Kfz. 9 FAMO Halftrack Comparison Build in 1/72 Scale Part II

FAMO_11
Here are the assembled chassis for each kit, Planet on the bottom, Revell in the middle, and Trumpeter on top. The Planet component is a single piece. The Revell assembly is sixteen pieces, Trumpeter’s forty-nine. Trumpeter’s is the most detailed of the three, but already you can see I’m having the beginnings of some alignment issues with the suspension.  The best plan is to correct these as they occur.

FAMO_12
Here the running gear is in place. This is an unflattering angle for the Planet model, even with some of the backing on the main suspension piece trimmed back. The Planet model is up to nineteen pieces at this stage, Revell is at an even fifty, while the Trumpeter kit is at eighty-eight. I suspect you’re detecting a theme by this point.

FAMO_13
The Planet tracks are rubber but attached with CA glue without issue. A trick when building multimedia kits is to make your own decisions when using the provided parts – some parts are easier to replace than to clean up, and photoetch parts do not represent three dimensional parts well. In this case some kit parts for the forward suspension were used as guides to fabricate replacements from metal rod.

FAMO_14
The Revell kit contains link and length track which is a good compromise. There is just enough track provided to make it all the way around the running gear, but no more. I’ll pull out my soapbox once again – on any tracked vehicle a little extra track would be most welcome, both as insurance against loss or error and for potential use as stowage on the vehicle. In the case of some tanks which used track as supplemental armor a lot of extra track would be welcome!

FAMO_15
The Trumpeter track is an exercise in frustration. Each link is individually molded with the rubber pad supplied as a separate piece. Seven sprue attachment points to clean up per link, forty-seven links needed per side. I have officially notified the Church of the miracle that was me getting all 188 of these pieces on the kit without losing any, I expect to be canonized soon as Saint Jeffrey, the patron Saint of not losing small model parts. You do get three extra links per side though in case you don’t light your candle in time.

FAMO_16
All three kits with the suspensions complete. Trumpeter is definitely the most detailed, but also suffers from being quite fiddly to align. Mud will be my friend. Much of the detail at this point is in places unlikely to be seen by the casual viewer.  The Revell kit features good detail and goes together well.  The Planet Model resin kit lacks fine detail, but is robust and easy to assemble.

FAMO_16b
The Planet model has grab bars represented by PE parts which are intended to be mounted without the benefit of recessed locating holes. Revell and Trumpeter mold on ridges to represent the bars. On all three kits I replaced the grab bars with metal rod set into drilled holes. This is an easy improvement which is more realistic and quite robust.

FAMO_17
The Planet model provides several details in PE but many of these do not look right as flat parts and so were replaced. Here I have used the instrument panel, floor pedals, and steering wheel. The position indicators on the fenders and shift levers are insect pins. The grips on the steering wheel were built up with Mr. Surfacer.

FAMO_18
The assembled Revell kit with only a few of the most fragile detail parts left off. On all three models the cabs and beds are not yet glued to the suspension to make painting easier.

FAMO_19
The level of detail is best on the Trumpeter kit, slightly better than Revell and noticeably better than Planet. Both the Revell and Trumpeter kit needed a swipe of filler at the back of the hood but otherwise there were no fit issues.

FAMO_20
A side-by-side view to compare details.

Sd. Kfz. 9 FAMO Halftrack Comparison Build in 1/72 Scale Part I

For this build I’ll be assembling a small batch of the German army’s largest halftrack – the 18-ton Sd. Kfz. 9 “FAMO” using kits from three different manufacturers.  Each manufacturer has taken a different approach to their kits and I’m interested to see how each one builds up and how they look when complete.

FAMO_01
The first kit is Planet Model’s kit number MV 024. Released in 2002 this is a multimedia kit. The main parts are resin castings, supplemented with a small resin fret, rubber tracks, and a decal sheet. This kit was used as the basis for several different versions, but is now hard to find.

 

FAMO_02
The parts are well cast if somewhat simplified. The road wheels are cast as one piece per side, with the outer rows of wheels added separately. Likewise the frame is cast with the majority of the details in place. This all makes for a quick assembly with good alignment. The simplifications are not obvious from most normal viewing angles but are readily apparent when viewing the underside.

 

FAMO_03
The next kit is Revell’s offering from 2005, their kit number 03141. An injection molded kit with excellent detailing, it can still be found today reissued with different markings.

 

FAMO_04
The frame and body are built up from multiple parts contained on these two sprues. The attachment points for the road wheels are molded as part of the frame which will add strength and helps with alignment.

 

FAMO_05
The road wheels are all individual pieces and build up in layers like so many German designs. Tracks are link and length. The small sprue at the bottom right is for an earth spade to dig in while winching, there was a note in my kit which said it was not for use. An unusual choice as Revell later issued another boxing which used the spade.

 

FAMO_06
The third kit is Trumpeter’s number 07203, also issued in 2005 (apparently a good year for FAMO’s). This kit has also been through additional versions and boxings over the years and is still available.

 

FAMO_07
Trumpeter’s kit is the most detailed of the three and also contains the most parts by far. Why mold one piece when you can build the same assembly from three smaller pieces? Much of this detail will be visible only from the underside or by removing portions of the engine covers.

 

FAMO_08
The tires are rubber. The torsion arms are molded as separate pieces which is weaker and can lead to alignment issues. The parts are well molded and detailed but there are ejector pin marks on some of the parts, fortunately in locations not easily seen from normal viewing angles.

 

FAMO_09
The track links are beautifully molded but are the definition of over-engineering. Four track sprues are provided.  Each link is individually molded and the rubber pad is a separate piece. Seven sprue attachment points per link, fifty links per side. There is a helpful alignment tool to help keep everything pointed in the proper direction, but I would have preferred any other method of putting on the track in this scale.

Zvezda Panzer IV Ausf. H Build in 1/72 Scale

PanzerIV_01
This is the Zvezda Panzer IV Ausf. H in 1/72 scale, kit number 5017 released in 2018. This is a scaled down version of their 2017 release in 1/35 scale which uses the same box art. The box depicts a Panzer IV in Normandy, an early version with the Zimmerit paste in abundance (even on the Schürzen) but the kit is molded without the Zimmerit texture. This is a wise decision as fewer and fewer surfaces received the Zimmerit treatment as Panzer IV production continued.

PanzerIV_02
Zvezda uses a hard plastic, overall molding is crisp and flash-free. The Schürzen are molded as single pieces. While the edges are thin, the plate overlap is not represented. Tracks are single pieces and pliable enough to wrap around the running gear with careful gluing.

PanzerIV_03
The lower hull is built up from separate panels. The gun barrel is molded as a single piece and the muzzle will need to be drilled out. Despite what is depicted on the box art, there is no spare track provided for the front of the glacis plate.

PanzerIV_04
The hull tub components lock into place well providing a good alignment. Likewise, the running gear builds up quickly and lines up well. I pulled my usual trick of lining the bottom of the hull with BBs and fixing them in place with old casting resin.

PanzerIV_05
The particular vehicle I have chosen to model carried Zimmerit on a few panels. I made this with Mr. Surfacer 500 and a fine flat-head screwdriver bit chucked into a pin vice. Easy enough to do, and any mistakes can be “erased” with lacquer thinner and a little more Mr. Surfacer.

PanzerIV_06
I replaced the kit Schürzen panels over the tracks with panels made from Evergreen sheet so I could replicate the slight overlap, the turret skirts are from the kit. I scratchbuilt one of the turret skirt side doors so I could show it open. My plan is to leave the Schürzen off for now so I can better get at the hull for washes and weathering. The panels were arranged in the proper order on the cards so the camouflage will be consistent.

PanzerIV_07
The model received a coat of Future (Klear) to protect the finish from the weathering process. I applied mud to the lower hull and running gear, this will be mostly hidden on the finished model but I can use the practice.

PanzerIV_08
Here is the finished model after weathering. Decals are from Kagero Top Colors 32 and depict a Panzer IV from the 116th Panzer Division in Normandy, August 1944. I found the mixed camo patterns of the hull Schürzen and the rest of the vehicle interesting.

Trumpeter Sd.Ah.116 Tank Transporter Build in 1/72 Scale

Transporter116_01
This is Trumpeter kit number 07249, the Sd.Ah.116 Tank Transporter. This was usually seen being towed behind an Sd.Kfz. 8 or Sd.Kfz. 9 FAMO halftrack. The trailer was rated at 23 tons but could haul up to 28 tons, most commonly vehicles based upon the Panzer III were carried but there are several photos showing Panzer IVs as well.

Transporter116_02
The parts are well molded and my example had no flash, but there are some ejector pin marks on the underside of some parts.

Transporter116_03
The driver’s cab is a single piece of slide mold wizardry. A small length of thread is provided to represent rope but this is fuzzy and best replaced. You also get a short run of metal chain which is useful. Tires are the flexible vinyl type with the impossible-to-remove mold line down the center so hopefully the seam can be hidden with mud.

Transporter116_04
The parts build up into three major assemblies, and these can be completed in any order you wish. I’d recommend jumping around a bit to allow for time for the glue to set as keeping these assemblies square and aligned will certainly make life easier later on.

Transporter116_05
The built-up kit is 6.5 inches (165 mm) long, which is pretty impressive for a 1/72 model, with a towing vehicle it will really stretch out. I’ve begun to develop an interest in tank transporters so there will be more of these coming in the model pipeline.

Transporter116_06
Paint on this one will be just the basic Panzer Dunkelgelb. My intention is to use this build to test various weathering techniques so I wanted a finish which could show the effects of being beaten up.

Transporter116_07
Here the model has been assembled and the decals applied. The red and white stripe decals on the edges of the mudguards were too wide to fit properly so I just painted the markings. Everything is sealed with Future (Klear) which is an acrylic in order to protect the base coat from being worn away by solvents. The driver’s cab is not glued down at this point.

Transporter116_08
The model after some simple washes with Tamiya Panel Line wash. I applied a black wash first, and then brown. I found I was able to modulate the effect that way and I used the brown wash to push the black wash around, removing it from areas where I didn’t want it and emphasizing areas where I did.

Transporter116_09
Here are a few more weathering layers. Chipping was done by stippling on oil paint, dirt and mud is Vallejo weathering powder pressed into yellow ochre oil paint. I then misted a light layer of dust over the whole thing, which toned down the tires quite a bit.

Transporter116_10
A detail shot of the rear section showing the weathering. In general this is the appearance I was hoping for but there is still room for improvement. There is no substitute for practice!

Italeri 15 cm Field Howitzer sFH 18 / 10,5 cm Field Gun 10,5 cm sK 18 Build in 1/72 Scale

sFH15c_01
This is a new tool offering from Italeri for 2020, the WWII German 15 cm Field Howitzer sFH 18 / 10,5 cm Field Gun 10,5 cm sK 18 kit number 7082. As the name implies, the kit contains parts to build either version. Also included are a set of five figures and four shells in each caliber, all of which are nicely sculpted and posed. This kit pushes many of the right buttons for me so I was eager to get started!
sFH15c_02
The upper sprue contains detail parts for the carriage and limber, the two smaller sprues are for parts specific for the type of gun one chooses to build. All parts are finely detailed. There was no flash present on my example, and no ejector pin marks in visible locations so clean-up will be limited to mold attachment points and the occasional mold seam.
sFH15c_03
More sprues, the upper one has the trails and the slide along with additional fiddly bits, the lower contains the figures. All the accessories and pioneer tools are molded separately which should make painting easier. The kit contains five figures, normal crew size for these guns was seven men so purists will need to source two additional figures. There are four shells provided for each gun. The shells are unpacked as opposed to boxed or in the wicker packing sleeves, and there are no propellant charges for the shells or their cases. Also missing are the four wicker mats which were issued with each gun and used for a variety of purposes by the crews.
sFH15c_04
The carriage and limber build up quickly and go together without problems. These parts are common to either gun.
sFH15c_05
This is the barrel assembly for the sFH 18 15 cm howitzer. It is at this point that the modeler must choose between the deployed configuration ready to fire or the transport configuration as the position of the gun on the slide is different for each.
sFH15c_06
This page from the instructions illustrates the major differences between the two configurations. The upper gun is in the traveling configuration. The limber is obvious, the position of the gun is more subtle. When moving, the barrel assembly is detached from the recoil cylinder on top of the gun and the gun is moved back along the slide towards the limber. The spades at the end of the trails are also detached and secured to the middle of the trails. There are pins on the trails which engage the slide to keep the barrel from moving in elevation while being towed.
sFH15c_07
Here is the model assembled in the towing configuration ready for primer. I have left off the accessories to make painting easier.
sFH15c_08
Photographs of the sFH 18 being towed usually show covers over the sights, the breach, and the muzzle. Here I have begun making the canvas with masking tape. The seams will be smoothed with superglue and Mr. Surfacer.
sFH15c_09
I decided to paint this one Panzer Gray, with a darker mix sprayed from below and a lighter mix sprayed from above to emphasize shadows and highlights. The spades cover several of the pioneer tools and aiming stakes so I have left them off for now.
sFH15c_10
Everything is assembled and the model has been given a gloss coat for decals. The gloss coat also protects the finish while washes and weathering are applied. Always tempting to stop at this point in a build but it’s also fun to push a little further too.
sFH15c_11
This is the finished product after weathering layers and a flat coat, some experimenting with different techniques on this one. The mud effects on the wheels were made with oil paint and Vallejo pigments, I have found this to be easy to control. I also used oils to blend the tones of the canvas covers and to make the splashes. I’ll be working this build and a few others into vignettes so you’ll be seeing more of this one in the near future.

Revell Junkers Ju 88P-1 Conversion Build in 1/72 Scale Part III

Ju88P_21
The Ju 88P-1 was given a coat of Mr. Surfacer 1000 to check the seamwork and any problems addressed. This aircraft had yellow recognition panels under the wings and a yellow fuselage band. The undersides are painted in the standard RLM 65.

Ju88P_22
The upper surfaces carried an RLM 70 / 71 splinter pattern. Making tape is from the hardware store, nothing fancy.

Ju88P_23
Here the basic painting is complete. I post these pictures with the paint jars used to help me remember the paint colors later.

Ju88P_24
The entire model was sprayed with a coat of acrylic Future (Klear) to seal in the decals prior to applying the panel line wash.

Ju88P_27
After the wash I glued most of the fiddlybits in place. The pitot tube was made from Albion Alloys tube with a 0.004” Nitenol tip. All these details will be painted before the final flat coat is applied so they look uniform.

Ju88P_28
Here is a close-up of the canopy, it is clear enough to see much of the interior detail. I have gotten into the habit of looking at the instructions through the clear pieces before beginning construction to determine how much detail will be visible on the finished model. If I can read the instructions I know that the effort required to dress up the interior will not be wasted.

Ju88P_29
The finished model, and another odd Ju 88 variant for the collection. The Revell kits are gems and there are several variants and camouflage schemes from which to choose. A word of caution though, Revell’s old tool kit is still in circulation and is crude by comparison so check Scalemates to make certain you’re getting the new tool.

Revell Junkers Ju 88P-1 Conversion Build in 1/72 Scale Part I

Ju88P_01
This is Revell of Germany’s excellent Junkers Ju 88 kit which was first issued in 2011 as an A-4 version. The Ju 88C-6 was issued two years later, and an A-1 variant suitable for the Battle of Britain has just been released this year. This is a beautiful kit with some clever engineering but unfortunately the A-4 and C-6 versions have gone out of production and are difficult to locate.

Ju88P_02
The main sprues feature recessed panel lines and fine engraving on the detail parts. The cockpit is a real gem and builds up into a very intricate assembly. These are the best Ju 88 kits on the market in my opinion.

Ju88P_03
The parts breakdown allows Revell to issue just about any of the numerous versions of the Ju 88 by substituting parts for each specific version. For reasons beyond my comprehension Revell has not maximized the utility of this mold and in so doing has left a lot of money on the table.

Ju88P_04
Aims has stepped up with a very nice conversion set to modify the Revell kit to a P-1 version armed with a 75 mm gun for anti-tank work. I couldn’t resist!

Ju88P_06
The Revell cockpit builds up nicely and is quite detailed straight out of the box. I forced contrast in the overall RLM 66 cockpit by spraying on lightened mixes from directly above.

Ju88P_07
I had acquired Yahu instrument panel for this kit at some point and past me had left it in the box where I could find it again in time for this build (which is not always the case). The Yahu panels look great and are inexpensive, well worth the investment if they can be seen on the finished model.

Ju88P_08
Here is the cockpit with a black wash and some drybrushing to bring out the details. The problem with the RLM 66 paint is everything can be lost in a black hole.

Ju88P_09
Seatbelts are a must because the contrasting colors will show through even the thickest of canopies. These are photoetch belts from Eduard.