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

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!
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.
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.
The carriage and limber build up quickly and go together without problems. These parts are common to either gun.
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.
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.
Here is the model assembled in the towing configuration ready for primer. I have left off the accessories to make painting easier.
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.
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.
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.
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.

Italeri Volkswagen Kübelwagen in 1/72 Scale

The Volkswagen Type 82 Kübelwagen (bucket car) was the German equivalent of the American Jeep, and was developed by Porsche from the famous VW Bug.  Over 50,000 examples were produced during the war.

There are several VW Kübelwagen produced in 1/72 scale.  The venerable Hasegawa kit is too small and the Academy kit is noticeably too short in the nose.  This is the Italeri offering, which is the better of the three.  I have not built the S-Model version so I can’t offer an opinion on that one.  Another very useful model for providing a relatable point of reference of size for other less common subjects.















1/72 Scale AMT/ Ertl X/YB-35 Build, Part I

AMT / Ertl’s Northrop X/YB-35. Italeri has re-popped this kit, but I had one of the older ones lurking in my stash. The empty gun turrets always bugged me, arming them will be the most visible change. Given how big the kit is, there are relatively few pieces. Don’t be fooled by the huge box, everything could easily fit into a Hasegawa box for a twin prop bomber kit if one sprue were laid out differently.  Looking at pictures of the prototypes, you notice lots of open bits which are molded closed off.  One of the first things I wanted to improve was to open the inlets on the leading edge of the wings.  Simply hollowing out the kit part doubles the depth. I will extend these back some more, but this will require opening up the center wing section as well.
And here is where all that cooling air comes out – three vents on the top center of each wing. There is a positionable door yet to fabricate over each, representing the “cowl flaps”.
Another item to open are the wing-tip slots. The section cut out of the top portion of each wing will be built up and remounted, the bottom sections were flipped and faired back in to form the inner channel.
Here’s a shot inside the outer wing panel. The AMT plastic is quite soft, the big assemblies are very squishy. No way they would stand up to sanding and handling if left alone. I beefed up the outer wing panels with Plastistruct and epoxied in an “I-beam” made from scrap oak. That should do it!
Here’s the nose wheel well, the kit part is in the foreground. I have deepened the well and added ribbing. The strut attachment point is extended to the proper length using brass tube epoxied to the underside of the cockpit floor. The well actually extends to the bottom corner of the picture, the two doors covering the section where the wheel itself is stowed were closed except when the gear cycled. I have not found any good pictures of these wheel wells, but if typical they would be full of plumbing and equipment. Debating on how much to do in the wells, at least some basic plumbing where it is most visible.
This is the cockpit, it looks like it would be right at home in a sci-fi kit. I have added fiddlybits based upon what could be seen in pictures, and guessed at the rest. No open canopies here, the crew entered through a belly hatch. The idea will be to create a busy feel for what can be seen through the transparencies. I have not added to the after stations, they will not be very visible.
This shows the oak strip bracing added in order to strengthen the lower center wing section. AMT provides very little in the way of internal bracing – there are only two inserts for where the outer wing panels join, and those only come in contact with one surface. Here I have constructed a box beam out of scrap oak strip, and epoxied an additional strip further back. The wheel wells are used to anchor these, and it feels like this will work.
The wing inlets were extended with 0.08” x 0.25” (2 x 6 mm) Evergreen strip, and the dividers extended with card. I am attempting to force some perspective here to give a deeper feel. To prevent the open look I’ll shoot some flat black into the center sections before I close them up. The upper inlet has internal bracing added, this is visible in some pictures of the prototypes. There are better pictures of the bracing on the YB-49’s, but the pattern may be different.

Part II here:

Mistel 1 Composite in 1/72 Scale

The Mistel (German for mistletoe) was a series of composite aircraft developed by Germany during the Second World War.  They were composed of an unmanned Junkers Ju 88 bomber aircraft fitted with a two-ton shaped charge explosive warhead which was to be guided to the target area by an attached fighter, usually a Messerschmitt Bf-109 or Focke-Wulf Fw 190.  When within a few miles of the target, the pilot would separate the fighter, leaving the bomber component to fly on autopilot to impact the objective.  The lower components were intended to be drawn from “timed out” or “war weary” bombers which were utilized past their useful combat lives, but as Germany focused on increasing fighter production and operations more newer bomber airframes became available.  The Mistel can be thought of as one of the first attempts at developing a cruise missile.

This is one of my first efforts at modeling a Mistel, with an aircraft combination photographed at Burg in 1944 as my subject.  The upper component is the excellent Fine Molds Messerschmitt Bf 109F, the lower component an AMT Ju 88.  Subsequently Revell of Germany and Hasegawa released superior Ju 88 kits which are both more accurate and better detailed, the Revell kit being the better of the two in my estimation, and cheaper as well.