Sd. Kfz. 9 FAMO Halftrack Dioramas in 1/72 Scale

I present three dioramas (or are they vignettes) featuring Sd. Kfz. 9 FAMO Halftracks in 1/72 scale.  The first is a Planet Models resin kit with Black Dog accessories.  The figures are mainly from Preiser set 72505, augmented with others from one of their Luftwaffe sets.  The crew has taken a break for lunch in the shade of a tree.  The dog is painted to resemble one of my own.

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This scene is the Revell FAMO towing an Italeri sFH 18 Field Howitzer, both very nice kits.  The cargo is mainly Value Gear in the bed and Black Dog tarps on the fenders.  Figures are a mix of Preiser and modified artillerymen from the Italeri kit. Value Gear here: http://valuegeardetails.com/UniversalStowage72.html

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I have recently developed an affinity for tank transporters (like I needed another rabbit hole to climb in) so there will likely be more like this scene in the future.  This is the Trumpeter FAMO and transport trailer with a Zvezda Panzer IV.  Figures are from the CMK set designed for the FAMO and a few from Caesar, Value Gear stowage in the bed again.  I like the casual poses, particularly the bored guy on the back of the trailer.

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Build links and more finished pictures here:  https://inchhighguy.wordpress.com/?s=Sd.+Kfz.+9+FAMO

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!

2020 Year in Review

“May you live in interesting times.” – ancient Chinese curse

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2020 in the form of a gingerbread house.

Oddly for a method of telling time, the positioning of our new year is arbitrary from a physical perspective and should have no actual bearing on earthly events, but here’s hoping for a better 2021 anyway!

I’ll look for the “win” here even if it is minor: We modelers are fortunate to have an inherently solitary hobby in these times.  Overall modeling appears to have picked up, Hornsby (parent company of Airfix) is reporting profits for the first time in years.  Modeling podcasts have come into their own and make bench time even more enjoyable.

The biggest void from a modeling perspective in my opinion is the cancellation of the shows.  I usually attend half a dozen per year and they are always a fine day out, with friends, new kits, and getting to see the work of hundreds of fellow modelers.  Also missing was the Half Price Books annual clearance sale where literally semi-truck loads of books are sold at ridiculously low prices at the state fairgrounds.

On a different note, perhaps the most interesting story of the year received very little attention – the U.S. government admitted that it was studying materials retrieved from vehicles of extraterrestrial origin.  Another commentary on the year 2020.

Blog Statistics and News

2020 was the second complete year for the Inch High Guy blog.  I am happy to report that I again managed to make a post each day, so 366 posts due to the leap year.  The blog received 73,992 views and 26,731 visitors, up from 27,174 views and 7,303 visitors last year.  The most popular post was “Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress Interior Colors Part I” with 1,857 views, followed by “The B-17E and the Myth of the Bendix Ventral Turret” with 1,116 views.  Forts appear to be popular around here!

Link:  https://inchhighguy.wordpress.com/2019/09/11/b-17-flying-fortress-interior-colors-part-i/

Link: https://inchhighguy.wordpress.com/2018/11/18/the-b-17e-and-the-myth-of-the-bendix-ventral-turret/

I am still struggling with the counter-intuitive Word Press editor, and that was only made worse with the introduction of the Word Press “Block Editor” in September.  This eliminated some useful functions while re-naming and moving others, with no apparent improvements on the user end.  On a more positive note, I did finally locate the tagging function and busied myself adding tags to all posts old and new.

I have linked several posts on ScaleMates, where the walk-around posts of museum aircraft have proved to be the most popular.  The Women Warriors posts have found a following with wargamers over on The Miniatures Page, among others.  I had intended for these pictures to tell their own stories, but there have been a few requests for captions.  Easier said than done with the modern-era photos as information ranges from obvious to impossible-to-determine, but there may be hope for the historical pictures.

Models Built in 2020

Forty-seven completions, twenty-nine aircraft and eighteen vehicles.  In addition I painted fifteen figures (plus one dog) and constructed three diorama bases. Everything was built to 1/72 scale as is my preference.  The mosaic has a picture of each build, if you want to see more finished pictures or the construction posts just follow the tags at the bottom of this post or enter the descriptions in the search bar in the upper right column.

Hasegawa Kawanishi Kyofu (Rex) x 2

Tamiya Kawanishi N1K1 Shiden (George)

Aoshima Kawanishi N1K1 Shiden (George)

MPM Kawanishi N1K1 Shiden (George)

Hasegawa Kawanishi Shiden Kai (George) x 2

Hasegawa Mitsubishi Raiden (Jack)

Fujimi Aichi B7A1 Ryusei (Grace)

LS Yokosuka K5Y Akatombo (Willow)

AZ Yokosuka K5Y Akatombo (Willow)

Special Hobby Curtiss P-40 Warhawk x 5

Tamiya Republic P-47D Thunderbolt

Airfix Boeing B-17G Flying Fortress conversion to B-17E x 2

RPM Hotchkiss H35 French Light Tank

RAF Bomber Supply Set x 2 (6 vehicles)

IBG Chevrolet C15A Personnel Lorry

Monogram Boeing F4B-4 x 2

Rare Bits Boeing F4B-1 Conversion

Monogram Curtiss F11C-2 Goshawk

Matchbox Boeing P-12E x 2

Czech Master Resin Curtiss F9C Sparrowhawk

Plastic Soldier StuG III Ausf. G Assault Gun x 3

Trumpeter StuG III Ausf. G Assault Gun

Revell Heinkel He 177A-5 Greif

Revell Junkers Ju 88P-1 Conversion

Hasegawa Heinkel He 111H-20

Italeri 15 cm Field Howitzer sFH 18

Trumpeter Sd.Ah.116 Tank Transporter

Zvezda Panzer IV Ausf. H

Planet Models Resin Sd. Kfz. 9 FAMO Halftrack

Revell Sd. Kfz. 9 FAMO Halftrack

Trumpeter Sd. Kfz. 9 FAMO Halftrack

Forward

Arma hobby has just announced a P-51 B/C Mustang in 1/72. The computer renders look good and show areas such as the wing leading edge and wheel well openings which have given other manufacturers problems appear to have been rendered properly. Here’s hoping! Every previous B/C in 1/72 scale has had some major shape issue so an accurate new tool kit has been at the top of many modeler’s wish lists for many years now. The early Mustangs, if done well, are sure to be a hit and a license to print money for Arma so here’s wishing for a successful release!

In more local news Ms. Inch High put a Creality LD-002R 3-D resin printer under the Christmas tree this year. These are very useful if you know what you’re doing, which I don’t at this point. Hopefully I will soon though, and I look forward to printing something useful. It is an amazing technology to have sitting on the bench. For all the talk of “Death of the Hobby” in some circles, I have yet to see any hint of it from here.

I have enjoyed putting this together, and have enjoyed hearing from other modelers and discovering other blogs.  A big thank you to all who have visited here, commented, followed, and especially those who have posted links.  

May you all live long enough to build every model in your stash!

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

This is Trumpeter kit number 07249, the Sd.Ah.116 Tank Transporter.  This was normally seen with the Sd.Kfz. 8 or Sd.Kfz. 9 FAMO halftrack being used as the towing vehicle with various types of loads – lots of diorama potential with a little research.  I used this one to test various weathering techniques and was happy with the results, although there is much room left for improvement.  I have posed the trailer with a previous build of a StuG III which was one of the more common vehicles transported.

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

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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.

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!