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

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

This is Trumpeter’s FAMO kit number 07203 which was issued in 2005.  This kit has been issued in several versions and boxings over the years and is still available.  Trumpeter’s kit is the most detailed FAMO and also contains the most parts by far.  Track are individual links and have separately molded rubber pads.  I found the kit to be over-engineered and fiddly.  The advantages in detail will not be visible from normal viewing angles, but if you wanted to display a FAMO with the hood panels open or over on its side this would be the place to start.  Value Gear cargo is in the bed.

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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!

Planet Model Resin Sd. Kfz. 9 FAMO Halftrack in 1/72 Scale

This is Planet Model’s kit number MV 024, a multimedia kit released in 2002.  Detail parts are provided on a small photoetch sheet and tracks are rubber.  There is a low parts count as the chassis frame and running gear are simplified which is readily apparent when viewing the underside but not obvious from normal viewing angles.  I used most of the Black Dog resin set on this one and tried my hand at blending with oils on the canvas parts.

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

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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.
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The Planet Resin model was painted Panzer Gray with a darker mix from below and a lighter mix from above.
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This is the Revell kit with the tracks and rubber parts of the road wheels picked out.
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The Trumpeter kit got bands of green and brown camouflage colors.
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Here are all three together under a glosscoat after decals have been applied.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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
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Here are both sets painted up, enough to load my two FAMO with a bunch left over.
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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.
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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.

 

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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.

Zvezda Panzer IV Ausf. H in 1/72 Scale

This is the Zvezda Panzer IV Ausf. H in 1/72 scale, kit number 5017 released in 2018.  I replaced the hull Schürzen with sheet plastic and I added Zimmerit made with Mr. Surfacer 500.  A nice kit and loads of camo schemes to choose from.  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.

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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A side-by-side view to compare details.

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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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.

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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.

 

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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.

 

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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.

 

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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.

 

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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.

 

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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.

 

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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.

 

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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.

 

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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.