Tuesday, August 28, 2012

MACO Kit 7208 Flakpanzer IV "Kugelblitz"

MACO kit 7208 Flakpanzer IV "Kugelblitz" (2 x 3cm M.K.103 Pz)

I was so interested in this kit, that as soon as I saw it was released, I ordered one, which took about 8 weeks to arrive at my home. I had some spare time on the day it arrived, so decided to start it immediately. This is one of those models that I thought would never be made in 72 scale, and I am pleased that the release of this kit proves me wrong

About the actual tank. This was a late war build, according to 'The Encyclopaedia of German Tanks of WW2' (by Chamberlain, Doyle, Jentz) and was  instigated by General Guderian who demanded better defence against fighter bombers. The 3cm Doppelflak 303 (Dual AA mount) was the same as was planned for U-Boat defence, but was not actually used. The book advises two Flakpanzer IV Kugelblitz were made, delivered in February 1945, and no known combat history for these. Other sources on the web advise that 5 were built and delivered December 1944, and at least one was destroyed in combat against american armour in April 1945.

The kit. This kit comes with 4 sprues, set of instructions and painting guide, and a set of decals. 3 of the sprues are Revell's Panzer IV, and one sprue is MACOs, containing the parts to make the Flakpanzer. The box is perhaps the strongest I've seen, which is a good thing, as though my box was a bit flattened from its trip across the world, no parts were damaged.

The Build. I have never built the Revell Panzer IV, so was pleasantly surprised that everything went together so well. I have not built any Revell kit for many years, so was not sure what to expect, though I had heard good things about their Panzer IV.

The Maco parts have been engineered to a very high degree, and fit in nicely with the Revell parts.

The Instructions - these are quite clear & include a page with a cloured painting guide,  but there is one thing to be aware of  - the diagrams show to attach the tracks in what is normally considered the wrong direction. Those familiar with Panzer IVs will pick this up straight away, however I followed the instructions and as a result the tracks are on in what is usually considered the reverse direction.

Though period photos exist of Panzer IVs with tracks attached in the reverse direction, the vast majority of Panzer IVs were photographed with their tracks on in the forward direction. Its up to the modeller to assemble it any way they wish, but be aware that the instructions direct the modeller to attach the tracks in reverse direction. Below are scans from the Maco and Revell instructions which illustrate the difference. Click the below to get a larger view;

Below are sprue shots, the MACO replacements being in pale yellow

Below is a close up of the MACO spue, all other parts are standard Revell

Chassis and road wheels constructed with no problems, no flash or cast lines to remove

Perhaps the hardest part of the construction, removing the track pieces and affixing them. I glue the individual links to make runs of 7-8 lengths BEFORE attempting to affix them, and let them semi dry before bending them around the front sprocket or rear idler for a neat and clean result. I don't recommend anyone try gluing the links around the sprocket one at a time.

Tracks affixed. I use Humbrol Precision Poly to attach the lengths to each other, and liquid CA glue, applied with a small brush, to actually stick the tracks to the sprockets and wheels. The CA glue will not melt polystyrene and is so thin that when it dries it is invisible.

Another view of the tracks. I endeavoured to put a slight sag along the top of the tracks. If Revell made the top row of track longer, it would be easy to bend in some sags, as it is, not enough track to get more than a slight sag.

Front view , glues on display used to affix the track links and lengths to each other, and to the wheels

Rear view of completed chassis and hull, test fit in progress & exhaust not fitted yet

Front view of completed chassis and hull, these have not been joined yet

Main parts of the turret, cleaned and ready to construct

Update 30 August 2012.  Below is the 'ball turret' assembled, minus its hatches.

 I have not decided whether to leave the hatches open or not. As there is no interior detail I may just leave the top hatch open, and put a figure in it. There is a line where the two halves of the ball turret join that needs a very light sanding. This line would not be seen when gun is in the travel position, but if guns are elevated the line becomes visible.

Another view of the ball turret, before guns were attached.

Turret in place and elevated. I damaged one of the lifting hooks when cutting another piece from the sprue, so used same diameter wire to make the rear hook, and attached with liquid CA glue. The hooks don't need replacing, they are nicely cast, if I hadn't damaged the hook I would have used the kit supplied one. Last job to do is attach hatches and exhaust system, then undercoat the model. Still unsure what kind of paint scheme to do.

Update 02 September 2012. In the below picture the hatches have all been added, (just one left open), as well as the barrel travel lock & the exhaust unit. I was thinking of adding late 'J' style exhausts, but this vehicle has 4 return rollers, and the 'J' model seems to have been made with 3, so thought it best to stick with this being a 'H' model.

Below are the two parts, complete and waiting for a base coat. Only parts still to add are spare road wheels and track links.

I still haven't decided what paint scheme to go with. So far have sprayed the vehicle matt black all over , then a light overspray with Revell Semi Matt Yellow 314, which produces a light and dark effect. The top is still not secured to the chassis, pending further painting. I may yet do a yellow/red/green scheme

Update 09 September 2012. Today I got the basic paint job on the flakpanzer. There are no know photos of this tank in existence, so how they were painted is anybody's guess. I went for a scheme that I hope looks late war, it still needs a little tidying up, washes, detailing, etc. The Yellow is Revell Semi Matt 314, the Green is Revell Matt 68, the Red is Humbrol Matt 113.

Update 16 September 2012. I quite liked the soft edged sprayed camouflage on the 09 September update, but decided a more geometric and a more sharply defined pattern might be more 'late war' looking. As no photos exist its pure speculation how these were painted, but below are two in progress pictures of how the paint job looks at present, still more work to do.

Update 06 October 2012. As this was a very late war vehicle, which operated within the limited confines of the Reich in the last days of the war, , there was no intention to heavily weather, chip, of muddy up this vehicle. Light grime only was the objective. The road wheel hubs were given a very light wash of Citadel Badab black, to highlight some detail, and the rubber on the roadwheels was painted Lifecolor Panzergray, as light dust sticks very well to rubber and lightens its colour. The vehicle was given a light overall spray of very thinned Model Master Italian Sand (ratio of about 1 part paint to 7 parts thinner) as diluted this colour looks quite like light brown grime to me. The barrels were painted Citadel Chainmail, the brushed with Badab Black. All edges of the tank were highlighted with a fine line of Lifecolor Gelbraun to highlight the edge. Pictures below

Figures on the tank are Caesar and Orion. I should also add the spare track lengths to the front, the rear lifting hook on the turret and the spare track links. Last photo is poor quality as the camera batteries were too flat to fire a flash, I will add a better photo or two in coming days.


Sunday, August 26, 2012

UMMT kit 616 Armored Air Defense railroad car

UMMT Kit 616 Armoured Defense (PVO) railroad car by 'Steel Bridge' plant.

Time to start a new build that will be useful on a new diorama that is in the planning stages. This kit fits the bill as the diorama will include a railway line or two.

The russians mounted every type of anti aircraft weapon from Maxims to 85mm AA cannon on railway wagons, in various armoured, semi armoured and unarmoured formats.  I have been unable to locate any period photos of this exact type of railroad car. I have found one picture of a very similar wagon, except the wooden sides also have armour plate added to protect  the railway wagon. A period builder's drawing shows armoured boxes that look the same as provided in this kit, in use on other railway wagons as well. These kits are made in the Ukraine, they possibly have more local reference material to base the build upon. The kit makes mention that 21 of these wagons were built, and that later models had armour on the wagon chassis and that25 and 37mm AA guns mounted inside the armoured boxes. I have found photos of these later types with the larger calibre AA guns, though not based on these small 4 wheeled wagons.

The kit. In the box are 3 sprues of plastic parts & 3 sets of etch to make up the wagon, and 2 small sprues of plastic parts & 2 small sets of etch to make up the 12.7mm machine guns. 2 pieces of wire are also included as well as fairly well detailed instructions. No decals included, it appears these wagons were unmarked.

This kit is basically UMMT kit 614 (6.6 metre 20 tonne platform wagon), with the addition of parts to make 2 x armoured boxes and 2 x 12.7mm DShK heavy machineguns.

Assembly of the wagon is quite straightforward . There is a need to fold some long slender etch pieces into 'L' and 'U' shapes for the wagon underframe, which is a bit difficult to do without a bending tool, but I managed with metal rulers to get the bends shaped with a satisfactory degree of neatness. I use liquid CA glue to affix these and all etch parts to plastic.

Though underside detail is incomplete, regarding the air braking system, what is missing would not be visible when the wagon is on the track anyway. What can be seen, which are the wheels, brake gear, leaf springs, & axle boxes are all very nicely detailed, with realistically shallow flanges on the wheels. This wagon is modelled in russian broad gauge, which is much wider than what was, and is in use in most of Europe. 

The armoured boxes. These look to be accurately shaped, with similar hinges, compared to the few reference sources, but they are not perfectly cast. The rivet heads on the hinges are slightly off centre, and the joins need filler. The inside edge needs sanding and scraping to get an even shape to the interior.

The DShK 12.7mm guns. There are just 2 plastic and 3 etch pieces for each gun. They are hinged so the guns can elevate up and down, and with a small amount of work can be made to turn 360 degrees. The barrels will also need drilling out.

Update 29 August 2012.  The rest of the brass etch has been cut out, folded, and fixed with CA glue. This consists of the hinges on 2 sides of each 'armoured box'. Why half the hinges are moulded on and why half are supplied as etch is a mystery to me.  I also affixed the small triangular shaped pieces that evidently are in place to support the top of the armoured boxes when they are hinged open. The inward angled plates could be folded out, to allow the gunners and air spotters better views and more room in which to operate the gun. The triangular 'stoppers' could also be used for anchor points for a canvas cover over the armoured box in winter weather, or even to affix camouflage nets or camouflage materials to.

I have also affixed the support rods to the wagon base (0.15 piano wire) as the brass wire supplied in the kit is a bit bent, and these support beams need to be straight, also all other parts have been affixed to the wagon except for the couplers at either end, as these need work to make them look more realistic, being mainly etch, they are too flat to represent the 'U' shaped metal rings that make up the coupler links.

2 pieces of rail track are supplied in this kit, which is good, usually 2 pieces are only supplied for longer vehicles. The track is the standard UMMT track supplied with all UMMT kits, which is scaled to russian broad gauge. Detail is not too bad, and size and spacing of the sleepers (or ties) is consistent with wartime photographs of russian railways.

The buffer faces at each end of the wagon also need improvement, being etch they are too thin and flat.

When all is tidied up, I will get an undercoat on this wagon

Update 02 September 2012.  The paintjob on the wagon has commenced. The box art shows these were painted in standard army green. I have been advised that russian railway wagons were also painted red bown. I decided to stay with the green.

First up the wagon was spayed completely with Tamiya flat black enamel, this was allowed to dry for 24 hours. Then the sides of the wagon were sprayed with Revell Matt Enamel Green 79, immediately followed by a light overspary with Humbrol Matt Enamel Green 226. The second, lighter coat of green was applied mostly to the upper parts of the sides. The metal boxes that contain the guns received the same paint treatment.

Still need to do washes and further painting to the boxes, as well as some highlights and dust, particularly to the lower areas. The wagon buffers also need to be improved, as does the couplers, and the MGs need their barrels to be drilled out, and painted.

Update Sunday 21 October. The metal hinges and armoured protection and other ferrous parts have had a light coat of diluted Lifecolor acrylic with a brush, RAL 8002 (Signalbraun) as the shade looks to me like a light layer of rust. Then an overall wash with Citadel Badab Black, lightly diluted. The wagon under parts were given a light spray with very diluted light grey enamel (Humbrol Matt 1) to lighten it up a bit.

This vehicle still not finished, still need to work up the paint job a bit more, add couplers, imrove the buffers and maybe add some decals.

Bottom picture shows that the cast on hinges for the armoured boxes have slightly off centre bolts. I could cut these off and make new ones, maybe at a later time. The plug marks inside the box can be seen by the light of the flash. Without a flash the interior is dark, and these marks are hard to see. I will improve these, the boxes are not fixed to the wagon yet.