Tuesday 26 May 2015

1/72 WWII - Special Armour Sdkfz 11/4 Nebelkraftwagen (#2)

This will be my second 'second model build' post, the first being the second time I built an Italeri JagdPanther (that post is here). One lives in hope that each build will improve modelling skills, and with multiple builds of the same kit, one can hopefully see this improvement even more clearly.

These Special Armour kits come in a pretty big but quite handsome box. Below you can see the contents. The reason for the large box is that most of the model is on one main and rather large sprue. The instructions are better than some of the other Eastern European brands that I've been discovering recently, such as Ace or Attack, but not quite as good as market leaders like Revell or Dragon.

Above you can see the second smaller sprue and the photo-etched parts, plus a small sheet of clear plastic for the windscreen and dashboard dials, a thoughtful inclusion, ready marked up for cutting and placement. A nice touch! The rubber band tracks are made of a very soft/floppy material, but are well detailed, and bonded easily enough (I think I used cyanoacrylate, or 'superglue'). There are plenty of decals as well.

As usual, the build commences with chassis and running gear. Parts are better formed than some Ace or Attack models (and way better than the two Milicast 1/76 resin models I recently bought), but have a fair bit of moderate flash, requiring plenty of cleaning up before or during assembly.

Fit of most parts is pretty good, although the wheels on this kit don't align very neatly, even with quite a lot of effort expended, and the two rear-most road wheels actually need some scratch-building type help to get them anywhere near where they ought to be. So there's a bit of a problem with this model there.

In the picture directly below you can see how I made little 'collets', or collars, from some spare sprue, which entailed snipping off, slicing relatively cleanly (and a bit of sandpapering to get the two opposites planes parallel), and then drilling holes through them. I tried a small one first, but it was too small, so I went with a larger one.

These improvised collars helped my get the rear-most road wheels in their proper position; sure, they look, a bit clunky, if you know they're there. But I doubt the casual observer will pick up these, once the models are completed.

Little jobs of this sort on models like this might be considered annoying, but I actually enjoy the problem solving process. Having said that, I'd rather be spending the energy I spent on this on post-construction modifications, as opposed to correcting faults with the basic build. After this the front wheels and exhaust system go on.

I started this post talking about improving with each new build, and hoping that'd be noticeable, especially on repeat builds of the same kit. Well, I certainly think the final alignment of the road wheels is much better on this second Special Armour Nebelkraftwagen. Perhaps when time allows I'll do a comparison shot? Mind you, once the tracks are on and the models are painted, it's hard to really see the wheel alignment issues.

Above and below you can see some of the tidying up this kit requires, here in the form of fairly substantial ejector-pin protrusions. I cut these off and then sand them down. And with some parts, such as the drive wheels, I also had to drill out the mounting holes.

Another part that required some extra effort - and my failure to address this on my previous Special Armour Nebelkraftwagen had a more troublesome impact when it came to fitting the upper bodywork - was the engine block. There's a raised part on the lower chassis which, according to the instructions, the engine sits on.

However, as can be seen above, this leaves the engine too high, and it won't join satisfactorily where the drive shafts fail to meet and align. So, as  can be seen in the pic below, I removed the mounting nubbin thingy, which solved this problem. So thate's another fairly significant improvement on the previous build!

Assembly of the cab involves making up the windscreen with the thoughtfully supplied and helpfully marked out plastic sheet. Some of the photo-etched metal parts are added to the windscreen (wiper motors and rear-view mirrors at first, with windscreen wipers as later additions. I might leave the latter off, as fitting these to the last model was a stressful nightmare, and resulted in messy blobs of cyanoacrylate rather wrecking the windscreen.

The clear plastic sheet and photo-etched metal also provide an alternative option to a styrene dashboard display. In both builds of this kit I went with the more complex and involved metal and see-through plastic option. I certainly did a better job paint and assembly wise this second time around. Though how visible this will ultimately be I'm not sure (in the previous model I accidentally allowed some of one of the base coat paint layers to get through the masking into the inner cab!).

Assembly of the upper and rear bodywork begins. I did a better job on this than previously as well. I may well leave off the tiny photo-etched door handles this time, as they're so fragile that any handling of the model threatens to destroy them, plus gluing them in position always seemed to result in unsightly and unrealistic blobs of superglue building up. Wire hadles scratchbuilt and actually drilled into the body might be a workable and more rugged alternative?

Similarly delicate are the 'whiskers', about which I posted during the time of the first build (see here). Once again I'm not sure whether to use the photo-etched parts supplied. Yes, they're better proportioned than any styrene equivalents could hope to be, but theyre' horribly fragile! Likewise the gear-stick. But at least the gear-stick is somewhat protected by being inside the cab.

I think this kit is now somewhat more complete than these last photos suggest. But this was, more or less, where I left it after the first round of building. The chassis and running gear are complete, and undercoated, with the upper works being mostly assembled, but not yet painted.

Rather frustratingly, and largely because of a trip to Waterloo for the bicentenary, funds are simply not available for the acquisition of a suitable dual-control airbrush, for the foreseeable. So this joins the ever growing armada (task farce?) [1] of unfinished vehicles. When I finally get the airbrush, I sincerely hope to mount a paint-based Blitzkrieg!


[1] Some typos just have to be left alone; 'task farce' is just about right!

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