Saturday 13 June 2015

1/76 WWII - Airfix Sdkfz 234

I got this model in my cache of much reduced Airfix kits from the local HobbyCraft store, and built it at the same time as the Kubelwagen and Sdkfz 222. Like those models it's really very primitive, and even has some real howlers, detail wise. But again, like the other kits, it's been fun to build, and perhaps even more fun thanks to the need to modify it.

A pal of mine has loaned me the above book. I've yet to start reading it (I'm in the middle of several WWII titles, inc. Anthony abeevor's new book, Ardennes 1944), but having been lent the book, and then seeing the reduced Airfix kits... well, I just had to get them! This is a very old kit, dating back , I think, to 1964. The rather attractive cover art dates from the mid seventies.

The kit contains two small and one large sprue, some simple decals, and instructions. I had a look inside all three boxes when I got home, and went with this as my first build, as the green styrene provided a kind of continuity with the rent AMC SturmTiger.

Unlike most kits this build started with the gun, not the running gear. As the pic below shows, a delicate detail of the gun mechanism was rather bent and misshapen, so the first bit of modification was scratch building a new metal replacement; something a lot sturdier! I also opened up the recoil groove and a hole in the muzzle, before assembling the pitifully oversimplified gun mount.

After putting the gun together and mounting it on the inner fighting compartment baseplate, the next step is to assemble the bodywork. This lead to a thoughtful hiatus, as I considered how to approach painting and detailing the internal areas. Having laid out the parts (pic immediately below), I then concentrated on adding bits and bobs to the baseplate and inner sides. 

Detail I added included a driver's seat, from a Plastic Soldier a Company kit (Pz. 38t & Marder Variants), some ammo (from a Hasegawa JagdPanzer kit), for which built a simple rack from plastic card, scratch-built door handles for the two lower mid hull exit hatches, a 'bin' type box on the left side (based on picture research of Sdkfz 234 interiors), some Whermacht personnel gubbins (another useful PSC part), and some structural stuff around the gun and as a frontal plate for the fighting compartment. 

I even spiced up the very dull floor with various bits and bobs, inc. a mechanical doodad (cut up from bits of another kit) which I think might be the top of the transmission housing, or gearbox (again based on photographic ref.). I have to say that I find this part of model building - even if there's a whiff of silk purse and sow's ear - extremely satisfying and pleasurable!

Once this detailing was competed I hand painted it all using Humbrol enamels. Various layers of different washes, and a bit of dry-brushing, helped weather it all a bit, and bring out the detail. I was pretty slapdash about this, I have to confess. But I feel it looks okay, if admittedly not up to the very high standards of many of the modellers whose work frequently spend ages admiring whilst making my own modest little models.

After taking rather too many pics of the resulting fighting compartment and gun - I guess this means I was pleased with result? - it was time to get back to the build. And, finally, it was the turn of the running gear. I'm not sure if this is correct, but I have vague recollections of reading somewhere that the development of wheeled vehicles of this sort, by the pre-war German army, was as a result of some clause in the Versailles treaty. By having wheeled armour sporting guns, the Whermacht could get around energies upon tracked tank numbers. Can anyone confirm this, or elucidate further, perhaps?

Whatever the truth of the above idea, it is certainly true Germany was the pre-eminent multiplier of military design ideas. I think this is a key reason behind my obsession with WWII German fighting vehicles; there are so many, and a lot of them, such as these '8-rad' types, also happen to look real,y cool. Below is the kit with wheels gluing in place. I used my kit-cleaning toothbrush to rest the model as the glue set. I have seen that many modellers build little rigs and formers for this sort of job. I'm cogitation slowly on how I might develop an adaptable approach to such a useful solution myself.

Pictured below is the stage of the build where one comes to the 'big mistake': the 234 variants, which include the popular 'Puma', actually had a single long mudguard arrangement on either side. The double pairings of sharply angular mudguards that Airfix went with - possibly the result of referring to an incomplete vehicle in a UK collection? - hark back to earlier vehicles, like the Sdkfz 231 series. Still, I don't mind this too much. As already mentioned, the multiplicity of designs, and the near Krakatoa-like continual eruption of innovations not German vehicle design, mean this could be a hybrid or experimental prototype. Whilst inaccurate to the informed eye, it still looks quite plausible, I reckon.

Pictured above and below are a few images of the drivers vision hatch, which I decided to modify a little and model in the open position. I had wanted to be a diver figure into the body of the vehicle as (and may still do so), but at present it's still a 'situation vacant'!

I quite like the trio of figures supplied with this model, and I might well use them. Though quite how I don't know! In the pic below one of the crew offers some fraternal support to another, who certainly appears to be a little off balance, perhaps on account of the unaccountable neat circular hole in his back? The commander stands atop the rear engine deck, scoping the field of vision with his binoculars.

And finally, for now, some pics with further added detailing, on the outer vehicle surfaces. The mudguards as spliced were way too sharply defined. Looking at pics of actual vehicles (be they Sdkfz 231 or 234) they all had a far more pronounced softness or curvature to these edges. So I filed these down a bit, using sandpaper and various files.

I also added width-indicators, modelled in three parts: plastic sprue was used as for the mounting points; stiff wire formed the length of rod; and tiny balls Milliput were made for the little white bobbles at the terminal points. Rather unfortunately, I lost one of these tiny little balls. I decided not to make another one, on account of one of the width-indicators being rather too short anyway. I may also bend this one a little, and pass it off as battle damage (the driver has obviously clipped a corner!).

In the above picture you can see that, on this occasion, I have opted to use plastic-card to make the jerrycan holders, having had such a painful experience using the photo-etched ones.

And last of all, the Kubelwagen and Sdkfz internal areas are masked off, ready for base-coating. This was done, as can be seen from the four small balls of Milliput in the Kubelwagen hood, before a I lost one of them, and before a I drilled tiny holes in them, and superglued them to the wire. In the background a Fujimi BMW with sidecar has had a scratch-built headlamp added, to replace (another) lost part.

No comments:

Post a Comment