Sunday 21 December 2014

1/76 WWII - Fujimi Elefant

In between this post and the one about building tanks with my dad (his a King Tiger, mine a Panther, and both by Airfix), I've actually built several others, and my father and I are now well into building a pair of Airfix Stugs.

I've been documenting most of these activities, with a view to blogging it all, but so far just haven't found the time to do so. Anyway, my wife and I now have a longstanding buddy staying over (in fact he's still here!), and we bought and exchanged our little xmas gifts a night or two back; I got him a 1/100 Revell Eagle lunar lander, and he got me the 1/76 Fujimi Elefant!

The real McCoy.

My box, showing current box art.

The original box... much cooler and funkier!

Yesterday we built them. What fun!

So, to break the long run of not posting - I'm not really counting my last small post, which was just an appeal for info - here's a little 'photo-essay' on the Fujimi Elefant build of yesterday:

Shown above, at top, is the box for the kit I built yesterday, with, below that, the original (and I think better) box artwork. It can be seen that the current kit is a kind of edited version of the original. There are some details in both pictures that might lead one to expect certain details in the kit that aren't actually there, such as towing cables and a commander figure.

Next, the contents of the box. There are four caramel coloured sprues, looking much like some of the more modern Revell kits I've been building, in colour terms; two 'rubber-band' tracks, actually on their own little vinyl sprues (I'd already removed these and cleaned the tracks up when  I took the picture); a small sheet of decals, and the instructions.

Unlike most of the kits I've been building, this one starts with construction of the lower hull, before moving onto the running gear. It seems to me a lot of kits start with the latter.

This is, I believe, quite an old kit. but I think the level of detail is pretty good. There's some flash, but not too much. The fit of most parts is good, the only real area of weakness, at least in my build, being at the rear of the chassis, where there are some joint that don't quite meet. But I'll sort that out with some Superfine Milliput.

Once the hull is more or less complete, the running gear goes on. The Elefant (I'm going to use the german name, whereas Fujimi have opted to box it up using the English variant of the spelling) was built on a Porsche-designed hull, and was in fact initially produced under the name 'Ferdinand', in honour of that designer, originally intended for use in the production of Tiger tanks, but rejected in favour of a competing design.

The beefy suspension arms on this chassis are unlike any of the other models I've built thus far, such as the Panthers, Stugs and so on. All of those have suspension and wheels more flush with the lower line of the hull itself, whereas here we have wheels that end up being slightly lower than the hull, thanks to these meaty suspension mounts.

Frontal hull detail.

Rear hull detail.

The road wheels going on.

Drive sprockets under construction.

The casemate section of most german self-propelled guns was intended to be more roomy than the cramped turrets of tanks, and that shows clearly here. There's a bit of the gun in several of these pictures that I ended up leaving out (the part that looks like two telescopes).

I included the unseen detail of the breech-block end of the gun, thinking it might be good for balancing the barrel, which is pretty damn long, but left out the little bi-tubular part.

Not glued together yet... just having a sneak preview!

As most modellers in this scale know, rubber-band tracks are pretty horrid. I thought I'd use the heated-screwdriver technique suggested in the instructions. It worked pretty well, but I mistakenly did it before getting the tracks in place. This can be done sometimes, but not in this case, as there was insufficient room between the running gear, and especially the toothed drive wheels, and the mudguards. So I had to break the heated join, run the tracks through as shown above, and then re 'solder' the joints, which ended up looking pretty messy.

These matches are there to superglue the tracks down onto the road wheels, so they don't float and give an incongruously weight-free look to the model.

I forgot to document some of the last little bits and bobs, so now the casemate is in place on the hull, and I'm working on the gun support.

I opted to have the gun brace up, but open, that way it can support the gun, but leaves the barrel free to be elevated.

At this point the model itself is all finished, construction-wise, and is left to set, with various bits of support, for the tracks, the upper part of the gun-sipport, and just to keep the Elefant's rather long trunk out of the way

I thoroughly enjoyed building this kit. It was fun in and of itself, even with the rubber-band tracks (which, as those abominations go, weren't bad examples of the type), and despite a few joins in the model either not aligning perfectly, or leaving something of a gap. So, not a perfect model, but a good one nonetheless.

Those with better knowledge of this vehicle might have more to critique, but it looks close enough to the pictures or real Elefant tanks I've browsed on the net for me to be satisfied. The box art, and many 1/35 kits I've sen have Zimmerit, and I'm thinking about whether I ought to try adding some myself. But that and the paint job await another moment of modelling time.


UPDATE I: Since posting this initially, I've gone to work on the gaps in the rear hull (see two pics immediately below), and even made so bold as to try adding some Zimmerit, both with some superfine Milliput. Here some pics of this work, as yet still in progress:

The above two pics show the gaps in the rear hull. The bottom pic, showing the left-rear, being the particularly big and rather ugly hole.

Initial rough repairs. Hopefully to be refined somewhat when dry.

Some roughly applied and heavily 'weathered' Zimmerit. More of same below!

The Zimmerit on the tank illustrated on the box, and some real instances, show that Zimmerit wasn't necessarily applied all over, or right to the top of the casemate. I'm wondering how much more to do. Any thoughts from anybody out there?

At present I've left a few blank spots, notably the rear portions of hull on both sides, the mudguards/fenders (all round), and all of the casemate. As the photographic refernce below shows, in some instances the Zimmerit was only applied to about half way up the latter anyway. Hmmm!? What to do?

As alluded to above, I found a great link for photographic reference:

Elefant (AKA Ferdinand)

Where I came across these useful pics, amongst many others:


UPDATE II: Yesterday was my monday model-making get together with dad, and as well as working on our Stugs, I continued with the Zimmerit for this Elefant. Having decided to take the plunge, I eventually also tried the heated screwdriver tip technique, as well as the Milliput approach. And after thinking about stopping with the hull, I eventually grasped the nettle and did the casemate (or a portion of it) as well.

It may look scrappy at this stage, but I think - or is that hope? - it'll look okay once painted.

This odd-looking set-up was how I (sort of) stopped the Milliput from sticking to my work surface. I used the red pen at top left to roll the Milliput into near paper-thin pieces. It stuck to the pen, of course, so I had to roll it under a polythene bag!

I don't know what the technical term is for the two circular depressions either side of the gun mount, but I believe they are a result of the moulding process, and would be better flattened... so I used Milliput for that to.

In addition to the white Superfine Milliput, I've used the heated screwdriver-tip technique - fortunately I have a number of tiny flat-head screwdrivers - thinking it'd be easier to use this approach where there was quite a bit of surface detail on the hull, etc.

The rear hull & casemate view, showing the two techniques, and with more of those pesky sunken circular moulding things filled in with Milliput.

Now I have to be patient and let the Milliput harden, before tidying it all up a bit, and then giving the whole model an undercoat of, probably, matt black Humbrol acrylic from an aerosol.

UPDATE III: Had my father and his wife around for a Yuletide buffet this afternoon. When the dust had finally settled I managed to sneak a few minutes to get the Elefant undercoated.

I think the Zimmerit is looking okay, although I do prefer the raised Milliput sections to the heated-screwdriver bits. But I'm hoping that once the paint-job is done it'll all kind of blend together. I might also add some extra bits and bobs, like spare track (I'll definitely put a bit of track on where it is shown, on the rear of the casemate, in two of the black and white pics above), jerry cans and so on. 

I'll also try again with the hairspray and acriylic top-coat method, to see if can achieve a nicely weathered body colour, with chips and scratches, etc. I'm thinking of going for a colour scheme of dunkelgelb with a web of olive green lines. I'm also hoping I can get my pretty cheap Badger airbrush to spray some fairly thin lines. So far I've only used it to block in base-colours!


UPDATE IV: It's drawing to a close on Yoolis Night, and I thought I'd quickly update the Elefant, so to speak. Actually today found me building two model kits in one day, as well as cooking (and eating) the Crimbo dinner, etc! Model #1 was a 'stocking filler' gift, from myself via the mrs, a Zvezda 1/100 Sdkfz 251. Model #2 was an Italeri 1/72 Jagdpanther.

The Zvezda half-track.

The Italeri Jagdpanther.

The only work I did on the Elefant was to cannibalise a bit of the Jagdpanther kit; a piece of spare track, to be precise. I've also added some pictures of my second and equally unsuccessful attempt to use arylics with mny budget Badger airbrush. As before, the acrylic paint just wouldn't behave. I tried a whole range of mixtures, gradually increasing the proportion of water that diluted the acrylic. 

First off I simply couldn't get any paint to flow - I'm assuming because the acrylic mixture simply wasn't diluted enough - and then once it began to flow it was either spraying in big droplets, or else became too thing and watery. Last time I tried to use acrylics I did a big batch of models, all at once, and it was soul-crushingly awful. The only advantage of it going so wrong with acrylics was that i could wash all the models under the tap, which I duly did.

In this pic you can see the acrylic paint is both globular, i.e not giving an even coat, and too thin/runny

Here's the Elefant after its bath!

I didn't document that particular debacle, but I did take photos of this recent reiteration of the process (the two above images). Just like the large batch I resprayed successfully a few days back, I've resprayed the Elefant properly using Humbrol enamels... much better!

In terms of painting this model, I want to go with this type of colour scheme:

I found the above picture, a superb model, on the 'Tanks and Trolls' website Elefant page. My thanks to Tanks & Trolls for the permission to use it here.


Some time towards the end of December 2015 I bought some Eureka XXL towing-cables - as pictured below - to add a bit more detail to my Elefant. Looking at some pics of real and model Elefants, I saw that the tow-cable was held in place more often than not by some clips. So I decided to have a go at making these myself from some superfine Milliput. These efforts are also chronicled below!

Starting to remove the excess resin from the eyelet parts.

Uh-oh... breakage!

Breakage fixed with Superglue; cleaning the resin parts up before super-gluing to the cables.

The completed cables, before fitting/painting, etc.

The Elefant, in enamel dunkelgelb; clearing the Milliput zimmerit from the locations where the cable-clips will be placed.

Each rear-side part of lower-hull, below the casemate, gets three clips each. Here's my first three, in Superfine white Milliput.

Here are the second set of three brackets, on the right side of the tank. The middle and left ones look pretty good, but the right-hand one crumbled away a bit, and needed fixing/replacing.

My Elefant acquires a Dali-esque moustache: the tow-ropes are undercoated in black enamel, and attached to the front end of the tank. 

Getting the eyelets onto the U-shaped parts was tricky, and ultimately required that I cut the U-shaped parts in half, as the eyelets weren't large enough to go over the ends.

The left side tow-rope fixed to the clips.

As can be seen I've also now done a successful basecoat in dunkelgelb, using my own ad-libbed Humbrol enamel mix. I also added a bit of spare track. Critical observers may note that the trrack I've added, which mimics what's shown in several black and white reference photographs I've seen, some of which I reproduce above, is not the correct track. I can't recall what other kit it came from at present, but I've decided to let the error stand for now. I super-glued it on anyway, so removing it might damage the model!