Wednesday, March 6, 2013

DML 1/35 Sturmgeschütz III F/8

These are some shots of my recently completed DML 1:35 Sturmgeschütz III F/8. I hadn't done an armor kit since 2006, and did it to participate in a group build called The Sturmgeschütz Brigade Build on Armorama.  This is the Imperial Series kit, not the later Smart Kit, and has been sitting in my stash since the mid '90s. The Imperial Series were originally Gunze kits, I am informed. Never had a Gunze kit, so I can't confirm that. It's a better quality kit than 1970s Tamiya armor, but not up to today's standards. It does have individual link tracks, as opposed to those vinyl "rubber bands" or the intermediate option, which I really hate, "link-and-length." It also has some really nicely detailed parts (the roadwheels are especially fine), but there's a downside, too. Fortunately, most of the downside is easy to fix or hard to see.

The intake covers are molded solid. They couldn't take in much air that way! These were easy to replace with parts I made from scratch. Newer kits include photoetch replacements for these. The trailing arms for the roadwheels are molded onto the lower hull in a funky way: they extend under the hull. Solution: don't let anyone look underneath!

This was also my first use of the hairspray technique. (Short description: over the base coat, apply hairspray, which is water-soluble. When it's dry, paint over that with acrylic. Let this dry--not too long--then wet it and rub off loose paint.) It's a pretty handy way to show chipped paint, but it's easy to overdo it. It's also an easy way to knock off delicate parts! The whitewash is applied even to the rubber parts--I figure no crew cared to mask off the tires--but as rubber doesn't hold paint well, most of it has come off, except for the spare roadwheels on the back of the engine deck..
The individual link tracks were kind of a pain. I did the right-side run by hand, and it only took 91 links as opposed to the 93 of the real thing. It seemed track assembly would go easier with a mechanical aid, so I built a fixture and assembled the left-hand run on it. It only took 90 links, and sags even more. Why? Damfino!

The whitewash is Pollyscale flat white, applied both with brush and airbrush, and generally rubbed off with a toothbrush. In photographs, one often sees Winterketten (the extra-wide tracks) are often supplemented with some regular links. On my model, one of the winterketten links on each track has been modified to be a regular track link, as has the length of extra track mounted on the rear. I thought this would serve to explain the tracks. The painting of the tracks is pretty simple: I spray painted them Krylon camo brown, then misted with Krylon red primer. The tracks on the suspension then got drybrushed with acrylic gunmetal and washed with cheapo craft-store acrylic brown to muddy them up.

Speaking of muddying, the overall weathering is a mix of Pollyscale oily black, grimy black and that cheap brown paint, applied with a mix of wash and drybrush techiniques, sometimes by Q-tip. The brown color is all over the fenders and engine deck. I didn't have time or appropriately clad figures, so I chose to build this StuG buttoned up, but left evidence someone had been there. (Implied figures!)

The modifications to the kit are few, as this was on a deadline. I already mentioned the replacement intake covers. These were made of Evergreen styrene and tulle (bridal veil). The tulle is coarser than the real wire mesh over PzKfw/Stug III intakes, but it's as fine as the detail kit part, so I let it go at that.

Parts that are sheet metal on the real thing had to be thinned down. This includes the box around the mufflers and the fenders. Then they were bent up to make them look somewhat abused.

One last modification was to add antennas. These were not always mounted, but I thought it'd look better so I formed some with stretched sprue. The real antennas were quite stiff, and are usually straight in photos except in wind. Mine are not as straight as I'd like.

The last three photos below show what it looked like before weathering the upper hull after the hairspray technique.

So the whole thing is finished. In some ways it falls short of what I would like, but some painting techniques came out better than I imagined. Not a contest winner, but to quote Ed Wood, "My next one will be better!"

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