Monday, August 30, 2010

...and it's getting even weirder!

Those of you, who are my age, will probably remember one cool  animated cartoon show by Hannah Barbera in the early 70's, called "The wacky races". In Brazil it ran under the name "Corrida Maluca" and if I'm correct, it still hits the tv screens at Cartoon Network nowadays. Boy, I loved those freaky cars and obviously I was a huge fan of Sergeant Blast and Private Meekley's Army Surplus Special 6 halftrack ("Carro Tanque do Sargento Bombada" - in Brazil).

I think HB won't mind me posting this picture - found googling the Net
 This bugger presented here is a personal interpretation of this cartoon-mobile, a tribute if you will, and I did it in paralel with the other car model, just two posts down. Likewise, I used the same 1/43rd scale Fiat Punto die cast toy car by Norev. Dozens of leftover parts of my spares box were used here as well. Those familiar with armor models, will surely recognize many of them. This is my first real W.I.P. thread and I will post the evolution as I work along on it. 

Saturday, August 28, 2010

The coolest tanks come in small packages!

Reconnaissance played an important part in German battlefield successes. In the earlier phases of the war, wheeled vehicles were deployed for that purpose. From these early experiments important lessons were learned. One of them was, that wheeled vehicles, while fast, were extremely prone to bog down in the muddy roads on the eastern front. A fully tracked reccon vehicle seemed the best solution and one of the first reccon tanks to be developped was the Panzer II ausf L "Luchs" (Lynx).

It was a very successful design but difficult and expensive to produce and saw action in limited numbers.
A more versatile solution was pressed into action much later in the closing stages of the war: The Aufklärungspanzer 38 (t). It was a very obvious thing to do: A new, bolted superstructure was mated to the obsolete Czech built 38 type tank, which was available in large numbers and extensively used for different  conversions and derivative vehicles allready. An open top turret with a 20mm caliber machine cannon was added to this and voilà: You have a very small, agile and maneuverable reccon tank.

  But history tells its tale and only a handfull of these were actually built, as the German Waffenamt had allready decided to put a new generation of 8-wheeled reccon vehicles into production instead.
Since it's an exotic subject, I never imagined that a kit in plastic of this rare tank would ever emerge, let alone in such a great quality! Images speak a 1000 words, so let's make it short. The model is from Dragon and  two or three things were corrected, but otherwise the kit is "shake it and bake it". I'm also adding some WIP shots of the painting  and weathering phases, for the first time! May I have an "Amen" !?

fully painted and weathered interior. Unfortunately none of it is actually visble...
3 tone camo is added
first weathering on the exterior
The final result in all its (smallsized) glory

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

It's getting weird...

From time to time, I have an outbreak of doing something completely different. Since I work for the design department of a major Brazilian car manufacturer, I always have requests of working colleagues to build something crazy for them, usually using an existing die cast toy car. They give me plenty of artistic license do with their toys whatever I want. All I could wish for…
The ZIS 9000-S is the result of one such “modeling rampage”. The model is based on a Norev 1/43rd scale die cast Fiat New Punto. The necessary inspiration to rightfully mutilate the poor little car, was the monthly contest held at our design & motion blog sited at Every month a theme is selected and designers everywhere are invited to participate with sketches, digital 3D model renders or even, like me, presenting a physical modeled vehicle. This month’s theme revolves around a combination of military + city car set in a futuristic, year 2150 environment. Does it sound adventurous? It certainly does and I strongly recommend a visit, even if you, dear visitor, are not into car design. The participating designs will be posted tomorrow (08/26) around 12:00 (GMT). Drop in and check it out!  

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Breakthrough weapon - start of a successful design

If there is a unique design that separates German tanks apart from all other nations involved in WWII, it must be the turretless Sturmgeschütz series. Developed way before the beginning of the war, its main task was that of supporting the advancing soldiers and to provide them with firepower, especially when confronted with fortified enemy positions and bunkers. The sleek, low slung, turretless silluette provided a small target to enemy Pak teams, ideal for its missions. As war progressed across Europe, the German army had to face an ever increasing number of enemy tanks, mainly soviet T 34 and the role of troop-fire-supporter changed into that of Germany's most important tank destroyer. The model seen here is the Sturmgeschütz III ausf B, the second version of the family wich fullfilled the primary task described above. It's quite an old model made by Dragon and is still very accurate and well thought out. Built some 5 years ago, I added all of the weld beads with epoxi putty and other small detail like fender flaps made from alluminum foil, electrical wirings  and hatch locking mechanisms.
The Cromwell tank was Britain's entry into modern age tank design. Previous types had an old fashioned philosophy of both, design and technology, being either undermotorized or underarmored or outgunned. In many cases, all combined. Until the appearance of the Cromwell and its derivatives, the British armored forces had to rely mainly on a great number of vehicles supplied by the Americans. It served as the starting point for many new tank developments that came later, during and after world war II, such as the Comet and Centurion tanks.
The model shown here is Tamiya's excellent kit of this very important English tank. It's very nicely detailed and in my oppinion can be built as it comes, straight out of the box.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Big Bug – 17cm Geschützwagen “Grille 17”

While the third Reich was showing evident signs of its inevitable downfall, engineers and scientists were developing new weapons with the promise of a miraculous turn of events, defeating the Allied forces on all fronts. Exotic looking airplanes, guided missiles and bombs with devastating power, extremely silent electric submarines and of course better armored tanks with guns that could destroy any allied tank at safe range. History shows us that none of them helped to prevent the bitter end. Yet, the legacy left by all these incredible projects was the founding stone of modern technology as we know it. Jet propelled flight, pressurized cockpits, ejection seats and hydraulic landing gear, were all first implemented by the German air force, the Luftwaffe. Captured after war’s end, German scientists helped sending men first into space, and then, to the moon.

German tank design was a chapter in itself. In the beginning, the Panzerwaffe was a necessary instrument to hold the ground won during the advance of the battle. And during the last bitter years of fighting it was vital to ensure the safe retreat of the defeated German troops. Hitler insisted on more and more heavily armored protection and bigger weapon systems, no matter what the cost. German tank projects quickly reached the 80 ton barrier and started to push towards 100, 140 and even absurd 180 tons!
The model presented here is one of these awe inspiring  “paper panzers”.  The 17cm sK18 auf Geschützwagen  VI “Grille 17” (“Cricket”) was  developed in 1944 to mobilize the extremely efficient 17cm cannon. This gun could fire its grenades with ranges up to 30km with pinpoint accuracy. The major problem was its own weight: At roughly 17,5 tons, the gun normally had to be broken down into separate loads to be transported by half-tracked prime movers, only to be reassembled in their final firing position.  All this required lots of trained manpower and time.
In the swift pace of the retreating battles between 1944 and 1945, moving and positioning such a gun in one piece or even firing it from inside an armored vehicle seemed like the best of both worlds. Well, that vehicle was developed under the camouflage name “Grille 17” and to accommodate the gun it had to be BIG. However, the project consumed too much time and money, needed in other projects and the whole thing was dropped alltogether. The partially completed prototype vehicle was found by American troops, abandoned at the end of the war at the Haustenbeck testing facilities near the city of Padderborn.
My model is an interpretation on how this thing could have looked. It’s produced by Trumpeter and was one of the most challenging projects so far. Reference material is extremely scarce because the real vehicle was scrapped after the war and no more than 3 or 4 black & white photographs of it were probably taken back then. The molding quality of the kit is far from satisfactory and and fit leaves a lot to be desired. Aftermarket link-by-link tracks from Hobby Boss had to be used (a real hell to assemble!) as the vinyl ones were completely useless. I had an aluminum gun barrel turned for it as it seemed impossible to line up the original plastic parts of the kit . Nevertheless it looks spectacular and it’s currently the largest built tank model I have in my collection.  A huge thank you, also to my friends, Weysller, Guilherme, prott and Canut who gave it to me as a Christmass gift back in 2009!


Sunday, August 15, 2010

Northumbrian warrior

I started modelling figures about 15 years ago. With the exception of this figure, all of my sculptings are devoted to the universe of Horror and Science Fiction. So, this is where it all started. The sculpt was finished 15 years ago. Then, I recently sold the whole figure collection and the need to finish the figure arose. I finished the painting this week. It still smells of fresh oil paint...
Here's what it looked like in its primer:
And here's the end result:

What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas...

This vignette was created using an old Burago die cast Mercedes Benz that belonged to a former work colleague. He asked me what could be done with it and I went to work  The model is 1/18th scale and it was in very bad shape, with broken wheel supports and missing rear view mirrors, not to mention a horrible pinkish purple colour.  I decided to turn it into an escape car of a big heist turned bad. The deserts in the Vegas neighbourhood probably hide a lot of these dirty secrets. and the idea alone allowed for a lot of creative input. The hitmen probably used some pretty heavy ammo to do as much damage as possible. An engine fire then develloped but was probably extingished before the smoke got too heavy and could attract the cops. The bodies were disposed of elsewhere and the Merc's carcass was left to rot and rust slowly buried by the sand.
Working on the model,  the bullet holes were first drilled and then carefully funnelled to give them their caracteristic shape. It took a couple of hours to do this with a Dremel tool and 3 different dentist drill bits. Off course I had a lot of holes to to on the plastic parts too. These were done with a hot needle. The terrain was sculpted in a 14 x 12 inches piece of foamboard and the allready painted car glued on .The car itself was first painted in 4 different rust shades. then I applied waterdrops on it and sprinkled salt all over it. After drying over night I sprayed it in the semi-gloss white paintjob you see in the pictures. Under the running water tap I cleaned of the salt. Rust streaks and dust were all airbrushed, as well as the surrounding groundwork. After brushing a coat of white glue on, sand and small pebbles were liberally strewn over it. Islandic moss was glued on some spots to simulate tumbleweeds, well known from western movies.  The small lizzard comes from a 1/35th scale German Afrikakorps figure set from Dragon and adds a bit of life.