Saturday, 21 January 2017

Hunor Model 1939 Ford V8 Truck - Part 5

We'll start this post by having a quick look at how I intend to produce a couple of driver figures for my Hunor trucks. Annoyingly, these kits do not come with generic 1/72 drivers (I wish manufacturers would, by default, supply a driver, it's sad that so many do not).

Because these trucks will be part of my Finnish Continuation War collection the drivers will have to look the part, so I will have to cobble together something suitably 'Finnish' looking!

What I decided to use were two of my S&S Models 1/76 white metal Generic Driver bodies, and then I will transplant the heads from two of Ceaser's Africa Korps infantry onto them. The German field caps on these particular 1/72 figures look very close to the Finnish issue field cap of WW2.

As you can see, I have gone for a body that also includes a steering wheel, this is just convenient for me because - although Hunor does include a resin steering wheel - I don't want to muck about with tiny and delicate resin components like steering wheels (which are super delicate and, once again, are attached to a slab of resin). I figure that once the completed driver is mounted inside the model's cab you won't be able to notice this fudge.

Head transplant completed and primed, I am quite pleased with these figures.
Anyhoo, I have decided to have a go at making my own cargo flatbed to replace the resin parts that were supplied. Now, I have to say you do not have to do this, the supplied parts aren't great but they are useable. But, I want to build a canvas tilt cover onto the top of my flatbed, so I wanted something a little more sturdy (the walls of the Hunor flatbed were very flimsy and a little warped).

I started my flatbed by making two simple styrene boxes...

These would be a nice, square (as in, evenly proportioned) and very solid platform onto which I could add the detail and the additional 'canvas' cover construction.

Historical note: In actual fact, while having a canvas cover suits my wargaming aesthetic preferences, the real 1939 American commercial Ford trucks don't seem to have had them. In fact, most of the commercial trucks imported to Finland from the US seem to be what are called 'stake trucks', which don't have a cover, just wooden slated side-walls. The German-made Ford V8s - designated Ford G91[9]7T, 3-ton, 4x2, 'Ford Einheitslastwagen' [Universal truck]- did have canvas covers, but that's probably because these were manufactured with the military in mind. So my interpretation is a bit of a hybrid model of convenience!
The German-built Ford (yes, the Americans made a profit from this as they were
yet to enter the war), these were modified to suit military use. Additions included;
rear mudguards, 'jerry cans', tool boxes, roof-mounted convoy signal and the
standard Wehrmacht type of canvas tilt cover. The German M39 Ford also had
a single piece windscreen, all things that the American version didn't have.
Picture source: Engines of the Red Army in WW2
So, I reiterate, I am actually cheating by adding a canvas tilt to a commercial American Ford M39. That's not to say that they never had a canvas cargo cover, I've found pictures of US Ford '39s with locally made canvas covers, but they seem to be the exception rather than the rule. But, these covers suit wargaming as it means you don't have to make removable passengers to represent the troops that accompany this vehicle. :)

Now, here's an opportunity for me to use my fancy-nancy Dremmel Fretsaw!
With the basic boxes (cargo flatbeds) constructed, I start making the canvas covers. I'll be making a couple of simple ribbed-framed boxes, much in the same way as I did when I converted my Steyr Raupenschlepper (RSO) Prime Mover...

A 'canvas tilt cover' frame construction, which I added to my RSO.
The RSO had a nice easy squarish canvas cover, but my Fords will have a more arched cover, with rounded edges, so here's where my Dremmel Fretsaw comes in. It's ideal for cutting out freehand shapes neatly...

I used styrene card, as that's what I just happened to have to hand at the moment, but this could have been just as easily done using ply or even balsa wood. However, using plastic card means that the frames should be nice and sturdy and will glue nicely onto the flatbeds I made.

One word of caution - if you are going to give this a try - the fretsaw is primarily designed for cutting wood and thin metals, while it does cut plastic you will have to make shorter cuts on slower speed settings. Long cutting session on high speeds creates HEAT, and - as I found - you could actually melt the plastic you are cutting so you SEAL up the cut as you are going along! (I kid you not!)

With some sanding to finish off any rough edges, my plastic arched ribs are ready to attach to the flatbed. I've also started adding the detail to the flatbed boxes, like side planks and 'metal' side strips...

I'm still undecided as to what material I will make the actual canvas cover - maybe masking take or tissue - as the tin foil (kitchen foil) I used for my RSO cover was a bit of a pig to work with and paint. I think I'll have to do some experiments.

BUGGER...Another fly in the ointment!
...On testing the fit of the flatbed to the chassis frame I discovered that there seems to be a possible issue with the dimensions of Hunor's chassis. It may be too short. If you attach the support spars where Hunor suggests you do on the bottom of the flatbed (and they are very specific in their instructions) the rearmost spar overshoots the chassis...

After going back to the reference material I have and some Googling, I think I have solved the puzzle of this issue. Hunor - as with their Ford V3000 truck - do two versions of this vehicle, one based on the American design and another based on the German licenced-build version. However, to save time and money, it looks like they have cheated and used the same chassis for both models and this may be inaccurate as I believe the German chassis and chassis support arrangement differs slightly from the original American version. Still, there are some dimensional issues as well.

What makes me think they have included the German chassis is that they have also included the rear mudguards - which the American version didn't have - and some additional accessories that relate to the German militarised Ford G91[9]7T version of the truck.

It's not a major disaster, just another annoyance and means you will have to show some initiative when constructing this model (which seems to be a pre-requisite for building resin models)!

Friday, 20 January 2017

Gaz 55 Ambulance - Part 5

Primed and ready to go!
Some progress with the Gaz 55, despite being particularly ham-fisted and breaking a couple of small parts off a couple of times, I eventually managed to complete my construction of the major assemblies and got the model primed. On a recommendation, I tried Tamiya's Matt Black Acrylic spray can to prime this time...

It is a fairly smooth coat - my usual primer is Halfords or Autocar black, which can be a little thicker - but I am slowly starting to think that the way forward may be to spray on a primer using my airbrush. I may try this on my next model using something like Vallejo's Model Color Polyurethane Primer (I'll still stick to black though).

Incidentally, you may have noticed that the doors are missing from the above photo, this is because they will need careful fitting once the chassis and ambulance body are put together. There may be a bit of sanding and trimming needed to get them to drop in properly, so I'm holding off priming the doors until that's done.

Next: On to the masking of the vehicle body, ready to airbrush on the Russian Green coat. Here's an illustration of the colour scheme that I'm going for...

Thursday, 19 January 2017

'Finnish' Bofors - Part 2

Construction of the Zvezda 'British Bofors 40mm AA Gun' and its conversion into a faux-Finnish version was relatively painless (aside from a surprise appearance of the dreaded carpet monster).

You can easily tell the parts that I converted - so that the Bofors looked more like the Finnish version - as these parts are the ones in green plastic. This isn't a truly authentic conversion, just my superficial take on the 'continental' Bofors. In truth, I should perhaps have waited and seen if I could have sourced the proper version as made by 'First to Fight', but hey-ho.

Aside from the absence of the gun shield, the 'continental' Bofors had different wheels and a different means of attaching them to the static support and the side support arms were square tubes rather than the round British tubes. This is just from my inexpert observations, you'll need to do some proper research to understand what the exact variations are between all the different makes and variants (practically every nation involved in WW2 had their own version of this hugely popular gun).

Finnish Bofors 40 mm. This gun mounts the original reflector sights, and
lacks the armor found on British examples. Source: Wikipedia

Thoughts on the Zvezda Kit
I was surprised at just how many parts there were in this kit, it wasn't the simplified 'easy build' war game model I have come to expect from Zvezda's 'Art of Tactics' range. Some of the little parts were quite fiddly (and, frustratingly, I lost two of the support 'feet' to the carpet monster).

The most noticeable feature of the kit - from a modeller's point of view - is the plastic from which it is made. It isn't exactly 'hard' plastic, it's sort of halfway in feel between the normal hard injection moulded plastic and the 'soft' plastic of Airfix soldiers. It tends to fray a little more than usual when you file or sand it, and I found that trimming or shaving with a scalpel was a neater way of getting rid of flash and mould seams, etc.

The gun itself felt a little bendy, although it wasn't actually bent. It just felt like it would easily bend and I did consider replacing it with a Millicast brass barrel, but I decided not to as the whole reason I went for this Zvezda kit was to save money.
Simplified 'wire' sights.
Rivet counters will take issue over the simplified sights on the gun, which are not only the wrong type for the Finnish version but also 'filled in' as the delicate wire construction of the real British sights would be impossible to replicate in scale plastic form. Again, Millicast do make a brass upgrade set for the 1/76 Bofors if you are a real stickler.

My final niggle is that the gun doesn't rotate, but is fixed by pins in one of four 90 degree positions. I would much rather that Zvezda had made the kit with a peg and plug arrangement so the Bofors could have been rotated, particularly as this model is intended for war gaming.

The four position gun mount which corresponds to two pins in the base of the
gun itself. You can mount the gun looking forward, left, right or back.
Overall, I think this is a rather nice looking model, it builds well if you are willing to spend the time cleaning off mould seams. There are no fit problems and everything just slots into place nicely.

Quite satisfied (aside from qualms over historical accuracy, but this is my fault and not Zvezda's).

Tuesday, 17 January 2017

Zvezda British Bofors

I  decided that January would be 'Anti-Aircraft Month', but I'm only just getting round to making my first AA gun (so expect this project to creep into February)!

The model I had chosen to represent the Finn's '40 ItK/35-39 B Bofors' (Finnish designation for the imported Swedish Bofors) is Zvezda's 'British Mk. I/II'. I'll be honest, I bought this because it's cheap(ish) and simple, but good. I've been very impressed with all the other Zvezda models I have bought, detail and moulding is always crisp.

(I could get exactly the right 'Swedish' (style) version - minus gun-shield - if I really wanted and was willing to search one out, but the Zvezda version is readily available. An option might have been to go for the 'First to Fight' Polish Army Bofors 40mm, but they weren't available when I looked.)

Superb original colour photo of a Finnish Bofors unit on the outskirts of Nokia
township in April 1944. Source: SA KUVA
Anyhoo, I reckon, to make the gun 'Finnish' I need only remove the gun-shield, source some different wheels (easy as I have plenty spare Gaz/Zis wheels which look about right) and change the figures. Easy-peasy-lemon-squeezy!

So, let's begin by having a look at the instructions...

First thing I noticed is that, this isn't the usual Zvezda simplified wargaming model, there are actually quite a few parts to this kit. And, as usual, I take their claim that this is a 'snap together' kit with a pinch of salt.

My impressions that this model is a little more than an 'easy build' was further reinforced when I started to examine the sprues. For starters, there are four sprues containing some quite small and detailed parts...

The crew sprue! Four figures, but for the Rapid Fire game rules I only need
to model three crew. We shall cross that bridge when we come to it.

The kit comes with this base for modelling the deployed gun. Also, here we
have the 'British wheels', I will have to replace these for the Finnish variant.
The Bofors, plus gun-shield (won't need that) and a wee flag! :)
As I said, plenty of parts, which should build into quite a nice little model. And, because I am building this under the Rapid Fire game rules, I have two of these kits - one to represent a deployed AA gun and another in the transportation mode (I was thinking of building this and adding some sort of canvas cover, maybe).

Finnish AA crew pose on a 1937 Ford truck, with a medium AA gun  (possibly
a 76 ItK/29 B, Bofors) in tow. Note the canvas gun cover. Source: SA KUVA
I'm hoping this will be a 'quick build' which will be completed about the same time as I finish my Hunor Ford M39 truck project (as this will be the towing vehicle for this gun). Luckily, the HUnor kit is turning out to be such a start and stop build - due to all the problems with the kit - that I should have plenty of time to get the Bofors built and painted...In theory...

The two versions I will be building; transportation mode and deployed.

Saturday, 14 January 2017

Hunor Model 1939 Ford V8 Truck - Part 4

While I continue to wrestle with the Ford's cab (a lot of work there), I have managed to prepare one of the other main sub-assemblies, the chassis...

In the above photo are the unprepared resin parts - aside from the chassis frame itself, which I freed from its slab of resin earlier - and below is the chassis components of my second Ford prepped and ready to assemble.

There are other components, or rather, there should be a selection of other components to complete the chassis, but some are missing! One of the kits has a missing exhaust and driveshaft, and even the kit that does have these parts bits the exhaust component is broken. Furthermore, and I have to be honest, I really can't be bothered cutting the rudimentary driveshaft that I do have from its resin block, it would be easier just to make a new one from a bit of styrene or brass rod.

So, after a bit of tinkering and glueing...

Yes, it's a bit of a dog's dinner, but due to lack of clarity in the instructions (and the lack of a complete exhaust component to work from) I had to use a bit of poetic license in my interpretation of what a 1939 Ford truck chassis looks like (I did Google for images, but just couldn't find the reference material I needed). Obviously, if this had been a model for display or a competition, I would have gone the extra mile and joined a few Ford vintage truck forums and requested some pictures or advice, but as this is for a wargame model and the underside will be hidden, I forewent that!

The third main sub-assembly in this kit is the cargo flatbed (the others being the cab and the chassis) and this is perhaps the simplest part of the model and won't give me too much trouble...

There's the four 'walls' of the cargo flatbed, the floor and then five support spars for the underneath of the floor (which attach the bed to the chassis frame). As usual, there is some trimming to do to get rid of excess resin.

And this is where the construction ground to a halt (again) as I realised what a shoddy fit the flatbed assembly is - not really surprised, though...

I'll stop here, as I now have to decide whether to persevere with the supplied flatbed parts OR do I have a go at making my own. They aren't that complex, but, also, I want to add 'canvas' tilt covers to the cargo area of these trucks, so it's perhaps just as easy to go the whole hog and build the whole section myself...

I shall think on this.

....But, I couldn't resist doing a little test fit...

Friday, 13 January 2017

Slightly related note - Pegasus Bridge war game

I thought it might be interesting for some of you who read this blog to tell you about a game of Bolt Action that I played last night, at the Scarborough Games Society. I managed to get a few snaps of the game - I played as part of the British team - and they include some very nice shots of some of the models fielded in the game.

I won't recount the whole game report here, as I have already done so over on my gaming blog, but if your would like to read about it (and it was a very exciting game) you can jump over to that post by clicking on this link: Milgeek - Tabletop game report - 'Pegasus Bridge'.

Or, alternatively, if you don't want to listen to me drone on about my gaming adventures but would like to see the pictures, then you can follow this link to my Flickr album of the game: Flickr - Bolt Action Game - Pegasus Bridge.

A big thank you goes to the members of the Scarborough Games Society for putting up with a novice like myself. And I should note that they play all sorts of board and tabletop games, not just war games (next week they are hosting a big Zombiecide game, so I'm looking forward to that)!

You can find out more about the SGS by popping over to their Facebook page: The SGS Facebook page.

Tuesday, 10 January 2017

Hunor Model 1939 Ford V8 Truck - Part 3

Oh, dear! This is gonna be a long haul...

Just a tiny update on this project, so you can see what I'm up against and why this is going to crawl along with some very insignificant progress updates.

One of my two Hunor Ford M39's arrived with a damaged 'nose'...

It seems there might have been an air bubble in the mould, the truck's grill and lower edge were paper thin and disintegrated when touched. So I am having to rebuild the damaged area with some Milliput putty.

While this may be an extreme example of some of the problems that exist with this model, there will undoubtedly be a lot more work for the Milliput on these models.

Once the Milliput has dried I will sand it into shape properly. I'm quite pleased with the job I made of repairing the grill, I think it will suffice. From here I will move onto fitting the cab and bonnet to the cab floor and fenders (which you can see temporarily fitted to the cab on the right).

You perhaps won't be surprised to hear that the cab and its floor and fenders aren't a great fit. You'll notice the gaps between the fenders and the bonnet in the picture, but this is the least of the problems

But, that - as they say - is a story for another time!