Revell Panzer IV ausf H Flakpanzer 88 conversion

 

Image Source: Henk’s website henk.fox3000.com

I chose this vehicle as my first scratchbuild attempt. It looked relatively easy to do, it looked cheap(ish), and the tank, let’s face it, looks crazy. The Germans seemed to have a philosophy of “if we can stick an 88 on top of it, we’ll stick an 88 on top of it”, and they did. They put 88s on everything they could think of: trucks and halftracks mostly, but among others, on top of a PnzIV chassis as well. (The only reason they did not stick an 88 on top of another 88 is that it would have looked stupid even for them.) The vehicle looks wicked, but it’s easy to see this tank topple, should the gun fire in any other direction than straight forward or backward… It certainly does not seem like the most stable contraption. Perhaps this was one of the reasons they did not build more of this. The other reason was most likely the stress the gun put onto the suspension; after all, it was a heavy gun, and the recoil also was quite severe. (Don’t forget the ausf H version was already overstressing the chassis.)

Fortunately for us, Revell makes an excellent PnzIV ausf H, which I used as a base model, and I got a cheap(ish) 88 from Hasegawa to stick on top in the well-established German fashion. (I say cheapish, because for ten quid it’s not particularly good. I had to drill out the barrel, for one, and the detail is soft altogether.)

The first cut with a small razor saw… this is the point of no return. Unfortunately I have not made any more photos of the building process. In short, I successfully removed the extra bits (without completely destroying the rest), and glued evergreen cut to size to form the “fighting compartment” of the gun. I waited for months for this part, because I was desperately looking for appropriately sized no-slip surface PE sheets, but found none. I have managed to find one set, of course, right after I finished the model.

With this step, the conversion part was essentially over. (Babysteps. I’m happy with the first major scratchbuild I did. Next: BT-SV.)

From here on, everything was straightforward.

The photo shows two tanks patiently awaiting their first layer of paint: Citadel’s black primer.

The second color, dunkelgelb, in several light layers. The black acts as a pre-shade.

The first fitting of the gun onto the deck of the tank. The gun is still black; later it was painted German gray.

I wanted to give some contrast to the model, so I painted the added bits red-oxide color, as if the builders were too lazy to paint the converted parts. Most likely they would have painted over the primer on the metal to protect it, and to decrease the contrast -after all, anti-aircraft vehicles were prime targets for ground attack airplanes. They probably would have repainted the gun itself as well; I gave it a gray color, which was the original color used in AA batteries. I wanted to make it look like a conversion: they took a used chassis and a used gun, and mated them together. The gun is slightly elevated, and offset – it looks more dynamic this way. It’s a shame it’s not movable.

The tank received a moderate amount of wear and tear, some dust and rust; not too much, but I did want to make it look like a used tank. I added some paint chips around the hatches and edges using dark brown, and some lighter scratches using a lightened base color. A soft lead pencil was used to give a metallic shine to the edges. I added a lot of dust onto the fighting compartment; after all, there were at least 4 people manning the gun, and they won’t be wiping their boots before climbing up to their station. The wicker ammo holder was strategically placed onto the mudguard to cover up the holes… Filling them in would have been a major inconvenience, as it would have damaged the no-slip marks, and getting a PE replacement would have been expensive. (And frankly: I was pleased  with myself that it was not damaged at the cutting phase; I was not about to remove it after all that suffering.) I placed some empty shell casings around the gun to make it look a little bit more “lived in”, and called it a day. Later on I plan to add some more crew equipment (helmets, personal items, etc), but I’ll need to find a good aftermarket set first.

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