Tag Archives: sd.kfz.251

Tankfest, 2018, part 1.

Ever since I’ve learned about it, I wanted to see a Tankfest. Back when I was still sitting in Florida it seemed very unlikely that I’d ever get to one; but even though I did live in the UK for more than 8 years somehow I still managed not to go even once. (To be fair, Bovington is not exactly public transport friendly, and I did not have a car for most of the time.)

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This year, by accident, I actually got to see Tankfest. I guess I am Good Luck Brian now.

Since we were leaving the UK for a job on the Continent, we decided to spend a couple of days around Bournemouth. It is an incredibly nice place, especially when it is summer (and I do not mean the usual British summer. I mean the 30 degrees, baking hot summer), and I wanted to see the Museum on the side -who knows when I would be able to come back to visit, right? (My poor wife was very accommodating and did not object spending a day among these metal contraptions.)

I planned to get to Bovingdon on Tuesday but we decided the last minute to do the Tank Museum on Friday. I had some vague memories of Tankfest being around the end of June, but with the trans-Continental move and all I did not exactly pay attention. Friday morning comes the shock- Tankfest. And I do not have tickets…

The 40 minute drive to the Museum was a bit intense for my taste; I just wanted to see some tanks, and was worried that I would not be able to get in due to the event.

Well, I was in luck – even though both Saturday and Sunday was sold out, Friday was still available. It was not a “proper” day yet, more of a trial run for the big day. No famous youtubers, no wargaming events, and no pyrotechnics for the tank show.

The place was not very crowded, on the other hand, so you got to get close to the tanks, and could enjoy the show without other people pushing and getting in the way, which was definitely nice. I overheard someone who worked there remarking that it was so much better than the usual overcrowded events. I also saw the end of the day a big group of people shepherded around  -and recognized Quickybaby in the crowd. I guess this was the Youtuber section being introduced to the Museum. The Chieftain was also there; I wanted to say hi to him, but a certain Youtuber cut in the queue, and stepped in front of me. (I was a queue of one.) Shame on you, mate. And you call yourself British. (No, it was not QB.)

I got some freebies from Wargaming for playing the game on site (a T shirt, a small backpack and a code for a Churchill tank), and I got to enjoy the tank show in the arena. To be honest the whole event was much smaller than I thought it would be. The tanks were really noisy; I never thought the tracks can be this loud.

I also got to crawl around the tanks in the museum. And this is where I saw something that was both hearbreaking and funny in equal measure. (I know I’m going to hell.)

A small kid was just standing by the cut-in-half Centurion, completely still. His face was set in the grimace of complete despair and abandonment, and the tears were just streaming on his face. Apparently he was left there by his family. A Tank Museum volunteer was talking to him, while calling others on the CB, so there were about ten people swarming around him, trying to console him, while he was just standing there, staring in the distance, still in shock, not reacting to anything, and only responding to questions in a very subdued, muted voice.

I may go to hell for finding this whole situation both sad and funny, but the father of this child will definitely be there waiting for me. SHAME ON YOU, MISTER. YOU ARE A BAD PARENT.

I mean I get it, I like tanks, too, but seriously? You forgot about your own kid?

Interesting photos of the Sd.Kfz 251: the armor looks really rough. I always assumed that it was smooth; after all, none of the photos I’ve seen suggested this level of roughness, not to mention the models have not featured it, either. (Cast/rolled armor texture is something that is shown in modern kits.) Its counterpart inside the museum featured smooth armor. This may -or may not- be a Czech-made vehicle, retrofitted to look like a German Sd.Kfz. 251. (Someone suggested it might be the leftover texture after the rust removal process.)

 

I really liked these abandoned, weathered tanks- the two big Cold War Warriors, the Centurion and the T-55. Good reference photos for extreme weathering.

Matilda I – you have to love it if for nothing else but for the eyes. Cool little tank.

Assortment of tanks standing around.

Churchill turrets shot up on the range… good reference for damage and rust.

Cold War tanks in profile.

American heavy -M103.

 

Russian heavy- the IS-3. Astonishingly small… the same size as the Type 59 and the T-72 standing next to it. I also took a sneaky photo of the interior as seen from the driver’s hatch. The only interior photo I’ve ever seen of the IS-3.

Type-59… the legendary WoT premium vehicle; otherwise a Chinese copy of the T-54.

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T-72… now this is a tank I’d like to get into. I would love to see the autoloader in person.

And we’re inside… (It was HOT outside.) Starting with the KV-1. It’s surprisingly large… I’d love to see it next to a Tiger.

Sd.Kfz.251 bonanza part 1. The Beginings

Well, here we go. When in 2009 I took up a PhD position in the UK, I was forced to mothball all my fancy model building equipment, my airbrush, and live my first year off in undergrad housing.

That meant little space and brushes, so 1/72 here I came. I wanted to keep building models, especially that the local toy store had an amazing array of models, paints, aftermarket, and tools… the first proper model shop I’ve seen in a long time. (I’ve discovered ModelZone later, but it since did go out of business; regardless, Langley’s is still the best there is.)

After the first couple of random models I’ve built I realized that the sd.kfz.251 has an incredible number of conversion sets for 1/72. I started to collect the DML 3 in 1 kits previously, but let’s face it: it takes an awful lot of time to build a 1/35 kit. If you want to build several versions of the same vehicle, it means a lot of repetitive steps and assembly of identical parts. I started to order the conversion sets one after another, and kept buying the 1/72 DML 251s from Ebay. Interestingly they cost just as much as the ESCI/Hasegawa/Revell offerings, but they are infinitely better, not to mention easier to convert, as the floor does not have any holes or ridges to help position the seats molded on. It also has the proper no-slip surface.

So a pro advice for you: if you want to convert 251s in 1/72 scale, use the DML kits. I managed to buy a ton of identical 251s from China on Ebay for quite a low price. (Does anyone know what I could do with 5 sets of Wurfrahmen rockets?)

I’ve also realized that the Sd.Kfz.251 Ausf. A and B versions are actually different from the more known C and D versions, and the only available, accurate model is in 1/72 scale – by ModellTrans.

So- to the builds!

(This is how my room looked like at one point in the first year I’ve spent in the UK.)

This little exercise taught me to appreciate the airbrush. I did develop some skills in basic brushwork, but I have to admit, it’s not my strength. It was also a great practice in weathering small scale models. (The camera is brutal; the models do look better in real life. Somehow the brain is more forgiving than the lens of the Cannon I use.)

Sd.Kfz.251 Ausf A

I’ve decided to build the Ausf A version, since the B was not very prominent, and did not differ considerably from the A. I’ll quote myself from the armorama review I’ve written about the model.

The development started on the basis of the sd.kfz.11 halftrack. A ballistically shaped armored superstructure was built on the chassis of the vehicle, creating an armored personnel carrier capable of transporting ten troops, a driver and a commander. The ausf. A, and the interim ausf. B, were considerably different from the much more widely known ausf C and D models. The nose was made of two armor plates with a ventilating flap in the middle; two other flaps were located on the sides of the engine compartment. Later cowls were added over the cooling flaps on the ausf. B. The air intake for the radiator was located under a grille on the engine deck in front of the large double hatch. This version was equipped with a bumper, which was not present on the ausf C/D vehicles. The turning indicators were placed right in front of the front vision blocks; later, in the ausf C., they were moved lower, just above the front mudguards. The armor was mostly welded with a few places where rivets were used (the hinges on the back doors, for example).There were three vision blocks on each side of the half-track: one for the driver or commander, and two for the passengers (these last two were removed in the ausf B).

There were two MG34s mounted on the vehicle’s front and back in unprotected mounts. They were later retrofitted with armored shields, and fixed pivot mounts which increased protection and accuracy; it’s not uncommon to see photos of early 251 ausf A’s with sandbags around the front MG mount. The toolboxes were located on the middle of the fenders; most of the larger tools were fixed to the sides of the passenger compartment.

The interior of the vehicle was also very different from the ausf C/D versions. The seats for the driver and commander were much more simple constructions, with padded cushions and separate backrest with simple support frames. The 251 was equipped with the standard Funksprechgerat F radio. It was placed on the side-wall, just behind the commander in the ausf A version, making its operation a bit difficult, as he had to turn back and sideways to access it. In the ausf B version it was moved to its final position, in front of the commander. (There was a medical kit in the ausf A version in this position.) The aerial of the radio was originally on the right front mudguard, and this also was moved on the ausf. B to the right side of the passenger compartment. The benches in the passenger compartment were also much simpler, and the backrests were placed directly against the armored superstructure; there were no stowage bins installed (the presence of the side vision ports would have made them impossible to install). These were added in the ausf. C version. There were brackets on the walls of the passenger compartment for attaching the two MG34s, spare barrels, Kar98 rifles and other equipment.

As you can see there’s a lot in the box; some of the parts are quite astonishing, in fact. (The main hull is an especially impressive feat of engineering.) You do get a lot of things, but one thing you don’t get is instructions. Since this was my first full resin model, I was quite worried that I got a defective kit. Regardless, with some planning and research, it’s pretty easy to figure out what goes where. There were some bubbles and casting imperfections, though. Some of them were not easy to fix, so I left them like that, rather than risking damage to the details.

The tracks are given as an already assembled unit, which made assembly easier.

The finished product. (I borrowed a machine gun from one of the DML kits, and used an aftermarket set for personal belongings that were hang onto the sides.) I really wish I had an airbrush; that’s all I can say…

Other versions:

DML Sd.Kfz. 251/7 Ausf D. w 2.8cm sPzB 41 gunThe sPzB 41 was a squeeze bore AT gun– relatively small with a big punch. Comes with an Sd.Kfz 251 halftrack and a pair of pioneer bridges for a limited time only. The kit is excellent quality, and the gun itself is brilliant.

But if we’re talking about AT guns, then we cannot go wrong with a PaK 40, can we?

Well, more to come soon 🙂

Silly Putty masking

To be perfectly honest, I have no idea what silly putty is actually for. I know it’s a toy, but I’m in the dark about what kids are using it for. It was not sold when I was a kid where I grew up, and I only know what I use it for… A couple of years ago I was told how great masking agent it really makes on an online forum, so I headed to the kids’ isle at the local Walmart, and invested about $3 for a plastic egg full of silly putty. I thought I’d share this little gem, in case some people have not heard of it yet. You can buy dedicated products, which behave the same way, but I strongly suspect these companies are selling dirt-cheap silly putty repackaged as dedicated modelling product. (The very same thing happens with laboratory supplies… companies sell blenders, microwaves and other kitchen appliances as labware on a highly inflated price.) Anyhow, back to our post’s focus. Silly putty is a strange silicon polymer: it is essentially an incredibly viscous fluid, but it can also behave like an elastic solid material. (It’s a non-Newtonian fluid, if you really want to know.) So essentially what it means is that it can be shaped really easily, like clay, it “flows” into crevices, yet if you smash a handful against a wall, it will bounce off, like a rubber ball. We are not going to smash it against anything, though. This elastic, viscous nature makes silly putty an ideal masking agent. Using small pieces, you can easily form camo patterns on models. Obviously, for straight lines masking tapes are still your best bet, but to recreate irregular camo, it’s just perfect. Just place it on the model’s surface in the desired pattern, and use a toothpick to shape it further once it settled. Spray, and repeat if you have more than one colors to paint. It’s that easy. I used blue-tac for similar purposes, but it’s quite rigid, and difficult to make stick to the surface; silly putty is an all-around better option. Additionally, the material is very easy to work with. If you flatten it against a hard surface (a piece of glass, for example), you will have easy-to-use “pancakes” to work with; these can even be pre-cut it to shape with a sharp blade. Just carefully peel them off the glass, and lay them onto the model. Silly putty will not stick to anything (well, any model) permanently, and comes off clean, so you don’t have to worry about residues. If there are some residual material that got stuck in some real deep, real intricate pattern (like moulded-on grilles), rubbing a small piece of silly putty against any residual pieces will remove them easily. It will not dissolve in acrylic paint so they are absolutely safe to work with –can’t vouch for enamels, though, as I’ve never tried them. One thing you still have to keep in mind is the matter of small parts. If you are not careful, silly putty will remove any small parts from the surface, when you peel it off, so you’ll have to dig in for those PE clamps or headlights. (Same is true for any masking agents, though. On a positive note, silly putty will not break them when you apply it to the surface, unlike blue-tac, which does need some force to make it settle.) The best thing you can do is to leave those parts off until you finish the camo. Another general advice (which I sometimes ignore due to impatience) is to use several light layers, instead of a few heavy ones… this will make sure paint does not build up at the masking agent. After you are finished, you can just peel off the putty carefully (or use some more to rub it off with), and reuse. It seems to absorb the dried paint flakes without any issues, and it does not affect its behaviour. If you find after a couple of (dozen? hundred?) uses that the putty does not work as intended any more, it’s really cheap to replace. As a demonstration, I’d like to share some images of a DML 1/72 Sd.Kfz.251 halftrack painted using an airbrush, masked with silly putty. The putty was placed onto the vehicle in strips, according to the pattern shown in the instructions. After the first layer of color (green), it was further covered to add the second color (brown). Because it’s so easy to manipulate, and because it can be shaped very well, its “resolution” (the smallest detail you can make out) is quite high; you can create really intricate patterns even in small scale with very little effort. As you can see the putty was wrapped around the width indicator rods without any problems. Gently removing it shows the pattern achieved. And here is the result of the painting session