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Armor/AFV: Braille Scale
1/72 and 1/76 Scale Armor and AFVs.
Hosted by Darren Baker
Unic P107 Halftrack by Den Bels Models
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England - South East, United Kingdom
Joined: November 19, 2008
KitMaker: 2,231 posts
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Posted: Saturday, July 04, 2020 - 03:20 AM UTC
All the way back in March when the lockdown thing first started (seems like a long time ago), a quarantine group build run by Panzer Concepts was in the news here on Armorama. With a duration of only a few weeks I decided to enter to provide motivation to build a kit that I bought at a model show a few years ago. Needless to say, being a 1/72 scale resin kit, I didn't place in the medals in the contest, or perhaps it's just that my build was a bit ****. So I thought I'd document it here. It's already built, but I'll do it a few parts anyway as if it is a build log, sorry that the photos are a bit poor and sporadic.

It seems this kit is still available via Black Lion Decals' web shop for about 20euros, and it was them that I bought it from a few years ago, at the OnTrack show in Folkestone. As far as I know it was mastered by Jan Giesbers and is actually number 1 in the Den Bels range - I don't know if that means it was his first resin kit. This is the box and the bag of bits:


And this is a view of the bag contents:


First task was joining the hull together, which is split lengthways. The two halves had to be filed flat and then some heavy clamping and quite a lot of CA glue:


A radiator grille is provided as a ridged square of resin, but it didn't go quite to the edges of the bodywork, so it was replaced by slats from thick foil. Bit rough, but this is 1/72 and that's how the whole build is going to be.


Some of the components are quite well cast, but the wheels were not. I don't know if I was unlucky, but there were big ridges of excess resin and bubbles (left, below). My daughter once won a big stack of Armourfast kits at the same show, so I took wheels from their SdKfz251 kit. All the tread went because I had to reduce the diameter to fit within the wheel arches of the Unic. Two disks were cut and drilled and cemented in place (as lower right, below):


The blank wheel centres were then detailed with bolt heads:
Wolfhound113
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Noord-Holland, Netherlands
Joined: November 28, 2013
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Posted: Saturday, July 04, 2020 - 05:30 AM UTC
Oh, that's a vast improvement!
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Posted: Thursday, July 09, 2020 - 08:53 AM UTC

Quoted Text

Oh, that's a vast improvement!


Thanks Marc, yes, although not perfect, it is much better. The inner ring of bolt heads should really be smaller:


The top cover for the engine compartment was also not quite perfect in that it wouldn't quite sit flat in place, so as the shape is so simple a new one was made from styrene sheet, and the little filler cap and hinges were also added.
Notice here that the cast in place brace or bracket that goes from the outer edge of the mudguard to the roller at the front has been removed.


New braces have been added in the next photo. These are L profile strips that have been bent and sanded into shape to fit under the mudguard.

Above the braces are the lamps. Photos of these vehicles seem to show that some of them just had a single Notek light fitted on the left mudguard with no other front lights; others had Noteks fitted either side of the engine compartment, while some had covers fitted to what may have been the stock lights in order to reduce top glare, and point the light down at the road.

The kit had a Notek lamp with a bit of something else stuck on the side, and then some pieces that were so deformed that I'm not sure if they were the other lamps or not. So back to the Armourfast 251 for the front lights, the brackets being made of thin folded styrene. Some time was spent fiddling with more thin styrene to try to make two identical top shades; eventually it was really simple, these are two etched rear registration plates from a Dan Taylor Modelworks detail set, bent around a cocktail stick and glued into place. Again, not 100% accurate, but better than nothing.
Also visible here are the curly tow hooks, also replacing some iffy castings in the kit.


For reference, various headlight configurations -
Two shaded headlights:


Two headlights and a single Notek:


What appears to be two Noteks mounted as headlights:


All have great (but different) camouflage schemes, and note the slight variations in that brace from the mudguard. Also notable is the variety of weapons mounted. These vehicles were French half tracks that were originally unarmoured tractors for towing artillery, and were converted locally in France to become, mostly, APCs.

On top of the engine cover a shovel was normally stowed on each side, so here is one, an IBG shovel head with a longer rod, attached with foil. I was going to leave it at that but eventually carved an axe to go on the other side. Also visible is the filler along the roof including a strip to cover over the slight gap in the roof hatch.



tread_geek
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Ontario, Canada
Joined: March 23, 2008
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Posted: Thursday, July 09, 2020 - 09:36 AM UTC
Looks like you are taming this wild and unruly resin beast and turning the proverbial sows ear into at least a stylish denim purse? Marvellous progress on this interesting and unique halftrack. I'll be sure to follow as you navigate this latest project. Thank-you for sharing this with our small scale community.

Cheers,
--Jan
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Posted: Saturday, August 01, 2020 - 12:43 AM UTC

Quoted Text

Looks like you are taming this wild and unruly resin beast and turning the proverbial sows ear into at least a stylish denim purse?


Jan, yes, I think that metaphor is about right, it won't be silk that's for sure.

This is the wheel / track units after a bit of clean up and repair. Quite a complex shape, and clearly originally all scratchbuilt for the master, I think they're not bad. The repairs were to the surface of the track where it was so thin in places that there were small holes and chips, and these were patched with plastic and CA glue.


The original front axle in the kit was a straight square section with round ends, and didn't seem to allow the new wheels to sit in the right position. I don't know what the front axle on this vehicle should look like, but some nice detail photos in the Nuts & Bolts Maultier book led to me using a piece of Plastruct H section bent and carved into shape, then attached to the wheels, like this:


The most problematic area of this kit is, I think, the windshield area, with the two front facing flaps. It was proving very difficult to eliminate the vertical join that resulted from the two chassis halves being joined, but with the rest of the body mostly complete, I gave it a spray of grey undercoat so that I could check just how bad it really was. That revealed it to be so horrible that I went for completely removing all of the detail in that area, filled and filed the join, then recreated the flaps and hinges from plastic, as below. I didn't attempt to score in any vision slit, as after carefully studying photos, I'm not convinced there should be any. I think when driven the flaps would be open, when parked up anywhere near a combat zone, the flaps would be shut, with no option for looking through a closed flap.


As well as fixing the windshield area, lots of other sanding was carried out, principally levelling up the roof panels. Conscious of how rough much of it still was, and relatively little fine detail, I decided to go for a heavy duty black car primer, which certainly did cover over a lot of imperfections, perhaps at the cost of introducing something of a rough texture. Also visible now are the two forward aerial mounts, which are made from the tapered ends of cocktail sticks, drilled out ready to receive aerials, and the bigger rear aerial mount, same cocktail stick end mounted into (I think) a machine gun mount from the Armorfast 251.


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Posted: Saturday, August 01, 2020 - 01:32 AM UTC
In considering how to paint this model, we have the photos of the, as far as is known, single example of this radio / command variant as reference. They show the vehicle abandoned / captured, and having suffered some damage. Unfortunately the lighting on the body panels makes it hard to see the patterns, but the lower panels seem to show some kind of stripes that might be dark yellow, with much broader bands of green that are edged in brown. This then seems to be heavily over layered with something else, possibly mud applied to blend it in with the immediate surroundings, or perhaps from being burnt?


The heavy over painting of dark yellow with large areas of green and / or brown does seem consistent with what can be seen on other German combat vehicles in use in France in the late war years, and can be seen in some of the photos above.
So I started with a base coat of green, then masked with blue tack which I cut with scissors in an attempt to get a more straight edged, angular look to the pattern, something like this Hotchkiss 10.5cm Panzerhaubitze, which was operating in a similar area, and was also originally a French vehicle that had been converted in France.



Then oversprayed with brown:


Something of an experiment that didn't quite work, was to then squash the blue tack down so that some of the brown would be also covered by the mask in order to create a thin stripe around the green. This didn't quite work, but did provide the basis that could be touched up by hand.


Of course this kit didn't come with any decals, and above can be seen an Archer dry transfer taped in place. I already posted this tip elsewhere on the site, but just to repeat here, I almost always have difficulty getting these dry decals to transfer to the model. I've tried various tips, none of which made any difference at all; the Archer website basically suggests that there may be a few duff sheets, or that they are very susceptible to contamination from dirt and oil, etc., and although they are apparently happy to replace non working sheets, what about when you want a decal now? Also, I have a feeling the replacement sheet may just be exactly the same.

I followed a discussion elsewhere that noted that it was quite easy to get them to transfer to the glue on a post it note, which I found to be true, but how to make the surface of the model similarly sticky without ruining the painted finish?

Opening one of my cupboards I noticed a jar of Staedtler Fimo Size which is sold for sticking leaf metal to Fimo polymer clay. Instructions are to paint a thin even layer then allow to dry for 15 minutes. I did this straight on to the model which had been painted with aqueous acrylics, and it gave a slightly sheened surface, *very* slightly tacky, but less so than a post it note. Then applied the decal using masking tape to hold it in place as usual, and rubbed it down... and it worked. I then applied another six transfers in the same way, so not a fluke.
This is the product:


Here are the wheels and the track units being painted. Before painting the track units, I dipped them in hot water and squashed them flatter so that the big front wheel was much closer to the ground, rather than raised off the ground.


Here the dark brown on the camouflage has been neatened up by brush painting, and some darker shading has been started. Note also the addition of the axe to the top of the bonnet, carved from sprue.