This is a model by Schlossbauer on Thingiverse, printed by me on my Ender 3.

It's a Hezrou, which used to be called a Type II Demon back in the ancient AD&D days. It stands about 45mm tall.

I ended up having to slice its base off and print it lying at 45° on its back; I've been having issues with the nozzle knocking into tree supports recently, which is a bit of a pain. It's now based on a 33mm fender washer, which I prefer in any case, as it adds a bit of weight to the plastic model and lowers its centre of gravity.

Panzer Grey (yet again)

This is a colour photograph taken by Hitler's personal photographer, Hugo Jaeger, of German troops standing around waiting to parade. It's early in the war; the panzer troops are still in their big black berets, and all the equipment is still painted grey. Interestingly, there are no balkenkreuz or tactical numbers showing on any of the vehicles, but they may very well have been freshly painted specifically for the parade.

Although it's a colour photo (not a colourized black & white photo), that doesn't necessarily mean the colours are accurate. At best, we can look at elements that are in known colours to judge the colour balance and exposure of the image as a whole.

In this case, there's not a lot to choose from. The colour of the German No.1 uniform of the men on horseback is reasonably well known from existing museum pieces, and there's the skin tone of the men. To me the colour balance looks fairly good, though the image as a whole is perhaps a fraction under-exposed.

Jeep (1:100)

"I told you, you should have gone before we set off."
A jeep in 1:100 scale is a teensy tiny little thing.

This one is mostly a model by M. Bergman, I've just added a driver and passenger and printed it on my Ender 3.

The quality is adequate for wargaming purposes, but small items like this, and especially the two crewmen, would be much better printed on a resin printer. I shall have to get one of those one day.

21st Panzer Stuff

Because I have the attention span of a mayfly, I've started a new project: some of the conversions of French AFVs used by the 21st Panzer in Normandy. I haven't seen anything much of these things available digitally — I'm sure there are some models out there, I just haven't found them.

I'm beginning with the 105mm Gesch├╝tzwagen 39H(f), because almost all of it can be re-used for the PaK40 version as well.

I'm starting from Marco Bergman's 1:100 scale Hotchkiss H39 hull, chopping it up and adding new detail to the running gear. The superstructure comes next, and then the two guns.


Got the basic shell of the superstructure pretty much done, though with quite a bit more work than I expected. Blender's "solidify" modifier seldom creates a shell of consistent thickness, unfortunately, but I haven't found a better way to do this sort of thing. I just have to resign myself to doing a whole lot of manual tweaking afterwards.

Ram Kangaroo

This Marco Bergman's 1:100 scale Ram Kangaroo APC, printed on my Ender 3, and painted up for the early part of the Italian campaign. I added some detail to the track edges, but I neglected to add any track guides before charging ahead and printing it.

The paint I used for the Light Mud camouflage colour came out much brighter and yellower in the photo than in real life, though even in real life it should probably be a bit darker and duller. Hey ho. In truth, I'm not sure that any Kangaroos would have been painted in disruptive camo, but they might have.
Note: Now that I've done the very basic research I should have done before, it turns out that the Ram Kangaroo didn't come into service until quite late in 1944, so it should really just be in plain SCC 15 Olive Drab.

A Glitch in the Matrix

Challenger 17pdr tank (M.Bergman)
As I noted in earlier posts, I've started getting layer shifting in my Y axis.

I'm looking at various things to try to diagnose the fault. There doesn't seem to be anything physically obstructing the print head travel, and all the belts and pulleys seem to be clear. Everything moves cleanly under finger pressure.

My current hypothesis is that it's degradation of the SD card I use to print from, since all the models showing this behaviour have been printed from one particular card and a test cube I printed from another didn't suffer from it. I've reformatted the card, and I'm doing a test print from it right now, so in a couple of hours I'll see if that has had any effect. If not, I'll try printing the same file from a new card.

Ram Badger

The Badger was a variant of the Canadian Ram tank. The turret was removed and the turret ring plated over, a small machine-gun turret emplaced there, and the bow machine-gun replaced with the same flamethrower as was mounted on the Wasp.

It was intended as a more heavily armoured replacement for the Universal Carrier-based Wasp flamethrower, which had proven to be dangerously vulnerable on the battlefield, being open-topped and impervious to nothing larger than small arms fire.

The Badger was on strength with the Canadians from 1944, but didn't see active service until 1945.

This is a 1:100 (15mm) 3d printed model, designed by M. Bergman and printed by me on my Ender 3. I've added a bit of extra detail to the tracks.

More Adventures in 3d Printing

I printed this 1:100 Ram Kangaroo last night. It's a Bergman model; I've just added some detail to the edges of the tracks. Overall, I'm not displeased with it.


If you look at the transmission housing at the front of the hull, you will observe a nasty seam. That's a slight layer shift. There are a variety of reasons why this occurs; because this is a one-off shift, it was probably something catching on one of the parts of the printer as the print head was moving, quite likely some filament detritus getting caught in the belt and pulley, or something like that.

I thought the issue was in the X axis, because that's the direction of th shift, so I just spent about twenty minutes checking and cleaning all those components, and satisfied myself that everything is moving freely. Then I started another print of the model.

Now I know that the shift actually happened in the Y axis, because my memory is complete shit, and the model is actually printing 90° to what I had thought it was.

Hopefully it'll be fine. Hopefully.

Gun Barrels

 The most problematic part of any military model, whether it be 3d printed as here, or moulded and cast traditionally in white metal or resin, is almost always the gun barrel. The limitations of materials and processes mean that they're almost always over-scale, and also often quite fragile. White metal is soft and tends to bend at the slightest pressure, while resin or 3d printing plastics are easily warped or broken.

One way around the problem is to replace those gun barrels with new ones made of something a bit sturdier. In the case of the AEC armoured car shown here, the QF 75mm gun was turned down from a steel nail, while the Crusader's 6 pounder was turned from a length of 2mm brass rod. The brass is, of course, a lot easier to turn than the steel, and is generally quite strong enough for gaming purposes; the only reasons I did the 75mm in steel were

  1. I wanted to see if it was practicable with the equipment I have to hand, and
  2. I didn't have the brass rod yesterday.

What I use for this sort of work is a cheap little mini-lathe I bought from BangGood, an online mega-store. It cost me about thirty bucks, so not a lot.

It's really little more than a drill chuck mounted on a little electric motor on an extruded aluminium bed. It's the sort of thing that would be trivial to put together oneself, if one had any electrical engineering skills at all, which I do not. It's not nearly as precise as a proper micro-lathe, as would be used by watchmakers and the like, but it's adequate for this sort of task.

I just use needle files for the shaping. They work fine, and the brass 6 pounder barrel only took five or ten minutes from start to finish. The steel 75mm took a bit longer, because the material is so much harder than brass.

I don't think it would be up to the task of turning very small barrels, such as for 1/285 Tigers, or 1/100 20mm flak, but it's fine for most 15mm jobs, and it's a lot better than my old setup, which was just an electric drill strapped down to a piece of wood.

AEC Armoured Car(s)

This is what I've been working on for the last few days — a British WWII AEC armoured car, with turrets for the Mk.III (75mm, on the body of the vehicle) and Mk.II (6 pounder, off to the left).

I also want to do a Mk.I, which will require a slight redesign of the hull front, and a Valentine or Crusader turret, both of which I already have from older models.
The STLs for the AEC Mk.I are now available for download from https://www.wargaming3d.com/product/aec-armoured-car-mk-i/ — the Mk.II and Mk.III soon to follow.

This thing was actually designated a "wheeled tank" when it went into production, rather than as an armoured car. It was the Brit's first attempt at a wheeled vehicle with the same armament and protection as their tanks of the time.

A bit later...

The modifications to the hull to create the Mk.I were a bit more involved than I had expected, which is about par for the course when it comes to any model I expect to be straightforward.

However, it's done now, and all I have to do is create STLs of the various components.

Note: it seems, from the bit of reading I've done, that there's a reasonable chance that the reports of the Mk.I being given a Crusader turret might be a case of  mis-identification or mis-translation in the foreign-language literature, and possibly the "transitional" vehicles might actually have been given 6 pounder Churchill turrets. However, the Crusader turret was certainly used elsewhere on armoured cars (on the Staghound, for example), so there's a possibility they were used here too. I'll provide a Crusader turret and let the user make the decision for themselves.

Later still...

I've got the first test prints done, and they're mostly OK. I will have to beef up the mudguards a bit though, as they're the main point of failure.

These ones have been printed on their wheels, but I'll also provide versions with separate wheels for the people who like that sort of thing.

Girder Bridge Trusses

This is a pair of girder trusses, approx. 190x19mm, intended for use on a temporary bridging structure for 15mm WWII wargaming.

They print flat on the platen, so they are detailed on only one side. If two-sided trusses are desired, they could be glued together back-to-back, but of course two sets would need to be printed.

They're available for free download at https://www.thingiverse.com/thing:4047326

Beaverette Mk.II

The Beaverette was an improvised armoured car created almost overnight in 1940 by mounting an armoured shell on to the chassis of a Standard touring car. This is the Mk.II version, which was improved in many respects from the Mk.I. It was usually armed with a single Bren gun, through firing slits at front and rear.

The Beaverette was widely used for training and by the Home Guard in the UK, and this and later turreted variants were also used for airfield defence both at home and abroad. One later model mounted the complete gun turret from the Bolton-Paul Defiant, and was used in an AA role.

Considering the panicked haste in which it was originally produced, it was surprising efficient, but nevertheless it would not have been up to the rigours of front-line service and it was never used in that role.

This 1:100 scale (15mm) model was designed by M.Bergman and slightly modified by me — I chopped the wheels off for separate printing, and replaced the very basic driver mannequin with a figure of my own design.

WWII German Driver

I've been farting about in Blender, making myself a 15mm German driver that I can insert into trucks, half-tracks and the like.

It's a somewhat modified version of my old British driver, and as such, it's not a very flexible model — it's not rigged or anything. That will make further modification tricky, for turning him into a passenger figure for example. Plus, he doesn't have any feet. Poor bastard.

I'm intending it to be inserted into an STL before slicing, rather than to be printed as a standalone figure for gluing into an existing model. I suppose that would be possible, but it would probably need a bit of hacking about to make it fit most models, whereas if I add it digitally it can just be merged with the surrounding geometry.

Meh. Not great, could be worse.

I can get a barely adequate print of these little guys off my Ender 3, but this sort of thing really needs a high-definition resin printer.

I made another one without a steering wheel, for use as a front-seat passenger.

PzJg 1 (75mm)

The PanzerJager 1  appeared very early in WWII, extending the useful lifetime of the Panzer 1, and it originally mounted a Czech 47mm gun which was quite adequate for 1940. However, combat reports on the vehicles' performance from Russia were not universally glowing, and it was soon superseded by other tank hunters mounting the KwK 75mm on Panzer 2 or Panzer 38t chassis, the Marder series.

This photo was taken in Berlin in 1945, and shows how desperate the Germans were at that time to mount anti-tank guns on just about anything they could find.

The Panzer 1 chassis was already overloaded with the much smaller 47mm gun and superstructure; you can see clearly how very front-heavy it was with a 75mm instead.

I know nothing at all about this vehicle except its existence. I doubt very much that its performance was stellar, but needs must, as they say.

The model came from TigerAce1945's Panzer 1 Pack on Thingiverse, and was printed on my Ender 3 in eSun PLA. The scale is 1:100, for 15mm gaming.

Churchill 3" Gun Carrier

 This is a 1:100 (15mm) model of the Churchill 3" Gun Carrier, designed by M. Bergman and 3d-printed by me on my Ender 3. The filament is eSun PLA (grey), and the layer height is 0.06mm.

It's not a vehicle that ever made it into active service, since its function was overtaken by better, more effective options even before its own development process was completed. There were about 50 of them built, nevertheless.

Flammpanzer 1

The Flammpanzer 1 was a simple field conversion of a Panzer 1A, replacing one of the turret machine-guns with an infantry flamethrower. It was originally used in the Spanish Civil War, and later at Tobruk.

This is a 3d-printed model, designed by Zac Kuvalich and printed by me on my Ender 3.

A Droid of Some Sort

This is a 3d printed R1 droid, or at least, so it said on Thingiverse, where I got the file from. What an R1 droid specialises in, I have no idea, since although I'm happy to use Star Wars, I have no idea how it works.

It's shown alongside a space trooper from Reaper that I got in one or other of their Bones Kickstarters.

We seldom play sci-fi or space opera games any more, which is a shame, because I quite enjoy it when we do. I might have to run a game myself, maybe using a simple system that I can make stuff up in on the fly, like FUDGE.
Later: I forgot about RISUS. I found it years and years ago, an meant to do something with it, but never did. It's very, very simple, and the ideal thing for off-the-cuff games.

PSC 15mm Early War Germans

These just arrived for me today, a box of PSC's 15mm plastic German infantry for the first half of WWII.

On the box it says "138 figures and 6 models" — I'm not sure to what they refer when they say "models", unless maybe it's the 50mm mortar and anti-tank rifle teams which need to be assembled.

At about 22 quid (roughly forty KiwiBucks at the current rate of exchange) for in the region of 150 figures, they're not bad value. They're a lot cheaper than any metal alternative, as well as being substantially cheaper than Battlefront's plastic offerings in the same scale.

There are twelve sprues in the box, three with command and support personnel, and nine sprues of your regular grunts.

On each of the "grunt" sprues, you get eight riflemen in various poses armed with the Kar98, and two MG34 teams (gunner and loader), one standing, one prone.

The figures are somewhat soft of detail, as is common with injection-moulded plastic, but they're not too bad, and they're satisfyingly chunky compared with some of PSC's earlier offerings. The sculpting is decently round, taking into account the limitations of the medium, and they don't look as flat as some injection-moulded figures do (such as some of the figures from their companion set of early-war support weapons).

The "command" sprues give you a senior officer in a peaked cap, five junior officers and/or NCOs with MP40 submachine guns and other weapons, including one with what appears to be a signal pistol. It also contains components to assemble a 2-man 50mm mortar team, and a 2-man ATR team.

Overall, I like them. The sculpting is good, and there's a lot less multi-part assembly required than I've experienced with some of PSC's other sets, such as their late-war German grenadiers or their Soviet infantry. They look to me like they'll paint up well.

The weapon mix is more suitable for the latter part of the period they're intended for, as there are more MG teams available than would have been present in the campaigns in Poland or France, for example. However, they did soon start to bump up the number of MG34 per section, so I guess it's better to have them supplied than not.

All in all, I'm pretty happy with them.

FlakPanzer 1

This is my 15mm (1:100 scale) 3d printed FlakPanzer 1, a 20mm AA gun mounted on a Panzer 1 chassis.

The model came from Tiger Ace1945's Panzer 1 Pack on Thingiverse. I replaced the barrel with one made from a dressmaker's pin, and the gunner is a 15mm Command Decision German artilleryman from Old Glory.

I think it needs another crewman, so I'll probably add one, one of these days. I'm not usually one who bases his vehicles, but this one needs a base because of the trailer.
NOTE: It no longer needs the base because the wind through an open window sent it flying, and the trailer broke off and is nowhere to be found. Not to worry, it was largely cosmetic anyway, and I can always print another if I really want to.

Cleaning up FDM prints

Cleanup tools for PLA filament
One way in which FDM prints fall down compared with resin prints or traditionally moulded and cast models is in the visible layer lines that show up, even when running the printer right at the limits of its capabilities.

Printed at a layer height of 0.06mm
Most of the time, the layer lines aren't actually that much of a problem, especially for my purposes, which are primarily tabletop gaming. A decent paint job will disguise most of the problem, and during a game, the right silhouette is much more important than the miniscule details on a model.

However, from time to time, I do like to smooth out layer lines or other printing artifacts.

The fact is, there's no instant, automated way of doing that with PLA filament. ABS can be smoothed out (though with the loss of sharp detail) by melting the surface with an acetone fume bath, but that does absolutely nothing to PLA. To smooth out PLA, we have to resort to manual labour.

The tools I use are simple: a couple of fine needle files, and a couple of scrapers I made from stainless steel laboratory spatulas.

The process is also simple: I just file and scrape at the surfaces of the model until they're acceptably smooth enough to be painted. Quite often, that doesn't have to be completely smooth; just knocking off the corners of the layers of plastic is enough to give me a markedly better appearance once painted. It's a tedious process, but not difficult.

I use files in preference to grinding with sandpaper or diamond pads, because the teeth of files actually cuts away the surface of the plastic cleanly, whereas sandpaper, even in very fine grits, just abrades it roughly. You can get a very good surface with sandpaper, but you need to go down through a series of progressively finer and finer grits until the surface abrasion becomes effectively invisible. Files are a lot faster.


This is a model by Schlossbauer on Thingiverse , printed by me on my Ender 3. It's a Hezrou, which used to be called a Type II Demo...