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.