Friday 21 October 2022

Old Sherman, New Paint


This is a Sherman I I printed on my Ender 3 FDM printer a couple or three of years ago.

I believe that with the turret bustle and sand skirts it wasn't used in this configuration by the Americans, and in fact I originally printed it for my North African Brits. However, I wanted to try out a test paint for US olive drab, and I created the markings with masking tape instead of decals.

It's an okay enough model for wargaming purposes, but even so the layer lines are apparent enough that I don't print vehicles in FDM any more, and reserve that printer for terrain and utility bits and pieces. Vehicles and figures I now print in resin on my Mars Pro.

Monday 17 October 2022

Challenger (finished)


Here's the WWII British Challenger 17-pounder gun tank in 1:100 scale that I posted a WiP for earlier.

I tried a new (to me) three-layer method of painting mud and filth, with which I'm fairly happy. I first painted a couple of layers of loose, sloppy, thinned blotches of VMC Earth all over the running gear, and on the hull where I wanted mud splashes, before washing the whole model with Citadel Agrax Earthshade. Then, over the top of that, I sponged speckles of VMC German Camo Beige. I also sponged it, very very lightly, on other places on the hull and turret.

Saturday 15 October 2022

Challenger (in progress)


Next project is a 15mm (1:100) Challenger. Not the modern Challenger, the descendent of Chieftain, but the WWII Challenger, the 17 pounder variant of the Cromwell. Once again I made the gun barrel from a length of 2mm brass rod, tapered down and provided with locating pins on my cheap (and fairly pathetic) little mini-lathe. I would have liked to have been able to turn the muzzle-brake in place rather than having to glue on a separate piece, but my lathe isn't anywhere near that precise.

I have printed this model by the estimable Mr Bergman before, in FDM, but at that time my Ender 3 printer was in the process of crapping itself, and I got a bit of layer shifting. I've thrown this print away now.

As it turned out, while I was looking for the Cromwell (below) I discovered that I'd printed another FDM Challenger more successfully, and completely forgotten about it, so I've got a couple of Challengers available on the very small chance that I'll ever need more than one for any game I'll be playing.

I wanted to see how the Challenger looked alongside the Cromwell, in this case a 1:100 PSC plastic kit. It's certainly quite stretched out, and it's tall compared with the Cromwell, but it wouldn't be any taller than a Sherman Firefly, the Brits' other 17pdr gun tank option at the time.

I've primed the Challenger model with Vallejo British Bronze Green surface primer.

The Challenger was intended to work with Cromwell troops, and by being built on what was essentially a lengthened Cromwell chassis, to minimise the logistics impact of having two different types working in the same unit. Also, the Cromwell was a pretty speedy tank, and the Firefly would have had quite a job to keep up with them. Not to mention that a Firefly would stand out to enemy observation even more in a Cromwell troop than they did with other Shermans.

The next stage is to apply the top coat, ready for markings and weathering.

The colour I use for late-war British stuff is VMC Russian Uniform, and it's applied by airbrush one panel at a time. I'm not aiming at even, solid coating, but rather apply the paint in a sort of mottle pattern from the centre of each panel out to near the edge, building it up in thin layers until it looks okay.

The panel edges are then highlighted by dry-brushing with VMC Buff.

Decals and/or markings will go on before any further weathering, so that they don't look too bright at the end of the process.

The finished piece can be seen here.

Saturday 1 October 2022

Sherman's Bendy Barrel


An issue that arises all too often when printing models in resin is warping of components. Gun barrels are especially problematic in this way. I don't know if the issue is with the resin itself, or my printing settings, but resin prints don't seem to have the dimensional stability that FDM has. I assume it's probably the resin layers shrinking microscopically while curing.

I printed this M4A3E8 a few days ago, and I've just started painting it. I don't know if the warping of the gun barrel has actually got worse, or whether it's just preying on my mind, but in any case I've decided that it just can't be borne any longer.

I have some 2mm brass rod, and a little cheap mini-lathe that I got from AliExpress — it's basically just a Jacobs chuck attached to a little electric motor on an aluminium frame — so I've decided to have a go at replacing the gun barrel with a nice straight brass one. The 2mm rod is out of scale for the 76mm gun, but it's the same size as the barrel as designed, so at least I can be sure that the muzzle brake isn't going to suddenly look too hugeous.

The new turned barrel (a bit out of focus) is sitting in front of the model. Cutting off the muzzle brake and barrel should be straightforward enough with a razor saw; I'll just have to be a bit careful with the drilling for the brass tenons to slot into.

Something the lathe doesn't have is any kind of tool holder, so it all has to be done with hand-held tools. Not ideal, and it makes getting crisp, straight, square angles a bit tricky. Hey-ho, needs must as they say.

Later on...

Well, at least it's straight now

I see from the photos that there are a bunch of tiny supports in the running gear that I overlooked, so I guess there will be more disruption of the paintwork than I'd hoped. I'll start again from the beginning I guess.

A few days later...

This is about where I give up trying to paint it any more. I was trying for a tank that looked well used, but without all the chipping that tends to be splattered all over tank models these days (and of which I am as guilty as any).I've ended up with a bit of a mess, but it will do okay at tabletop distances I think.

The decals come from Skytrex, and they seem pretty good to me. They respond well to decal softener without becoming so fragile that they fall to bits, and the multi-colour ones I bought (German crosses) are printed in good registration, unlike any of the Battlefront decals I've had.