Sunday, November 10, 2013

Scratchbuilt Armoured Train wagon. Panzerzug 52 (ex Track Protection Train Blücher)

Scratchbuilt Armoured Train wagon. Panzerzug 52 (ex Track Protection Train Blücher)


It has been a long time between posts. A few issues have kept me away from modelling. I decided to start something different.

I'm a fan of the variety of Armoured Trains and other related armoured and unarmoured vehicles that were used on railway lines used in Europe in WW2, particularly in the east, in the war between the germans and russians.

Tanks with big guns are the eye catching 'glamour' items of that war, but the reality was that tanks, and every other piece of war hardware was moved vast distances by trains, not by trucks, or aircraft or ships (except a very small percentage) on the eastern front. Ammunition, food, spares, replacements etc all was moved vast distances to keep the army formations and all the tanks, artillery, other armoured & unarmoured vehicles, & men that made up those armies, supplied. Without fuel, ammunition, and spares a tank was  useless. Trains were the primary means of supply. One train could move as many supplies as hundreds of trucks. The trucks would need hundreds of drivers and were prone to flat tyres, freezing or over heating, getting bogged,  and other mechanical breakdowns, and would use vast quantities of petrol. A train with 2 or 3 crew could move the same number of supplies, using just water and coal, which were plentiful and cheap, unlike petrol, which was in increasingly short supply as the war progressed. And trains of the era were much more reliable than the 1930s era designed trucks that were mostly in use.

The only problem with a vast rail network in conquered territory was that it was vulnerable to attack by partisans and infiltrators. It is well documented that the Germans encountered partisan activity from the early stages of their invasion, which only increased as the war progressed. And train lines and trains were a favoured target. To counter this the germans employed armoured trains (Panzerzugs) as well as other varieties of armoured and track protection trains. These were specifically factory designed by the Germans (as in the BP42 and BP44 designs). And many captured Russian trains were also used. Some army formations field engineered their own armoured trains from Russian rolling stock. Armoured trains and Track Protection trains were used for other duties also - in defensive and offensive operations against the Russian Armies, especially as the war progressed, and fighting moved onto German soil in Prussia and other eastern provinces of Germany.

Track Protection Train Blücher

Track Protection train Blücher was one such train. It was built on Russian rolling stock (Russian 60 tonne 4 axle flat wagons). Whether it was originally armoured and armed by the Russians and then captured by the Germans, and put to use is uncertain. It originally was armed with T-34 and T-70 turrets (and possibly T-26 turrets). This suggests it was originally a Russian fabrication, though the Germans were also known to make full use of captured Russian arms - so it can't be ruled out with certainty that this train was not a German construct, though it is most likely a Russian build.

No exact dates as to its build date and use are known. It had a camouflage pattern that was seen on both German and Russian armoured trains. The train probably was constructed in 1941 or 42, and may have come into German use as early as 1942. It is unknown what actions it took part in, but typically anti partisan and track protection activities, as well as in support of army units in both defensive and offensive actions were likely. Records show that in early 1944 Track Protection train Blücher was ordered to be rebuilt. In Autumn 1944 it was modified, with the T-34 turrets being replaced with Panzer IV H turrets. The full extent of modifications is unknown as so few pictures exist. Probably the flak position also was a 1944 modification. The train was rebirthed and rechristened as Panzer Zug 52.


                                     Track Protection Train Blücher, in german markings, prior to 1944.

 Panzerzug 52 (ex Track Protection Train Blücher) sometime from October 1944, rebuilt with a quad flak position in the rear, the T-34 turret replaced by a Panzer IV H turret, armoured splash guards added around turret, changes to external window openings. The full extent of changes is not known, and can't be gauged from this one photo.

Panzerzug 52

In October 1944 Panzerzug 52 was sent to Tilsit and took part in the recapture of Goldap in East Prussia in November 1944. In January 1945 it was ordered to Konigsberg, but was unable, escaping west via Marienburg before the line was cut by the Russians. It then saw action on the Vistula, then on the Konitz-Czersk-Preussisch-Stargard line. Panzerzug 52 was then ordered south west to Dirschau in late February 1945. It was unable to due to the Russians breaking through to the Baltic on 01 March 1945. As a bridge was blown it had no choice but to head back towards Gotenhafen (near Danzig). Panzerzug 52 fought in the Gross-Katz area and was captured in a Russian advance on 21 March 1945. (Source Wolfgang Sawodny, German Armoured Trains on the Eastern Front).


Problem with this build is that so little is known. Only a few poor quality pictures exist of the train. I used the only picture known of the '1944' update and used it as a guide. As the Panzer IV turret has known dimensions I used this as a point of reference to scale out all the other dimensions of the wagon to 1/72 scale.

The wagon chassis

What was very evident was that the wagon was built on a Russian 4 axle 60 tonne flat wagon, which was long enough and strong enough to carry two medium tanks, such as 2 x T-34s or 2 x Panzer IVs. This was a good choice for a chassis. These wagons were very similar to an American design. Whether they were imported from the USA or built under contract in Russia to an American design is not known. By comparison the German BP-42 and BP-44 wagons were built on 2 axle German Ommr wagons or 2 axle Russian wagons, which could only support a maximum of about 25 tonnes. This limited the thickness of armour that could be used on BP42/44 wagons to 30mm maximum, and as a result the BP42/44 wagons were very vulnerable to armour piercing shot. The thickness of the armour on this Panzerzug 52 wagon is unknown. The additional load capacity of these 4 axle wagons gave the builders the ability to apply thicker armour if they wished.  I fashioned the sides from 1.0mm plastic card, using strips and rod for the smaller details.

 The above graphic of a Russian 60 tonne 4 axle wagon can be found at a very interesting site "Engines of the Red Army"

The side frames of the chassis were scaled to 1/72 with a calculator and cut from 1.0mm plastic card

                                                         The side frames were then detailed with strips of card

 A base was added and some strengthening strips. No attempt was made to accurately detail the underneath as no references could be found, and the underneath will be unseen.

 Bogies added and fitted between two BP-44 armoured train cars to assess if height from rail was right.

Two T-34s were loaded on to see how they looked, as period photos show was a common load for these wagons.

The bogies (or trucks)

I started by finding appropriately shaped bogies (or trucks) of the 1930s era. Fortunately  these were not hard to find, appears that similar designs of that era were used in many countries around the world. I found a pair of HO scale bogies. These have a gauge of 16.5mm. To emulate German gauge  (1435mm) I needed to make them 19.93mm to be 1/72 scale. I cut  axles in half, drilled holes in each end and used steel rod in the axles to make them the right width, then put some hollow plastic rod over the thin steel rod to cover it. The bogie frames were widened with plastic strip. The bogies are marginally not long enough, but are hidden behind steel skirts.

These bogies bear a very close resemblance to types seen on these wagons. The bogie on the left has had a start on sanding down the flanges to a closer to scale depth.

This picture shows the difference in width at 1/72 scale. The closest bogies now have a width of 19.93mm (or something very close to it) which is Standard Gauge. The bogies in HO scale are 16.5mm which is too narrow for 1/72 scale, and equals 1/87 scale. If left at 16.5mm they do not equate to any known gauge in 1/72 scale.

Body Construction

Using the only photo, parts were again scaled to 1/72. 

  Again 1.0mm card was used. First 2 sides were made and temporarily attached with Blu-Tack.   


    Then the cabin roof which housed the T-70 turret and the angled roof forward of that was added

Next the forward compartment was made, the panel that housed the Pz IV turret and the angles pieces that made up the sides and front. Anti skid treadplate was cut and added to the raised floor of the Quad 20mm flak gun. Turrets were test fit.

For fun I fit a T-34 turret to see how it looked compared to the known photo of  Blücher. The T-34 turret was temporary, the Panzer IV turret will be inserted.

Next came smaller details - the splash guards for the forward turret, the armoured plates for the bogies and the couplings, door details, etc

Update Sunday 17 November 2013.


The armament has been completed and added

The Panzer IV turret is the basic Esci/Italeri. But has been modified. Details were added to the escape hatch doors, incorrect details were removed off turret roof. Grab handles were added above escape hatches, the turret mantlet was sanded down into a more correct shape, and vision block added to the front. Revell Panzer IV gun barrel added and Revell cupola and hatch added.

The T-70 turret was left as is, just needed careful sand in spots and a little filler, and barrel was drilled out

The quad flak started life on a ready built model. Barrels removed and replaced with brass, seats removed and refined and added back on, careful sanding and scraping of cast lines.

The reason I recycled some parts was the unavailability of buying a new quad flak or Revell Panzer IV turret. And I already have cannabalised other kits for turrets for Panzerjaeger cars, so did no want to add more unturreted Panzer IVs to my stash. The ready made quad flak was quite good - far superior to the old Esci/Italeri, and better than the MW offering, even before it was tidied up a bit and brass barrels were added.

Pics below of wagon in rattle can Humbrol grey primer

Updated Monday 21 April 2014.

Hello.I regret that it has been a long time since the last post.

No changes to the wagon, as it is finished, excepting a couple of details to the underchassis.

 I have given the wagon a paint job, but am not sure if it is the best possible paint job for this wagon. I have posted a few pictures below. I may yet do a new paint job on the wagon.

Photos have not been "photoshopped" or changed in any way, only "cropped" to cut out unwanted detail. Pics take with Fuji Finepix camera on macro settings, with and without flash.


Sunday, June 30, 2013

ACE kit 72237 Kfz 14 Radio Car Fu Kraftwagen

ACE kit 72237 Kfz 14 Radio Car Fu Kraftwagen

Hello small scale fans

I bought this kit years ago, soon after it was released, and it has sat untouched ever since it arrived. Having recently built the S Models Kfz 13, I decided to dust off the box and get this one underway also, for interest and comparison.

The Kfz 14. This vehicle is virtually identical to the Kfz 13. Difference being that the pedestal mounted MG was removed, and a radio was installed, with a large frame aerial, and radio operators chair.

The Kit. The box contains 3 sprues of plastic parts, 1 sheet of decals, 1 set of instructions.

Assembly. As seems standard with ACE, assembly begins with the underchassis - axles, wheels, suspension and drive train. Most of these parts have a fairly pronounced seam line, similar to whats found on other ACE kits with chassis, so some cleanup with a knife blade required. I found the rear axle springs needed a small piece of evergreen rod (about 1.5mm) added to where they join the chassis frame. This is to ensure the vehicle sits level, and does not sit low in the rear.

The front and rear mudguards are quite thick in profile. I slimmed these down by careful scraping of the inside edge with a sharp blade, and then ensured the smooth inner curve was retained by careful sanding with some fine paper. This improved the fit of the wheels inside the mudguards and the appearance of the mudguards. I also slimmed down the edges of the panels that make up the top edge of the cabin, to improve the appearance when looking down into the vehicle.

I had to trim the floor base slightly to ensure the body panels fit correctly, the floor base is a little too wide.

The actual fit of the body panels is quite good - better than most ACE kits. A tiny bit of filler and sanding was needed where the sides met the front drivers panel and the rear panel, though the rear panel joins are almost obscured by the spare wheel anyway.

The kit comes with the turn indicators, rear storage boxes, dashboard with details, and exhaust assembly & tread plate moulded into cabin floor - all pieces that don't come with the S Model Kfz 13 kit.

Omissions. The 4 support legs for the aerial are supplied, and the modeller is advised to make an aerial from 1mm wire (not supplied). Also no front width markers or rear view mirror is supplied - the instructions advise to use pins to make the markers.

I made the aerial from Evergreen 0.5 mm rod bent with tweezers into a rectangle shape then glued, then affixed to the support arms (which were first attached to the vehicle). I'd suggest that 1.0mm would look a little too heavy for the aerial. I added a single strand of thin copper wire from the aerial to the radio. The wire strand was taken from a multi strand copper cable from an old broken TV set.

If you decide to skip the aerial, the pedestal machine gun is included on the sprues, so the vehicle can be assembled as a Kfz 13.

I made width markers and rear view mirror support from stretched sprue with a ball atop each one sourced from a Brita Water Filter. Each filter contains thousands of tiny balls of varying diameters - perfect for Braille Scale projects. The round mirror was made from a thin slice of evergreen rod, the hole filled with Testors Window Maker which also holds the mirror to its rod.

The internal grab rail across the front was made with 0.50mm rod curved and glued in place.

Wheel hub stubs were supplied in the kit. I chose to use Evergreen rod as I found it easier and a bit tidier looking.

Below picture shows Kfz 14 at left with S Models Kfz 13s.

TO BE CONTINUED.................

Saturday, June 29, 2013

S-Model kit PS720013. Maschinengewehrkraftwagen Kfz-13

S-Model kit PS720013. Maschinengewehrkraftwagen Kfz-13

Hello. I have been absent from the blog for a while. I have been away, and then caught a stomach bug which took a week to get over, and now with very cold weather have caught the flu, which has slowed me down a lot.  I should be feeling much better soon.

I had no intention to add a Kfz-13 to my pile of unbuilt vehicles, however I was in my local hobby shop which had stocked up on S-Models kits, so I decided to give the Kfz 13 a go. I tend to prefer mid to late war vehicles, and am building a large diorama which is in the mid to late period so wasn't too sure what I'd do with this kit.

The Kfz-13. On getting home I decided to do some quick research on the web. Though most period photos show Kfz-13s in early war service in Poland in 1939 or France in 1940, one picture was found which displayed a Kfz-13 in May 1945 surrendering to US Forces in Bohemia. And it was obvious it had been modified. I determined on the spot to make one Kfz-13 as standard, and the other as the modified type in the 1945 photo. This conversion has been done by a blogger site named 'Dieselwerk' , the modeller has done fine work on the conversion in 1/35 scale.I will attempt to do fine work in 1/72 scale.

The kit. As per other S-Models kits, parts for 2 complete Kfz-13s are in the box. Which includes 2 sprues of dark grey plastic, two sets of brass etch parts, one decal sheet and one coloured instruction sheet.

The Parts. All parts were sharply cast, with virtually no flash. Some very minor seam lines on some parts were easily dealt with via a scrape with an exacto blade. The sides of these vehicles were built up with quite soft angles. The joins between the angles on the kit are quite soft, maybe a little softer than in reality. Probably better to be a little softer on the angles than too pronounced with a kit this size - its a very small vehicle. Injector marks exist on the underneath of the floor. As these won't be seen I don't care about them, though some may choose to fill them.

One casting flaw existed on both sprues. The axles and drive train are cast as one part, which is a good idea, which reduces trying to get tiny pieces correctly aligned. However the tail shaft which connects from the back of the gearbox to the rear axle differential had a small section missing. As flaws go this is not a big one - very easy to cut off the miscast drive shaft and replace it with stretched sprue, evergreen rod, or brass rod.

Assembly. Everything went together very easily. No filler or sanding needed. The wheels press on and can be rotated, though the axle assembly is quite delicate and will not bear much pressure, so rotating the wheels is not recommended.

The width indicators for the front mudguards and the rear vision mirror stalk are etch. I don't like these as they are made flat, and very 2 dimensional. In reality these are rounded rods that are very 3 dimensional looking. I made my own width indicators and rear mirror stalk from stretched sprue, drilling small holes in the mudguard to insert them into and glue. The round balls on top of the stalks are water filter balls, removed from a Brita water filter & attached with CA glue. The round mirror was cut from the etch stalk and attached to the stretched sprue stalk with CA glue.

The headlights have miniscule ledges on the front guards on which to affix them, tweezers and care needed to affix these correctly.


No dashboard is included. The cab facing back of the firewall is somewhat dashboard shaped, but has no detail.

Large storage box should be affixed each side to the 2 rear panels, but none come in the kit. Period photos almost always show these affixed. I supplied some the right size and shape from the spares box.

 No exhaust pipe and muffler is supplied for the underside. This was easy to fashion from some Evergreen rod for the muffler and wire bent to shape for the exhaust system.

No turn indicators are supplied. Period photos almost always show these were affixed to the sides just forward of the side doors. I made some from Evergreen rod.

I also added a storage box (from the spares box) to the driver's side of the body. Period photos show sometimes non standard boxes were fitted to either side.  

 Not sure about the reality, but the cab floor is cast smooth - not sure what the real ones had, but if no metal tread plate, possible wooden treads would have been installed, as seen on some other early war vehicles.

Other comments. This kit builds into a very attractive model of a Kfz-13 . I compared the length, width and height advised in "The Encyclopaedia of German Tanks of World War Two" (despite the title it has details for far more than just tanks) to the actual measurements of the model, and conclude that height and width are extremely close to being 1/72 scale (within fractions of a millimetre). The length is marginally over scale (by less than a millimetre). 

The 1945 photo. Only one photo exists, a still from a moving picture, and from this we can't conclude everything. What is certain is that the sides were raised up right around the open cabin area. The photo shows this clearly, as the sides and front extend above the front vision visor, which on a standard Kfz-13 is about even with the top of the cabin area. What else seems to be apparent is that a roof has been built over the open cabin. Men are seen sitting on the roof, while others are emerging from the roof, seemingly sitting up through open hatches. Similar conversions to this have been photographed on at least one Sd Kfz 250 in the mid war period.

What can't be known is the exact roof appearance as its obscured in the photo. Whether this was a one off or whether others existed is not known. When the conversion was done is not known. Very likely this is a field modification to provide extra protection of the crew from severe weather conditions and for added protection in combat conditions, should this vehicle be unfortunate enough to be caught in combat. That this vehicle survived to the end of the war suggests it was not a 'combat' vehicle, but probably a HQ or rear echelon liaison vehicle, or transport runabout, pressed into service sue to the ever increasing shortage of motorised vehicles as the war progressed.

A blog called "DIESELWERK" shows a 1/35 scale modification, which I used as inspiration. I chose a different hatch configuration on my build.

I built this kit as per the standard Kfz-13 with the same improvements, but omitted the MG due to the roof. The roof was plastic card, the hatches were from the spares box. Only other difference is the addition of an aerial mount on one side, as the intention is that this is a command liaison vehicle. Notek light was added as per period photo.

An overall coat of Humbrol rattle can primer to help identify any needs for sanding or filler

Update Sunday 30 June.

The primer revealed some tidy up needed on the 1945 version. Some sanding was done to all the added panels, and was then reprimed, result below.

Below pictures also include ACE's Kfz 14 for comparison. I will write a separate review on the ACE kit soon.

TO BE CONTINUED....................

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Roden Blitz Omni Bus Stabswagen Opel 3.6-47 kit 723

Roden Blitz Omni Bus Stabswagen Opel 3.6-47 kit 723

Having put the Blitz Aero together in a day, and having enjoyed it so much, I decided it was time to build another bus. I will refer to this one as a Staff Bus, as the kit title is rather a mouthful.

About the bus. According to the information with kit these were used in all theatres of operation. It was in effect a kind of mobile office or command centre. Pictures, plans and information about all the Opel Bus types can be found on Piet Van Hees very useful site

About the kit. This kit shares many sprues with the Roden Opel Blitz W39 bus. Chassis is identical. Body is identical. The main difference is the inside furnishings which consist of tables, shelves benches, a radio, enigma machine (or perhaps its a typewriter). This version also has additional wooden decking on the roof, and etched roof racks, much longer than that which the standard bus was fitted with.Etch covers for the side windows are also supplied.

About the build. As this kit has so much interesting internal detail, I decided to open both the front side doors, and the large rear door, cutting these out carefully with a fresh exacto blade. Despite this not much of the interior will be visible, but it will make the vehicle look much more interesting. I was going to thin down the cut out doors, but period photos show the doors were quite thick. Unlike a tank hatch which is solid metal and comparatively thin, the doors on these vehicles had an outer and inner covering, being essentially hollow in the middle, so were quite thick.

Below are test fits of the floor/chassis to the body, so far all are good fits.

Update Saturday 11 May. I have to admit this is a very enjoyable build. I decided it would be easy enough to build this one so that the body can be removed to show the interior detail, so decided to improve the interior a bit. I won't be going crazy on interior detail, just some improvements. I started with the floor.

 Period photos show that wooden slats of a pallet like construction were laid over the much of the floor of these buses. Wood was plentiful, and  timber slats would have been cheap to manufacture and to fit, and add very little to the weight of the bus. Non slip metal tread plate would add to the weight of the bus and be more expensive. Rubber mats would have been in short supply and would wear out quickly in rough conditions on operations. The timber slats would have been assembled in sections and would have been removable when needed for cleaning and maintenance. The wood slats would have dealt well with wet and muddy conditions, the water and mud being trapped in the gaps between the slats.

First job was to fill the holes where the seats would go (the floor in the kit is same as the standard Opel bus) I used 0.010" x 0.020" & 0.020" x 0.020" evergreen strip styrene (Item 100 & 120) glued to the floor. Not a hard job, but took an evening while watching/listening to TV to provide some distraction for the mind while working on what is otherwise a slightly boring task.

I also decided to not use the etched roof rack. It looks reasonably OK, though a bit too flat for my taste.
I built a roof rack out of 0.020" Evergreen Rod (Item 218). I drilled holes in the roof for the supports, and simply cut the lengths to fit and glued them. Not hard but requires accurate measuring and cutting and is quite time intensive, it took a few hours. To get curves I simply rolled the rod around items of varying diameters to get tighter or larger curves as required. Items such as pens, screwdriver shafts etc. The rod is quite thin which makes it quite flexible and very adaptable to being curved.

TO BE CONTINUED....................................