Here are some of my models, since I started building again several years ago. These are posted in descending order, so you can see my progress—or lack thereof—since I rejoined the hobby. The lead-in photo shows what’s on the workbench now…
Willkommen nach Grafenwöhr
The FAuN (Fahrzeugfabriken Augsburg und Nürnberg) L900 was introduced into service in the German Army in the late 1930’s and intended for transportation of the light tanks in the tank battalions of the three light divisions that were under control of the Cavalry Branch. Coupled with a special-purpose trailer (Sonderanhänger 115), it could haul two light tanks at a time. Doctrinally, the transporters were to be used to take armored vehicles near the front lines, where they would unload and advance under their own power into combat. The concept was tested in Poland in 1939, with disappointing results. Subsequently, the light tank battalions formed either the nucleus of future tank regiments or were consolidated with existing ones. The transporter went on to serve throughout the war in a variety of roles requiring long-haul cargo capacity.
The vignette represents tanks from one of the light tank battalions at the Grafenwöhr Training Area, sometime in 1938. As befits any tanker who has experienced the dusty tank trails there, the vehicles have a healthy coating of “Graf dust.” The crews are seen during a break. They wear the special-purpose black uniform for armored personnel, along with the beret, which was worn until 1940. Some personnel wear overseas caps, which were still field-grey in color at this time.
There are few images of the L900 in service with the light divisions. As a result, some artistic license was applied, since it is not certain how the tanks of the light battalions were marked. In addition, I have not been able to find any references detailing how blocking, bracing and tie-down equipment was used to secured the tanks. The kit provides no instruction in this regard. The securing of the Panzerbefehlswagen I was based on an image of a Panzer I being secured to the trailer with the heavy chains used (which I fabricated out of jewelry chain).
The models used were the L900 and Sonderanhänger 115 by Das Werk Models, the Panzerbefehlswagen I by Dragon and the Panzer II, Ausführung D, by Bronco. The figures come from a variety of sources. Construction was relatively straightforward and essentially out of the box. Despite its large size, the L900 and trailer went together easily, although it would have been nicer if blocking, bracing and tie-down equipment had been provided. I am not sure if the Dragon model is completely accurate, since I was unable to find a photo of this particular bedframe antenna being mounted this way. (There are images of the bedframe image being mounted the opposite way, both in a prewar image and several images from the early campaign in the Soviet Union.)
The models were painted using primarily Vallejo, MIG and AK paints and weathering agents, with some model railroad weathering products also used. All of the motorized vehicles are painting in prewar two-tone camouflage (2/3’s Panzer grey and 1/3 dark brown). The base was formed using plaster cloth, some Vallejo ground texture and wargaming static grass and flowers.
Sd.Kfz. 263 (8 Rad)
The Sd.Kfz. 263 was the main long-range radio communications vehicle of an armored division’s signals battalion or the signals platoon of an armored reconnaissance battalion. This vehicle is intended to represent the latter, while in service with the 15. Panzer-Division in Libya in 1941 (Panzer-Aufklärungs-Abteilung 33). The vignette is entitled: “After the ghibli” (“Nach der Ghibli”) A ghibli was a sandstorm, characterized by lots of dust and a hot wind. The kit is from AFV Club and was a bear to make: Lots of moving parts. The angles also on the hull and undercarriage made it difficult to finish, and I pre-painted a lot of the kit to try to avoid impasses later on. Some efforts worked, some didn’t.
The figures came from Miniart and the kit itself (resin add-on). They are painted to represent the tremendous variety of shades used in German tropical clothing (and impressed captured French stocks).
The finish was originally schwarzgrau, with an overspray of desert gelbbraun over a coating of chipping agent. Once worn to the desired effect, I finished by a light spray of dust (AK Interactive) on both the model and the figures. The model also has some dust pigments applied (Vallejo desert dust).
I was originally going to build with the 9m mast extended, but the “star” portion of the antenna came broken from the manufacturer. Even if it had not broken in transit, it would have been difficult to remove from the sprue without damaging it.
Panzer II, Ausführung L — “Luchs”
This is the Classy Hobbies 1:16-scale kit, my first foray into larger-scale models. Assembly was relatively straight forward, although each and every part seemed to have seams and mold lines on it, necessitating removal (not always done so successfully, as seen in the images). This Luchs light reconnaissance tank was used by Panzer-Aufklärungs-Abteilung 9 of the 9. Panzer-Division in Normandy in the late summer of 1944. The turret interior is fairly complete although the lower hull much less so. Since I was going to use figures to fill the holes, it did not matter so much. Two of the figures are from Classy Hobbies (scout in the turret hatch and standing in the driver’s station); the officer is the old Tamiya stand-by; and the fellow without a cap is from SOL Resin. The tile of the vignette is: “Smoke break before continuation of ops.” (“Rauchpause vor Fortsetzung des Auftrags”)
Since the formation had just arrived at the front, the vehicle has little dust and wear & tear. That said, I did employ chipping to indicate previous use, especially around the engine area; nothing like a “hangar queen.” The mounts for the gas cans were different on all of the known photos of this battalion. The numbering system is a bit of a puzzle. The Luchs should have been assigned to the 1st company of the battalion (scout company), but the markings indicate the 4th Company, which was usually a light reconnaissance company or even the heavy weapons company of the battalion.
Panzer IV, Ausführung G
The is the Border Models kit of the Panzer IV G. Assembly was a snap—well, glue was actually used—and the hardest part was the finish. Several finishing options are presented with the instructions. I decided on the winter finish, since I had not done one before and wanted to see who washing/chipping techniques worked over a large area. The kit does no have an interior, so I modeled the thing as “buttoned up” and on the prowl as part of operations around Kharkov in early 1943. The Rsputiza has set in—the dreaded Russian mud period—and the tank is maneuvering through melting snow. The snow is from Vallejo. A bracket broke off during assembly (above the muffler), and I decided to treated it as damage resulting from rough field handling, hence the rust there. The antenna strikes me as being considerable overscale, so I’ll probably replace it one of these days.
Panzer V “Panther” Prototype No. 2
This Dragon kit represents prototype No. 2 of what would become known as the “Panther” while undergoing trails at the Hainberg Testing Area outside of Nuremberg in the fall of 1942. Given the date, the vehicle still sports the schwarzgrau color scheme, as opposed to the expected dunkelgelb (which was not introduced until early 1943). The vehicle is seen shortly after returning from trails and is observed by a tanker, who sees it for the first time: “Man, you can do something with this thing!” (“Mensch, du kannst ja ‘was damit anfange’!”) The only marking on the prototype was the numeral “s” on the front slope of the hull.
Panzerspähwagen 204 (fr)
This is the Miniart kit of the French Panhard repurposed for service in the German Army (two reconnaissance battalions were issued these). The figures come from a two sources, if I remember correctly: Miniart and Master Box. The vignette represents an armored car crew taking a break after collecting some weapons abandoned by retreated Soviet forces. The time period is the summer of 1941 on the Eastern Front, with “Barbarossa” in full swing. The kit is out-of-the box and features a rudimentary engine compartment and crew compartment. I’m sure purists would argue for superdetailing here, but I was content with what the manufacturer provided.
Panzer IV, Ausführung D
This Panzer IV D is from Dragon (Platz) and was built out of the box to represent a “heavy” vehicle of the 3rd Company of Panzer-Regiment 31 of the 5. Panzer-Division in the Balkans in 1941. The kit went together easily (no interior) and the DS tranks look quite nice when finished. The monotone finish allowed me to experiment a bit with oils and pigments for weathering.
Sd.Kfz. 231 (6 Rad)
As most of you know, my first love is armored recon—”Scouts Out”—and this represents my first foray into armored cars. It also has the Buntfarbenanstrich (see below), but this time with a black line separating the colors, as was frequently seen. The line was supposed to be around 3cm in real life, so this one is a bit out of scale. It also represents a vehicle on maneuvers, this time with an officer standing in front. (As the Boomtown Rats would sing, “…having my picture taken.”) He wears the standard prewar beret. I would like to think he is wearing a first-pattern Panzer wrap, but in this scale anything that even approximates a wrap is acceptable. The kit is the Tamiya rebox of the Italeri model, with the addition of the figure and the 2cm gun barrel (metal).
The 231 was the standard prewar heavy armored car of armored reconnaissance battalions and saw frontline service until about later 1940.
Panzer I (Early)
This Panzer I represents a vehicle on pre-war maneuvers and is finished in what the three-tone camo of the period (which is very similar to German World War I camo on helmets), which is referred to as the Buntfarbenanstrich (multi-color camouflage). It is a Dragon kit and features acrylics and wargaming diorama supplies. I started out using Friul tracks, but wound up discarding them after attempting to burnish them. I used gun blueing, which worked great the first time around. In fact, it looked so good, I put it through the process again, only to have the tracks practically disintegrate before my very eyes. (My wife claims she could hear the sounds of sobbing all the way from the garage in the house, but, hey, what does she know!) Anyway, I would up using the kit’s Magic Tracks with a Hobby Trax metal template and, I think, they turned out OK.
I like the pre-war stuff. The three-color camo was a bit of a challenge on a kit that small, but after some trial and error, it seems to have worked. (I was having problems with water in my line when airbrushing, a problem that I only recently solved to my satisfaction. (Think Lowe’s Kobalt air compressor with tank, two water traps and a single, relatively short hose.)
Panzer VI, Tiger I
This is the kit that marks the reentry into the hobby. It is a Dragon Cyber-Hobby version of the Tiger that Michael Wittmann used around the time of Kursk in 1943. As with the most of the other kits, it is built straight from the box with no after-market products. I believe I still used enamels with this one. I used a variety of wargamer products, to include a static-grass applicator, to finish the base. I like to put the models on bases, since it serves the practical purpose of allowing the model to be viewed without touching it, and, more importantly, provides context for the paint scheme and markings it is finished in. I left the hatches open, even though there is no real interior to speak of. I blacked out the inside to help keep people from saying, “hey, there’s no real interior to speak of!”