Pimp my Panzer
Less then two weeks to Crisis in Antwerp (the BEST wargaming show in the entire world!) and thoughts on Lard Island turn to prep for the game. One of the great things about Crisis is what a laid back show it is, we have a great time with lots of friends that we’ve made over the years, so we can let our hair down, what’s left of it anyway, and just plan something fun we can play throughout the day, as opposed to a more formal “training session” type game we usually do, which is designed to show off the rules in bite-sized pieces. So, this year we thought we’d have a bit of Big Chain of Command with a bundle of tanks to support our infantry.
As readers of Lard Island News will know, we have tended to settle on 1:50 scale Corgi vehicles where we can get them. The diecast models are very robust when we are trekking around the shows and when you get a deal on eBay they are cheaper than resin. What’s not to love?
Well, what is not to love is the fact that Corgi’s selection of models can most kindly be described as eclectic, more realistically described as dodgy. You can get any number of Sherman types and Churchills and Cromwells, all perfect for the Brits. The yanks get their 75mm and 76mm Shermans, but poor old Jerry only gets Panthers and Tigers. Yes, super-sexy if you have an uber-panzer fetish, but not very realistic. The absence of the Panzer IV is a sad omission, but clearly it isn’t a gap which is going to ever get filled.
The only other diecast Panzer IV that I know about in scale is the French made Solido model. They are rare as hens’ teeth in the UK, but fortunately I spotted one on eBay and, even more fortunately, I realised that the seller was none other than chum of Lard and Wurzel impersonator Ade Deacon. An email later, accompanied by a promise to cross his palm with Lardy silver, and not just one but FOUR Panzer IVs were secured. Oh happy day.
Now, let us address this directly, the Solido models are not perfect. As we can see below they are rather naked, with not a sign of the late war schurtzen which give them that rather lived-in look.
A shame indeed, but not, I hoped, an insurmountable obstacle. Surely a bit of plasticard and some plastic rods and stuff from the local model shop would allow me to add such luxuries? I decided to find out.
My first step was to knock up an image of some schurtzen in Powerpoint in order to get the size right.
That was easy enough. There are lots of kits advertised on-line for brass bits for military modellers looking to do their own stuff. I just pinched and image and then drew around that.
The key component here was going to be some plastic rod in a T-format. This one here.
This was going to provide both the rail on which the schurtzen were going to be hung (read “stuck”), and the arms which would attach it to the tank’s main superstructure. Please remember here that this is a wargaming model, I am not attempting a perfect scale representation of the real thing. Life is too short!
Here’s the connecting arms.
I cut mine to be half an inch long, but in the assembly process I discovered that 1cm was a better length for the rear brackets while half an inch was ideal for the front one, as we will see. I now snipped away part of the leg of the T shape and filed that flat. This is where the arm will attach to the flat upper superstructre of the tank. I use a set of toe-nail clippers for this. You can get specialist modelling stuff, but frankly the clippers are cheaper and work just as well, and you can cut your toe-nails with them too. Win double.
Next I attached the arm to a 3 inch long section of rail. As you can see, the two rear brackets are the 1cm lengths while the front bracket is 1/2″ and angled slightly. I arrived at this configuration after considering a number of alternatives. In other words, I ****ed it up right royally several times before I got it right!
All of this assembly thus far was done with plastic cement. Now I used superglue to attach the assembled sections to the tank, thus.
With that in place I cut the schurtzen into sections and stuck them on with the cement. You could just shove the whole panel on in one piece, but I like to give the tanks a bashed about look.
So, there we have the end of the first phase. Now I need to consider the schurtzen on the turret which, I think, will be a tougher nut to crack. We shall see in Part Two of Pimp my Panzer.