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G.I. Combat’s THE HAUNTED TANK

THE BUILD
The hull is from Tamiya’s T34/76 kit and had to be shortened in order to portray a medium class tank with only four bogie wheels on each side. This is where a lot of brainstorming, planning and trial by error cutting was involved. Walt Simonson’s model used a Panther front drive sprocket, which is OK, but is obviously a little too big when compared to the drawings in the comic. I tried using that same part for my model and realized that it would require moving most of the bogie wheel suspension arms in order to accommodate it. The closest thing I could find in my stash that looked a similar in shape and size to that in the original drawings was a set of M113 APC drive sprockets (fig.3), and this is where I first installed a non – WW2 vehicle part. These sprockets had to be widened in order to accommodate AFV Club’s T91E3 track, so I used spacers cut from a ball point pen’s rear tip (fig.4) which worked just fine, thanks to the Papermate company!

With the drive sprocket problem solved, the first major cutting was done on the lower hull. A whole section (about 1 ¼ inch) which supported the second set of suspension arms was sawed off and removed (fig.5); the remaining front and rear lower hull parts were glued back on (fig.6) using the “plastic fusion” technique in the inside part of the hull. For those scratching their heads and asking what a plastic fusion technique is, it’s the simple process of spreading plastic powder - in this case the sawdust obtained from sawing the parts off - over the two parts, which were initially glued together, then dropping more liquid glue over the powder to make it into a gooey glob, thus making a stronger fused or “welded” permanent bond between the two parts. This method can only really be applied inside a model where it won’t be seen as it’s really hard to sand down when the glue is set.

Before taking the saw to the upper hull to make it match the now shortened lower hull, I decided to remove from it all the parts that would need to be modified. First to go (fig.7) was the hull machine gun bulge and the ends of the front fenders. Next (fig.8) was the turret ring and the rear engine deck; also visible in the background of this picture is the assembled lower hull with the stock T34 steel bogie and rear idler wheels. I used the “gang drilling” technique to remove these parts so the edges can be sanded and repositioned in its new place later. Gang drilling, used for cutting in places where you can’t get a saw, is the simple process of drilling holes in a continuous line with a small diameter drill bit, then gently cutting between the resulting “perforations” with a sharp knife.

The upper hull is cut to size (fig.9) and fused and fitted with the lower hull (fig.10). This is the point of no return: the original T-34 kit has been completely murdered, I can no longer change my mind, back off the project and try to rebuild it back to a regular T34 anymore; I’ll just have to keep going at it until hopefully it comes out the way I want it to – The Jigsaw Tank!

The rear engine deck had to be shortened (fig.11) and the turret ring moved to the center in order to fit a deck for the driver and loader hatches up front. Ah yes, even though my good old fishing tackle box never caught me any fish (which is why I gave up on fishing completely) it gave me a new hull machine gun bulge (fig.12-13) thanks to the float!

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