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Mk1 gun carrier scratchbuild

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On 6/27/2022 at 7:30 PM, vytautas said:

Looks very good. It seems to me that small inaccuracies are good, they enliven the model and make it more interesting, and this matters.




On 6/28/2022 at 11:15 AM, Bandsaw Steve said:

Oh well. In that case I guess you will find all my models very ‘lively’. 😀


FWIW I do agree that an imperfect model often shows a bit more ‘spirted’ approach to modelling than does a picture-perfect replica.


It’s evidence that the modeller was pushing his / her own limits.


It's like Turner showing his brushstrokes, it puts a human touch into the art.

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Phew! I just read the lot. (I was able to skip sections that I'd commented on before so it wasn't as long a job as I expected.


From my notes:


Epic thread. Epic like War and Peace. Long but very readable. Good style.


Brave project. I doubt that you think so MM but many of us wouldn't go near something like this especially in public.


You do very well to keep things square, but not so square that it becomes as boring to look at as a 3D drawing on a computer.


The engine and gearbox came out so well under paint. Prior to painting I was a bit worried but needlessly. Paint allows the free use of the beholder's share I guess. Anyway it looked just fabbo


I admire your occasional decisions to accept good enough instead of re working and re working in a pointless quest for perfect. 


I've come to the understanding that there's no value difference between kits and scratch. I used to think scratch was 'better' but now I think it's different. Different mental challenges. More patience required for scratch I think. More scope for creativity? Not so sure. You, MM are very creative but that's not because you scratchbuild, I think you scratch because you are a very creative person. You'd be creative with a kit too.


Also its a continuum between scratch and oob kit with infinite shades of kits with extras and scratch incorporating aftermarket. So comparisons are a little more complicated than I make them sound.


I was thinking that if this thing has been in action it might be missing some rivets. When hit by small arms they tended to ping off inti the interior, often with fatal results. A problem not addressed until the 40s by welding of the rivets.


Scratch building - throwing out the fails and building a better second edition. So true and I've found the same thing in wooden boat models. It's a lot less stressful because of that.


You've done an amazing amount of work in a very short calendar time. I admire your 'stick to it ness'.


Love the figures. Worthy of Wallace and Grommit for the expressiveness of poses and faces.


I wonder whether you are scratchbuilding your boat?


All in all, great model, great thread, great entertainment. Thanks MM.



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Phew! thanks Bertie! It's good to have you back and I'm highly flattered by your very generous comments.


Kits v scratch.... well, I currently prefer scratch as you know. I think it's the engineering challenge that excites me. With a kit, that side has (mostly, and with differing degrees of success) all been done for you and there's little you can do to influence it. If the manufacturer has decided to split a component "that" way, that's generally what you have to work with, and the level of detail has also been set - it might be more or less than you'd want, but you're kind of stuck with it. I love the challenge of coming up with alternative approaches to allow me to model something with the limited tools I like to use - these in turn present and enhance that challenge.


I have a thread open on a Miniart Lee that I really must get back to - it's 99% complete, but I just can't find the enthusiasm at the moment. It'll come once I've filled my boots with this monster scratchbuild I'm sure.


I've been involved professionally with CAD for decades and modelling stuff that way and printing might seem an obvious choice for me, but whilst it would present engineering challenges, they wouldn't be of the hands-on type that I really like. With a 3D printer (I've got one at work) and/or a lathe, I could have knocked out the gun wheels in no time, but where's the challenge in that? Not to detract from the considerable challenges presented by 3D modelling/printing, but I like to get down and dirty with the plastic/wood/brass etc.


I think all artistic expressions are made up of two components - technical and creative. Different artistic fields have differing balances of these two. Abstract visual art represents an extreme balance towards creativity with less focus on the technical, whilst model making (at least of "real" tanks, planes etc.) leans much more towards the technical with limited opportunity for creative input. Scratchbuilding perhaps gives the opportunity to shift that balance a bit, and that I like.


My Wallace and Grommit figures (damned by faint praise!) need re-working. They're just not good enough to match the rest of the build, and perhaps more importantly, I really feel I can do better. They'll never stand up next to an Alpine, but I'm sure they can get much better than they are now. I can take no credit for the faces (and hands) - Hornet (very creative I think) have to be thanked for that.


My boat is another project, and whilst not scratchbuilt, has needed a lot of 1:1 attention. I bought it second hand and it was built for marina life with a bath, carpets and 240v electrics all over the place, so I've had to make a whole load of changes to make it suitable for canal-cruising. Nearly there, and I can't wait to get it done and get back on the cut.

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Landmark moment! I had another long session with the lovely Brian (Uranus, Neptune and Pluto) and that gave me enough time to complete (well, mostly) the riveting – hurrah!


A quick check of my photo reference told me I’d missed a couple of features though; the hinge mechanism for the side doors, cab-front hinges and “eyebrows” over the front hatches.



Luckily, Halfords plastic primer seems to melt (and therefore stick) using Tamiya extra thin, so adding some of these to already primered surfaces (along with only a single little rivet that went walkabout) proved fairly easy.


I completed the primer and called the sub-assemblies together for a group shot…..



And here’s a few close-ups of the recent work:





There are still a couple of bits to manufacture – the rear mudguards (which are a very interesting shape) and some internal (ammo storage?) bins, but I’ll soon be at the painting stage – exciting!

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On 17/09/2022 at 09:01, Bullbasket said:

Great work, as always. I especially like the camouflage paintwork on the gun. 



thanks John - yes, I really enjoyed painting the gun and I'm looking forward to getting the wheels to match.

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As one door closes…….


I got to planning the painting sequence for this thing. I’ve already given it a fair bit of thought, but it’s time for a review and finesse before any paint gets spilled, as it’s a tricky prospect.


As part of this, I plan to temporarily glue the doors in place using either Klear or PVA for the main spray-job to act as masks for the openings, so I needed to make sure I had all the doors made up. Eventually I’ll have a number of these open to match photos I’ve seen and to show off the interior.


The cabs are covered in doors and hatches – top, front, back sides – I’ve detailed and primed the exteriors of the main ones, but the (in)side-facing and rear ones needed making. I added a few details to represent the “window latches” and handles etc. from thin square section plastic and made up the missing doors.



The seat units and cab interiors need painting before they are installed and then masking to prevent the main paintjob from destroying all the hard work, so I’d already cut out the bottom frame of the rear opening to allow the seats to slide in from the back. From what I can tell, the rear hatches/doors hang down and completely cover this bottom frame which will make patching it up after the seats are in easier. Basically, I’ll just omit the bottom frame altogether – it’ll be very hard to see in the end.


Here’s where the bottom frame on the rears are missing, and I added the last (hopefully!) few hinges to accept the doors afterwards.



From examination of the photos, it seems I may have got the handing on some of the hatches and hence the hinge positions a bit off, but as far as I’m concerned, it’s too late now. It should look ok I think.


And to the rear…. Again, the doors needed making up from two layers of 0.5mm card creating a recessed flange. I’m not convinced about these to be honest so need to check the pictures to see what they really look like. I have a video of a couple of vehicles crawling through a village, and I recall they were just flapping about, so I think crews left them open as much as possible to keep cool and ventilate the engine. From memory, they appeared to be just simple flat plates. I’ll check and re-make as necessary.


I also gathered myself to make up the rear mudguards – a very odd arrangement composed of strange folded and curved shapes, with scant gluing surfaces. I shied away from using 0.2mm card which would probably be a better scale thickness and resorted to 0.5mm for a bit of much-needed rigidity. They actually weren’t as scary as I’d feared, and seem to be pretty solid, though they look like they might interfere with the (open) doors a little.



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I've just re-viewed the video, and lucky me! The doors are just flat plates, so I'll remake them, and the bottom flanges of the rear cab openings weren't there anyway, so I've accidentally improved accuracy - nice!

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Checking references can be a dangerous thing! Every time I look at the photos and video I have of Mk1 gun carriers, I spot yet another bracket/strap/shelf/panel etc. etc.


While I was researching the rear doors, I couldn’t help but see a couple of new ones of course.


Firstly, at the rear, there are a couple of round sockets which I assume were fixing points for the steering wheels. Like the Mk1 tank, these were in the form of a trolley with a pair of large carriage wheels dragged behind the vehicle and intended to make turning easier, though I can’t really see how they would help and apparently neither did the crews, so they were universally omitted. A lot of the photo evidence I have is from the proving ground where the steering wheels were attached, so it’s been tricky to see these sockets in most of the photos. I also added the curved, riveted strips against the tracks at the rear which I assume were a safety feature to prevent anyone or anything entering the rear of the tank getting caught up in the tracks and to be fair, I did know about these; I just hadn’t made and fitted them up ‘till now. Could have avoided a few hidden rivets if I’d thought that one through a bit more….



While I was checking these items in my references, I spotted a tubular bracket and curved plate poking out of the side of the vehicle. These can’t be seen in pictures where the gun-carriage wheels aren’t attached and so were easy to miss. I’m guessing they were attached as part of the process of strapping the wheels on and make perfect sense – I had wondered how these heavy wheels were successfully fixed to the sides and these provide the answer. I placed the wheels in position and traced around them with a pencil to show where the brackets needed fixing. A length of 2mm tube, curved plastic card and a bit of hex rod, and they were done. I also added some spacer pieces around the wheel circumference to allow them to be glued to the upper hull section. I’m hoping they can be permanently fixed to allow the top part to be removed (with wheels attached) once it’s all done to view the interior, though the multitude of chains fixing the upper hull to the gun will need a bit of further consideration to allow this. One advantage of the wheels being attached is that a lot of my messiest super-glued rivets will get covered up. I also think there are some tiny fixing points for the chains that hold the wheels in place that I need to add too – back to the photos….



So back to what I originally opened up the photos for – the rear doors. Pretty simple; just flat plates with a bit of hinge and handle detail.



I’ve continued to mull over the painting schedule, with the main challenge being the seat units. They’re fixed onto long plates that run from the driving cabs right back into the rear hull, and cover the tops of the tracks. I had been planning to paint them up, insert them into place and then do the main paint job; masking them as best I can to prevent them getting messed up by the general painting, but on further reflection, I may try snipping the front, seat sections off, gluing the track-cover plates in place and inserting the shortened seat units into place AFTER painting the tank. Either way, the track-cover sections can afford to be a bit messy, as they’ll get covered with a ton of junk (mostly ammo) later on.



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As always, the Devil is in the details. The closer you look, the more you see; the more you see, the closer you look - ad infinitum ...


As far as your build goes - the more I see, the closer I look; the closer I look, the more I see ;)


Every new update shows just how big a job and complex this build has been and how well it has been executed.


Well done.


cheers, Graham


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Checking references can be a dangerous thing! (part two)…..


In researching the “shoes” that support the gun wheels when they are strapped to the sides of the carrier, I saw that there are two mounting points where chains can be fixed to tie the wheels back to the body. The rear ones appear to be simple cleats/hoops and so these were fashioned from silver wire glued into a couple of holes. The front ones seem to be an extended rod to which the chains are tied/fixed. These are really hard to see on the photos and so I simply inserted a length of wire with a loop formed in the end. They look a bit Mickey-Mouse to be honest, so I might review these once I see what they look like with the chains in place. They’re pretty fragile as well, so they might not actually survive until I get the chains on anyway; we’ll see.



I carried out my plan to snip off the driving seats and install the flat plates running along the top of the tracks before painting, with the seats to be slipped in after, and it appears to have worked really well. I fixed thin strips of 0.2mm card to the external edges of the plates to represent a flange that is evident in the photos and glued the plates in place, with an additional piece of card stuck to the bottom/front and extending into the cabs. These will be the mounting points for the seat units, and whilst not quite Tamiya-level engineering, it does seem to work nicely, providing a firm and level base for the seat units to glue onto later – result!



I checked that the upper hull still sits over the plates and all is good. I’ve also mocked up a pile of (very poorly cast) ammo in place to show what it’ll eventually look like. The photos I have of “Darlington” show even more than this – a tottering pile of shells and boxes.



The gun got a bit more attention next. I’d painted the barrel and carriage separately a while back and fixed them together, but there were a few handles, brackets and so on that needed adding once it was married up. Most prominent of these are the brake mechanisms – one either side. Photos and drawings of the gun with wheels attached show these toed-in towards the front of the gun, but photos of the gun installed in the carrier seem to show the same wheel-handles toed the other way. My assumption is that with the wheels removed, the brakes could rotate closer to the carriage frame to save space, so I modelled my approximation of this. The components were a few bent lengths of iron wire, some small plastic card brackets, curved plastic card “shoes” and control wheels made from silver wire and plastic card.



On a visit to work on my boat I picked up some paints to allow me to finish off the gun. As with superglue, I have something of a love/hate relationship with my airbrush; the results are great, and very often essential to get certain effects, but the aggro of setting up, cleaning and so on means I often (perhaps too often) ask the question “can I get away with brush painting?”. At the moment, my DIY fully manual compressor remains in storage and I don’t have anywhere set up to carry out airbrushing, so in this case the answer was easy. The three-tone camo also means I’m quite happy to justify brush painting the wheels, so they (along with the new brackets) got a water-diluted splosh of Tamiya green. I’ll give them another coat and then add the camo.



Though they’ll not be mounted for this project, and despite the re-positioned brake pads getting in the way and pushing the wheels out a bit too far, I couldn’t resist popping them on to give an idea of what the gun would roughly look like off the carrier.



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thanks chaps - the gun has been fun to do; I'm quite tempted to do a 60 pounder or 8" howitzer as a later project. Lots of fiddly bits, but pretty rewarding. The main vehicle will just be boring brown I'm afraid John.

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1 hour ago, Model Mate said:

The main vehicle will just be boring brown I'm afraid John.

Ah, well. With the right amount of weathering, a plain colour can still look attractive.



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Into the belly of the beast.....


There's not much to go on in relation to the interior of the Mk1 gun carrier; at least not much I can find. I have a technical drawing indicating three large circular ammo bins on either side and the card template I'm basing this model on shows a number of smaller, but also round ammo bins. I'm guessing (and it really is a guess) that the most reliable reference is the card template, so that's what I'll go with.


The round ammo bins had me wondering.... why round? It's certainly not the most efficient in terms of space, and the Darlington propoganda footage shows the external cab plates stacked high with ammo, so why is there storage inside? Incidentally, I'm wondering if the Darlington photos actually hastened the demise of this vehicle, at least in its originally intended role. Perhaps after seeing Darlington with stacks of storage all over it, the powers that be realised its greater potential as a supplier carrier instead of a gun carriage. Certainly all the deployed vehicles were soon stripped of their offensive armament and converted to rather less glamourous supply vehicles.


Still; why round and why inside? Maybe the round drums were rolled into place and lifted into the carrier i.e. they weren't fixed permanently in position, but were re-stocked as these round drums? And inside? Well, the 6" BL howitzer, despite looking reasonably modern, was something of an evolutionary rather than revolutionary step in artillery development it seems. The "BL" in the title indicates "breech loading" implying that this was a bit of a novelty, and the ammo it used at the time would have been fairly familiar (at least in concept) to the old brass-barrel and touchpaper generation of gunners inasmuch as it consisted of separate shells and charges. The charges in the form of canvas bags filled with gunpowder/cordite were supplied in leather or cardboard tubes and needed to be rammed into place behind the shell.


The Darlington photos show the shells stacked up on the outside, along with a few wooden boxes, and maybe it made sense to store the charges separately inside where they could be kept dry and relatively safe? This is the story I'm going with.


Here's what the charge tubes look like: (I think)



I popped to Wickes and bought a length of 15mm plastic pipe, which I cut into sections and glued circular plates on the ends, with smaller circles on the faces to represent the ends of the leather tubes. I'll drill out at least one of these and have the tube leant up nearby I think.



Here they are in place - they're pretty plain, but without knowing what they really look like, I'm not sure what other detail to add on them. Maybe just some loops of tape to represent the charge-tube handles poking out. They aren't particularly visible from the outside, so that's fine I guess, but as I'm still hoping to be able to lift the lid when it's finished, I think I'll add a bit of supporting framework and a shelf on top; they must have needed somewhere to store tools, ropes, chains etc.



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