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Fishwelding

VERY early M113, 3AD 1963

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I sense that we're about to get a new crop of M113 kits from Asian manufacturers, which is fantastic news.  Meantime, I figured I'd go one last round with Tamiya's ancient kit.  I built a lot of these, including a few as a kid.  When I didn't have a lot of money, it was good value, as it includes a basic interior and has potential for improvement by a determined modeler.  The included '60s-'70s era U.S. infantry aren't bad, and could be used to easily depict other nation's troops as well.  

 

This time around, I'm building toward a 36th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Armored Division M113 "slick" in late summer/early autumn 1963, just before the Big Lift Exercise in Germany.  At that point these machines were new, having been issued to Spearhead along with M60 tanks.  In Exercise Big Lift, 3AD played the bulk of the bad guys, combining new hardware, fictitious tactical nuclear weapons, and an aggressive spirit to give BLUE forces an appropriately dangerous adversary. I might put the maneuver markings on if I can get a color photograph confirming what color(s) they were.  I don't have a lot of references for very-early M113s, so I'm flying blind and will probably commit some anachronisms.  But I want to take advantage of the kit's interior, so I'll risk a few inaccuracies that only modelers would care about.  

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From Dragon's "Remagen" set I've taken a 1st Army infantryman, and am updating his battle-rattle for the 1960s.  He's been transferred to the Kennedy era, so his childhood was in postwar prosperity, rather than the Great Depression.  The older generation carped that comic books and Elvis Presley's dance moves made him a "juvenile delinquent," but he seems to be well-adjusted enough. More controversially, he trades his M1 Garand for an M14 rifle - a good swap?  

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Edited by Fishwelding

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Message board sources claim that early M113s were simply white inside, rather than the pale green seen in M113s for most of their service life.  I like using Archer dry transfers, and eagerly employed their M113 interior markings, but in retrospect these might be for later units.  Perhaps I should have stuck to Tamiya's old decals. 

 

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Now, I need to figure out how to add and arrange some interior stuff, visible through the open hatches.  If I build the vehicle on exercise, my sources suggest that the units participating in Big Lift drew ammunition just like a war situation.  I neglected to add seat cushions, and am now tempted to do so, although I think that would have been better done before painting!  

 

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Off to a nice start! I've always fancied doing a tank with a complete interior. This probably comes from the old Tamiya brochures with those opened up armored vehicles. Still remember those!

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On 4/22/2017 at 8:16 AM, janman said:

Off to a nice start! I've always fancied doing a tank with a complete interior. This probably comes from the old Tamiya brochures with those opened up armored vehicles. Still remember those!

This build is usual for me; it didn't seem like it would be much more work to do an interior, especially with details only really visible through open hatches.  But it turned out to be more work than I anticipated!

 

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So this is ready to close up.  In the fall/early winter of 1963, these M113s were still fairly new.  So weather was confined to some floor panel chipping (overdone!  I got lazy and tried using a fine-tipped sharpie) and some dirt (Vallejo pigment, mixed with one of their washes.)  I got some pads and belts on the seats, using Kneaditite putty and masking tape.  The gear comes from various detail sets.  The two ration boxes--appropriate for the 1960s--comes from Duplicata Productions.  Fantastic products!  I'll be using one of their Germany maps for this build later on.  My only suggestion to them is to print carboard boxes onto brown craft paper, like Tamiya does.  This makes folding the boxes much easier, is probably cheaper to manufacture, and the finished product still looks very convincing.

 

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This guy is about ready to paint.  His gear is a mixture from World War II and Vietnam sets, placed according to photos in Walter Böhm's Tankograd series of books, and a few on the web.  I still need to add a helmet cover (probably with a coat of Mr. Surfacer.)  

 

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Edited by Fishwelding

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Just stumbled upon this.  I like the subject choice.  Very unique.   If it was fall / early winter in W Germany, typically that means lots of rain.  That floor of your track looks way too clean.   

 

John

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The floorboards are too white too.  M113 floorboards are left in unpainted aluminum.

 

Later M113A2, but the floorboards were the same.

m113a2int.jpg

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On 5/10/2017 at 2:10 PM, HeavyArty said:

The floorboards are too white too.  M113 floorboards are left in unpainted aluminum.

 

 

Ah well.  I'll get it right next time around! 

 

On 5/9/2017 at 10:40 PM, 11bee said:

Just stumbled upon this.  I like the subject choice.  Very unique.   If it was fall / early winter in W Germany, typically that means lots of rain.  That floor of your track looks way too clean.   

 

John

 

I can still act on this, since I'll need to mess up the rear ramp, too.  

 

Not much to report this week.  After adding exterior details, I began painting, starting with a coat of lacquer primer.  Figuring that the division shape/color/number marking (1-36 Infantry) was a red circle, I painted for that, and added a mask on either side of the track.  That is pure speculation;  the period black-and-white photographs I have seem to suggest a different color than yellow (since it doesn't look like the same shade as the bridge mark), and has white instead of black lettering.  But I'm fairly certain somebody will produce a color photograph proving me wrong!  :rolleyes:  Next, I applied the dark base coat, a homebrew OD mixed from Tamiya Acrylics.  I'll let this set up, add wheels and tracks, and then apply some lighter shades for highlights.  Since I'm going to mud up the undercarriage, I'm not going to spend a lot of time meticulously painting the tracks or wheels.  

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Also, I applied a dark base for the soldier.  This is Vallejo's much-maligned polyurethane primer.  Since I won't be masking this guy, it shouldn't be a problem.  I'll build up lighter shades using Vallejo acrylics after this stuff has had time to cure.  Oh, and probably take a knife or needle file to clear the flash off his fingers, too!  That stuff is tough to see until the primer's on. 

 

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Edited by Fishwelding

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Looking good.  One issue with the Tamiya kit (among many) is the top troop hatch being molded 180 degrees around.  The curved strap to the lock mechanism is molded on the lower part of the hatch, but should be on the upper part.  This is how the hatch is pulled closed and how it locks/unlocks.  If you cut the hinges off and turn it around 180 degrees, it will be correct.  You can see it in the below pic in the proper position.

 

m113_tow_antitank_missile_system_united_

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Build started in April.....any more progress? Got a couple of these in my stash bought way back when...as when it was a state of the art kit. Built their mortar M-113 version & the one with the Saladin turret.  

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On 5/14/2017 at 8:04 AM, HeavyArty said:

 One issue with the Tamiya kit (among many) is the top troop hatch being molded 180 degrees around.  The curved strap to the lock mechanism is molded on the lower part of the hatch, but should be on the upper part.  This is how the hatch is pulled closed and how it locks/unlocks.  If you cut the hinges off and turn it around 180 degrees, it will be correct.

 

The hatch is attached at multiple welds because, being a ham-handed sort, I'm big on sturdiness.  So rather than rip it back off I simply shaved away the old strap.  I could labor over trying to provide a detailed replacement...

 

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...or I can be a dirty cheater and simply add a vague strap, and then put scale maps on top!  Of course, having introduced all this paper, I should probably add an officer to the scene, too.  

 

I've been pulled away from the M113 project for the past few months because of overtime work at my job, and this project, Miniart's "French Cafe."   With vacuum-formed walls, this build was a real challenge for me.  I made matters worse by modifying it for the 1980s, and to be a backdrop item that takes up fairly little room in a scene.  Despite the rigor, my amateurish work, and my suspicion that it's a little over-scale, I think it's awesome since it makes diorama buildings a more realistic prospect.  I've already procured more Miniart building components, and have all sorts of ideas for Cold War scenes.  In this case, I might park some U.S. soldiers eating a fine German breakfast out front, with their M151 at the curb. ("It could be worse.  They might have sent you to Fort Lost-in-the-Woods, Missouri.")  Or add another building alongside, and maybe put a Bundeswehr 8-wheeled Spähpanzer in front.  But that's a story for a different thread...

 

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With the decals on, it's time to seal them with varnish and begin weathering.  I'll add some mud and dust, but I might in future do some parade-ready clean vehicles in this dark olive drab, high visibility marking scheme.  It looks good to me!

 

The big vehicle number in the bright red circle looks like this machine is ready for 24 hours at Le Mans!  

 

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Edited by Fishwelding

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So the M113's almost finished.  I need to do some odds and ends detail painting, staining, and extensive mud and dust.  Plus I'll cobble up some antennas, too.  But that can wait until it's time to integrate the track into a base, when I need to create groundwork anyway.  (The base is cut out of scrap pine lumber, but I'm waiting for the paint to thoroughly dry.)

 

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What slows down my projects is that I keep adding jobs as I go along.  So I wanted to add someone standing in the troop compartment hatch, looking at the maps.  As usual I didn't have anyone who quite had the right pose, with the right uniform.  (Rarely, it seems, am I satisfied with soldiers right out of the box, with no modifications.)  A guy from Tamiya's old U.S. M577 kit (they're sold separately; I can't recall the name of that box, though) had an OK pose but I thought his arms were too skinny and he's not wearing a uniform jacket.  Plus I'd like to either have him bare-headed or wearing something other than a steel helmet.  So I made modifications accordingly, using epoxy putty.  I needed the practice, anyway; I'd like to do more extensive sculpting in future.

 

He probably won't be a commissioned officer, like I joked above.  Instead he'll be a track commander, and an NCO.  In this era they still wore big yellow chevrons, and non-subdued patches on the sleeves.  I can hardly pass up a chance to add such color, considering the track is practically Napoleonic with the bright markings!  

 

dN2XHUO.jpg   

Edited by Fishwelding

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On 7/18/2017 at 6:48 PM, Fishwelding said:

 

("It could be worse.  They might have sent you to Fort Lost-in-the-Woods, Missouri.")

Some of my extended family are familiar with that zone of unique reality.
Looking at the maps I'm wondering what the crew will have put on them to keep the breeze from carrying them off in to the mud.

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Kit build is looking great. Know what you mean about not being satisfied with figure poses out of the box. Working on a combination of Tamiya, Italeri, Master Box & Trumpeter figures for some dioramas and found out working with Milliput isn't as easy as I thought it would be after watching various Youtube videos on its use.

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On 8/8/2017 at 9:41 PM, southwestforests said:

Looking at the maps I'm wondering what the crew will have put on them to keep the breeze from carrying them off in to the mud.

Binoculars, and possibly a canteen might be stacked somewhere on the maps.  I might add a 1911 pistol, too, but that seems a bit dramatic for a peacetime exercise.  

 

On 8/9/2017 at 9:59 AM, willc453 said:

Kit build is looking great. Know what you mean about not being satisfied with figure poses out of the box. Working on a combination of Tamiya, Italeri, Master Box & Trumpeter figures for some dioramas and found out working with Milliput isn't as easy as I thought it would be after watching various Youtube videos on its use.

I find Milliput is too tough to do fine work, but I've seen people do it.  I think the trick is to keep your hands wet.  For the guys above I used Kneadatite, that I got from a seller on Amazon or Ebay (I forget which.)  It's a little easier to work with, especially if you warmed it up by mixing it rigorously.  

 

I'm working in the Cold War, which has an admittedly limited set of figure options.  But even with World War II figures it can be frustrating to find troops that really help you create a lifelike scene, or even tell a story in a diorama.  During the 1980s and 1990s Dragon did a lot of semi-action poses where guys were standing legs apart or slightly leaned forward, holding but not aiming a weapon.  These are useful for a limited set of possibilities in dioramas, and require at least modest sculpting skills to modify.  More recently we're getting diverse poses and scenes from Dragon and now other manufacturers.  To their credit, Tamiya had from way back some sets of guys in interesting arrangements, including the troops with this M113 kit, their M3A2 halftrack, M577, and a "German troops at rest" set.  Even during the '90s they had some of these, such as the StuG III crew with the puppy.  

 

Having done some uniform modifications, such as scraping off straps (want to send Dragon's 29th Infantry guys to a battle in September or October of 1944? Get rid of the D-Day-specific gear) or adding pockets, I'm coming to think that poses may be more important than the period or unit depicted by a particular figure.  Some figures, with simple uniforms, can be excellent bases for many eras.  I particularly like Tamiya's German tank crew loading ammo set, since the coveralls and fatigue uniforms are easy to modify to later NATO or even Warsaw Pact troops, and the poses are good for men laboring at some task. Tank and field artillery service appear to include a lot of back-breaking toil, so these guys are excellent to have around.

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Think the M-577 crew you're looking for is Tamiya's 1:35 Military Miniatures US Command Figures on Ebay. Figures are bent over/standing, checking out maps on a table. As to Milliput, found a Youtube (modifying miniatures for search) video that's really helped me, especially when the figure is bent over like he's ducking/trying to hide or bending down to pick up something. Currently working on the bottom 2 figures and trick I learned was to roll a VERY small (sewing needle diameter) rope of Milliput on edge of the inside of the lower torso. Add a little bit of super glue to the inside of the upper torso and press them together. Milliput oozes out, but super glue keeps the parts together. Then use a sculpting tool/#11 Xacto blade to remove excess Milliput. And DEFINETLY keep your fingers/tools wet.

1 35 Trumpeter African freedom fighters.jpg

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On 12/21/2017 at 8:24 PM, 11bee said:

Any updates?

 

Not much.  I was kept away from my workbench this fall by my job and other things. In the past few months I did manage to get some paint onto the two infantrymen, though. 

 

The NCO's head is a Hornet item.  Both figures were airbrushed with various shades of Vallejo to establish the uniform OD.  Next, I added an acrylic (Testors Acryl, if I recall) base for the flesh, and then overcoat that with artist's oils so I can blend different tones, and light and shadows.  I'm out of practice with those techniques.  Next will be detail painting, varnish, decals, and possibly some washes.  I also managed to print some maneuver markings onto paper, and need to add them to the track.  

 

The rifleman, per the original Dragon sculpture, will be smoking a cigarette.  This is entirely appropriate, since the Army's culture and logistics effectively encouraged millions of young men to smoke during the Cold War.  (I work in higher education.  In 2017, the only students who smoke are my G.I. Bill/veteran students.)  

 

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Last week, I experimented on "scrap" figures with Vallejo acrylics.  Until now I've never found acrylics very convincing for flesh tones, but there may be something to Vallejo, since they sell a glaze and a retarder for their paint, and suggest that the modeler use a wet palette.  This is interesting to me, because oils are messy, and take a long time to dry; I wouldn't mind finding an easier method.  My initial results aren't great, but in places were good enough to make me keep trying Vallejo for figures. 

Edited by Fishwelding

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Looking good Fish.  I really like the subject.  most post-war US Armor is either a Vietnam or sandbox subject it seems.   

 

One comment, above, you mentioned possibly leaving a .45 pistol on a stack of maps.   Just note that (unless things changed from when I was is), weapons security was a huge focus.   I never saw an unattended weapon, the consequences for something like that were extremely severe.   Unless it was in use or being cleaned, the .45 would have remained secured in the soldier's holster, which in turn was secured to the soldier.   Same thing for rifles, light MG's, etc.   They stayed on you or under your direct control at all times.   This also applied to other "sensitive items" such as bayonets, NVG's, gas masks, radios, weapons sights, etc.    God help the poor grunt that lost a sensitive item in the field.   His entire company (in (some cases BN) would have leave cancelled and would searching the bush 24/7 until the missing item was located. 

 

I hear you on smoking, I smoked in the field, it was just the thing to do, mainly cause you were just so freakin' bored I think.   Thankfully, I quit once I got out.  

 

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37 minutes ago, 11bee said:

One comment, above, you mentioned possibly leaving a .45 pistol on a stack of maps...

 

That's a good tip, especially since I imagine the sergeant as a professional or "lifer."  I'll stick with a canteen, binocs and possibly a map case.  I also need to place a helmet I cobbled together.  It's a crude carving, but I mean to approximate a peculiar vehicle helmet that the army evidently only used briefly before the Vietnam-era helmet.  I'm not at all sure, but I speculate the Army was continuing the tradition of using U.S. tackle football helmets as a model for CVC helmets!  

 

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1 hour ago, 11bee said:

Looking good Fish.  I really like the subject.  most post-war US Armor is either a Vietnam or sandbox subject it seems....

 

 

The older I get, the more I'm a Cold War fan, and the hobby companies are fueling that addiction with new kits.  I'm already trying (without much success) to decide my next Cold War project just to build down my stash.  I don't see a lot of evidence that, during REFORGER exercises, U.S. engineers built Bailey-style bridging.  I've found where perhaps Dutch or Belgian troops did, though.  Still, I'd like to depict that using Bronco's bridge kits, in a late-Cold War setting.  I've got an M109A3 I need to finish that, together with an M151 or M548, would make a nice column scene.  Plus, I have a ton of Warsaw Pact hardware to play with.  

 

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I always forget something that I only discover at the post-project photo shoot.  I need to add mud to their boots!  (Well, at least those of the infantryman.  The track commander might avoid dismounting, if he can help it.)  Probably should add some engine exhaust.  There's likely some other stuff that should be done, too.  

 

For the base, I simply painted a piece of construction pine cut from scrap.  I added some groundwork and then the longest static grass I could find. With an airbrush, I dusted it with some-or-another Vallejo light green, since in the past I've had subjects seemingly "disappear" against dark faux grass.  Extra mud for the track-marks was added with a Vallejo paste.  I added mud and a little dust to the track, but only so far as source photos permitted.  Militaria stores on Ebay supplied cheap claspback pins for the base.  The printed label is covered in clear sheet styrene secured with two screws from the odds-and-ends hardware bin.  

 

Some takeaways: I'm semi-happy with the mud, but I think I'll experiment with other products to see if I can produce something that looks more convincing. I used the incredibly small letter-jungle supplied on a Echelon Decals' "Marks of a Soldier" sheet for the name tapes.  I've never worked with decals that small before and am in no hurry to do it again.  The black-and-gold "US Army" tapes are from an ancient Verlinden sheet, and I was lucky to get them to lay down.  The rest of that sheet will be tossed.   Archer transfers, when applied to their wet medium paper, worked beautifully.  I expected they would be so fragile as to be useless.  Not so!  With Micros Sol and Set they conformed to the soldiers' arms, supplying the 3 AD patches and chevrons.  In future I'll use this workflow for bumper codes, too.  Honestly, I'm uncertain why Archer doesn't sell it's transfers already applied to the wet medium paper (shelf-life?  scaleable production?)  I really like the Olive Drab and brightly colored markings of this era.  I'll have to build some more 1950s-1960s USAREUR subjects in future.  Dragon supplied an M48, but we could really use an M59.

 

Well, now it's on to something Warsaw Pact...

 

Edited by Fishwelding

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