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Friday, January 4, 2013

A Herd of Elefants - Part 1

Inspired by other grand projects I’ve seen, my goal is to ultimately have most, if not all, documented Elefant of Schwere Panzerjager Abteilung 653 represented in model form.  There are several good references out there which are included in the Bibliography below.  I’ll start with a review of the basic Elefant miniature from Battlefront and then go from there.

 GE132 – Elefant

The good:  Overall the shape and scale of the vehicle is good and the detailing is fairly accurate.  Assembly is very straight forward, and the miniature is sturdy – which is a big plus for something that’s hopefully going to see a fair amount of use.  Parts breakdown makes sense – two track units, hatches, and the gun.

The not as good:  Tail light, jack, jack box, and tool box missing from the rear of the vehicle.  No spare track links provided (though these were common stowage items – you could probably get away with using Panther tracks, but you’ll have to change the guide teeth).  One of the gun sight slit hatches is missing from the superstructure roof.  The left and right engine vents are too wide and approach the center vent too closely – side vents are also larger than the central vent when in actuality the reverse was true.

The inconvenient:  Obviously since this was a rare bird, there’s only one miniature to go with, so you have to do a fair amount of conversion to get the breadth of the vehicles actually fielded.  The molded in tow cable is on one side only (there are ample examples of vehicles with one, two, or none).


Some of the issues with the stock miniature are relatively simple to fix.  I’ve built-up a jack box and cast resin copies of it.  You can take a jack out of the Panther box and add it to the rear superstructure.  Adding a rear light is also fairly easy – just build up one from styrene strip.  I’ve also added the extra hatch on the top with styrene sheet and strip.  I don’t bother with the surgery on the engine hatches at this point (and probably won’t ever).  Adding the tool box to the rear is also fairly simple – just use a thick piece of strip styrene cut to the right dimensions and add zimmerit with green putty.  I also add a small strip of styrene to connect the front and rear fenders a bit better than you get with simply attaching the track units to the hull.

Out of the box

The miniature as packaged will build up several vehicles without major modification.  These include:

·         East Front:
o   Vehicles 223 and 224 (red, white outline)
o   Vehicle 232 (red, white outline)
o   Vehicle 234 (red, white outline – it’s possible the Munch book misidentifies vehicle 234 as vehicle 334, as the first digit is missing and the contrast of the center of the number is low like the number is red, not black)
o   Vehicle 322 (solid black)
o   Vehicle 301 (number unclear in photos)
o   Vehicle 323 (black, white outline(?))
o   Vehicle 331 (black, white outline)
o   Vehicle 332 (black, white outline)
o   Vehicle 334 (solid black – or black with white outline – two primary references contradict)
o   Most other vehicles used by 653 on the Eastern Front (no number in many photographs)
o   One of the two survivors which fought in Berlin as a part of s.Pz.Jg. Kompanie 614. (no number) – note four were assigned to sPzJg Kompanie 614., but only two actually made it into the fighting in Berlin.

·         Italy:
o   At least one 1st Company Elefant (with no number visible)
o   It’s also “close enough” to model Elefant 124 of the 1st company (though this particular vehicle had horizontal zimmerit around the closed vision ports). 

Minor Surgery

Toward the end of the conversion run, four vehicles were fitted with a modified rear hatch consisting of two leaves as opposed to the single large hatch.  It’s a fairly simple matter to add some styrene hinges and overlap to the rear hatch of the miniature.  At least one of these served in the HQ Company of 653. Schwere Panzerjager Abteilung (no number). 

The pictures below show the first build-up of one of these vehicles.  Note that I’ve already added details discussed above.  The split hatch is accomplished through cutting and shaping strip styrene.  I find a tool called “The Chopper” to be invaluable for this sort of work.



Part 2 will cover the Elefant that require more work and markings for the unit.


  1. I really like when people do adjustments to make the vehicles more accurate. The extra work with these details always pays off. Is the bibliography coming in a future post? because i'm always keen to expand my reference library.

    1. Absolutely - I'll also post an army history for the 653rd which covers a lot of the same books. I'm trying to decide whether or not I'm going to write up Part 2 before I get the conversion work done or after...

  2. I've been meaning to ask you, what method do you use to sculpt your zimmerit? Is it just green stuff with screwdriver indentations?

    I think I'm finally going to get around to finish my Finnish early Panzer IV ausf J project this winter.

  3. I've actually moved over to Miliput for zimmerit on small scale stuff now. I'm using a small screwdriver at this point, but I'm thinking about casting up some pewter zimmerit tools - including a waffle pattern one... :D