With now less than two weeks to my target tournament, it's time to move from the construction phase to the full painting phase. Technical that time was really a couple of weeks ago, but I've run into several snags along the way that have slowed my progress. The biggest setback was when the miniatures I'd hoped would serve as my halftracks came in and they were too small. Since then I've been trying to rework miniatures so I can start painting soon.
A little over a week ago I gave you a sneak peek of the modified Polski-FIAT 621 truck which would serve as the basis for the WZ-34 halftrack (as the two vehicles are quite similar). As expected, the surgery on the truck cab itself was the easy part. The real difficulty in building any tracked vehicle is the caterpillar suspension and track. I decided to make one copy of the key running gear components and cast them so at least the individual components would match well. I then assembled a separate left and right track assembly from the cast parts.
I attached the components to a thin styrene backing sheet and created some block tracks. I then thinned the right and left edge of the tracks as from what I can tell the WZ-34 had tracks similar to the German tracks with a raised rubber pad. I may re-work the tracks later if better evidence comes to light as that would be the easiest part to rework. As you can see from the photo above, the track assemblies are fairly intricate.
The next step was to cast up several copies of the track unit. I decided to cast them with a sprue from the back as the assemblies would have to bear the weight of the miniature, and a thin open resin piece would be likely to simply crack or shatter. If anyone has access to a good metal spin caster I'd be open to trying to cast an open version. I was ultimately able to get several cast up, though there are some imperfections in a few of them.
This past weekend was pretty much dedicated to casting and writing... something that I can't talk about yet (watch this space). I managed to get a new belt in for my band saw, so I was able to save myself a lot of time removing sprues as even with my dull blade, it makes short work of the resin (remember your dust mask!). Part of the pile is below, including many copies of the Pz. Inz. 302 tow vehicles for my 37mm anti-tank guns.
Given the bed of the truck was also a bit different, I also had to cast up several copies of a modified bed. I changed the sides, but left the front and rear pretty much unchanged. You can see a few of the boxes in the photo above, along with cast front wheels and a few of the halftracks.
I normally paint suspension components before attaching them to the miniature, but in order to set the connection points for the tracks, I needed to assemble a mock-up of the completed kit. I used a short section of styrene rod as a front axle and some styrene shims to attach the track assemblies to, and the completed miniature actually looks pretty good.
At this point I've completed most of the assembly on the five WZ-34 halftracks I'm going to need, and I've started working up the Pz. Inz 302 trucks. I'm also adding the final details to the Polski-FIAT 518 trucks and should actually have everything primed this week. If all goes well I'll start the marathon painting session on Saturday and hope to have all of the vehicles painted by the end of the weekend.