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Thursday, October 10, 2019

Genestealer Cult Baneblade - In Detail

My previous article detailing the new Baneblade I've just finished up for my Genestealer cult spent a fair amount of time going through the history of the vehicle in Warhammer 40K, but less time going through the construction and painting process I used on my example. Given the size and scale of the subject (puns intended) I wanted to take a step back and provide some details on how I constructed and painted the beast. Unfortunately I didn't have time to take any "in progress" photos, but will provide material lists and tips for building your own!

Major Construction

The Baneblade is one of Games Workshop's larger plastic kits consisting of eight large sprues which allow the construction of not only the Baneblade, but the Banehammer, Banesword, Doomhammer, Hellhammer, Shadowsword, Stormlord, and Stormsword as well. While the final product is as large as many 1/35th scale tank kits, the kit's sophistication and detail is fairly crude by modern static kit standards. Many of the larger sub-units are supplied in front and rear halves rather than including a single large piece. Much of the rivet data on the turret and upper superstructure is at angles because of the limited use of slide molds on the kit. However, given the final product is meant to be a gaming piece rather than display piece, at least some of the design choices can be attributed to its intended role.

Construction of the vehicle starts with the large track units which comes in several parts. One challenge was to maintain alignment on the front and rear halves of the inside and outside assemblies as these are attached using half lap splice joints. The inside roadwheels are molded in to the superstructure, but the outer roadwheels are their own piece. I had to use superglue rather than my normal plastic cement to maintain alignment because I left off the tracks to paint them separately. This is an issue on the Baneblade as the tracks themselves provide structural rigidity to the track assemblies.

Apart from a few minor details, which I'll go into below, the rest of the kit was constructed "out of the box" with no major modifications to construction. By taking care, I was able to get good alignment for all of the major assemblies and in final construction.


If you've looked through my blog's previous entries, you'll quickly learn that I suffer from "Advanced Modeling Syndrome." That means I like to add details to make my tabletop miniatures stand out. My 15mm T-72's are a good example, though there are others, including a scratch-built Polish Black Brigade in 15mm as well! I generally haven't made major conversions to 40K vehicles because by and large they're fine for gaming purposes. However, for something as large as the Baneblade I decided to make a couple of additions.

The Demolisher Cannon

While the muzzle brake on the Baneblade Cannon is fine, I wanted to add some extra detail to the Demolisher Cannon. The Demolisher Cannon clearly takes its inspiration from the World War II German Sturmtiger and its 38cm RW 61 rocket launcher (shown above). Although the real weapon was a rocket launcher rather than a cannon, it wasn't smooth bored and had wide, deep rifling in the barrel. I decided a fun detail to add would be rifling in the (hull gun) of my Baneblade, so I went with an old tried an true source, Armor Research Company's rifling kit.

This kit provides enough photo-etched rifling to fill the gun barrels of at least 3 large subjects or several smaller ones. To use the photo etched rifling is straightforward, if a bit fiddly. I start by annealing the photo-etched parts (basically exposing them to the heat of a candle flame). I then create a template from paper fitting it into the inside of the barrel. This template is then used to cut the photo-etched rifling. Before bending into shape, I highlighted the rifling with a little polished metal paint (ammo of mig). Once dry, I rolled the rifling around a cylinder (dowels or plastic rod/tube work the best - paintbrush handles tend to taper). After a test fit or two, I simply glued down the rifling with a little thin superglue. The end result is fairly subtle, but I thought it was cool regardless!

Secondary Turrets

One trick I've brought over from my 15mm gaming is magnetizing turrets for vehicles to prevent damage in transport - and so one doesn't have to rely on fairly fiddly glued posts (and hope the glue doesn't go where you don't want it!). Depending on the geometry of the miniature / kit involved I use a variety of rare earth magnets.

For the Baneblade's auxiliary lascannon turrets, I was able to snag a few D21B-N52 magnets (shown below) I'd picked up for some Plastic Soldier Company 15mm tanks. These are 1/8" in diameter and 1/16" thick. One will fit in the locating hole on the sponson top, while the other fits on the post that runs through the turret. You do have to shorten the post to make this work, though! I picked mine up from K&J Magnetics, but if you're not in the U.S. look for something the same size locally.


As the Baneblade is a centerpiece model in any army, I wanted to provide it with a suitable Genestealer crew. The heavy stubber crewman was simple - he's just a standard head swap using the Genestealer Cult Upgrade Frame (oh have I bought a lot of those!). However, I wanted to go all out for a commander figure, so I decided to try and squeeze a hybrid in as my commander. I carved down the legs and base that the normal crew figure would be attached to to accommodate the four armed hybrid torso. Finding a set of left arms that fit was relatively easy, but finding a set of right arms turned out to be far more difficult as I had to clear the cupola itself. I also did a hand swap on the upper right arm to give him a pistol.

I painted the crew using the same techniques as I've detailed in previous articles, so I won't go through that here. However, the hybrid does appear to be having an awesome time in his new ride, so I think I'll call this a success!

Paint Base-coat

Painting the exterior follows my recent pattern of using the "Black and White" technique of pre-shading that I've used for most of the vehicles in this army (except for the Chimera). Rather than using a series of modulated paint colors, this technique starts with a black base and works up contrast from there until ending with white. A translucent top coat in the color desired is added as the final step

All of the products I used for the base coat are shown below. I primed the model with an airbrush using Ammo of Mig Black One Shot Primer (AMIG2023). I then used their white One Shot Primer (AMIG2022) to panel shade the entire model. I'm working on a video tutorial that will go through the overall process, so stay tuned! I then thinned Mig's 4BO Russian Green (AMIG0019) by about 50% with the Transparator thinner (AMIG2017) and airbrushed it on. You have to be a bit careful with the thinned top coat as it can bead if the surface isn't perfect requiring a re-paint.


Once the base coat was down, I moved on to distressing the paint to give it a "well-worn" look. Generally in the past I've been pretty much a purist when it came to painting my models. While I may have modulated them, I generally didn't go for extremely weathered or distressed paint schemes. Part of that lies from past prejudices as a judge and entrant in International Plastic Modelers' Society competitions - where poorly built models were often covered in "weathering" to hide flaws. I therefore tended to produce fairly "pristine" kits - a trend which carried over into my wargaming as well. However in recent years the number of techniques and products available to do some very nice weathering that doesn't simply bury a kit's details have become more common, and I decided it was time to start mastering these techniques.

Taking a step back, I'd like to go into the rationale behind the paint scheme I'm using for my Genestealers. I went with the Twisted Helix background because I liked the "military experiment gone horribly wrong" theme. Given it was a good scheme, I decided to go with Soviet World War II Military colors for the Brood Brothers squads and vehicles (though vehicles often delve into post-war colors). The photo above shows a depot with many (MANY) BTR vehicles all nominally in the same color. It's this variation that also made the Soviet scheme attractive. I also had the concept that the cult had infiltrated the maintenance depot and started setting aside "nonfunctional" vehicles for their own use...

For the majority of the chipping I'm using AK Interactive's Chipping Color (AK711). I apply the chips randomly with some open cell foam, and the color itself looks especially good over the Soviet greens in general, though it can get a bit lost in some of the darker ones if you're not careful. There are a lot of good chipping guides out there which involve additional highlighting of the individual chips, but I simply go with the chipping color itself and let other subsequent washes complete the effect.


After the chipping is complete, I use a variety of washes to both complete the well-worn look through streaks and stains and bring out fine details (shown below). For rust and oil streaks I use Ammo of Mig's Dark Brown Oilbrusher (AMIG3512). Mig now has a line of streaking brushers, but I've found that the regular oilbrushers, or even oil paints, work well with a little work. Working with a small section of the model at a time, I put a little of the oil paint where I want to initiate a streak and then use a flat brush with odorless thinner to pull it downward and create the various tones. Sometimes the whole streak can disappear if you use too much thinner, but it is fairly easy to add them back.

The final stage of the wash process involves a black pin-wash using Mig's Black Wash (AMIG1011). I use the black wash to pick out details, and it provides some additional contrast and shadow for the fine details. Basically if it is a raised detail or panel line, it's gotten black wash!


For this vehicle and its unique, very large, tracks I decided to alter my standard painting scheme that I use for other vehicles like the Leman Russ and Chimera. I used a variety of colors and even some pigments (shown below). The tracks on the Baneblade are what I'd call "all steel" style tracks whereas the Russ and Chimera appear to have rubber pads in them. I first removed all of the tracks from the sprue and cleaned up the mold lines along the sides (though I may have missed a couple on the front teeth). I then hit all of the links and lengths with Mig's Brown Oxide One Shot Primer (AMIG2026).

Once the primer had dried, I gave the tracks a base coat of Shadow Rust (AMIG0043) followed by Medium Rust (AMIG0040) overspray. This gave the tracks a slightly mottled appearance. I then highlighted the raised details by dry-brushing the tracks with Polished Metal (AMIG0192), which is actually a fair amount brighter than the new color chip would indicate.

Once the polished metal had dried I thinned down some of the Kursk Soil Nature Effects (AMIG1400) with odorless thinner to create a thick wash which provides the dusty look of the tracks (shown above). To get the final metal effect, I used a foam brush and Mig's Gunmetal pigment (AMIG3009). I used a little black wash to highlight the track pins assuming that there would be some lubrication in there.

Details, Details, Details...

On a kit this large, there are a lot of smaller details that can be easily overlooked if you're not careful. This section is pretty much the catch all for all of the details not covered above.

The road wheels on the Baneblade appear to be of the standard rubber tired variety that you see on most modern main battle tanks. I therefore used Ammo of Mig Rubber and Tires (AMIG0033) for these. You can use black, but it always comes out looking too dark at this scale to my eye.

Another prominent feature of the vehicle is the inclusion of multiple heavy bolters. Two are in a turret on the forward hull and two more in each of the side sponsons. For these I use Alclad Gunmetal (ALC120) as a base, which gives the guns a nice blue metallic base. I then use Ammo of Mig Polished Metal again for highlighting. The turret heavy stubber is painted using the same technique.

The rear of the vehicle has a surprising amount of detail including a set of four exhaust pipes, taillights, and even small Adeptus Mechanicus shine. I painted the exhausts separately before attaching them to the vehicle. The rust was applied with an airbrush using a variety of paints from Mig's Rust Effects Colors set (AMIG7106). I then airbrushed the part nearest the manifold with Alclad Exhaust Manifold (ALC123).

The prominent taillights were first painted with liquid chrome paint from Molotow. This is really amazing stuff and gives you a mirror bright surface. Over those I added Alclad Transparent Red (ALC401). This is a technique that came from my scale modeling days as I tend to avoid the very stylized lens approach common in GW painting. I used the same technique (minus the red) for the headlights and just gave them a thinned coat of Testors Clear Parts Cement to simulate the glass of the lenses. I also used this on the searchlight as well which has a coat of contrast black as its primary coloration.

The decorative surfaces on the back of the vehicle are generally painted with Alclad Pale Burnt Metal (ALC104), though there is some Pale Gold there as well on the purity seals. I also used the Pale Burnt Metal to paint the raised Aquila that appear in many positions across the vehicle itself. After painting some of the other details white, I painted them using some of the new Games Workshop contrast paints. The skulls were painted with Skeleton Horde, the statue with Basilicanum Grey, and the ribbons on the seals with Flesh Tearers Red.

I also added some pioneer tools (shovel, pick, hammer, etc.) to the vehicle. For this I used the Ammo of Mig Tools Colors (AMIG7112). I used the Gun metal (with a polished metal highlight), New Wood, and Bakelite colors from the set. I shaded both with a little Dark Tone (WP1135) and Strong Tone (WP1136) from Army Painter. There is an infantry pack attached to the turret which is painted in the same colors as my Brood Brothers squad. The pack itself is Vallejo Russian Uniform (70924) with Saddle Brown (70940) straps. The cup is just polished metal with a dark tone wash. The gun is Mig Gun Metal with a Polished Metal highlight. The Buttstock is Red Brown Base while the magazine is Red Brown Shine which mimics the Bakelite furniture common on later AK-74 rifles from the Eastern Bloc. All of the colors came from the Ammo of Mig Weapon Colors set (AMIG7123). It was also given a Dark Tone wash.

Finally, what's a great vehicle without some great markings? For the decals I took a few from the Baneblade kit itself, but I've been using a fairly comprehensive series of decals from Scumb4g Kustoms. He has a lot of well executed sheets for Genestealer cult models and miniatures, including a series that looks like it was spray painted on with a stencil (including paint drips). My signature marking for this army is to have one of the red or white painted stencils on top of at least one Imperial Aquila, and the Baneblade has one prominently on the turret!

So there you have it. A Baneblade painted in overall green... which used:

  • 3 colors of primer
  • At least 26 colors of paint + two pigments
  • 4 different washes
  • All protected with a stain varnish!
This was an absolutely epic project to work on and complete, and I still think there is more detail I could have crammed into it. I hope this guide has given you some inspiration for your own projects, or has at least been a cautionary tale!


  1. This is a fantastic tutorial and review for the kit. I want to thank you for posting this as I'd been on the fence about purchasing one of these to add to my own GSC force.

    Your tank looks excellent - I hope that if/when I ever pick one of these up that mine will look half as good.

    1. Thanks much! It was a ton of fun to get together, and should be at least entertaining to field with my GSC.