If you've been following my growing Genestealer Cult army, you'll be aware that a lot of its background is very much inspired by Soviet Russia in terms of its vehicles, uniforms, and iconography. My local Warhammer store, Warhammer Hillsboro, is having a store Anniversary Conversion Contest. Not being one to pass up an opportunity to stretch my model-building skills, I decided to go through with an idea that I'd had in the back of my mind for a while - convert a Chimera into the Warhammer 40K equivalent of a Second World War Soviet Su-76 self-propelled gun. Although it is now a legend, I figured I could just use the stats for the Salamander Scout Tank with its autocannon main armament and actually field it on the tabletop (along with my old Imperial Armour Salamander once I actually get it done!).
|Su-76 on display in Nizhny-Novgorod, Russia|
The photo above is of an actual late-model Su-76 on display at the Kremlin in Nizhny-Novgorod, Russia. I was there back in 2017 on business, and had an afternoon to take some photos. I've always liked the look of the vehicle and thought it would be relatively straightforward (well, relatively speaking) to create a Warhammer 40K version. I knew I couldn't do much with with the running gear as that is dictated by the Chimera kit, but I should be able to capture the essence of the fighting compartment, gun, and even distinctive fenders using sheet styrene and various bits from the extensive array of Games Workshop gubbins I've collected over the years.
|Track assemblies with vents opened|
For this conversion, I started with the track assemblies. As this is supposed to be a light, self-propelled vehicle and will be fielded as a scout vehicle, I decided to go ahead and open up the vents on the side of the track units. I started by simply snipping the triangular backs off with my clippers and then used a variety of metal files to open up the rectangular apertures.
|Rear of track assemblies - area is smoothed out enough|
From the front they look very clean, from the back - less so. I could have spent more time getting them completely smooth, but as this area won't be seen, it didn't seem worth it. Once I'd gotten the back reasonably flush, it was time to add some appropriate screen.
|Sides with screen added|
For this particular project I've used some Aber photoetched mesh I had lying around (shown in the photo below). I picked this up many (many!) years ago and have been slowly working through it. I'm not sure it's even still available. I took extra time to make sure I'd lined the photo-etched mesh up with the plastic grating on the original part. I used my thicker super-glue and accelerator to ensure the screens weren't ever going to go anywhere. Once the photo-etched mesh was in, I simply glued the halves of the track assembly together as per the normal instructions.
|Pay no attention to the excess behind the curtain!|
With the track units together, I moved on to the hull of the vehicle. The Su-76 has a relatively flat rear hull, so I had to make some adjustments to the kit parts as I didn't want the hull to extend as far as it does on the original Chimera kit. Using the angled plate from the Basilisk version alone wasn't an option either, as that would have been both too short and at the wrong angle.
|Hull bottom with trimmed rear plate|
I started by trimming down the plate which is glued to the rear of the hull from the Chimera kit. Once that was glued together, I went ahead and added the track units (and top hull) to get the basic vehicle chassis together. I then took the riveted plate which is typically used for the Basilisk and slightly sanded it down to create an angled rear plate.
|Assembled hull with modified riveted plate|
The angled plate was added to the rear of the vehicle bringing the rear hull up level with the guide rails for the Basilisk fighting compartment, as it is my intention to use those rails as the floor of the Su-76 "Salamander" fighting compartment.
|Assembled hull - bottom view|
Flipping the vehicle over, the basic hull is now complete (shown below).
|Assembled hull - top view|
At this point, only minor surgery has been required to get this build off of the ground, but now the fun (and challenge) really begins. In my next entry, I'll go through the assembly of the fighting compartment and gun. A third entry will provide details on final assembly. The fourth and final entry will show off the completed and painted model!