In the first installment of this series I detailed assembly of the track units and lower hull of my Chimera Su-76 conversion. In this installment we throw caution to the wind and start building up the fighting compartment. I then move on to the gun which was another entertaining exercise. Since on of the clear defining features of the actual Su-76 is its prominent fenders, I decided to go with the track guards from the Astra Militarum Tank Accessories sprue. The fit on these isn't perfect, and I ended up needing two sets to do what I really wanted to do with the tracks. I ended up sawing off one to create a double row of rivets on both sides.
|Plan view of an early Su-76|
One of the hallmarks of the Su-76, and part of the reason I like it so much, is the asymmetry of the vehicle. In some versions, even the angle of the two sides of the fighting compartment is different. The gun is offset to the left-hand side of the vehicle and the exhausts run to the opposite side of the vehicle. I decided to capture this feel as best I could on the Chimera by first creating different angles for the left and right side armor and offsetting the main gun to the left as on the original.
|Upper hull with track guards and front armored plate|
With the front plate cut out of plastic card, it was time to cut the two side plates. These, along with the floor which was cut from Plastruct diamond tread plate, formed the basis of the whole fighting compartment. I used some angle styrene from Evergreen and (as can be seen below) trimmed back the rivet detail on the track guards as this would form part of the base of the fighting compartment.
|Side armor panes and evidence of a really deep bits box dive!|
As I didn't want to simply have a featureless fighting compartment floor, I went ahead and added a couple of doors to the bottom. These particular beauties come from the old hunter-killer missile from the original Rhino kit from the Rogue Trader days. I've got so many of these old sprues still kicking around, I decided to go ahead and grab a couple. Keep an eye out as other parts from that set will be adaptively re-used!
|Front and side armor assembled!|
With the front and side armor attached to the vehicle, it was time to move on to building the rest of the fighting compartment. Once again, this involved a fairly deep dive into the bits box, liberal use of the Astra Militarum Tank Accessories, and even adaptive re-use of disused parts of the Chimera kit.
|Rear view with fighting compartment door|
The rear hull and sides are more plastic sheet. I opened up the back and added a door for fighting compartment entry and egress. I ended up punching a lot of rivets using an old Waldron sub-miniature punch and die set for the door hinges. The fighting compartment also received a track unit door from one of the old-style Leman Russ kits (if you add the sponsons you always had two extra doors) as well as liberal use of the Leman Russ grab handles.
|Front detail of fighting compartment|
I added a vision port to the front of the fighting compartment which is actually over an aperture in the plate itself. The cover was taken from the back of the Chimera rear hatch along with several other bits. I modified an antenna mount to go with the radio which will ultimately be installed in the vehicle as well. The placement of the radio is roughly analogous to that in the original vehicle.
|The wireless is wired up (or something like that)|
I even went so far as to run a length of copper wire from the antenna bracket to the inside of the fighting compartment so it would look as if the radio was actually wired to the antenna. Yes - I probably need professional help!
|Fighting Compartment essentially done|
I added a reinforcement along the top of the opening for the main gun, which is just the angle and rivets from the rear of the Chimera kit. I also grabbed a handle from the rear hatch which would serve to open or close the vision port. Throw in a bunch more individually punched rivets where the welded fighting compartment meets the riveted vehicle, and the fighting compartment is pretty much done!
|Gun - rough initial assembly|
With the fighting compartment complete - it was time to move on to the gun. I "borrowed" the muzzle brake from a Leman Russ kit and mated it to a length of styrene tube to act as the gun barrel. I then wanted to replicate the large mantelet on the original Su-76, so I added a couple of styrene plates cut to shape.
|Gun with mantelet|
Once the front and back plates were attached, I used thin strip styrene and green stuff to flesh out the rest of the mantelet. This took a fair amount of carving and sanding, but the end result is a reasonable facsimile of the original and gives the same sort of feel.
|Full gun assembly|
For the final gun assembly, I used an autocannon from the Cadian Heavy Weapon set. I put tubing over the front lets to make it look as if there was a hydraulic system, and then I borrowed one of the hydraulic sets from the rear of the Chimera kit so it looks more like a vehicle-mounted, rather than tripod-mounted, autocannon. I added a gun shield and some additional details - which you'll see in their full glory in tomorrow's entry! Stay tuned!