What started out as a concept study while working on the Nutcracker, has turned into its own build. I thought Kow hit a home run with the Merc Sandstalker designs. A recognizable vehicle like the German armored cars that can hover. That's a winner in my opinion. So I took the same basic concept and applied it to the Nutcracker.
This is easily the most involved model I have built, I tried a lot of new techniques, or improved on the ones I had. It's also the one I have fretted over the most over (and I'm still tweaking things after these photos) since the Nutcracker dio last year - what is it with these things. I still want to built another too. At the very last, I decided the fourth figure was unnecessary and had to go. I also ditched the air recognition panel. It was a nice bit of color, but the sculpt was not very good and I can't paint red very well. That last one's a lame excuse I know, but there you have it.
Hasegawa Nutcracker - Base
Dragon Kugelblitz - turret base and misc details
Dragon 250/9 Neu - driver station and misc.
Great Wall Hobbies Flak 43 - Main weapon and misc details
Dragon Nashorn - misc details
I started the build somewhat backwards. I assembled the Flak and fixed it into the Kugelblitz ball turret base with a frame made of bent brass and steel rod. When I was more or less happy with the position, I then decided to add the putty to build up the turret. This made the whole thing precarious to work with and more effort than it should have been. After I had the turret shaped, I then worked out the details for the gun and turret basket. The basic idea is based off a King Tiger fighting compartment.
Once I had the turret far enough along, it was time to work out the interior and the driver's bump out. The base exterior structure of the bump out is armored section of the driver's compartment from the first issue Dragon Nashorn. I grafted this onto the front of the hull and blended it with sheet styrene and epoxy putty. I added a crew access door based on the rear hull door from the 250 Neu. The interior was next and was quite a challenge to match the profiles and maintain any sort of 90 degree corner. I used various bits of styrene, and parts from numerous kits to busy up the interior. Since the only way to see all this detail will be to remove the turret, I needed to add some detail bits under the floor. These are various bits from the spars bin and most I have no idea when they came from since these were resin copies given to me a year or so ago. I did recognize one bit as a breech cover from a Flak 43, so I had to use it.
Then it was just a matter of adding more details to areas like the hatches and interior
I then turned my attention back to the exterior. All along I wanted to add a frame antenna like many of the early German command vehicles carried. These were phased out when technology improved, but I thought it would add a very nice detail to the model. The basic frame was made from soldered brass rod. The uprights are styrene tube and sheet detailed with pewter foil and solder wire. The uprights have not been fixed yet, so some things are not perfectly aligned yet. I've replaced most of the grab handles with bent brass rod and replaced the kit barrel with a machined Flak 37 barrel and flash suppressor from Aber.
The model finally has some paint. I applied random splotchy black and rusty red brown paint in areas where I planned to chip away the base coat of paint. I airbrushed hairspray over these areas and applied a base of Tamiya Dark Gray with a little highlight of Medium Gray. When dry to the touch, I stated chipping at the Gray with wet paint brushes and a toothpick. I waited for this to dry a couple of hours and airbrushed another coat of hairspray. Since my time was limited today, I only worked on a small area. I airbrushed a light splotchy coat of Tamiya Buff mixed with a bit of White. I immediatly started working this area over with wet paint brushes. I then went back and airbrushed some of the paint over the chipping to represent worn paint, tone down the sharp edges and add some interest.
Big time update:
I finished the sand camo coat. Francesco made a comment that confirmed an idea of going with a disruptive pattern for the camo. The Nut is a huge battle field target and it only made sense to try and break up the visual mass. Plus a huge tan model would have been pretty boreing. I also took some photos of the progress I've made on the interior. I used the same hairspray technique to create the worn fighting compartment. The smaller details were painted by hand. The dashboards and radios are going to be a royal pain to paint. When the weather was colder, I made progress on all of the gear which was painted with Vallejo acrylics. You will also note the wireing and battery pack in the base. The hand dug well was constructed from pink foam and air dry clay with small pebbles and sand glued and pressed into place.
Some weathering and some assembly
It was a big step to finally glue the turret basket to the turret. This means the bulk of the weathering for the basket is done. I've also finished the instrument panel on the gunner's seat. The dials are a combination of decals from the spares bin and Archer German Halftrack Instrument Faces. I also used these for the driver's compartment. The interior stencils are Archer's Stencils for the Tiger and Panther. These things ar so tiny. I used the instructions to place the stencils in appropriate places and not just radom locations.
On the exterior I've added an all over filter of brown to add some tonal differences to the base colors. I started working on some of the engine deck chipping and rust, but held off because so much of the gear will cover all of this.
I recieved the first figure for the dio - DAK Panzer Crew from CMK. I had the scene all planned out until I saw how natural the pose of this guy is. I'll have to wait for the rest of the figures to see how it all works out now.
Progress on the groundwork and details.
Progress is slow but progress is progress. After these shots, I fixed the hull bottom to the top and sealed it up. The bar for the well pully is styrene rod with bits of solder for the elbow joints. The pully is a model RR part. The barrel half is made from wine bottle foil forms over a styrene 55gal barrel half. The piece of corrugated is pie pan tin fomed over a piece of corrugated styrene and run through PCB etching solution. These were paintd with acrylics and rusted with pigments. The groundwork has been roughed in and painted.