Thursday, 28 November 2013

Making Ford F30s for the LRDG – Part Two: Building The Model

In Part 1 of this article I introduced the LRDG Ford F30. Now I’m going to show you how to make one of them for your Flames of War Raiding Force.

Choosing a Model

After having a good look at the available models, the one I chose to convert was Battlefront’s Breda portee BR156. There were two good reasons to choose this one over some of the others. First of all, the cab of the model comes in pieces – in particular the roof is separate from the main resin body. This is very helpful. Secondly, the connection between the cab and the bed of the truck is reasonably thin – this means that comparatively little work with a razor saw is required to separate the two, and also the casting detail on the chassis can be retained by some judicious sawing. The flat bed being open and not covered and not having anything cast inside it was also an essential requirement.

There were also a couple of added bonuses. One, the spare wheel on the Breda portee is cast between the cab and the bed, so again using the saw carefully, can be removed and used in the stowage. And two (and this is just because I hate wastage), I could use the spare Breda gun to scratch-build a ground-mounted 20/53 gun to add to one of my mid-war Bersagliere platoons. Nice. But that’s another article.

What Needs to be Done

The main changes made by the LRDG to the Ford F30 which need to be modelled are:
- Removal of the bonnet to expose the engine to the air
- Removal of the cab roof, windscreen and doors
- Raising the suspension at the rear of the truck
- Modelling the bespoke truck bed
- Addition of a condenser on one of the vehicle running boards
- Addition of sand channels and matting

The tyres used by the LRDG were actually wider but if you compare the Breda portee model’s tyres with the ones on Battlefront’s Chevrolet trucks you find the Chevrolet ones aren’t, but are actually cast a little smaller.  In reality the tyres were the same on both models, so for convenience I’ve retained the wheels from the Breda portee model unchanged.

The model also needs to be equipped with machine guns, a driver and crew, and a lot of stowage of all sorts of types.

You Will Need

The tools for the job are:
- Modelling knife
- Cutting board
- Razor saw
- Files
- Miniature drill with drill and burring bits
- Pin vice to use small drill bits manually
- A breathing mask (it’s going to get dusty)
- Some good cyanoacrylate glue to assemble the model

To make one LRDG Ford F30 you will also need:
- One Battlefront Breda portee model BR156
- Plastic card
- Milliput (or green stuff, but Milliput is a lot cheaper)
- A very short piece of roughly 1mm diameter metal rod
- Various odds and ends from your bit box. Specifically, some British, LRGD or commando figures, some extra wheels with tyres of the same size as those on the Breda Portee model, some appropriate machine guns (if you have previously bought any LRDG or SAS models you will probably have plenty of suitable spares), and as much random stowage as you can get your hands on. Jerry cans, canvass rolls, boxes, steel helmets, guns, and all that sort of thing.
- Some bandage stocking or similar material and some PVA glue to make camo netting

Step One: Preparation

Open up the box and sort out the pieces as in the photo. You won’t be using the bits on the left – the Breda gun assembly and gunner, the windscreen or the roof - so you can put these away in your bit box. Clean up the remaining pieces, removing the flash from the metal. Use the drill to remove bits of rough resin cast, especially under the mudguards.

It’s a really good idea now to wash all the bits in slightly soapy water and dry them thoroughly. Washing them removes grease left on the resin from the casting process and cleans up the metal as well. This not only makes them take paint easier later, the bits will also stick better when you glue them. And I guarantee you won’t want to wash the model later after it’s made.

Step Two: Exposing The Engine

This is probably the trickiest part of making the model sand is easiest done first when the masin resin body is in one large piece.

You need to drill out the bonnet completely so that you have a rectangular hole in its place. This will produce a lot of resin dust, so make sure you wear the mask and keep your work area well ventilated. Use a small burring bit and go at it very carefully. You do not want to damage the radiator and you want to retain a thin wall between the back of the engine compartment and the cab proper where the driver sits. Take your time about this as the results will be worth it.

When you’re done, and the dust has cleared, use the saw to cut the cab rear off at the height of the seat tops. Then drill away the cab doors to remove them. This will be very easy as the resin is quite thin.
Finally, use a small drill bit held manually in a pin vice to drill a hole in the corner of the side of the cab in front of the passenger seat. The hole should be big enough to take the stem of one of the machine guns you have found. Take great care in drilling this hole as the resin is liable to shatter if you press too hard.
Set the cab aside and take your plastic card. You’ll need to cut some pieces out of this and stick them together to make the engine. The photo above gives an idea of what you’re trying to make it look like, and the bits of plastic card you’ll need to cut and stick together.

You’ll want about four identical small rectangles of plastic card in a stack, one narrower rectangle on top, one shaped piece with rounded edges above it and a really small circular bit to go on the top. This is quite fiddly so you may have to do it several times before you get it to look right. Again, be patient, it will be worth it in the end.

Drilled engine compartment with scratch-built model engine
Step Three: The Truck Bed

First, cut back the sides of the rear wheel mudguards on the truck bed by about 1mm and remove the raised detail on the rear panel. Then saw away a section of the centre of the rear panel of the truck bed, to make it look like the picture below.

Take the main resin body of the truck. You’re going to need to make two cuts into this using the razor saw, and then use the drill to separate the two pieces completely, so as to separate the cab and the truck bed. The first cut is the easiest, from the bottom of the truck bed just behind the fuel tank up to the base of the track bed. Then turn the truck body over and make a second, longer cut directly down between the back of the cab and the spare wheel. Stop above the chassis as you want this to stay connected to the cab.
Now things are going to start to get dusty again so have the mask handy.

Using the drill, carefully cut away between the chassis and the truck bed so that both pieces separate. Be careful drilling the resin as it comes away surprisingly easily and where it is thin it’s easily broken.
Using the razor saw carefully cut off the spare wheel. You can keep this for use in the stowage. When the pieces have all separated, tidy up the edges with a file. It should all end up looking something like the picture below.

Step Four:  Assembling the Truck

The next step is to reconstruct the truck body. To do this, press a rectangular strip of Milliput underneath the centre of the truck bed. Press the cab section into this so that it attaches slightly closer than it did before, so that there is a gap between the rear of the cab and the front of the track bed but that this is not big enough to accommodate the spare wheel. Add Milliput to extend the line of the chassis along the underside of the track bed to the rear wheels. Press the rear wheels into the Milliput to make new attachment points in the Milliput, lower than and immediately below the cast attachment points in the resin track bed. This will ensure that when the wheels are attached there is a bigger gap between them and the track bed, effectively raising the truck’s rear suspension. When you’re happy with this, remove the cab (you will want to glue this in place later when the Milliput is dry) and cut some strips of plastic card to make the compartments at the lower edges of the track bed. You can fill up to these with Milliput. Set the truck bed aside for the Milliput to dry. I recommend leaving it overnight.

At this point you can glue the engine in place inside its compartment.

When the Milliput has dried on the truck bed you can glue the cab and the truck bed together.

Now glue the wheels of the truck in place. Cut some slightly smaller pieces of plastic card to simulate the doors of the lower compartments and to add detail to the rear panel.

The final addition to the truck proper is the radiator condenser. This was a cylindrical object which was attached to the radiator but sat on the running board on the driver’s side running board just behind the door opening in front of the truck bed. You can easily cut this from a rolled cylinder of Milliput, and then attach it in position when it’s dry.

And that’s it – you’re now the proud owner of a 15mm LRDG Ford F30.

Now that you’ve got a truck, in Part 3 I will describe how to add the important finishing touches.