It began when my brother spotted a range of 1:72 scale plastic armoured vehicles at a 7-11 going for about US$2 each. He sent me a photo of the boxes. Out of the five he showed me, only one was usable for WW2 - the rest were post-WW2 vehicles. Thinking it would be a cheap gamble, I asked him to get me two of the JSU-152 so I can build one as a gaming model and wreck one for terrain - I mean, look at the box art, right?
Well, as it turned out, the model bears only a slight resemblance to the depiction on the box art and thus the actual vehicle. Thanks a lot, Xi Jinping.
You can find a picture of how the model looks like built 'as is' on google, but this is what I ended up with on my first attempt. I had to fill in holes on the sides of the gun mantle which were there for no apparent reason, add a plate to the top of the gun (the white plastic card), add a vision port (couldn't figure out an easy way to add a convincing headlight), and shave off the extra material on the side of the crew compartment that passed for the grab rings and the entrenching tools.
|"That's no JSU-512..."|
The model had the general shape of the JSU-152, but a closer inspection shows that the front of the mud guard extended too far forward, the front drive wheels are too far back, and the extra fuel tanks are too short and didn't rest on the correct brackets. There was no attempt at modeling the crew entry hatche. The wheels are of course all wrong in shape, size, and even numbers, and the tracks lacked any detail. My brother correctly guessed that the lower half of the model is in fact common for probably all the models in the series, as further googling showed. On that thought I decided to check the dimensions, and found that the model is a little too wide by scale, and almost a full cm shorter once I cut off the excess mud guard.
After some thinking I decided I cannot use such a model as a gaming model, but I could still use it as a wreck. To that end I cut off the stubs for the fuel tanks, removed the hull MG, and removed the excess wheels and tracks. I also scored along the engine access at the rear and cut the hatch off and then glued it back slightly ajar.
|Again, the keys to modeling a wrecked or damage vehicle: doors or hatches open, MGs removed, and something awry with the wheels or tracks.|
I thought I would model it as a wreck that has been exposed for a while, so I decided to try my hand at salt weathering again. This time round, I made it a point to create a more varied rust appearance than I did in my first attempt.
I sprayed the whole model red brown, then dabbed a different shade of red brown and a dark brown all over it, and finally some orange on the edges. This was the end result.
|It looks like it is more at home at the bottom of a coral reef than a battlefield.|
After some salting, I sprayed it Olive Drab, and when the paint was just about dry I scrubbed the salt off and then washed it under a tap. The washing gave the paint a rough finish.
|Looks almost good enough to be on the end of Dr Pym's keychain, don't you think?|
So now the wreck is half done. Needs a black wash and some brown stains.
But to go back a bit, after I found out how poor a representation this model was of a real JSU-152, I decided I had to get a better kit. My choice was the Italeri boxed set that comes with two models: one "standard", and the other a quick-build wargaming model. The set will come with three sets of decal, which will give let me apply one set on the 4D model. At the urging of my gang, I will attempt to depict an anti-tank round damage on the model by putting a hole on the hull and then spraying some black paint as soot around it. I will do this after applying the decals, which means this project will have to wait a couple of weeks before I can finish it. In the mean time I will muddy up the wheels to further disguise their inaccuracy.
Stay tuned for Part II.