Thursday 12 March 2015

Building two Steel Pill Boxes (1/35)

Having found an image of Nystrup Gravel's small O&K steam loco transporting two pill boxes I just had to build those in 1:35. Fortunately Polish kit manufacturer RPM does a kit of exactly that type of German pill box. That the kit isn't very good is not too disturbing. It has the right shapes and provides a good starting point. As the kit is cheap the relationship between price and quality is certainly within an acceptable envelope.
No peaceful box art for this kit. Not usually seen on my work table...

I assembled the main parts of the pill box according to the instructions. I skipped all interior parts. They are by far the worst in the kit and as I needed the two pill boxes 'closed up' for transport any work on the interior would be a waste of time. I'm not keen on spending time modelling stuff that I can't see when the model is complete. Before closing op the models I glued in a generous amount of old screws. This results in some nice heavy pill boxes that will keep their position once placed on a flat wagon. I had quite good help and info on the kit and assembly from my Brazilian modelling friend Marcos Serra. He has recently built two pill boxes and I used his blog posts as a guide. You can see them here (with an Opel 1,5 ton lorry) and here (with an armoured recovery vehicle).
Basic pill boxes from the RPM kit.

With the main parts fitted I applied plastic putty to the seams and sink marks. I sanded everything smooth before I added a thin layer of thinned plastic putty with an old stiff short haired brush. I used my standard plastic glue to thin the plastic putty. The glue/putty mix stippled on is supposed to look like a rough cast surface. I think that only the top part of the pill box was cast, so I applied the mix only to the top. The seam lines from the mould were done with stretched sprue - glued on before the putty was applied. Where I had overdone the cast effect I sanded the surface lightly.

Primed pill boxes after my putty treatment to mimic a rough cast effect.
As the pill boxes around the German air field were being installed in the autumn of 1944 I guess they were painted according to the then standard German paint scheme. I used colours from Vallejo's Air series that are premixed and ready for use in the airbrush. I didn't research the colours but chose colours (sand yellow, green and rust brown) readily available from my paint drawer.

Freshly painted pill boxes. I had great fun camouflaging the steel turrets.
When the paint was dry I gave the pill boxes a wash with heavily diluted oil paints. This changes the hues of the colours and make the colours blend a bit together. When the wash had dried I added a little ground up pastel chalk to mimic a dusty surface.

Finished pill box fitted on wooden stringers and placed on one of my flat wagons. The wooden structure that has sneaked into the picture is completely unrelated to the pill box. It is part of the shelf system to be installed in my grounded standard gauge van.

Now I can run a very unusual train on my 1:35 narrow gauge railway. By no way a train that will run often, but it will be a nice contrast to all the serious traffic of skips. And a reminder, that German authorities were planning to continue the fight against the Allies in Denmark. Fortunately that situation never materialized due to a combination of swift British action (including a dashing ride by T-Force) and sensible German commanders.

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