Friday 23 February 2024

UFO Mothership

Back in august 2023 I took some hours off from serious modelling and built two UFO's for a quick fly-by over Nystrup Gravel. In need of a refreshing change from 1950's era modelling I have now finished the drones' mothership. Not a fancy flying one, but a humble Lada Niva model 1980 in Ukrainian pixel camouflage. Basically a simple repainting job to make the car match the drones and highlight that Russia''s full scale invasion of Ukraine has now been going on for 2 years. 

The finshed Ukrainian army Lada Niva parked across a narrow gauge line.

The Lada Niva was the world's first mass-produced off-road vehicle with a unibody construction. The Niva was initially aimed at the rural market much like the Land Rover, but later models also targeted urban users. As many other less than high profile car models the Lada has received cult status in certain sub-cultures exactly like the East German Trabant and IFA-lorry. 

The versatility of the Niva is shown to great effect here. A practical use of bonnet design enabeling long branches to be carried with no fuss.

The base for my model of the drone mothership is the Solido Lada Niva 'Vagabund' model 1980 in 1/18 scale. The model depicts a sporty version of the Niva without bumpers and with an added roof rack for storing equipment. Made in a heavy metal casting the detail is a bit soft, but shape and general design looks very fine. Details like mirrors and windshield wipers are made in soft plastic that makes them a bit more resilient to snapping than details in hard plastic (that on the other hand often looks better).

Straight out of the box and onto the layout for photography. The Niva crosses the tracks quite easily due to its high gound clearance.

First step in my conversion was to disassemble the car into four main assemblies: roof rack, interior, chassis and body. All markings on the body were removed with a cloth with acetone. Even if the body was to receive several layers of paint I was afraid that the printed markings could show through. Better safe than sorry. The rear lights and windows were masked with Tamiya masking tape while the head lights were simply removed. I only masked the windows and left the rubber edging free for over spraying.

The first layer of new paint was a black primer to make sure later paint would adhere properly. With smal squares of masking tape I built up the black part of the characteristic pixel camouflage. With the black squares in place I air brushed a light sand over the car and when dry, masked the formations to stand out in light sand. Then I air brushed a light green over the model and once that layer had dried I masked the squares to stand out in light green before I covered everything in dark green. After drying the camouflage masking was removed with tweezers. I kept the masking on windows and rear lights. After cleaning up a few edges on the camouflage pattern, I air brushed a layer of matt varnish over the body and finished with some light dusting of the lower parts with a light earth colour.

The model disassembled in four major assemblies.

The light sand paint is drying. The masked black areas can be made out around the door.

The camouflage masking squares have been removed. Some of the edges will have to be cleaned up by brush as paint has crept under the edges of the tape in places. Overall an acceptable result for a quick job.

The interior received a few quick bursts with two earth coloured paints through the air brush. I washed the floor with heavily diluted brown oil paint. The seats received a little air brushed wear. I added some fibre grass on the floor and in the trunk. Some card board from discarded boxes was glued to floor and seats and a shovel thrown on top. In the trunk some plastic tube painted olive drab partly covered with a tarpaulin from copper foil might just look like M 72 LAW anti tank weapons seen through the windows.

Interior before the body is mounted and fastened. A few minutes of adding detail helps add some realism to the interior.

Bringing much needed LAWs to the brothers in the front line.

I removed the jerry cans on the roof rack and disguised the holes left by their mountings with a rolled up camouflage net. I rolled some first aid gauze around a little block of styrofoam and soaked it in diluted white glue. While the glue was still wet I placed strips of white paper randomly on the roll. Once fully dried the roll was painted dark green and the paper strips picked out in different shades of greens. 

Finally I removed the masking on windows and rear lights and painted three white crosses as recognition markings. Then I gave the car a wash of heavily diluted black oil paint. After the wash had dried, I air brushed another layer of dust over the car. Finally I fitted the front lights and painted some scratches with a light green colour on exposed locations on the car. These small cars receive a beating near the front lines. The roof rack was fixed in place and the car ready for display.

Southern Ukraine is flat and criss-crossed by tree lines.

Despite the camo repaint in a Ukrainian garage, the guys painting the Lada left the logo intact. The spot light cover is a reminder of happier times...

Drone in the air!

One of the sub-cultures that have taken the Niva to heart are the supporters of hardbass music. A lovely Niva with Adidas-stripes feature in the music video to the tune 'Slav King'. See the video here and remember to turn sound on to enjoy a few minutes of hardbass!

The ever popular Adidas stripes have spread to the Niva! 'Boris' on his ride in true gopnik squat-style.

While the Niva has been a fun modelling project the war in Ukraine is bloody and cruel. Think about that while sitting at your cozy worktable modelling. You may even be able to donate a small sum for some much needed humanitarian help to Ukrainians rather than adding another kit to the stash of unbuilt models?

No comments:

Post a Comment