Hammer's Slammers: Model vehicle modelling

Original design blueprints from which resin models were made
The research from the author's books and design for the bespoke Slammers vehicles was carried out during 1998/1999 and this material sent to Ground Zero Games who wanted to add material of this type to their range.

Having obtained the basic vehicles, the first task, then, was to look into how they could be improved. When a model vehicle is manufactured for wargaming as opposed to military modelling, they tend to be a little basic in places. Most historical wargaming vehicle kits are simpler than their military modelling counterparts but one of the easiest items to add to jazz up a vehicle model is stowage.
Original design blueprints from which resin models were made

A rack of jerry cans as added stowage on a Blower turret

Any reference material of vehicles in combat shows that, in very short order, crews cover their mounts - which, after all, are their temporary homes and transport as well as fighting vehicles - in all manner of gear. I used a lot of photographic reference material of Israeli AFV's over the last 30 years and American vehicles in Vietnam, all of which showed them very heavily laden with stowage. But where does one get "stowage", what sort should one use and where should one stick it?
Stowage and bustle on the turret of a Maus
For SF vehicles, fortunately, there are two good sources: GZG themselves (01449 722 322), and a company called Marbeth (01283 814984 ) who - aside from making their own excellent range of resin SF vehicles - make extra stowage for them. "Kit" from these companies takes two forms: bigger items are in resin, including some bigger gun barrels (especially some nicely moulded ones from Marbeth), but smaller items tend to be in white metal.

Both these manufacturers make boxes for missiles and their launch systems - as seen on the turret sides of some modern AFV's. All of these items are useful but can be added to. For example' various manufacturers make packs of 1/72 scale aircraft missiles for superdetailing modern aircraft which make useful additions to SF aircraft or on launch rails on vehicles. Spare helmets look good and - if you want one from a specific figure - they can be clipped or sawn off the little chaps themselves, though that's an expensive way of doing things. Chain and hawsers often look effective and can be added from thin nylon cord soaked in glue (PVA or super glue) and small lengths of cheap jewellery chain, similarly soaked in cyanoacrylate.

Aerials can be added from thin wire with their bases secured in the vehicle by drilling a hole with a mini drill.
Hatches and fragile weapons should be drilled and pined, not just stuck on
Model vehicles sometimes come with white metal hatches which can be glued in the 'shut' position or - with or without a crew figure - can be glued 'open'. 'Open', in this case, could mean flat with the hull or at 45 or 90 degrees, depending on taste, but - in either of those latter, non flush with the hull positions - the hatch is just gagging to be snapped off if all that's holding it on is a line of glue at the 'hinge' point. Original design blueprints from which metal models were made
This is a good example of an item that needs a cut down dress making pin to hold it on, and - to fit that - you'll need to drill a hole: a mini drill is a handy tool to use for this. Cut the point off of the pin with pliers until you have, say, 7-10mm of pin with a blunt, cut end opposite the remaining pin head. Then take a small drill bit - 0.5mm or so - and carefully (so as not to snap the fragile drill bit) drill through the hatch at the hinge and into the resin vehicle. Insert the pin using superglue and, when dry, you'll have a join that'll break the hatch rather than allow it to snap off the vehicle.
Completed Combat Car with the 'splinter shield' in place: CLICK HERE to go to the page that deals with this vehicle
Back with stowage; in the real world, crew tend to hang kit on the outside of crew compartments, which - not being designed by soldiers - are usually excessively cramped and this practice will probably continue in the future. Grab handles were added to vehicles where appropriate: these are usually made from brass wire or pins bent into a 'U' shape and drilled and glued into place. These can be placed where the crew would need them: on the route up from the ground to the turret or the rear decking on tanks seem to be good spots. Often, the crew will then hang items from these grab rails - packs, water bottles etc - which looks good on a model.

Slammers' tanks need a bustle added to the rear of the turret and the Combat Car - essentially an open topped vehicle somewhat like a WW2 half track - needs the "splinter shield" that Drake describes in his books. These are things that are difficult to make satisfactorily in resin or white metal so a scratch build is needed. The bustle is relatively easy to make as numerous examples can be found on modern AFV's: typically they are a mesh basket that sits on the back of the turret and - sometimes - comes around the rear sides as well. They tend to be big enough to hold jerry cans and strong enough to have yet more kit hung on their own outside.

The "splinter shield" was another matter, though… this was described in the books as a beryllium net shield above the fighting compartment which was there to stop (not suprisingly) shell splinters and similar but which, inevitably, became used as a 'roof rack' for extra crew stowage. Fitted are a pair of hoops that went from front to back on both sides of the fighting compartment.

Mesh for the splinter shield could come from a number of sources. An easy route would be to use the aluminium mesh used in repairing car bodies. This material has many advantages: it's quite cheap; it's easy to work with and it is available on most high streets. The problem is that, frankly, the mesh is rather big, meaning that shell splinters would have to be quite substantial to be stopped by mesh of this gauge.

Alternatively, EMA (01932 228228) are a company who manufacture architectural supplies and produce a mail order catalogue which lists a wealth of good stuff. They have a minimum order of £10 or so and, aside from 'wargamer friendly' items like trees, hedges, flock and the like, they do ranges of piping and tubing which is superb for industrial buildings and similar (this was used for the manufacture of the scenery used on the game).

Original design blueprints from which resin models were made
They also manufacture etched brass metal mesh with a small hex shaped grid (looking a bit like chicken wire: code F54). This was used for the Combat Car shields. A different mesh (F49) with square holes was used for the bustles and baskets. The mesh sheets are around perhaps 150mm by 75mm which is enough for roughly four combat cars or a huge number of bustles. Brass wire was used for the hoops.
Completed Combat Car: CLICK HERE to go to the page that deals with this vehicle

The hoops and bustle support frames were bent to a pattern I drew after a degree of trial and error. The frames were glued into four drilled holes on the rear of the tank turrets and the splinter shield hoops were glued into the corners of the Combat Car's fighting compartments. The mesh was then cut to a pattern with scissors and bent into place with pliers. Finally, the mesh was glued carefully using super glue. Patience is required, here, so as not to fill in the fine mesh with glue (or - later on - paint and varnish).

As a final point, the tank bustles were filled with kit which was carefully glued to itself but not to the bustle. This was so that, when filled up, the bustle contents could be removed as a unit; painted outside of the vehicle, and then stuck back in when the vehicle itself was painted. This meant that paint did not have to be poked through the wire mesh onto the kit within.
Original design blueprints from which resin models were made
All vehicles were produced by Ground Zero Games, figures by GZG and Denizen miniatures and terrain was scratch built.

Photography and site development by John Treadaway.
Click here for Modelling, Conversions - part 1 , part 2, & part 3, Painting & Finishing, Scenery, Game rules, Figures