Building and Detailing Alan's Flammpanzer IID
Chris Leeman (photos by Jeff Wilson)
A short history
The Flammpanzer II D was the first specifically designed flamethrower tank of the Whermacht and was officially known as the Panzerkampfwagen II (Flamm) SdKfz 122.
It was decided after the French campaign that there was a need for a purpose built Flammpanzer for use in supporting infantry and flushing out bunkers and strong points. The Panzer II D was obsolete by this time and it was decided to use the remaining chassis to build these new tanks. MAN carried out the chassis modifications while the new turret and superstructure design was carried out by Daimler Benz. Approximately 150 of these tanks were completed before production was ceased in March 1942.
The Flammpanzer had a 160 litre oil tank which was sufficient for 80 bursts of 2 to 3 second durations. Propulsion for the flame bursts was from four tanks of nitrogen stored in armored compartments on each side of the tank. Due to the low pressure of the nitrogen the Flammpanzer could only shoot a jet of flame up to 35 meters. Due to this limited range, the highly flammable fuel and the tanks thin armor casualties were high amongst the crews of these vehicles. One of the interesting developments of D series of tanks was it was the first to use the horizontal torsion bar suspension which became the norm on later German tank designs.
The Alan kit (No 010) was released about a year and a half-ago now. When I heard it was coming out I knew I just had to get one. I have always liked the look of this vehicle. I purchased mine example from NKR models in Ballarat and for about $30.00 Aus which I considered good value for money.
The model comes molded in light gray plastic. It has individual track links (which are nicely molded with open guide horns) a small photoetched grill for the exhaust and a small decal sheet with markings for one vehicle. The quality of the molding is quite good. Like most of these former Easter Block kits they give you a good basis for a model. Some of the detail is very good, some a little crude. Personally I feel these companies should be congratulated for producing kits that people have been wanting for ages at a very reasonable price. Sure, they arent Tamiya or Dragon in molding quality, but with a little work a very nice model can be produced.
Building the Model
The first step in the instructions deals with areas of the kit that have to be removed and where holes have to be drilled for certain parts. A lot of the parts in this kit are the same as the ones in the other Alan kits of the basic Mk II D and the Marder II D. When removing the fender braces at the front, dont worry to much about loosing detail on the fenders as this will be covered by the new armored side bins. With the ones at the rear you have to be a little more careful although the smoke dischargers will cover most of these. Be careful when removing the front guards, you need a nice straight cut due to new guards having to be added later.
The second step in the instructions is putting the major components of the hull together. The rear hull panel (part A 56) has a lot of injector pin marks in it. These of course are on the side that faces out while the inside surface is perfectly smooth! Due to the detail on this part I considered it easier to shave off the detail and build a new plate out of 40 thou card then glue on the previously removed details. The extensions at the front of the hull (parts A 33 and A 34) for the final drive housings dont fit that well and I had to use some putty to blend these in with the hull sides. Also I replaced the bolt detail on the insides of this parts, as detail molded on was a little soft. I did this with bolts made from the Waldron punch and die set. Just a quick word on punch & die sets. If you do scratchbuilding or detail work when you model these sets are invaluable. Yes they are expensive, but with a little care will last a lifetime and give you a never ending source of bolts and rivets. There are also some sets made that produce hexagonal bolt heads. The front inspection hatches (parts A 46,47,48 & 49) had sink marks on all the hinges and these need to be filled and sanded. The rear engine hatches (parts C13) seemed to sit to high when installed so I sanded these down so they fitted flush with the height of the rear deck. The top deck (part A 53) needed a couple of things done to it. When the turret is fitted, the rear hole is visible. I filled this with plastic card and sanded it smooth. I added a brace of stiff card at the rear of this part as it has no lip to sit in and is quite flexible. All the molded on lifting hooks were removed and replaced them with etched ones for Panzer I & IIs from Show Modeling (set No 031). I added bolts to the lifting hooks from the punch & die set. The notek light mount was shaved off and replaced with a base made from brass strip bent to shape and a new notek light from the Tamiya on Vehicle equipment set (no 35185). Bolt heads were added once again with the punch and die set.
Step 3 deals mostly with the wheels plus a couple of smaller parts. I used a horn from the Tamiya set instead of the kit part (A 38) as it had better detail. The front towing lugs (part C 16) need bolts added to the top and bottom of them. There was a nasty sink mark in the middle of the drive sprocket (part C 3). I filled these with putty, sanded smooth and replaced the bolt detail with the trusty punch & die set.
Step 4 deals with the smoke dischargers. There a few things to do to improve this area. First of all, the mounting arms (parts c 77 & 78) need a couple of mm taken off the top of them so the bottom edge of part B 58 & B 59 (the base for mounting the smoke dischargers) sits flush with the lip that goes around the outside of the mounting arms. The smoke discharger heads were drilled out and small wing nuts were added to each one from the Aber wing nut set (35 A26). The vehicle I was basing this model on has steel guards mounted on the outside of the smoke dischargers. I made these out of 5 thou card. I cut out the basic shape then rounded the corners with a file as per the references I had. I glued them on then added bolt heads with the punch and die set.
Step 5 deals with fitting of some of the smaller parts. I rebuilt the braces for the rear mudguards (parts A 43 & 44). This was done by first shaving off the kit brace. Then I made new braces with 5 thou card. There is a small triangular brace on top of the main brace, which I made from lead foil, then detailed them with punch and die bolts. The bracket for the spare track (B 72) on the rear was replaced with one made from wire, sprue and plastic strip. The two rear lights (parts A 41 & A 55) and the aerial base (part B 65) were replaced with ones from the Tamiya vehicle set. I also added a power wire to both lights from lead fly tying wire. If you can get hold of this stuff, do it. It is fantastic. It comes in different gauges and is so subtle and conforms to any shape or curve with no effort what so ever. Being lead based it has no spring in it and keeps what ever shape you put it in. There is a curved deflector (part A 37) on the rear which has some real nasty sink marks in the inner face of it that need to be removed. Because they are in such a difficult place to reach I used super glue and baking soda to fill them. It was then a case of just slowing sanding until the excess was removed. The muffler (A 50) needs to have its outlet pipe drilled out. Also the instructions shows a pipe extending from the center of the muffler and leading up under the rear deck. This feature isnt included in the actual kit part! I added this with plastic rod. The smoke discharger on the rear needs a little extra work. I removed the bottom of the part (A 39) and added smoke tubes from plastic rod. I also added bolts to the mounting brace. Next to the rear engine hatches are four curved braces (parts C 7) for wrapping the towing cable around. Now the problem with these is that the curve is actually molded the wrong way around even though the instructions show them the right way. I pondered how to fix this problem for a while. I then came up with a solution. I found in my spare parts box a curved splash guard from a old Tamiya SdKfz 251 ausf C. I sanded down its thickness and its height, cut four segments of the same size and attached them, problem solved. I made a tow cable out of twisted wire and lead foil. I used a bracket from the Aber tool holders 1943 set (35 A03) for the securing bracket for the towropes. I added a pintle to the towing shackle at the rear with wire and then added a chain from Campbells' beautiful scale chain. The armored boxes for the nitrogen tanks (parts B 57 & 69) were attached and the handles (part C 47) were replaced with brass wire.
Step six deals with the turret. The first thing I noticed is, if you mount the front visors were the kit suggests, they protrude too far out on the sides. I filled and sanded the recesses on the front of the turret. I then sanded away the step on the back of the visors (part C 21) and glued them on a little closer to the center of the turret. I also added some conical nut heads (from Grandt line) to the outsides of the visors. The turret lifting hooks were replaced with the Show Modelling items mentioned a few paragraphs before. I added some more conical nut heads above and below the side and rear vision visors. I used a pyrogauve to add all the weld seams seen on the turret. The hatch detail on the inside is non existent. Now I had to use a bit of "gizmology" for this area because I could find no reference to how the real hatch looked. I first added a sealing strip around the edge with thin wire. The vision block (part B71) is OK but needs a bit of detail. I added plastic strip around its base and bolt heads from the punch and die set. I added an opening handle made from brass strip and disks from the punch and die set again. The only other thing was to drill out the machine gun barrel.
The last step deals with fitting the last bits and pieces. The turret splashguard was glued on and welds added with the pyro. The bases for the flame turrets (C 23) were added and then the turrets themselves were glued on. I replaced the flame tubes with ones from metal tubing. I added bases for the lights (part C 17) from brass strip and wire for the power leads that run up the side of the fenders. The front fender extensions (parts B 67 & B 68) are all wrong. The first thing I did was extend the inside faces with 5 thou plastic card. The fenders should sit back further than the kit items allow. I sanded a notch into the fenders so they would sit about 3mm further back. I then added plastic strip around the edges of the guards. The jack (part A 54) has some nasty sink marks in it. I filled and sanded them. I then added various size disks with the punch and die set to replace the detail removed when sanding. I added new brackets from the Tamiya OVE set. The last thing I did was add the boxes on the rear fenders. The smaller box is a resin item from The Tank Workshop. I detailed this with wire loops on the latches and added a photoetched padlock from the spares box. The mounting braces were made from brass strip bent to shape. The long box on the other side was made with plastic card. The hinges were made with lead foil and bolts from the punch and die set. The latches were from the Verlinden buckle set, with wire loops and a photoetched padlock added again. The braces were again from brass strip.
The model was painted with Tamiya acrylics. The panzer grey was a mixture of panzer grey (XF-63) and Blue (X-4) with a few drops of Tamiya Flat base (X-21). This gives a nice bluish sheen, which is closer to the original color. I added a mud texture to the lower hull with Spak-Filla, static grass and colored with Van Dyke Brown artists gouache. I just used a cut down brush to speckle it on. I painted the lower hull with Tamiya flat earth. I let this bleed up the side, as I wanted the tank to have a dusty appearance. I then give all the recesses a wash with Van Dyke Brown gouache, diluted with water and a drop of dishwashing liquid to allow it to flow easier. All the excess was wiped of cotton buds. I then drybrushed it all with a combination of Humbrol Tank Grey (No 67) and Titanium white oil paint. The wheels were sprayed Tamiya flat Earth (XF-52), and then I painted the rubber rims with Gunze Tire Black (H 77). After this was dry, I put tape around the edges of the wheels then gave them a light dusting with the flat earth again. When the tape was removed it leaves a nice dark black surface (simulating where the wheel rubs on the track) while the outside "rubber" is dusty in appearance. I then lightly drybrushed this with Humbrol Matt Ochre (No 83) and white oil paint, The tracks were sprayed a dark brown mixture (it was a color I mixed up using dark browns, red, black ECT. I can remember what I used, sorry!). When they are dry, I drybrush them with Tamiya Metallic grey (XF-56). I then glue all the links together and fit them on. The tracks are quite nice with only a small amount of flash to clean up. They went together with no problems. I also drybrushed the teeth of the drive sprocket and the inner faces of the idler wheels with Tamiya Metallic grey to show worn metal. Once all this was done I then flat coated the entire model with Gunze flat coat (H 20). This is the best flat coat I have ever tried. If you want a dead flat finish, this is the stuff you need. After twenty-four hours I then went over all the nooks and grannies of the models with a tan colored pastel chalk to give the model a nice dusty look.
The base was very simple. A friend of mine made the wood base from craft wood, routing the edges to give a nice look (Thankyou Bob). I stained it with furniture stain to give it a nice color. I had to use a couple of coats as the wood really sucks it in. I gave it a couple of days to dry then added a layer of Spak-Filla. For people who dont know what Im talking about, Spak-Filla is a putty used to fill cracks in walls. I smoothed this as best I could while it was wet then left it for a day to dry. Dont put this stuff on to thick or it will crack when it drys. If you do have some cracks in it when its dry just smear on some extra over the crack and let it dry. Once its all dry I just sand it to give a more even finish. All this was then sprayed with Tamiya Earth. I then put white glue on the edges and sprinkled model railroad grass on. I then drilled holes in the base and inserted Woodland Scenics "Harvest Gold" field grass (FG 172) after dipping the ends in white glue. One of the hardest things to recreate in miniature is grass. If you look into a real field you will see that the clumps of grass are random in size and dispersment as well as the blades being various lengths. Compared to some of my earlier attempts the grass on this base isnt to bad but I still need to work on it. I drilled a hole then inserted the sign. This came from the Dragon Feldgendarm figure set (No 6061). The bird on top of the sign post came from the Tamiya German Tank Crew at Rest set (No 201). The tank was then glue on with white glue and then the whole base was given a light dusting with Tamiya flat earth to blend it all in.
The last thing to do was the figure. The body came from the Kirin German Tank Crew 1943 set (No 25012) while the arms came from Verlindens German Stug Crew set (No 978). The figure was painted with Tamiya, Humbrol and oil paints will all the metallic details (buttons, medals etc) were touched in with a silver pencil.
Well thats it. I really did enjoy building this model. While it isnt an easy build up like a new generation Tamiya kit, it wasnt a real problem. There are a few things to fix up but most of it can be done with basic modeling materials (plastic, wire ECT) and basic modeling skills. While I did use a few resin and photoetched parts, there isnt really a necessity to purchase expensive after market sets for this model. Despite its small size, if your looking for unusual but interesting tank that will stand out among a collection, this is a model for you.
Flammpanzer, German flamethrowers 1941-1945 (New Vangard No 15) By Tomas Jentz, Hilary Doyle and Peter Sarson. Osprey Publishing (1995) ISBN 1-85532-547-0
Operation Barbarossa (Tank Illustrated No 16) By Steven Zaloga & James Grandsen. Arms & Armor Press (1985) ISBN 0-85368-702-1
German Armored Rarities 1935-1945 By Michael Sowodny. Schiffer Publishing Ltd (1998) ISBN 0-76430-396-1
Encyclopedia of German Tanks of WWII (revised edition) By Peter Chamberlain, Hilary Doyle and Thomas Jentz. Arms & Armor Press (1993) ISBN 1-85409-214-6
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