Building the Formations 1/35 Chaffee (part 3)


The picture above is a M24 parked at Cantigni in Chicago. Its not exactly WW2 vintage, but a lot of what you see is relevant to a Dubbya Dubbya Two vehicle. Its a great reference. So lets pick up where we left off.

I started this article as an exercise in documenting how I build models. I’ve asked myself, “so why am I writing this?”. It’s fun and a whole different way to approach building. I really appreciate finding other peoples stuff on the internet and it is often very important in my own building. Maybe there is some other guy out there who wants to build a Chaffee. I also think its because, when I go to Hobby Club and bring in something and start to describe what I’ve done, I can see that the guys are looking at me like I’m a nutjob (in a good way I hope). By making the super detailing process as transparent as possible I hope it exposes it for what it is. I’m not sure why this is important to me, but there it is.

On with the show:


I found this was a nice way to get those pesky resin parts off the pour stubs. These things are so darn brittle. Because removing and cleaning up resin parts is such a drag, I usually spread the process out over the course of the whole build.


This is the real thing. Its a tie down cleat for securing the vehicle when it is being transported (on a ship?). Notice how it has an obvious mold line from the casting process. Also notice other details and how replicating them in 1/35th could drive you insane. When super detailing its important to pick out which details are important to bring your vision of the vehicle to life. Contrary to what some might believe, model building it is an Art. Ahem.


Here is the Italeri kit stops for the road wheel torsion arms. They are very uninspired. (The finished replacement is shown next to the kit part). Lets go through how these were made.


Here’s the real thing. Look also at the tie down photo (above) and notice how it has a space behind it.


This is the underside. There is a spring detail (if your into that sort of thing). You cant make an accurate part without some knowlege of what it should look like.


This is an illustration of how I used strip stock to make a master for the part. The main thing is to leave the part attached to a “handle” as long as possible. This makes it much easier to work on. Break down the details into simple operations. Its easier to think about it if its broken up into bits. I use small flat files to create most of the details. The channel in step 3 was made with a very small Micro-mark scalpel chisel. I use flat chisel style blades as much as I use my angle cut x-acto. Note the spacers on the back added in step 5. Grandt bolts were added in step 7.


Here is the part about half way through.


Here I’ve added the stops on the back. The excess will get cut off. Its always easier to create the inside part, then cut off what you don’t need.


Before I added the bolts, I brushed the part with liquid model cement to soften the edges. It’s finished and ready to put into rubber. I need 10.


Next, I noticed there was a weld seam (above the right wheel).


Here is the upper portion of it.


And here it is on the model. On the real thing this where the front and back half of the vehicle sides are welded together. Weld seams are easy, and look great when you add pin washes to the model. I cut a channel for it first, by gouging it out. It will get filled in with two part epoxy and worked to look like a weld seam. The kit hull still has the old stop details for the torsion arm stops, these will get chiseled off. I used a sharpie to draw on locating guides for the new cast parts.


I decided to “salami slice” some hexagonal stock and replace the bolt heads on as much of the lower suspension as I could. Its easy, and the kit suspension detail looked a little mushy.


I cut a bunch, pick them up with the tip of a brand spanking new X-acto blade, dip them in tube glue and place them on the model. The tube style glue allows me to position the nut. And they stick real good once they are dry, because the tops get sanded flat.


New nuts and weld seam. Old stop block detail is now off.


Next I noticed some basic building flaws with the back end. This is a troublesome part of the model, as the resin and plastic stuff doesn’t match up as well as I’d like. Here I noticed that the hull side came up too high. You can see where I’ve taken my blade and started to slice it off. (The back panel should be flush with the side).


Bolts come off next. They get saved on double sided tape and glued back on once the surface is smoothed out (or I’ll make new ones, whatever).


I use a flat chisel blade and slowly drag the blade at an angle across the surface (in the photo I am moving the blade away from the viewer).  The trick is to let the blade do the work and take off a little at a time. Not only that, if I use sand paper, the top will get rounded, the flat blade insures the top will stay flat.


Getting flusher and flatter. Can’t put all that detail on and miss obvious stuff like basic building.


Here’s the rear torsion arm assembly in progress. I’ve already started to knock it apart (it was all one part). lots of strip stock, sanding, filing…


Here’s the real thing. Great detail on the back portion. Needless to say, the kit part falls way short.


Here we go. Its basically the same part, but made up of cobbled together pieces, Grandt bolts and so on. Its a great spot to have your eye catch on. Especially from the back (of course I don’t have a photo of that!).


Back to the front plate. Time to put on those light guards. I put the ‘On The Mark Models’ photo etch ones and they were so thin and just sat on there. I bumped one and it sproinged right off the model. So I decided to make my own. I hate overly fragile stuff, because it just gets broken. Is this a tirade? So I took some brass strip stock, bent the guards overly long, drilled some holes and put them in (so they would be rock solid). You can see the guard on the left, holes for its partner on the right.  To bend the shapes I used the plastic kit ones as a guide.


Heres the real thing, again. Photo etch ones seemed to thin.


I hold em’ in a flat plier to file down the part that gets inserted into the hole.


I ended up making a few before I was happy. You can see on the middle one how the legs were filed down.


Once my eyeballs were rolling around on the back deck, I noticed that the engine panel didn’t fit so well…and it would also be great if the rear engine screen wasn’t solid. So I cut em’ out.


New one, old one.


The real thing.


In place. Has a much snugger fit. Hinges are all bits of stock. The round discs that the handles will go on are made from my home made punch. (Notice the solid engine Panel is still in place).


Here’s that punch. The center section is a .010 spacer. Ten thousands sheet plastic is slid in and a brass punch is used to punch out discs. Its not a hard piece to make, but you need access to a lathe to turn the punches.


Here’s the newly thinned engine screen. The grab handles are put in while its still thick. I then use double sided tape to hold the part and rub it on a sheet of sand paper until it is about .015 thick. I knocked out the old exhausts (before I sanded it). These had no depth, I’ll replace them.


I built up a removable panel in the engine compartment. I’ll glue some shapes on it Shep style to insinuate the engine and it will be the foundation for new exhaust pipes.


Heres an illustration from the M24 manual (which I found online) and some junk glued to the plate for my engine. All I need are some basic silouettes to go in there as you can’t discern any detail anywaiz.

Crumbs! Look at the time!

While building this portion I listened to a lot of Star Wars. See you in part 4.