Monday, 10 March 2014

Next Project - another truck conversion

As the current project nears completion I am starting to think about what's going to be my next victim...Er, I mean subject!

The fact is that I need trucks for my Finnish Army project, a lot of trucks! I want all shapes and sizes of vehicles in order to portray the rather eclectic nature of the Finn's military transport inventory. To this end I am having to think about converting available models to represent some of commercial trucks that were pressed into service at the time.

Trucks like pre-war Fords and Chevrolets were quite common in Finland but are not so easy to acquire from mainstream scale kit manufacturers. Rather like my V3000 project I am having to think about kit-bashing a couple of donor models to make a make and model that I desire.

What I am after in this case is a 1939 Chevrolet. It's quite distinctive and differs obviously from the wartime Chevy designs built and used by either the Allies or the Germans!

A beautifully restored 1939 Chevrolet HS Commercial truck. A common
civilian type in Finland in the 1940s. 
As said, while the wartime (1941) Chevrolets are relatively easy to get hold of in 1/72 kit form - they are the truck on which the famous British LRDG patrol truck is based - the earlier commercial version is not.

Left: The more familiar 1941 CC60L 3 ton model Chevrolet, here in the hands of the Germans. It's a rather unpleasant truth that both Ford and Chevrolet made vehicles for both sides during the war by means of their local subsidiaries. Fordwerkes Germany, for example, continued producing Ford designs for the German army throughout the war.

Anyway, I made the mistake of buying the wrong Chevrolet - before I had fully researched the subject - when I ordered a nice resin 'ready to roll' wargame model from Moonlite Modelwerkes...

The 1941 Chevrolet - front - and a 1936 Ford by Moodlite Modelwerks.
This left me in a bit of a quandary as it's a nice little model, but it's no good for my intended use. Quite aside from it being the wrong year it's a solid one-piece resin mould with the cab interior filled in. So, just as with my resin V3000, I decided - somewhat reluctantly - to do a 'cut and shut' job with it and try and mate it to the back end of a spare plastic truck kit.

As it happens I have a plastic truck kit which I also bought for my Finnish truck collection but was likewise - as it turned out - the wrong model! This time I bought a 1/72 PST 1943 Ford instead of an earlier version. I got it on a whim as I thought it looked like a pretty cool truck and it was in wide use as a lend-lease vehicle by the Soviets (so I imagined that it could have been captured by the Finns, but in the end there is no evidence of this premise)...

Bummer! (This all taught me to do a bit of research first before buying kits for projects!) Still, I now have a donor for the back end of my 1939 Chevy project (by 'backend' I mean from the rear of the bonnet back including the cab shell).

Now I know this might all sound a bit of a waste of two perfectly good models just to make one half-baked conversion, but I really want to have a 1939 Chevy in my collection and this does seem to be the only way I will get one.

There are problems, the most obvious being that the grill on my Moonlite Chevy is all wrong. I will have to scratch build the 1939 grill onto the 1941 cab and then mate the 1941 cab onto the 1943 back end! ...Following this?

A Finnish wartime model 1939 Chevrolet Commercial front end with some
rather spooky headlight accessories!
So let's start with the initial planning of my next Frankenstein truck shall we?

First of all I decide where it would be best to cut my resin model's bonnet. I look for details like panel lines that would hide my surgery and highlight them with a thin marker pen...

Next I will check these shapes against the 1943 Ford truck kit to see where I can most obviously join them together (the seam just in front of the cab window and down the door seems likely). Here's a reminder of how I achieved this when making my V3000 conversion...

My previous Ford V3000 conversion - the same 'cut & shut' process will be
used to create a 1939 Chevrolet in my new project.
The idea, of course, is to find a mutual seam in either component that will make it easy to hide my butchery.

To end this first project post, here's a photo of the 1939 model Chevrolet and some of the Finns who relied on it's hardiness and reliability...

...Now, where's my Dremmel! 

Photo credits: All black and white wartime Finnish photos are courtesy of the SA-kuva web archive:

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