Skip to toolbar
How to be an Armoured Farmer, building Hobart’s Funnies in Glorious 15mm (and maybe 28mm if they arrive in time!)

How to be an Armoured Farmer, building Hobart’s Funnies in Glorious 15mm (and maybe 28mm if they arrive in time!)

Supported by (Turn Off)

Project Blog by brucelea Cult of Games Member

Recommendations: 236

About the Project

Right then, having avoided any sort of Spring cleaning challenge in the past, I have decided to use this year's one to get something done that I have been gathering bits for over the past few years and finally finish and assemble all of my Hobart's Funnies. To get technical these are Armoured Vehicle Royal Engineers (AVRE) tanks, using the Churchill chassis as a base. I will also throw in some Sherman Crabs (Flail tanks). I have gathered a few books for reference so that I can paint and mark them up for one of the Armoured Assault Squadrons Royal Engineer (either 77, or 79) that landed ashore at Sword Beach and were the very first to see action on that beach; Plus the Sherman Crabs of A Squadron 22nd Dragoons. Whilst I want to be able to use the finished tanks in games depicting the D Day Landings (in Flames of War and Chain of Command at 15mm) I also want then to be versatile enough to be able to be used in later engagements that the 79th Armoured Division took part in (which is pretty much everything!). I hope you will find this of interest if you ever want to branch out into what the modern day Royal Engineers affectionately call being an armoured farmer.

This Project is Active

The assembled PSC AVREs

Tutoring 0
Skill 0
Idea 0
No Comments

So here are the assembled PSC AVREs, with and without their attachments. There is still a fair bit of conversion work to be done to them but it is a good start. Now on to the metal SkyTrex ones in the next Episode.

Five more to add.Five more to add.
With AttachmentsWith Attachments

Alternate way to do tow cable conversion

Tutoring 0
Skill 0
Idea 0
No Comments

I mentioned before that I had been cutting off the tow cables in order to reposition them out of the way. I found that with the careful use of an new blade in my craft knife, I could cut away the cable without cutting it off completely. It is then a simple case of moving it to the new location and gluing it in place. the finished cable looks far better than my earlier attempts. When doing this, remember to take your time with minimal pressure and let the blade do the work.

Alternate way to do tow cable conversion

Tutoring 0
Skill 0
Idea 0
No Comments

As I mentioned before, I initially cut off the tow cable front sections and then re-glued them in place and tried to hide the joint. However, if you have a new blade in your craft knife and are very careful you can cut it back to the point you need without cutting it off and then it is simply a case of repositioning it into the new location. in the photos below you can see this has been done to both an end and also at a mid point to good effect. Just take your time and don’t apply too much pressure, let the blade do the work.

Building the Small Box Girder Bridge Layer (SBG) cont'd (the last bit)

Tutoring 0
Skill 0
Idea 0
No Comments

The last couple of bits were to clean up and assemble the winch unit that sits on the back of the tank. This was so simple to build that I forgot to take photos of it!

Next was to assemble the turret, I selected a Mk III turret as this matched all of the reference photos I had. Two points to note with this turret, firstly the petard mortar is a VERY tight fit in the gun mantlet, so much so that you may bend or break them if you are not careful. Secondly, the rear turret piece has a bar on it for fixing the back bin to. Make sure that it is in its lowest position in relation to the the turret top, or you will end up cutting it off and eyeballing where the bin should be fixed to the turret.

Right way upRight way up
Wrong way up!Wrong way up!
Finished Mk III turretFinished Mk III turret

Building the Small Box Girder Bridge Layer (SBG) cont'd (the last bit)

Tutoring 0
Skill 0
Idea 0
No Comments

With the bridge built, glued together the cradle that houses the winch at the back of the tank. It was very simple to build (so simple I forgot to take any photos of it!) The only other difference from building the other AVREs was that for this one I had chosen a Mk III turret. This was because all the reference photos I have of a bridge layer are of the Mk III variant of Churchill. The two things to note with this turret build are that firstly, the petard mortar is a VERY tight fit into the turret mantle, so be careful as you may bend, or break either one. the second is that the rear plate on the turret has a mounting bar for the back bin. It is not shown on the instructions but make sure that the bar is in its lowest possible position it relation to the top of the turret, or, like me you will end up having to cut it off to get the back bin to sit right on the turret.

 

Right wayRight way
wrong way!wrong way!

Building the Small Box Girder Bridge Layer (SBG) cont'd (blimey how much longer?!)

Tutoring 1
Skill 1
Idea 1
No Comments

The last bit for the bridge was to attach the A frame. This had predrilled holes for it to fit into on the bank seat beam and in real life is there to act as a fulcrum for the cables that lift and/or lower the bridge into place (more on that in a later post). The white metal was slightly bent in the post but easily straightened out and glued in place. I had decided early on that one of the bridge layers would be built carrying its bridge and the other one left loose so that I could leave it in place in games. As the resin one is very light compared with the SkyTrex version I chose this one to fix to the AVRE. What also helped was the fixing points between the tank and bridge were better, so that I could guarantee a good link between the two. The actual A frame is in two parts and once realised the two sides of the frame would fall off to either side to not impede the use of the bridge. Once the battle had moved on, engineers could come back and remove the frame sections for use on another bridge, or the bridge would be replaced with a more permanent bridge using either Bailey, or other readily available materials (this type of bridging is called NEB (non equipment bridging) and uses such materials as tree trunks & steelwork from nearby buildings etc. to construct a bridge).

Building the Small Box Girder Bridge Layer (SBG) cont'd (a bit more)

Tutoring 1
Skill 1
Idea 1
No Comments

With the beams in place (or so I thought) I then filed down and trial fitted the bracing (known as either cross, or sway bracing depending on which engineer you talk to). This was again slightly tricky to do as one side of the resin ramps had a wide lip to glue to and the opposite side was a lot narrower. once correctly filed down they fitted in really well and added additional support for the model (just like in real life!). You will notice that at some point in doing the bracing is when I realised my mistake. What is written here is a much abridged version of what happened:

Oh what,

Oh no!

Bugger.

Bugger!

*^!£(*&%!(&$!(£&$(&!$(!£)*(&!&^)*&!£^)*^$^%£%$%^ BUGGGGER!!!

About 45 mins later you have the completed bridge. Easy really.

Building the Small Box Girder Bridge Layer (SBG) cont'd

Tutoring 1
Skill 1
Idea 1
No Comments

Having cleaned the flash off the two bank seat beams I trial fitted them to the bridge sections and when happy aligned them using a straight edge and glued them in place. I think/thought they looked right so didn’t bother to check the reference photos and only realised afterwards that they should have gone underneath and not on top of the bridge ramps! BUGGER!!

Brucey Top TIP

Looking right isn’t always necessarily going to be right, always check first before gluing in place, because it’s an absolute pig to sort it out afterwards!!

Building the Small Box Girder Bridge Layer (SBG)

Tutoring 1
Skill 1
Idea 1
No Comments

The first thing to note for all the rivet counters out there in gaming land, is that this is not an SBG in the truest sense of the term, if it was it wouldn’t have a flat bottom to the bridge but would be at the same inverse angle as the top (to make an elongated diamond shape). The metal SBG I got hold of from SkyTrex is a true SBG. so what about this one, well from the evidence I can find it is a scissor bridge (folding) variant of and SBG, what I cannot confirm is whether they landed on D Day. all of the photos that exist only show the fixed bridge variants, so this type was more likely to have been used further in land. I have to be honest and state that this one, whilst I think it looks the best out of the two bridge layers I have bought, was definitely the most fiddly to put together. Also note the deliberate mistake I make with the Bank Seat Beam (the bits on the end of a bridge that actually sit on the river/gap banks). I still think it looks better the way I first did it, even though I know exactly why and how they should have been the other way around. And being a minor league rivet counter, I couldn’t just leave it being wrong, so a lot of swearing and careful scalpel work later I managed to swap them around.

So on with the build.

The first thing I did was to fix the bridge mounting hardpoint to the front of the hull of the AVRE. I did it now so that I had easy access for any adjustments/filing to get the best fit possible (as it will be taking all the weight of the finished bridge).

The next thing to do was clean down and sand straight the four bridge ramps. i used a straight edge and ruler to make sure that each pair would be the same length and kept checking to ensure any sanding I did was square so i ended up with mated surfaces for gluing together with gorilla glue.

Facine Cradle dry fitted

Tutoring 3
Skill 3
Idea 3
No Comments

Facine Variant

Tutoring 2
Skill 2
Idea 2
No Comments

The S&S facine carrying variant consists of a Facine (obviously!) and the cradle which fits on the front of the AVRE. In real life this cradle was mounted at an angle to allow the facine to roll off the front of the tank once the securing cable was released by detonating a small explosive charge. The cradle then had the ability of folding down flat so that the Petard mortar could be brought into action.

As no assembly instructions were available I trial fitted everything first. looked at photos of the finished conversion on the S&S website and also looked at reference photos for the location of the cradle on the tank.

Points to note for this kit, one of the supports for the main cradle bed has an angle to it so that it fits correctly at the turret side of the cradle. Both supports have locating stubs but do need to be bent in order for the finished cradle to sit down on the tank hull properly.

Facine Cradle partsFacine Cradle parts
Note the angle to the top of the rear (turret side) supportNote the angle to the top of the rear (turret side) support
Finished cradle, note the position of the supports in relation to the cross bars.Finished cradle, note the position of the supports in relation to the cross bars.
Note the raised rear locating bar on the rear support to ensure it sits down on the hull correctly (also note to me to not use portrait photos as they always flip to landscape and look bonk on the post!)Note the raised rear locating bar on the rear support to ensure it sits down on the hull correctly (also note to me to not use portrait photos as they always flip to landscape and look bonk on the post!)

A tidy...ish work space

Tutoring 3
Skill 3
Idea 4
No Comments
For the first off model I tried to keep my workspace as tidy as possible. As you will see, I try to keep reference material on hand and also have a number of old photos of D Day AVRE's on my phone to keep looking back at as well. Trust me, it got a LOT more messy as this phase of the build went on!For the first off model I tried to keep my workspace as tidy as possible. As you will see, I try to keep reference material on hand and also have a number of old photos of D Day AVRE's on my phone to keep looking back at as well. Trust me, it got a LOT more messy as this phase of the build went on!

Final touches

Tutoring 3
Skill 3
Idea 3
No Comments
With the sides glued into place, I added the engine air intakes on the sides.With the sides glued into place, I added the engine air intakes on the sides.
Again, prepping for the wading ducts to be added later I drilled four holes for the wire stays. These are one for each of the side air intakes and then two for the rear duct. The eagle eyed will see that they are located in the middle of the engine deck. I drilled them using a 0.5mm dia drill. I also drilled out two 1mm dia holes in the exhaust manifold in order to take the specially adapted exhausts that were added to the the wading tanks. This is a good indicator for what AVRE's were fitted with wading ducts when looking at reference photos, as the duct wires were fitted with small explosive charges so the duct would drop away once ashore. the exhaust however required unbolting, something which, in the heat of battle, one was not in a rush to do!Again, prepping for the wading ducts to be added later I drilled four holes for the wire stays. These are one for each of the side air intakes and then two for the rear duct. The eagle eyed will see that they are located in the middle of the engine deck. I drilled them using a 0.5mm dia drill. I also drilled out two 1mm dia holes in the exhaust manifold in order to take the specially adapted exhausts that were added to the the wading tanks. This is a good indicator for what AVRE's were fitted with wading ducts when looking at reference photos, as the duct wires were fitted with small explosive charges so the duct would drop away once ashore. the exhaust however required unbolting, something which, in the heat of battle, one was not in a rush to do!
As a practice I tried to bend some styrene rod into the shape of the exhausts. whilst it worked ok using boiling water, there was a tendency for it to straighten out again and lose the 90 degree bends. I have therefore decided on 1mm brass rod instead and shall nick the wife's jewellery pliers, as they are specially made for bending radii.As a practice I tried to bend some styrene rod into the shape of the exhausts. whilst it worked ok using boiling water, there was a tendency for it to straighten out again and lose the 90 degree bends. I have therefore decided on 1mm brass rod instead and shall nick the wife's jewellery pliers, as they are specially made for bending radii.

And now to add the gribbly bits!

Tutoring 2
Skill 2
Idea 2
No Comments

As all of the D Day version will have the hard points for the various funnies attached to them I needed to do some extremely careful scalpel work. The first to the rear hardpoint was to cut a tiny notch out of the tow cable so that the S&S model piece would sit down properly and also remove one of the larger rivet heads. I also filed down the white metal to make it a bit thinner and to make that sit better. The last little bit I did was to note where it sat and remove the plastic bolt heads underneath it, again to ensure it sat down properly. Later on I found that with a very new scalpel, I could cut underneath the tow cable all together at this point and simply push it out of the way and then glue it back down once the hardpoint was fixed in place.

The forward hardpoint was a bit more difficult, as not only did I need to cut away the bolt and rivet heads in the way, I also had to move the end of the tow cable. In my first attempt, I cut it off completely and repositioned it down the side of the side hatch. This matched the reference photos I had but was a bit of a faff, as I had to hide the joint where I cut off the cable. I then found another reference photo of the cable running over the top of the forward hard point and with some very careful cutting I managed to cut away the cable without have to remove it, it was then just a case of bending it to suit the new location and gluing it in place. The last bits to do was to file down the white metal as before and also take a small nick out of a bit of detail in the top left hand corner so that it would locate in the correct position (again as per the reference photos).

The gribbly bits and the annoying tow cable!The gribbly bits and the annoying tow cable!
Locating the hard points and comparing it to the SkyTrex version.Locating the hard points and comparing it to the SkyTrex version.
Close up time! note where I had to cut the detail and cable to get them to fit properly.Close up time! note where I had to cut the detail and cable to get them to fit properly.

Basic PSC AVRE Hull cont'd

Tutoring 3
Skill 3
Idea 3
2 Comments
The hull was filled with plasticine using an sculpting tool to press it into the corners. Keep checking the fit of the hull top to make sure it fits  properly for gluing in place.The hull was filled with plasticine using an sculpting tool to press it into the corners. Keep checking the fit of the hull top to make sure it fits properly for gluing in place.
With the hull top glued in place I widened the hole for the turret slightly to allow for any paint that will inevitable get on the turret post and in the hole.With the hull top glued in place I widened the hole for the turret slightly to allow for any paint that will inevitable get on the turret post and in the hole.
It's starting to look something like it should.It's starting to look something like it should.

Basic PSC AVRE Hull

Tutoring 3
Skill 3
Idea 1
No Comments
Parts of the HullParts of the Hull
As this AVRE will be fitted with the wading ducts I cut away the shovel with a scalpel so that the rear engine grill was clear. once scraped back I brushed the area with Tamiya glue to blend it down.As this AVRE will be fitted with the wading ducts I cut away the shovel with a scalpel so that the rear engine grill was clear. once scraped back I brushed the area with Tamiya glue to blend it down.
I built the hull out of sequence to the instructions so that I can fill it with plasticine to weight it down.I built the hull out of sequence to the instructions so that I can fill it with plasticine to weight it down.

Basic PSC AVRE

Tutoring 3
Skill 3
Idea 3
No Comments
Parts of the MkIV cast turretParts of the MkIV cast turret
After removing the mould lines and sprue gates with a scalpel I found it very easy to glue together with the Tamiya glue. I drilled out the barrel with a 1.6mm dia bitAfter removing the mould lines and sprue gates with a scalpel I found it very easy to glue together with the Tamiya glue. I drilled out the barrel with a 1.6mm dia bit

Brucey Top Tip

When drilling out barrels, it is always good to drill a pilot hole first. I always mark the centre with the tip of a scalpel, drill a couple of turns only, check that the hole is central and then continue to drill down to the desired depth. if it isn’t central, then cut a small groove with the scalpel to get back to the centre and then carefully drill again. This is an old machinist’s trick for when you centre punch incorrectly. once done, go through your drills, getting larger and larger until you get to the desired diameter hole.

Another reason I think the cast turret is more in keeping with D Day is because the tank bin at the rear of the turret has been altered to accommodate the retaining wires that would have held the wading ducts in place and still allow the turret to rotate.Another reason I think the cast turret is more in keeping with D Day is because the tank bin at the rear of the turret has been altered to accommodate the retaining wires that would have held the wading ducts in place and still allow the turret to rotate.
Final turretFinal turret

Episode Three - Plastic fantastic

Tutoring 2
Skill 2
Idea 2
No Comments

Now that the initial preparation has been done, I thought I’d tackle the easiest of the kits, the AVREs’ from the Plastic Soldier Company. Well I say easy, as at least there are some basic build instructions, but the one thing with instructions is that they are never as simple as they first appear!

So from the research I have done most of the AVREs’ on D Day were Mark IV/Vs with a cast turret but the PSC ones are all MKIIIs (with welded turrets). Therefore I completely ignored this and built four as Mk IV’s and one as a MKIII (as I had a photo of a bridge layer that shows a MKIII turret).

I also looked at the conversion bits from S&S models and assigned them to a separate tank. I did this as I knew that there would be some work to be done before sticking them together. I had meant to do each version separately for you but then I got carried away and built them all!! I will go back over each one with some historical photos, so you can see why I did what I did.

Anyway on with the build:

PSC AVRE Variant (welded) and the cast version that I feel it should have beenPSC AVRE Variant (welded) and the cast version that I feel it should have been

Brucey Top Tip

Tutoring 9
Skill 9
Idea 9
No Comments
Before you chuck out your water, check your sprues for any missing bitsBefore you chuck out your water, check your sprues for any missing bits
If something is missing, don't pour it down the plughole and curse yourself for days. Instead, pour it through a strainer to catch it. If something is missing, don't pour it down the plughole and curse yourself for days. Instead, pour it through a strainer to catch it.

Have you had a wash yet?

Tutoring 9
Skill 9
Idea 9
No Comments

Before starting any cutting out and gluing bits of shiny it is always good practice to give it a wash in warm soapy water. This ensures that any mould release oil/agent is cleaned off the surface and won’t interfere with either your glue of choice, or your paint. This is especially necessary if you are a proponent of the Duncan Rhodes method of “two thin coats”.

Said bowl of soapy water and a trusty old toothbrushSaid bowl of soapy water and a trusty old toothbrush
Make sure you scrub all surfaces to be sure and don't forget to rinse with clean cold water afterwards to remove any soap & bubbles.Make sure you scrub all surfaces to be sure and don't forget to rinse with clean cold water afterwards to remove any soap & bubbles.