Making a tarpaulin for military vehicles
by Javier Rubio Capella © 2004 Modeler Site
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The idea of making a tarpaulin occurred to me soon after checking how poorly the old Tamiya SdKfz 251 Ausf C was detailed, especially in its interior. From the beginning, I thought of constructing a quick model, a typical week-end project. This would not be feasible, if I intended to detail the interior. The decision of making this tarpaulin would mean neither much time-consuming nor money, and would give to the vehicle a good-looking finishing..
The technique applied to this half track that saw services in WWII, may also be applied to any other model. A tarpaulin for an Opel Blitz, a 4320 Ural or a M548 would look even better by using this technique.
However, there is something peculiar with the SdKfz 251. According to my photo references, it featured just a frame which comprised three rods. They took a semicircular profile shape, and the ends of each rod were hooked to the upper part of the lateral of the vehicle. This makes the tarpaulin falling to both sides, tracing the contour of the lateral walls.
A 6,5 cm x 8 cm sheet tin.
Three tin strips: 0,4 cm x 5 cm.
A cardboard mould to give tin the proper shape.
You may get tin at handicraft stores, it´s a very malleable and inexpensive material.
Modeling the tarpaulin
1) Cut a cardboard tube in two, transversally.
2) Fold it until its camber match the vehicle.
4) A few cardboard strips are glued to the tube on the areas where the tarpaulin frames would be placed.
5) Let's shape the tarpaulin again over these frames.
6) Glue with CA the rear side of each strip that would act as support to the sheet tin, leaving 1,5 cm between each other. The distance between the strip and the end of the tarpaulin should be 1,75 cm. Try to glue the strips as centered as possible.
7) Now, we got the basic structure of the tarpaulin with its right camber. To give the tarpaulin the proper wrinkles and sag, cut the cardboard mould, leaving the frames free. In this way they will not interfere when giving the tin sheet the proper wrinkles.
8) Shape the wrinkles beginning from the one on the gun shield. Just press your fingers like a tweezers, and the tarpaulin will take the shape of the shield.
Use the same procedure to the rest of the areas, intending extra wrinkles caused by the tarpaulin straps.
Finally, approach the rear sag, covering the vehicle to the utmost.
9) The straps were made from tin strips of 2,5 cm length and 0,2 cm width. These strips were cut in two, proceeding three times in the same way, to get the six strips I needed. Finally, I bent them giving a proper shape, and that was all.
As I didn't find any photos or drawings showing how the tarpaulin was assembled to the vehicle, these strips are a mere conjecture.
Once the tarpaulin was painted. I glued each strap with CA to the center of their lateral wrinkles.
They were painted Tamiya acrylic XF-52 Flat Earth, using a #00 brush.
If tin were heated with a hair dryer, it could copy the model’s shape perfectly, nevertheless, I recommend not to do that because to your surprise plastic could melt while tin would remain unalterable.
I didn't use any kind of primer to paint the tarpaulin, anyway, it would have been convenient either to airbrush a base paint or to apply a coat of putty diluted in acetone, to get a better adherence of paint.
As first coat, Tamiya Khaki was airbrushed covering the entire tarpaulin, this coat and lights were airbrushed with very diluted paints.
Lights (that's to say the raised areas of the tarpaulin with slight airbrushes in a lighter tone than the base) were painted Tamiya Buff.
Then, and in order to stand out lights and shades, I used the drybrush technique by wetting a #6 flat brush in Vallejo buff, rubbing it intensively with a piece of cloth and drybrushing all the raised areas, taking care that the previous coat didn't come off.
Lastly, I applied a coat of black and dark brown oil very diluted in thinner getting a chocolate tone that was airbrushed all over the tarpaulin to stand out the effect of shades and dark areas, as if we were giving a wash but with airbrush.
After this, certain areas were drybrushed and that was all.
I had to mount the tarpaulin to the model with cyano glue, since the kit and the tarpaulin are made from different materials. It was assembled without difficulties as fit was perfect all around.
Encyclopedia of German Tanks of WWII, Chamberlain & Doyle, pag. 169
Leichte Zugfahrzeuge der Wehrmacht, Waffen-Arsenal, pag. 26
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