Hobby Boss 1/35 M911 C-HET, Part 2 – The Tractor
This article is part of a series:
When building such a massive kit, I usually start with some preparation. Labeling the sprue bags and sprues with large letters to make it easier to find them, and going over the instructions to identify parts and subassemblies which need filler is my standard process.
With the tractor, the list of things I needed to do looked as follows:
– Filling the pin marks on the inside of the chassis and the front fenders,
– get the multi-part assemblies for the rear axles and the air filter done early on,
– detail the inside of the cab and the spare wheel crane,
– add fuel lines,
– detail the winch platform with cables and anti-slip surfaces missing from the kit.
After the filler job is out of the way, the cassis goes together pretty easily. The two long beams are connected by cross members and various other parts, and I basically started from the front by gluing in the engine part and working my way back. I find this approach easier than gluing all the parts to one of the beams and then trying to align everything to the other one.
One thing I found questionable was the connection between the engine part and the transmission. There is no key provided for proper fit, and the parts need to be aligned by eye. Easy task, sure, but it feels a bit sloppy.
However, with everything glued into place, the chassis already starts looking rather impressive and busy. A good engineering choice is Hobby Boss’ way of designing the air tanks. The whole assembly consists of five parts – two parts for the end sections including the clamps, and three slide-molded cylinders which are sandwiched between the end caps. No seam filling required, which is nice.
Next up are the wheels, with each rim consisting of two parts. These need a surprising amount of cleanup, as they show some flash especially inside the lightening holes.
Each of the hubs gets its own air brake chamber, and here’s a slight omission in the kit: According to the Technical Manual, the wheels on the lift axle should have two chambers each, but only one is provided.
The rubber tires fit over the rims easily – if anything they might be too lose a fit, so you will have to take care not to end up with gaps.
A quick mock-up at this point gives an idea of how huge this beat is going to be…
To facilitate painting later on I decided to attach the front fenders at this point, together with the PE attachments for the battery box. The PE parts fit very well, you just have to make sure to bend them at a correct 90° angle.
The lift axle can only be built in its deployed position without surgery. If you are inclined to do so, you will have to shorten the hydraulic cylinders and fabricate new and deflated air bags. In any case, the horseshoe-shaped part between the axles is not keyed to any position and I cannot tell you which position would be correct.
Building the fuel tanks requires a small amount of filler. Additionally, I added fuel gauge sensors and fuel lines, and some bolts to the bottoms of the tanks and the sides of the battery box. The raised rectangles on the tanks fell victim to my sanding and were added back with thin plastic sheet.
Moving on to the cab, I added various fixtures according to the TM – fuse boxes, the air horn mechanism, and sun screens. No American truck would be complete with out the air horn chain to go “honk honk”, so this was added using fine Aber PE chain.
The driver’s seat received some generic seat belts (I think they are from a Yak-3) and a lever for the height adjustment, the steering column was detailed with bits of thin wire.
Before closing up the cab, the interior was airbrushed with Tamiya XF-85 Rubber Black for the floor and the seat cushions, and Hataka’s lacquer FS34102 Green for basically everything else. Weathering was done with oils and pigments.
I cut out the bezels from the IP decal and painted the rest by hand, as trying to fit the whole decal over all the raised bits would be futile.
Assembling the cab’s outside turned out to be the trickiest part of the build. First off, the large frame holding the rear view mirrors broke when removing it from the sprue…
… and broke on the other side while cleaning it up. In order to align everything properly, I started by gluing the support struts to the cab (two parts provided in the kit and the two parts that had broken off the frame), and while the glue was still wet added the frame and its PE supports. That allowed me to tweak everything into place. And while I was at it, I added wires to the spotlights at the rear of the cab.
The small side and rear windows show prominent gaps when test fitted, on top of that the kit-provided masks are too large. The masks should leave a thin frame all around each window, so I cut my own masks, and the gaps were filled with AK Interactive White Putty.
The PE strips at the back of the cab are supposed to wrap around the muffler later on. This will not work if you do not anneal them before installation, and even then barely so. Don’t ask me how I know… In the end I decided to replace them with strips of lead foil, which is much easier to bend to shape.
The muffler itself needs its PE sleeve bent as well. Do anneal, you pursuer of modeling happiness! I did not, could not get it to conform, had to remove it, strip off lacquer paint, anneal the living daylights out of it, and paint it all over again. Go me…
The whole winch assembly, on the other hand, is a breeze. I replaced the kit-provided string for the winch cables with another rope, as the original string is way too fuzzy. Some hoses were added connecting the winches to their control station, as were two anti-slip plates. As you can tell from the picture, I only found out about these parts after I had already painted and decaled the platform, but anyway. Using an anti-slip PE sheet from Lion Roar, I cut a 13x18mm plate for the sloped part, and an 18x18mm plate for the cover, with the outer 3mm on each side bent downwards, resulting in a 12x18mm platform 3mm high.
The front brush guard together with lights and air couplings goes together quite well, but you will have to take your time cleaning up the seam lines on the brush guard. Even the small chains for the air couplings come in the kit, ehich is a nice touch.
Finally, the spare wheel holder and crane need some love, as this part literally sticks out and looks a bit bland out of the box. After filling the pin marks, I added thin thread to the winch and a small hook to its end.
Painting. And Sanding. Because Stupid.
For painting purposes I left the truck in a couple of separate assemblies – chassis, cab, hood, winch platform, brush guard, wheels, spare wheel holder, and exhaust. After priming everything with Tamiya XF-1 Flat Black, the whole thing was given a couple of thin coats of Hataka FS34102, subsequently lightened with some Gunze Light Grey. When looking at pictures of Forest Green vehicles, it is noticeable how much the original color shifts to grey when it ages and fades, and I concentrated this fading on the large flat surfaces of the winch platform, hood, and cab roof.
Concentrated on that so much that I completely overlooked the long mold line running all along both sides of the hood. Yeah…
And that’s why I love lacquer paints. It is so easy to sand back errors and paint these sections again, whereas with water-based Acrylics you will always run into problems with either peeling paint or visible steps.
Decaling took only a couple of minutes, with the small amount of markings and some of the stencils not being used – they would not be visible anyway after weathering, so I did not bother with them.
Weathering and Final Assembly
Before the weathering process begins, it might be a good idea to think about your model’s “story”. What is it you are trying to depict? Is it a new vehicle, or has it been in service for a long time? What are the conditions the vehicle was in? In our C-HET’s case the idea is to depict a vehicle on REFORGER (Return of Forces to Germany) deployment, the huge exercises which practiced the shipping and deployment of large forces from mainland US to Germany. In the end, a new-ish M911 truck in its factory Green will have picked up an old and well-used M747 trailer and its load (right now I am thinking M88), both of which in MERDC Grey Desert scheme. There are lots of pictures of US vehicles coming off the huge Roll-On/Roll-Off ships in the Harbors of Antwerp or Rotterdam, in rain and cold temperatures, still sporting their sunny desert camo. Hillarious. (At this point a big Thank You to fellow iModeler Louis Gardner – @lgardner, who planted the seed for this idea!)
Anyway, the tractor would probably accumulate moderate amounts of dust, light rust in certain places, and a few chips here and there. Dust was achieved with a pin wash of Ammo by Mig’s “Light Dust”, followed by pigments mainly on the chassis and the wheels. For rust effects I used Ammo’s “US Modern Vehicles Wash” and oils of different colors. Finally, everything was dulled down with a coat of Vallejo Flat Clear.
Final assembly introduces a surprising amount of color to the kit. The orange lights were airbrushed with Tamiya X-26 Clear Orange, and the windows were given a thin coat of a 1:1 mix of X-23 Clear Blue and X-25 Clear Green. The air hoses which will eventually connect to the trailer are just test-fitted for now, and I think I will replace them with thin lead wire later on as they look a bit thick.
Thoughts So Far?
I really enjoyed this build so far – the subject is a gorgeous looking piece of equipment, and the build is without any significant issues. There are a few omissions in the kit, but as you have seen none are hard to fix. So let’s see what the trailer has in store in the next part!
1 additional image. Click to enlarge.