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Trumpeter Geschutzwagen IVb *COMPLETED* 07-21-08

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  • Member since
    July 2004
  • From: Texas
Trumpeter Geschutzwagen IVb *COMPLETED* 07-21-08
Posted by wbill76 on Saturday, June 21, 2008 10:25 PM

Started in on my latest, the Geschutzwagen IVb from Trumpeter.

Work started with this kit where it normally does, with Step 1, however this kit's Step 1 doesn't start with the usual road wheels, sprockets, idlers, etc. but rather jumps right in on the lower hull. There are several sub-assembly steps that need to be done as part of this step. The bump stops need to be constructed from 2 separate parts as one sub-assembly and the front tow pintles are a 3 part sub-assembly as well.

The suspension elements come next and are 5 part assemblies for each one. The instructions spread this over both Steps 1 and 2, with Step 1 dealing with the left side and Step 2 with the right side. I went ahead and built the assemblies for both sides at the same time.  I didn't realize until after I'd built all 6 though that I'd made a big error.

The error was caused by the instructions. The parts call-out for the base of each suspension element that attaches to the hull in the pictures is the "standard" square type for the Pz IV but the parts number is for B17, which is the semi-circular type that's right for the Geschutzwagen IVb. I trusted the picture over the parts number and dutifully assembled everything with the standard square part...not realizing that in the same step diagram that shows them attaching to the hull, that the right semi-circular parts are shown there.

This meant tearing apart the previous assembly in a careful way as the circular end caps were still needed. This required some careful use of liquid glue and tweezers to deconstruct them and reassemble them with the correct semi-circular backings. As a side note, the "standard" assembly would've allowed the suspension to articulate but the semi-circular design is rigid with no movement. Too bad as the articulation was a neat feature that should have been carried over but wasn't.

Step 1 and 2 also install the four walls and flooring for the fighting compartment. I installed all of these parts together at the same time to get everything lined up properly and insure a square fit. The wood lattice piece for the front of the compartment fits into two grooves molded into the hull tub for a nice tight fit, a nice touch to keep everything aligned IMHO.

To round out Step 2, I installed all the suspension elements to both sides and assembled and installed the idler mounts as well. The final drive housings and sprocket mount arms were also installed with each final drive getting its 5 added bolts as individual parts. These come molded on a bar, B18, and I used a strip of blue painters tape and a #11 blade to carefully remove each bolt head which was then glued in place with a touch of liquid glue.

While only 2 steps completed today, they still covered a lot of ground.

  • Member since
    March 2003
  • From: Rain USA, Vancouver WA
Posted by tigerman on Saturday, June 21, 2008 10:30 PM
Bill is back in the game! That didn't take long. This should be very interesting since it's a rare subject and a Trumpy kit no less. I hope for you that Dragon's new offering doesn't best all your hard work.

   http://i7.photobucket.com/albums/y269/wing_nut_5o/PANZERJAGERGB.jpg

 Eric 

  • Member since
    July 2004
  • From: Texas
Posted by wbill76 on Saturday, June 21, 2008 10:35 PM
Thanks Tigerman, I have the pleasure of building this one since it was provided to Armorama as a review sample. I've done the In-Box Review already, now have to build it up to evaluate the fit/molding. No telling on when the DML kit will come out in terms of release date, but the Trumpy kit already has some issues regarding accuracy that the DML kit will not likely repeat.
  • Member since
    January 2007
Posted by the doog on Saturday, June 21, 2008 10:38 PM

WOW, I didn't even know this was coming out!

I'll definitely be interested in this one! I'll be picking it up as soon as it's available from DML! 

  • Member since
    January 2005
  • From: in the tank factory in my basement
Posted by biffa on Saturday, June 21, 2008 10:50 PM
This is a cool one right here i was checking it out the other day thinking of getting one it looks like a baby dicker max  heh at first i thought i was looking at a pzIII chassis until i read on and saw it was a shortened IV, i will be following with interest Bill Smile [:)] 
Ron g.
  • Member since
    June 2005
  • From: Indiana U.S.A.
Posted by Panther F on Sunday, June 22, 2008 8:12 AM

GREAT!  Finally an armor related thread! 

I looked for this at my Local Hobby Store yesterday while they were having a 'tax free' sale, but it wasn't there yet.  I'll have to order it online.

Looks good so far Bill!

  • Member since
    May 2007
Posted by Specter on Sunday, June 22, 2008 8:20 AM
Cool subject Bill, was it used in the same role as a stug pretty much?
Seth
  • Member since
    July 2004
  • From: Texas
Posted by wbill76 on Sunday, June 22, 2008 11:48 AM

Doog,

It's one of the "stealth" releases by Trumpeter that was announced some time back, I believe at the Nuremberg Toy Fair. No telling when DML's will come out but it's got box art and a kit #, so likely in the next couple of months.

Ron,

It's got a lot of commonalities with the Dicker Max and was part of the same development program for self-propelled artillery. The dimensions on the hull in terms of length are the same as on a Pz I believe it or not! When I first pulled the hull out of the box my reaction was "it's tiny!". Laugh [(-D] It had a lot of modifications done to the Pz IV hull in addition to being shortened, it had modified suspension, a different engine, and rearranged the driver's compartment a bit as well.  

 Panther F wrote:

GREAT!  Finally an armor related thread! 

I looked for this at my Local Hobby Store yesterday while they were having a 'tax free' sale, but it wasn't there yet.  I'll have to order it online.

Looks good so far Bill!

Panther,

I received it as a review sample direct from Stevens International, the distributor for Trumpeter in the US, so that means it should be going out to the LHS supply chain already. Shouldn't be long, provided your LHS stocks Trumpeter releases, before it's on the shelves.

 Specter wrote:
Cool subject Bill, was it used in the same role as a stug pretty much?

Specter,

The intended role was as a self-propelled artillery platform for the leFH 18/1 10.cm howitzer as opposed to an assault gun. It was much more thinly armored as a result and had the open top turret. The maximum armor was only 20mm, enough to stop small arms or light MG fire but not much else. Ultimately the design was abandoned in favor of the simpler and easier to produce Wespe.  

  • Member since
    April 2005
  • From: Piscataway, NJ!
Posted by wing_nut on Sunday, June 22, 2008 12:20 PM

Back in the game?  Did I miss something?  I didn't know you were out!Confused [%-)]

Good looking progress Bill.

Curious about the Trumpeter kits.  So far I have only built DML kits and working on my 1st Tamiya.  I know what to expect with a trump a/c kit.  Deep heavy rivets, curved piano hinges, as found on the 1/24 Fw190D-9 I built. And totally fictitious detailing in a couple of spots, most notably the ribs inside  the LG door.  It's like they never bothered to look at a real bird.  How are Trump armor kits compared top the rest f the field?

Marc  

  • Member since
    February 2008
  • From: ladner BC Canada
Posted by stick man on Sunday, June 22, 2008 2:47 PM

Nice! it's great to see more of your work ceep us updated!

Smile [:)]

I'm 15 and I model I sk8board and I drum what could be better.
  • Member since
    July 2004
  • From: Texas
Posted by wbill76 on Sunday, June 22, 2008 3:18 PM
 wing_nut wrote:

Back in the game?  Did I miss something?  I didn't know you were out!Confused [%-)]

Good looking progress Bill.

Curious about the Trumpeter kits.  So far I have only built DML kits and working on my 1st Tamiya.  I know what to expect with a trump a/c kit.  Deep heavy rivets, curved piano hinges, as found on the 1/24 Fw190D-9 I built. And totally fictitious detailing in a couple of spots, most notably the ribs inside  the LG door.  It's like they never bothered to look at a real bird.  How are Trump armor kits compared top the rest f the field?

WN, I think tigerman's just commenting on the fact that I had a brief hiatus with the Jagdtiger build a couple of weeks back. I usually work on the weekends and as soon as one build finishes I always start another. Wink [;)]

As far as Trumpeter armor kits go, they can be hit-or-miss. Their KV-1 and KV-2, K5(E) Leopold, and the BR52 locomotive are considered to be their best kits, followed by their Sturer Emil while the rest fall along the spectrum of decent to bad depending on age of the kit and the vehicle in question. They don't use as much slide-mold technology as DML for example so their level of detail is often not as high all things being equal. DML seems to be deliberately going head-to-head with them on all their subjects, probably because they are both Chinese companies and direct competitors.

Stick Man, thanks for the comments, more updates to come late today. Wink [;)]

  • Member since
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  • From: Texas
Posted by wbill76 on Sunday, June 22, 2008 10:06 PM

Work continued on today with Step 3 which deals with the road wheels, sprockets, idlers, and return rollers. The sprockets and idlers went together without any major issues but not so with the road wheels. The issue I encountered had to do with the holes for the mount arms. In varying degrees, the holes were not centered in the hubs, the worst example is what you see below. Not all were this bad but most of them were slightly off center. Fortunately there's a couple of extras since the full road wheel set isn't used and the worst two I set off to the side, like the one below, for use on the spare wheels that mount to the rear of the hull since the problem won't matter there.

I made the corrections as best I could using a circular needle file to get the holes as centered as possible, enlarging them a bit in the process. This produces some "play" when they were test-fit on the suspension arms so I will have to be very careful when it comes time to install them that they all sit level. The hub caps were installed as well to round out the step.

Step 4 calls for the construction and installation of the ammo racks and charge boxes. These go together smoothly but the installation of the racks is a bit vague. There are locater holes provided for the charge boxes and judging from later installation diagrams and the pic on the side of the box top, the ammo racks need to sit flush up against the hull sides, so they were installed accordingly. This step also calls for the installation of the running gear but I left that off for now, only installing the return roller hubs.

Steps 5 and 6 deal with the track construction and installation, that will come later so these were skipped for now. Step 7 adds the brake hatches and the transmission access panel as well as the front Notek light to the glacis. The slot for the post and base of the Notek light is too small and as I was test fitting it using a pair of tweezers, I suffered a freakish accident where the post had just enough tension on it that it catapulted into oblivion. I heard it land somewhere on my paint and tool shelf but 30 minutes of fruitless searching turned up nothing, so I instead went to the spares bin and scrounged a PE base and a post from an old Pz I build and pressed them into service.  The glacis was then installed to the front of the hull where the fit was quite good, only a little finger pressure needed at the front to get a solid join all around.

Next up is the upper hull assembly and installation, based on what I've seen so far I think I may go ahead and install that before painting the interior since everything will remain fairly accessible and I can get a solid join on all mating surfaces before painting.

  • Member since
    January 2007
Posted by the doog on Sunday, June 22, 2008 11:32 PM

Can't wait to see this one when I get back, Bill!

Make sure you PM me when it's done and send me the link, cuz it'll probably be buried by the time I return!

Looks great so far! I want one for sure!!!!

 

  • Member since
    July 2004
  • From: Texas
Posted by wbill76 on Monday, June 23, 2008 8:26 AM
 the doog wrote:

Can't wait to see this one when I get back, Bill!

Make sure you PM me when it's done and send me the link, cuz it'll probably be buried by the time I return!

Looks great so far! I want one for sure!!!!

Thanks doog, I'll be sure to do that. Have fun and travel safe! Thumbs Up [tup]

  • Member since
    February 2007
  • From: Bournemouth UK
Posted by Luftwoller on Monday, June 23, 2008 8:52 AM

Hey Bill, great looking progress on this wierd looking swine. They sure messed with the beautifull Pz IV didnt they. Keep the progress up fella, love your stuff.

...Guy

..'Your an embarrassment to the human genus, makes me ashamed to call myself Homo'.
  • Member since
    May 2007
Posted by Specter on Monday, June 23, 2008 12:56 PM
 wbill76 wrote:

 

Specter,

The intended role was as a self-propelled artillery platform for the leFH 18/1 10.cm howitzer as opposed to an assault gun. It was much more thinly armored as a result and had the open top turret. The maximum armor was only 20mm, enough to stop small arms or light MG fire but not much else. Ultimately the design was abandoned in favor of the simpler and easier to produce Wespe.  

That makes sense, still a cool subject

Seth
  • Member since
    July 2004
  • From: Texas
Posted by wbill76 on Monday, June 23, 2008 2:17 PM
 Luftwoller wrote:

Hey Bill, great looking progress on this wierd looking swine. They sure messed with the beautifull Pz IV didnt they. Keep the progress up fella, love your stuff.

...Guy

Thanks Guy for the comments. In terms of what they did to the Pz IV, the modifications are pretty extensive. Shortened hull, modified suspension mounts to make it lower to the ground, different engine and exhaust system, different engine deck design, modified driver's compartment, etc. the only thing that ID's it as having once been a Pz IV are the leaf-spring bogies! Laugh [(-D]  

  • Member since
    October 2007
  • From: N.H.
Posted by panzerguy on Monday, June 23, 2008 5:28 PM

 

  Hey Bill, even though I already know how this one's gonna turn out,Excellent of course,I'm still looking foward to you'r play by play for this build.I'm telling ya when I pick up one of the kit's you've already done I probaly won't even use the instructions I'll just use the WIP.As always looking foward to seeing the word "Done" in you'r post title.

"Happiness is a belt fed weapon"

  • Member since
    July 2004
  • From: Texas
Posted by wbill76 on Monday, June 23, 2008 5:49 PM
Thanks panzerguy for the comments, glad you find the WIPs helpful. I try to write them so they help others coming after to know or avoid the potential pitfalls/fixes so they at least know what they are in for when they choose a kit. I don't mind being the guinea pig if it helps others have a more enjoyabe build, thanks for following along. Thumbs Up [tup]
  • Member since
    May 2006
  • From: Queensbury,NY
Posted by panzer88 on Monday, June 23, 2008 6:12 PM
Looking nice, I'll be following this one also.

     

  • Member since
    June 2005
  • From: Indiana U.S.A.
Posted by Panther F on Monday, June 23, 2008 7:34 PM

Builds like this on a forum help fellow modelers decide if they still want it and what to expect once they make the plunge.

It's ALWAYS appreciated when someone else does all the work for us!  Laugh [(-D]

  • Member since
    March 2007
  • From: NJ
Posted by JMart on Monday, June 23, 2008 9:16 PM
Great build so far, interesting subject. I love your detailed WIPs, great pics, truly a mini-lesson, thanks for sharing and posting!

 

 

  • Member since
    July 2004
  • From: Texas
Posted by wbill76 on Monday, June 23, 2008 10:08 PM

panzer88, JMart, appreciate the comments!

PantherF, I've done my fair share of learning from other's mistakes, so it's the least I can do! Laugh [(-D]

  • Member since
    July 2004
  • From: Texas
Posted by wbill76 on Sunday, June 29, 2008 9:25 PM

Work started off by addressing the area of the weld seams for the upper hull. Trumpeter, for some reason, elected to mold these as recessed weld lines when in fact they should be flush or slightly proud. To correct this, I used several lengths of 0.6mm diameter styrene rod and liquid glue to fill in the recessed trenches. The rod was carefully shaved down and then the weld pattern added by first applying some liquid glue to soften it and the scoring it with the tip of a round needle file.

With that taken care of, I moved on to Step 9 which adds the left and right fenders. Before committing to glue, I dry-fit the fenders along with the upper hull to make sure everything lined up correctly. I recommend actually gluing the upper hull in place first and then adding the fenders after to avoid drooping. The contact surface isn't that large with the lower hull and being "trapped" with the upper hull will make it easier to avoid this. I installed everything per the instructions order though just to see how it would work out.

The upper hull was quickly added in Step 10 along with the fender braces provided as PE items. The kit contains an error here in that the braces provided don't match the correct layout direction for both sides. The kit does have the braces staggered correctly as on the actual vehicle but the left side bracket tabs should all face forward while the right side brackets should all face rearward. Due to the way that Trumpeter created the PE pieces, this isn't possible. I achieved the next best thing by mixing and matching between the two different sides. The biggest area of concern are the middle brackets as their placement is crucial to avoid problems with the circular bulge in the upper hull for the turret ring. Since the rearmost brackets needed to attach to the hull, I left them off until the air vents were added in Step 11. The PE brackets are also just a touch too short vs. the molded in styrene mount points, resulting in a 1 mm gap when they are butted up against the hull as they should be.

This step also adds the front headlights and siren as well as the rear reflectors for the mud flaps. The square tabs on the front half of the head lights needed to be sanded down to match up with the backs as did the square tabs that insert into the fenders. Ditto for the reflectors, this is something that as I progressed through the build I noticed happening with consistency, the locator pins/tabs often aren't a good match for their corresponding installation points and require sanding or trimming to fit depending. The rear of the headlights and siren also had very prominent sink marks that needed to be puttied and sanded.

Moving on to Step 11 (which strangely isn't marked as a Step on the instructions but is there between Step 10 and 12), this focused on the rear hull details. The two vents were added along with their PE screens. The fit of the vents to the rear hull is good at the top but there's a slight gap that results on the inner sides that required some putty work to fill. The rear Notek light is also added here but judging by the reference photos, the kit designed mount point is wrong. It has the light mounting behind the angle fender bracket when in fact it should be integrated into it. No doubt this is a result of the choice to have PE bracket supports but it's another added inaccuracy on the detail level to this kit.

The step also adds the smoke grenade box and armored cover. The armored cover is provided as a PE piece with no option for styrene parts and it's a complicated endeavor to get it mounted. The piece is provided as a straight piece of brass with no bend lines etched into it yet it requires several 90 degree bends to form it into the proper shape. I eventually got it formed into the required shape but it took a lot of work to accomplish it.

Another element added in this step is the jack for the right side fender. The parts called out for in the instruction sheet are confusing as they all carry an N sprue designation but the numbers don't match to the parts on the N sprue. To add to the confusion, a complete alternate set of parts is provided on the M sprue to build another style of jack. Going by the reference photos, the M sprue parts are the correct type of jack to install so I ran with it instead of the confusing N sprue. The "foot" of the jack that faces to the rear had a horrible sink mark in it that almost went completely through the part. Some very careful putty work and sanding was needed to fix this and make it presentable.

Step 12 adds quite a bit of gear to the fenders but I left that off for now. The step also adds the two-part muffler and curved support brace/armored covering for the exhaust pipe. The two part muffler results in a prominent seam that I sanded down once the glue had set and the hollow exhaust point had to be carefully sanded/trimmed as it had some prominent flash to deal with. Mounting the muffler to the hull is a tricky step as it attaches only at one end via the curved support, part E47. E47 in turn attaches directly to the hull but its square mount tab was too big for the hole provided, requiring sanding to get it to fit properly. Once E47 had set, then the muffler was glued directly to it.

It's also worth noting at this point that the kit also leaves off the actual towing pintle for the lower hull, the L-shaped pin is not provided for in any shape or form. The rear mud flaps also have square-shaped indentations that I presume are meant to take parts to represent the hinges for the flaps but no parts are provided in the kit to accomplish this.

Step 13 deals with adding more on-board tools to the fenders so was skipped for the time being and I moved on to Step 14 which begins work on the turret. This step deals with the base of the turret and has 4 sub-assembly steps that need to be done first. One step constructs the gunner's chair out of 3 parts, 2 for the seat and a third that is the mount point to the turret ring. This part, C25, is shown incorrectly installed in the sub-assembly step as being parallel to the seat when in fact it should be perpendicular. If you install it parallel (which I did at first), when it comes time to mount it to the ring it's of course facing the wrong way.

The second sub-assembly is the radio, a two-part affair, and the square tab on the rear half is molded too deep to achieve a flush mating surface and needed to be sanded down. The third sub-assembly constructs the auxiliary turret rotating crank out of 3 parts, two halves and the crank wheel. The two halves need their seam sanded down and the wheel has to be carefully trimmed of its sprue attachment points to avoid damaging the circular portion. The fourth and final sub-assembly is the main turret rotating crank and consists of 8 parts.

The rest of the step deals with adding these sub-assemblies to the lower half of the turret. It also adds several additional parts and details, most of which required their mount tabs to be sanded, trimmed, or altered in some fashion to install properly. Two parts, C14 and D11, have large square tabs that match up to cut-outs in the lower hull but the cut-outs are much larger than the actual tabs, requiring putty to fill the rest of the space. Part E38, the base of the rear turret that the radio installs into, needed both of its square tabs heavily sanded to produce a good fit. As mentioned before, the fit of locating tabs is a constant issue to be dealt with and I often felt like Goldilocks when dealing with them....very rarely were they ever just right in terms of fit or alignment.

Next up will be the upper turret details and the main gun assembly.

  • Member since
    May 2007
Posted by Specter on Monday, June 30, 2008 8:47 AM
Looking good Bill, keep up the work.Thumbs Up [tup]
Seth
  • Member since
    July 2004
  • From: Texas
Posted by wbill76 on Monday, June 30, 2008 12:14 PM
Thanks Specter, appreciate the comments. Thumbs Up [tup]
  • Member since
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  • From: N.H.
Posted by panzerguy on Monday, June 30, 2008 5:52 PM

 

  Bill just curious.Was this vehical used as the basis for the "Grasshopper".

"Happiness is a belt fed weapon"

  • Member since
    April 2005
  • From: Piscataway, NJ!
Posted by wing_nut on Monday, June 30, 2008 6:01 PM

Looking' nice as usual Bill.  I noticed that yours and Scott updates/logs are nicely photographed. As in with nice backgrounds instead of like me, just snapping on the cluttered bench.  Is that done in the event you submit it as an article to be, hopefully, published?  I know they want nice uncluttered back drop for those kinds of shots.

Marc  

  • Member since
    July 2004
  • From: Texas
Posted by wbill76 on Monday, June 30, 2008 6:45 PM
 panzerguy wrote:
 

Bill just curious.Was this vehical used as the basis for the "Grasshopper".

The Heuschrecke or "Grasshopper" was actually a competing design in terms of achieving a self-propelled mount for the leFH 18/1. Both of them lost out to the Wespe for varying reasons but the only thing they had in common was the main armament.

 wing_nut wrote:
Looking' nice as usual Bill.  I noticed that yours and Scott updates/logs are nicely photographed. As in with nice backgrounds instead of like me, just snapping on the cluttered bench.  Is that done in the event you submit it as an article to be, hopefully, published?  I know they want nice uncluttered back drop for those kinds of shots.

Thanks WN! In terms of the background, a clean/neutral background is essential for web publication and/or print publication. Most publications won't accept a cluttered backdrop for consideration. 

Since I "publish" my WIPs here as well as on Armorama and my own site, I use a light tent and a plain background as a standard practice. The plain background also aids the camera in picking up proper colors and contrasts in terms of white balance and helps produce a better photo that requires much less editing and back-end processing. It also insures the focus is on the subject at hand and not picking up objects in the background, both literally and figuratively. Wink [;)] It also helps provide a balance across different monitor settings, resolutions, etc. that is a constant issue when viewing anything on the web.

It's a good habit that I've picked up a long time back and it definitely makes the editing job easier if/when they are submitted for print publication consideration.  

  • Member since
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  • From: Texas
Posted by wbill76 on Friday, July 4, 2008 1:20 AM

I had the chance throughout the week to put in some work here and there and the next few steps were ideal for that as they had lots of little sub-assemblies to deal with.

Step 15 addresses the top half of the turret and two of the sub-assemblies deal with the periscope sights. One is the standard sight common to the StuG family and the other is the "rabbit ears" style. The StuG style was a four part assembly and I used a pin vise to drill out it's solid face as well as to deepen the eye holes. The "rabbit ears" scope was a 5 part assembly while it had the external lens faces molded vs. a solid face, I deepened these a bit with the pin vise as well.

One of the other sub-steps here involves adding the various gear to the turret sides, I only installed the various storage boxes and items that would be painted the same hull color, the rest of the gear such as the MP40 pouches, the gas masks, etc. will be painted and installed later. I did test fit some of the gear to make sure that the location marks provided by Trumpeter would actually work and, while snug, there's enough room for everything to go where it belongs.

Once the periscope sights had had a chance to set up good and solid so they could be handled without falling apart, I installed them into the upper turret as well. Their placement is a bit tricky since the turret slopes towards the rear and both need to be level, so some fine-tuning was necessary to get them just right.

Moving on to Step 16, this step consists of building up the breech which is three parts plus two for the block and another two that make up the recoil housing. The three-part approach requires some sanding to eliminate the inevitable seam to produce a single cast part but the fit between the parts is pretty good and using regular glue helps create a little seam that can then be sanded down easily. The breech block itself is rather plain...there's no detail on the face of the block and it's a tight fit into the breech with the cap, part C27, fitting flush. The fit of C27 to the cutout provided wasn't too exact, the cutout is a tad larger at the top than it should be.

Step 17 has 4 sub-assemblies to create parts that will be added to the breech in Step 18. There's a 2 part cylinder, a 2 part assembly for the left side recoil guard, a 5 part (including 2 PE) assembly for the recoil cylinder and a 2 part assembly for the left side mount and elevation gear. The fit on the left side recoil guard is critical, the end of the rail needs to be flush with the edge and the diagram isn't too clear on this and there's not much of a contact surface where it matches up with part C38, so it needed careful gluing and monitoring to make sure the rail didn't sag out of place.

Step 18 is a very busy step, first up is the addition of all the sub-assemblies done in Step 17. The two holes that are designed to take the recoil cylinder assembly and part C13 have a small rectangular obstruction on their inside, so it was necessary to trim down the mount pins for them to fit flush, another example of mount pins and holes not matching up in this kit. The guard rails were also installed and the whole assembly set off to the side to dry for a bit. You'll notice that the placement of the left side rail blocks the breech block from being able to function properly, this is how Trumpeter designed it all to go together, there's no other way to assemble it, and produces another accuracy issue to consider. 

The other main sub-assembly deals with the main gun barrel, muzzle brake, and mantlet. Each of these are constructed from two halves, so seams are an issue. The muzzle brake halves are molded with 2 locator pins that are supposed to aid in alignment but actually produces the opposite and it was necessary to remove the pins and glue the halves together and align them manually. Even with that adjustment a small amount of putty was needed on the top join and very careful sanding required to eliminate the inevitable seam. The detail on the muzzle brake is not high to begin with, the locking nut on the top is essentially just a molded on dot and the collar itself is only faintly molded and the resulting sanding didn't help much to keep that intact. Flash was present inside the baffles and had to be carefully removed, once the two halves were joined I also used a round needle file to remove the flash on the circular opening so as to preserve its shape.

The mantlet also fit generally well together, only needing a small spot of putty where the sprue attachment points had been but it's seam was a little harder to deal with due to the complex curves it has. The barrel halves went together without any issue, the only bright spot of the three, and just required some light sanding to remove its seam.

The next item was to join the gun elements together with the mantlet and install it into the turret. The "D" shaped location post on the gun barrel didn't line up properly with the corresponding hole on the muzzle brake, so I removed the post entirely and sanded it down and glued the brake directly to it. This required some very careful adjusting to get it positioned correctly and centered.

I installed the barrel to the mantlet and the base of the barrel is supposed to fit flush into the mantlet sleeve. The actual fit wasn't quite there, so some additional putty work was necessary to fill the small gaps.

The "cheeks" on the mantlet are supposed to be integrated in with the bolt strips that Trumpeter molded into the turret directly. Once the mantlet and gun are installed, there are gaps that require putty and very careful sanding to correct to avoid destroying the bolt detail in that area.

The final element of this step is the integration of the breech in with the turret. The end of the breech has a circular element that mates up with the gun and figuring out just the right alignment takes a bit of effort and multiple dry-fits before committing to glue. Some back and forth and strategic sanding was necessary to get the fit right and insure the breech lined up with the gun itself, but eventually I got there.

The test fit with the lower turret half shows that everything is an extremely tight fit. The gunner's chair rests right up against the recoil guard for example and the space tolerances for all the various gear and instruments is tight.  As a result, I'm going to paint the turret top and bottoms separate so I'll have room to work with the remaining gear after the initial painting is done.

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