Saturday, September 21

ICM light our modelling fire as we build their L1500S firetruck..

Softskin choices are soon running out It seems in 35th scale military vehicles – so we are making our way into civilian and Para-military vehicles. Today’s review is one of the latter – a German Nazi-era Mercedes L1500S firetruck with LSA trailer from ICM Models

L1500S LLG WWII German Light Fire Truck
ICM Models
Tan Styrene (8 sprues) Clear (1 Sprue) + 9 vinyl tires
Decals for 2 choices
We got ours from: Waile Models

ICM Models from Ukraine were first to the market with the 1/35th scale L1500 light military vehicle a year or so ago – it was a basic kit and the open variants were soon overshadowed by the newer and more detailed models by MiniArt. The MiniArt kit is a vastly superior exercise in detail and complication. The kit is amazing but a real pain in the rear to put together. It takes three times as long to build this that the equivalent but lesser detailed ICM version.

What if you could have the ease of production and kit making whilst still using the L1500 kit? Well, make one that is very close up so no one can see the lack of detail that’s how! The ICM Model people have gotten to the punch first with their latest derivative of the Mercedes L1500 the Mercedes Benz L1500S fire truck. This is the first boxing of this model of the LLG- "Leichtes Lösch Gruppen"-Fahrzeug (later called LF8) on an MB L1500S in this scale. Seeing that MiniArt ARE bringing this out as well later this year – and the fact that it will be a super detailed kit – there is a choice, between two modelling approaches and I thought by building this we would at least know how one of the choices goes together.
The kit comes in the attractive red lined box with a green German fire engine and trailer on the side. The reason for the truck being green is that at the time German fire departments were part of the police forces. The fire fighters had to wear modified police uniforms and the name was changed from "Feuerwehr" to "Feuerlöschpolizei" (fire extinguish police) or "Feuerschutzpolizei" (fire protection police). There were, however, Panzer yellow and Grau truck as well – more on that but let’s quickly look at the colour choices
There are two choices of colour schemes supplied out of the box with the help of a decal sheet printed by Bergemot. These are not all in register and the instrument dials are affected particularly by this fact, the number plates are out of whack as well but all you need to do is trim them once on the kit. Both choices are of police vehicles but one is a green vehicle whilst the other the same colour but with the fire service lettering on both the truck and trailer.
There are vinyl tyres which represent the truck’s and trailers treads – love them or loath them that’s your choice here – I actually don’t mind them as they only need some pigments and they look pretty good. Though how they will last in perpetuity is anyone’s guess. They are quick and easy and that is ICM’s ethos with this kit.
There are clear transparencies with this kit – and although it makes sense to button this kit up you can if you cut the windows down show the truck with the windows partially open. The “windows” are clear and thin enough. A little trim is needed on one of the lights but hey “that’s modelling”!
The main kit is made of four main sprues of tan making up the truck and trailer and four smaller sprues with the wheels on them.  The plastic is flash free almost and there aren’t lots of nodes everywhere which seems to be the fashion with more and more complex model kits on the market. In the box and with the limited part count his seems like a simple kit and an easy build. We will go through what is on each before we build it.

Sprue A - engine & Chassis
This sprue contains the entire engine and the chassis of the truck. All of the parts of the engine are close together as are the leaf springs (only a slight seam on these)
The chassis was long and they follow along with the border of the sprue – mine were bent but this was fixed during assembly.

Sprue B

…contains the main bodywork of the truck, the floor and roof, the internal doors and internal wooden slat seats for the firemen.
The roof is a split-level affair we will see better later. It joins both of the sides of the body in a joint along the top of the truck.

Sprue C
A lot of parts on this – this sprue houses the whole sides of the truck – all doors moulded closed up – as well as the bumper bar and the front firewall and cabin.
There are also the four fenders and the slated hood cover (bonnet) that can be posed open or closed

Sprue D (x4)
The truck’s wheels are represented on this sprue – they are a simple affair and detailed enough – not as much as some but not as complicated to put together either. There is a spare wheel for the roof as stowage as well.

Sprue G
Sprue F contains the parts for the TSA trailer which housed the pump and other fire fighting machinery. This again is hollow and has no interior. There are fire hoses for the truck’s running boards as well as two ladders foe the roof of the truck as well. This is a separate sprue which pretty much makes the difference between this fire fighting truck and either a possible later ambulance or a radio truck. Both similar to the base L1500S truck in all but internal and the searchlights.
Well, that’s all there is to the kit – let’s make it up – firstly let’s look at the instructions.
The instructions are a simple black and white affair – nothing flashy here, just a sprue map, a simple into of two paragraphs, a colour call out in model master colours and thirty-five steps which all looked pretty simple to me. There are a little vague in some small steps, but not in error at all quite adequate really.

The build:
You start by putting together the engine. This is a detailed and passable reproduction of the L1500 engine and this can be displayed inside an open bonnet if you wish – the only part that can be shown off in fact. After a few bits of engine wire look, this could be a feature of you left it open.
The wheels go together really easily next. These are made of three parts each. The wheel, rim and tyre, all sooo easy compared to the MiniArt truck of the same type – but less detailed. You make your own choice really – but I like FINISHING models a lot more than just building them!
The Rubber tyres did each have a blemish on the place they were removed from the “sprue” that they were injected on. This wasn’t too bad as this is the bottom of your tyre. You can see the marks on the picture above – not a big deal in the end and easy to conceal - but not eradicate...

The chassis and suspension are next. This is a little delicate and you will need to strengthen it a little with some more solid glue when you get it all together. Like I mentioned my chassis was very bent out of shape as you see in the picture below of the assembly.
Easily fixed though - as it all goes together straight when glue and some bending pressure is applied liberally. There are no fiddly photo-etched parts to busy up a section of the truck that in reality no one even looks at. The two side running boards will need some strengthening as well – I used super glue as reinforcement.
Once the wheels go on the axles and they are joined – along with the engine to the chassis you are already at step 16! This build is flying…
The seats for the front cab and the rear wooden decks for the crew go into the shell of the truck next. Seeing this was all to be buttoned up I thought I would paint it inside before I sealed it up. Once together it is pretty strong. But be aware to reinforce the top seam where the roof meets the vehicle if you can with some strong glue.

I used Vallejo paints inside the truck – for their no-smell and ease of application I chose to do the whole vehicle in Vallejo paint. I made sure I included the paint bottles in the review pics so you could see the colours I used in each step of the painting. I hope it helps!

The dash board I painted black and all of the interior walls and floor German grey – I used the decals for the instrument panel – but I did not haggle much more over the inside as it would be so unseen anyway. The cabin is very closed so I would try and at least leave the driver’s window half open to see SOMETHING!
The wooden benches were painted a wooden colour with leather brown and highlighted with a drybrush of deck tan – the do-it-all colour when white just doesn’t cut it.
I decided to close the bonnet – in keeping with the ethos of a quick and easy build I sealed up the truck – and turned my attention to the trailer.

The trailer went together very easily - the tow bracket can be posed in a parked or a towing position which is nice. I left mine up in a parked possie – the only thing I found annoying about the trailer were the delicate poles on the rear for width guides – I left mine off for now. Also delicate and in need of reinforcement are the roof railings. A dab of superglue in each corner/joint would fix this and is advised.
The three main elements of this truck were now complete – this is an excellent feature to have the engine and chassis able to be installed later – so you can paint separately on the parts is a massive help.

Painting with Vallejo Acrylics
I plan to use this kit on maybe a future diorama for an airfield – around maybe the new (highly flammable) Me163 that is on the way to us from MENG – so mine was going to be a Luftwaffe fire truck. I really am not interested this time in doing a green and black civilian version – that might come next time...

I wanted to check out how Vallejo paints “chipped.”  I have heard not so complimentary things about their chipping performance and I was wary as I knew they could be delicate when wet. Here goes!

Firstly I sued MR Hobby Masking Sol for the masking job of the windows – I hadn’t used it on a vehicle before and wanted to see how it went. On the half opened window I used a bit of paper I cut to shape and stuck it onto the cut-down window to create a seal. In the end, I found it stuck to the paint a bit - so next time I will use it for just touching up or chipping effects.
I found the gap between the front windscreen and roof needed some putty – so I used Tamiya putty on the joint and it was no longer visible.

I started the painting process with Vallejo RAL 8012 German Red/Brown primer on the outside of the bodies
And on the running boards – I left the chassis and engine German grey – as this truck was going to get some wet and dried mud later and the detail would be muddied over. Simple and fast!!
I used some of the very tough Alclad 2 Lacquer as a barrier and as insurance over the RAL 8012 German Red/Brown primer – it would add a bit of protection and “Just in case” confidence for me. I then used some regular hairspray misted over at a distance straight from the can.
As the base grey I wanted it dark in the lower and less exposed to sunlight parts. I used Model air 71052 German Grey with a little model air black on these lower parts. I did not cover the top as I did not want the paint to be too thick on the parts that would have the most chipping on them.
Everyone goes on about a “German Grey/blue” colour on early WWII Wehrmacht vehicles. Panzergrau was actually pretty dark and not really blue – but scale effect can sometimes lighten a vehicle. I like to be fashionable so the second coat was a German grey again with a touch of white and a mid-blue colour which gave it just a hint of blue. I avoided the darker seams like the engine hood and doors with this mid shade and left them dark.
For the roof and highlights of the vehicle, I omitted any blue from this last mix and went for a very light shade of German grey – I applied it around the edges of all of the high parts – also on the fenders and door sills that faced up. When airbrushing this I always faced straight down. It is too light i know but that is part of the wicked plan...
Chipping or – “hold on to your butts” 
When chipping I used some water which I brushed on in the way that the rain would flow off the vehicle – then rubbed it with firstly a stiff brush and then a toothpick. I took care to use a heat gun to quickly dry the vehicle straight after - it sure set my mind at ease to see the paint tighten up again! I made sure not to touch the wet parts with fingers!
So far the vehicle was a bit light – on purpose – as I wanted to weather it a fair bit. This always darkens things up and my experience has been to over lighten a bit. Or of it is a little too dark just highlight a bit more and use some lightening weathering. My choice was the former.

Sticking with the Vallejo theme I used their new odourless washes to darken the vehicle around all of the door seams and skirting the vehicle. I wanted a wet looking and muddy truck that is used on thick European turf so I chose a mix of light grey and grass green washes. The light grey was actually darker than my truck at that point – which was what I wanted. The darker grey was used as streaks from the top while the green came to meet it from the bottom. I was impressed with both the bonnet and roof which all were washed in the same direction and looked very nice and varied along with the chipping.
Again a heat gun will be your friend as you need to wet the vehicle – then let the wash run, and then clean it off and quickly zap it with the heat gun – ZZZZZZTTT !

Next, I used a variation of three shades of Vallejo pigments which I mixed together to make a dark dirt colour. On the picture below you can see a light dusting as an experiment.
As these firetrucks are often seen pretty clean in restoration pictures now I wanted to show mine as a truck in use in the cold of the European winter – this called for MUD! I did not want to have it caked on – just a splattering that the vehicle might have picked up on the way across the field – I added to the base dirt with some wet flicks of my fat thick brush. Splattered in all of the underside bits including the running boards and front of the trailer where the truck would splatter it.  I wanted it to look newly dirty – not dilapidated.

I used the pigments on the wheels as well – it looked pretty nice considering they are vinyl! (left is stock - right is dusty but not yet a little muddy 
I forgot to show you the process of the woodgrain – I used some old and new wood in Vallejo colours in layers with a thin flat brush in variations to resemble the woodgrain. The stretchers were a canvas so I used my fave deck tan again. I also used this on the white fenders.
I used the Luftwaffe number plates from the Opel Kapitan I am making as the Police ones would not do in this instance.
Well there it is – I sealed it with the Vallejo matt varnish and after some slight touch ups I was very happy to have the paint and the kit come together so easily. The build was fast and fun and it does look pretty good in the end.
So even though we haven’t seen the MiniArt car yet there are clearly two way of making this fire truck. Complicated, PE ridden, delicate but incredibly detailed as the MiniArt truck will be – or less detailed, easy to build and actually finished in a week – this gem of a kit from ICM
A great – simple build with a few variations and a lot of potential.

Adam Norenberg

Thanks to the guys at Wai le Model Centre whom I got my kit from