Wednesday, November 27

Build Guide Pt IV: Meng's 35th scale M911 C-HET & M747 Semi-Trailer Finale

Andy Moore has finished the great big MENG M911 C-HET & M747 Semi-Trailer in 35th scale in the sixth part of his guide with tips on construction, painting & weathering tips using AK-Interactive materials...

Build Guide: M911 C-HET & M747 Semi-Trailer
Manufacturer – Meng Models
Product Number – Stegosaurus Series SS-013
Scale - 1/35th 
Product Link & Distributors on the Meng Website
Price -  ¥20,000 - US$196 - £147 - €160 from Hobby Link Japan
Previous five parts of this build story:
In-Boxed: Meng's 1/35th scale M911 C-HET & M747 Semi-Trailer
In-Boxed Pt II: Meng's 1/35th scale M911 C-HET & M747 Semi-Trailer 
Build Guide Pt I: Meng's M911 C-HET & M747 Semi-Trailer
Build Guide Pt II: Meng's 35th scale M911 C-HET & M747 Semi-Trailer
Build Guide Pt III: Meng's 35th scale M911 C-HET & M747 Semi-Trailer

Today: Build Guide Pt IV: Meng's 35th scale M911 C-HET & M747 Semi-Trailer Finale
Well, it's been quite a while since the last update on the Meng M911 and trailer build – lots of other projects cropping up in the intervening time that kept pushing this one back. Apologies for the delays, but it's finally time to get this marathon build finished.
Last time out we got the C-HET chassis on its wheels and began the painting and weathering process. That left just the cab and winch assembly to complete the build.
Starting with the winch, this is built up on a large base which also forms the wheel arches for the pusher axle. It's best to keep the cable drums and motors for the twin winches separate at this point, as getting access for painting would be tricky if the unit was fully constructed. I laid down some pre-shading on the top of the base unit, although this wasn't really necessary as I subsequently did most of the painting and weathering with the winch still in sub-assemblies.
A length of braided steel wire is included for the winch cables which need cutting to length and wrapping around the two drums. The wire is quite springy so, to keep it from unravelling, I temporarily taped the loose end down and dribbled superglue over the windings, letting it seep between the strands and setting them in place.
The winch motors needed a little clean-up on the joint seams which would potentially damage some of the detail moulded around the edge of the parts. In the end, it was simpler to sand the raised details away and replace them with scrap styrene and bolt heads.
The winch base, together with the control box and oil reservoir, were given a coat of Real Color CARC Tan (RC079), lightened with a little Iraqi Sand (RC104). I then added some paint chipping using AK NATO Green as this would have been the original colour of the M911s before they were repainted for service in the Gulf during Desert Storm.
The main weathering was also done while the parts were still in their sub-assemblies. This consisted of various enamel washes in assorted grime, rust and dirt tones, along with more paint chipping with both NATO Green and a darker rust colour. Since I'm representing an old out-of-service vehicle, the weathering was intentionally on the heavy side.
The completed winch assembly is the first of these units to install. This drops easily into place on the chassis frame directly over the pusher axle. Placing the oil reservoir is a little more tricky as the pipes extending from it need to be threaded between the framework of the winch base and connected to attachment points on the inside of those frames. Once you've got it in place though, it fits fine.
With all those assemblies in place, the rear of the C-HET is essentially finished. Only the coiled pneumatic 'Suzie' hoses need adding, but these, along with their support strut, are quite delicate and are best left until the end of the build.
The cab is the final main assembly to build up, and construction starts with the seats. Out of the box, these look a little rigid and boxy, especially for a well-used truck such as the one I'm representing here.
After being suitably roughed up with a coarse sanding stick, the seats were looking a little more realistic. With their respective base frames built up and added, they're ready to be installed in the cab. In my case, I decided to also add some simplified lap belts, made from lengths of Tamiya masking tape and squares of styrene for the buckles.
The front side of the cab features a nicely detailed dashboard which mounts to the front bulkhead. The instructions tell you to add the windscreen before attaching the dashboard, as that's the only clear part that's installed from the inside. I prefer to leave clear parts out until the main painting is done whenever possible. After removing the windscreen from the clear sprue to check that it could be installed after the dash is fitted (it can be), I went ahead and left it out. This had an unintended knock-on effect later in the build, but more of that later. For now, leaving the glazing out is the better option, although if you do want to add it at this stage, Meng includes a full set of masks for both the inside and outside of the clear parts. You'll also spot a few ejector pin marks on the firewall and windscreen frame. They wouldn't be too noticeable on the finished build, but it's best to fill them all the same.
The seats and cab floor/rear wall were painted up separately, before being brought together for final weathering. The main cab interior was painted with AK  APC Interior Green (RC078) then the seats and floor mat were brush painted in Vallejo Dark Rubber. Weathering consisted of various enamel dirt and grime washes, together with dry pigment scrubbed onto the floor and seats. Meng's very nice stencil and placard decals finished off the cab interior.
The front of the cab was finished as a separate unit, complete with the bonnet (hood) and front grill. The interior and dashboard were painted and weathered in the same manner as the rear of the cab.
The radiator grill needed bending to shape before it's attached to the front of the bonnet, and Meng provides a handy 2-part jig for doing that job. It's best to anneal the brass beforehand by heating it in a flame for a few seconds. This softens the metal, making it much easier to fold to the correct shape.
The front and rear cab sections were attached, the window apertures masked off from the inside, and the roof and doors temporarily added to enable the whole unit to be sprayed as one. The same mix of CARC Tan and Iraqi Sand was used again, keeping the palest tones to the upper areas where the paint would naturally fade more. With the painting done, the roof and doors could be removed again and the glazing added.
Ah yes, the glazing. This is where the problem I alluded to earlier arose. After I'd removed the windscreen from the clear sprue to check the access while fitting the dashboard, I'd wrapped it up and put it somewhere safe. I'm sure you can guess where this is going. Yes, predictably, I couldn't find it when it came time to fit it. Long story short, I ended up having to make a new one from clear styrene sheet. Unfortunately, the sheet I used was quite brittle and the screen cracked on one corner while I was trimming it to shape. I was all set to throw this first attempt away and cut a new one when it occurred to me that I could use this to my advantage. I splintered the broken corner a little more, then added more cracks by scratching the surface with a needle. Voila, one intentionally shattered windscreen, which of course was my intention all along (ahem).
While I was modifying the glazing, I decided to replace one of the door windows with a partly opened one. The new shorter window was cut from a thinner and more flexible clear sheet to prevent the previous problems, using the original part as a template.
Since this build is meant to represent an ex-service machine in private hands, I wanted to add some extra individuality to the model. To that end, I sourced a Punisher logo decal from Bad Mother Customs on eBay and added it to the driver's door.  The passenger door was finished in NATO tri-colour camo to represent a replacement part. The door glazing, together with the rest of the windows had been sprayed with a 50/50 mix of clear blue and clear green before installation.
Weathering on the cab exterior was done mainly with AK and Lifecolor acrylics. These were used both straight from the pot, applied with a brush and sponge, and also thinned with a glaze medium to create subtler effects such as rust streaks and stains.
Just the last few details to add now starting with the bull bars, which come as a nice single-part moulding. That does mean there are a few awkward mould lines to remove though, and I chose to remove the thin bars over the headlight housings to allow better access to clean up the area behind them. The bars were then replaced with lengths of stretched sprue.
To finish the off the bull bars, I replaced some of the bolt heads with sharper versions from a Meng accessory set, and also bent one end of the bumper and a couple of the bars to show more wear and tear.
The bars were painted up and weathered to match in with the rest of the cab. The Punisher name was hand-painted to tie in with the door logo, and the hazard stripes added to the ends of the bumper to create a visual focal point.
The exhaust pipe can be built up and painted as a separate unit, before being attached to the cab. The perforated shield around the upper pipe is supplied as a PE part and needs to be wrapped around a supplied former to get the correct shape. As with the radiator grill, annealing the brass first makes this step much easier. The exposed sections of pipe were textured with dark rust-coloured pigments stippled over acrylic resin.
The cab is finished off with the frame holding the door mirrors, the wipers, and the roof lights. The lights are much too small to paint individually, so they were attached first, then touched in with clear orange.
The very last things to add are the pneumatic hoses at the back. As mentioned earlier, the support post is very fragile, and I managed to snap mine in two while trying to thread the hoses through the eye on the end. I was able to repair it, but you do need to take great care with this part. The hoses themselves are provided as lengths of plastic-coated wire, and will need to be wrapped around something like a drill bit to get the coiled shape. I added short lengths of aluminium tube to the ends of the hoses to represent the couplings.
The end of the line...
Well, this has been a marathon build, having been started over a year ago, but it's finally finished. To be fair to the kit, the protracted build time wasn't down to any issues with the kit, just a case of lots of other projects competing for available time. 
In truth, the kit was a joy to build and, particularly, to paint and weather. Having said that, there's no getting around the fact that it is a big project, both in terms of construction, and in the size of the finished model (about 56cm/22” with the trailer). It's a very rewarding project though – take your time with it, enjoy the build, and you'll end up with a fantastic model that will be the centrepiece of any military model collection.

A closer look at some of the details of the truck
Lastly, the ruck, tailer and some load added to it...
Highly recommended (if you've got the time and space)

Andy Moore

Other parts of this build story:

Thanks to MENG for supplying this trailer and truck for Andy to review and to build for you...
Thanks also to AK Interactive for sending Andy the paint & weathering materials to finish this build off so nicely - the load he used is shown here 😀