FRAG: Build thread for 1/16th RC Hetzer
Gentlemen: Some of you have asked for a “build thread” for my 1/16th RC Hetzer. This will be very lengthy as there are quite a few pictures to the story. Some of you may have already seen this on other Forums that I visit. This model is essentially a resin top hull, metal lower hull, reinforced running gear and lots of brass PE. Rather than make a master hull from scratch, I took one from a static resin kit and cut off the side, rear and front walls, and then hollowed out the underside of the remaining upper hull. This took a lot of time with a Dremel cutting tool and created a tremendous amount of resin dust, which means you where a protective mask.
I chose the paint scheme loosely based on another model that I had pictures of. Mine didn’t turn out quite the way I had hoped, but none the less its pretty nice looking. These first couple pictures are repeats showing the overall finished model on my photography diorama.
The next set of pictures show the basic components to the kit I made. Its of a true “craftsman” nature, because it requires good modeling skills for drilling & tapping fasteners, installing all the electronics and radio system, modification to the tracks so they are durable, brass fabrication and soldering, and of course painting, detailing and weathering. First you have an indication of all the parts (most made from resin castings from RTV molds I created), the Upper Resin Hull, the 2 part Rubber Mold that weighs a ton, a template for drilling holes, the Lower Metal Hull, the Gear Box Assembly and the Return Roller Assembly. The Return Roller was cast in low temp metal called pewter, and I had intended to make the Drive Sprocket out of pewter as well, but was unable to come up with a crisp enough casting, so I changed over to a powdered aluminum/resin casting and that has worked just fine.
These pictures will show you the brass PE parts I elected to make instead of using resin parts. I enjoy creating parts in brass, although there is a real challenge to soldering. I like the feel and look that comes with metal, but styrene fabrication can also achieve a durable result. The pictures show the 4 Fenders, the Muffler (this was challenge as it was so thin, but I was able to bend and solder it around a wood dowel, and then mate the two cylinders), the side Schirtzen, and the MG armored plates (also note that I made miniature hinges for the hatches). The Hetzer had a fixed mounted MG that was controlled automatically from inside. The last pictures are of the wood Jack Block, Tool Box, the Gunner’s Scope bracket and one of the extra Track link Retention Brackets (total of 3). Making the Butterfly Nuts for these was a real challenge….soldering 3 tiny parts together took a lot of patience and a lot of repeat effort.
The next set of pictures is mostly of the inside electronics and track. I prefer Tamiya controls over HL or Mato, so my design was to accommodate these, but I will add that there would probably be more room inside using HL electronics. The first 2 pictures show all of the Electronics and Gearboxes fully installed. Everything is hard wired to save room and to limit excess wires getting tangled. Next is the the Speaker and the styrene frame for holding it in place. This is not the speaker that comes with standard Tamiya models. Because of space limitations, I bought an oblong shaped one and mounted it so it could be easily removed. Next is a picture showing the entire underside of the Upper Hull. I used 2 “mini servos” for MG and Barrel control. The MG servo was rewired so that it has 2-wire actuation (just like a regular motor) and power/speed is limited with a Potentiometer(Rheostat). There was no room for a design to make the Barrel move both up/down as well as sideways, nor for recoil, so I elected to go with sideways movement only and the second mini servo does that. It still has 3-wire control, so it is plugged directly into the radio receiver. The next picture shows the Battery configuration. This is a standard 7.2 volt rechargeable, reconfigured to fit the small confines of the Hetzer. I also installed a charging jack into the circuit so that it can be recharged from the exterior of the model. The next to last picture shows the Track Links and Pins. It was not practical to make 144 individual cast links and to drill 288 holes, nor did I think that resin would stand up under operational demands, so I chose to use Tamiya’s 1/25th scale plastic Panther tracks. These are the only ones I could find with the correct double guide fin pattern for the wheels. Using these tracks also required a retooling of the Drive Sprocket to have a couple less teeth and afforded the opportunity to beef them up a bit. The true Hetzer drive sprocket has more pointed teeth, but the modified one still looks good. I cut off all the original plastic hinges in each track link, drilled out two holes in each one and inserted steel pins so that the track would hold together under operation. The Track result is a bit stiff, but runs OK and slows the Gearbox speed down somewhat. The last picture is of the rear of the Upper Hull with most of the brass and cable parts installed. This model is also wired for Tamiya's TBU which can be seen in picture 4 under the white styrene.
I’d like to show next what was required for the painting design. All the basic work was completed with an airbrush set at about 12 psi. The intention was to have a brown “dot” pattern over a light green base. I don’t normally use acrylic paints, but it was the only choice for the green color I wanted. The brown pattern was done in enamel and over this was added chalk weathering (affixed with Testor’s Dullcoat), with final coatings of very light brown and dirt color sprayed directly from spray cans. Be careful here, as you have to move the can very quickly from side to side so the coating is light. Don’t over do it, wait for it to dry to see the actual effect, and if you are then satisfied, spray the whole model in Dullcoat one last time. In a couple of close up pictures you will note a few small paint spots on the muffler. This is what happens if the can was not shaken well enough and/or the spray can is not moved fast enough sideways.
Pictures 1-2 show how the Upper Hull was taped with the pattern. A small hand held hole punch created the hole pattern. Pictures 3-4 show the brown paint over-sprayed. The dots were very definitive in Pictures 3 and 4, but in Picture 5 shows where I tried to blend the dots and buffer the hard edge lines some……resulting in pretty much obliterating the dot pattern. Not what I had wanted, but “oh well” once done, you have to live with it. Picture 6 shows the overall model weathered with chalks so that you end up with a dirty diffused look. Picture 7-8 are of the Drive Sprocket. I like my models to look dirty from operation, so I tend to add chalks in heavy doses, coated by Dullcoat. You can see this effect in a number of the finished photos later on, where dirt seems piled here and there.
These last pictures show much of the final painted and weathered parts for your viewing pleasure. Most of the details and stowage are hand made or cast in resin from my RTV Molds. Hope you enjoyed this write-up and explanation of how to create your own, hand crafted RC Hetzer in 1/16th scale.