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M-10 tank destroyers (1:72)

Taking the Armourfast very basic kit for wargamers and improving on it

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Paul C22/03/2008 23:56:00
3425 forum posts
6594 photos
4 articles

OK. In between doing the ground work for a book review for the site (haven't forgotten, Vinnie!) by actually reading the books, and reviewing blogs done so far.  I think I've done everything I can (for the moment) on 1:72 BT-13 Katyuschya rocket launchers. The Pnz III ausf f conversion is done and dusted. 

 So what should my next build blog be?  I had a look at the stack for something fun and inspiring to do which would hopefully not be too complex, provide a challenge and be interesting to photograph and describe here.

I remembered I have  a stack of Armourfast tank and AFV kits. Paydirt.

 For those who might not have come accross these before, Armourfast are a kit development by those clever people at HäT Industrie, a company which principally offers an impressively wide selection of polythene figure sets in 1:72/1:76/20mm scale.  (You want those really obscure Napoleonics from a minor Transylvanian principality? Check HäT's lists. You want WW2 Polish and Romanian infantry? HäT do them. Ever wondered who's got the licence to sell the formerly Airfix Roman Legion and Ancient Briton figures you remember from childhood? Look no further.)

Anyway, the Armourfast concept offers, for a notional £5.99 a box,  two full tank models, aimed at the wargamer, or perhaps at the modeller with reasons to want to do multiples of the same topic.  The range includes what you might call the usual suspects - various models of M4 Sherman, the T34, the Pnz III ausf l, the StüG III, and other very popular lines. They also do a VERY nice British Cromwell, a surprising choice but pleasant to have as a "multiple"  two-per-box kit.

 Anyway, I came across he Armourfast models of the American M10 tank destroyer, and its closely related stablemate, the British M10 Achilles. As might be expected with models aimed at wargamers, where everything is stripped down to the "cheap and cheerful" level to keep the unit cost as low as possible,  construction is simplified to no more than 20 parts per completed tank.  This still makes most of the models in the Armourfast range fairly acceptible, (as long as nobody looks too closely at the one-piece suspension assembly where roadwheels and tracks are cast as a single integrated whole) . Superdetailing is always an option, but most of the tanks in this range are good enough for it to remain optional. 

But in the case of the M10 models, superdetailing becomes mandatory, if these nice little wargames pieces want to be recognised as more than just a cheap expedient for the gamer.  For one thing, they have open turrets and an awful lot of what goes on insode the model is visible. There's no getting around this - as no internal detail is provided for these models, it must be added. Otherwise those gun barrells, going into an otherwise cavernously empty turret, are just going to look wrong.

So this is where I started, by scratchbuilding new gun breeches... 

Alan Bradbury23/03/2008 00:12:00
1176 forum posts
3 articles

Some of that HaT stuff is pretty good. I'm using some of their Persian Heavy Infantry figures on my Crusade diorama, it's a bit 'flashy' in places, but the poses are good, so nothing a new scalpel blade cannot cure. Are those vehicles in the same vinyl (a la the OO/HO stuff from years ago?), or are they normal kit plastic?


Paul C23/03/2008 00:26:00
3425 forum posts
6594 photos
4 articles

The box (apologies for flash reflection)

The basic kit parts - there are two full kits per box.

The Armourfast kit parts plus a completed Fujimi M36 Jackson underneath - I know it's not exactly the same model, but nearly enough related to act as a visual  aid re.layout of turret, construction of gun breech and other fine detail.It lso shows how much of the turret interior will be visible from outside.

 Hi Alan - they're the same styrene plastic that we know and love and are familiar with!

Using the 3" gun breech in the M36 model as guide, taking the first steps to copying what is visible for installation in the Armourfast M10's.  A length of 4mm tube will be used to represent the part of the gun barrel normally inside the turret, the breech block will be built up from plastic card  and milliput, and the other parts, ie recoil cylinders, progressively built up around it.

Paul C23/03/2008 00:54:00
3425 forum posts
6594 photos
4 articles

But to begin with the hull and turret parts:-

The M10 series were open-topped and the turrets did not work on a simple "peg on turret base locates in the hole on top of hull" principle. So a lot of opening up needs to be done as part of the detail build.

No quick way - just scribed around the inside of the turret ring with the point of a scalpel until the big plastic disc just popped out, then cleaned up the edges of the hole. That big bucket-like location hole for the turret made it impossible to use my circle cutting tool, which would have been far quicker!

Using a drill going up through the original location peg, to provide a pilot hole in exactly the right place to key the circle cutter to, in order to take out the unwanted turret base.

The turret now conforms to the prototype tank. This was the easy bit prior to superdetailing! The hull behind has had the turret location peg hole plated over - this is to facilitate use of the circle cutter.

Paul C23/03/2008 01:14:00
3425 forum posts
6594 photos
4 articles

Scratchbuilding a breech for the US 3" anti-tank gun (in its AFV-mounted variant). As might have been mentioned before, any complex structure, when you study it to see how it all fits, eventually gives up its secrets and breaks down into a series of simpler shapes.

At centre-right, there is length of 4mm tube which has been fixed to a rectangualr piece of card which will be the basis for the breech-block. Note two side pieces have been cut (the rectangles to either side)

Another view of the basic tube (top right). Below, the pieces representing the sides of breech block have been sloped and shaped as appropriate.

The basic card assembly of the breech block shape is complete (below). It will be filled and shaped with Milliput.

Paul C23/03/2008 01:14:00
3425 forum posts
6594 photos
4 articles

Collars and braces need to be created to firmly attach the gun breech to its recuperator/recoil cylinders. Start by drilling appropriately sized holes in card - effectively the collars are being built from the holes outwards!

A shaped and completed collar - measuring approx 9mm at its widest point. But don't stop here, it needs two of these, and they have to be pretty much identical!

Two collars are needed for the breech assembly.

To quote the blessed St Rolf, Can y' see what it iz, yit? Using short but thick lengths of HSS for the outer cylinders, the basic gun breech (right) may be assembled. Note that this still needs final shaping and sanding. The breech on the left still needs its collars and recoil cylinders. And there is still more detail work that needs to go on after the basic shape has been achieved!

(And after this, the gun breeches for the British M10's, as the 17pndr had a radically different look to the 3" inside the turret...)

Eyal Reinfeld23/03/2008 05:55:00
776 forum posts
1 photos
9 articles


Good work on the breech. This is gooing to be a very interesting build.

Will be following closely.

Thanks for the blog,


Beaver2223/03/2008 14:26:00
1784 forum posts
591 photos
10 articles

Great modifications dude, that's some fine detail!


Paul C23/03/2008 18:52:00
3425 forum posts
6594 photos
4 articles

The lovely indispensible circle cutter - dirt cheap from a discount arts store and the best tool buy I made in some time! Here seen cutting turret floors.

Showing use of circle cutter - like a heavily modified compass, but sturdier, and with the pencil replaced by a vertically mounted scriber blade. I'm really impressed by this - bought in a discount arts shop for two or three quid, with a cutting mat and pack of spare blades thrown in gratis.

According to George Forty, the rear part of the turret incorporated storage for rounds. Cutting parts for one of the ammo bins from card.  A "back" to the bin has been curved and glued inside the turret ring. A ring of card, 23mm dimeter and 4mm wide, has been cut and split into two halves for top and bottom of the bin. The upper half-ring has been drilled out to represent location holes for 3" rounds.

Thanks guys!

 Today's work:-

Using Wills "chequer" card (designed to represent metal gridded flooring) a rudimentary hull floor has been fitted at the appropriate scale height. A rudimentary bulkhead has been fitted with card to seal off the engine compartment. I'm not sure how much of this will be visible from outside but it provides a basis for installing further inner detail. (Geroge Forty's "M4 Sherman" should provide this)

 Note turret floor to left.

Paul C23/03/2008 19:01:00
3425 forum posts
6594 photos
4 articles

A ring was cut with the circle cutter, split into two 180 degree segments, and the upper half drilled to represent location holes for 3" rounds. Here it has been fitted into place.

Ammo bin parts (almost all) installed. Checking the turret still fits with them in place! Note turret floor slotted into place underneath.


The 3" gun breeches to be fitted into the Armourfast M10's. A lot of cutting and trimming is to happen where the breech assemblies fit into the reverse of the mantlet. Some small fine detil is yet to be added - gun sights, retaining bolts, et c.

Checking the gun breech can be correctly located to the upper turret. (memo - probably will be located a little further forward to allow for recoil). No obvious problems.

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