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As a truck lover, and when I built this model some time ago, my main goal was to build the most impressive truck of the Second World War. I had some scratch building experience behind me, but when I began the project it was clear that I had to make a greater effort. It was not a simple truck; it had a lot of strange pieces with strange shapes!

Pic 1: The completed model painted and weathered rests on a stretch of track with wooden blocks under its stabilising jacks.

Historical Background

The Faun Company of Nurnberg, Germany, specialised in constructing tractors and heavy-duty trucks and, perhaps, the vehicle most people remember that was built by them is the L900, a 9-tonne truck, which, at the beginning of WWII, was used to carry PzKpfw I and II, tanks. These tanks soon became obsolete and the army had no more need of these early tank-transporters, so the L900's were transferred to the engineer companies or used as heavy ammunition supply trucks, especially on the long roads in Russia.

Because they could carry heavy loads, some of these trucks were used as platforms for heavy cranes, becoming the Faun LK5, and the subject of this article. The crane was designed by the Demag Company who produced various designs, albeit with small differences, but all had a capacity of 7-9 tonnes, and a maximum capacity of 10 tonnes.

The crane was electric powered with the supply coming from a generator powered by the truck's diesel engine. Because the crane could lift heavy loads, it was necessary to compensate the Faun chassis for this by adding a counterweight fixed on a track. When the crane was not in use, it was completely dismounted and the counterweight was taken down.

Another peculiarity of the LK5 was its ability to run on railway tracks, and thus it was used by engineer companies, especially railway engineers. The change, from road to track was however, very difficult and time-consuming, and it was necessary to remove all the road wheels and fit some specially designed railway wheels onto the rear axles. Because of the truck's overall length, an extra axle, also with special wheels, was fitted under the driver's cab when the LK5 was used on the railway system, and the conventional front axle of the truck was not used.

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Pic 3: Crane pulley blocks and hook, and rear buffer beam and fittings. Pic 4: Driver's cab bonnet and mudguards are vac-formed plastic parts. Pic 6 Crane driver's position and the winding drums for the steel cables. Not the subtle weathering around this area.

Construction

As with all scratch building projects, before construction work can begin, as much information as possible must be gathered. I had only seen some photographs when I decided to build the LK5, but I soon discovered that there was not much other useful information available to me. I then found some more pictures and, most importantly, the basic measurements of the Faun L900, which had the same chassis and cab as the LK5. Plans did not exist, but knowing the basic measurements and having two good side view pictures of the LK5, I decided to draw my own. These were very simple outlines, but enough to get started on my project. Armed with more pictures of other necessary details I finally began to build this monster.

Stage 1

There are four main stages. The chassis, for which I Evergreen plastic strips and sheet. Without Evergreen's pre-cut strips, it would have been virtually impossible for me to attempt such a project. There are of course, other ranges of plastic card, strip etc. The Faun has a very long frame chassis, so I used thick plastic to avoid any bending or breaking. All details such as springs and axles were built up with Evergreen strips. The railway wheels are polyurethane resin copies cast in a mould of an original pattern I turned on a lathe.

Stage 2

The cab area. For the cab roof, bonnet, and mudguards, and because of the round shape and compound curves that these parts have, I used a vacuum-forming technique which is the best way to form such shapes. (There is a very good description of this technique in Tony Greenland's Panzer Modelling Masterclass book). All other details are made from Evergreen strips and sheets. A very laborious job was to make the air intakes on the side panels where I had to make over 200 equal pieces and glue them perfectly upright and parallel to each other!

Stage 3

The bodywork was the most important part and is basically all different boxes, the base of the crane and the buffers. Again, I used Evergreen strip, sheet and rod. The rear mudguards are vac-formed pieces.

Stage 4

The most difficult part of the model is the crane, which is very fragile and can be easily broken if not handled with care. The counterweight and track are the most difficult pieces and I constructed these with Evergreen plastic sheet and strip. For the smallest parts of the winch I used some accessories designed for ship models, whereas the 'wire' cable is made from nylon. It is very important to fix the crane firmly onto the chassis to avoid this high construction literally toppling over. It took me 3 months of my spare time to build the Faun, but the effort was worth it.

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Pic 11: Front-end detail of the LK5 has conventional railway equipment - buffers, coupling, brake pipe and lamps. Note the vehicle width indicator stanchions on the buffer beam, which are more readily found on German road vehicles. Pic 12: Another axle was fitted under the cab for rail travel, replacing the front conventional axle. Pic 13: The large counterweight needed for the crane mounted on the Fun truck. Pic 14: Rear wheels were cast in resin from a master.

Painting

When I started painting the model, my first question was what would the real vehicle look like? It is not a tank.... And not a normal truck, and the weathering would probably be different. A good reference would be railway construction machinery, so I went out to a nearby railway freight station, where I found a lot of examples as full sized reference. My Faun's base colour would be German dark yellow, and railway machinery is normally painted in yellow, so any weathering effects and colours are very similar. I observed that the working parts of the machinery were full of scratches, the moving parts greasy, and driver's cabs were more or less intact. Rust appeared here and there and the undersides seemed to be covered by dark rust.

I began by airbrushing the model with an overall base coat of dark yellow acrylic colour mixed from Tamiya's Dark Yellow XF60, lightened with White XF2, and to give a more satin appearance, I added 30% of Clear X22 (gloss varnish). I always paint my models, especially trucks, with satin paint, because it gives a more realistic appearance for the areas of sheet metal.

The next step was to slightly lighten the base colour adding more white over the the bonnet, cab roof and counterweight. Then a heavily thinned grey-brown paint mix was brushed over the entire model, not like a wash to bring out the detail, but to give the model a more filthy appearance. This was followed by some washes of thinned paint to collect around and enhance the details I had incorporated, and to get into all the 'corners' to give a bit of depth to the model.

I started painting all the scratches, using different shades of red brown to imitate rust and special care must be taken to paint al the scratches as irregular as possible. The floor of the truck, crane and steps were dry brushed with red-brown, whereas some completely metallic parts, like buffers, were painted with a mixture of red-brown and gunmetal.

Every moving part, such as the counterweight track, winch and levelling jacks were over painted with a slightly transparent coat of dark brown oil paint, which gives a greasy appearance. Finally, oil spots under the crane were painted on using Tamiya's transparent Smoke X19 acrylic colour.

The final step was producing the dust on the under surfaces of the model and this was airbrushed in irregular forms using a grey-brown mixture. Final weathering touches were applied with different shades of pastels.

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Acknowledgements

The photographs were taken by fellow modeller Miguel Jimenez.

References

Kraftfahzeuge und Panzer der Reichswehr, Wehrmacht und Bundeswehr, Werner Oswald, Motorbuch Verlag, (Pages 218-221)
Lastkraftwagen der Wehrmacht, Reinhard Frank, Podzum-Pallas Verlag. (Pages 74-74).
Sturmgeschutze. W.Spielberger, Motorbuchverlag. (Page 214).
Nuts & Bolts, Vol 12, FAMO. Dr. Nicolaus Hettler. (Pages 5, 35-36) was a new reference consulted after I had constructed the model.

First published in Military Modelling, Vol.30 No.8 2000