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The Warriors pith helmet was painted in a light green as they were delivered to North Afrika in both tan and green
A close up of the cab area
Afrika Korps Famo
By Rhodes A Williams
After spending years building German vehicles for Western and Eastern Front dioramas, I decided it was due time to get cracking on an Afrika Korps themed AFV. When Tamiya released their Famo I knew I had found my vehicle.
A close up of the stowage compartment and a slung Dragon gasmask canister. The running rust is seen to good effect here. Also note the excellent Aber chains across the crew compartment doors.
I won the Tamiya kit, sans trailer, in a modeling contest with an ABM spade and both of the Aber photo-etched sets. In addition to this I purchased the Tamiya spade, which is a different version to the ABM resin kit, and the Royal Model details set, which includes some very nicely cast resin including a pair of useful fire-extinguishers, a folded down canvas covered windscreen and a canvas top. The photo-etched fret is in some respects a duplication of the Aber parts, however the windscreen is much simpler to construct and also includes a nicely rendered set of ignition keys. Lastly, I acquired Decalstar’s partially folded back canvas top in resin.
References on the Famo have improved greatly with the release of the Tamiya Famo, and I really feel sorry for those who tackled the DES Famo with its tricky instructions. Fortunately Nuts & Bolts released a marvellous manual on the Famo and its variants which includes a complete walk around in detail of Kevin Wheatcroft’s brilliantly restored
The completed and unpainted crew compartment. Note the Aber photo-etched dash and acetate instruments
The engine detailed with Aber photo-etch, various diameters of brass and lead wire, and Minimeca tubing for the control arms leading to the gearbox
late variant Famo. The Tamiya instruction booklet is adequate for construction out-of-the-box. However, should you wish to execute any sort of super-detailing then the Nuts & Bolts book is a must.
treadplate access panel as Aber thoughtfully included the tread patterned flooring. To my eye the Tamiya flooring was as good so I left it in place except for the access hatch to the gearbox. This would have to be cut away so as to reveal the intricate Aber
I shall not bother you with a complete blow-by-blow of the construction as it has been done to death and by better modelers than I. However, I shall highlight where I stepped off of the beaten path to add some bits and bobs.
photo-etch beneath it.
A very clean cut is difficult to achieve by scribing with an Exacto blade. In this case, I cut a hole into the Tamiya panel and then with a length of unwaxed dental floss cut cleanly around the
I wished to beat up my Famo and a good place to begin was the beautifully rendered Tamiya roadwheels. Firstly I placed a steel brush accessories disc into a Ryobi motor tool set at low. This disc was designed for cleaning and polishing metal surfaces and removing rust and corrosion. I find it chews up the edges of the rubber roadwheels and gives tank hulls and turrets a nice cast appearance. Rubber rimmed roadwheels frequently got nicked and beaten up on tough terrain and caused an increasingly uncomfortable ride when not replaced. After all the wheels were roughened up, I went back over them with an Exacto blade to clean away the excess plastic.
panel. Now this process may seem odd, but it works brilliantly, leaving a clean edge as you cut around the access hatch using the same sort of movement as you would when gripping a wire garrote. Make sure to use unwaxed floss as the waxed variety tends to shed the wax on the plastic. Once the panel was cut away I cleaned it up with the most minimal of sanding. The Aber part is a perfect fit, but in my case need not be as the hatch rests on the rear bench seat. Save the Tamiya part as you will need to remove the grab handles and attach them underneath the openings in the Aber photo-etched panel.
In the desert, keeping a motor cool is as vital as keeping the Construction then went ahead per the Tamiya instructions building up the kit in sub-assemblies of the frame and wheels, engine compartment, crew compartment, cargo bed and spade. human body hydrated. As well as the articulating air vents in the hood of the Famo, the engine access covers on either side were often left off to maximize air circulation. Leaving these off meant I had to detail the engine compartment and Aber gives plenty of Whilst inspecting the Aber photo-etched set I noted a good deal of gearbox details and other sub-carriage bits which once assembled would be utterly invisible. In some cases I decided to leave them off, but in the case of the gearbox housing, I had the idea to add them to the kit and cut away the rear center Once the engine bay was completed, I went to work on the portions of the gearbox visible through the opened floor board. opportunity for that. Unfortunately, even with the engine covers off, most of the really splendid wiring and plumbing is not visible.
These were installed per the Aber instructions, which, unfortunately, are a bit murky here. The Nuts & Bolts book on the Famo comes in very handy in these instances as there are few places on Kevin Wheatcroft’s restored Famo not photographed.
With the gearbox complete, I added a few details to the trailer coupling. I have to date not seen photographic evidence of the spade in North Africa. However, having said that, the date of introduction of the spade to the Famo does not preclude them either. Still, resupply was a real problem for the Afrika Korps, so chances are slim, that any Famos utilized them. Unfortunately for me, the diorama I am planning for this Famo necessitates the spade. So, as I intended to use the spade, the rope clamp guide has to be relocated from the left rear frame to its centre, which eliminates also the ability to store the spare tyre in its rack underneath the bed.
The Royal Model photo-etched windscreen. The hood and lift bed, each detailed Note the thoughtfully included resin spotlight. with Aber photo-etch and kept The locking pins and wingnuts are an separate for painting. especially nice touch.
The spade went together without any problems and was set aside for painting later. The cargo bed also went together without any headaches. Aber includes the option of replacing the kit locker doors with ones made of photo-etch, however in this instance the Tamiya part is suitably detailed. I did sand off all the grab rings and replace them with the Aber parts as the level of detail is far superior. I also detailed both the inside and outside of the door for the bed and left it loose for painting.
Beginning work in earnest on the crew compartment soon ran into my first major Aber versus Royal Model dilemma - the windscreen. Tamiya’s is far inferior to the photo-etched options. Of the two, Royal Model’s is far simpler to construct and the results just as appealing. The Royal Model set includes the latch pins for unlocking the opening window on the driver’s side as well as all the detail on the swing arms. Very nice.
I also elected to use the Royal Model Fire extinguishers as they are superior to the kit included extinguishers and as nicely detailed as the Aber parts with none of the work. A job well done by Royal Model for including resin in their detail sets. I utilized the Aber dash and acetate instrument dials. This was topped off with an oft overlooked set of ignition keys, thoughtfully provided by Royal Model. Aber includes a nice selection of chains, some of which were used to secure the crew from, I assume, toppling out. These are better left off until all the painting is done as they will just get knocked off time and time again.
The Decalstar tarp is cast in one piece resin and crisp overall, with minimal cleanup. It fits a bit tight so some sanding is needed before painting and gluing in place.
The kit included tracks are quite lovely and when properly assembled remain workable. When painted they are just as good as those available from Fruil and Modelkasten. I kept the Famo in ten sub-assemblies for ease of painting: Frame with Maybach mounted, wheel wells and grill, hood, tyres,
The cargo bed received a heavier selection of sand as it was prone to being loaded and off loaded with heavy equipment in the field. Also note the spare tyre dumped unceremoniously when the spade is fitted.
Primed and assembled. I primed the entire model Sun bleached German RAL gray pre-shaded over mixing Humbrol colours until I got a brownish, the primer colour primer red colour.
Crew compartment after application of the gray coat. Note the instrument faces have been covered with masking tape
windscreen, dash, crew compartment, cargo bed, spade, and tracks. The small components such as the windscreen were mounted on wooden blocks.
After the Humbrol was set, I mixed Humbrol Grey (No.111) 30% paint to 70% thinner and began filling the panel lines. Always
With the construction complete I moved along to painting. As this is an “Afrika” Famo I departed from the usual as I wished to use a heavily chipped desert overspray. I prefer using the pre-shading method as I can achieve the type of panel fade I desire with much more control. To begin with I mixed Humbrol Brown (No.160) 70% with 15% Humbrol black (No.33) and 15% red (No.153), thinning it with EcoHouse thinner at a ratio of 40% paint to 60% thinner. A bit on the thin side but I like to work in two thin coats rather then one thick glop. This was blown through an Iwata Micron at a psi setting of 18. The entire model including tracks gets this treatment until an even flat coat of dark primer covers all the exposed area. I chose this color treatment as it creates a nice dark base for the lighter colours to come, and also resembles, ever so slightly, a mixture of grime and exposed primer. A note here. The windscreen was handpainted as it is just too time consuming to mask off the
keeping in mind enough of the base coat should show through at the edges of a panel creating depth to the model. I used grey as so many vehicles were rushed to North Africa in their European livery and then hurriedly overpainted either at Bizerte or in the field. Either way, lots of imperfections. This grey was lightened with a bit of Humbrol Off-White (No.28) and sprayed again within the previous grey zones for a stronger fading between the most washed out grey and the exposed undercoat.
Left to dry for a good 24 hours, I was ready to apply the mask so integral to the chipping process. There are several types of mask on the market especially for military modelers. These work fine, however if you are on a budget there are two alternatives. The first, Grumbacher “Miskit”, is an orange coloured liquid friskit designed for masking watercolours. I prefer this for several reasons. Firstly, it is a horrid orange and hard to miss when it
The engine bay filled with Aber photo-etch. The wiring is various diameters of lead wire. The impact of the pastel wash is used to good effect here. Note how the interior of the engine bay remains in its original colours. A nice transition.
The Maybach motor from the left side. Note how the exhaust manifold has discoloured from being subjected to continual heat
comes time to remove it. Secondly, it comes off without much effort. The second economic route is to use regular office supply rubber-cement. This also works very well, but is much more difficult and time consuming to remove. Both are applied with a well worn paint brush, one about ready for the bin with its bristles well split and frayed is best. Dipping the brush into the liquid mask I then dab it here and there where I wish to have the undercoat remain visible. Apply it heavily. If too thin it can be difficult to remove.
the undercoat. For my Famo it needed to be extensively chipped and patches faded to reveal both the Dunklegrau (dark grey—RAL 7021), and the primer red underneath.
Adjusting the pressure on my compressor to a psi setting of 8, I began spraying a thin coat of Sandgelb over the mask. Again, pay keen attention to not step outside the panel fade of the grey undercoat. This takes time, but the results come quickly and look quite nice. With a low psi on the compressor, even very small areas on the spade can be faded. Whilst this coat set up, I added
Be aware of those fiddly photo-etch bits as they are ruined if you get liquid mask on them. Work around them and then if you wish hand paint them later on. I prefer to work around them as they are already painted with the undercoats. I then touch them with desert tan later on. Both Miskit and rubber cement dry quickly and you can begin spraying the next coat within a few minutes.
a bit of Humbrol No.28 Off-White to the original mix and highlighted the centre of the just applied desert tan.
Setting the Famo aside overnight allowed the paint to cure. It is best not to rush into removing the mask until the paint has completely dried. If not you might get a sticky mess. Once it dried well enough, I pulled on a surgical rubber glove, the advantage of wearing rubber
To create a suitable Sandgelb I mixed 60% Humbrol No.84 with 10% No.94 to which I added 30% Humbrol No.103. Some suggest that Sandgelb was exactly the same as Dunklegelb nach Muster (RAL 7028), but for the purpose of this article I shall refer to it as Sandgelb. This was heavily thinned 25% paint to 75% thinners. The colour need not be exact, after all what is exact with regards to German RAL colours? Desert tan, dunkelgelb and its derivatives came from varied stocks, at varied times and were applied with water, petrol, urine, you name it. This color was all subject to the extremes of desert warfare: heat, sun, cold, duststorms, so many extremes that the original colour at times faded entirely to reveal
gloves is that it pulls up the mask quickly and cleanly. If you prefer you can use you bare finger, however it takes a good deal of rubbing to ball up the mask and the friction heats up the skin, so I’d advise against it. Once all the mask is removed the undercoat of Dunklegrau and primer red will appear where the mask was pulled up leaving convincing chips and wear marks all over the vehicle—just like the 1.1 scale counterpart. I hand painted the windscreen and hand chipped the paint with an 18.0 spotter brush. For wear marks I prefer to drybrush with darker colours rather than lighter. In this case I have a home concocted flat black for these purposes. A few years back I mixed some flat black onto an
A detail of the well worn drivers seat
A Verlinden tool case was sourced from the parts bin and works perfectly here
index card and delivered it to my local household paint shop with its computerized paint matching system. They scanned the card and mixed me a gallon of interior latex paint in flat black. It should last a lifetime. It is as flat as I’ve ever seen and I find I use it frequently for those jobs requiring the flattest of flat blacks. In this case I mixed a little Vallejo grey into it so as to have a shade a touch darker than then chipped Dunklegrau paint elsewhere on the Famo. This mix was drybrushed onto all the edges to bring out details of contrast and generally give the vehicle a grungy lived-inthe-field look. I also used this color for the rubber rims on the road wheels, the tyres and the track pads. Time consuming but fun.
of the wood grains were also painted at this time using Pigskin as a base followed by a wash of Burnt Sienna oils.
Before carrying on, I assembled all the principal sub-assemblies and put on the tracks. The windscreen was attached and I constructed the side view mirror. There are several variations of the side view mirror mounted on the left ‘driver knows’. The kit part and Aber part did not interest me as much as the mirror assembly on Kevin Wheatcroft’s Famo seen in the Nuts & Bolts reference. I constructed mine from a piece of brass Minemica tubing. The mirror itself was punched from a piece of doll house Mylar using a Waldron Punch. This was mounted and hand
With the appropriate amounts of chipping done I painted the engine, engine bay and crew compartment. All of these were already primed and panel faded using the Humbrol Grey. These were not oversprayed with Sandgelb as this would have only been applied to the exterior. The engine and engine bay received a bit of Testors steel drybrushing to create the effect of casted iron and steel.
With the Famo assembled and well dry I began the pin washes. As opposed to a general wash, the pin wash is a bit less thinned and applied with the 18.0 liner brush, mentioned previously. This type of wash is time consuming and best not rushed. I mixed Raw Umber with a touch of Flat Black oils at a ratio of 20% oil paint to 80% Eco-Thinner. I prefer this over Humbrol as it is not nearly as
The crew compartment received the same worn treatment. I airbrushed the seats with progressively lighter shades of Burnt Sienna acrylic paint to simulate the constant use and exposure. The rip in the front of the driver’s seat is worth mentioning here. I thinned out the Tamiya seat where I wished the stuffing to be exposed with an Exacto, and then draped glue soaked Kleenex over the Tamiya part and folded back the torn material. The stuffing was painted with an acrylic color called Pigskin, which is incidentally a fine match for the base color of rifle stocks. At this point I grained the steering wheel and added the red line to the instrument cluster with a Loew-Cornell 18.0 liner brush. These are available at finer art supply shops, and I cannot recommend them enough for detail work as the quill is longer than standard and holds a lot of paint to a very fine tip. Perfect for modeling work. All
damaging to the enamel undercoats. Well mixed, this wash is touched into all crevices, panel lines, and raised bolt detail. Using capillary action, the oil paint will be pulled from the brush and run into the recessed lines and grab around bolt and other raised details. Mind you, it takes a long time, especially when you consider I painted around every bolt on each roadwheel.
Next I applied the rust spots. These were applied with straight Burnt Sienna oil paint. Applied to the palette I thinned the oil 80% paint to 20% thinner. The oil should still be thick but manageable enough for that 18.0 liner. I applied the streaks in thin fine lines wherever rust streaks would commonly appear. Letting the oil set for about fifteen minutes I took a fresh brush and dipped it into Eco-thinner. Gently running the brush over the damp oils they
dispersed down the length of the run. Once dry they diffuse nicely giving the model a convincing rust streak.
I hand painted the fire extinguishers red and dulled them down with a wash of Raw Umber oils. A word here. Most extinguishers were over painted in the base color, however they were on occasion, used and replaced. Now would they remain red? It is somewhat unlikely, but sometimes artistic license takes over and I do like the idea of breaking up the rather monotone color scheme with a splash of red.
With the washes complete. I subtly rusted out the tracks. This process was done by grinding up various shades of brown and
An overall view of the cab and running gear
rust coloured pastel chalks with a scrap of sandpaper. I prefer Weber Costello brand “Alphacolour” earth tone pastels, but that is up to the individual user. Once ground they are mixed in an old cat food tin and thinned down with Tamiya X-20A Thinner. You could also use Windex windscreen cleaner, but I like the fact that Tamiya’s contains glycerin, which adds a slippery texture to the mix. This was applied to the tracks with a wide soft brush and allowed to dry. The trick with thinned pastels is that they tend to apply quite clear, but as the thinning agent evaporates it leaves the pastels in all the recesses. It is easy to put it on too heavy, so go easy and let each wash dry well in between. Once dry the tracks are as convincing as metal Fruil tracks. Tunisia was quite wet in the
The Sandgelb applied after the mask application
rainy season so even desert vehicles showed the effects of rusting, just not to the extent of a Famo which had served the winter on the Eastern Front.
With the rusting complete I prepared to apply the layers of sand that inevitably fill all the recesses everywhere on a vehicle in the desert. Firstly I added more significant sand, small stones and dirt to the spade and cargo bed. The Tunisian landscape is very much unlike the deep desert of the Sahara. Parts of Tunisia, at the coast and near wadis and
The mask removed by rubbing surface with a surgical glove. Note the realistic chipping effect revealing both the German gray and primer coats underneath.
The chewed up rubber rimmed roadwheels and tracks. Each bolt on each roadwheel was spot washed with oil paint using capillary action Note the subtle rusting and how the pastel chalk gets into all the right recesses with amazing realism
A close up of the dash and instrument cluster. Note how the Envirotex resin gives the instruments a very realistic glass appearance
Tamiya spade is an easy build. Note the vast amount of chipping using the masking method
The rear crew bench seat. Note the lovely Aber photo-etch gearbox access hatch.
oases are verdant and the soil quite hardpacked with stones and other earthy rubbish. I duplicated this by sifting out very fine garden dirt, until I had a nice pile of very fine soil. To this I added a few larger stones and a pinch of sand from the beach in Naples, Florida. I added this by first brushing on thinned white glue and sprinkling on the earth mixture. This was then airbrushed with various khaki to sand yellow shades. Washed with thinned Raw Umber oils it was finally drybrushed with khaki.
the bed, is heavily saturated with dust as it sat exposed and unused.
Some last details included airbrushing the tarp and handpainting the leather straps and installing it. I also wished to have a member of the maintenance crew refilling the radiator with a jerry can so I left the top off and added an inner plug from the scrap box. The ring within the radiator opening is from the photo-etch spares box. The chain is from Aber. Save those extra photoetched bits and bobs—they come in handy! The Notek light is a
Once dry I ground up appropriate pastel sticks until I had a sandy, light yellow powder. This was mixed again in an old cat food tin with Tamiya X-20A Thinner at a ratio of 10% pastels to 90% thinner. Don’t worry if the thinner evaporates, the pastels can be reactivated with more thinner. Thoroughly mixed, it was applied to all recesses with the 18.0 liner brush. Again, this is time consuming, but rather fun too. It is important to remember not to overdo the application. As the thinner evaporates the pastels become very strong in color. This mix was applied throughout the engine, the flooring of the crew compartment, and washed with a thick flat brush over the tracks, tyres, the soil in the bed and on the rear of the spade. If it dries too strong, it can be touched with thinner and some of the pastel soaked up with a soft cloth. The remaining residue, particularly in the tracks, needs no more attention.
resin extra from Royal Model whilst the license plates are a brass item from Elephant models to which I added the Tamiya decals. The windscreen was misted with the airbrush after I applied masks cut from masking tape and laid over the clean areas created by a pass of the wipers.
Decals included the kit supplied water slides and two Afrika Korps palms from the old Tamiya BMW w/ sidecar sets. These were all seated with Microsol to minimize silvering.
The Jerrycans are sourced from Italeri, which are nice enough save for the fact they are actually British “War Department” knock-offs, Dragon cans, which are just brilliant (I wish they would release a separate set of these) and a few scrounged up resin Italian Jerrycans by Model Victoria. These were painted and weathered in a similar fashion to the Famo. The water bottles are
The same cannot be said of the two front tyres. Once the pastels dried I drybrushed them with flat black and highlighted them by adding some grey. This creates the illusion of sand in the treads without it remaining on the rest of the tyre. The spare, relocated to
from Dragon’s “Deutsche Afrika Korps” set and include a nice set of decals. The upturned helmet with liner is from Jaguar, whilst the pith helmets with goggles are by Warriors. The Schmeisser is a Dragon weapon and the most superior available, as are the rifles.
The Aber radiator fan mesh, splendidly etched to create a woven effect
The weathering process is shown to good effect on the hood
The sling is constructed from Tech Star “Lead Foil” with some buckles courtesy of Verlinden. The beautifully rendered MG-34 is from Collectors Brass and only a bit superior to the Dragon equivalent. The battered German helmets are from the spares box and I believe of Tamiya origin. The national emblems were hand painted. The gasmask tins are from a recent Dragon set, the numbers sometimes seen on them also hand painted.
The figurines are a mixed bag of currently available Afrika Korps blokes. The fellow in the jumper and shorts is from the Dragon “Deutsche Afrika Korps” set with a repositioned arm, resin hand from the parts bin, resin boots from Warriors, and a bandanna head from Warriors. I clipped off the side-peaked cap and gave him the dreaded pith helmet with goggles. The Lieutenant standing with an arm against the windscreen is from the very old Verlinden “Afrika Korps Tankers” set. He received a couple of new arms from the parts bin. The corporal with the cigar is also an older Verlinden release, straight from the box. For the first time I painted them almost entirely in oils, instead of just the fleshtones: and good fun it was. Painting lighter colours with enamels is difficult as the washes of oils have to be thinned so much the pigment separates. I found by mixing colours courtesy of a color chart from Historical Modelers Forum (http://hmforum.com/hmforum/homepage/) any WWII color can be achieved. With this in hand I went to work and was so pleased with the superior blending abilities, I plan to almost use them exclusively. Again practice and lots of patience it required. Detail work on the figures such as webbing and boots were done with both Humbrol enamels and Vallejo acrylics.
Lastly I mixed equal parts of Envirotex Resin. Make sure the parts are completely even or the resin will remain tacky for ages. If well mixed it can then be applied anywhere you wish to simulate glass. I used it on the rear convoy lamp, the instrument clusters, the glass lenses of the figurines’ goggles and glasses and the two auxiliary lights on either side of the cab. If applied with the Famo upside down, the lights will dry convex and are as convincing as anything MV Lenses produces. You’ll need a good eight hours for the resin to harden.
This was the most enjoyable project I’ve done so far with all the new processes I entertained. Brilliant detail, typical efficient Tamiya assembly and instructions, wonderful aftermarket bits and bobs, but with one large price tag. It does give the modeler a good value, however, to the nature of the assembly, the inclusion of linkto-link tracks and a nice selection of accessories. Add the spade and it makes for a very challenging long term project. I started mine in May of 2001 and completed it in November the same year. Six months all told.
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