Friday, August 14, 2009

Modeling a real vehicle.

So I seem to have fallen off the net for a bit, but it was not for having nothing to do. The company I work for supports Marine Corps acquisition efforts, and a project officer was leaving after three years. The support team wanted to give something unique, a reminder of the effort. A model of the vehicle, called a Ground Sensor Surveillance Vehicle (GSSV), was the ideal memento, but the team didn't have anyone that could make it happen. Fortunately, I found out about it and wanted to give it a try. The photo here was the goal, and it needed to be 1/72 scale. Unfortunately, I only had about three and a half weeks to purchase the basic kit and make the conversion. I readily admit I'm not the quickest with construction, conversion and ultimately painting. Frankly, I wasn't sure I was up to the task, given the short time period and other commitments. This had to be done on my own time.

I started out by researching what HMMWV kits are available in 1/72 scale. The most modern version I could find was this M1114 version made by Dragon. As you can see from the box art, it’s the armored hatch back variant. While there was enough similarity, there was still a lot to do to make it a GSSV. Before I started I had already lost a week volunteering at a Boy Scout event and finding the model. Luckily, I was able to find it at a local hobby store. It has been a while since I worked with such a small scale, but the small size actually turned into an advantage. It meant I didn't have to go into excruciating detail to present a creditable version.

Essentially, what I had to do was to remove the model's hatch back and replace it with the boxy structure at the back. I made the back using some plastic card (actually, a hotel room card key) around a frame of squared GW sprues and some green stuff to smooth the edges. Another challenge was the radio and IED antennas, which were done using round sprue bits from the Dragon kit. The larger antennas were straight sprue, the smaller ones were done by softening the round sprue over heat and stretching it to the required diameter and length. The thimble shaped IED antenna at the back was also made using sprue bits from both GW and the Dragon kit. Had I another week, I would have fixed the windows too, but just didn't have the time to make that happen. The end result is pictured here on a base made out of foam board with simple basing of glue, sand and paint.

Another challenge was how to best present it. This wasn't part of the initial request, and I hadn't really considered it much when I first offered to build it. The more I worked on it though, the more I felt it needed something. Not only to protect it from being handled, but to provide an attractive display. It was a going away memento after all, so couldn't rightfully be handed over as a fragile finished model. I wrestled with how to do this as I'd never had to meet his requirement before. It needed to be inexpensive, and I had passed the window for ordering one, assuming I could even find something online. The small size and tall antennas were limiting factors, and most of what I was finding was either too short, or had too big a base. Luckily, I made another trip to Michaels and happened down an aisle I hadn't been before. I found a glass jar made for holding shells or other small collectables. While the lid was glass, it was a friction hold using soft plastic. I figured by turning it upside down, and covering up the soft plastic with card stock and the memento information, it would still have enough friction to hold and make a very nice display. It worked very well and was presented last week. It was a big hit.

Other than the cost of materials, there was no money involved. So while this wasn't "commission" work, it is the first work I've done for someone else. It sports the same colors I use on my Imperial Guard vehicles, so I did manage some work on models already waiting their turn at the paint pot. A couple Leman Russ' were primed, and I finished two sentinels last night. I'll post them up the middle of next week.


  1. That's simply awesome. What a nice gesture!

  2. Great work. Excellent show of support.

    I also wanted to let you know that I featured you in a little thing that I do over on my blog called "Friday's Article of Interest."

    I hope you get some traffic from it. Keep up the good work.

    Feldmarshal Goehring

  3. I used to be a Ground Surveillance Radar operator in the US Army back in the 90s. I'm curious about this new vehicle and its capabilities. Do you have any unclassified links or info about the project?

    Also, awesome job on the memento. A job worth being very proud of, since I know that model will sit on that Officer's desk for years to come! Officers love that kind of shit :P

  4. Jonathan,
    I'm not that familiar with the vehicle's capabilities. No links, but I'll see what's available for release.