Life is short, break the rules. Forgive quickly, kiss slowly. Love truly, laugh uncontrollably and never regret anything that makes you smile. - Samuel Longhorne Clemens (Mark Twain)

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

28mm WWII Armor Conversion 1 - WWII 15cm sFH 13/1 (Sf.) auf Geschützwagen Lorraine Schlepper(f) (SdKfz 135/1)

I am slowly moving forward with my acquisition of forces to play the Kampgruppe Von Luck pint sized campaign from Too Fat Lardies. My British Airborne troops are coming along quite nicely (I do need to get back to them though) so my thoughts turned towards the German forces that I would need. Since I'm still deciding on what miniature line to use for my German troops I thought I could work on the conversion of the SPG listed for the Germans in the campaign. This is the 15cm sFH 13/1 (Sf.) auf Geschützwagen Lorraine Schlepper(f) also known as the SdKfz 135/1. This is one of many french armor conversions that the 21st Panzer Division was equipped with in Normandy and one of the three conversions that appear in the Von Luck campaign. One of the other two vehicles is actually available from Warlord Games the Unix P107 (f) SPW halftrack. The other is going to be conversion utilizing this same halftrack to carry a Pak 40 (Pak 40 auf S307(f)). I don't have everything I need yet for the SdKfz 135/1 conversion but I have enough to get started.

I'm using the Marder I produced by Warlord Games which uses the Lorraine Schlepper hull. I was hoping that this might be just a simple gun swap, that hope was crushed when I pulled out my copy of World War II AFV Plans; German Early War Armored Fighting Vehicles by George Bradford. While the hull and running gear are just fine the fighting compartment is much different. While it does have the characteristic German slanted armored sides its not nearly as sharply angled as the crew compartment for the Marder I. I will have to completely cut off the existing fighting compartment and scratchbuild a new one. A bit more than I was counting on needing to do. What that likely means is that I will only do one of these conversions and any others that the German player elects to buy with his support points will have to be proxied (I think a SdKfz 124 Wespe would be a good choice).

One way to approach the fighting compartment build is to take a block of wood and cut it to the extrapolated interior dimensions of the fighting compartment then cut it to the proper angled shapes. Then I can use it as a pattern to cut all the armor plates and be confident that they will fit together, I'll start by making some matte board prototypes to see if I can reasonably re-create the fighting compartment. On the plus side I have an extra Marder I coming so if I mess up the hull to much I have a second shot at it. That will make for an expensive conversion though so I need to get it right the first time! Measure twice, cut once! Somehow that never seems to work out for me very well.

I will also need to scratchbuild the recoil blade but that was something I was planning on doing anyway and it should be a pretty straight forward build especially after building the fighting compartment.

The Marder I that I received a couple of weeks ago direct from Warlord Games

I merrily cleaned up the parts and dry fitted everything together. I thought that the hardest part would be removing the big gun shield from the front. How wrong I was!

Perhaps I should have pulled this book out before I decided that this would be a good idea.

Page 64, the page that crushed my idea of a simple conversion. At least I won't have to scratchbuild the gun itself. Warlord Games is sending along the SiG 33 15cm Howitzer barrel and recoil mechanism to help me out with the conversion. Initially it was the availability of the howitzer that made me think I would try to do this conversion. 

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