Leman Russ Pt. III

Okay, let’s add on all that detail and make this pop.

First up is the little sighting hatch on the front of the hull.  I’m sure somebody knows the real name for this—feel free to educate me in the comments.  I started with the sighting window itself and added two tabs onto it (at the top and bottom of the template). I glued it and just held it for a few minutes.  Once it was solid I glued it to the outer panel and held that for a few minutes.  Finally, I clamped all of that to the outer panel and let it dry while I worked on other things.  Once it was good, I put it on the front of the hull.

Next up, the tread wall has lots of round detail pieces representing rollers-axles-wheels-something (again, feel free to put the correct term below).  The easy choice is to use my hole punches to make various sizes and work with those.  The catch is... none of the hole punch sizes really match up with the size of the detail pieces.  I went back and forth on this for a bit, debating pieces that looked a little small or a little big instead of cutting out all the pieces and having them be mostly round vs. the perfect discs I’d get from the punches.

In the end, I went with the hole punches.  This is detail work, and I think more people will skim over things that look really good vs. focusing on things that look okay.  The off things draw the eye, in other words.  So I played around with sizes and put some discs down on the tread wall.  As I mentioned above, some are a bit small, some a hair large, but I think it’s pretty unquestionably a Leman Russ setup.

Helpful Hint—That top front wheel/roller/axle piece. There’s a small problem here.  On the template, it goes down right on the seam between two of the panels.  But if you check an actual Leman Russ model, it sits in front of the seam.  On this model the seam is just a little too far forward for a clean placement, but it’ll by passable if you play with it a bit.

Next up is the second big part of the project.  If those tread walls were half of the work, this is about another third. Seriously, between the layers and the links, about 4/5 of the time on this project so far has been these tread elements.  They’re not difficult, they look fantastic, but just keep in mind they’re going to be the big time suck. Plan accordingly.  Have background entertainment prepared.

The first layer of tread links took about an hour.  I cut them all at once and then peeled off the template-paper where I could.  There are ten extras for each side, so there’s some room to pick and choose.  Also worth remembering that sixteen of them are going to be on the bottom, so there’s even more leeway.  I set the glue on the tread element section by section and then set the pieces down, making sure all the best, matching ones were on the front parts of each tread element.

Helpful Hint—I printed out a spare page of the template to help with placement.  It let me see how many to a section and gave me a nice sense of spacing.

The second layer is a little trickier.  This is the one that makes the treads really pop, though, so it’s worth it.  A small tread link goes between each of the larger ones.  I put a drop of glue, spread it a bit between the two sides, and placed accordingly.  The tricky part is on the corners.  A drop of glue will still hold one, but you need to keep an eye on it until it dries or gravity can pull them out of line.  Once set, they do a great job of “rounding” out the treads.

Once all this was done, it was time for the big moment.  Gluing the tread elements to the hull and hoping it looked like a Leman Russ.  I used a couple photos for reference, glued, and held the whole thing for about ten minutes to make sure it held.

Helpful Hint—Be extra careful when lining up the tread elements and the hull.  Because of that odd, uneven piece on top—plus the unusual shape overall—it can be tricky to make everything match in every direction.  Check how far forward and back the treads sit.  Make sure they sit flat.  Check it all.

Now... it was cool getting two posts in one week, right?  Well, funny story...

This weekend is both Memorial Day here in the states and also my birthday weekend. This means I’m going to be playing, not building, all weekend. So I won’t have anything new to show off next week. 

But after that... we’re going to turn this Leman Russ body into a Destroyer.


Leman Russ, Pt II

Hell—I wrote this up last week and never actually posted it.  Yay for you. Double post this week.

Sooooo, last time I got the layered sides cut out and glued together. This time I’m going to try to get the hull and both tread elements (for lack of a better term) done.  Yes, I’m sure there is a better term for what I’m calling tread elements. If you happen to know it, feel free to share your knowledge in the comments. 

The hull is pretty straightforward. Two sides and a long strip that connects them and becomes... well, the part we’ll see.  These are all big and simple, so I cut them all out with scissors.  Only took about ten minutes to have them all done and marked.

Helpful Hint—Because I’m planning on building this as a Destroyer, I didn’t make any of the cuts or adjustments in the hull that would normally allow for the forward lascannon sponson.  I may end up regretting this—we’ll see.  If you were making an actual Leman Russ (or variant) you’ll want to be sure to make those extra cuts.

I lined up two of the front-strip edges against one side of the hull.  Once I had them as close as possible, I clamped them with a pair of clothespins.  After about ten minutes I moved the first clamp along to the next edge, and then swapped out the next pin to the edge after that.  It took a bit longer to work this way, but it let me get much cleaner lines on the whole thing.  Once I had the whole strip attached, I let it sit for a few more minutes with a small weight on it to keep it pressed flat.  I used my smartphone, for this, actually.  It’s a good size and weight.
While it sat, I cut up some of the scrap cardstock into strips about 10" or 12" long and made some of those consummate Vs to put inside the hull.  It's worth noting that the hull has two heights, front and back, so I cut two different width strips for the Vs.  Note also that these went vertically—I want to have some support in case something ends up pressing down on the hull. Especially since that’ll be what I do next.

There’s a raised section on top of the Leman Russ where the turret usually mounts.  The shape is a bit odd, but it goes together very well.  The worst part is that—even with tiny tabs—you’ll essentially need to hold the whole thing from all directions until it dries.  So make sure you’ve got a good movie on. 

If you follow me on Twitter, you know I did not have a good movie on for this part...

Helpful Hint—If I was going to do a Leman Russ (or variant), this would be a good time to think about making some sort of socket for the turret.  Or you could just glue the socket in place, depending on how nitpicky your own gaming group is. Or do something clever with magnets.

Next up was the engine compartment in the back.  This is a little tricky because it runs up the back section of the hull and the back part of that raised section. This means there’s a slight angle along the back edge of the compartment.  It’s easy to miss, so watch for it.

With that addressed, this is an easy piece to build. I added a few extra tabs and glued the body together.  Then I added the detail frame on top.  Once that was dry, I glued the whole thing in place.

Once all this was done, I glued the last wall in place and sealed up the hull.  It took a tiny bit of wiggling and pressure to make everything line up just right, and then a few more minutes of waiting.  Once the glue had a good hold, I set it down on its side with a book to hold it in place.

Next up was the treads.

To make this easier to follow along, I’m going to try to refer to things the following way from here on.  When I talk about “the treads,” I’m going to mean the horizontal section, the part that (hypothetically) runs around the wheels and moves the tank.  The tread walls will be the pieces I built last week and the matching inside piece—the vertical sections.  The tread element will be the whole thing together.  So there’s one tread element on each side of the hull.  Make sense?  Hopefully that’ll cut confusion a bit.  Again, if you happen to know the actual terminology, feel free to share the correct names in the comments.
On this template, the tread is two sections.  Rather than join them, I decided to attach them to the tread walls individually.  I figured this would give me more space to work the clips and get nice, solid joins.  And it worked.   Once I had one attached, I added the second (the back section), and joined it to both the tread wall and the front section.

Helpful Hint—I glued them to the inside wall first.  If anything went wrong, it’s easier to replace all of those parts than the layered, detail-heavy wall I put together last time.

I did this for both of the tread elements. While they were drying, I cut some consummate Vs to go inside the elements.  I tend to pick up my tanks by the sides, so I wanted those sides to be solid.

Once I had the Vs in place and everything was dry, I glued the layered tread walls in place.  I lined them up, wrapped them in an old veggie bag (wax paper works, too) and set them under a few hardcover books.  Again—I made sure everything was lined up first.  It’d suck to have it dry crooked after all this work.  I left these to dry for about three hours and they turned out... well, fantastic.  Solid and strong.
Alas, all of that drying time on some of these pieces needed means I didn’t get quite as far as I’d hoped to this weekend. The big elements are done, but there’s still some detail work. So I think I’m going to stretch the “Leman Russ” portion of this out for one more week before I switch over to full Destroyer mode.  So to speak.

Or, it was going to be one more week before I forgot to post this last week.  Now it’ll just be up on Friday morning.


Leman Russ

So, I’ve had it in my mind to build a Destroyer for a while now.  I’ve always liked the look and idea of them.  Much like the Basilisk (another favorite) it’s less a tank than it is a mobile platform for a single, massive weapon.  Plus, some of the folks I game with are starting to assemble (no pun intended) some pretty impressive forces, so having a dedicated super-heavy hunter gives me something that can die on turn one a lot...

That being said, I’ve decided to do these first two posts as Leman Russ posts.  The Destroyer is built on a Leman Russ hull, and it is one of the most popular tanks out there (after the Rhino, probably).  If somebody wants to build a tank company with nine tanks in it... this’ll be a good starting point.

An advantage of the Leman Russ being so popular is there are lots of different templates out there for it.  And for all the many, many variants of it.  Some brilliant ones by Patroch.  I dug through my collection and found a nice one from way back when—one of the first Leman Russ templates I ever saw, to be honest.  I’d love to give credit where credit is due, but the best I can find on it is a date (2000-11-15) and the word Bile, which might be a proper name or a handle or maybe someone created this template as part of an elaborate revenge plot?  If you know who created it, please speak up.  Regardless, it’s great and up in the STC Archive for your perusal.

One of the things I love about this template is its relative simplicity.  It has a lot of detail, but the whole thing is only four pages long. And all that’s on the last page is the standard turret—it’s really about three and a quarter pages.   I managed to fit about 90% of this on a single frozen pizza box.  So this is going to be cheap even from a cardstock point of view.

I’m going to start with the outer sides and work in.  This may seem a bit odd. but it means I’ll be able to get most of the treads and hull done in just two posts. Again—very simple template.

The sides of this template are layered, a lot like the Malcador I built years ago. It means a little more work, but it makes for a much, much more detailed model—and a much more solid one, too.  If you look at this template, sheets one and two each have both sides of a tread and three layers of detail (plus some other stuff we’ll go into later).  It’s worth noting that those inner layers, the two sides, are all angles, not curved. This is to help line up the tread pieces later.

Helpful Hint—The outer two layers have some fine detail work at the bottom.  The third layer is just one big ring, really.  Whenever I have to do pieces like this, I always cut out the inner bits before I cut the whole element from cardstock.  It’s much easier to work this way, especially with narrow bits like that ring.  Cut the element out first and it’s harder to hold and harder to work with.

Once everything was cut out, I set it out in order and started gluing sections on, one at a time.  I used my clothespin-clamps every step to make the edges stayed as flush as possible—especially at the top.  This is going to be a very visible edge, so it’ll draw a lot of attention. 

When all four layers were together and lined up, I let them sit for a minute to firm up. Then I carefully wrapped them in some old veggie bags (wax paper would work, too) and set them under a pile of books.  There’s a lot of glue here, and I don’t want anything to curl or bend while it’s drying.  Again—just to hammer it home—I made sure everything was lined up first.  It’d suck to cut out all this detail and then have it dry crooked.

I left these under the books for about... four hours?  I went out and saw Captain America: Civil War.  When I came back, they were dry, solid, and very flat.

And, believe it or not, the Leman Russ body is almost half done at this point.

Next time, I’ll assemble the treads and the hull, then put it all together.