Friday, August 1, 2008

Hellhound 1: Chassis

So why am I making double-wide chimera treads?

Well, definitely not for a chimera. Double-wide treads look fine on a Leman Russ, but on a chimera they're just too much and they look goofy. But the DorkaMorka guys are having a conversion contest and I want to make that hellhound I always wanted and enter it.

So, to give credit where it's due, the basic concept for this hellhound is shamelessly stolen from Warmonger Matt Birdoff's hellhound conversion in his award-winning Tallarn army. It's an open-bed chimera with GW oildrums that suggest they're full of prometheum flamer fuel. Here's the picture from the Warmonger Club site:

I asked Birdoff for advice on how he did it and he gave me some pointers. I don't want to make an exact copy, and in fact the finished product won't be that similar, but Birdoff definitely deserves credit.

So to start, rather than leaving the front of the chimera slung low, basilisk style, I decided I wanted a full chimera-style glacis for mounting the turret. Easiest way to produce an open-bed chimera chassis with a full glacis is to cut the roof in half, exposing the kit's open bed.

The yellow tool pictured there is one of my favorites from micromark. It's designed to score plastic by drawing that hook along a straightedge or whatever. You just keep scoring until you get through the plastic or until it's weak enough to snap. It's great for thicker plastics, more sure than a hobby knife and can cut where a razor saw won't go.

Okay, so attaching the top plate of the chimera kit creates the basic chassis of the hellhound-to-be. Note the double-wide treads.
I filed off the original turret mount and made a hole too far forward, then changed my mind and made another one further back before finding the spot where I really wanted the turret to be.

You might notice in later steps that I don't attach the boxy skirt plates to the outsides of the tread pieces. Experimentation showed that with the double-wides, the skirt plates made the whole model cartoonishly wide. I have better plans for those big open expanses of bare plastic later on.

Okay, so attaching the front half of the top plate leaves a big hole behind, so a little filing and cutting adapts the chimera back hatch to fit underneath.
All through this project I was pretty impressed with the flexibility of the chimera kit for conversions. Various parts fit in all kinds of unexpected places with just a little modification.

Next to hide the ugly open bed, I used one of those ubiquitous GW scenery platforms with the textured surface that I have lying around and never actually managed to incorporate into scenery. It raises the bed high enough so that the oil drums can be added later, and makes the inside of the chimera bed look like the actual inside of a vehicle, rather than the inside of a plastic model.

The bed piece fit with just a bit of filing on one edge--the edge that will later be hidden under the oil drums. But it cuts off the lower half of the access hatch, though, and I wanted to make it look like the crew could still get in and out that way. So I cut a bit off the access hatch from the kit and it just popped into place. So there's the basic chassis. Next, the hellhound turret.

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