This is the sixth installment of my tutorial for scratch building tanks. For those of you who haven’t read the previous installments, I am building a Devil Dog for my counts as Imperial Guard – Rebel Grots army.
I used a papercraft template created by Eli Patoroch to create the basic model from cardboard and paper. Then I’m adding detail using styrene sheet and some other materials.
You can read from the beginning starting here, or you can use the series navigation to check out specific topics.
Scratch Building Weapons
Last time we added the tracks. Now we’ll add some weapons, one of the primary reasons to field a tank!
Weapons are one of the components that might be worth buying as bits. Many of the weapons in 40k are quite distinctive. By the WYSIWYG principle you owe it to your opponent to have reasonably recognizable weapons. Plus, if you want to match the level of detail you’ll find on GW bits you will need to be proficient a sculpting or fine detail construction.
Modern GW kits come with a lot of extra options and weapons. So, it’s not hard to find bits if you look around. You could use the steps I’ve shown so far to turn the leftovers from a full kit into a second tank.
All that said, this is still a tutorial about scratch building. So, I’m going to show you how I scratch build my weapons.
My goal when scratch building weapons is not to duplicate the GW version, but to emulate them to enough of a degree that they’re reasonably recognizable. I try to pick the most distinctive features, the ones you tend to see on every version of the weapon across the GW range, and represent those. Then I fill in the rest until it’s detailed enough to look good. The end result is usually a stripped down or crude looking version that happens to be perfect for my Orks and Rebel Grots.
The first weapon I am adding to this tank is the hull mounted multi-melta.
I start by building a mounting point. First I cut a base plate from styrene card. This will allow plenty of surface for a solid join to the paper front of the hull. I eyeballed the size to almost fill the surface but leave plenty of room for the rivets around the main facing plate.
The front of the hull is sloped 45 degrees compared to the horizon, so the next step is to cut a piece of hollow square rod at a 45 degree angle on one side, and a 90 degree on the other using a hobby saw and mitre box.
In the picture you’ll see the 45 degree cut left on this rod from a previous weapon mount. By alternating between 45 and 90 degree cuts you can crank out several of these mounts without waste.
Next, I cut a similarly shaped piece from a solid square rod small enough to fit within the hollow rod. This will create a space for me to mount a magnet.
I cut the rod short enough, so that the magnet will be slightly recessed inside the hollow rod. Also, I cut a smaller square rod to fit along the top of the hollow one.
I glue the angled side of the hollow rod to the base plate, centering it on the plate, then glue the solid rod inside it. Then I glued a 1/8″ diameter magnet to the solid rod, making sure it’s facing the right way (I try to keep the polarity consistent on my weapon mounts so that I can stick any weapon to any mounting).
This gives me the structure for my weapon mount. I want it to look like it has the flexibility to cover the firing arc allowed to for hull mounted weapons, so I used green stuff (Kneadatite epoxy putty) to sculpt a rubberized shroud around the weapon, something that would be used to seal an articulated mount from dust/weather intrusion.
While I was at it, I used some extra green stuff to seal around the magnet and inner rod to give them a little more durability. I rushed this sculpt a bit, but it’s good enough. Later on I may take the time to do a better one and cast it for future tanks.
I used a hobby knife and file to clean it up a little bit then I glued it all to the front of the tank. I also added a 1/8″ round piece of plasticard to the top to represent a sight glass.
Now that I have a mount, I need the multi-melta to put on it.
For me, the most distinctive feature of Imperial melta weapons is the shrouded barrel. The venting is distinctive, and can be difficult to replicate well. But, if you match the silhouette of a typical melta barrel then most players will recognize it in context.
I start by cutting two pieces of styrene tube to equal length. Then I cut a long strip of paper with a width equal to the length I want for the barrel shrouds. I wrap this around the tube until it reaches the thickness I want and cut off the rest. Then I use that piece to measure a second equal piece.
To attach this to the barrel I add a little superglue to one end stick it on, being careful to get it straight by wrapping it around the barrel once to line it up before the glue dries. Then I run superglue down the inner length of the paper and wrap it tightly around the tube. I do this with both barrels then glue them together by the shrouds to create the multi-melta barrel.
Next, I cut a small piece of the same hollow square tube I used for the mount. I dry fit the barrel into that.
In the picture above you can see that I’ve filed a flat on the outer surface of the barrel, so that it will fit into the tube. I’ve done this on both sides.
Once I have a snug fit that doesn’t bow the tube, I glue the barrel in place. Next I take a small piece of .040 styrene sheet and use a 1/8″ hole punch to create a place for a magnet. This creates a much stronger mount than gluing the magnet to a flat surface.
I center rest of the gun over this hole and glue it down. Then I trim the base plate to match the outside of the square tube.
Being careful to verify polarity, as always, I glue a 1/8″ diameter by 3/32″ magnet into the hole. Then I filled the hollow space on the front side with some green stuff, and added a little detail where the barrels mount.
On the magnet side I added a sliver of a hollow square tube that just fits inside the one I used for the mount. This locks it into the mount so that it won’t spin around as the tank is moved around.
The end result is a bit plain, but a fair enough representation of a multi-melta. I figure most of the worky bits are concealed inside the tank and/or mount.
The magnetic mounting means I can swap this out later for different weapon options. I could even replace it with a more detailed multi-melta later on.
With that taken care of, I move on to the main weapon, a turret mounted melta cannon.
I want this magnet mounted as well, so I can build Hellhound or Banewolf variants later on.
For the mount I start with a piece of styrene tube that is just large enough in diameter to fill the height of the void in the turret. I slice a piece just long enough to fill the width. I used a 1/8″ drill bit to bore through one wall, so I can add a magnet. Behind this hole I put a blob of green stuff. Then I add a drop of superglue to the back side of the magnet. I press it through the hole into the green stuff. Then I glued this mount into the turret, and added a small armor plate to cover the gap from above.
The result is a mount that looks like it can swivel the weapon from just below horizontal to at least 45 degrees above horizontal.
For the melta cannon itself, I started with the widest styrene tube I could fit into the width of the mount. This rod also happens to have an inner diameter of just over 1/8″ so my magnet will fit inside it.
I cut this to what seemed like an appropriate length. Then I filed one end to be convex so it meets the mount properly. I filled this end with green stuff, and glued the magnet in before it cured to get a solid join.
I added a shroud using the same method I used for the multi-melta barrels. For this one I decided to add some venting. So, before I glued the paper to the tube, I wrapped it all the way around and marked where the end overlapped. I unrolled the paper and marked the edges that would be exposed in 2mm increments.
Then I used these marks to draw a diagonal grid across the paper. I used a 1/16″ punch at each intersection. Then I glued the paper to the rod and wrapped it to create a vented shroud. It’s not the same as a typical melta weapon, but at least it adds a bit of detail.
For a bit more detail I added a piece to square styrene rod along the top and bottom of the barrel. I cut these at an angle so they would wrap onto the mount. Like the multi-melta, this is quite a bit simpler than the GW version, but close enough to pass. Also like the multi-melta, the magnet allows me to replace it with a more detailed gun later if I want.
With the tracks and weapons mounted I have something that will pass quite well for an Imperial Devil Dog.
In the next installment I’ll add some final details, and do a little cleanup work to finish the model.