First Build: M5A1 Stuart Light Tank

Discussion in 'Armory & Military' started by PakMan, Oct 29, 2006.

  1. PakMan

    PakMan New Member

    hey, all -

    for those who might've seen my post in the introduction section, this is my first stab at card modeling. i love tanks, so decided that's what i'd start with.

    the model i decided on as a starter is the M5A1 Stuart download from the Konradus site. i decided on this one not because it's easy, but because it has a lot of detail (but hopefully not TOO much!) that will help me learn the techniques i need to eventually tackle the Modelik King Tiger kit i bought - d'oh! i figured that if i make a mistake, i can just print out another set of the needed parts and move on from there.

    so, this is a big learning exercise!

    anyway, first things first: i downloaded the kit pages - there are 9 pattern pages, an accessories page ("szablony"), and the instructions. not being able to read the text didn't come as a shock, since most of the models i built as a kid were from Tamiya who, at the time, printed almost everything in Japanese! with the polish, i can at least recognize some of the cognates!

    one of the things i immediately didn't like about this kit was the green that was used in the kit. i can't claim to be an expert on U.S. Army vehicle paint, but that color is like nothing i've ever seen. so, i took the pattern files into photoshop and replaced that color with a more soothing - to me, at least - olive drab to get this:

    for the main paper to print the patterns out on, my default choice was epson matte heavyweight paper. the colors and clarity of the print is great, although i'm a bit concerned at this point whether the paper will be sturdy enough - i compared it to the paper the Modelik King Tiger parts are printed on, and it's close but not quite as sturdy. so, we'll see...

    Attached Files:

  2. rmks2000

    rmks2000 Member


    Sheet 8 should be printed on 20lb copy paper and then laminated to card stock to a thickness of 1 millieter. These pieces will form the skeleton from which the exterior will be attached. You'll find that it will be quite sturdy. Check the instructions for the exact thickness. From what I think I understand from the instructions, the rest of the model should be printed between 0.2 and 0.25 mil.
  3. PakMan

    PakMan New Member

    the first part of the build that i did, predictably, was the support structure for the hull.

    for this i laminated together using weldbond glue two pieces of the chipboard that comes as a stiffener in the epson matte heavyweight paper boxes (i used the super A3 13x19 inch paper, cut in half, for the pattern paper in this project). since one side of this chipboard is covered in a smooth white laminate finish, i scored it before i glued the pieces together to make 1mm-thick stock. in retrospect, sanding it would've been better; also, the weldbond glue sets QUICKLY when it's spread thinly - i had to chase down our 10-year old at one point and i think the glue was already set by the time i got back, so there were a few delamination problems there.

    anyway, i wound up with a 13x9.5 inch piece of 1mm (approximately) stock. i printed out the patterns on ink jet paper, glued those on, then cut out the parts, mostly using a disposable utility knife with break-off blades.

    i have to confess that while i think the hull came out fairly well, i definitely need to work on being consistent and accurate in my cutting and trimming. and while this stuff is only 1mm thick, it sure is tougher to cut than i'd originally thought!

    one thing i also learned was to change the blade (or break off the old segment, in the case of the utility knife i was using) more often. but, all in all, i think this part of the job came out fairly well for a first go. again, i used weldbond glue, and used a syringe applicator (from tower hobbies) to apply it; i also took a tip from one of the many other great posts on this forum and took an eraser, dug a small hole in it to stick the tip of the syringe into, and have been using that to keep it from drying up between uses.

    looking at the photo, i also wanted to point out the cutout for the turret: i hate trying to cut circles, so i found this neat little hobbico circle cutter at tower hobbies for only $6 (with extra blades for another few bucks). this was the first thing i used it on, and while it took some time, it seemed to do a good job, and i'm hoping it will save my sanity when it's time to cut out all the parts for the suspension!


    in the image below, you can see where i cut out the hull gunner's hatch; this was actually unintentional, as i didn't realize that "WO" in the polish instructions meant that cutting out was optional. since i didn't plan to have the hatches open, and the cutout really weakend that particular part, i glued some stock to the bottom to stiffen it back up again and will just build it with the hatches closed.

    View attachment 3550

    here's the tail end of the beast: no major problems there, just some trimming of the parts (particularly the "tail fins" that'll form the rear stowage bin) to get them to fit the way i hope they should!

    View attachment 3551

    in the below image, you can see the front of the hull: a mistake that i made was that i'd forgotten to glue to the two pieces to the *inside* of the hull sides that carry the bracing part you can see inside the hull at the bottom of the glacis plate. another concern i have is that i opted not to open up the holes yet for the shaft that will connect the sprockets to the hull - i have absolutely miserable luck trying to get things to match up properly, so i figured i'd put as much as i could of this section of the hull together and then try to drill out the holes. d'oh!

    the other thing i noticed after the fact was that i'll probably have some trouble with the skins of the hull sides where they come up to the bottom of the overhanging sponsons: i ran a bead of glue down the inside and outside of the hull parts to reinforce the structure (not that it really needed it - the thing is surprisingly strong as-is), and the beading of the dried glue may cause me some grief. fortunately, though, that isn't in a place that will really be visible once the suspension and fenders are on...

    Attached Files:

  4. PakMan

    PakMan New Member

    rmks2000 -

    thanks for the info! yeah, i didn't have too much of a problem with the hull structure. that seemed to go pretty well.

    as for the thickness of the other parts, aside from whatever the designer intended the base paper to be (again, i'm flying with epson matte paper heavyweight paper, which is probably just a bit on the flimsy side), it looks like parts marked with a "*" are to be laminated to/up to 0.5mm, and parts marked with "**" should be 1mm... :)
  5. cgutzmer

    cgutzmer Guest

    Looking great so far! Nothing beats jumping in both feet first :)
  6. PakMan

    PakMan New Member

    okay, taking the advice of a number of folks, i'm trying to work on the tracks in between doing less tedious bits!

    since i didn't feel like trying to deal with the track teeth right now (i think i'm going to need a serious infusion of wine for those!), i tackled the track pads. there are 210 of these suckers in all, as you can see from the parts sheet:

    i decided to try and score the seams before i cut all these little buggers out, so i got my wife's bone folder (fortunately she's a scrapbooker and has all kinds of stuff i can use - as long as i don't get caught!) and scored all the parts. granted, ideally the scoring should've been done on the back side of the parts (as these things fold up into little tiny boxes to make the pads), but i didn't see a way to do that without going blind, so i'll try scoring on the front first - if that doesn't work, i'll print out another sheet and have another go!

    once i had the scoring done, i cut the pads out by rows:

    at this point i dug out a pin and started poking the holes for the track pins into the sides of the track pads. then i started cutting all the suckers out with my wife's fiskars scissors, to get a pile of these:

    i only managed to get one row cut out (and haven't glued anyt together yet), but by that time my neck and my eyeballs had had enough (even with wine to ease the pain!).

    so i put all those little guys in a plastic container so they wouldn't get lost and will work on them some more as the project goes along.

    next, i think i'll start skinning the hull...

    Attached Files:

  7. josve

    josve Active Member

    Great job!! Looking forward to see this build since I also have downloaded the Tank :)
  8. Jim Nunn

    Jim Nunn Member


    Boy did you jump in to the deep end the M3 looks great so far. I agree with you that the OD color of the model is way to green it’s the major reason I haven’t built the model.
    The Epson paper is not a dense as 67 Lb paper but more importantly it is the right thickness About 9 mils). You will be surprised how a few mils difference in paper thickness will end up causing major fit problems.

    Don’t forget to dry fit all the outer skins before you glue them on the box fame it’s almost impossible to make corrections later in the build.

    I for one am looking forward to your next post.

    Jim Nunn
  9. Alcides

    Alcides Member

    Well Pakman, first my welcome because I miss your first thread.

    I see your are following the crash-course way !!!

    Go ahead !!!

    This is a very additive hobby.

  10. barry

    barry Active Member

    Welcome to the site !

    Just to show my ignorance what is a bone Folder please ?
  11. PakMan

    PakMan New Member

    hey, all - thanks for the welcome and encouragement! i have a feeling i'm going to need every bit i can get when i have to get really serious about those 210 track link assemblies. d'ooohhhh!

    okay, now for barry's question about bone folders: they're basically polished sticks (many are plastic, although some are actually made of bone - from what, i don't know!) that are used to crease paper for cardmaking, scrapbooking, and other paper arts that my wife is into. soooo, i figured one should work just fine for paper modeling! :grin: here's a photo of what they look like from an on-line shop:


    i believe i read in some other posts on the forum that some folks use embossing tools to crease with, and that should certainly work just as well. i don't think there's any real functional difference, although for me i think the bone folder was a bit easier to handle (i fiddled with one of my wife's embossing tools while she wasn't looking, but settled on the bone folder instead).

    regarding paper thickness, i hadn't really thought about it that way: i was really thinking only in terms of density/strength. but you're obviously right that thickness has to be critical - and is one thing that i really don't have much of a guage of yet. i measured the thickness of the chipboard backing material that came with the epson paper, and it came out (as near as i could measure) to 1mm for two sheets together, so 0.5mm each. any smaller than that - like the thickness of the matte heavyweight paper itself - and i have no clue. how do you figure the thickness without a laboratory-scale micrometer or something?

    and i'll definitely be dry-fitting everything! again, another tip from the forums that i used for the hull construction: i fitted every piece together and trimmed them until they seemed to fit right. it's definitely not museum quality workmanship, but wasn't bad for an all-thumbs computer dweeb like me! :wink:

    thanks again everyone, and more to come soon (i hope)!

    - mike
  12. Amazyah

    Amazyah Senior Member

    Hi Mike,
    I have the same burnishers that you do and I picked them up in the scrapbook section of a hobby shop, (a local ma and pa deal).
    They told me that it is whale bone.
    I must agree, it's the best thing I have found for making those sharp creases in the folds.

  13. PakMan

    PakMan New Member

    hey, all -

    i'm back! sorry for the long interlude, but with it getting dark so early (and none of the local stores having a light like i want) i had to wait until the weekend before i had enough sunlight to work by. oy!

    anyway, i started skinning the stuart's hull. being a big chicken, i started with the easist thing i could find, which turned out to be the underside of the hull sponsons:

    next i did the center & rear bottom of the hull, leaving the front for later (more on that shortly).

    i have to say that right up front that i'm a klutz: there was a lot of cursing going on as i managed to somehow get glue on my fingers and then - of course - on some of the parts. fortunately these were on the bottom of the hull, but it was still quite irritating.

    i then put on the main pieces on the rear of the hull (none of the details yet, though):

    one thing i have to point out about this model: there are small structural parts that are like tail fins that you can see in this photo. if i had to do this model over again, i would not glue them into place until later in the assembly process, at least until after the lower hull was skinned and it was time to work on the upper hull (the skin of which covers these two parts). i found that i accidentally - several times - set the model on its "rear end" to work on the forward section, only to realize that these fins were getting bent totally out of place. i don't think it's a disaster, but something to keep in mind.

    now, at the front of the hull, the lower front section that has the transmission housings was my first major challenge. first, the instructions seemed to completely neglect this area, so there wasn't even a basic diagram to go by.

    however, i found an EXCELLENT photo resource at that helped a lot.

    as you can see in the photo below, i did a pretty poor job of shaping the lower hull plate:

    while it's hard to see, there are formers on the inside of the 1mm hull sides that help hold the skin in place at the edges of the "5a-c" areas. ideally, i would have liked to try and shape the skin to match the formers, but i couldn't figure out how to do that very well. so, it was glue the thing together and pray! :grin:

    and then came today's big challenge: the transmission bulges! this was the first time i ever tried to shape a part like this, and it actually came out better than i expected, although far short of what i'd have liked:

    i was actually able to get the part shaped pretty well - the biggest problem i had was that i couldn't get the top portion (just below the white glacis plate) to shape properly, so there was a gap between it and the strip showing the rivets. however, i'm hoping that one of the other parts later on in the assembly (a triangular piece joining the lower edge of the glacis with the fender) will cover up that goof.

    another problem i ran into was edging: i tried both colored pencils (dry and wet) and markers, but wasn't happy with either. the colored pencils hardly seemed to leave any color at all on the edges, and the ink from the markers soaked into the epson matte heavyweight paper like a sponge! so, i'm not sure what i'm going to wind up doing with those - maybe touch them up with enamel or acrylic paint after the fact...

    anyway, that's where my Stuart's at right now - enjoy! :grin:

    - mike

    Attached Files:

  14. barry

    barry Active Member


    I do not know anything about building tanks but I think the paper you are using to skin the tank is a bit too thick to get an easy curve into and it's creasing.
  15. PakMan

    PakMan New Member

    barry -

    well, all i have to compare it to are the kits - the King Tiger from Modelik and Panther G from GPM - that i bought (with the Stuart being a "learning experience"): i eyeballed the thickness of the paper, and it seems to me that the epson matte heavyweight paper is actually a bit thinner than is used in the kits for the skin parts. so, at this point i'm going to blame everything on operator error! LOL


  16. charliec

    charliec Active Member

    It often helps to pre-form curved parts with a piece of dowel or similar before you try to glue the part on. Ideally the part should dry fit without distortion before you glue it on. Look at some of the threads about ideas for rolling tubes in the forums - the problem is just a tube with a large radius.

    Personally I like using acrylic for edge colouring - you can get good colour match and it gives good coverage. Acrylic dries fast enough so you don't have to wait too long before using the parts - at least it does at 27C ( there's got to be some advantage living in a warm climate....)

    What RGB value did you use for your olive drab recolour? - I've got a Sherman in need of recolour - the original is just too green.

    I think you might find the Modelik King Tiger a bit simple and it's got a number of inaccuracies - the GPM one is much more of a challenge - and more accurate too.


  17. Stev0

    Stev0 Active Member

    I am eager to see this built as well.

    I will be recoloring this one as well since I want to make it look like a certain famous Stuart tank.
  18. sdk2knbk

    sdk2knbk Guest

    I wonder if it's the same Stuart I want to make someday? Although I thought that one was an M3...

    Scott K.
  19. PakMan

    PakMan New Member

    charlie - okay, i'll keep that in mind. i did go through the threads you mentioned, but i think i almost have to see a video clip of it being done - the general idea is there but it's not really clicking in my brain.

    i was talking to my "crafty" wife, and another thing i'm going to try is to find a properly colored stamp pad (she's big into art stamps) and use that to edge the parts like she does in her scrapbooking and cardmaking. for small parts i'll try using a Q-tip or makeup sponge - will let you know how it works!

    i used R:89 G:88 B:44. i made this up from taking a look at a variety of photos (mostly of shermans) to try to find a color that looked fairly close to what i thought it should look like. hardly an official determination, but it looks good to me! :grin:

    it's very interesting you should say that. i obviously don't have the GPM king tiger to compare it to, but i do have the GPM Panther Ausf. G. perhaps it's just this particular kit, but it seems almost, well, amateurish compared to the Modelik kit. but again, the Panther is listed as a "2" on GPM's difficulty scale, so presumably the level 3 models are a lot more challenging (but right now the Modelik king tiger looks plenty challenging enough!)...
  20. PakMan

    PakMan New Member

    aren't we talking about the Haunted Tank here? that was one of my favorite comics growing up (along with Sgt. Rock, of course), and not a minor influence on my choice of the Stuart. and yeah, the Haunted Tank i think was an M3, but who cares? :grin:

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