Merry Christmas, Vietnam!

Jakko

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#1
Ever since I first saw this photo:

LVTP-5 Merry Christmas.jpeg

… in Chris Jim Mesko’s Armor in Vietnam: A Pictorial History (Squadron/Signal, 1982) maybe 25 years ago, if not more, I thought that would be so cool to build as a model — even though I have pretty much no interest in Christmas at all. Lacking an LVTP-5 at the time, though, this wasn’t exactly feasible. AFV Club eventually came to the rescue, and then CMK released a conversion kit for this particular vehicle, so I ended up buying them sometime later.

IMG_4754.jpg

It includes resin parts for the sleigh, reindeer and Father Christmas, plus decals for the elaborate markings. Note the unintentionally funny spelling error in the title on the box :smiling3:

I then built the LVTP-5, at least ten years ago, if not more:

IMG_4751.jpg
IMG_4753.jpg

But after that I never did get round to putting together the rest for some reason … I intend to do that in the near future, to get another long-languishing model off my sideboard-o’-kits.
 
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BigGreg

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#4
super cool to represent an historical picture.... very excited to see more
 

Jim R

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#5
Well Jakko I reckon after 10+ years it is certainly time to finish this. I have no doubt it will make a great, unusual model.
Jim
 
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#6
Jakko,
That is something different. looking forward to watching this progress.
 

papa 695

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#7
And you may get it finished in time for this Christmas Jakko. One to watch me thinks.
 

Jakko

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#9
With the basic vehicle now having all its details, I turned my attention to the decorations. The CMK kit provides the following parts for the sleigh and reindeer:

IMG_4786.jpg

The main parts are moulded in a sheet of resin, from which you have to trim the excess (I had already cleaned up the sleigh sides when I originally started building the kit, but not the reindeer). The other bits are three lengths of 2 mm square plastic rod.

Here are the reindeer cleaned up as well:

IMG_4788.jpg

If you ask me, however, this is a total missed opportunity: these things, and the sleigh sides, could be made very well in etched brass of, say, 0.75 mm thick or so, which would not only make them much easier to clean up but also far less prone to breaking, especially the antlers. I didn’t break any, but I can easily see it happening if you’re not careful. But I suppose resin was cheaper than brass for CMK.

After some trial-fitting to work out where everything should go, I started putting the sleigh together, using a few bits of plastic card as a floor and as spacers at front and rear. I soon discovered that this was very fragile — the plastic separated from the resin sides more than once on just basic handling, despite me trying to glue them on solidly and using some of the square rod to provide extra surface for the glue to hold onto. After the superglue came loose a couple of times, I decided to give up and start from scratch:

IMG_4792.jpg

I traced the outline of one of the two sleigh parts onto 0.75 mm plastic card so I could cut new sides that can actually be glued. (That thickness isn’t accidental, by the way: since this was built by Americans, I figure they might have used wood one inch thick, and in 1/35 that gives a thickness of 0.7 mm.) I then stuck the two bits of plastic card together with a Tesa sticky hanger thingie I found in a drawer:

IMG_4793.jpg

This on the basis that the packaging says it can be pulled off without leaving residue, which should be better than using normal double-sided tape. That done, I used a fretsaw to cut both sides in one go to make sure they would be identical:

IMG_4794.jpg

I first had to make a fretsaw board, as the one I might have once had, has probably long ago gone missing :smiling3: Removing the Tesa stuff proved harder than expected, because I had put the whole of it between the two parts, when you’re supposed to leave a certain bit sticking out so you can pull on that to make it let go. After some work, though, it otherwise came off as advertised, without leaving any residue.

Anyway, this left me with two good, actually usable parts for the sides:

IMG_4799.jpg

The real thing was probably made from planks of wood. CMK seems to have thought it was made of boards of material, going by the couple of “panel lines” they put in, but my conclusion from the photo of the real vehicle is that at least one of the lines CMK has taken for a panel line, is the shadow of the vehicle’s radio antenna, so I cut vertical lines with my Tamiya plastic cutter to represent planks. Since I don’t know how the real thing was actually made, I also put two strips of plastic on the back of each as the planks that hold the whole thing together, then put in a floor and two transverse planks as the spacers:

IMG_4801.jpg IMG_4803.jpg

The sides need some more strip at the top, though, else it’ll still look like the upper and outer planks are held on by USMC-issue spit.
 
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Jim R

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#11
Hi Jakko
Great progress, great post. Using plastic card certainly involved a lot of work but it will make things stronger. Do you intend to cut out the reindeer in the same way?
Jim
 

Jakko

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#12
I’ll use the kit’s reindeer — they have a much larger area for the glue to adhere to than a few bits of plastic card edge-on like in the sleigh. (In fact it’s all already together, but no photos yet because I had to clamp one of them to the wooden plank because he was bent a bit, so I had to wait for the glue to dry.)

Sawing out the sleigh was very quick and easy, but those reindeer would be a pain in the arse. Like I said, they should have made them in etched brass, that also would avoid the minor problem they have now, of being thinner at one end than the other.
 

Jakko

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#14
It’s now finished, too!

IMG_4805.jpg

There’s a front and back to the sleigh. It looks in the photo like there is some kind of cloth covering the front and back of the sleigh; CMK’s instructions recommends red cloth, but I instead used Tamiya “pla-paper” (paper-thin plastic card) that I’ve had for probably thirty years or more (this explains all the spots on it and the folds in it :smiling3:).

IMG_4807.jpg
IMG_4813.jpg

I added supports underneath, something CMK doesn’t mention, because it’s obvious in the photo that the bottom of the sleigh is clear of the LVTP-5’s roof.

The reindeer are CMK’s:

IMG_4811.jpg

All four are different, because the “panel lines” are in different places, and you can see in the photo of the real thing which one is to go where, so I took care to get that right. The bells around their necks are provided in the conversion set, the string is just some yarn I tied around the necks and put a bit of superglue on to make sure the knot held, before glueing the bell to it.

The framework that supports the reindeer is rather different from how CMK would have you build it. First of all, they supplied 2×2 mm square plastic rod when the photo of the real thing clearly shows flat planks, so I used 1×3 mm plastic strip for those instead. The uprights at the front are also planks on the real thing, not square posts, and seem to be smaller than the horizontal ones, so I used 0.75×2 mm strip for them. What’s more, CMK would have you fix them underneath the horizontal beams, when the photo shows they’re actually inside of them, plus the connecting bar should be only a few millimeters in front of the posts, not a full centimetre as the instructions have it. Other than that, I followed the instructions to the letter ;)

Here’s what it looks like on the LVTP:

IMG_4815.jpg

It’s not glued down yet, because I’m going to leave it separate until both are painted. Also, I still need to make some baubles to put onto the front deck, and find a way to make one big and two small Christmas tree-like things (look at how anemic it is — you can’t call it a “tree”, can you? :smiling3:).
 

Jakko

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#15
The vehicle is now a different colour:

IMG_4816.jpg

That’s a layer of white primer followed by one of gloss white, so the decals will hopefully adhere well. I then began painting the tyres, and realised the bottom and suspension should probably be USMC green, with only the outer parts of the wheels in white. Unfortunately, the only good USMC green paint I have is airbrush-ready, which means it’s impossible to brush on and have it cover even remotely well (as it turned out when I tried), and for airbrushing the suspension I would have to do a lot more masking than I care for, given how much the masking will also be in the way for painting the suspension … I think I’ll just have to use another paint that will cover better and use a brush.
 
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