Wednesday, March 3, 2010

A bit of the past, part deux (the beast)

With my Vostroyan army being built in full swing. I set upon my greatest task to date. My demolisher tank, affectionately known as "the beast". In the process of me developing my army I like to make lots of sketches and to work through the process of my desires vs. reasonable practical application. my desire was to create a tank that was reminiscent of a MKI Tank from WWI, but with a turret on the top. The entire tank was going to be designed with actually having crewmen figures within the vehicle. I wanted to make a tank that was big enough to actually accommodate a "reasonable" amount of space for crew, ammunition, and control mechanisms. Needless to say, IMHO, my demolisher tank was going to be about 50% bigger than a normal Leman Russ Tank. I was comfortable with this design "flaw" as the basic designs in armor philosophy were a bit more basic and not refined to the "sleek" tank most guard players are familiar with. As I began to build out the specifications for my new toy, I decided that I was going to model kneeling Vostroyan gunners in the sponsons, this required the sponsons to be roughly 1 1/4" in height to handle this.
I wanted to create a fully detailed interior, so that meant I was in for a lot more work! I began working on the engine compartment. The back fitting for the engine was a land raider mounting, the smoke stacks would later be enhanced with the screaming eagle stove pipe toppers from the old metal Imperial Steam Tank. Bits of the engine were from the Dwarf flame cannon, IG sentinel, and snotling pump wagon (all older versions of what is currently available).
With the engine compartment completed I began working on the interior of the vehicle. This is the primary area the tank crew would be working and living during the protracted engagements. This area had to accommodate 5 crewmen, food, fuel, ammunition for heavy bolters and the dreaded demolisher gun. with the height of the interior I felt that the crew would not be able to heft a solid casement round up to the breach (a height over the standing head of a man). So I decided that their rounds and the bags of propellant would be stored separately and thus easier to heft and load into the gun. The wheel house is the elevated compartment on the front right side. a small ladder was built for ease of up and down. The hull gunners seat is on the front left and space was left in the center of the compartment for the turret ring, gunner station and tank commander seat. A small hatch was added to the floor in the rear near the fuel tank (back left). When I was asked about the "escape hatch", I grinned and said it could be used as that, but it's mostly for washing out the tank when a nasty round spalled out in the interior and the crew had been killed. (like I said earlier, I was building this on a realistic "Russian mentality" life is cheap, equipment costs money, so use it till it falls apart)
The sides of the vehicle were made to look just like a normal Leman Russ tank. I layers several layers of plastic card on the side to build up the features of the original tank, but in a slightly larger scale. Next, two hole punches were used to make 1/4" and 1/8' holes in a thin piece of plastic card. These circular chips were then placed on top of each other to build up the retention plates for the suspension. Rivets of 1/32" plastic rod were cut to give the retention plates the final touch and to help give definition to the riveted plates of the hull. The track tensioners were made from 27 individual parts. (I am glad I only needed to make 4 of them). The Las Cannon was added to its mounting on the front of the hull and I began adding the heavy bolts that would help hold the front of the tank together. (made from hex rod and circular rod). The wheel house received it's name plate and imperial flying skull icon. But the area of greatest debate was the shot traps to the right and left of the Las Cannon mounting. I debated the demerits of these areas and talked with fellow tread heads about filling those areas with sandbags for additional protection for the crew within. But I decided against this additional protection thinking that the "dress, right, dress" of the army would not allow them to make such uncouth modifications. So the trap door was placed within to help wash out the inevitable gory death of the crew, but the mechanicum decided that the traps would deflect enough of the incoming shots energy that the equipment should be protected, so that would be good enough. the top hatch was built next with enough access panels for ease of loading and unloading equipment and men. A nice mesh cover was placed over the engine deck and hinged for easy access of repair. Screen panels were added to the interior of the vision slits for the driver, so that he would have better protection from the grenades of assaulting forces. The sponson pieces began taking shape. You should also note that I used two sets of road wheels to accommodate the land raider track links I would be using later on. The land raider tracks were from two land raider kits (it was a lot of tread to cover!). The one change I made to the land raider tracks was to remove the imperial eagle from each of the 12th segments. It was replaced with a reworked skull motif to exemplify the sacrifice men made to see it through to the end. the sponsons were set with magnetic inserts to handle heavy bolters or plasma guns (I have since become a fan of multi-melta sponsons now as well!) I next began working on the turret, which is the silliest part of the LR tank kit. There is no way to feasibly handle anyone being in the turret while the gun was going to be fired. (the tank commander's legs would be smashed by the violent recoil of the main gun) I decided to build a gun mounting that was more reasonable and off set the tank commanders hatch so he could maintain a commanding view of the battlefield while saving his pelvis in the process. To highlight the additional side armor of the Demolisher tank, I incorporated heavy bolt-on plates of armor to the turret. Once again, with practical Russian theory, the turret would be the next most hit location. If a penetrating shot entered the turret, the mechanics could replace the armor with a replacement plate and a few bolts to cap it off. Stowage areas were added to the back of the turret to provide additional carrying capacity for spare rations and the crews personal gear. the top hatch was hinged for removal of the commander (if I wanted to button up) and a few final touches were put on the exterior such as sighting instruments, fuel cap, and storage hooks. As a quick point, I modeled the breach in the turret to make sure everything was kept to my scale. A sighting perascope and communications gear were also placed in the turret. I love this vehicle. the beast has survived many, many more battles than it ever should have, though its big tracks have apparently make it easier to immobilize. This full model was one of a kind, but I do hope to make a newer version of this in the near future so I can resin cast the parts. I really want to see a tank squadron of these babies pushing out across no man's land. Besides if I can make a cool resin version of this tank, maybe I can sell a few... :)


  1. Simply beautiful! I am working on a WWI inspired army as well and I must say that your tanks certainly capture the spirit of the early styles forces. I love your conversions!

  2. i remember seeing you building this thing and the chimera stand-ins for your army when vostroyans came out. i still think the fuzzy bunny hats are lame but your army looks outstanding on the table with tank riders on the transports and your big 'beast' leading the charge.