The model is ready for painting, ZSU-57 by TAKOM

The double hitter: the construction part 2

This is the third part of my ‘Double Hitter’ soap opera. Check out the previous posts below if you’ve somehow missed them.

Let’s continue with the scratch-building. I’ll move to the upper structure now. It is a little bit more complicated, but I’ll try to explain the process step by step.

ZSU-57, the superstructure

I created the basic shape of the roof again using PLASTRUCT products. Obviously I didn’t have any blueprints of the structure, so I had to work it out using my best judgement and logic. Here’s a photo of the initial frame built with plastic rods.

Then I covered the sides and the top of the structure with some styrene sheets. I assumed the roof would likely by armoured to provide cover from aerial attacks or urban warfare. I also decided the structure will have some hatches at the back. Their location and shape is my pure imagination. The superstructure might as well have been half-open, but the hatches will provide some extra details.

The superstructure is covered with styrene sheets 1
The superstructure is covered with styrene sheets 2

Next step was to recreate the rubber. I took some time thinking about what material I should use. I initially thought I could roll thin sheets of Milliput and cut out appropriate shapes. But it would require hours of hard work to get it right.

But then in struck me. If I want to recreate rubber, why don’t just use… rubber? The simplest ideas are usually the best. I finally found out that something called magnetic rubber would suit my needs just fine. It’s a material used to produce those little magnets you probably stuck on your fridge. It’s pretty cheap, easy to get and comes in many different sizes and thicknesses.

For my project I chose 0,5mm and 1mm thickness (0.019 in and 0.039 in respectively – my dear metrically challenged friends…).

Magnetic rubber is extremely easy to work with. You can cut it with a hobby knife. It’s pretty resilient and can be formed into different shapes. Also, you can easily make some wear signs using a file, sanding paper or hobby knife.

Magnetic rubber can be useful for many other things. Want a tarp for your model real quick and easy? No problem.

Signs of wear on magnetic rubber

I started to attach rubber parts to the structure. A slow drying CA glue is perfect for that task.

Rubber parts on the structure, ZSU-57 by TAKOM
Back of the structure, ZSU-57 by TAKOM

It’s time for the first dry fit. The part sits pretty well and I think it doesn’t look bad considering I didn’t have any exact dimensions.

Test fit for the superstructure, ZSU-57 by TAKOM
Test fit for the superstructure, ZSU-57 by TAKOM

I made additional details to the part. Hatch handles and hinges were constructed from copper wire and some leftover ABER parts.

Further details on the superstructure, ZSU-57 by TAKOM
Hatch handles, ZSU-57 by TAKOM

Last but not least I added bolts to accompany the hinges from the other side. I made them with some old MasterClub track pins. You may think it’s just an irrelevant detail, but those tiny things are going to shine after the painting.

Then I started to make metal pads that held the rubber sheets. First I glued on some small plastic rectangles. Then each one had a hole drilled in the centre. After that I had to glue a piece of wire to….. EVERY. EACH. ONE. OF THEM.

Repetitive actions like that are my least favourite aspect of scale modelling. But well, it has to be done.

Last batch of details on the superstructure, ZSU-57 by TAKOM

Moving on. I came back to the main hull to attach the already built rear structure.

As you can see below I also made grab handles using a wire. The wire looks much better than plastic parts and can be easily shaped into any form you want.

Rear structure attached, ZSU-57 by TAKOM
Handles made with wire, ZSU-57 by TAKOM

Quick tip

It's often convenient to use wire in your models, for example to recreate handles or engine cables. Always drill holes that you will put the wire into. This will ensure a more durable joint.

It’s time to do weld marks one the metal plates. I used some modelling putty and a hobby knife. Look at the pictures below. I think they are self-explanatory.

Making weld marks with Milliput, ZSU-57 by TAKOM
Step 1 of making a weld mark, ZSU-57 by TAKOM
Step 2 of making a weld mark, ZSU-57 by TAKOM

It’s time for the last piece of scratch-building. I hope you haven’t forgotten about the ammo box at the front of the vehicle.

ZSU-57 front ammo box

I didn’t manage to fully identify the box. But it’s definitely an ammo crate of Russian origin.

What else would be better to recreate wood than… (you guessed it) wood. For the front part of the box which shows some serious damage I will use balsa wood. Balsa is very soft and extremely easy to work with. You can easily shape it with your hobby knife

For the rest of the crate I wanted to use something that have a natural wood texture. Veneer is an obvious choice here. It is, again, very easy to work with and has some very realistic structure. And it is really cheap. A couple of years ago I went for a scavenge hunt to my local carpenter and he was kind enough to give me a lifetime supply of veneer leftovers for free!


Veneer is a versatile modelling material

I started with the balsa part carefully cutting out the damage visible on the photo. It’s super easy. The part you see on the pic below was actually a training piece that came out well enough that I decided to keep it on my build.

Working with balsa is easy and effective

Here is the complete set of parts for my ammo crate. For the lower part I will use a piece of styrene plastic for stability.

Parts used to build a crate, ZSU-57 by TAKOM
Balsa (left), veneer (middle), styrene plastic (right)

And here are the parts glued together. I used a CA glue to work fast, although it’s not the ideal option for wood.

I recreated a bit of the inside of the crate as well. But let’s face it: nobody is going to see it.

It’s time to add some details. I used plastic strips and some random PA parts during the process. Side handles were made with wire. Again, take your time building up the details on your scratch-build parts. It is always going to pay off during the painting.

Details of the wooden crate, ZSU-57 by TAKOM
Details of the wooden crate, ZSU-57 by TAKOM

The next steps are the tracks. I’ve worked with MasterClub products many times and I’ve never had problems before. But this time the tracks felt a little bit stiff. I had to use a needle to ensure a good connection between links. But all in all, the tracks came out great.

As always in this kind of repetitive job, I divided the building process into a couple of sessions just to avoid going insane.

MasterClub tracks are ready, ZSU-57 by TAKOM

TAKOM was thoughtful enough to design the inside of the wheel hub, so you have the option to leave the cap missing. It’s not really a realistic scenario but definitely looks cool, so I went for it. I only had to deepen the holes with a drill.

Beautiful details of the wheel hub, ZSU-57 by TAKOM

I think it’s high time to wrap it up, isn’t it? The last think I made (and I wasn’t really looking forward to) was the ammunition. TAKOM decided to mould the rounds together with the mounting racks. It makes the construction easier, but the painting will in turn be much more complicated. The other downside is that you can’t easily make some of the racks empty. It’s either the whole stack or recreating the empty racks from scratch. At that point I was really tired with the whole building process so I went with the first option.

The construction is complete, ZSU-57 by TAKOM
The construction is complete, ZSU-57 by TAKOM
The construction is complete, ZSU-57 by TAKOM
The construction is complete, ZSU-57 by TAKOM

And here’s the whole set just begging for some paint. I obviously haven’t glued the turret yet for easier approach.

The model is ready for painting, ZSU-57 by TAKOM

Hold on, there’s one thing missing, isn’t it? Do you remember a tarp at the back of the turret I talked about earlier?

ZSU-57, the superstructure

I’ve mentioned it’s probably a machine gun on a AA mount covered with a tarp. Or… maybe not? I just don’t care. I’m really done with this construction process and I just want to start painting. Maybe I’ll come back to the machine gun later.

That’s it for now. Next time I’ll show you how I painted the interior of my ZSU-57-2. See you soon!

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