While fixing the Bandai might not be the best way to get an Ausf B, it is a way... I never said I was normal.
So how is my monster progressing? As we saw a bit earlier, a first step in resolving the shape issues on the Bandai hull—as well as correcting detail issues on the rather poor Bandai suspension and running gear, The bottom area on the Tamiya hull will be cut away and used to replace the bottom part of the Bandai hull. This is an easy cut, with the bend in the hull (at the point it goes from vertical to angled) being used as a guide. To make the cuts, I scribed carefully with a new, sharp hobby knife blade. This is more exact and less damaging than trying to use a saw or Dremel—although it takes more time. The key is making sure the cuts are straight so it mates better when the parts are swapped.
1. The Tamiya piece cut from the hull. To help ensure a good fit later, it’s important to make the cuts and straight and even and possible.
2. As we have seen, a comparison of the Bandai hull with the plans from Panzer Tracts indicates the angles where the rear joins the side are not quite correct, so in addition to removing the bottom of the Bandai hull, the rear is removed, too.
3. Prior to grafting on the Tamiya hull, the Bandai upper and lower hulls were temporarily attached with tape. This will help ensure that when the Tamiya/Bandai parts are glued, the Bandai lower hull walls will retain the correct alignment and the correct angles.
4. The Tamiya hull parts glued in place. As great care was taken to get the cuts straight and exact, the pieces join together with a very clean joint (at least at the rear where the hull shapes are most compatible).
5. Before the glue cures, test fitting with both the sprocket and idler wheel (with some track links attached) was done to ensure proper clearance under the fenders. The alignment of the lower hull pieces was slightly adjusted to ensure the correct fit and spacing. If the idler and sprocket fit ok, so too will the rest of the wheels and tracks.
So far things are going so lovely, I feel like a song!
And, like our song, while things started well, there were some issues that arose the further along we went.
6. The Tamiya front portion was filled in place on the Bandai hull, the fit was not as good here, and some plastic/putty work will be needed to correct this area, but it’s not toooooo bad.
7. The incorrect rear hull shapes were fixed with sheet plastic. Take care to get a good, straight joint so it will be easier to smooth later. In this photo, the side pieces are glued, cured, and sanded to shape. This was done by constantly fitting the upper hull until everything lined up and was square. Here, the back lower piece is glued in place, but not yet sanded. Tip: As we see here, sometimes it's best to cut the piece slightly oversize and sand to final shape after curing. This ensure perfect fit with no gaps.
Speaking of gaps... Any issues on the outside of the hull can be fixed with putty after assembly, but before painting. However, the inside of the hull will need painting prior to assembly, so I'm taking care to ensure interior fit is perfect and gap free.
8. The front axle was loosely fitted in place, along with the wheels. So was the completed track/road wheel assembly. This was done to ensure proper alignment of the mated hull pieces and to make sure the vehicle would sit level on the ground. So far, so good (of course is what the optimist yelled out when passing every floor after he fell from the roof of the 80-storey building). The only (minor) issue is that the Tamiya front wheels are slightly larger than the Bandai wheels. Therefore, proper alignment of the axle under the fender is vital to make sure the fender does not foul the wheel. If, as I get to the point where suspension bits will be permanently attached, the wheel ends up looking a bit too large, I may turn the wheels to about a 30 degree angle to sort-of hide their size.
So the first step is pretty much complete with no major issues or problems. But I'm sure that sooner or later Frankenstein will meet the blind priest:
To this point, I haven't done much with the upper hull, but I did remove the incorrect antenna mount and bullet splash rail.