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Saturday, June 29, 2019

CHIEF and BACKER: My Dieppe Part 2


Well it's been a time since I was at the workbench so to speak. A conference in Brisbane and a spell of recreation leave in Brisbane/Sydney/Canberra is done. I'd love to claim to be able to make up for lost time but I have guests visiting the Kingdom pretty much back-to-back over the next two months so it's going to be very slow for a time yet.

When home I sourced a few supplies I did not previously have in Tonga which were very  much needed - modelling putty and aluminium tubing. Plus I am drifting more toward Vallejo paints with a few steel variants from their metallic ranges. But I digress.

SNORKEL EXHAUSTS

I knew I wanted to experiment with aluminium tubing in lieu of my attempts at making snorkel vents for the Churchills from steel wire. The steel wire is just too heavy and even using Selly's Araldite doesn't provide a strong enough bond between the plastic model and the steel.

Bending the hollow aluminium tubing does tend to flatten at the 45 degree corners slightly but not so much that it makes a difference on a wargames model in 1/72 scale. The tubing glues quite strongly with Superglue for a reasonable working bond but you can't rely on it - it aint that super.

The tube walls are quite thick but drill out nicely for a more open exhaust pipe at the ends. The aluminium is easy to cut and drill and I used a brace made from fuse wire threaded through tiny holes I hand-drilled through the centre of the exhaust ends. The whole exhaust structure is thicker than the steel wire variant but looks better to my eye and weighs a fraction. The aluminium bonds far better with the plastic model using good old liquid cement. A much, much better result in fact and I'm very glad I waited to continue with the new supplies and experiment for this build.
Apart from the different vents and snorkel exhaust, the chespaling on one vehicle and the OKE flamethrower conversions, all models for this build are relatively unadorned. As the raid was supposed to be a hit-and-run exercise the additional stowage bins and more usual campaign detritus I would normally add to my WWII vehicles will be absent from these models which makes them a bit of a curiosity.

CHIEF was the only one of my three lead tanks to have retained it's chespaling apparatus on landing.  BURNS (my other lead tank not including the OKE section) damaged its gear on the approach and had it removed prior to beaching. None of the OKE flamethrower tanks had chespaling.

The above sketch plan is the only image of the design configuration for the chespaling rig at Dieppe I could find. There is nothing (NOTHING!) in any of my reference books either. Apart from the opening image for this posting, the only other reference for the original chespaling apparatus used at Dieppe is the following shot.
None of course are of the Mk I. There is a very useful reel of film footage of the chespaling experiment archived from Combined Operations Headquarters of the Churchill undergoing trials of the second and third generation chespaling gear (available on YouTube). The footage; however, post-dates the Dieppe raid after which the design moved away from the frame being entirely suspended from a mounting between the track horns and it shows the adoption of stabilizer arms outside of the horns.

I'm confident you will agree that the visual references haven't left me much to go on. So, what I came up with after a painstaking scrutiny of the limited photographic evidence is a speculative design using principles from the later versions and incorporating those features I could make out from the Dieppe images.
The most obvious and therefore most accurate feature of the chespaling model are the twin bobbins. Using dead-reckoning and a Tongan 10 Seniti piece (18mm diametre coin) I made the discs from Styrofoam sheet.
The drums were cut from an old scalpel blade tube and the chespaling cut from a piece of balsa and glued in with liquid cement. I then drilled, threaded and fixed an aluminium tube with more liquid cement. It's the same tube I used for the snorkel exhausts. I further set in the balsa array with diluted PVA.
Twin support forks were made from Styrofoam sheet and fixed to the hull. After filing recesses at the front, the bobbin axle was glued in and when set, a second supporting or guide axle was fixed underneath .
I fixed a simple front brace and then a more supported brace mid-way, based on a later design which also supports the control wire stem. The final touch to this model will be the control wire running from the stem to the turret. All of the rig was cut and constructed with dead reckoning and trial and error - building it on the model directly. It appears quite structurally sound.

TRACKS
I loath fixing rubber tracks (especially after my recent mishap). I fix these rubber tracks with a heated screw driver tip and then I staple them for extra strength using two office stables. It's not pretty but as I base all of my models, I can completely hide these brutal joins. It may be clumsy ... but it works.

ANTENNAE
Another rigid and unsubtle solution for my tank modelling which persists is the use of steel wire for the radios. Now this remains a pretty inelegant solution as they are a tad thicker than I'd prefer but when the rest of the vehicles are painted they will appear less so (I hope). I couldn't find any brushes here with the right sized bristle and I have no fancier products at my disposal. I doubt I'll continue this practice much longer but my resources on posting are limited.


BACKER is the only Churchill Mk II variant for this project. According to my Osprey book on the Churchill there were some Mk I variants which switched the hull mounted gun for a second Besa machine gun which is sometimes referred to as the Mk II. Osprey insists the proper Mk II transposed the hull with the turret guns. From examination of the obscure photo I have of BACKER within Dieppe Through the Lens there is no way of telling whether BACKER was a true Mk II so my BACKER retains the standard 2pdr turret gun and a Besa machine gun in the hull. If anyone has evidence to the contrary ... keep it to yourself.

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