Completed Builds Scifi

Squadron Models 1/72 Haunebu II: The Truth Is Out There… Way Out There

As I’d mentioned in the previous blog article about this kit, when Squadron Models released the Haunebu II a few years ago, I dismissed it mentally, thinking it to be a pretty silly idea. It capitalized on the whole “Luft ’46” notion, which has always been a bit unsettling to me anyway in its implications. On top of that, it played into all of the conspiracy theories surrounding the Nazis, which often carry their on disturbing undertones.

Still, it was a kit. Plastic molded into a shape, and the builder was able to determine the outcome. The styrene in the box was neutral. It just was. Any notions assigned to it were from people’s minds.

As I made the shift to building more scifi, I began to encounter built examples of the kit. While many were built as intended, more than a few simply used the “big UFO shape” as a starting point, and away they went. As I looked at it from that standpoint, I began to see possibilities.

East of Berlin, March 1945

Fedor clambered down the hint of a trail, stumbling on the tree roots which spread and intertwined as though a wooden sea creature had taken residence. Boots that were too large made the task difficult. The mossy growth on everything created a slick morass, leaving little to grip on to. As he stepped down on a flat stone, his heel gave way, and he slid along on his backside for a few feet, finally coming to rest at the bottom of the hill.

“If you keep that up, you’ll break your neck. And I’ll have to drag you back up the hill.” Yaroslav was following along behind, moving with greater care than his comrade in the hopes to avoid a similar mishap.

It was not to be. Stepping on the same stone, he too began the slide down, plopping to a halt a few feet away from Fedor. Looking at each other in silence for a moment, they both burst into laughter.

“Some ballerinas we are!” Standing to his feet, Fedor offered a hand to Yaroslav. Though soldiers in the Red Army, they were still but boys. The war swirled all around them, yet youth made everything seem to be a grand adventure.

The Way To A Modeler’s Heart

I’d started to consider buying the kit from time to time. I’d see it on sale, usually in the $50-$60 price range. While cheaper than the retail price, it still wasn’t enough to move me. I could see the possibilities… but my wallet wasn’t onboard in the least. It has veto power, so to speak. 🙂

However, a friend texted me a while back. “Squadron has their Nazi UFO on sale for $18.49.” That made me take notice.

A quick trip to Squadron’s site showed that even with shipping, the whole kit would be less than $25. While I still wasn’t sure what I’d do with it, the low barrier to entry sealed the deal.

The UFO was headed my way.

Yaroslav looked back over his shoulder as they walked along. “I was told by a man from my hometown who is in 3rd Company that this forest had been a hiding place for Fascist supplies. Perhaps we can find some food?” 

Fedor nodded. “I could use some bread and sausage. Perhaps some wine?” A grunt from ahead sounded in agreement. Though the area was a few miles behind the lines, Fedor kept his eyes open. The Fascists sometimes left behind snipers, or traps, and those paid no attention to battle lines.

As they skirted around the base of the hill, the trail opened up to a wide, flat, worn area. Under an overhang, a glint of metal caught his eye. “Comrade… look.” Yaroslav stopped, peering into the shadow where his friend pointed.

“It’s a door.”

Finding The Angle

One of the odd things about blogging the way I do is needing to find an angle. I don’t just look at a kit with the thought in mind “do I want to build this?” I must also factor in “can I get something interesting to write about from it?” Let’s face it… if you strip out the story side of my work, it’s generally just the usual “First you glue this, then you glue this” kind of stuff. There’s only so much you can say about steps, techniques, and problem solving on any kit.

And when you try to do it over 100 times a year, the task can at times seem gargantuan.

So what really appealed to me was the variety of angles I could take in writing about this model. Certainly it was unusual. It’s shape, size, and design are fairly unique. Breaking down the various components shows it to be a someone nebulous model. Parts of it are aircraft like, some armor, others squarely scifi. It’s certainly one of the most unique models I’ve ever worked on.

Thus, I knew the writing angles would take care of themselves.

The door had been difficult to open, being built heavy as though for a bunker. Only the fact that it had been simply left partially opened allowed them to enter.

As they worked their way through the corridors, guided by the dim light of a hastily improvised torch, everything seemed freshly abandoned. An office here, a guard room there. Cabinets were checked, footlockers opened, but no food was found. As they neared the end of the corridor, another door stood before them. Opening it slowly, Yaroslav peered inside. 

The door seemed to open into a cavern, with only some dim light from a few openings high up its walls letting scant shafts of illumination in. Both men stood, staring into the dark, trying to determine what it contained.

Fedor’s eyes widened. “Look… there. See the scaffolding? What is that?” Yaroslav shook his head silently, and moved forward.

Behind them, a voice called out, sharp and familiar. “What are you two doing here?”

A Bit Of A Schmoo

The design of the model makes it a bit of a Schmoo. While listed as 1/72 scale, the interior seems to be a mix of that and 1/48 scale. The exterior bolt detail appears more appropriate for 1/35 or even 1/20th scale. With very little work, the whole thing could be reimagined in a variety of ways, most with very little work.

I did find it worked best to leave the upper and lower hull sections separate until the very end. The fit is tight enough that they can be glued together at the very end with only the barest hint of a join. While Squadron’s kit may be a bit outlandish, and the scales a bit mixed, the fit of the parts is quite good.

Standing at attention in the small tent, the soldiers sweated profusely. Though the air was not warm, the situation was enough to produce buckets of perspiration. Across the small field desk in front of them, a seated officer eyed them, allowing the tension of the moment to do its work.

Clearing his throat, Major Koslov, the regimental political officer, leveled his gaze at Yaroslav. “Tell me again what you were doing there.”

Yaroslav shook visibly. They’d wandered away from their task, stacking crates of supplies, hoping to find some extra food. Instead, they’d found far more than they ever wanted.

“Sir, we went in search of food… food for the company. We wanted to learn if the Fascists had left supplies for…”

“Yes, I understand. You left your post, and your assigned duty, in order to wander about looking for sausage and wine. You have told me. Do you understand what dereliction of duty is?”

Yaroslav nodded slowly. He wanted to scream at Koslov, but did not dare. There was no way out of this.

Fedor spoke up. “Sir, it was my fault. I convinced him to follow me. He only went to safeguard me, and to try and convince me to return to our work. It was my…”

Koslov raised his voice slightly, lifting his hand. “Stop. Just stop.” Sitting back, he thought for a moment.

“Let’s discuss what you saw.”

The Paint

I opted for AK Interactive Real Color RLM 78-1942 (RC281) for the base color.  Because of the size of the model, it took quite a while to paint, requiring almost 2 full color cups of my Badger Patriot to cover everything. The splinter pattern was masked off progressively to allow for overlapping colors. More of the AKRC paints were used for this, RLM 72 (RC276) for the green, and RLM 75 (RC279) for the gray.

I didn’t worry too  much about planning the pattern, and simply thought it up as I masked. I was worried less about how it had actually been done, and more about keeping things interesting for the weathering.

As they walked silently away from the tent, neither dared to speak. Only after returning to their work area amid a small grove of trees did either open their mouth.

“We should count ourselves lucky Fedor. I don’t know how we’re not even now being buried.”

Fedor sat staring at the ground. Before the war, his father had served with Koslov. He’d never spoken a word of that fact to anyone. He started to speak of it – but hesitated. A thought not spoken could not come back to you.

“We are lucky, I suppose.”

Standing, he unbuttoned his tunic, hanging it on a small stump  of a tree branch. Peering off to the west, the last light of the day lingered. The rumble of artillery fire, always present, sounded as though a giant of old rode a chariot through the sky.

“Fedor, what do you think…”

Cutting off his friend sharply, Fedor spoke harshly. “Yaroslav, we were told to not speak of this. Ever. By a major and political officer of the Red Army. It never happened.”

“But…”

Fedor turned to face him, pulling him to his feet by his undershirt. “We do not speak of this. To anyone. Ever. Put it out of your mind forevermore. Do you understand?”

Wide eyed, Yaroslav nodded his head.

The Weathering

After the paint was on, I started the weathering. I started with lightened tints of the base colors, randomly “scribbling” over the splinter camo to fade the paint a bit. I wanted it to have a slightly aged, but lightly (or never) used look to it. The fade was followed up by some post-shading, using a Black/Hull Red mix, heavily thinned.

For the chipping, I deliberately tried to keep it very light. My idea was that it should look as if it had been clambered over by workmen, but never actually flown. A bit of sponge chipping was applied, Vallejo Mecha Color Chipping Brown being used for this. I also did a few random chips with a Prismacolor Silver pencil, just ot mix it up a bit.

Southeast of Leningrad, January 1963

“Fedor, there is a man here to see you. He said you served together in the war.”

Fedor looked up from his woodcarving. Shavings on the table showed he’d been working for a while. A small rabbit, half finished, was held at arm’s length and examined. “Alright. I’m coming.” Wiping his hands of wood pulp, he turned and headed down the hall of the small flat’s foyer. Perhaps Yaroslav had dropped by for his semi-annual visit. They’d sit up late, and tell stories of the war, each year marked by a seeming increase in their personal exploits and heroics. He smiled at the thought.

Looking up, he saw Major Koslov standing there. His knees went weak.

Koslov showed no emotion. He addressed Fedor simply. “Hello comrade. It’s been many years since our service together.”

Stammering a reply, a now sweaty hand was extended. Hello… Major Koslov.” Koslov grasped his hand tightly.

“It’s actually Colonel Koslov, though I am retired now. Please, call me Andrei. May I come in?”

Fedor stood silently, trying his best to control the fear swirling within him. His wife looked at him strangely. “Fedor, you are so rude.” Turning to Koslov, she smiled warmly. “Please, come in. And forgive Fedor. He spends all his time carving little animals and hardly remembers how to act, especially to one of his Army comrades. I’ll start some tea.”

Stepping into the flat, Koslov looked to Fedor. “Please, comrade, lead the way.”

The surface of the model is much more tank like than “aircraft” like. Large bolt detail covers everything… bolts far too big for the stated 1/72 scale. Still, I opted to simply treat them “as-is”. My goal was “make it look kinda cool”, and not “make it look real and in scale”.

Giving the model a gloss coat, I then applied a wash of Mig Productions Dark Wash. This was allowed to dry, and then the excess removed. In most places, I wiped it away on the “downslope” of the surface, to allow some to remain and appear as lightly streaked. In a few areas, I applied additional wash, and blended it in a bit to produce heavier shadow.

Sipping his tea, Fedor sat silently, staring into the dark contents. He always liked how the steam fogged his glasses, almost as if the world momentarily vanished. Koslov look across the brim of his cup, eyes narrowing.

“Have you heard from our comrade Yaroslav recently?” He watched Fedor, searching his every movement.

Fedor slowly set down his cup. “He was here last year. Around August. He dropped by every few months.”

Koslov nodded. “I’m sure you had very good remembrances of our time in the war. Our Great Patriotic War. Though it is now a memory, the duty and honor from our service still remains, wouldn’t you say?”

Fedor slowly nodded. “Yes, yes. It was an honor to serve with… you. And the others. To serve our country.”

Lifting his cup again, Koslov paused before taking a drink. “Do you know where Yaroslav is now?”

Once that dried, I moved on to acrylic weathering. Several colors of Vallejo Model Washes were employed – blue gray, gray, brown, and a few hints of green.

Each color was streaked onto the model randomly. I had all three colors loaded in the palette, so I switched between them quite regularly as I worked my way around in sections. I wasn’t so much going for a specific look as much as I was looking for that “I’l know it when I see it” stage.

On top of the streaks, I employed a splatter technique with each of the same colors. Again, random was the key for this. The more the washes are thinned, the more you can get away with many layers. I actually applied quite a few layers, increasing opacity as I went.

Fedor’s hand trembled slightly, the cup clinking against the table as he set it down. “No, I do not. When he was last here, he talked of traveling to Germany, to visit relatives. I don’t know if he went, though, as I’ve not seen him since.”

Looking across at Koslov, he hesitated before asking. “Is he… OK?”

Koslov’s face hardened. “We shall see. Sometimes I….” His voice seemed strained, but then his eyes looked towards the kitchen, where Fedor’s wife was putting away the evening’s dishes. His calm returned. “Sometimes I am concerned for him, because he often speaks of matters best left to the past. Matters which would be better not to be spoken of.”

Fedor stared at the carpet. He’d never really liked the pattern. Palm trees and elephants. Who ever heard of those in Leningrad?

Koslov persisted. “Wouldn’t you agree, old friend? Many things are often best left… unspoken.”

Fedor looked up. “Yes. Yes, of course. I have always believed that.” Staring into Koslov’s eyes, he mustered up all his bravery. “My father taught me that.”

Nodding his head, Koslov stood. “Your father was a good officer. I do regret the… circumstances, shall we say, that lead to his death. It was a difficult time for everyone. As a favor to him, I have not forgotten his son.”

Fedor’s wife entered. “You’re not leaving so soon are you? I was going to bring in some bread, and fresh butter.”

Koslov smiled, taking her hand warmly. “You are too kind, dear lady. Unfortunately, I must go. I only had time for a brief stop.” Looking Fedor’s way, he continued. “Just a brief stop to say hello to a comrade. To remember the things we spoke of in our time together. You will always remember those things won’t you, Fedor?”

Fedor nodded. “Of course. I will always remember them. And honor our words.”

With all of those streaks and splatters in place, I began the process of applying some final weathering touches. Small oil stains, fluid leaks, and other such abuse was sparingly added, using both enamels and acrylic products. These I tried to keep in scale a bit, knowing that too large of a stain could easily make what still looked like a large object seem very small.

Finally, I cut out some paper masks, and sprayed on Mr. Color 511 Russian Green 4BO. I saved this until last because I wanted the model to appear as though it had been applied after most of the weathering had happened. Normally I do decals before weathering, of course. But in this case, the late application of overspray was designed to suggest of a “change of ownership”. 

In a few places, I sourced some red Soviet stars from the spare decal box, and placed them around the model. 

Southeast of Leningrad, March 1963

Fedor sat at the kitchen table, re-reading the message. He did not want to believe it. His wife came in, a small sack in her arms. She began to put away the food, yet her eyes were on him. “Is everything OK? You seem more gloomy than your usual cheery self.”

The poor attempt at sarcasm was lost on him. He handed her the telegraph. Taking it from him, she read it. Her face softened, shoulders slumping. Putting down the groceries, she stopped over behind Fedor, wrapping her arms around him, her head resting on his shoulder.

“I am so sorry. I know how dear Yaroslav was to you. But it was kind of… Andrei? Wasn’t that General Koslov’s name? It was kind of him to send you a note. Otherwise you might have never known.” Looking back at the message, she raised an eyebrow. “What does he mean by ‘The days in the forest are long past now’?”

Fedor sighed heavily.

“It’s just his way of remembering our time together. A day when we looked for sausages and wine, but found nothing at all.”

She kissed him on the top of his head. “Would you like some tea? I’ve always thought it cheered the soul when things are dark.”

Taking her hand and smiling, he nodded. “Yes, tea would be good.”

Closing The Book, Blue Or Not

The landing gear were added, as well as gun barrels and the lower ramp that leads into the machine. The final step was mating the lower and upper hull pieces. This was a bit fiddly, as it took a few tries to get the pins lined up. I’d placed Testors cement on each of the pegs, so it was thick enough to give me some working time. After a few ties, everything was lined up, coming together with a satisfying “snap”. A little Tamiya Extra Thin cement was applied lightly along the jong, and all then clamped with clothespins.

After a few hours, it was dry.

I’m quite happy with how this kit turned out. It’s a fun build, with almost no vices. The only difficulty I had was simply handling it – at 14 inches across it is bit unwieldy. Thankfully, the parts are very solid, and there’s really nothing fragile about it.

While my goal in building it was to make it appear as though captured by the Red Army, I thought up plenty of other scenarios that could make for a satisfying build. It has Maschinen Krieger and Steampunkt written all over it. With some modification, it could be a bonafide UFO from outer space. Replacing it’s top cannon and dome part with a clear bubble could make for a crazy “Mars Attacks” type of spaceship.

Basically, it can be morphed into quite a bit, or built straight from the box. Either way, it’s a solid fun kit.

I can’t say I’d ever pay full price for it, though. It is fun… but not $65-$70 fun. If it catches your eye, and you see it floating around for less than $50, grab it.

Just make sure it’s weighted down at night. You never know when little aliens might try and UFO-jack it and head off to Antarctica, or the Moon. Or maybe even Mars. 😉

South of Austin, Texas, 2017

The young boy raced down the hall. The residents of the retirement home waved at his familiar face. “Hey Teddy! How are you?”

Teddy slowed briefly, speaking fast. “I’m fine, thank you sir. I’m going to show Great Pa my new model!” Resuming his run, he fairly burst into the door at the end of the corridor. Running across the room, full of excitement, he was almost breathless.

“Great Pa! Look! Dad got me a new model! Isn’t it cool?” Holding out the large box in front of him, Teddy smiled.

Fedor sat up in his recliner. His sight was not what it used to be. Pointing to the stand nearby, he spoke to Teddy in his thick accent. 

“Go get my reading glasses, and let’s look at what you have.”

Teddy grabbed them, and then carefully crawled onto Fedor’s frail frame, nesting finally on his lap. Setting the box on his knees, he handed over the reading glasses. 

Fedor, now able to see, stared at the artwork. The image of the day came back as though he were still in that time and place long ago. Here before him, painted on a box, was the very scene. Almost in a whisper, he spoke to the boy. “Where did you get this. Teddy?” 

The young boy smiled. “Dad went to a model convention, and they had them there. He thought I might like it. Look – it’s German! Those were the guys you fought against, right Great Pa?”

Sitting back, the old man stared ahead. Memories flooded his mind. “Yes, those were the people I fought in the war. But it was many years ago, way across the Atlantic Ocean.”

Teddy looked at the pictures in the instructions. “This is going to be fun! Dad said we could build it together! Maybe you could come over and see it?”

Fedor smiled at his great-grandson. Tussling his hair, nodding his head, he assured him. “Yes. Yes, of course. I would be very happy to come see you build this.”

Teddy’s look became very serious and wide-eyed. “Was this a real thing Great Pa? Or is it make believe?”

Staring at the box, Fedor paused for a moment. He could still see the fear in Yaroslav’s eyes, standing in the dim light on their way to Berlin. “We do not speak of this. To anyone. Put it out of your mind forevermore.” The thought faded, then Koslov’s words still echoed down the years. “You will always remember those things won’t you, Fedor?” 

He looked at Teddy, pondering the odd journey that brought him here, this specter that seemed to always be near.

And then he smiled.

“Yes, my dear Teddy. It’s make believe. Every bit of it. Now let us look at this model you will build.”

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