This is a tutorial on how to make detailed Schurzen for a 15-20mm Panther tank.
The models used are by
Battlefront but the techniques should work for any 15-20mm Panther.
I decided to replace the schurzen that comes with the models because it is grossly
out of scale thickness wise, and there were some rigidity issues since there were
really not attachment points except at the back of the model. It also does
not appear to accurately reflect the schurzen applied to early Panther's, as the
skirts on these appear to overlap in my reference photos.
First the tools you will need:
The first thing to do is check your references (in my case Germany's Panther Tank by Thomas L. Jentz) to see how the real schurzen is attached to the Panther. On model D Panthers (what I will be modelling since this is a mid war panther) it appears that the schurzen plates overlapped and were attached to hooks on the side of the tank, each hook holding up the opposite end of 2 skirt pieces. The hooks appear evenly spaced, except for the end hooks for the first and last pieces, which are spaced closer together. (they are almost at the midpoint of the skirt piece they help hold up). Unfortunately I cannot find any online photos.
To replicate the overlapping of the schurzen I will cut each individual skirt out of brass strip and glue them together, overlapping them as I go. Measuring the width of a skirt from the schurzen that comes with the model, it is 10mm, so I cut each skirt to be 12mm long to allow for 2mm overlap. This is grossly out of scale but I was concerned that less overlap would not make for a sturdy enough model for gaming purposes.
When cutting the strip, you will notice that it tends to curl as you cut it. Once the strip is cut into individual skirts, it needs to be flattened. To flatten it, I used the work area of my drill press and a hammer, hammering the edges on both sides to flatten the material out. The brass will get scuffed up a bit, but this is a good thing as it will make the superglue adhere better when the skirts are glued together. At this point you should also file the ends of the skirt pieces, they can be quite sharp after cutting, that edge needs to be filed down.
Now it is time to assembly the schurzen, each consists of 6 skirt pieces. You can glue them overlapping in pretty much any way you want (I've seen various ways in reference photos). Just place a little superglue on the edge of 1 piece and press another into it. Use a tiny amount of superglue at this point; you aren't trying to make a sturdy join just enough glue to hold the pieces together. We will strengthen the join later. Also it is very important that you keep the the line of skirts straight as you glue them, I pressed them onto the top of my steel ruler as I added each skirt to keep them straight.
Assembly the shurzen for both sides of the tank. You can see I bent the edge of one of the skirt panels to make it look a bit worn.
Now we need to add some detail to the skirt panels to represent the hooks that hold them up. On Panther D's, each hook bar had 2 hooks that went through the skirts, at some point on Panther A's it was changed to a single hook per hook bar. Rather than trying to drill holes in the plates and make real hooks (something that would be very fiddly on a gaming piece) I decided to represent the hooks holding the skirt plates up using very small pieces of plastic strip.
First I sliced a strip of plastic about 1mm wide from my plastic sheet. Then I cut tiny pieces off this strip to make the 'hooks'. You will need 14 hooks per schurzen, or 28 per model.
Now for the most fiddly part of the whole process; once you get them cut they need to be attached to the model (consult reference photos for placement). The topmost row is almost at the top of the shurzen, the bottom row is slightly below the halway point. It is important that all of the hooks line up correctly. Here you can see all of my schurzen with the hooks attached. (I have 2 sets in the photo since I was making it for 2 Panthers, also you can see that I am modelling some missing skirt panels on one Panther.)
Now that the Shurzen is done it is time to add the support brackets that will hold it to the model. There are 7 brackets per shurzen, 5 of which are L brackets that will attach to the underside of the fender and 2 of which attach to the side of the Panther (at the rear). For the 2 rear brackets I just used strips of brass as spacers , the 5 front L brackets will be created out of brass strip using the photo etch folding tool.
I cut 10mm pieces of brass strip for the L brackets, and 5mm pieces of strip for the spacers.
Now the 10mm strips need to be folded, I measured 4mm on the strips and bent them there; the 4mm side I use to attach to the schurzen and the 6mm side I use to attach to the fender. I bend them 3 at a time to speed up the process. Both ends of the L brackets will be invisible once the model is assembled, so there is no need to file the edges smooth.
Once you have the L brackets bent it is time to glue them to your schurzen. Using the locations of your hooks on the front of the schurzen as a guide, glue 5 L brackets to the schurzen behind the spots where the first 5 sets of hooks are. It is important the hooks and brackets line up since the corners of the hooks will be visible. Once you have 5 brackets attached, glue 2 spacers behind the last set of hooks. Once these set a bit, go over all of the joins on the back with superglue, you want to make sure you have strong bonds holding the parts so that it will stand up to gaming. The back of the schurzen will not be visible on the model (unless you model missing pieces).
In this photo you can see my shurzen for 2 Panthers, one of which will be missing panels. The small piece of bent brass strip is going to be a bent L bracket to represent battle damage for a missing skirt panel.
Now the schurzen needs to be glued to the model. You can either apply glue to the top of the L brackets or the underside of the fender, and also apply some to the spacers. Again this will not be visible on the model and you want to make sure you get a strong join. Make sure you get the shurzen positioned correctly on the model, then just wait for the glue to set.
Here you can see the 2 Panther's I did for the tutorial.