I got a few hours in between all the travelling and work this week, and managed to finish a Stormchimera for the (shamefully dormant) Assault Brigade list that I work on from time to time. Being intoxicated by all the mojo, I did however forget to paint the two Krieg turrets (with autocannons) that I had lined up ready to paint as well – but I guess there’s more airbrushing ahead so getting them done won’t take long. In this article I’ll talk about how I converted a regular Chimera into a Stomchimera using some simple tricks, as well as sharing some thoughts on using pigments as part of the weathering process when painting tanks.
Not all things old are bad
When assembling the tank I decided I wanted a commander leaning out of the top hatch shouting orders to his disembarked fire team. I love the old metal tank commanders that used to come in different flavors depending on what regiment you were playing. They’re full of character and look a whole lot more dynamic than the new ones that come on the plastic sprues. However, I had already used the old crypto-soviet style commander for my Valdor tank hunter and I didn’t want to repeat myself with this vehicle. Digging through my dungeon treasure I came across one of the old dismounted tank crew, and I knew in an instant that he had to be incorporated in this build. The models are at least 15 years old by now but the (trio of) crewmen pretty much followed the same look of the tank commanders of the good old days: military style overalls, thick leather caps, and some sort of personal defense weapon. I used a cutter to get rid of his legs and fitted him into the turret. I angled him slightly forward to use the motion of the running pose, his arm was perfect to create the look of a commander that is leaning on the edge of the hatch while looking around. A perfect match!
The Stormchimera is a more armored variant of the regular transport used by the Imperial Guard. The Storm is most notably used by the assault brigades of the Death Korps of Krieg, but other regiments are also known to have been issued Storm type Chimeras to fit specific campaigns or tasks. Forgeworld used to sell a conversion kit that included both the autocannon turret, improved track guards, and a modified environment filter, but as they’re no longer in production I had to do some plastic surgery to make my own Storm. First of all I used the track guards from a Leman Russ battle tank. They needed a bit of carving to get the right angles above the front of the much thinner tracks but other then that they went on pretty easy. Next up was the turret that had to be beefed up a bit. I used to pieces of spare track links to give the impression of improvised armor pieces that had been welded to the sides of the turret. On the back I glued some camo or tarp to give the turret a wider (and visually lower) profile. Last but not least the huge search light was placed on the side to enhance the feeling of a specialist vehicle.
Other trademarks of the Stormchimera are the enclosed lasgun arrays at the back of the tank. The glue-on lasguns tend to get flimsy over time, and I wanted to emulate the hazardous environment module from the old Forgeworld kit. So, by simply glueing the lasguns backwards I used the knobs to create cupolas for the gun holes. I think this makes the Chimera look a whole lot more like an actual armored fighting vehicle instead of a metal porcupine on tracks.
Mustard stripes and mud
One of the camo patterns presented in the artwork of the Siege of Vraaks-book shows a Macharius tank painted in dark German grey with mustard colored tiger stripes slung across the chassis. I instantly fell in love with this camo as it’s very striking and also provides some nice variation from painting green and olive drab. Just as with the Valdor, and the Hellhound, I basecoated the vehicle in Vallejo Model Color Yellow Ochre (70.913). After sealing the tank with a light coat of varnish I then ripped out stripes of paper tape in different sizes and applied them to the model. The idea here is to break up the shapes of the actual tank and make the pattern organic as opposed to the more manufactured shape of the armor lines. After covering the entire tank in stripes of tape I then airbrushed Vallejo Panzer Aces Dark Rubber (70.306) across the uncovered parts of the model. I let the final coat dry thoroughly and then removed the tape using an exacto blade – making sure not to rip any paint off.
By stippling around the edges with a sponge I chipped the paintjob with the same grey color and light metallics. I then applied the decals and began painting some streaking grime around rivets and down along the sides of the armor. For the final weathering of the tank I used raw pigments of different earth tones. I tend to first apply a thick (sort of) wash, where I mix the pigments with a bit of water and varnish/medium, around the tracks and the bottom edge of the tank. After the initial wash I then went back over all tracks, on top of the track guards, the dozer blade, and around all the side plates with just the raw pigments. Use an old brush here unless you want to ruin your best Kolinsky’s, and work the pigments into the surface to build up layers of dried mud. I went from the darkest brown to lighter khaki and mixed in some rust tones around some areas. In the final stage i sprinkled pure pigment powder on areas where mud and dust would gather using uing the tip of the brush. Finally, I sealed the pigments by first spraying matte varnish through my airbrush (on low PSI!), and then by applying a final coat using a rattle can. You can see the result below!