Cheaphammer 40k! Scratchbuilt Imperial Armour in 1/72

Want to do 40k on the ultra-cheap? Step this way good sir & madam..

So, as some of you may be aware, recently we accidentally picked up a copy of 40k 2nd Edition in pretty usable condition, and along with knackered old copies of the mid ’90s codexes found in the loft we’ve been busy making both Da Skooderia and the Hazzard 1977th PDF into codex compliant forces. In both cases, this has necessitated a fair old bit of reorganisation, and in the case if the gallant PDF, some armour – in the shape of the trusty Imperial stalwarts, the Chimera and the Leman Russ!

Now, as is well documented, we use 1/72 (aka 20mm) as our mainstay scale, as the stuff looks good and is insanely cheap compared to the more popular 28mm, and also provides for a (slightly) bigger and more flexible battlefield. So even if we could afford the GW kits, they wouldn’t scale – what to do.. enter the noble craft of Paperhammer!

Some of you will be familiar with the incredible wealth of talent that is on offer from paper model designers like Eli Patoroch (and if you’re not, blogs like this are a great way to pique your interest), and both of these models began life as his templates, scaled back to 66% (GW is more or less 1/48 scale, 48 is 2/3 of 72, 2/3 is near as dammit 66%). In the case of the Chimera, it was a pretty straightforward build, but the Russ? Man, someone put a hex on that thing from the get go..

Some pics:

The Chimera – basic template build, with IDE cables for tracks and a hunk of sprue for the turret multilaser. I used a split pin through the turret base to attach it to the top of the hull, then built the turret around that. As you can see, one or two mistakes where edges didn’t quite line up – a little green stuff around the edges helped with that.

Detail added – large rivets from 1/16″ hole puncher, smaller ones from dobs of PVA glue applied with a cocktail stick. Primed with cheap £1 grey spray primer
My attempt at “underpainting” – prewash with black ink to enhance detail. Not sure it made any real difference in the end though..
Basecoated with Crafter’s Choice tan (to match the infantry colour scheme). I followed the hallowed wisdom of GW’s Duncan Rhodes – “two thin coats are better than one thick coat”.
Thin wash of Vallejo Brown Ink applied to bring out the detail, followed by a drybrush of tan paint and then another, lighter drybrush of tan mixed with white.
Digital camouflage patterns (because I hate myself) – these are Vallejo Russian Green
Matching the infantry, more digital camo blocks added with Burnt Umber and black craft paint

Shown here with an infantryman for scale.

Finally, weathering applied, including drybrushed mud and heavy black sponge chipping, and varnished.

Now to the Leman Russ – this build threw up considerably more issues:

Basic turret and hull

Rivets added courtesy of PVA and hole punch once again, cannons and exhaust stacks a misture of drinking straws and cocktail sticks, chopped IDE cables for tracks… and this was where things first started to go awry – I wanted the sponson mounted lascannons to move, so I built the sponsons independently, then glued the small drinking straw (lascannon) to a larger diameter one placed inside the sponson, allowing them to move. The left hand one cooperated – the right hand one absolutely would not. I tried tacky glue, superglue, caulk, No More Nails, plastic glue, even greenstuff – eventually I had to wedge the bastard in there and coat it with superglue, so unfortunately this particular Russ has a slight manufacturing defect. There were also a few problems with the template – this was more sophisticated than the Chimera, and unfortunately when I shrank it.. I also shrank the instructions. So a fair few bits had to be scratchbuilt and guessed at.

Basecoated with the same tan as the Chimera – for some reason the paint reacted very badly with the primer, and also with the hot glue that held on the tracks.. to the point where I had to lever the damn thing off the modelling mat when I came down the next morning as the tracks had detached from the body and stuck themselves to the mat!

Same digital camo pattern as the Chimera – but hell, there’s only two vehicles in the force so far, and it does look good…


Washing, drybrushing, weathering, metallics – all complete, I take it out to the shed for varnishing and look what happened! My varnish turned into spray snow! Turns out temperature (VERY cold) and failure to shake the can enough where the culprits…
Repainted, reweathered, revarnished and ready to lay waste to the Emperor’s enemies.. as long as they’re in 1/72 scale of course..

So as you can see, it took a while, and my Russ is owed some SERIOUS tabletop karma to make up for it’s difficult start in life! I’ll be doing a full Armies on Parade when the rest of the force is ready to roll, in the meantime (despite a few cockups), I’m quite proud of these two, and for all the issues I had building them it seems the build was no more difficult than your average Forge World kit..

If you haven’t tried Paperhamer, I thoroughly recommend it – obviously you want the real GW kit to do it properly, but as stand ins, proxies, units to try out before splashing the cash – there’s a huge amount of satisfaction to be had in cobbling something out of nothing.

Stay thrifty out there, see you soon!




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