Monday, 26 March 2018

Foxhound LPPV (Light Protected Patrol Vehicle)

This is the second 1/50 scale vehicle released by Evil Bear and as such marks a significant improvement in accuracy. Whilst the Panther CLV was well cast and finely detailed, it had some significant dimensional issues that detracted from an otherwise nice model. The Foxhound is visually better proportioned and whilst there are still some detail errors and omissions to be dealt with, the basic body is an excellent starting point for a project.

Like the Panther, the Foxhound kit has clearly been mastered using a CAD system and then 3d printed to create a set of moulding masters. The kit is cast in a grey resin for the main body parts and wheels, whilst white metal has been used for the detail parts such as the suspension, hatches, ECM boxes and armament. The body is cast in two main parts, the 'skateboard' chassis with attached engine compartment and then the main crew compartment. This split mirrors the real vehicle. Both parts are solid 'lumps' so there is no opportunity to add interior detail. This is to be expected of a kit primarily aimed at the wargames market, where robust construction is a priority and fine detail is more of a hindrance that an advantage.

The wheels are well cast with a good tread pattern. However, the wheel hubs are inaccurate and short of a complete re-work there isn't a lot that can be done (so I ignored the problem because life's too short...). The white metal parts are also well cast and finely detailed, except for the two GPMGs, which are traditional, wargames-style 'heroic' size (ie deliberately overscale).

Which brings us to the fact that there are no assembly instructions included in the kit. I strongly recommend that you study the photos of the kit shown on the Evil Bear website ( because this should resolve most of the location issues. There are also a good range of photos of the real thing scattered across the Internet, so some image searching via your preferred web browser will also pay dividends.

The two main body parts require a small amount of clean-up to remove some casting nubs, but far less than you would expect on a lot of resin kits. Then the fun started.

The lower skateboard chassis was left largely alone after it had been cleaned up. The only change underneath was to boost the suspension units by fitting a 1mm spacer between them and the chassis. This provides additional clearance between the front wheels and the wheel arches but exacerbates the problem over the rear wheels where the spacing is already too great. There is clearly a dimensional error somewhere in the kit but I'm unsure exactly where and wasn't something I particularly wanted to pursue on this project. As an aside, I think part of the issue is that the wheels are too large, hence the clearance issues under the front wheel arches.

The engine compartment forms the upper part of the chassis unit - reflecting the configuration of the real vehicle. There are two lifting eyes located on the bonnet which need to be removed. They are an incorrect pattern and in the wrong places. However, this makes it easier to add the next item. The bonnet lacks a non-skid panel so I cut one from a sheet of etched metal four-bar tread plate that is sold by Accurate Armour. Whilst the tread plate is overscale (1/35 scale), it is still a good match for the pattern used on the real vehicle. The panel needs to be cut at a 45 degree angle to represent the configuration on the bonnet and the rear end of the panel should be carefully measured and cut to shape so that it fits around the intake cowls.

Another small change worth making is the addition of a cut-out in the bonnet to accept a new container fitted to the main body, just below the windscreen. The latter is a simple block of plastic beam, sanded to shape and attached with cyano glue. The kit provides two ECM boxes for the bonnet and these were duly cleaned up and fitted. More recent photos of the Foxhound show additional brackets fitted just above the front bumper and these too are probably for some form of ECM equipment. Also tackled at this stage were the headlights. The kit items are moulded into the resin and replacing them with aftermarket lenses really makes a difference to the finished vehicle.

Perhaps the biggest faux pas on the kit was to 'mirror' the right and left sides of the vehicle. In practice they are different but the Evil Bear Foxhound is the the same on both sides. The bulk of that will be dealt with when the crew compartment is tackled, but it does mean that some work needs to be done on the right-hand side of the engine compartment too. There are three moulded vents where there should be four on this side, a detail I ignored. However, the rear triangular vent needs to be filled in and a filler cap arrangement fitted.

The final chassis alteration was to open up the rear step and add brass mesh to create the step surface. Earlier vehicles have a solid step with a central slot - the step was designed to fold up and the slot allows it to nestle either side of the towing hitch.

The main crew compartment is an independent armoured 'cell' that fits onto the chassis, just like the real vehicle. The kit part is a solid lump of resin, finely cast and well detailed. However, like the engine compartment it is identical on both sides. The production Foxhound only has a door on the left side, although the earlier configuration of the original Ocelot company demonstrator had doors on both sides. Removing the hinge line, door handles and small 'cross' detail on the lower hull is straightforward and immediately improves the look of the vehicle. Where you go from here really depends on how far you want to take the detailing. Since I wasn't producing a vehicle for the gaming table it was practical to add more fragile parts, safe in the knowledge that they would be knocked off or damage through constant handling.

Starting at the front, a wire cutter needs to be added beside the driver's windscreen. Evergreen strip was used to create the lower 'C' section profile as well as the tapered upper section. Moving to the roof, the kit offers a couple metal parts that may be CCTV units. However, neither is especially detailed so new ones were fabricated from plastic beam. One fits on the front right corner of the roof and the other is located over the rear doors. Over the cab, the raised roof area had its detail removed and replaced with smaller panels and discs.

Grab handles were added beside each roof hatch and some additional detail added to the hatches themselves. Both MG mounts were rebuilt from plastic bar and strip. For some unknown reason, both the Evil bear guns have the ammo boxes on the wrong side of the gun. They are also over-scale. I kept putting this task off as I couldn't glean enough detail from photos to understand the bracket and cradle shape for the mounts. Eventually I felt I had sufficient information to at least come close to their configuration.

The bulk of the roof detailing is at the rear end. In addition to the aforementioned CCTV housing there are two whip aerials, a satellite communications unit, some form of comms or ECM box inside a cage and some electrical trunking. The whip aerials are lengths of brass rod and tube, with a plastic collar at the bottom. The sat-comm aerial is plastic strip and rod, all mounted onto a disc of thin plastic card. The comms box required more effort as I wanted to replicate the vaned appearance of the upper surface. Alternate strips of 10x40 and 10x60 thou strip were sandwiched together into a block and left to set overnight. The block was then trimmed down to size (guesstimated) and additional thick card added to the bottom to build up the box shape. The protective bars are 0.5mm brass rod bent to shape and slotted into pre-drilled holes in the roof.

On the back wall of the crew compartment I replaced the moulded stowage bins either side of the doors. Although they are correct in profile they are too small. The inner wall of each bin should be touching the hinge line of the doors. To make the new bins I sandwiched three lengths of 80x125 thou beam together to form the basic block. The bevelled long edge was created by gently sanding the block at an angle. From this plastic 'blank', I then cut the bins to length. Building them in this way meant that both would be virtually identical

This also gave me the opportunity to add some of the detail missing from the kit bins. Like the front of the vehicle, there are mounting plates for the vehicle protection suite under each bin, as well as a metal carry frame of some description under the right-hand one. Once again, the frame was fabricated from brass rod, with scraps of plastic for detailing

I removed the moulded handles on the doors and scimmed both with filler before sanding them flat again. This helped to hide the printer 'layering' that is obvious on the kit - perhaps my biggest bugbear because it suggests a lack of attention to detail when preparing the master.

Everything commenced with a decent undercoat of grey primer. The wheels were left separate at thi sstage, as was the tow bar and one of the MG mounts. A couple of days later the main coat of Tamiya XF57 (Buff) was sprayed on and again left for a couple days. The Buff provides a good base for the weathering and shading that followed. It's lighter than the typical British Army Sand, but the weathering process darkens the shade.

Weathering was a mix of thinned oil paints to add texture and shading to the base coat, along with some careful dry-brushing using XF-55 (Deck Tan) - don't be tempted by Tamiya's newer shade of XF-78 (Wooden Deck Tan) which is more of a desert sand colour and too close to the base coat of Buff.

No markings are provided in the kit and to be honest, there are very few tactical markings present on operational vehicles. However, there are a significant number of 'NO STEP' stencils and I wanted to replicate these. The text was created in a graphics package, although MS Word would be a simple option for this type of stencil too. The text was designed very large, but the image was then printed at only 6% of it's nominal size in order to maintain a high quality level. Several test prints onto ordinary white paper were tried first in order to determine the best combinations of size and definition, before a final print was done onto clear decal film. The decal film is inkjet printer compatible, but the designs need to be sealed onto the surface with a coat of clear varnish before they are used (as standard waterslide decals). Also created were a pair of registration plates, using photos of actual vehicles to ensure the registration sequence was accurate for a Foxhound.

Application of the decals followed a familiar pattern. Areas to be decalled were coated with Johnson's Klear to provide a glossy, smooth surface. Once the decals had been applied, a coat of flat varnish was applied over the top.

Final tweaks
The rear lights received an undercoat of solver, followed by top coats of clear orange and clear red as appropriate. The headlamps were replaced with suitable items from Little Lenses and the windscreen and side windows painted up in a clear blue applied over a base of mid grey.

A simple scenic base finished off the project. The Hesco bastions are from Barrage Miniatures and came free with another purchase I made from them.

Overall I really enjoyed building the Foxhound. It isn't a perfect kit and there are some dimensional errors that can't be fixed but it has the beefy look of the real vehicle and is a great subject for painting. Most of the vehicles in Afghanistan were covered in Barracuda camouflage on a permanent basis but recreating this in 1/48 scale was beyond me, so I left it well alone. Yet again, we have a good quality wargames kit that, whilst not as detailed as a scale model, responds well to a little TLC and looks the part.

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