A Modeling Guide to:
Applying Resin Zimmerit Sets
by Neville Lord
For modelers of WWII armor zimmerit can be a frustrating and uncertain challenge. The finish of zimmerit can make or break an else wise carefully constructed model and some patterns of the zimmerit are particularly hard to replicate. In recent years after-market zimmerit sets for use on WWII German armor have becoming increasingly available including resin sets from Atak and Cavalier. These sets enable modelers to achieve consistent results when applying zimmerit, thus taking away the risk that exists with using putty based systems.
This article steps through my technique for applying 1/35 resin zimmerit sets. For this project I used Dragon's Elefant and the Atak set for it, plus a Jordi Rubio barrel.
Step 1: RESEARCH
For many WWII German AFVs there was variance in how and where zimmerit was applied. Hence it pays to check photos to see where the zimmerit was applied for the unit or production run you are modelling and to confirm that your zimmerit set has the appropriate pattern. The Atak Elefant set compares very favorable against photos and includes all required pieces. Atak sets are consistently well researched.
Step 2: PLAN
To avoid simple but frustrating mistakes it pays to work out when to fit the zimmerit before you build the kit. As Atak sets include solid resin parts, which replace plastic kit parts, I note this on the kit's instruction sheet in advance.
The main trick is to ensure that you don't fit anything until everything that goes below it is in place. Normally I assemble the hull and turret/superstructure before I apply the zimmerit. Any zimmerit that goes on the side of the lower hull (e.g. Panzer IV or Panther) should be applied before fitting the drive sprocket, road wheels etc.
If the kit has separate link tracks and it is hard to fit the tracks after assembling the hull (e.g. lack of clearance under the fenders), I apply the zimmerit to the lower hull, fit the tracks and then continue with assembly before applying zimmerit on the upper hull (see Neville's separate article on fitting injection plastic separate link tracks on this site).
As the fenders on my Elefant can be fitted
towards the end of construction, I applied the zimmerit first and fitted the
tracks before installing the fenders.
Step 3: PREPARE THE SOLID RESIN PARTS
The solid resin zimmerit parts in the Atak set generally have guide grooves that make them easy to cut. Compare the resin part to the kit's part to confirm the correct shape and hence where you should cut.
For smaller pieces and those with simple cuts:
* Using a larger hobby knife cut along
the guide groove. The unwanted resin should fall away.
* After removing the bulk of the unwanted resin use a standard hobby knife and/or sand paper to finish cleaning the piece.
For larger or more complex pieces
* Remove any unwanted resin plugs blocking access to the guide groove using side cutters. Make sure you hold the resin panel close to where you are cutting as a precaution against crazing.
* Use a hobby razor saw to cut along the guide groove.
* Finish cleaning the part using sand paper and/or a standard hobby knife.
HINT: When cutting, filing or sanding resin
always wear a facemask and clean your work area afterwards. The use of wet and
dry sandpaper is advantageous as it reduces the amount of dust.
Step 4: FIT THE SOLID RESIN PARTS
The solid resin parts are fitted like the plastic parts they replace, except that you use super glue.
*Test fit the resin part to ensure it is a good fit. If it is slightly too large sand or file it to size. For the Elefant set, I had to file the upper glacis plate piece to size.
*Apply super glue to the resin part. I
use a medium consistency super glue with a short drying time.
*If necessary hold or secure the part in place while the glue initially sets.
*Fill any gaps with modeling putty.
I attach the smaller resin items after fitting the flexible zimmerit panels in order to minimize the risk of breakage.
Step 5: PREPARE THE FLEXIBLE RESIN PARTS
Atak's flexible resin parts are surprisingly simple to remove from their carrier sheet as most parts can be gently lifted by hand.
*Hold the zimmerit panel with one hand
near edge being separated and peel off the carrier using your other hand.
*If you encounter any resistance, cut the join with a knife and continue peeling off the zimmerit panel.
*Many of the larger panels have holes from which the carrier film should be removed. In most cases this can be done by firmly holding the zimmerit around the hole against a flat surface and dislodging the carrier film with a knife. Again if you encounter any resistance cut the join with a knife.
*Store the zimmerit panels in a small box separate from the rest of the kit until you are ready to apply them. This is important as Atak zimmerit is fragile.
Step 6: APPLY THE FLEXIBLE RESIN PARTS
The main thing to remember when apply the flexible resin zimmerit is to use a glue with a 10 to 15 minutes curing time. I use a reputable two-part araldite (epoxy resin), although some super glues are also suitable. This gives you time to adjust the part to obtain a perfect fit, but will set quick enough to let you continuing working on the rest of the kit. I sometimes use a glue with a 5 minutes curing time when applying smaller parts (e.g. zimmerit for the fenders). If you use instant super glue and make a mistake you may be left with a poor fit and/or end up tearing your zimmerit as you try to reposition it.
*Test fit the panels, and remove any remaining
raised detail that is replaced by the zimmerit panel. I also found I had to
cut extra holes into the zimmerit panel for the rear hatch (the Atak part's
holes did not align with the Dragon kit).
*If any panel is only partly covered by the zimmerit, mask off the part of the panel adjoining where the zimmerit ends (but remember to remove the masking tape before the glue dries).
*Lightly sand the plastic parts where the zimmerit will go and brush off any residual. This will give the glue more grip.
*Use a wire or plastic rod to carefully apply the glue to the kit in a thin swirling pattern inch by inch. Make sure you have good coverage of all edges, but do not over do it (or you will have glue ooze out when you apply the zimmerit).
*Slowly apply the zimmerit panel to the kit. I like to use an edge or raised detail to initially position the panel and to work out from this point.
*Once the panel is flat against the kit, make any final adjustments to obtain the best alignment. If you have any overhand do not trim the part at this stage as you risk knocking the panel out of alignment.
*Gently press the zimmerit into place. I found it best to start with the edges surround where the kit's detail protrudes and to firm press these in place. These edges and hard to reach spots can be pressed firm using the tip of a pair of tweezers (I avoid using knife blades as these can cut the zimmerit). Next I either run my hand across the zimmerit working from the center outwards to ensure you have a smooth flat result or for larger flat panels roll a pencil across the zimmerit.
*Continue applying the panels one by one and remember to occasionally check that you haven't nudged a panel out of position.
Step 7: JUST IN CASE
While my Atak set had a good fit to the Dragon kit, I have included this section for completeness and in recognition that even with the best of tools we will all make the occasional slip. Problems with fit are particularly likely to occur if the set was used on a kit it was not intended for or if you rushed the project.
*Any overhanging zimmerit can be removed
using a fresh hobby knife once the glue has dried (see photo).
*If an edge did not sit flush, put some instant super glue on the tip of an old hobby knife blade and insert into the exposed gap and hold the edge in place for a minute or so (see photo).
*If a zimmerit panel was short either cut some spare zimmerit to size or apply putty and emboss the zimmerit pattern using a zimmerit tool, a screw driver blade or plastic cut to have a ridge replicating the zimmerit pattern.
Step 8: ATTACH TOOLS etc
Use a quick setting super glue to attach small parts such as tools and hull machine guns to the zimmerit. Always use a narrow tip, such as the blade of a hobby knife or wire, to apply the super glue to small parts.
Step 9: FINAL TOUCHES
Battle damage can be replicate by damaging the zimmerit sheet before applying it to the kit using a hobby knife or a small round file. When doing this make sure you apply steady pressure to the surrounding zimmerit to avoid tears or crazing.
If you are making a Flakpanzer IV, such as the Wirbelwind or Ostwind, you can use zimmerit sets intended for the Panzer IV. These Flakpanzers were typically built using repaired Panzer IVs hulls.
* TM74024 Tamiya Modeling Razor Saw Tools
* AK35004 Atak Zimmerit for Elefant (DML)
* DML6126 1/35 SdKfz 184 'Elefant'
* JRR14 Jordi Rubio KwK 43 turned aluminium barrel
Some sample items:
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