A Modeling Guide to:

Applying Eduard Photo-Etch Zimmerit Sets

by Neville Lord

Of the varying brands offering ready made zimmerit, Eduard is probably the most widely available due to the firm's established position in the photo etch market. The Eduard zimmerit sets are made entirely from photo etch which gives them a very thin and some what distinctive (if not controversial) profile. In this article I step through the application of Eduard's zimmerit to Dragon's 1/35 StuG IV early.


Step 1: RESEARCH

For many WWII German AFVs including the StuGs there was variance in how and where zimmerit was applied to specific vehicles. I choose to base my model on photos of several StuG IV earlys from Normandy which had no zimmerit around the mantlet, nor the lower side hull (this is common for Panzer IV variants that were originally fitted with shurtzen) and thus I did not use these optional parts. Reference to numerous photos and a translation of the official orders for where to apply zimmerit on a StuG revealed that it was not standard for the Krupp assembly plant to apply zimmerit to the StuG IV's engine deck. Hence I did not use the zimmerit, Eduard supplied for the engine deck.

Step 2: PLAN

To avoid making simple but frustrating mistakes, I assess when it is best to fit the zimmerit before building the kit. The main trick is to not 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. StuG III or Panzer IV) should be applied before fitting the drive sprocket, road wheels and tracks (see my separate article on fitting injection plastic separate link tracks on this site).

I do not fit any smaller items such as headlights until after applying the larger zimmerit panels in order to minimize the risk of breakage.

Step 3: PREPARE THE ZIMMERIT

Eduard's PE zimmerit is prepared in the same way as their standard PE.

Place the zimmerit on a flat surface and hold the parts with one hand to stop any unwanted bending.
Using a fresh blade in your hobby knife, cut the part off from the fret. Its best to make a slow clean cut hard along the edge of the part, as this will eliminate the need to file off any excess (see photo left).
If you have any excess connector left remove it using a file or sand paper, but don't over do it (see photo right).

Step 4: BEND THE ZIMMERIT

This is the tricky part of using Eduard PE, but is only required for a small number of parts in some sets. It must be done in advance of when you start gluing the zimmerit to the model.

Soften the PE zimmerit.

If the part is to have a curved shape (e.g. mantlet) gently rolling it over a round shape (eg. a pencil) slightly more curved than the kit part it will fit on or folding against a hard edge. Roll it in the same direction as it will be bent. Do not crease or fold it.
If the part is to have a hard edge, fold the part on the edge (e.g. using a PE folding tool), but fold it a bit more than necessary.
Place the soften zimmerit on the kit part it will cover.
Using your fingers bend and mould the zimmerit into shape. If the part seems to spring out, try softening the zimmerit a bit more by rolling it over a pencil (or like) a bit more.
Check that the zimmerit is a very neat fit. It is better to take your time at this stage than have to redo the part or fill any gaps up with putty later on.

Step 5: TEST FIT

Test fit the panels and remove any raised detail that is replaced by the zimmerit panel. The kit will have been built to the point that the major subassemblies are ready to have the zimmerit applied (see photo) but fit small fitting such as tools or machine guns are not fitted until later as they could be damaged while applying the zimmerit.
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 tape before the glue dries).


Step 6: APPLY THE ZIMMERIT

The main thing to remember when apply PE zimmerit is to use a glue with approximately 5 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. If you use instant super glue and make a mistake when applying the zimmerit you may be left with a poor fit or end up creasing it as you try to reposition it.

Use a toothpick or like to carefully apply the glue to the kit in a thin swirl pattern inch by inch (see photo). Make sure you have good coverage of all edges and if necessary spread the glue to the edges with an old knife blade.
Slowly apply the zimmerit panel to the kit. I like to use an edge or raised detail to initially position the panel (see photo).
Push the panel flat against the kit, gently but firmly pressing against the entire surface of the panel. I often use the flat side of a hobby knife blade to press the edges down flat (see photo).

Check that all edges are firmly glued in place. If an edge is not secure, either use a knife to insert some glue (see photo below) or move the panel a little to spread the glue more evenly (but do not move the panel such that it could spread glue onto unzimmerited surfaces).

Make any final adjustments to obtain the best alignment. The flat side of a knife blade can be used to get a positive alignment against edges such as fenders.


Continue applying the panels one by one. It pays to stop and check you haven't nudged other panels out of position every 5 or so minutes.


Step 7: MR SURFACE (OPTIONAL)

By this point, your model is fully zimmerited and ready for you to finish construction. However, if you want to give your zimmerit coating a more-hand rendered look and blend the edges of the zimmerit into the kit, you could apply Mr Surface. This is a liquid modelling product that when dry gives a slightly rendered appearance to flat surfaces and fills gaps.

Run the brush along the exposed edge of all zimmerit panels. Like with liquid cement don't over load the brush.
Apply a thin intermittent coat of Mr Surface to the face of the zimmerit panels.
Let dry.

Step 8: ATTACH TOOLS etc

Use a quick setting super glue to attach small parts such as tools to the zimmerit. Always use a narrow tip, such as the blade of a hobby knife or wire, to apply the super glue to the small parts.

Step 9: JUST IN CASE

Unfortunately the zimmerit set did not include panels for the cowlings on the front glacis plate, which were often covered in zimmerit. Wishing these panels to be covered in the same zimmerit pattern as the rest of my model, I cut larger spare pieces of zimmerit into strips, which I glued onto the cowlings.

If the edge of the PE zimmerit sits proud of the kit, this problem can be masked by pressing the flat side of a hobby knife blade on the overhand to bend the overhand down onto the adjoining panel of the kit (see photo). I found this tended to work quite well as the few overhangs on the kit were small and the result tended to blend the zimmerit into the kit quite effectively.

ITEMS USED

EU35508 Eduard Zimmerit for Stug IV Early (DML)
DML9038 1/35 StuG IV Early Type
EU35187 StuG IV Early (DML) General Photo etch detail set (selected parts only)

 

Some sample items:


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