Saturday, 6 July 2013

Modernising Leman Russ Tanks

Greetings all, been a while since the last post hasn't it? Oops. This was for two reasons, the first: I'm painting a whacking great titan that takes ages to finish and be photographed. The second: I had a mojo crash and took a few days off last week (you have to remember that you are allowed these things when you're self employed). Of course, this being me I couldn't do nothing miniature related so I spent some time with tanks making this happen:

(c) Games Workshop, used for illustrative purposes

What is the difference between the two pictures? About twenty years. Seriously, the photo on the left? 1994. The right, the modern russ from a few years ago. There is an astonishing lack of difference between the two. It is a kit that has really stood the test of time. Why do I care? Well, with re-release of Apocalypse reminded me that I still had an Emperor's Fist tank company sitting in a box unused from the last time Apocalypse was released. I'd gotten very excited, bought it and then, through a combination of hobby butterfly syndrome and having all my stuff in storage for a couple of years, had done nothing with it. Trouble is, the last Emperor's Fist box was the 1994 pattern sprues and as such had one glaring problem that dated the kits horribly. The secondary weapons.

The top image is of the circa 1994 lascannon, the bottom one is the modern heavy weapons sprue lascannon. If you do Imperial Guard then you will have a stack of spare heavy weapons. Given that Guardsmen can just about hit the broad side of a barn, lascannons are not my favourites to arm the lads with and so I had a whole bunch. I realised that with a few hours of obsessive effort I could modernise the only substandard elements of the old '94 pattern Russ's and decided to document the process for you all.

First things first, remove the old lascannon from the housing. You want everything behind those coils. Clippers are the best tool for this and you'll quickly whip the lascannon halves off their respective halves of the cylinder in no time. Do this before you glue them together. It's easier.

Glue the halves of the cylinder together (those cheapy black and orange clamps you can get by the half dozen in any pound shop are the absolute bomb for this kind of work) and turn your attention to the donor weapon. Here we want everything in front of the second coil (there's a sort of sight box on top).

This time it is a razor saw for the win. The thin, stiff blade will make swift work of the cut and leave you with a perfectly flat surface. Unless you have a bright idea for what to do with the rear half then dispose of it.

Finally, tidy up the housing and glue the new weapon in place, lining up the brace with the bottom edge of the mount. You'll notice a small gap behind the weapon. You can fill this if you like but frankly, no one will ever see it.

The finished Russ's (and thank goodness they came with the old tank accessory frames) look ace. But I couldn't stop there. Just because I'm not using sponsons doesn't mean you won't be. So just for you dear readers. I made an updated heavy bolter as well:

Truth be told, there isn't a lot of difference here. Just slightly nicer furniture on the modern bolter. Once again, start this process with the halves unglued.

This time, the tool of choice is the mighty Chopper II. You can't beat it for clean, precise, vertical cuts. We remove the bolter componant and leave that little rib at the bottom.

The donor bolter gets razor sawed just behind the mount and then the mount is removed to allow it to fit the new location.

You'd honestly believe that it had been made for the location. With the barrel drilled out it is as good as anything from the baneblade. But I didn't stop there either.

I needed a vanquisher to lead the company (well, you do don't you?). So I scavved the modern vanquisher barrel from an online parts shop (can't remember which of the four I regularly use it was). Cut off the hexagonal mounting point, sawed off the original barrel at the brace and attached the longer vanquisher barrel to the cut. Easy.

I decided the Commissar's tank (an eleventh Russ) was going to be an exterminator, all the better to scythe down fleeing tank crews while leaving His Divine Imperator's equipment relatively unharmed. He'll also act as an anti-air vehicle fluff-wise. This was slightly more involved. Two donor autocannons - again from the heavy weapons sprues) were cut down and smoothed so that they glued together at the housing just behind the recoil bar. The battle cannon barrel was cut off with only a millimeter left sticking out to allow the cover plate to be fitted. Then I closed off the barrel end with a sort of "plus sign" of plasticard strip before glueing the autocannons into place.

Invading the planet Backyard as the only place big enough for the picture!

And there you have it. The Emperor's Fist company complete with a bonus Baneblade, Commissars transport and a medical Trojan. I'll add an Atlas recovery vehicle at some point but I'm delighted with what I have so far. Tremble enemies of the Emperor! Soon we'll have paint on us and the boom can begin!

Hopefully this has shown you that these sorts of modernisations and small conversions are not difficult. Just time consuming and allow you to get the best out of your models no matter how old. Until next time folks.



  1. It's a thing of beauty. Looking forward to seeing more of them.

  2. Great work on modernising those Russes. The Fist looks very impressive all lined up like that. Sadly I'm not that far along with my Guard yet

  3. Beautiful! The weapons update really looks fantastic, and the sight of 'em all lined up is awesome - looking forward to seeing more!

  4. Great work mate - definately worth the effort in this humble bloggers opinion.

    And I do love me a good motor pool shot.

  5. Very nice. I wish I could go back and make those changes to my Emperor's Fist company