Saturday, 7 April 2018

How I did it: Adeptus Mechanicus VTOL APC "Chauliodus" - part I

- Defence department project for tight geometry urban pacification. Rotors are configured to manouver between buildings without recirculation. It has a long uninteresting Wayne Enterprise designation... -
Lucious Fox

There's something better than making your own version of an existing model and it's making your own version of an non-existing model.

During one of the late night chats with the boys, a sentence was casually thrown on the table: "You know, Admech doesn't have any air support vehicles..." And was equally casually followed by an innocent "Well, how should it look like?"

Maybe something like this...

With some different answers to this queston I started harvesting the internet with for some reference material.
I had this generic idea about a shape far from a conventional (or better "imperial") aircraft and more similar to a big drone based on VTOL capabilities.
For the hull of the aircraft I wanted something vaguely similar to an abyssal fish, the Sloane's viperfish, with a a big "head" and a progressively tapered hull with fin-like airbreaks and ailerons.
The problem was that I could not find a suitable existing model to start with.
Even if I love scifi and mecha design I'm still pretty far from being able to draw something literally from a clean slate, and I wasn't able to find any kit with the correct shape and size to be sacrificed to the Altar of the Jigsaw (it's like a regular sacrificial altar, but richer in plastic shavings).

"Thou shalt not make something just out of the box..."
At the end I was doodling around a blueprint of a Sd.Kfz 232/6 armored car, but its depth and height were unfit for the scale, so I decided to put the free version of SketchUp to good use and try to make a papercraft version of a slightly modified chassis of the Puma.

Actually it was pretty fun
After a first simulation test, I realized that as long as I maintained the purely polygonal structure, I could "break" the surface as a papercraft model and transfer the shapes onto styrene sheets, while keeping the paper reference intact

Original mock up and actual model

The process has turned out to be a great improvement for two reasons: reproducing multiple copies of the same piece has become much less time consuming (and with a substantial reduction in wasted plastic) and, as a result, any piece has become easily replaceable in case of errors or carelessness during the sanding and scribing process.

Like a Lego kit. But without peggles and instructions..
Once I got a fairly detailed hull as a starting point, I was able to get back to the usual road and cannibalize pieces of other models to gradually detail the structure.

The initial idea was to dehumanize the appearance of the vehicle, as something without the classic cockpit/wings/engine structure. AdMech is basically a cyberpunk cult (or sect?) so I tried to imagine a vehicle designed starting from these assumptions.
More conceptually similar to a helicopter or a drone than an airplane. Probably without a real pilot, most likely with an array of servitors or even self-driven, equipped instead with a armored "head".
From an old resin kit of a Dust model, I obtained the basic structure, to which sensors, hulls, plates and other components - coming mainly from Stormraven -  were added.

The interior of the hold, guiltily a bit too small due to an error in the design phase, is rather spartan, with cables and equipment in plain sight, devoid of any seat or other convenience since we are always talking about the same cheerful group of cyborgs.

Looks comfy, istn'tit?
The doors and airbrakes, together with the housings and their pipes, are completely built from scratch with styrene and tin wire.  

More layer, more tiny pieces, more blasphemies!
The brakes are arranged around the first section after the "head" to resemble gills, while the dorsal fin is made from one of the petals of a dropod

Nothing screams "complexity" like a good amount of pipes
Obviously you can not call something AdMech without a good number of mechadendrites, and for that a couple of different guitar strings will do their job.
The various appendages are partly made of styrene pieces and partly with Skitarii spare parts.

A nice magnet will make this thing detachable for an easier assembly
 Finally, the engines are essentially divided into two groups. The maneuver thrusters, smaller and slightly behind the "gills", and the main engines, behind the hold with the relative air inlets arranged on the upper part of the hull.

Tin wires and masking tape. Like chocolate and peanut butter...
Wanting to represent the vehicle in flight with brakes and open doors, I replaced the bulky transparent plastic pedestal typical of GW aircrafts with a metal rod, although, in hindsight, I could better mask the support by modeling the rod to make it look like a further bundle of mechadendrites.

The metal rod and the base will come in handy for the painting phase too
In the second part of the article, related to the coloration, I will go down a little more on some recent adjustments to the chipping/fading technique that I hope you will find interesting.

See you soo... next time, ok? 😜 


  1. Indeed AdMech would really need an APC. A flying APC, better. Ok they have mechanical legs and stuff but I'm quite confident your "Chauliodus" would move just a little faster and provide much protection.

  2. I still think it can also resemble a horseface ;P