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Modelling the "Crabe"

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Modeller's mental health warning: Quality Castings' M29C Weasel can of course be used almost as is with the simple addition of armament but as an acute sufferer of the MilMod Syndrome I can't resist the urge to make a few modifications to make it more representative of the Indochinese Crabe.

Modifications: (see model photo below)

Just about every single Crabe used in Indochina appears to have had the surf guard raised to improve the driver's visibility with its centre hammered down so as not to restrict the weapons firing arc (see vehicle photos below). This is easily  reproduced on the model by cutting away the surf guard and replacing it with a repositioned 2 mm wide strip of 10 thou plastic card. The hinge should normally be immediately behind the headlight but it is located further back on the Quality Castings model which isn't really a problem. The molded surf guard was cut as far back as the scribed line and the new one glued immediately to the front. After being lightly curved around a brush handle, it was glued on one side of the flotation tank with gel-type super glue. When dry, the other end of the strip was glued down after it had been trimmed so that the highest point in its curve was slightly higher than the windshield which is much simpler than attempting to match the real length of the surf guard. The centre part was then moderately heated and pushed down with a toothpick.

Usual armament for the Crabe was either a FM 1924/29 LMG or US .30 calibre machine gun while fire support versions had a 57mm recoilless rifle or 60mm mortar (both of these versions also carried a FM 1924/29 LMG). Machine guns and recoilless rifles were fitted to a pylon immediately behind the bulkhead separating the passenger compartment from the driver and protected by a lozenge shaped armoured shield which is easily reproduced from 40 thou plastic card (see image to the right for estimated dimensions). No photos have been found showing how the mortar was installed. US .30 cals are available from a variety of manufacturers (I used QC's since I had a batch on hand) and Quality Castings sells packs of three 57mm recoilless rifle (which I find a bit small and have replaced with a trimmed down 75mm RR). The FM 1924/29 LMG however is not available separately and will have to be cut off from a suitable figure or converted from a US BAR or British Bren.

Finally, two holes were drilled for a brass wire top bow to be added behind the passenger compartment. Only the rear-most top bow was added to keep things manageable although two tarp covered bows would be more correct.


All Crabes retained their original overall WW2 Olive Drab paint scheme. The model was first primed with Humbrol enamel n. 66 Olive Drab (a very dark greyish hue more suitable for modern US OD which nevertheless makes a good base colour) and then heavily dry-brushed with Aeromaster 1040 US Olive Drab 41 acrylic paint. Raised parts were then highlighted with a light dry-brush of Aeromaster 1041 OD 41 Faded acrylic and a very light dry-brush of Pactra A25E Flat Dark Tan acrylic. The rubber track were painted black before being heavily weathered with various acrylic browns. Note that Aeromaster paints are no longer distributed but the same colours are available from Polly Scale.

Photo gallery:

Click on the images below to view the full-size photo

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