2S1 Gvozdika SPG

The 2S1 Gvozdika (Carnation) was the standard Red Army self-propelled howitzer platform.  The type was recognized by the West in 1974 and given the designation “M1974”.  Production was undertaken at factories within the Soviet Union, Bulgaria and Poland with thousands of the vehicles being delivered.

The 2S1 borrows much of its design from the MT-LB multi-role tracked vehicle.  The hull is rather long and featureless, making room for the flat, all welded turret emplacement to which a 122 mm main gun is fitted.  Due to it’s Cold War origins, the 2S1’s fighting compartment is fully protected from nuclear, biological and chemical weapons.  Infra-red night vision is standard for the driver and commander potions.

Through arms sales and alliance the 2S1 had found it’s way into the arsenals of nations around the world.  On 29 July, 2011, a group of defected officers announced the formation of the Free Syrian Army (FSA), an umbrella group which would later represent the main opposition army. Composed of defected Syrian Armed Forces personnel and civilian volunteers, the rebel army seeks to remove Bashar al-Assad and his government from power. The establishment of the group formally marked the beginning of armed resistance to the Assad government.  The FSA would grow in size, to about 20,000 by December, and to an estimated 40,000 by June 2012. Nevertheless, the group remained without centralized leadership until December 2012. The FSA, along with other insurgent groups, rely mostly on light weapons, including assault rifles and rocket-propelled grenades – including captured 2S1 Gvozdika SPG pitted against their former owners.

This particular project kind of finds me at a weird space.   Over the course of the past few months there has been quite a few changes in my personal world that has left me a little distracted and unfocused – especially when it comes to modeling.  I guess for most folks not being able to find time, or have enthusiasm for one’s hobby really isn’t the end of the world.  Yea, I get that, but for me the hobby is much more that just a pleasant past-time.  Yes, it’s my job as well, but even more that I find that the hobby helps to settle me in my life.  So, I found myself without a project on my bench and my MOJO gone.

So what to do?  Just build something!!  And that’s just what this project is – a just build something project.  Better yet, build something outside my usual sphere, add a current events research, shake thing up  – just build something.  The ongoing events in the Middle East offer a tragic YouTube opportunity to view and study all types of military hardware being used and abused as they perform their lethal handy work.

When I speak of research that is exactly what I needed to do as I approached this project as I have next to zero familiarity with modern military hardware.  Early on I had decided that I wanted to try my hand at portraying something based in the uprising that is taking place in Syria.  Honestly, my first inclination was to do a T-?? (55,72…) but as I cruised through the modern vehicle forums my head began to spin.  So many nuanced variants, so many modifications, so many rivet counters who I am sure would find my naivete irritating.  (ok, maybe I’m exaggerating)  The solution was obvious – simply pick a vehicle that is lessor known and don’t worry about it.  And, as they say, was that!  The 2S1 Gvozdika was new to me and looking around the modeling forums it seems to be fairly obscure.  As near as I an tell Skif has been the only game in town until the (recent?) release from Trumpeter.

What particularly sold me on the Gvozdika (in this case) were series of photos showing these guns sporting rough, three toned camp patterns.  The vehicles were beat-up, scuffed  and scraped – and seemed to offer the perfect perception for my modeling MOJO hangover.  The kit came to my door a few days after the press of my buttons and without delay I began the build.  It took no time at all before I could feel the familiar balance returning back into my world.   The Trumpeter kit is wonderful; good detail and a quick build – the perfect vehicle for getting to the good parts quickly (yes, painting and weathering).

Speaking of painting and weathering – like I mentioned above this project comes at an interesting time as I am not representing any particular product or brand at the moment. Since 2009 I have been fortunate to work for MIG Productions (2009 – 2012) and then AK Interactive (2012 -2013), and although I have followed my friend Mig Jimenez as he builds a new company – AMMO – at this time I don’t have any of our new products on hand to demonstrate or promote.

The painting and weathering of the model pretty much follows my usual process so I think that I’ll skip writing another in-depth step by step.  I trust that the accompanying photos will tell the story.  My intent with this project was to follow “old school” traditional techniques.  No fancy fluids or modern tricks of then trade.  And for the most part I was able to keep to my plan.  Chips and scratches were made by brush and scotch brite pad.  Variations of tone and color were first laid in by subtle adjustments during airbrushing, and then artist oils.  However, you may notice a bottle of rubbing alcohol in one of the photos – this might be my only “trick”.  Basically, I was trying to get my paint finish to look worn and distressed and I was having a tough time achieving the effect by “traditional” methods.  The rubbing alcohol was lightly brushed over certain surfaces.  The alcohol works as a thinner or paint remover and lifts paint from the surface.  Kind of a mad scientist version of hairspray or chipping fluids, we’ll not really.   The results can be excellent, but be warned that you are playing with fire here and it can get out of control quickly, and before you know it you’ve stripped off all of your paint.   If you decide to try this technique have clean water nearby as it can be used to stop the striping process.  Be careful – just saying.

And finally, under the “dog ate my homework” category of excuses of why I’m not feeling the love for write a long step by step for this build.  As I just mentioned that I am now working with AMMO, and although I don’t have our new products on hand to showcase in the photographs that doesn’t mean that we haven’t been working.  Over the past few days I have been involve in editing a new book that we will be releasing.  At least a couple hundred photos needed captions and editing.  And, quite frankly, my patience for writing another photo caption is about at an end.  Don’t get me wrong, I love my work with the former AK Interactive and now AMMO – editor of The Weathering Magazine and helping to write and edit books, but after 3 straight days…..I probably should have waited to write this article after a little time had passed, but patience isn’t one of my strong points.

And finally a little fun with Photoshop – dropping the model into the appropriate background.

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