At Plastic Warfare we are proud to introduce a new author on our site. Ingvar Sylegård. Ingvar might be most known for the splendid scratchbuilt 1/35th scale Stridsfordon 9040C that was featured in an article in AFV Modeller. In this article Ingvar explains how to make realistic looking camouflage nets of the Barracuda variety seen used by many countries around the world, among them, Sweden.
These types of camouflage nets have been used for masking vehicles, tents and other items for several decades. Most Swedish army men and women have, at some time been entangled in this type of masking net. As far as I am informed it was first developed by Diab Barracuda in 1957, -now a part of Saab industries. The camouflage net I try to simulate in scale is an older type, although still in use all over the world. It should not be confused with later masking developments, which also incorporates IR (infrared) and radar masking capabilities although there are some similarities in the making of the visible spectrum portions. To the point.
This is the camouflage net we will try to achieve in scale 1:35. I have made some trial and error testing and have found that it is not necessary to incorporate the net portion when making rolls of such a cammo net as well as cammo net draped on vehicles, personnel and such. It may, however be advantageous to also do the net part of the structure when simulating a cammo net hung like roofs over for example refuelling and reloading areas.
Let us have a look at the dimensions so that we know what we are dealing with. The mask width of the net part will be 2.2mm in scale 1:35 and the wire thickness will be 0.03mm. The thickness of the foliage will be 0.007mm (or 7µm) in this scale. We also need to consider that the whole structure is very flexible. Therefore the materials used for making a 1:35 scale Barracuda camouflage net needs to be thin, flexible and yet strong enough to be handled.
I have made some trials with very thin annealed copper foil (25µm), household aluminium foil (15µm), plastic wrapping (very thin polyethylene foil) but none where able to withstand the stretching used when making this cammo net. Finally, I found something that was thin enough, and can be made strong enough, namely delicate almost translucent tissue paper. Choose a good quality of paper. The paper need to be reinforced, as it otherwise will rip apart once you try to stretch it.
First, mix some white glue (PVA glue –normally used for gluing wood).
How thick the mixture is depends on the brand of PVA glue you use, as well as how brittle the paper is. You can always do a second coat. If the paper is neutral in colour, it is a good idea to mix some paint into the glue mix. I have tried Tamiya acrylic XF 65. This way you will not have to be extremely thorough when painting the finished net.
Apply the glue mixture to the paper and let it dry.
The tool I used is made from an old instrument tool. Yes, it would have been better to make a tool that could make more than one cut at the time, but that is version 2.0 which I have not got around to making yet.
The cut shall have these dimensions, 1.4mm high and 2.5mm wide. The measurements are taken from dissected piece of Barracuda camouflage net foliage, and scaled down to 1:35. The ones of capable of handling simpler math will be able to recalculate the figures given to the scale you prefer. Yes, it should be possible to make this even in braille scale.
It is now time to start the tedious work of cutting the foliage structure. For those of you who is of the opinion that putting a Friulmodel track together is boring work, stop reading now.
It is a good idea to draw some lines to follow to get the foliage structure nice and tight. 2mm is a proper distance. You can also see that I tinted the glue mixture with some Tamiya XF 65. This way, sloppy painting work in final stages will not be so evident.
This is the way the cuts are arranged. Yes, it will take some time to get a decent piece of cammo finished.
The cutting is done and you may carefully stretch the foliage part. If this were in the Barracuda factory, different coloured pieces of this foliage would be glued/welded onto the carrying net. However, in most cases the net can be left out in this scale. The glue will make the paper strong enough to withstand the stretching.
You can now apply water to the foliage. The PVA glue is hygroscopic and will be fluent again. This will make the foliage very soft. So, make sure that you use the right type of white glue. As always, practice make perfect. I have made at least three trials with paper until I was confident enough to actually use it on one of my tanks.
Fitting (-the fun part)
You can now start fitting your cammo to your tank, -or whatever you wish to hide. I used water, a brush and a pair of pliers to gently give it the shape I desired. Once dry, I carefully removed, and airbrushed it. It will be remarkably stiff once dry, depending on how much glue you applied. Again, practice make perfect.
Take care, the glue will leave stains on paintwork.
The colours of standard Barracuda nets do vary over the world. There are ones adapted for desert, jungle and woodland. The one below is frequently used, -at least in Sweden. The colours are dark green, light green and brown. I have seen nets in only two green colours as well as ones in two colour green, brown and black
Good luck everybody!