Building a swedish Piranha II



A few weeks ago I was participating the yearly meeting of SPHF, the swedish armour historical association. The meeting took place during a weekend, and as always there were activities involving armour of some kind on the programme. The saturday was spent at the armour museum at Axvall, where we watched (some more than watched) the live event there. See photos from the event elsewhere on this site. On sunday we got a thorough briefing on the why´s and what´s of the use of Mowag Piranhas in the swedish armed forces. As you may or may not know, the main armoured wheeled platform in the swedish armed forces is based on the finnish Patria series (XA-180, XA-203), so the fact that there are also a handful of Piranhas is quite interesting. We also got the opportunity to inspect a pair of piranhas more closely. One was a Piranha II (the only Piranha II in swedish service) that the airforce once bought in for trials, the other was one of the 5 axle piranha III that the coastal defense bought as command vehicles. All in all it was a very inspirational weekend. I left with the sudden urge to build myself a swedish Piranha. But which one should I build? Well, the answer was quite simple. the Piranha II and the LAV-25 is basically the same vehicle, and there are a few kits of the LAV-25 and variants. There is no kit as far as I know of the Piranha III. The closest match is the Stryker, but the work involved to convert that to any of the Piranha III versions used in Sweden is too close to a complete scratch build to be of interest to me just now.

Which kit?

So, which kit should I use? Well, the swedish Piranha II is based on the version used by Switzerland as a troop carrier. In Switzerland it is equipped with a small turret with a heavy machinegun or a 30 mm automatic cannon. In swedish service the turret has been replaced by a Lemur OWS equipped with a M2 heavy machinegun. The differences to a USMC LAV-25 are many. The turret ring on the LAV-25 is larger, which means that there are bulges on the side to acommodate for this. The Piranha also has a commanders station and hatch behind the driver. That station is omitted on the LAV (The commander sits in the turret). So the vanilla LAV-25 didn´t seem like the best alternative out there. The LAV is portrayed by several manufacturers. Italeri, Esci and recently by Trumpeter. The Esci LAV-25 is said to be quite useless, and it is propably hard to get since it is a really old kit. Italeri have made several variants on the LAV, but that kit too is old and not entirely up to date. The trumpeter kits are quite new and have been well received by the modelling community, so trumpeter was the kit manufacturer of choice for this project.

Trumpeter has made three different LAV kits, the LAV-25, the LAV C2 command version and the recovery and repair version. Since the LAV-25 wasn´t suitable I opted for the LAV C2. It has a raised roof over the troop compartment, but in other respects it was as close as I could get. When I had decided on the C2 version I immediately went on to the internet, looking for a victim. A few days later the kit arrived.

September 11 (oh, is it THAT day today!) 2008


This was what I had to begin with.

The roof has to go, the raised commanders station has to go also, because it´s too high and it´s not in the right shape.


A few minutes of sawing later.

Almost all details on the LAV is wrong compared to “our” Piranha II. Most of the sides are covered with stowage boxes, the mountings for head and tail lights are different, the engine hatches and radiator grilles are different. The propellers of the LAV is omitted and replaced with stowage boxes. The list goes on and on. What I got is basically eight correct wheels and a clean hull, everything else is up to me.


Most surface details have been sanded down, and there is a new roof. There will be a lot of filler used on this model. Not only because of the scratch built parts, but the fit was actually worse than I expected. Not bad, but not very good either. But that might just be the major hull parts. Another thing I don’t like with the kit is the ugly weld seams that Trumpeter has placed on every angle of the hull. I don´t know if the american LAV have ugly seams like that, but the Mowag built Piranha I got to look at didn´t.

September 12 2008


Today I extended the side armour to go all the way down to the wheel wells. On the LAV there is a short section that is angeled inwards, making the edge beveled. I also used a lot of putty to make the new parts blend in with the kit.


I also started to work on the new radiator grille and engine hatch. The hatches are slightly different, so I have to remove some of the grille and rescribe parts of the hatches.


And here is the other side. A lot of putty.

September 14 2008

The model competition Modell Göteborg has taken a lot of my time this weekend, but somehow I managed to file a bit on my Piranha. But since there really is nothing much to see I’ll also tease you all with some pictures of the real deal.


Here the extentions on the sides can be seen more clearly.


the rear has been extended downwards too. The openings for the two doors will be covered by the large ramp, or so I hope. The rear from the LAV-25 was included on the sprues for the C2 version, so I used it here with some small modifications. I also removed all raised details.


Here is the present status on the engine hatches. The grille has to be changed since it is running lengthwise on “my” vehicle.


Here is the real deal. As can be seen, there is a stowage box where the LAV has its propellers and rudders. The rear entry is in the form of a large ramp. The boxes on both sides on the ramp are the fuel tanks. The machinery that sits on the rear corner on the left hand side is an APU. The circular openings on the side leads to the air condition. The vehicle had to have one since it was intended to carry dogs at one point. Apparently dogs are more valued than soldiers. :-)


The right hand side, showing the large boxes running down the sides of the vehicle. the front half of the structure on the right side hides the exhaust pipe.


And finally the left side.

And that was all for today, happy modelling!

September 17 2008

Not much have happened in the last days. Some more puttying and sanding, and I started on the grille over the engine compartment.


The filled lower edge of the back of the vehicle


I have removed the molded grille and started on the replacement. It is a tedious job and it is not easy getting it all straight. That’s why it isn’t..

September 23 2008

Inspired by the tips from my friend Ingvar in the comments below, and also from watching the reference pictures more closely I decided to redo the engine hatch grille completely.


This is how it turned out.


I have also made the two stowage compartments that takes up the place where the propellers are located on the ampibious versions of the Piranha. On this picture one of the boxes is test fitted with some tamiya tape. This also marks the first real addition of parts to the vehicle. All the work before this has been removing stuff. To be built next are the large boxes on the side, or the fuel tanks to the rear. I haven’t decided yet.

October 11 2008

It has been a while since the last update. That doesn´t mean that nothing has happened. I haven´t just had that much to report, and I have also been busy with other stuff that fills my life so that I have spent the precious little modelling time I have building instead of documenting. In the last update I asked myself wether I should start with the fuel tanks to the rear, or the boxes on the sides. The fuel tanks won.

Before I started on the fuel tanks I had to decide on how to make the rear ramp. I had already decided that the ramp should be closed, I have no ambition of making an interior. One idea I had war to make the ramp out of plasticard and glue it over the existing openings, but the photos show that the ramp has a good fit to the hull and that it is level with the surrounding armour. So I had to rethink, bit the sour apple and fill the openings and rescribe. As it turned out, the ramp is smaller than the two door opening on the LAV-25, so I would have had to fill the openings anyway. To fill the openings I simply used the doors included in the kit (although the kit is of the C2 command version it includes the rear plate and doors of the LAV-25). I had to use some filler and a lot of sanding since the door didn´t have a perfect fit.

In my references I had a drawing of the rear of the Piranha II. I scanned it in and scaled it to 1/35th scale in photoshop. I then printed it to use it to cut out templates for the parts I needed. The first thing I did was to make a scribing template for the rear ramp, and the door that is built in to the ramp.

Scribing the ramp went quite well, I am not entirely happy with the result, but I can live with it. The door however was another story. It didn´t come out well at all. Those rounded corners are difficult, and I suck at scribing. As you can see on the picture below I have puttied the scribed lines to start over again.


The not so good door filled with tamiya putty to be rescribed later.

After I had scribed the ramp I started on the fuel tanks. I used templates from my drawing to cut out parts for the tanks in 0.5mm plasticard. When I had made both tanks I taped them to the back of the hull and I was quite self satisfied that I made the tanks without any problem. It was almost too easy.. well it WAS too easy.. ofcourse I had done something wrong.


The edge of the tank should follow the edge on the hull, but I didn´t think about that when I made the tank. Just cutting the plastic so that the edge aligns with the edge on the hull doesn´t work, because then it will not align when seen from above. The only solution I could think of was adding more plasticard. I used the thinnest plasticard I had to reskin the affected parts of the tanks and  I think it turned out good.


A corrected tank.


Here is a shot from the rear, showing a corrected tank on the right, and an uncorrected tank to the left. Note that this photo was taken before I decided to rescribe the door in the rear ramp.

Since the photos above were taken I have puttied the edges of the fuel tanks, and they now awaits some sanding before they can be mounted to the vehicle.

September 10 2009

Almost to the day eleven months since the last update, and a full year after I begun it is time to update the project page again. I have not worked on the Piranha since november last year (2008), and very little has happened. What I did do was starting to work on the box structure on the left hand side of the vehicle. Unfortunately I glued the rear wall 4-5mm to much to the rear, so that there would be too little space left for the APU. That, and the fact that I couldn´t decide on how to do the bent plate on the front of the structure made me put the project down for a while, concentrating on some “out of the box-ish” projects (like a Star Destroyer with 60m of illuminated fibre optics and and a regular destroyer with microscopic photo etch). Now I decided that it was time to pick up the Piranha again so that I might have it ready for Modell Göteborg and C4 in 2010.

The first thing I did was to remove the rear wall, putty and sand where the wall was attached to the hull and reattach it a few millimetres further to the front. It took about five minutes.

The corrected rear wall.

I also painted the pioneering tools and left it to dry overnight. The tools have to be mounted and painted before mounting of the outer wall of the “box”. Otherwise it will be hard getting to them later.

The painted pioneering tools.

The next day I started working on the outer wall. It is just a large rectangle made out of plasticard. To get the right shape of the elusive front plate I made a dummy out of paper, that I test fitted, cut and test fitted again. It turned out that the right shape was a rectangle with a diagonal fold. Nothing complicated at all!

As can be seen on this picture it is probably wise to paint and detail the tools before the outer wall is attached.

Here the same area from above. The semi-circular opening for the commanders hatch is to be covered by a circular plate on which periscopes and hatch will be mounted. I have looked for a suitable tool for cutting circles of various sizes, and finally I have found one on the internet. I need the tool to cut the larger disc that covers the hole for the turret on the real vehicle.

Here the elusive front plate can be seen.

A few small details have also been added to the rear.

September 11 2009

The work continues. Today I have been working on the box structure on the right hand side. The forward part contains the exhaust pipe and the rear parts are stowage bins. The exhaust on this version of the Piranha II is boxed in. I guess it lowers the IR signature of the vehicle. However the area needs to be ventilated, and I guess that is the reason why the front of the enclosure is perforated with hundreds of tiny holes. (see the picture at the top of the page and you see what I mean.) To reproduce this on my model I thought that maybe I could use an etched brass plate as a drilling template, and ABER has just the brass plate suitable for the job. The etched plate is perforated with 0.5mm holes. That is somewhat overscale, but I have to make a compromise between what is possible for me to do, and what is correct. In this case I had to err on the scale in favor of what´s doable.

In preparation for the drill job I taped the piece of plasticard that is to become the side of the box, on to a piece of MDF I have lying around. Then I taped the drilling template on top of the plastic.

Tedious drill work. I have only one 0.5mm drill bit left since my star destroyer project. Fortunately I didn´t break it at this time. After some drilling I realised that I had to do tomething to be able to spot if I missed a hole or two, so I put a strip of tape over the area to be drilled also, so that I could see quickly where I aldready had drilled.

The finished result! It looks quite OK, doesn’t it? The dark spot in the top right corner of the plasticard is putty. One of the holes were too close to the edge, so I covered it with putty.

The side wall is test fitted to the model.

Both boxes test fitted.

Right side.

Left side.

September 13 2009

The box structure on the right hand side contains the exhaust pipe. Not much is visible since it is boxed in, but the parts that are visible differs from the kit parts completely, so I had to build my own. What is visible is the end of the exhaust pipe, where it exits the box, and the start of the pipe where it exits the engine compartment. Unfortunately that is the only parts I have images of, so I had to invent the parts in between. If this was a visible part I think I´d do some more research, but in this case I think I could do with some artistic license.
This is what I came up with. A boxy shape for the end of the exhaust, the kit muffler, and a piece of sprue for the visible part of the pipe where it exits the engine compartment.

Since the assembly is going to be out of reach later I painted and weathered it at this stage.

The assembly is roofed over by a plate with equiped with air louvres. I replicated it with thin aluminium. Not much of the exhaust pipe is visible.

Another view of the exhaust area. I was a bit too quick covering the area with green paint. I realised I had to sand some of it off to add some more detail. The white squares are mounting brackets, for add on armour I presume. There are a lot of them on the sides, in the front and on the roof. The brackets are used for mounting accessories, like the large basket, wire conduits and other stuff.

The brackets are made of a square piece of plasticard (2.5 x 2.5 mm) and four hexagonal discs made of plasticard with a punch and die set. They are quite fiddly to make, and I will need a lot of them. It´s not the most fun job, but it’s got so be done.

September 16 2009

Today mr Postman delivered to me a tool that I have been looking for a long time. It is a compass cutter, a tool used to cut discs/holes. It can be set to any diameter from 10mm to 150mm. I have tried various hobby/hardware/art-supply stores in the area with no luck finding it, so I had to resort to google, and it took me five minutes to find a supplier. For this project the cutter will come in handy in atleast two places: The plating covering the turret ring and the commanders cupola. I had to try out my new toy immediately, so I started work on those two items.

The author and his new toy, it brings him lots of joy!

The cover for the turret ring and the base for the commanders cupola was a real breeze to make with the compass cutter. The 1mm plasticard was a bit on the thick side, but I used it from both sides, then it worked like a charm. It does leave a small hole in the middle of each disc, that needs some puttying, but that is not a big deal.

This is how far I got with the cupola today. I have made the hatch, the periscopes and the periscope cover. The cover needs some trimming, and a housing for some kind of sight will be added. The sight itself is missing fråm the pictures I have of my particular vehicle, a plate covering the hole, so that is one part I do not have to make.

The cupola assembly from another view. The hatch need an opening mechanism to the rear.

September 19 2009

Today I finally glued the left side outer wall in place. Until today I have also added some more details regarding the commanders hatch.

The commanders cupola and a few more areas received some green paint so that I can see if there is more work  needed with filler and sand paper.

A close up showing some detail on the left side of the vehicle. Some more details are supposed to be added. Some electrical wires and straps holding a shovel, and the shovel itself is missing for the moment.

The left outer wall is finally in place. Some filler and sanding will be needed, and a lid on the stowage compartment to the rear of the tool stowage. I also have to find a way to replicate the round air intakes for the AC heat exchanger that is fitted in the stowage compartment.

The right side also recieved a second coat of paint. I also painted the lower part of the chassis in preparation for adding the running gear. The suspension and drive train is all painted black, so I cannot cheat and paint when it is all in place. I will have some work to do when it comes to the suspension. But more on that later.

A last shot from the front. Front is so far almost completely void of details, but that is going to change

September 21 2009

Since the last update i have done a bit of this and a bit of that. I have a hard time focusing on one particular area, and I do a bit here an there. I will try to put some priority of finishing detailing the sides first.

In this picture all the work done in the last few days is visible. The left storage compartment has received a lid and the vents for the AC heat exchanger has been added (not entirely happy with the result).I have also begunmaking a scale drawing of the Bofors Lemur RWS, which can be seen added to the drawing of the Piranha II. I have also begun working on the RWS itself, the base of which can bee seen on top of the model. The last thing I have been doing however is the APU that is located on the left side, to the rear.

On this close-up the vents for the AC can be seen. Behind the stowage box is the skeleton for the APU housing. The generator itself can be seen through gaps in the housing on the real deal, so I have to make one and paint it before I attach it to the housing.

The unfinished APU housing from the rear.

September 28 2009

The work on the APU continues. The APU is finished, the housing is almost finished. There are some details that I will add after I have added the housing to the vehicle. First I will have to paint the housing and the APU since it will be difficult to to that when it’s all mounted.

The APU and the housing

The APU + housing test fitted to the vehicle. I have also built two antenna mounts from sprue. Unfortunately I mounted them a bit too high, so I had to remove them later when I discovered that.

To be continued..

About Erik Gustavsson

One of the founding fathers of Plastic Warfare, and the creator and administrator of this website.
This entry was posted in Build blog, Swedish Plastic, Swedish Steel. Bookmark the permalink.

9 Responses to Building a swedish Piranha II

  1. ingvar says:

    This is a very interesting subject, a Swedish Pirahna! You got to put some barracuda on the fish as well. Bouillabaisse? I really look forward to see how it turns out.

    ready for C4?

    / Ingvar

  2. Erik G says:

    I am not counting on it being ready for C4, but I don´t think it is impossible either. It depends on my l33t sk!11z with the knife and plasticard 😀
    In any case I´ll bring it to Malmö even if it is unfinished, for “private shows”..


  3. ingvar says:

    Nice job so far. Yes, grills are a bit difficult to get straight. I usually do it by making spacers which are more narrow then the lenght of the bar in the grille. I then make a package of the bars and spacers, glue only the bars to edges of the venting hole, -let the glue set and then remove the spacers. Considering there is plastic card down to .13 mm thickness very narrow grills can be made this way. The edges of the spacers can also be used by gluing guiding rails thereby making it easier to have a flush upper edge of all the bars.

    It is really time activate MOSA again considering all the Swedish armour being built recently.

    / Ingvar

  4. Erik G says:

    Damn, now I might have to re-make the grille.. I´ll check the references and see if I can live with the present situation, if not.. well..

  5. ingvar sylegård says:

    Hi Eric, -the grill looks very nice and tidy now. Good work! It seems like the is some fine masked net on top of the grill as well?

    Keep up the good work and you will probably be drying the paint on the waay down to C4.

    / I

  6. Fredrik Astlid says:

    Wonderful inspirational conversion (almost scratch) build.

    I think i will buy a trumpeteer 1/72 and convert it and steal the ideas fom your work.

    Hope your kit will be finished sometime.

    • Erik G says:

      I WILL finish it, it´s just that other projects keep leaping in front of me all the time. :-) My “plan” for 2011 is that this one shall be finished. I need an armour project to counter all my other non-armour project that lies in the pipeline.
      Please don´t hesitate to ask if there is something I can do to help. I am happy that I can be of assistance.

  7. Henrik says:

    Vad heter compass cutter på svenska? Snyggt jobbat!

    • Erik Gustavsson says:

      Cirkelskärare har jag för mig att det heter. Usch, nu påminde du mig om ett tåligt samvete. Får väl ta och bygga färdigt denna snart.

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