The UN campaign in the Congo in the 1960’s has always fascinated me, especially since Sweden was quick to contribute with UN forces in that conflict. It is also interesting to see the astounding variation of vehicles used by the Swede’s over there. This included four M8 Greyhounds captured from the opposition. They were in rather bad shape, and were repaired using any parts the crews could scrounge, borrow or steal, and painted in a combination of the only colours available to them: white, black, green yellow and blue.
Each of the four M8’s received unique names: Lulle-Belle, Nina-Belle, Anne-Belle and Bibbi-Belle. Another interesting aspect of these vehicles is that the crews painted the dates and names of the places where the vehicles saw combat, preceeded by the text “Call us and we will come” on the side of the turrets (a rather challenging task for the modeller).
It is not my intention to write a full-blown history of the vehicles used in Congo, suffice to say that the subject of this article is one of these M8’s, more specifically Lulle-Belle. Armed with pictures kindly supplied to me by good friends from SPHF (Swedish Armour History Foundation), I got started with the project.
On to the model!
The base kit is the lovely Tamiya M8 Greyhound, enhanced with additional resin and etched details from Aber and Verlinden. Resin wheels, a turned 37mm barrel with resin mantlet and a brass .30 cal barrel for the coaxial MG were also used.
Many Aber and Verlinden parts were used to enhance this area. It was important to bear in mind that the Swedish M8’s were devoid of any internal communication equipment, so no headset comm boxes were added. However, I took the liberty to put the internal wiring in place as if these cables had not been removed, and traces of the once mounted comms boxes were painted in a slightly different shade. Sometimes, a radio was not even carried internally, in which case a portable Ra105 radio set was often carried instead.
There was often a severe lack of 37mm shells, a reality I hope I captured by depicting the ammo bins rather empty.
The turret interior was built mainly out of the box, and the gradiant digits added using the Archer Fine Transfers set for the M8. This set of transfers also provided the faces for the driver’s instrument panel.
This is where the Swedish modifications become more obvious, the most prominent being the addition of the dual MG’s (ksp m/36) on the turret (a majorly COOL addition in my humble opinion ). These MG’s were scratchbuilt using Browning 30 cal MG “body’s”, and the remaining parts (barrels, mounts, ammo boxes and so on) being scratch built. An quick technical note on these MG’s is that the cooling system was not a “closed system”. Water was filled into the cooling jackets around the barrels, and when the guns were fired the water turned to steam and then, as it cooled, dropped out of the other end of the hoses. It was important to make sure that the end of these hoses were placed outside the vehicle, otherwise the crew would have a rather hot surprise dripping on their heads (sounds obvious, but it did happen).
Another detail which I wished to capture was the use of whatever wheels and tires the crews could find. As a result, a mixture of rims and tire treads were used on any given vehicle. Lulle-Belle even had different tires on her two front wheels (which I have included on the model as well).
Painting and markings:
The vehicle was airbrushed (in Tamiya acrylics) in the typical “painted with what the crews had avaialble” scheme, hence a bluish base coat and black cammo pattern. The engine deck was airbrushed in white and the black “UN” text masked and airbrushed as well.
The markings were basically all custom made. The shields and UN logo on the front and rear were created on a computer and printed on decal paper. The turret text and vehicle name were applied using Microscale generic lettering (water slide) which basically means that every letter was cut out and applied one by one (I am sure anyone could find much more exciting things to do.. haha).
The model was weathered and chipped using various oils and pigments, and attached to a simple base with some “red” groundwork, static grass and plants from J’s Model.
Lulle-Belle was completed in October 2010, just in time for the C4-Open model exhibition and competition in Malmö, Sweden, that same month. The theme class that year was “In Blue Berets, United Nations” which was one of the reasons I wanted to build this particular model.
This was an extremely gratifying project of an unusual vehicle, one I can recommend to anybody who wants to build one.
Thanks for your interest, and thanks to Erik G for offering me the opportunity to contribute with a build article on this site.
Side note: I was very honoured to meet the actual vehicle commander of Lulle-Belle, Sven Thufvesson, at C4 Open. It really added a special and rather emotional dimension to be able show this model to him at the exhibition.
Read more in Tamiya Model Magazine International, February 2012 issue:
Next up: a scratchbuilt Swedish SKP m/42 armoured truck