AMX-117 Gaz-R/L

SKIRT ARMOR
Again wanting a less boxy look for the model, I decided to do some work on the rear skirt armor. I wanted a little bit more rounded bug-like look for this piece (something closer to the Gelgoog), and wanted to lengthen it as well.
 
First I used my exacto to score down the center line of the rear skirt piece (not cutting all the way through), then bent the piece slightly to give it a little bit more of an angle. Then holding it at the angle I wanted, I filled the cut in the center with thick CA glue and sprayed it with accelerator to hold it in place.

The extensions were cut from plastic sheet and glued on with CA. After the glue was set, I faired the extensions in with Bondo spot putty and sanded them smooth. To the left is a photo comparing the original part to the new one.

The inside of the rear skirt part did come with some detailing, but it looked more like something made out of wood than reinforced armor plating. :P So I covered up the inside of the part with sheet plastic so I could add new details. Before doing that, I had to get the reshaped skirt to fit onto the rear waist piece.
 
The rear waist part originally had a short peg to support the skirt, which jutted out from the waist at a near 90 degree angle. I wanted it to angle outward more, so I chopped of the peg and built a support box out of sheet plastic which would hold it at the correct angle (I added some small verniers to the bottom of this piece, you can never have enough thrust!).

Attaching the rear skirt at a different angle required reshaping the bulge at the top of the back waist piece that the skirt "plugs" in to. This was accomplished by covering the bulge with epoxy putty, then pushing the new skirt into the putty while still soft for a perfect fit, and sanding the putty to shape. The line in the center of the putty was cut in with a razor saw (I wanted a thick line).

Changes compound changes, after altering the rear skirt angle I found that I had to reshape the side skirt pieces too. This was accomplished by chopping of the side with a razor saw, and gluing them back together with a wedge shaped plastic extension (cut from sheet styrene). This increased the angle or the back side of the side skirt to match the rear. Any gaps left after putting them back together were filled with CA mixed with corn starch. I should also mention that fit checking was done by assembling parts temporarily with tape.

DETAILS
No skirt armor is complete without tons of detail that no one will ever see! ;) I sketched the details I wanted on a sheet of thin styrene cut to match the inside of the rear skirt, and when I was happy with the sketching I started cutting out panels and gluing them in place. The layered vents are placed to match the vernier housings that will be attached to the outside of the skirt, hopefully adding a little bit of realism to my imagineering. The side skirts were also backed with plastic sheet and epoxy putty, then detailed with plastic sheet. The little rivet holes were drilled with a small bit in a pin vise.

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