Reader Submission: Polish Ford FT-B Armored Car

Mike Dobrzelecki has sent us some pictures and a description of a model he built of the Polish Ford FT-B (Tfc) Armored Car.  It’s a nicely done model of a rather rare and unusual vehicle.


Polish Ford FT-B (Tfc) Armored Car 1/35th Scale

By Mike Dobrzelecki

Designed in 1920 by Tadeusz Tanski the Ford FT-B (tfc) was based on the classic Ford Model T chassis. He used plates made from German trench armor scrounged from Polish battlefields and filled the tires with wood pulp to protect them to a certain degree  against rifle and machine gun bullets (probably a rough ride). The Ford FT-B was the first Polish armored vehicle built in series, with between 16 and 17 completed, depending on whose information you believe. All of the other armored vehicles in Polish service were either WWI vehicles captured from the Russians (Austin Pulitov Armored Cars, amongst others), Imperial German forces (Ehrhard Armored Cars, amongst others), Austrians, furnished as war material by the French Government (Renault FT-17’s, amongst others), or one-off armored conversions of civilian vehicles. The Ford FT-B acquitted itself well during the Polish-Bolshevik War of 1920 excelling in the highly mobile combat, which characterized that conflict, so unlike the static trench warfare of WWI. The Ford distinguished itself particularly in “The Raid on Kovel” and saved many a Polish kiester during the retreat from the Ukraine back to Warsaw. It them supported the counter-attack eastward, after the successful defense of Warsaw, known as “Miracle on the Wistula” (Wisla River in Polish), where Sikorski defeated the Reds, routing them in the process and sending them reeling back over the Ukranian border and beyond. Quite a few Ford FT-B’s survived into the 1920’s, with most retired by 1931, although some indications are that at least one survived until 1939. Fast Forward to 2009: On a Ford restoration site one guy is claiming that he’s found a hull, or partial hull, in Lublin, Poland, though it remains to be verified. I doubt that the Polish government will allow him to export the hull back to the USA, given its significance to Polish military history.

A group of military vehicle enthusiasts in Poland recently built a replica Polish Ford FT-B using a Ford Model T Chassis they obtained from Canada. Here’s the link

I was quite taken by the both the design and story behind this pugnacious bantam-weight Polish Armored car and moved it up on my list of builds after the RPM kit was released. Here is my Polish Ford FT-B (tfc) Armored Car made from the 1/35th scale RPM kit. The chassis was detailed with brass and plastic strip and rod, additional rivets, bolts and nuts were added, radiator made from screen mesh, MV Products lenses incorporated, the head light, tail and horn wired in addition to other misc. detail. The wheel spokes were the worse part of the kit. I replaced the kit’s square stock spokes by cutting them out and replacing them with nicely fluted spokes from an Airfix 1/32nd scale Ford Model T.  Fitting one circle inside another circle is not as easy as it sounds, and trial and error ruled the day on this build. I used the hubs from the 1/32nd scale kit, adding some bolt and nut detail. Make sure you splay out the stance of the front wheels of your Ford FT-B – Fords were known to have splayed-out wheels.

The other challenge was the black-outlined 4-color camouflage.   I have seen various attempts at this outlined camouflage scheme, with questionable results. The black line was usually hand-painted on after the colors were applied; and that line seemingly sat a couple of scale inches proud above the rest of the paint scheme.

So, I did it the hard way.

I first painted the completed hull in a scale black – Luftwaffe RLM 66 in this case, then masked off all the squiggly black lines, before application of the other colors. My fingertips were bloody and ragged after that tedious, but effective, process. The other colors were applied conventionally, working from light to dark. The Ochre, Gray and Green were acrylic colors – a combo of both Polly Scale and Tamiya – with the brown applied from a carefully preserved bottle of Pactra Dark Brown enamel – still the best rich dark brown in hobby paint history in this modeler’s humble opinion. The chassis and sundry attachments, such as the springs, rear axle, tie bars, etc., were painted in the same RLM 66, following Henry Ford’s maxim that, “You can have any color you want, as long as it’s black”. The washes are done with classic Windsor & Newton oil paints thinned in Humbrol thinner. Vehicle was lightly dry brushed to simulate the dusty conditions from the sandy soil of Poland. The base is finished with ground cover made from a mix of paper Mache, powdered Palmer Paint Products Dry Temp brown tempera water color paint, white glue, fine grained sand and granules from Model Railroad supplies and kitty litter for rocks. This was applied with an artist spatula carefully to ensure a nice clean line with the wood base. That’s another pet peeve of mine concerning groundcover on bases and dioramas. Why do some modelers leave ragged edges between the transition of the ground cover to the base, or, worse, yet, fail to fully paint every nook and cranny of the ground cover leaving unpainted paper Mache or foam board exposed? I don’t get it. Static grass and florist moss added for scrub. Wheels from a spare RPM kit were mounted in a makeshift frame duplicating the wheel spread of the Ford Armored Car and pressed into the groundcover prior to drying. The ground cover was then painted, “washed” and dry brushed – including the static grass.

It won a First Place in the Armored Car Category at an IPMS USA Nationals in the 1990’s and Silver at an AMPS Show in the same decade.

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