15mm sternantenne (star-antenna)
My latest obsession has been sourcing an appropriately scaled Sternantenne to mount on a Sd.Kfz 250/3 German Forward Signals Unit for Battlegroup Kursk / Normandy. This has proved harder than I originally thought.
I’d recently painted up one of Forged in Battle’s excellent (if disproportionately small) Sd.Kfz 250/3 for my 21st Panzer ‘Ersatz’ Battlegroup. I’ve been going the extra-mile with my armoured vehicles lately by adding electric guitar-string aerials. At this scale, the metal guitar string is a little thicker than you might like but it’s tough enough to withstand a few knocks and still keep its shape despite the sort of handling it can expect to receive on the tabletop.
So, it made sense to look for a Sternantenne to add insult to this extra detail. Sternantenne replaced the supplied ‘cage’ or ‘rail’ antennas from 1943 onwards. As my Kampfgruppe is firmly located in 1944 it felt a little anachronistic to leave the rail antenna FiB’s kit shipped with. A trawl of the internet revealed plenty of antenna available in 1/35th scale but none in 1/100th. I tried building one out of styrene rods and stretched sprue but both looked naff and were just too fragile.
Fortunately, I stumbled across Czech manufacturer Hauler who produce a two-piece etched brass set in 1/87 scale. In principle, they looked suitable on the screen but I’ve never worked with etched brass before and was curious – and a little doubtful – that they would work out in practice.
Just to be on the safe side I ordered 3 sets and after they ‘d arrived I tried (somewhat ridiculously) drilling a hole through the center of the antenna with the intention of sliding it over my guitar string aerial. Unsurprisingly, no joy there. In fact, I shattered my cutting blade removing the antenna from the sheet and wrecked antenna itself by attempting to drill the hole. Let’s chalk that 1 down to experience:
With a new blade, I carefully cut out the second sternantenne before clipping off a millimeter from each arm to bring it in to scale. I filed the top of the guitar string antenna flat, applied a drop of cyanoacrylate accelerator to the centre of the antenna and superglued the 2-parts together.
Once dry, I applied a little more glue around the joint to strengthen it but had to resort to some gentle filing with a fine sanding stick to remove the excess:
I carefully bent the brass arms upwards by about 45 degrees and painted it German Grey prior to mounting on the Hanomag. From surviving exemplars I’ve seen online, I believe some star-antenna were painted dunkelgelb but I didn’t think this looked so good a this scale.
Finally, I added some scissor-scopes from Peter Pig to the Sd.Kfz 250/3 to emphasize it’s role in artillery spotting. German Forward Signals Unit done! I tried something similar on a Panzer IV with accompanying Grenadiers and it works a treat. I’ve played a couple of games with the antenna on and, admittedly, they are a little fiddly to handle but the brass is surprisingly robust and can cope with a few knocks and scrapes.
If you’ve got the time, I’d recommend the refit.