Monday, April 29, 2013

Combi-Flamer Conversion

Last year I commented on the questionable Sternguard weapons kit put out by GW. Not only did the overall quality look poor, but the combi-flamer and combi-plasma designs were underwhelming. Sternguard have access to cheap combi-weapons and I was interested in using this kit to arm my in-progress squad. When GW's own promotional images couldn't make the Finecast weapons look good, I gave up on them.

I already had a plastic combi-melta and a combi-plasma from the Space Marine Commander box, but I could have used more. What annoyed me most about the whole situation was that GW flubbed a kit that represented the only way to get an Imperial combi-flamer outside of Forge World's Character Conversion Set. It's odd that GW hasn't included a plastic combi-flamer in any kit since combi-weapons only get a single shot with the non-bolter part of the weapon; the combi-flamer is the only one that's guaranteed to hit with that one shot.

In case you're wondering, I decided against the FW kit since I would have to pay for a bunch of parts that I don't really need. Also, in the heat of battle I need obvious visual cues to remind me to maneuver, protect, or use special weapons or models. The FW combi-flamer is too similar to a standard bolter for me.

A new item for my wishlist: the Plasma Blaster
Anyway, I looked at several different ways to make my own combi-flamer but couldn't see how to do it to my satisfaction without a lot of conversion work that could easily produce a very awkward looking weapon. Even GW's professionally designed plastic combi-weapons seem a bit unwieldy to me, especially the combi-plasma. Later, while researching Captain Agemman on Lexicanum for my counts-as-Lysander model, I came across an entry on his predecessor, Captain Invictus. Invictus carried a plasma blaster; a twin-linked plasma gun that was represented by two truncated plasma guns mounted side-by-side. It soon occurred to me that a side-by-side combi-weapon might be easier to make than a stacked one.

Later, I saw Forge World's Space Marine Terminator Weapon Set. Like GW's Chaos Terminators, FW's Horus Heresy era Terminators are typically equipped with combi-bolters (i.e., two mechanically joined bolters that fire as a twin-linked bolter) but can also carry other combi-weapons. (The Chaos Terminators' combi-bolters are ridiculously similar to Loyalist Terminators' storm bolters.) While the combi-weapons carried by Chaos Terminators look very different from their combi-bolters and generally stack the special weapon above the bolter portion, the FW combi-weapons simply replace the right-side bolter with the secondary weapon. The FW Terminator combi-weapons look great and are very similar to what I had been considering.

The other night I finally dug through my bits box and pulled out the storm bolter I saved when I converted a Black Reach Terminator to carry an assault cannon. Luckily, the box magazine on this storm bolter was asymmetrical. The symmetrical magazines or the dual curved magazine storm bolters don't look quite right after the conversion because they're obviously meant to be feeding bolts into both sides of the gun. Of course these magazines could be replaced with an asymmetrical one from a vehicle storm bolter, but I used those up when I made my Sternguard bolters.

The body is from a Black Reach Terminator storm bolter

The work on the storm bolter itself was very straightforward. First, I cut the wide double barrel and the bayonet lug off the front of the gun. I used a razor to slightly flatten the side that was going to be the flamer part of the weapon so that the promethium tank would fit better. I chose the left side of the gun for the flamer since the magazine's protrusion to the right suggests that the right side should house the bolter.

The flamer section is on the left since the
bolter magazine protrudes to the right

Next, I cut a single barrel off a vehicle storm bolter I used for a Sternguard bolter conversion. This required a lot of caution; not only is the barrel small and easily damaged, but I knew that I would never find it again if I dropped it on the carpet. I glued the barrel onto the face of the gun on the right side.

The bolter barrel comes from a vehicle storm bolter

Finally, I cut the end off a flamer and glued the end to the face of the storm bolter parallel to the bolter barrel. I wanted to make it look like a promethium tank is welded onto or recessed into the side of the combi-flamer, so I cut the tank off the flamer and removed the side of the tank. I glued the tank to the side of the gun and used some Testors Contour Putty and small amounts of glue to fill in the crevices.

Glue and Testors putty fill the crevices. A small patch on top
of the bolter section was used to cover a defect in the bit.

Since this combi-flamer is based on a storm bolter, it lacks a forestock and only really works as a one-handed weapon. I didn't want to chop up more bits than necessary, so I decided to use an arm that usually wields a bolt pistol. And while I would have preferred to mount the gun on the Marine's right hand since the magazine protrudes to the right, the fact that the storm bolter was originally meant for a larger Terminator hand means that the back of the weapon extends a bit farther onto the wrist than usual. The standard right-handed Space Marine bolt pistol arm is bent far enough that the back of the gun would interfere with the shoulder pad. Since a left-handed bolt pistol arm is nearly straight, it works a lot better with the converted combi-flamer. And it lets me use one of my many grenade-wielding right arms on the final model.

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