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So I recently decided to add a pair of manticores to my army. While I think the idea of cluster missiles is kind of cool, I think that the models themselves are kind of ugly. I was thinking of some way to execute this idea better, when I had an epiphany. The fluff for the storm eagle rockets is that you have four of them, which break into three smaller ones, some of the clusters of which fly off at strange trajectories and land off the board (or wherever), which is why you only actually hit with 1-3 rather than all 3. Four rockets with three subrockets means that you really have 12 missiles. Why not just make a vehicle with 12 missiles, and then just assume that lots of them fly strangely straight off the launcher?

This of course immediately led me to the idea of doing a katyusha (also known as a Stalin's Organ) style manticore.

As chimera kits are cheaper, I decided to build my manticore off of the new chimera kits (one of which I'm still waiting on as GW has been backlogged). I started by assembling the chimera with everything but the obvious chimera-bits (the turret and the passenger compartment). My purpose was to make a blank chimera chassis that could quickly and easily be converted into ANY chimera-based vehicle. As such, the hatch and the hull weapon aren't actually glued on.

Once that was done, the next part was to make a generic artillery flatbed. This easily slides into place, and is simple to produce, and provides a solid conversion base for any guard artillery model:

From there, I added more work to the flatbed. Specifically, I wanted to make it into a place on which I could mount any turret-based artillery (deathstrike, hydra, or manticore). The end result is something which will accept a plasticard tube, and allow it to freely rotate 360 degrees:

Once done, I needed to make an adapter to go between this particular flatbed, and the missile racks. It needed to fit into the hole in the tank, while also having a way of allowing the missile rack to pivot up to 45 degrees so that it can fire indirectly. I decided to use two rings on the adapter, and one on the missile rack that will be held together with an axle.

With this in place, it was time to make the missile rack itself. I still have a lot of L-angle plasticard (from when I made some anti-tank hedgehog terrain), and so I decided to use that to hold onto the missiles. After adding some plasticard support (and attatching the axle lug), I then attatched some guiding rails.

Once completed, I could insert the pin to see how it all looks all together:

Needless to say, I'm pretty happy with what I have so far. From here, I'm going to add in some more detail work, primarily of the structural nature, as those missile rails really need something to support them at the end, and the rack itself wobbles a bit in the adapter. That, of course, and make the missiles themselves.

So, the next phase was to finish the missile rack. I wanted to do something that would cover for the fact that I'm not yet able to cut long strips of plasticard consistently. Other than hiding my sloppiness, it would also make sense to make the rack a little more rugged. Katyushas were mounted to trucks that weren't designed to withstand enemy fire, so they could make "disposable" missile racks. As the manticore is on a chimera chassis, they would actually expect it to last a little longer, thus they'd make racks nearly as armored as the carriers.

Once the rack was done (and a few new plasticard lugs in there, etc.), it was up to making the missiles. I had been wracking my brain for a few weeks trying to think of what I could do for the head of a missile, as small, rigid, conical plastic things were evading me (and the new HK missiles would be PERFECT, but the price of buying 22 more of them was a little silly). In the end, I found that there were some straight pins with heads that fitted snugly into some aluminum tubing I had lying around:

I like the miniature polaris look. Anyways, the original katyusha rockets looked pretty rudimentary, and I don't feel like futzing with the missiles to make them look right in the racks, so I've decided to just leave them like this. I mean, half the time they fly so far off target that they don't even land on the board, so I don't feel too bad not adding fins.

Anyways, after doing the full rack, it was all done. It all fits pretty snugly, and gravity allows it to stay down when I put it down and flip up and stay up when I want it firing indirectly (although you can feel it's pretty close to slipping when the rack is completely full or completely empty). All in all, I'm pretty happy with the results:

... and as penalty for getting in the last picture, the manticore commander decided to turn and prepare to fire against the nefarious photobomber...

Anyways, now it's on to the painting, which will basically look like my other tanks.

Click here for a larger picture.

So, I can still sort of tell that it's a scratchbuild (lack of rivets, etc.), but this is DEFINITELY good enough for table-top work, and not to shabby for my first serious attempt at vehicular conversions with plasticard.

Time for it to hit the table!