Written by Daniel Carey-George, Lead Fabricator Peter Cooper, Director
Taken from the press release:
“The story of Operation Chastity follows a group of United Nations Space Command Marines fighting the survivors of a crashed alien Covenant battleship, and their final mission in the conflict – a secret mission behind enemy lines which none of them are sure they will return from. The film is a self-funded effort, with shooting planned to commence in Winter 2009 in the United Kingdom. The film project is in no way affiliated with Bungie Studios, Microsoft Game Studios or WETA studios, and is an independent work”
“An M12 ‘Warthog’ LRV will be built to be used in the film, which is a not-for-profit fan film based on the Halo Franchise held by Bungie and Microsoft ”
“In the games, the Warthog LRV was the vehicle of choice for Master Chief John-117, the superhuman Spartan raised from a boy to become humanity’s greatest soldier as he went across the universe and eventually home to Earth fighting the Covenant. The vehicle being made for Operation Chastity, however, will be used by the Marines of the 267th Division as they fight the alien invaders on human soil”
Whilst working as a Project Manager at Brighton based Props Studios, Daniel Carey-George, owner of Custom Creations, was contacted by Pete, due to Dan’s prior experience in building and restoring Hot Rods and Custom Cars, having supplied 10 full size ‘Herbie’ VW’s for Disney’s promotion of 2007’s ‘Herbie Fully Loaded’ movie, as well as making a customised Golf Vr6 for a private client which made an 8 page spread and front cover of Redline Magazine.
The vehicle that is going to be used for the project is an A-reg 1983 Land Rover Defender 110.The vehicle will be fitted with a whole new body, chunky off road tyres, lifted suspension and a whole host of other upgrades to make it into the futuristic combat vehicle. This is certainly not going to be your average Land Rover!
PROJECT 9352 M12 WARTHOG
Peter Cooper had already done some prelim research, and recommended us to look into using a Land Rover Defender 110 as a donor vehicle to the project.
I sourced a few images of the vehicle, and from this drew a simple layout (below) which seemed to work well, the basic shape didn’t foul any major points and there was space to maintain all existing running gear. Result !
Work then commenced on sourcing a suitable donor, and, strangely, the best one available was at GumTree 4×4, a local 4×4 specialist whose workshops are a short walk away from the unit at Props Studios!
A few phone calls later I was able to inspect the vehicle, and here’s what was bought:
Considering its age its in good shape, a bit smokey on startup, but thats to be expected with a vehicle of this age and type. Note the board by the car, I couldnt get my clothes dirty looking underneath ;-)
The price was good already, but as much of the bodywork wasn’t to be used anyway, we managed to barter the price down even further! Gumtree4×4 would be able to take back what we didn’t need, which helped cut our basic workload down considerably.
The 110 was taken back to Gumtree4×4 to be stripped, and have a new clutch slave cylinder fitted ( one of the reasons it failed its MOT).
A little while later the front shutters to Props Studios were rolled up and this strange machine was driven in by a very windswepped mechanic:
As you can see there isn’t much left !
However, what we have now is the bare ladder bar type chassis, and a fully drivable base unit. Lengths of mild steel box section have been ordered in in preperation for welding the framework up as our first stage.
Work has also started on sourcing some suitable larger tyres, as well as new bucket style seats.
Full of seasonal excess we returned to work in the New Year with much eagerness to get started for ‘real’. This caused a major problem in terms of deadlines as apparent later…
First things first- a post on the Replica Prop Forum mentioned a small Warthog Toy, so over the holiday I ordered one in. First thing Monday morning with the troops gathered I briefed the start of the job. By scaling up from the model, not only was our work far easier, but amazingly, the difference in dimensions between the toy and the real chassis only came to within 40 mm or so, a staggering similarity considering the size jump and randomness of it all.
I printed out a small reference book for Jon Armory and Seb Pedley, who would be working with me on the project, which consisted of numerous pics, mainly of Weta Workshops version (booooo!)
Baby Warthog !
A timber frame was quickly made by Seb Pedley to enable us to adjust proportions accordingly before commiting to steel. I was very concerned at this point that we really tried to see the build as a character sculpt. For instance, if you make a Mickey Mouse with small ears, it wont look like Mickey Mouse- similarly here, any mistakes and we wont have a vehicle that looks like a Warthog!
However, at this stage disaster struck.
With a cold workshop, a first day back after a holiday and an eagerness to begin, we all steamed in, and whilst Jon readied a hole for the exhaust pipe, the drill locked up in the steel, and with non slip gloves on, the resulting spin left Jon with two broken bones in his hand!
Not only was Jon gutted to miss out on the project ( prob more than he was annoyed to have a broken hand!), it also meant I was a man down, with Seb working solo for the rest of his time on the job, whilst I was office bound on other projects.
Work was slow but at the end of the first three/ four days using Seb, this is what we had (above).
A box section steel frame was attached to the main chassis and an adjustable front end, held with zip ties, was made to enable us to tweak dimensions and see what issues were apparent with engine height.
The firewall/ Dash was also cut down by some 8 inches +
New wheels were ordered which were slightly bigger in overall diameter, and with the important smaller rim size. Budget requirements meant we couldnt go up to crazy sizes, as those wheels came at even crazier prices…
Blow molded bucket seats were also purchased, which were actually originally used for a military contract by the manufacturer, so at least we can be sure they will hold up! I decided to push for plastic seats rather than fabric as I could see the Marine Armour quickly tearing fabric versions, and Pete also pointed out to purchase the widest seats available to make room for pouches etc around the waist.
First thing which was obvious by this stage was the seats height – they needed to sit right down onto the chassis, and also as a result we needed to drop the steering column.
Also, the edges of the firewall were far too high and wide in relation to the dashboard height on the Warthog (above)…
So, with Sebs budgeted hours on the job completed, I have been left with an excellent base to finish the build.
Although I had to make up lost time for being a man down (sorry Jon) the first thing I did was work on the seats. I made up a box section seat rail ( no runners) which sat in the space left once the original seat positions on the Land Rover were removed. A large section of rusty floor pan was repaired and a new section added to lengthen and fill in the gap left from the new seat position (I can see why the British Army dont like Land Rovers as the floor pans are very basic, good for me- bad for Land Mines !)
Boring work needed to be done now. The radiator sat far too high, so Seb had drained and removed it.The large duct for the fan is also too big. I will be making up new supports for the Rad, tilting it back into the body, which will be hidden by the front whinch detailing. Even the Chassis arms are the correct width apart, Land Rover must have a very far reaching crystal ball!
Also, I’d like to draw your attention to Sebs nice metal work for the front headlight sheet metal.
So, I ground off the mounts and repaired a nice 4 inch rust hole under the leaky readiator, and cut off the support legs for the air filter, which also sat far too high. Note how the camera Flash makes the chassis look rusty (top photo flash off, bottom flash on!)
The air filter now sits about 8 inches lower, and really isn’t this rusty, honest. ;-)
Seb had already taken a huge slice out of the dash top.
I then had to drop the steering column. I was worried it was a major job, and I would have to remove the pedal cluster to clear the brake lines and clutch servo, but I had a eureka moment and realised that if I undid the UJ’s on thecolumn, and the mounts on the firewall, and cut a 2 inch slot out of the dash metal, the whole column would drop down between the hydraulic pedal units. I then just re welded the brackets into the new position- job done!
This shot (above) shows the new positioning of the air filter, and the adjustable ‘bonnet’. It still sits a bit high on the firewall, and needs to come down a bit overall- a very tight fit !
This section needs to be removable for maintenance, so I welded up a whole independant frame. I cut a further three inches out of the firewall in slots, so the unit sits lower ( almost on top of the cylinder head case !
Now this front part is almost complete, I can clad it up etc, but before then I need to move around the Vehicle in much the same fashion, welding up the support frame for the body work panelling.
I am hoping that apart from making up the radiator mounts, all of the ‘invisible’ work is now out of the way-I can now just concentrate on body work !
16th MARCH 2009*******************************
Sorry for the delay in a build update, but holidays and prior work commitments have delayed updates somewhat!
Ok, from where I left off a fair bit more has been produced on the Warthog.
Seb was able to produce a radiator mount for me in his spare time, which seems to work pretty well. Problems were originally encountered with the depth of the rad, as it fouled the steering damper, but thankfully that was easily fixed:
It looks like the ends of the chassis rails seen here will make excellent basis for the winch/ front ‘teeth’. Its great the rad actually fits, as I was basing the front end design around the basis that I could mount the rad portrait instead of landscape. I have to re-plumb the hoses but hopefully that will be quite straight forward (using longer hoses)
I have also included a picture above of the developing bodywork. I have welded a set of heavy box section as the ‘roll bar’ top section. The horizontal bars running between the two are rigged in such a way as the whole front end ‘unplugs’ which enables the entire front to become one large bonnet section.
Further skeletal frame work was wleded around the rest of the body, providing support for the forthcoming bodywork. You can just make out the progress on the rear end here, and the almost finished version below:
The only problem this revealed was that the overall width of the cockpit is greatly reduced. This brought back the problems of the steering wheel being in the wrong place ! This time it wasnt the height, it was too far to the right.
So I stripped it all out, removed the column and drilled a new hole in the firewall. Thankfully there was just enough room to remount it on the existing bodywork, without re jiugging all of the foot control servos and cylinders.
You can see the original hole to the right of the dash in the shot above.
And the remounted column here- It did run between the large circular component and the rectangula box seen above on the left.
Thankfully the original UJ’s provided enough room to re route it all without any further problems.
The above shot is a good way to get an idea of the final shapes I wil get once it is all clad, so allowing for the camera distortions I am pretty made up as to just how close it is to the Bungie model. Could it actually work out to be more visually accurate than Weta’s version?!
Now I have begun the start the body panels- here you can see a run of ‘tags’ down the permiter of the outer rail.
More to follow !
10th JULY 2009*******************************
Well, ‘things do happen for a reason’ and certainly the last few months were certainly an eye opener.
At the end of April/early May I left Props Studios.
During my last few weeks at Props I worked hard to get the Warthog as finished as possible, so below are a collection of shots I had left on my phone, which shows the current status of the project. Sorry the pictures arent clearer!
I worked out nuymerous panels which were designed and cut to flex over the metal frame work. I then riveted the panels to the metal framework. Here you can see the basic shape taking place.
A dashboard was cut out to cover the old landrover one, and the front clip was removed to fiber glass underneath it.
Further details were added. You cant see it here, but underneath the bodywork has been fiberglassed over, providing a waterproof and very strong, solid structure to work over. Trial fitting of the seats here show things are on target. Scoops were cut out of the side and the panel pushed inwards to give depth. This was then fiberglassed into place, and filled in.
A permimeter around the cockpit was built up with heavy timber and shaped and blended to fit, and then bolted to the metal structure. Basic panel detail shapes were then added.
Here is a pretty good shot of the basic shape now created. The front clip has been re attached and the last panel added at the very front- here you can see the hole cut from the front vent. The rear end details has been added too.
The above shot shows the rear end detail more clearly. Holes have been cut to allow lights to be added at a later date.
Panel lines were then routed over the body, and other details added- here the front vent is trial fitted, and further cutouts were needed to clear the existing pedal servos/cylinders.
So, the last shot is pretty much how I left it before leaving Props Studios:
Extra details were then added. you can just make out the dash board, which now has detail panels and slots cut in to take the original Landrover guages. I also cut down the steering wheel-which now looks pretty cool, and was an easy way to make the existing hardware more futuristic!
You might just make out the panel work routed into the side panels just behind the cockpit, and details put on the cockpit perimeter.
Slightly clearer shot of the detail work. The slightly greeninsh tint to the panel behind the seats is the first coating of fiberglass going on. This was then applied to the whole vehicle. The internal rear bed was also detailed and painted in resin, as was the dash. SInce this photo was taken, I resin coated the whole outer body work.
This is where the Warthog is currently at- as I understand it, for some reason, the Warthog now has to be moved out to a new location.
Whether I will be able to continue working on the Warthog depends on the logistics of its new location, and my own work load and commitments. Certainly 90% of the really hard work has all been done, its a great shame that the final stages have proved so trouble some when the end was in sight!
20th JULY 2009*******************************
So was this the end? Was the Warthog project over? No! Perseverance was worthwhile. Some final pictures were taken of the vehicle in its final state by the guys at props, which I now show off to you for your enjoyment:
Side profile shot – as you can see, the vehicle has a nice green/brown colouration now, which is the result of the resin work that Dan had done just prior to his leaving Props.
And the rear. Here you can see the remaining gaps for the rear break lights, and the cut off parts of the chassis which will hopefully become the rear bumper/step later on.
The passenger bay, with the dash well on its way to completion.
The bonnet – currently lacking the front vent, but looking good!
A shot of the side, with the first of the vents cut out.
The seats inside the passenger compartment, with the cut down steering wheel. We’ll need to see about jigging things around in the passenger area to ensure comfort and usability for the driver, but things seem ok for fit currently.
The wheel. As was experienced in trying to remove the vehicle from the trailer later, the style of the wheel currently is not the most usable, though it does give a good visual. This is something to be considered later, I think.
The rear compartment, currently lacking a floor or mountings for a turret.
Back/side profile. The wheels and tyres, seen here, have yet to be replaced with the newly purchased tyres, which are both wider and taller – as well as nicer!
Lastly, the hubcaps – done by Lee, the last Props Studios technician to be involved with the project.
On the 20th, after some negotiation, paperwork was signed and the agreement to complete the vehicle was cancelled by mutual consent. The vehicle was now my charge, and we had found a new home for it in Portsmouth, where further work on the vehicle was to be conducted.
We got the vehicle on a trailer, kindly offered by Gumtree 4×4, before taking it to its new home. More updates to come!
22ND AUGUST 2009*******************************
Further work has been put in now, with further body panels being added to the rear and sides of the vehicle. As you can see, every step makes it closer and closer to the in-game vehicle!
The front of the vehicle, tusks and cable reel attached.
A close-up of the tusks and reel.
The back end, with underside panels fitted.
The rear-underside, showing how the suspension springs fit through the body underneath the rear compartment.
New additional side panels, to bring it more into line with the game’s appearance.
We’re making real progress, and we’re upping the ante. We want the vehicle on tour by the end of October, and we’ve already got a few locations in mind!
23RD DECEMBER 2009*******************************
So, last we left the blog, the vehicle had recently had new body panels fitted and a fresh coat of resin had been applied. A lot has happened since, of course, including its first public showing, and a lot still remains to be done on the vehicle before we can take it out for filming.
Not long after the last post, the decision had been made to push for completion of the vehicle by end of October 2009, with the Big Reveal coming at the London MCM Expo. After conversations with the organisers, they were more than happy to accomodate us at their show (which regularly hosts over 35,000 people over one weekend) and eventually made us a headline attraction! The pressure was on, then, to get the vehicle show-worthy and in a fit state to wow our expecting fans.
First things first, Dan began by starting to test paint colours. He searched hardware stores trying to find accurate paint matches to the original warthog toy – here’s the result:
The first coat came off bright, but all the Warthogs we ever see are caked in dirt and have suffered serious use by UNSC personnel. Weathering would soon dull all that down. After the green, of course, came the greys and the washes to weather the colours down.
The green was tempered with grey drybrushing and dark washes, while the grey was darkened by the same processes. The recessed panels were given darker coats to emphasise the recesses.
The rear bed got a lick of paint too – a couple of coats of the grey with dabs of the dark wash brought out a lot of the detailing of the bed walls.
And the rear wheel arch too. The flash always brightened up the rust particles on the suspension, and this shot is no different, only highlighted by the light grey.
And that was it for the initial painting. By this stage, we had only 5 weeks til show time and only limited opportunity to work. Were we going to make it? Of course we were!
A detail we had been missing up until now had been a step. Structurally, building in a functional projecting step from the wall of the vehicle was not really possible, and would also pose all manner of possible safety issues both when the vehicle was static and when the vehicle was in motion. So instead, we settled for a ’stirrup’ hole in the side of the vehicle. Safer and structurally more sound – and one of the few deviations from the standard Warthog design that we made.
The rear of the vehicle and the rear light spaces. Indicator and brake lights had been ordered to fit here. Even in the future, safety first. This is also where the vehicle’s aerial will be attached.
Here we can see two states of readiness – the outside body, well on its way to completion, and the inner cabin, which has had next to nothing done on it. We still had the half-wheel, which as time went by reminded me more and more of a B17 control column – not a bad thing, but whatever. The footwells had not been painted at all, the dash was undetailed, the new wheels had still not been fitted… a long way to go, seemingly.
First thing in the next wave of tasks – boarding up the forward wheel arches. This act alone brought together the look of the Warthog, as the body shape is heavily defined by the wheel arches and their relation to the “independent suspension” of the in-game vehicle.
A coat of metallic paint was applied to the rear bed’s detailing to give it a more worn look. Also in shot is one of our two diesel jerry cans and the end of our military aerial that would be attached at the vehicle’s rear.
One of our hubcaps. When the time finally came to put the caps onto our wheels, it turned out that the caps had been made to the size of the original wheels. Dan had to shave an inch off the diameter to make them fit ok, and then painted them up to make them look suitably abused.
Three weeks to go. The windscreen was the other big deviation from the design of the Warthog. Unlike the step, which was more of a design consideration, this was more of a budgetary concern – a one-piece vacformed canopy in the style of the Weta Warthog would have cost an astronomical amount in comparison to our 3-piece screen, which would also allow for cheap replacements during filming.
We re-added the original gauges. At this stage, with no dashboard detailing, they looked completely out of place. Of course, we had all that to come, and in the final event we were doing work on the cockpit detailing right up until the last day!
One week to go. The paint job is all but done, and the new wheels are finally fitted, along with the hubcaps. Also visible are the various spotlights and headlamps, which had only just been finished up, and the assembled cable reel.
We had some initial problems with the hubcaps staying on, but in the final event we only had to secure one of them with secondary means – and by that, I mean cable ties. No biggy though.
Next up, the markings. After all, this Warthog needed an identity. So, what we have here is a vehicle of 1st Recon Battalion, 267th Marine Regiment.
The aerial was finally added, completing the basic look of the rear compartment.
And with that, the vehicle was about ready for my inspection the Thursday prior to expo. The wheel had still not arrived, and the cabin still needed completing. That was what the Thursday was for – final prep, detailing and general housekeeping to make sure the vehicle was ship-shape for the show.
The Thursday was a tense moment – even I hadn’t seen the work conducted for the two weeks prior to seeing it that day – the occasional teaser photo had arrived from Warthog HQ but I was about as in the dark as the fans looking at the snippets on Twitter. But, I was astonished at the progress that had taken place – the vehicle had transformed, and it was a thing of beauty.
That day we scrambled around looking for spare parts of all kinds of things to dress the cabin. With the thanks of the Portsmouth College we ended up with lots of mechanical spares and loose electical parts, and a brief visit to hardware stores and a couple of electrical outlets brought us our electronic goodies, and our new wheel had arrived just in the nick of time.
That evening, the vehicle arrived to take the hog away to the exhibition centre. It had been a very long day, and it killed me to leave the vehicle in someone else’s care. But who am I kidding – at least now I know it was a happy ending!
The vehicle was taken away, and the next time I saw it was the exhibition hall the next day.
So skip ahead to Saturday. At 11AM, surrounded by the Operation Chastity crew and hundreds of eagerly anticipating Halo fans, The Beast (as she became known that weekend) was unveiled to the world. Photos have cropped up all over the internet alongside video of the unveiling and a variety of interviews. It was an amazing day, an amazing event and an amazing experience, and to all those of you who were there to witness it, I can’t thank you enough for your support.
Even Gordon Freeman was a fan – he was really impressed by the strength of our windscreen.
So there we are – the vehicle has been built. We’re still a long way from finishing it, even now – our turret and M41 LAAG need building and fitting, and a lot of mechanical repairs need doing. Watch this space for future updates, and once again, thanks for all your support.
Operation Chastity is a completely independent work, not financed by or affiliated with the Microsoft Corporation, Microsoft Game Studios, Bungie Studios, Wingnut Films, Weta Studios, Ensemble Studios or any other parties linked to the Halo computer games. Operation Chastity is a completely original film set in the world of the Halo computer games and is being made as a non profit fan production – by fans, for fans. Halo, its related images and designs are Copyright of Microsoft Game Studios.