Thursday 16 September 2021

Replicating Han Solo's DL-44

... Han shot first!

Like many iconic props, the DL-44 has been studied in mind boggling detail for many years. The original was based on an actual "Broom Handle" Mauser C96, with later iterations being based on a replica of the same gun. Now neither WW2 antiques nor super rare replicas are within my price range but what I can afford is one of these: 

This super cheap toy might not look like much now, but I'm hoping with a little bit of work I can make it look like the real deal. 

My first job was to disassemble the toy. Almost every part of it was simply screwed together so taking it apart was fairly straight forward. The only thing you need to be really careful of are the springs which have a tendaancy to zip off in random directions when you aren't expecting it. When it came to the grips I slipped a blade under the edges and gently leavered them off. I took careful notes on where everything came froms so I'd be able to reassemble everything when the time came.  

Disassembling the toy
Notice the hammer has been fitted backwards? We'll fix that in a sec...

There are a few models of DL-44s available on Thingiverse. I used parts from >>this one<<  to print the pieces I needed for my build. Whilst the prints were running I modified the toy to try to make it more accurate. The front needed to be sawn off in order to fit the correct "bull barrel", I sanded away some of the patterning and the removed the safety switch. I also filled the hole where the magazine should go with a sheet of plasticard cut to fit. 

I ended up reassembling the toy before going much further as I needed to fill gaps and screw holes before I undercoated everything black. 

The toy painted black in my airbrush booth
Spraying the gun in my custom airbrush booth. 

All of the pieces then received a gently buffing of graphite. Some areas were masked out and painted in Alclad Steel as required. The ends of the scope were painted in rattle can brass and the scope mount and knobs were undercoated silver before being carefully masked and top coated in a rough coat of rattle can black. I sprayed the metal with an acrylic sealer then finished by scrubbing on a coat of alkyd oil paint in black and brown, then wiping as much of it away as I could. Some of the edges were subtly highlighted with a silver sharpie to simulate damage. 

Weathering the toy

Weathering the toy

For the grips I started with a base of burnt umber then used a scrubby ruined brush to add grain texture in a lighter colour. I then went back in with a nice fine brush and added longer smoother grain lines in various colours. This was sealed with a coat of acrylic gloss. 

Close up of the paint on the grips

The final touch was fitting lenses to the scope on the side of the gun. I created a small cardboard frame to hold some clear plastic from a blister pack. I heated this with a heat gun before quickly pressing it into the scope mount using a domed measuring spoon. This created a lens shaped piece of plastic that perfectly fitted the aperture. It took a few attempts to get it right but I just kept reheating the plastic and trying again. 

Using measuring spoons to form the lenses
Don't tell my wife I've got her measuring spoons...

The finished lenses in place

There are a few things I might change if I did this again, like accurising the grips so they have a finer grip pattern, but overall I'm extremely happy with how this worked out. Not bad for a £10 toy!

The finished DL-44


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