Skarach's world

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“Berlin 1945” diorama – Part 5:Extras

  • The bulk of the work on this was now done, but I wanted to add a couple of extra items.
  • Firstly, I added a torn propaganda poster of the period on one of the buildings.
  • Secondly, I wanted to add an abandoned German vehicle – preferably a smaller one – and selected the Schwimmwagen Type 166 by Tamiya. You can certainly find pictures of this vehicle (see reference below) in Berlin in 1945. I am going to say that the markings I added for this particular colour scheme are probably not accurate for the location and time of the diorama, but this does not overly concern me, as I view this it as being part of the background scene setting. To this end I did not spend too long painting and weathering it, as I knew it would be obscured somewhat by the subsequent lines of Soviet vehicles. I must admit that this betrays my lack of experience in German vehicle modelling, as I am certain I would want to revisit my choice of paints for the German dark yellow colour in the future – the photos don’t do it any favours and it looks less garish in the flesh. Anyway, I figured that at some point it had been abandoned and the destruction of the buildings had subsequently rained down bricks and debris on it.
  • I must admit that I have not added street lamps or overhead tram cables. I did consider it. For street lamps, the pavement on the road sections was quite narrow, so that it would seem like overkill to position them there. Perhaps the buildings could have had lamps attached and that they have simply been blown away. As for the tram cables, I am going to tentatively suggest that, for this section of road, there were strung a series of overhead wires, again attached to points on the buildings, rather than attachment to discrete posts. It’s a little weak, but … this is an example of reality clashing with my diorama building abilities!
  • Probably in the months ahead I will tinker with the look of the diorama – but it is essentially complete and probably the best I can do at this time. Next, the Soviet vehicles need to be done, but that will take some time…


Archer, Lee; Kraska, Robert; Lippert, Mario, Panzers in Berlin 1945 (Panzerwrecks 2019)

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“Berlin 1945” diorama – Part 4:Weathering

  • AMMO Oilbrusher “Starship Filth” and “Starship Bay Sludge” were worked into the surfaces of the buildings and pavement and the excess wiped away with cotton bud to generally give them a dirtier look. Similarly, the doors and window frames were treated with various dark oil paints.
  • The road was washed with a solution of Wilder “Neutral Earth” oil paint (LS18) in enamel thinners, with the excess wiped away.
  • The exposed brick sections of the buildings were painted with AMMO Oilbrusher “Dusty Earth” or “Medium Soil” in order that the paint get between the bricks, to simulate mortar. The excess paint was wiped away with cotton bud.
  • The road and pavement was dry brushed with various light grey coloured acrylic paints, to achieve a variation in the grey colours.
  • Once dry, the entire model was sprayed with a 1:2 mixture of Mr.Color “Flat Clear” (182) and Mr.Color Leveling Thinner.
  • The road and pavement had an initial dusting of various earth coloured pigments, fixed in place by the application of  a 1:1 mixture of AMMO “Pigment Fixer” (A.MIG-3000) and enamel thinners.
  • The tram lines were washed with a rust coloured oil paint and then brushed with AK Interactive “Dark Steel” pigment, to represent polishing of the metal.
  • To start the work of simulating heaps of rubble and debris in front of the ruined buildings and road, I first glued sections of polystyrene blocks down with wood glue – in order to establish a base in which to detail the rubble piles. Later, I painted these blocks with Vallejo Model Color “Cavalry Brown” (70982).
  • Various larger pieces of debris and other items – chunks of the building, spare bricks, a broken door, abandoned fuel drums – were painted and glued in place.
  • Wood glue was painted on the polystyrene and real brick fragments and dust – achieved by breaking up a brick with a hammer – was dropped onto the glue. Later on, I found it quicker to pile up this mixture on the blocks and then drop AK Interactive “Gravel and Sand Fixer” (AK118) onto it all by means of a pipette. Smaller amounts of this brick mix were fixed on the road.
  • Later I added smaller amounts of AMMO “Rubble” and “Brick Dust” pigments.
  • Various pieces of balsa wood – painted with wood coloured acrylic paint and then stained with oil paint – were added at this point to simulate broken window frames and floor and ceiling planks and beams.
  • To simulate broken window panes, I broke up microscope slide cover glass and attached them in various points – the window frames, rubble and road – using “Formula 560 canopy glue”.
  • Extra individually cast bricks were added to the rubble and road.
  • After this, I just went back and forth, adding more brick dust and other pigments until I was happy with the look.


Windrow, Richard, Advanced Terrain Modelling (Osprey, 2007)

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“Berlin 1945” diorama – Part 3:Painting

  • The entire model was sprayed with black acrylic paint from a can.
  • Then, to serve as an initial colour for the road grout, I sprayed the roadway with a beige colour.
  • After this the roadway and pavement was dry brushed with Vallejo Model Color “Basalt Grey” (70869) or “London Grey” (70836).
  • The drains and manhole cover were painted with Vallejo Model Color “Black Grey” (70862).
  • To add variation, individual stones on the road and pavement were painted with the LifeColor “Stone Grey” set.
  • The buildings were painted with the LifeColor “Stone Grey”, “Debris and Rubble” and “Dust and Rust” sets.
  • The doors and window frames were painted with Vallejo Panzer Aces “Old Wood” (310), LifeColor “Dark Wooden Stock” (UA729), Vallejo Model Color “Black Grey” (70862) and Citadel “Leadbelcher”.
  • After this the entire model was painted with Humbrol “Clear” gloss varnish, in readiness for the application of oil paints.

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“Berlin 1945” diorama – Part 2:Assembly


Obviously the place to start was a suitable base. I had seen some produced by a company called Scale Model Scenery – “BB002 Diorama Baseboard Large Centre“. Two of these linked together would be as big as my display cabinet could accommodate – a combined width of 81 cm. Also, there was a back board for the attachment of buildings. These were constructed easily with wood glue and a joining bolt.

Road and buildings

I had had some experience with diorama bases – made of ceramic – from Fields of Glory Models. Looking through their catalogue I decided on the following items:

Now some of these had a corner unit at right angles to the front facing surface. I left these off, as I wanted a section of just the front of the buildings, with no interior (a bit like I imagine some film sets are constructed, so that if you were to look behind the back of them, they would just be wooden panels). All of was to maximise space in front of the buildings, for the debris\rubble and the lines of vehicles beyond that. Also, in order to fit the display space I had to trim the tops of some of the sections. Once the road sections were attached to the base, I held up the building sections to the rear board and drew around their outline. After this I cut away all the board bar those parts which would be use to hold up the buildings, as I did not think that my scenery painting skills extended to some kind of cityscape background. I am not able to comment on the “architectural correctness” of the row of buildings I ended up with. The models were selected to be approximately the right era and – as in my source photograph – represented a row of severely damaged buildings.

The ceramic pieces were easy to deal with. If, as with the road sections, I had to cut some of it away, it cut cleanly with no cracking. I glued all these pieces to the board using “Gorilla Epoxy“. Any gaps were filled in with “Multi Purpose Polyfilla”. There were some seams in evidence on the road, even after applying the filler.  I guess these sections – I used three complete units of the “Diorama Base – Tram Tracks”, plus various cut parts to fit the gaps – are not designed to be linked together, but they corresponded quite well, especially the tram lines. I was not too concerned about a perfect fit, as debris and rubble – plus the placement of vehicles – would cover most issues.


I used parts of the Miniart “Street accessories” (35530) set. So, after cutting the correct shaped holes in the road sections I glued in place the drains and manhole cover.

Finally, this thing is rather large, so impossible to photograph under my usual conditions (neutral blue background). So, all pictures going forward are going to be on the bench on in the display cabinet.


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“Berlin 1945” diorama – Part 1:Introduction

I remember seeing the above picture – as far as I know taken in the immediate aftermath of the Battle of Berlin – and marvelling at the vehicles in the shot. Here in close proximity were several of my favourite armoured vehicles of any era – T-34/85, IS-2, ISU-152 – as well as the B4 howitzer and tractor. So, when several months ago I pondered the possibility of constructing a diorama – as a new kind of project for me – I naturally returned to this photograph.

I am going to say straight away that I did not consider myself a natural in this area, having little experience. But, then again, I hoped that whatever I came up with would be something I would be OK with, which is really the only criteria in the end. I told myself that I would attempt something which would use this photograph (and others) as inspiration, but would in no way attempt to be a perfect copy. Anyway, as I write this I have got it to a place where I am quite happy with it. Once this base was finished, I could then proceed to add the vehicles, which at this time I have settled on as listed below. These will probably take me the rest of the year to finish.