Skarach's world

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B-4 M1931 203mm howitzer build – Part 1:Introduction

The gun

“203 mm howitzer M1931 (B-4) was a 203 mm Soviet high-power heavy howitzer. During the Second World War, it was under the command of the Stavka’s strategic reserve. It was nicknamed ‘Stalin’s sledgehammer’ by German soldiers… This weapon was used until the end of the war in the Battle of Berlin where the Red Army would bring these guns up at point blank range to smash German fortifications with their heavy 203mm shells.” [1]

The kit

Trumpeter 1/35 kit [2].



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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.