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Final Details: Allied Raid!

Masterful modeler makes the most of his mutts

See a slideshow of the detailed build at the bottom.

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“Allied raid!” is my first attempt, and probably the last, to make a humorous diorama. Borrowing the mechanical-gag techniques of silent movies, I have staged a surrealistic disaster performed by four funny pets and an overweight küchenchef. Attacked from every side by Allied forces, he tenaciously defends his Gulashkanone, trying to recover a string of sausages from the enemy’s jaws while everything around him is messing up! Every object in the scene is overturned, and every single piece is falling down or rolling toward the edges of the composition, giving it considerable dynamism.

Dave Vickers (AMPS Master 2015) has rightly observed that humor is the most difficult thing to show in a diorama because everyone has a different sense of humor. But, when among the comments to my vignette I read the enthusiastic words, “Hahahahaha!!!! Very cool!! Nice morning gift,” I realized I had achieved my aim!

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Tamiya’s Feldküche: German Field Kitchen Scenery (kit No. 35247) is the diorama’s centerpiece. When I started the project, this kit (and the older Tamiya 35103) were the only available to reproduce a Große Feldküche Hf.13. I needed tons of styrene stock, lots of pieces from my spares box, and some photo-etched (PE) parts to improve it. Now you can buy the new Riich.Models kit (35013) that is a more faithful (unfortunately more expensive, too) reproduction of the Gulashkanone, saving you a lot of time.

Models of a smaller field kitchen are produced in 1/35 scale by IBG Models (No. 35008) and, if you prefer resin kits, by PlusModel (No. 120). 

The Wehrmacht was famous for the fact that on the battlefield, everyone, regardless of rank, ate the same food. These rations consisted of basically the same elements that were eaten back in the homeland: wheat and rye bread, pork sausages, potatoes, onions, and peas. The basic diet of the German soldier was a nutrient-rich stew made by mixing all of these ingredients.

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I “cooked” my stew using a mix of Vallejo Still Water (26.230, a very versatile product), some brown acrylic colors, and chia seeds strewn all over the scene.

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In some pictures you can see next to the Feldküche a Speisetafel, a chalkboard reporting the day’s menu. I made a Speisetafel decal and placed it on a blackboard painted styrene sheet adding writings with a white crayon. The decal is available on my blog, cecetotoy.blogspot.it

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Once the model was built, I started to paint it using Adam Wilder’s color modulation style (a gradation of colors and shades that mimics the play of light and brings out individual features).

Despite being small, the kit has a lot of details, such as the pot cover, many compartments and vents, and the stovepipe that can be highlighted using this technique.

The first step was to apply Vallejo black primer (73.602) to give uniform color to the various materials used as well as to pre-shade the model, adding depth to subsequent layers of color.

The German army used Anthrazitgrau until 1939, and Panzergrau from 1940 to February 1943. These are very dark colors, and every modeler has their own recipe. I used Tamiya paints: a mix of German gray (XF-63) and flat blue (XF-8) as base coat, adding light blue (XF-23) to lighten it for post-shading.

Then, using a mix of Vallejo white and Prussian blue (965), I painted all the details and parts extending from the model to add volume.

After sealing the model with Tamiya clear gloss (X-22), I began weathering with filters, washes, fading, and streaking techniques. There are premixed washes and filters you can buy, or you can mix your own enamels: 90% thinner and 10% color for a filter; 75% thinner and 25% color for a wash; and 40% thinner and 60% color for streaking.

Of course, for fading, washing, and to add more contrast, you can use artist’s oils as well.

All these effects have toned down the very bluish shade resulting after the first two steps. Once the washes had dried, it was time to begin the chipping process. With Vallejo cavalry brown (982) and hull red (985), thinned by tap water, I used a good 000 brush and small, tapping motions to apply fine chips and scratches all over the model.

A mix of different pigments, plaster of paris, and enamels were used to re-create dust and mud. You can airbrush paint this mix onto selected areas and adjust it with a brush moistened with thinner, or you can use controlled blasts from an airbrush to blow mud off a paintbrush for spattering. I employed both techniques and got a realistic result.

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The accumulation of soot and grease on the field kitchen was depicted with Ammo of Mig Jimenez engine grime (1407), fuel stains (1409), and Mig Productions black smoke pigment (P023).

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Turning to the figures, the küchenchef and the dog struggling with him come from Scale Model Accessories Ltd., a British company now out of business. I changed the cook a little. The figure was wearing a soft Feldmütze cap and brandishing a cleaver. The ladle is better for humor’s sake, and the World War I Stahlhelm (steel helmet) gives character to the cook. The remaining “war dogs” are Doug’s Original figures (DO35A05 and DO35A03), now wearing some military stuff.

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I painted all the figures using an airbrush: this tool can give astonishing results in a surprisingly short time.

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After painting, I put the field kitchen, the figures, and all the stuff on a small 3.5"-square base made from styrene sheets. In this crowded little space all elements are close enough to relate to each other, creating a harmonious unity. The dogs, all pointing to the küchenchef, work together to tell a single story; nothing distracts the viewer’s attention from the focal point of the vignette. This is one important principle to bear in mind for an effective and narrative diorama.

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