This is a project that I had originally started a number of years ago when I first purchased this small modern tank. I had completed the majority of the model when like so many of my other projects, I completely lost enthusiasm for it. Following the completion of my Austin Tilly diorama I re-visited my "moth balled" projects and looked at this one with a new outlook. I tend to create my dioramas around an actual event if possible and found that the Wiesel proved difficult in setting it in an interesting diorama. I have therefore decided to combine an actual photo of a tank from WWII with a modern version that replaces the tank with the Wiesel instead. The photo of the German tank is shown below:
I don't normally make large dioramas as I simply don't have the space to store or display them, so realistically I would never re-produce this image in model form. I do however intend on re-producing this in a modern context with the Wiesel.
The idea for this piece is to show the Wiesel after attempting to cross a make-shift farmers bridge in Germany whilst on exercise. The tank despite its small size was still too heavy for the bridge and the result is something similar to the photo above. The title for this diorama will be: No more shortcuts! hopefully I have a few figures in the spares box that I can use to depict the crew to give a little life to the dio as shown in the original picture as well.
The Tank Build
The photos below show the tank in its present half built state when I retrieved it from my "stores":
There are a number of detail kits on the market for this particular model but I don't intend on going for the hyper detail as I am banking on the overall look of the finished dio to distract the eye away from the minutest detail of the model and more towards the scene. The details on the kit provided are very good and the build is quite simplistic to date:
I have been fortunate over the last ten or so builds in that I have not made any colossal cock-ups. I suppose that in the grand scheme of things it was bound to happen! well here it is. I somehow managed to glue the missile targeting system upside down! The best way to remedy this without snapping the mounts for the system was to use my razor saw and cut through the mount. Once the system had been turned the right way, I then re-glued the mount back together with some slivers of plastic card to replace what was lost in the sawing. Some squadron putty and a bit of filing and the whole episode was buried under some paint. I thought that I would include this for reader amusement or if your new to model making at least I have shown you one way of getting out of a spot of trouble!
The remaining part of the build was straight forward without any further troubles thankfully. The only modifications to the kit from the supplied parts is the addition of control wires and cables from the targeting unit and receiver. These are some scrap pieces of wire that I keep in the spares box for occasions such as this. Once the base colours were applied I then coated the lower half of the tank in the same mud mixture as used for the base to tie the diorama together:
The figures for this piece have been taken from the spares box. I believe they are Academy figures but I'm not 100% sure. They will need a little modifying to get them to resemble German soldiers and in the right poses. Rather than describe each and every stage of modifying the figures; this section of the build will be displayed pictorially:
As I have already shown above, I want to replicate the WWII image of a tank collapsing a bridge. Obviously a small tank such as the Wiesel would have no hope of doing that! What I am going to portray is the tank attempting to cross a small farmers footbridge that crosses over a seasonal stream. This would account for the weight of the tank doing the damage to the bridge. The base will start as a piece of MDF board cut to the shape that I think will fit. The sides of the embankments will be built up using florists foam that has been glued to the MDF and then covered with a thin coating of Polyfiller.Once the polyfiller had dried, the whole surface was painted in some brown acrylic paint as a base coat and some strips of softwood were placed onto the board and test fitted with the tank. Once I was happy with this, the softwood was snapped in different places to replicate them shattering under the weight of the tank. Some of the end pieces were glued onto the board where they would remain throughout the entire ground work build.
Happy with the overall look, I opted to use an unusual product for the earth. I am fortunate to work at a university that has a civil engineering department. As part of the research carried out they take samples of earth from around the country and kiln dry it, then filter it and finally grind to a fine powder. The reasons for this are beyond me being as I teach and research aerospace engineering. The plus for me is that when they are finished, the technician gives me a ring and I get to choose from a wide selection of in essence real earth pigment powders for free! I chose two different colour pigments, added some PVA and water to make mud. This was then evenly applied over the entire base board and allowed to thoroughly dry:
Once I was happy the the earth had completely dried, I again test fitted the Wiesel against the bridge and placed the wooden beams around the scene to see what it would look like:
the next stage for me is to add some static grass with my home made applicator from an electronic fly swatter and tea strainer. Even though I was happy with the look, I wanted to add a little more interest to the piece. To do this I decided to add some pre-made flowers and some spangam moss that I had gathered, dried and bagged almost a year ago from a walk with dog in the country:
Things are almost complete with the build for this particular model. The final part of this build is the addition of the Wiesel to the base:
The final addition to the dio is the figures, some more snapped planks and the title "no more short cuts". And that's it, a simplistic dio that I am really happy with. Finished shots are below and as always I would love to hear your thoughts: