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First reveal: The German Air Ministry 1941 in 1:35

This article is part of a series:
  1. Work in Progress: The German Air Ministry 1941
  2.   First reveal: The German Air Ministry 1941 in 1:35
  3. From model to diorama: A day’s work at the German air ministry 1941

Some of you have been following this Work-in-Progress for a little more than one month:

Since the scratch building is now finished, I decided to reveal the building. It will become the setting for a diorama and those who have followed the thread may already have an idea.

Some history:
This building was designed by the architect Ernst Sagebiel and erected in the 1930s in Berlin, Germany as one of the first employing a mixed steel and concrete concept. The natural stone lining of the building “hangs” from a steel support frame. It was commissioned as Reichsmarschall Görings infamous “Reichsluftfahrtministerium” or air ministry. At the time it was first used, it was the biggest office building in the world, surpassed of course by Groves’ Pentagon in Washington DC, USA.

The building was only slightly damaged in WWII and has had many different uses since, see

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ministry_of_Aviation_(Nazi_Germany)

The build:
I always liked to build architectural models since childhood. It started with H0 houses and industrial buildings to place next to my electric train, I’m sure some of you have done this as well. I evolved from there to some commission builds over the years but today I construct buildings to go with my military 1:35 models. You can pretty much follow the entire building process in the above thread. I based this build on the original plans as available online from the library of the architectural department at TU Berlin.

First a frame was constructed with the rough overall dimensions of the building. There are many windows as you can see and in order to construct them with matching dimensions, I first crafted a wooden jig, taped-off with clear cellophane tape. This allowed me to reproduce the hardwood windows without the risk of them sticking to the jig after gluing them together with PVA glue.

The lining of the building is all balsa, I think about 1 m² of 2mm balsa sheet went into this build overall. I used many other thicknesses as well. The ornaments (German Cross with Oak Leaves) were printed with my Prusa i3 3D printer. It is nice to be able to craft your own models from ABS plastic that way. Without this recent technique, this would be hard to do I find…

Painting:
The texture of the natural sandstone (Muschelkalkstein) covering the 1:1 scale issue is hard to reproduce. I tested many techniques and at some point I thought about covering the model entirely with photo paper. Finally I devised a technique to apply a mixture of acrylics of different colors and apply with a sponge for effect. It looks very good. The painting steps were: Balsa first, thinned water-based MDF filler, sanding x 10, white primer x 2, sanding x1, stone markings, texture acrylics.

The tiling on the base is photo paper cut to shape and then manually applied in the actual pattern. It looks good to me! I’m very happy with the result so far, I like straight lines in perspective so watching this one is pure joy to me. I think when it is finished, the building will look as majestic as it is in reality .
I placed a Pzkpfw. IV next to the building for relative sizing. The base is 120cm wide…

What do you think?

Next steps:
I will now start working on the dio itself which involves plastic modeling mainly. After a scratch build job like this, you actually rejoice when you allow yourself to build a kit where all pieces are available from the start…

I worked over 200 hours on this one, all dedicated to my daughter Fievi Delphine who very much enjoys looking at the building!

Happy modeling and stay tuned for the sequel!

6 additional images. Click to enlarge.


24 responses to First reveal: The German Air Ministry 1941 in 1:35

  1. This project is above and beyond mere modeling as we know it. Bravo, sir!

  2. Thanks Craig!

  3. Ok, I give in. Which is real and which is the model work?

    Amazing in it’s dedication and skill, Michel. I put myself in Fievi Delphine’s shoes (watching my grandfather at work back in the 70’s) and think she’s laying down memories that will last a lifetime watching you do this.

    Fabulous job. Heaven only knows what the finished project will look like.

    • Thanks David, The real one is the entire-house-block issue in Berlin, see below. In scale 1:35th it would never fit into my house… Cheers!

      1 attached image. Click to enlarge.

  4. Great skills. Really nice work here.

  5. I get you with the architecture Michel. I love the gothic cathedrals myself. Amazing dedication keep it up.

  6. Speechless. An entirely different level than I know, or even feel inclined to pursue. Bravo, Michel!

  7. Superb job and very inspiring.

  8. Thanks all for your nice comments and support!

  9. Looking at photo #2, I couldn’t tell whether it was yours or the actual building! Outstanding work, Michel.

  10. Super job !!! It will be a monstrous project!

  11. At first I thought you were fooling us with the actual building, Wow! Extremely skillful.

  12. Like everyone else here I was going back and forth looking at the photos trying to work out which was which. That sandstone finish is incredible. This is just so unique – it is way out of the sphere we would normally think of when using the term ‘modelling’. And now it is addictive – I know you have said what the concept is, but I’m just so interested to see what happens next!

  13. Wow Michel, what an excellent work in progress. What a history a building like this hides and make for one outstanding modelling project. Interesting to read the solutions you have to find to get the real world in miniature. I’ll keep following you progress.

  14. Me Like!
    It seems that you are bridging two branches of modeling. Architectural modeling and diorama building. Without figures, it’s an architectural model. With figures it will be a diorama.

  15. Really outstanding work Michel, and a true expression of your modeling skills. Superb, just superb work.

  16. From Wikipedia:
    “The devil is in the detail” is an idiom that refers to a catch or mysterious element hidden in the details, meaning that something might seem simple at a first look but will take more time and effort to complete than expected and derives from the earlier phrase, “God is in the detail” expressing the idea that whatever one does should be done thoroughly; i.e. details are important.

    Personally:
    Both phrases were lessons learned in Architecture school.

    Outstanding job Michel. A real treat to behold. Bravo Zulu!

  17. Wonderful work, very well done Michel.

  18. Outstanding work. A whole different kind of modeling.

  19. Thanks all for your kind comments. Glad you like the model!

  20. This is progressing well! I have managed to install the front and back windows into the OpeL. I was a bit stressed to do this as some dry fitting revealed the windows are actually curved a bit too much. The job was done with some white canopy glue my plane modeling friends here surely know!

    Other than the window fitting issue, this kit by ICM has very few flaws. I like their range of soft skinned vehicles that goes with many dios, including this one!

    Stay tuned!

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