Luftwaffe Flakturm ft. Flak 40 Zwilling ca. 1943, Scratchbuild
This is my contribution to the Imperial German Air Service / Luftwaffe Group Build, athough for once it ain't no airplane!
Here you can follow the progress report:
As you can see, I finished this one but I did so in Winter so I waited for the right weather to take pictures in appropriate weather conditions. Other than that, spare time for modeling is spread-out rather thinly in my agenda, alas...
The header picture of this article is a render: I took a skyline of Vienna, Austria, converted in B/W and then merged it with an edited picture of the Flakturm model with Zwilling (dual) Flak 40 128mm AA gun. Hope you like.
When I first moved to Vienna to study in 2003, I actually lived in the shadow of the Flakturm in the Augarten park:
When I first saw it, I asked a local friend what it was and so I discovered the word "Flakturm" (Flak tower) in awe! It measures 55m tall and could not be demolished after the war, so it is still there as part of the beautiful Skyline of Vienna. I am telling you: These things are massive and dimensions don't mean a thing until you see them for real!
The "Flakturme" were conceived in the early years of the second world war, when Berlin had first been bombed by the allies. The concept was to create a Flak umbrella for the most vulnerable and industrial/logistics centers in the Third Reich: Hamburg, Berlin and Vienna.
This model is about an early type Flakturm as it was built in Hamburg and Berlin. Those in Vienna were of the most modern type (Bauart 3) and conceived to operate the Flak 40 Zwilling 128mm Flak guns from the start. The historical pictures in this article sometimes feature the single-barrel Flak 40 at 128mm but these stands were later retrofitted with the Flak 40 Zwilling (double-barrel) in order to achieve a higher rate of fire overall.
Until today, you can visit what is left of the Berlin Flak tower in Friedrichshain, those in ZOO have been demolished. Interesting to note that the apparent "hill" in that part of the Berlin capital is in fact all the rublle that was cleared after the war: The old Berlin is buried there, as beautiful as Alfred Döblin could depict it in "Berlin Alexanderplatz"...
These towers as I built part of one never came alone, the "G-towers" (Gefechtsturm) carried the guns while shock-sensitive equipment such as radars, powerful searchlights and optical tracking analog computers were installed on the so-called "L-Towers" (Leitturm). There is one also in the Augarten park:
The Flak 128 kit:
This kit by Takom #2023 dates from 2015 and has some issues, see the build thread, but it still is unique in the sense that Takom is the only kit manufacturer that had a crack at it thus far. The level of kit detail is ok with some nice riveting, but I did grab an Eduard PE upgrade kit for the periphery. I also used RB model metal barrels and with that came the challenge to stabilize the elevation mechanism using screws, metal tubes. Without those, the Barrels are too heavy for the plastic kit featured mechanism and fall forward under their own weight. I refer to the build report on how I fixed that problem.
The main issues with the kit are the plastic constitution (the styrene is brittle and removal from the sprues must be done carefully), plus the fact that the gun mechanism - however detailed - features quite some cylindrical parts that need sanding in order to remove seams...
Painting and weathering:
I selected a base color German grey for the Berlin ZOO Zwilling (there were four in fact). Because the finished model was not uniform in material (PE, metal barrel, Styrene), I first applied a blak primer also functioning as shading. After that was done, I applied the German grey with my airbrush and then the few decals in the kit (mainly dials). That was followed by two layers of matte acrylic varnish, finishing the paint job on the Flak 40 zwilling.
The diorama base:
I allocated most of the build time in this project to research the dimensions and construction of the tower itself. I quicly realized that building the full size thing in 1:35 was nit an option as it turned roughly the size of my entire hobbyroom/office... My main source was the excellent (German) book by Michael Foedrowitz:
I resarched all pictures I could find on the web and in this book to get an idea of the construction and dimensions. Here is a collection:
The base is made from individual layers of MDF cut to size and then sanded with a machine. The concrete effect was obtained by primering the model with blackboard magnetic paint, containing small iron paricles imitating typical roughness of cast concrete. After that I used my airbrush to shade and paint the structure in concrete-grey tones.
The main job however was to replicate the elevator shaft head, which was constructed from cast steel:
I decided to draft plans in 3D and send it to a 3D printer service:
That worked out well, but then there was the challenge of replicating cast steel surface structure and color, as you can see in this sample picture:
To do that, I thinned putty with Tamiya extra thin cement and dotted that paste on the finished and sanded 3D printed box. After that came the shading and painting and weathering using an oils wash in mineral spirits.
I wanted to depict a typical scene from the time, where a camera team including female reporter interview one of the flak gunners in front of this massive piece of equipment! Who has not seen the "Deutsche Wochenschau" in one or more episodes! The second world war was the first international conflict to be documented in mass media, like featured films, so this scene is a tribute to that phenomenon as well.
Here are some more pictures for you to enjoy!
And the gunner smokes a sigarette (as long as his CO doesn't see it with all that ordnance near...)
4 additional images. Click to enlarge.