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Michel Verschuere
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Luftwaffe Flakturm ft. Flak 40 Zwilling ca. 1943, Scratchbuild

July 9, 2022 · in Diorama · · 27 · 1.6K

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.

Some history:
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 #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...)

Happy modeling!


Reader reactions:
12  Awesome

4 additional images. Click to enlarge.

27 responses

  1. This is a wonderful diorama, Michel! A lot lot lot of quality work has been put into there, with the final result being nothing less than unique and spectacular! Having he sheer pleasure to follow your great thread, i would like to sincerely thank you for this amazing contribution to the ever growing and very successful "Luftwaffe" GB!

  2. Very cool! I have to think that these towers were a huge waste of money, man power, and material. They didn’t stop the Allies from bombing German cities to rubble.

  3. Fantastic Michael,congratulations!

  4. @fiveten @angus64 thanks. Yes the Flaktürme were a huuge diversion of resourses proving incapable of altering the eventual course of the war. Nevertheless, the German Flak was feared by aircrews, day and night. Researching this build, it struck me how sophisticated the tracking and fire control systems were. The guns were automatically set on azimuth, deflection and timer fuze by an analog computer, consisting of not more than radio tubes. It solved complex trigonometry calculations in real time and was fed by acoustic, radar or optical trackers... Much ahead of its time in fact. After the war these techniques boosted technological development.

  5. As for your WIP journal Michel, your article is is also top tier work. A very impressive diorama, based on a solid (no pun intended) background research work.
    I don’t recall if I mentioned it along your WIP, but I’ve been at least twice in the shadow of the Augarten Park Türm. It’s even more astonishing when you see it live.
    Bravo! One of my favourite entries in the IGAS/Luftwaffe GB

  6. Excellent scratch build and unique subject, Michel @michel-verschuere
    Your supporting article and build thread were a true pleasure to follow. I learned a lot from you scratch build approaches.
    Well done.

  7. A really fantastic effort @michel-verschuere. What an amazing result.

    They may not have won the war, but those flak towers put the fear of God in more than one Allied flyer.

  8. Well done, Michel (@michel-verschuere). I remember you were talking about building this a while ago, and it came out better than I had imagined. Very cool.

  9. Truly, a masterpiece. A remarkable work of art with a great story to back it up. All good.

  10. I’ve been trying to avoid commenting on military models this year but this, together with your WIP, goes above and beyond. I definitely pressed the “liked” button. Whatever are you planning next - The Great Wall of China?

  11. @mvtb @holzhamer @johnb @tcinla @gblair @bails
    Thanks for your kind comments my friends. Yes it was quite a journey this model. I have a lot of ambition, but not the space. In fact, I would like to build a maritime model SS Kybfels @bails
    This was one of the ships unloading the Afrika Korps to Tripoli in 1941. I would like to reproduce this scene:

    I obtained the plans for the Kybfels from the Hamburg Maritime Museum, problem is this ship measured 154m, so in scale 1:35 that is 4.37m and I have no such space...

    As far as the Chinese wall is concerned, I will not build it for then it would not be Chinese anymore!
    Thanks for your wishes!

    • Would love to see this scene being build from scratch, Michel @michel-verschuere
      Those tanks being unloaded is an impressive view.

    • How about doing it in 1/72?

    • @tcinla I thought 10sec about 1:72 but it's not the scale I can up-detail to the extent my standards require 😉

    • A cross section ? (like the last pic )
      But i hear you, i am just like you ...want to build big and running out of storing space

      So i sold all my Big builds ,so i can begin with a clean slate .
      Got 2 today (Nice !)
      The launch rail needs another 2 sections the kit is to short

      Keep up the way nice projects!

      2 attached images. Click to enlarge.

  12. Mind blowing work Michel. You really aced it. The article you wrote as well.

  13. The ship scene is a great idea, Michel (@michel-verschuere). Perhaps you might be able to do it in 1/48. There is a pretty good selection of armor and figures in 1/48. I really like ships and harbors. I have the space set aside on my new n-scale train layout for a harbor.

  14. @bernardbedeur thanks fellow!
    @gblair I think I will make this my first project when I ever buy a bigger house, will keep you posted. I will aim for it in 1:35 though, even if that means building in sections! Thanks for the encouragement, I won't tell my other half 😉

  15. Sounds like a plan @gblair, for your info this is the layout of that ship... Legth 150m beam 19m...

    I let you calculate the scale size in 1:35

  16. Looks very interesting, Michel (@michel-verschuere). Tramp steamers, inter-island steamers, etc are my favorites. At one point in my life I thought I would join the Navy, but I ended up in the Air Force instead. I have an n-scale resin model for a small tramp steamer that will tuck into my harbor nicely. Much smaller than yours, of course. Even in n-scale, my resin model fills a pretty big space.

    1 attached image. Click to enlarge.

  17. This is a really monstrous and very cool project. This is what I call real modeling.
    Very good work, Michel!

  18. Great job, Michel! A lot of work went in to both research and building and the outcome certainly shows your hard work. Again, well done.

  19. Amazing work Michel! You sir, are a true model maker, and a master craftsman as well! ?

  20. @roman_fittl @gwskat @garybrantley Thanks so much for your wishes, it was a fun build, I wish I was not boxed-in so much in space and time and present more of this to you. I have two models on the finish: My DDR (East-German) guard tower and then a WWII soviet artillery tractor I started in January. Given the events in Ukraine, I may pause the latter and build a HIMARS instead!

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