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Michel Verschuere
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Germany: Sixty years of division, 1:35 Scratchbuild

August 25, 2022 · in Diorama · · 37 · 1.1K
This article is part of a series:
  1. Berlin: Sixty Years of Division (Scratch 1:35th Scale)
  2. Germany: Sixty years of division, 1:35 Scratchbuild

This build began about 33 years ago, yes: thirty-three years! In late November 1989 my late father told me that the second world war was finally over with the re-unification of Germany. To this date, I kept the Paris Match special on the fall of the Berlin wall, in French:

As a tribute to this time and to the unified Germany (2021 marked 60 years of the building of the Berlin wall), I conceived this model and started building it last year. Here is the build WIP report:

Some history:
The Berlin wal was erected in 1961 and as a state boundary existed between East- and West Germany until the fall of 1989. In November - and through an epic move of Günter Schabowski - the borders of East- and West Berlin opened on November 9th 1989. This event marked the beginning of the unification of Germany, a country I have travelled intensively since and a culture I cherish. I was just 13 when the Berlin Wall effectively ceased to exist but I do remember things well.

The Berlin Wall and by extent the border between East- and West Germany was a huuge undertaking, costing billions on the East German Soviet Satellite Republic (GER: Deutshe Demokratische Republik). In Eastern Germany, the divide was sold as 'protection' from the Western decadent culture but in fact - and from a Western perspective - it was the outer wall of a huuge prison for East Germans. Crossing this boundary was very difficult for common mortals and travel virtually only permitted Within the DDR borders or to neighboring republics under Soviet influence.

The entire East-West border marked about 1400 km and was heavily guarded - if not mined. About 800 towers of the 4x4x9m type were prefabricated and erected in the eighties. I chose to model this one. For more info, please see

The tower:
The tower was first drawn on paper scale 1:100 using all refs I could find.

Luckily I had the main dimensions 4x4x9m so I could infer a lot from pictures. I selected many pictures from the web but also from my own archive, since I lived in Berlin for a while about 50m from such a tower. The core of the build is Balsa wood, with overlays of Styrene plastic. The elements were concrete and pre-fabricated. Various styrene profiles and parts from the spares boix yielded the ornaments of the build.

The GAZ-69 kit:
The only kit in this model (apart from furniture and figures) is Bronco's GAZ-79 kit #35093. This is a fine kit with intricate parts in styrene and PE. It was a more complex build because of the interior and paint job, I had to take my time to assemble it.

Main figure base was resin from Amusing Hobby (add-on to a T-72 kit) and Valkyrie Miniatures for the border guards.
Painting and weathering: I built the tower walls from styrene sheet gleued on the balsa with CA glue. I then applied some primer to roughen the surface. The final weathering for tower, vehicle and surroundings was completed with oils thinned in lighter fluid (mainly black oils). This gives it all a more realistic appearance.

Figure painting took a long time. After primering, I used both AK and self-mixed acrylics. The dog was a challenge, requiring many pictures from the web, since I don't own a German shepherd...

The base:
All was mounted on a 40x40cm wooden base and the elevation was cut from styrene foam. I then covered it all in plaster and painted by hand. The grass is applied with static and the tree was made from dried sea foam, dopes in colored turf.

Hope you like, happy modeling!

Reader reactions:
10  Awesome

37 responses

  1. This is NEXT LEVEL model building. This is a masterpiece fit for a museum. Well done!

  2. Indeed, this is excellent scratchbuilding, Michel @michel-verschuere
    Your research and preperation work, together with your modelling skills, did make this a super realistic diorama.

  3. Another outside the box...Well done, Michel! Fits well with your flak-tower.

  4. This is yet another of your masterpieces, Michel!
    What a great build thread, as well!

    • @fiveten Thanks so much my Greek friend! You may not realize but you kept me motivated at times with your checks during the build! I am always ambitious in the beginning but after a while you realize what extent of work you started. Nevertheless, I have NO projects on the shelf of doom, I finish whatever I start!

  5. Well done, Michel (@michel-verschuere). I really like dioramas you can enjoy both inside and out. Definitely museum quality.

  6. Just awesome scratchbuild work Michel, truly outstanding and unique! The result of the whole diorama scene is very realistic, anyone who lived those DDR days can easily relate to the scene ambiance

    • @holzhamer Thanks, yes I wanted to make the scene realistic. I must say the Valkyrie Miniatures helped a lot. Sadly, there is not much material out there on figures with that typical DDR helmet. The newly released T-72 kit by Amusing Hobby however had a stand-alone officer figure that is now inside the tower.

  7. Incredible, Michel, congratulations on finishing this build to such a high standard, it obviously means a lot to you, along with the memory of your late father. By the way, the Alsatian dog looks terrific.

    • @chinesegeorge thanks for checking in! I think it's a disorder I have since birth: Trying to achieve realisme, after all I read Physics at university. Two manifestations of the same disorder: Modeling in Physics and then in 3D when enjoying my hobby!

  8. Super cool, looks like it should be in a museum! Thanks for sharing this incredible piece of work

  9. Should be in a museum, Michel. Impressive display of skill and talent.

  10. An amazing job! A piece of history come to life. The days of Checkpoint Charlie.

    • @roofrat thanks. During the build I thought a lot about the senselessness of this border and the costs on the - not so rich - DDR. One day I want to visit a tower like that and even build a different tipe (octagon) one.

      • The cold war was full of costs. I made three Med cruises on navy aircraft carriers in the late seventies. I regret not taken some time back then to travel to W. Germany or Berlin to witness these places.

  11. Michel, @michel-verschuere
    I am so happy to see you posting articles again. This should be on display somewhere in a museum. It is that good, and I sincerely mean this. I enjoyed watching you work your magic in the build journal. You have some serious skills. The pictures you have taken of your model capture the look and are incredible.

    As a side note, my Dad was stationed in Berlin as part of the US Army on two different tours. He was there during 1954-55, when there was not a wall present. He said during this time, they had yellow stripes painted on the border and a lot of razor wire strung across in these spots. Dad guarded "Checkpoint Charlie" and other places in the American Sector.

    Later on in the late 1950's and early 1960's he was stationed there again, once more as part of the Berlin Brigade. At this time Dad was part of a Special Forces "A Team" belonging to the HQ and HQ section, 6th Infantry Regiment. I think his Special Forces unit was the 39th Group, going from memory.

    I still have his old Army uniform, and there's not a day goes by that I don't think about him. We lost him almost exactly 10 years ago, on August 29th. Here's a picture of it, when he was a Corporal.

    Thank you for sharing this with us.

    • @lgardner so good to read you my friend. I am glad you like this one! You mentioned your dad's German times some time past and also in a different context. I lost my dad suddenly 12 years ago. There also is not a day I don't think of him. As they say: It never goes away but it fades. That is very true. I can hear him saying to my sister and me the Berlin wall was gone. Neither he nor us had ever been in Germany then but as soon as I turned 20, I started to travel this city and Germany as a whole. Never really regretted it.

      Take care buddy, I hope all is well with you and the family!

  12. Machtig ! Amazing work Michel and telling of what was, and is starting all over again, the new Cold War . When do we ever learn as a species ?
    This is most worthy of display. May I suggest , The Royal Army Museum in Brussels or Command Bunker Kemmel.

    • @bernardbedeur graag gedaan landgenoot! I really have to visit these museums one day. It's been ages since I got there. It's an idea to do that with my 3-y-o son someday. I did not know either of them had a room on the cold war, where this could fit as an exhibit... Right now I have it here in my home. I also enjoy models after they are build. Sometimes I have a look at them at a random time of the day. I revisit the countless hours then spent on their creation. Other times, I can think of technics during an everyday ride in my car. I'm sure only modelers understand... Take care buddy!

  13. Very well executed model Michel.

  14. Ausgezeichnet genosse .

  15. Fun times back then in the DDR .

  16. Hi Michel, this is a great idea and even better execution. Very high quality work!

  17. Well done, Michel! You could be a professional architectural modeler.

  18. Well @j-healy you have nailed it: All my youth I was building models of 1:72 planes and the building surrounding them (like aircraft hangars). I also had a H0 model train set for which I built all houses and stations. Later I built arcitectural models. So I had a good deal of practice. Yet - through a twist of fortune - I became a physicist instead of a professional modeler or architect, though I did consider that field of study! Thanks and glad you like it!

  19. Another amazing project! You definitely have a creative mind - let it keep roaming to the cool and unusual!

  20. Michel - I'm absolutely speechless. This is beyond superb.

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