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Michel Verschuere
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Stalinetz Soviet Tractor and ML-20 Howitzer near Kursk 1943, 1:35

August 28, 2022 · in Armor · · 9 · 1K

I had this build in mind for a while and both kits were in my stash since last year. Although the current worldly events made me doubt initially whether a Soviet build was appropriate, I did go ahead with it nevertheless. After all, it's a hobby I concluded...

This build frames in the preparations for the offensive in the Summer of 1943. There was a long preparation preceding this battle and one of the most used pieces of howitzer artillery was the Soviet ML-20 type in 152mm as is the current main caliber for medium heavy artillery of Soviet origin. The kit is Trumpeter's #02324 kit, see

You could follow the build here in the WIP report:
The time it took was relatively short: About 5 weeks of a few hours per day, of course with some interruptions...

These pieces were brought to the front mainly by rail, upto the nearest nearby railhead and then towed by tractors like the Stalinetz S60, in itself based on the Caterpillar 60 (not sure it was built in license or not). The S60 was - before WWII - one of the standard tractors in the collective Soviet farms. Thousands were recommissioned to the Red Army but even more were built anew in the Chelyabinsk tractor factory (Urals). I wanted to integrate both models in a sort of vignette where a family watched the equipment in awe as it was pulled to the front. To do that, I made a simple dio to go with it. Really simple, because I wanted the focus to remain on the build and paintjob...

The build: ML-20 Howitzer:

This kit is classic for Trumpeter: High in styrene detail but also a fair amount of PE to go with it. Main challenge for this kit are the PE shields for the compensators (the vertical tubes left and right of the barrel) and the 4 attachments of the shield, also made from PE. The upper attachments need to be bent in a 3D way that is absolutely non-trivial: It is the hardest thing in the kit and even in my personal top-5 of difficult builds ever to-date. I have not seen many takes on this kit that succeed to be honest, some reports openly admit that - after many attempts - this PE was discarded and the shield CA gleued in place onto the howitzer base plate... I took my time with the PE: For the rounded parts I used a drillbit of appropriate diameter to bend the PE and for the remainder a lot of patience. I did not add the telescope (PanTel) b/c this was not usually the case in transport mode. This is a fine build but not for starters, for which it can easily be a frustrating experience I imagine.

The build: S60 Tractor:

This is a major kit by Thunder Models:

There is a great deal of styrene detail in this kit as well as two frets of PE. I count over 700 parts, running from fine PE over track elements (there are 3 pcs per track shoe that require file cleanup and assembly) and then the PE. The engine in this kit is a kit-in-a-kit. Finally, there is some 0.20mm copper wire supplied with the kit that needs straigtening and is employed in levers from steering platform to engine and transmission. Very nice selection of a subject by Thunder Models (CN) I must admit. Here is some more proza:

Here are some indoor pics of the model assembly:

The diorama:

I used some MiniArt figures for the Soviet family near the telegraph pole as well and for the driver I used an ICM figure. The telegraph pole is also based on a MiniArt kit, but I tweeked it to resemble some pictures I found of WWII roads (or absence thereof) in Southern Russia. The base of the is wood with cardboard added on top for first topography. I then added a generous layer of MDF filler and sculpted that smooth. After sanding, I used an earth mixture with water, PVA glue and acrylics. The tree is made of a natural base (sea moose) with turf added. The rest is some tweeking. Figures were painted after primering with acrylics. I painted them by hand using AK base paints and then mixtures of standard-issue basic acrylic paint colors. Adjusting the driver figure and the girl holding her 'little brother' took some figure bashing on top...

Here are more pictures I took outside, I hope you like it:

This finishes the build, I hope you like!
Reader reactions:
6  Awesome

9 responses

  1. Yeah, big guns and a Stalinetz!
    That's great!
    Really good dio and well done paint job?

  2. Excellent allover, my friend Michel!
    Everything looks wonderful, kudos to your skills!

  3. A fantastic diorama, Michel @michel-verschuere
    Another great build from your hands.
    It was a pleasure to follow this build and see how much details are in it.
    Well done.

  4. Great job, Michel!

  5. I must admit I was in two minds about commenting on this, Michel, bearing in mind the current situation, but your modelling skills and photography won me over. Another brilliant, believable scene from you, and I love the tractor.

  6. An excellent diorama with great work on the models and the figures. A reminder that the history then was not the history now.

  7. Very evocative work well done.
    As always Michel.

  8. Another great piece of modeling art Michel!

  9. Nicely done, excellent job! The outside photos look great.

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