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Michel Verschuere
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Freedom Is Not FreeKorean War Veterans Memorial in 1:48 (Scratchbuild)

April 23, 2023 · in Armor · · 8 · 559

This is my entry to Louis' @lgardner GB on the Korean War. This year marks the 70th year of its ending in 1953.
I first thought about building a scene out of the war itself but I then reconsidered after some reflection. For once, I did not want to build a tank (I'm an armor modeler) but rather a tribute to the fallen in this war as well as those who defended freedom in this long-gone conflict.

The Korean war was a grand operation of the UN, one of the last of its kind and certainly the largest one. A coalition sought to throw-back the North Koreans led by Kim Il Sung, north of the 38th parallel after they invaded the South in 1950. What resulted was an all-out War at a broad coalition, including troops from Belgium (about 900 according to Wikipedia)

The model:
I wanted to build a section of the actual Korean War monument in Washington DC, USA. To me this is one of the most beautiful war memorials I know of. I live in a country scarred by WWI with many momuments in my province (West-Flanders) remembering the fallen New-Zealanders, Canadians, Germans, Australians and British forces of the Great War. I live in a town called Waregem where one of the only two Belgian cemeteries of US troops is located, and the only one for fallen US soldiers in the first world war. US president Barack Obama came to our town to pay tribute to the Great War in 2014:

What I like about the Korean is the symmetry, symbolism and beauty of its sculptures by the hand of the sculptor Frank Gaylord. The monument is located on the grounds of the West Potomac Park in DC. It is one of the monuments I want to visit when I travel to the US someday. Throughout this build, I remembered the fallen of this conflict, including about 200 fellow countrymen that paid the ultimate price for Freedom. To this day, there is an armistice between the Koreas but no lasting peace and the threat from the - otherwise empoverished - North remains. Other than that, the memorial is recent: Dating back from 1993 at the occasion of 40 years post conflict.

The build:
I started of cutting a 38 degree triangle as the base for the monument. The angle is symbolic and refers to the latitude of the North-South border between both Koreas. I then figured that a set of 1:35 figures from #35245 would be the best start for the sculptures. The actual sculptures are larger than life so this model was conceived as a 1:48 scale issue. Painting them was a process: The patina on the original reflects the light in the sky, so I used a mix of grey base and metallic paint for the figures in this build. The base of the model is MDF, which I topped with grey cardboard at 2mm thickness.

The WiP thread can be found here:

Next step was the paving which was made from individually cut strips of 0.3mm paper. I also prepared the railing from styrene rods and copper wire. The next step was to apply an acrylic shadow base coat black matte from the rattle can. I then proceeded figuring out how to make the black wall behind the sculptures. This is a crucual element for it mirrors the figures (19 in the original, 3 in the model). The front part also holds an inscription, so does the black granite triangular wedge on the base of the monument. I figured that the best way to do this was sandwiching black paper on balsa wood 5mm behind gloss transparent PVC of 0.3mm thickness. This is the result.

I then made the flag pole from brass tube and then added the correct slope. The sides are made from Balsa wood. I then finished the stone ballast using grinded cork and added some threaded turf on top for the vegetation. This is the result, I am quite pleased about it.

Remember the key words on this monument: Freedom Is Not Free

This message is universal and applies also to the more recent conflict in Ukraine.

Glory to the heroes and happy modeling, Michel.
Reader reactions:
6  Awesome

8 responses

  1. A different kind of modelling, Michel, and a fitting tribute. Well done indeed.

  2. That’s a very original diorama Michel @Michel-Verschuere
    I think you captured the look and feel the monument inspires, well done! You just keep on delivering unusual modelling features here mate 😉

  3. Very well done in all aspects, Michel. Thank you for honoring Korean Vets.

    One of my favorite memorials, in DC, to visit, especially at night.

  4. What a great way to honor those veterans, Michel @michel-verschuere
    You did an amazing job in creating a diorama of this memorial.
    Another amazing result from your hands.

  5. Absolutely stunning result, Michel, a great write-up and an equally great build thread too!

  6. Excellent work Michel, your thorough attention to detail is bar none the finest in this dio. Passion and devotion to this work shows how dedication to a project you really get into. Well done.

  7. Michel Verschuere (@michel-verschuere)
    I sincerely think this is your best one to date. They are all very good that you have built, but this one is extra special to me. I also want to personally thank you for participating in our Korean War group.

    Lately I have not been on Imodeler, we have had more than our share of "life" things get in the way of the hobby. When I did have some free time available, I simply didn't feel like building anything, or even posting. I lost my "mojo" if you will. Because of this, I have not been posting much on here either. Please accept my apologies for that, as I should have made more comments on your build journal as it was happening.

    This one turned out magnificently. It would look right at home in any museum.

    I wanted to take my Dad to see the real monument, shortly after it was unveiled. I thought since Dad was a Korean War combat veteran, serving in Infantry and Armor, it would be a nice gesture... However, Dad was adamant about NOT going. He flat out refused, telling me that he didn't want to see anything related to this.

    Later on in his last two weeks of life I found out why... when he finally opened up to me on his death bed, about some of his wartime experiences. This was stuff that nightmares are made of, and now I understand why he felt like that.

    One other thing, I saw a picture of the actual memorial that was taken after it had snowed... it looked eerily reminiscent of some pictures taken from the Chosin campaign. Soldiers / Marines marching, covered in snow.

    Also, I would like to finish up my M-26 Pershing, and if you don't mind, paint it up as the one in the group photo for the Korean War Group. USMC Pershing #5. I know originally you had planned to build it up.

    Thanks again for creating another masterpiece. Your pictures capture the look of the real thing exceptionally well.

    Freedom is NOT Free.

    Take care.

  8. Thanks you @lgarder for your kind words. Let this one also be a tribute to your fartehr who was one of the veterans. I have not been in the States but will be some day so I replicated this piece to keep in my house. I gave it a central place. And yes, Freedom is not free, we remember that always. Take care buddy and good health to you and those around you.

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