Think Tank

T-34 Mod 43 in dreamy effect.
T-34 Mod 43 in dreamy effect.

Cheers! (In Russian)

T-34/85 with crew, January 1945

Just before their winter operation that would bring them to the gates of Berlin for a final assault to finish off Nazi Germany, The crew of this T-34/85 from 164th Tank Brigade of the 16th Tank Corps, had somehow found time and vodka to take some icy rest and relaxation.

A Piece of History, 1/35 Scale

Sd. Kfz. 165 Hummel 150mm Self-propelled Gun
Sd. Kfz. 165 Hummel 150mm Self-propelled Gun

I bought this 1/35 scale model of the German Sd. Kfz. 165 Hummel 150mm self-propelled howitzer from a local hobby store. It took me about a week to complete its construction.

I bought the German gun crew separately, and it took me 3 days to construct and paint them. About 3 hours a day. Since they are wearing parkas, and it seems that they are geared up for a winter action in the Eastern Front during WWII, I decided to paint them in winter/spring scheme.

As for the paint, I didn’t use the kind that most modelers would. Instead, I used what are available at my disposal – artist’s oil paint, in tubes (Vinton, Reeves, Pebeo, Alpha). I even compromised using some of my very finest brushes, to suppress any mark of brushworks (oh, those sables!).

Scaled modeling and diorama making has become my new form of art. But instead of using linseed oil to thin my paints, I resorted in using kerosene for thinning to keep the oil paints from giving off their natural luster. It should be noted that there are no tanks or any other military vehicles on the grounds that are shiny. The only problem with artist’s paint is that they took some time to dry up, unlike the aqueous and other oil-based modeling paints that dry up instantly. Artist paints take some time to settle: blacks and burnt umber take about 12 -24 hours to dry; siennas and ochres about 24-36 hours; white paints could reach 3 to 4 days before finally settling.

After constructing and painting the tank and the crew, next comes the planning for the composition of the diorama. On this one, I experimented on using used coffee grounds to represent the soil (to be broad, the coffee was Arabica, Bon Vivant Irish cream blend, hmmm… plug!).

I put the thick layer of glue and coffee ground over a ½ inch Styrofoam sheet topped with a thick layer of paper mache.

As for the grass effect, I used the cogon strands of our mop. And everyone in our house was puzzled to see the mop nicely trimmed.

In making the tree, I had to watch a Youtube video on how to make a miniature tree from scratch. But I deviated from using expensive lichen and Styrofoam for the foliage. Instead, I used shredded dried moss and sprinkled it to armature of copper wire shaped into branches. I think the best way to stick the shredded moss to the armature is by using adhesive spray. But then, I simply dipped the ends of the armatures into a pool of paper glue. Anyway, the result was still great.

Making the fences and the toilet is the part that has the more fun. I had to use match sticks, toothpicks (I made sure they’re unused), Popsicle sticks, and matchboxes for them. It was like back in those childhood days when I used to create houses for my toys out of shoe boxes and cartons.

It took me about three weeks to complete this diorama. As I have also other things to do, I find it hard to allocate a significant amount of time to finish it soon. The last part is taking photos of it and making it look like a footage from the 1940’s era. To give its picture a vintage look, I used Photoshop for photo manipulation.

So there it is. There’s my 1/35 scale of Sd. Kfz. 165 Hummel 150mm self-propelled gun with crew preparing their ammunitions for their artillery barrage, their order for the day. I find it cute that a military vehicle be named after a bumblebee, though.


Just like any other ordinary kids, I have this fondness of stories wars in history. Or anything that has to do with the military stuff. Tanks fascinate me. For me they seem so powerful and so invincible. I can’t help but to make believe I’m also a tanker.

But of course, that was only when I was young. But then also, some things don’t change. As said, boys will always be boys.

I first had my first scaled model tank when I was age of 13. It was a T-34-85 Soviet medium tank. I spent my whole school year’s savings to buy that. I was overjoyed. It was my first time to construct a scaled model. And I was so excited to construct it that I wasn’t even bothered to paint it. It turned out to be a gray toy tank. Lifeless and characterless. But I was glad. It was enough for me that time.

Later on I learned to use an artist’s paint to give color to my little replica of history. I found a new art, a new canvas to paint on. And a new form of addiction too. I learned to stop smoking as a teenager and stayed away from booze and drugs. It’s fun.

Now as a grown up, I think I’ll still stick to this form of art. Just for my own indulgence.