The Birds are gone diorama. Building the Dragon Sd.Kfz 138/2 Hetzer #6030 early version 1/35 scale

by Michael Mandau © Modeler Site

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I was always fascinated by those tiny tanks with their unique and compact design and I had planned to build one for quite a while. Recently I got an old 1/35 scale Dragon #6030 Hetzer early version. This kit is almost 13 years old and you can clearly see some missing details but in overall it’s a good  model. For some additional details I bought the Eduard 35385 Hetzer photoetched set which would be used. For me it’s a big inducement to use the old despised kits with minor additional parts and show what still could be done out of it. Together with the etch-set the total price was below 20€ and therefore also something for modelers with an economical budget.


An important factor for me on the later diorama was to create a dynamic situation. A static display would have been uninteresting for this monotonous vehicle. Therefore I planned to put the running gear in a deflected position on top of a hill while breaking through a wooden fence.

The build started straight from the box with the addition of the Eduard set. The running gear had to be adjusted manually keeping a natural look. For the diorama I came up with an  idea and went I made prototype from styrofoam. I just wanted it to be as small as possible but still be able to show some more details around the scenery. I personally like to build as much as possible from scratch, so I did with the little barn. The painting and weathering were made without any bigger problems but I always tend to add more dirt than usually necessary, it’s just because it looks more interesting to the observer’s eye and brings more fun for me.

For me it’s always fascinating to see the differences but also the similarity from my first prototype to the final outcome. Prototypes help me to get a feel on the size, the situation and the later appeal. It also helps for finding positions and bringing the main story in focus. So I highly recommend trying this on your own. All what you need is some Styrofoam leftovers, a knife and some toothpicks to stick everything together.

Altogether this was an educational little project I did within a time limit of 8 weeks before the birth of my son. It was my first try in creating a dynamic scenery. I encourage you to also get beyond your own horizon and head for a new experience to reach for the next level.


The Sd.Kfz. 138/2 Jagdpanzer 38(t), commonly known as the Hetzer, was a light tank hunter developed by the Germans in the WWII and broadly used in 1944 and 1945. The tank is based on the Czechoslovakian Panzer 38(t) which was already proved as a reliable vehicle. The goal behind this project was to put the 7,5cm Pak 39 L/48, which normally was too heavy for men moved field use, on a lightweight and manoeuvrable chassis with a low profile.


I decided to use the old Dragon #6030 Hetzer early version in complement with the Eduard #35385 PE set which I bought for around 20€.


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