1:35 Airbrush Diorama Military Modelling Showcase Tips and Techniques Verlinden VP


An all-time favourite, I had no option but to build a cover-version of this diorama as part of my 'Legacy Collection'

Though I’ve kept everything as close as possible to the original in terms of setting, I altered some of the details and colours, as well as the central structure, VP’s stone-cold classic, Rathaus.

Francois Verlinden’s famous scene built around the Tamiya Flak 36 and the MDA Rathaus, is my all-time favourite diorama. So when I began my series of Verlinden-Inspired ‘Legacy Builds’ at the start of lockdown, I knew that I would have to build a cover version of this diorama as part of that collection. Here is that reimagined scene…

We all have favourite modellers and their work, but none comes close to my affections quite like Francois Verlinden. Whereas the late Roger Chesneau (aka Joe Saki) was my all-time favourite author and still is, Francois was the modeller that made me want to build models and in particular, dioramas. After 40 years of looking at his work, he still does…

I first saw his diorama ‘Of No Avail’ in the very first issue of the Tamiya Magazine at the start of the 80s. It was a showcase within the contents, revealing images of the overall scene and how it came to be. The diorama would then appear in a later volume of his ‘Verlinden Way’ series, but that’s where I was first able to take in its simplicity, balance and how a basic kit build and a single figure, could tell a story better than far more involved set-pieces. I loved it from the minute I saw it.

Fast forward almost 40 years (is it really that long?!) and I found myself creating a series of Verlinden-inspired scenes based around Tamiya’s Top 5 best-selling ‘Military Miniatures’. For anyone that doesn’t know, the list is as follows in no set order (only the Panther is in the correct position):

1. Panther Ausf. A

2. Flak 36/37 88mm 

3. Panzer II Ausf. F/G

4. Sd.Kfz. 251 Hanomag

5. Chieftain Mk.5 MBT

With the Flak 36/37 being part of the list and the centrepiece of ‘Of No Avail’, it seemed like a good idea to try and create a ‘cover version’ of my favourite diorama, so that is what I decided to do. All the time though, I couldn’t help but think that it wasn’t really on to copy another diorama, even if in tribute. A great deal of time was spent wrestling with my own reservations, but in the end, my desire to do it and thoughts from friends, swayed the decision to build the scene that you can see here. Changes would need to be made, but the plan was to create something that was very close to the original, but with my own touches and changes that made it new work, rather than a slavish copy. 

Though I’ve kept everything as close as possible to the original in terms of setting, I altered some of the details and colours, as well as the central structure, VP’s stone-cold classic, Rathaus. By extending the back of the building, there is an added a section that is ‘off camera’ in the original and that in turn allowed the inclusion of one of the  Flak 88’s bogie trucks. I also used different figures, a collection of characters that reflect the peaceful nature of the original, but in a slightly different way. The rest though is as closely captured as possible, all accessories and finishes being replicated as precisely as I could. I even measured the location of the various ammo baskets!

In order to further pay homage to those mid-80s dioramas, I’ve altered some images to try and capture the look of the model taken on slide film. In so doing, I hope that the model looks and feels the way it did in the ‘Verlinden Way’ and might have looked had it appeared in the Tamiya catalogues that we so enjoyed.

This then is ‘Of No Avail 2.0’ – I hope you like it!



I'm formerly the editor in charge of Military In Scale magazine and latterly, Model Airplane International. Editing duties to one side, I'm now a full-time modelmaker with Doolittle Media, working to supply modelling articles and material for a number of their group titles, including MAI and Tamiya Model Magazine International. I'm also an avid fan of Assassin's creed, Coventry City FC and when the mood takes me, a drummer of only passing skill. Here though, you'll find what I do best: build models and occassionally, write about them!


  1. Harold Cline

    Impressive Spencer. Thanks for sharing the series with us.


  2. Jim Altergott

    Nice work on this diorama Spencer. I have all kinds of books and modeling materials to make a diorama, but have never pulled the trigger and just went ahead & did it. Someday perhaps. BTY, miss you on “The Interesting Modelling Company”. I like this new webpage or site, or whatever it is. Best wishes for success and cheerio!


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