The Bell Robbers

Diorama with MAN truck 4,5 ton

Model                                   : MAN ML 4500 S
Manufacturer                       : Art Toys, kit code : GER 004
Scale                                      : 1/72
Accessories                          : Scratch, MIG Productions
Paint                                      : Humbrol, Revell, Vallejo
  : “Lastkraftwagen der Wehrmacht “ edited by
                                                : internet sites

Construction of the chassis

It is a resin that needs a thorough clean up, starting with the chassis. Unfortunately, the chassis is warped and you will need to do some magic to keep the wheels on the ground.

The chassis receives a handbrake cable made from copper wire; partly drilled in the chassis. It divides itself just before the rear axle and runs to both rear wheels. A small copper plate is added to secure the two splitting cables. The exhaust is drilled. 

Both axles and drive shaft needs a good cleaning up. The front one receives a steering gear also made from copper wire. Both front wheels will be positioned in a light turning angle. 




Driver’s compartment

The cab door on the driver’s side is cut out and cleaned up prior to be mounted in an open position. Detailing the inside of the doors consists of adding a door and a window opening handle and a map holder made from copper foil. Both seats are added, dashboard and steering wheel cleaned up, hand brake lever and gear stick are made from copper wire. 

When the interior paint has dried, windows are cut out to shape and glued on using Crystal Clear. Once dry, the dashboard is fitted. The entire cabin part is than slid over the chassis and glued using cyanoacrylite glue. Small holes on the bottom part of the cabin are filled with putty and sanded. 

Cargo floor

The chassis is warped and so the cargo floor needs adjusting before being fixed to the chassis. The front berth just behind the cab is cut from its canvas cover. This cover will be kept in the spare-box. The inner sides of the cargo floor receive strengthening strips made from plastic card. A small bolt is glued on these in the middle of each plank. Those bolts are made by adding a very small drop of Crystal Clear. The rear berth is lowered to open position and receives a step in the form of a plank. The sides also receive hinges and shutters made from copper wire and metal from a champagne bottle. 

The rear part of the chassis gets a Pall finger towing device, drilled out and fitted with a handle. 



Cab exterior

Open seems are filled with putty and sanded smooth. Door windows are cut to size and glued with Crystal Clear; the one is the left door is cut in half to represent a partly open window. Steps on both sides are added. 

Head light emplacements are drilled out so they can be fixed more strongly. The front Notek light needs to be repositioned, the light and its support scratch build because not available in the kit. According to information available, its position was not on the left front fender but next to the left headlight. Once in place, the normal headlights and the outer fender sticks are positioned. 

The cab doors get door-opening handles on the outside. The driver’s door also gets a cardholder made from copper foil. A small rear view mirror is constructed from a piece of plastic card and copper wire. 

The truck front has two towing eyes on both sides of the license plate. Only one was available in the kit, the second one needed to be build from scratch. Direction indicators on both sides of the cab are made from copper foil. 


Cab interior is painted in the main base colour, H67, matt panzer grey. Seats get Revell 84, leather brown, dry-brushed with H133. Pedals, handbrake handle and the knob on the gear stick get matt black, H33. A light weathering with sepia is followed by a dry brush with H64. 

Careful masking of cab and windows is followed by a coat of primer and by its main colour H67 Panzer Grey. This colour is sealed with a coat of Klir (Future) after which the decals consisting of a front and rear license plate are added. They are than sealed with a second coat of Klir. 

Base coat H67 receives a dry brushing with H64. The bottom side of engine and exhaust are painted matt black and gunmetal mixed with rust H87 + R83. The exhaust also receives selective drops of rust to accentuate its state; the rear of the truck at the end of the exhaust receives a black pigment to represent smoke dirt.

The chassis and wheels are dry-brushed with sand to get a dusty effect. They are also treated with a mixture of sand pigment from which most is wiped off with a cloth so that you will only find it on the most lower places. 

The cargo floor is painted H110 as base colour for the wood and finished with a dry brushing with H71. 

Everything is sealed again with a coat of Klir followed by washes with different kinds of oil paint, applied with a flat brush 

Colours used are titanium white, burned sienna, sepia and yellow ochre applied by means of a dental stick. Small points of paint are added on different places, colours mixed and are than painted open using a flat brush dipped in thinner. The washes are applied by downward strokes so a decent dirt effect is achieved. 

Once dry, signs of metal are applied using a graphite pencil. A last but very thin coat of ochre paint, acting as dust, is sprayed over the entire model, followed by a coat of matt varnish and a light dry-brush with sand pigment. 






The base consists of a 18mm thick MDF-board (super-wood) measuring 15 cm x 15 cm. The borders are sawed under a 45° angle. The base is coloured with a colour varnish as used on furniture.

The diorama represents an ordinary street on which stands the truck. A church bell is loaded onto the berth. Germans used to steel bells out of churches so they could melt them down and recuperate valuable war industry metals as bronze and copper. 

The street section is a cobble road section from MIG productions. It is detailed by adding a small path and a piece of the church wall. Both pieces are made from pieces of insulation material used when building houses. Material like that can easily be cut and sanded. The surface of the path and the wall is drawn on the material with a pencil. A few small pieces of balsa represent the door and window frames as well as some pieces of broken wood debris. 

The cobblestone road is sanded smooth to obtain a flat surface and is than painted in sand H93. The cobblestones receive a dry-brush mixture of black and white, H33 and H34 to obtain a dark grey bottom layer. Some selected stones receive a lighter dry-brush to obtain a nice colour pallet on the streets surfaces. I used Vallejo paint n°. 826, 994, 821 and 870. 

Final touch is done with Mig pigments n° P027, P028 and P030. They are sealed using lighter fluid, added on with the aid of a brush, dipped in the fluid and only touching the surface, no strokes. The lighter fluid will expand and evaporate and so seal the pigments. 

The church ruin receives its base coat, the brick stones get sand. The big stones around the entrance and windows receive Vallejo 995, German grey. The bricks than receive a dry-brush with H70 and Vallejo 982, cavalry brown, a red brown colour; so to obtain a nice effect. The stuccowork on the outside is painted in Vallejo 976, buff, followed by a wash with sepia and burnt umber. The part under the window receives extra attention.

The big stones are dry-brushed with H64 and lightened up with H147, light grey.

The church wall receives a poster with an advert to join the German army. On top of the wall are a few pieces of bricks painted in Humbrol brick red. Everything gets a sepia wash followed by a dry-brush with sand H94. The broken window and doorposts are painted H98 with a light dry-brush of H119 and H94. 

The cargo floor of the truck receives a wooden crate and a piece of rope, all together with the stole church bell. The crate is painted brown H186, followed by sepia wash and dry-brushing with H110 and H94. The rope is painted in dark earth H29, a sepia wash followed by dry brushing with H94 finally highlighted with white oil paint.  

The bell is finished with the aid of plastic strip and treated with (water) thinned Vallejo putty dapped on with a hard brush to obtain a cast appearance (like on tank hulls). The bell is sprayed in bronze, dry-brushed with H100, a red-brown colour, and after about an hour, dry-brushed again with burnt sienna oil paint. A second dry-brush with the same paint was necessary.

An overnights rest was followed by a wash of Raw Umber mixed with Oxide black and green earth. This dirty green/brown paint is strongly diluted and applied in several layers; remember you have to know it is there without the colour jumping to the eye. A very subtle dry-brush with Vallejo 878 ‘old gold’ is very gently applied on the raised parts. The deep lying parts receive a light bronze green strongly diluted wash to obtain an oxidation effect. The result is marvellous. 

The bell is mounted on two wooden beams and placed on the cargo floor. Those beams are threatened with sepia, dry-brushed with H110 and finished with H103. 





A few figurines represent the loading of the bell and the subsequent discussion around it. The one on the truck represents the man that will have to secure the bell to the truck for transport.

Two officers are talking at the entrance door and are discussing the road to follow. An older civilian passes by and watches the scene. 

The three soldiers are painted in a base coat. Trousers are painted in H32, dry-brush with H64. The vests are painted H111, dry-brushed with H147. Shoes get matt black, dry-brushed with H67 and H94. Trousers and long vests receive a light earth dry-brush, H119 and H94, so that they look a bit dirty. 

The civilian also receives a base coat and a black trouser, dry-brushed with H64.

His vest is painted brown H186 followed by dry brushing with H119 and sand, H94.

Shoes in chocolate brown brushed with H119 and H94, scarf in mouse grey lightened up with H119. 

All four are very carefully highlighted with pure white oil paint. Eyes are painted white, pupils black. They also get a coat of Klir (Future) and a matt varnish.






François « Swa » Cnudde

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