Somewhere in Germany, WW2- a micro layout in Z.

Znewbie Sep 11, 2018

  1. Znewbie

    Znewbie TrainBoard Member

    I've finally taken the plunge and begun work on my first ever layout, which will also be my first time with Z-scale. As scratchbuilding locos and rolling stock, especially at this tiny scale, is utterly beyond my capabilities, British steam will have to be overturned in favour of another favourite historical period of mine, WW2- and the layout will be a micro layout set in Germany during this time. This thread will be the documentation of the build of this layout. First off, I had to determine what space was available, and that gave me a layout size of 110cm by 43cm, a shade under 44 ins by 17 ins. To facilitate ease of construction of the scenery, the baseboard will be made of 50mm (2 inch) extruded styrofoam. Here is the layout I devised, purely for simplicity of operation and wiring.

    the top siding is the perfect length to house my passenger train, a BR 24 2-6-0 loco with 3 triple axle coaches, and the passing loop at the bottom of the layout will accommodate my freight train, a BR 74 2-6-0 T with 3 wagons and caboose. All locos and rolling stock are made by Marklin, and the track and control units are by Rokuhan. The board has been cut to size, and the track loosely put on the board to run the trains and test functionality- all working nicely so far. The next stage will be to put the bases of the buildings I have, by Vollmer, Kibri and Faller, and draw outlines around them once I have determined their exact placement. This will make putting the flocking on much easier, and help me with wiring and distribution of the building lighting. The right side of the layout will be dominated by a rather impressive castle, which will be moated by a river that will necessitate putting a river on that side of the layout, and two curved viaduct sections will carry the track over this river. The left side will incorporate a hill, which will require a tunnel at that end. More posts to follow once I have something to show for it.
    Last edited: Sep 11, 2018
  2. Loren

    Loren TrainBoard Supporter

    Hi Znewbie, Welcome to a much smaller world, filled with both joy, challenges, frustration, new horizons, and definitely a new perception. We look forward to seeing what develops as you begin this adventure, and adventure it will be. You will find many talented folks who have gone on before you and will be happy to share ideas and suggestions, (should you ask for them) and also a great resource as to where to find what you need or want. From your small size, I don't see much room for a mountain range or rushing river, but I'll bet you have some great ideas floating around that you are itching to see come to completion. Definitely post progress pictures as you go. I think even some of us old timers will learn something new and say "now why didn't I think of that?"

    Z Train Things
    bostonjim and Znewbie like this.
  3. JimJ

    JimJ Staff Member

    Maybe a simplified Peenemünde Army Development area. Some V2 rocket parts being shipped, raw materials and troop movements. Bomb craters scattered about.
    Or maybe a small village passenger station, far removed from the ravages of war.
  4. ztrack

    ztrack TrainBoard Supporter Advertiser

    That era is what got me into Z scale!!!

    If you are modeling WWII, then you MUST take a look at Z-Scale Panzer's offerings. I am a big fan and collector of their offerings. Check out there site at:

    bostonjim likes this.
  5. HoboTim

    HoboTim TrainBoard Supporter

    Yes, the prized BP42/44 (Z-Panzer has the parts to create either/both versions)

    Plus More++++

    Hobo Tim
  6. zdrada69

    zdrada69 TrainBoard Member

    Znewbie likes this.
  7. Znewbie

    Znewbie TrainBoard Member

    It's funny that you mention Shapeways and Z-Panzer, as I've already ordered items from both! Jimj is correct in his second guess, as this will be a small village far away from the action. From shapeways I've ordered some Kubelwagens and Mercedes staff cars, including the G40 staff car. Z-Panzer are currently making some Panzer III's and Opel Blitzes for me- the Panzers will be the cargo on my flatbed trucks, while the Opels will be parked around the freight depot and factory. The layout will be set during the early war period, around 1942.
    JimJ likes this.
  8. Znewbie

    Znewbie TrainBoard Member


    The building models have had their bases put on the board and drawn around, and i am amazed by how much of them actually fit on the board quite comfortably. The castle base is a rocky hill, which will become an island section on the right side of the layout ,with a river forming a moat around it. The track will be placed on two curved sections of viaduct, which will be modelled to fit once the river has been cut into the board. I didn't reckon on how tricky it would be to actually cut the river out of the board, and ended up making a few holes in the board at that end! Luckily, I have copious amounts of filler to hand, which I've used to blend the viaduct sections into the landscape and fill those holes; the narrower and more tricky sections of the river will be reamed out using a dremmel with a wire brush attachment to 'rout' them out. Looking back on it, it would have been way easier to have the baseboard be only 40mm thick, and actually cut the river sections right through, and mount everything on another 10mm board for added strength, and also make the riverbed nice and flat, but what's done is now done, and I'll just have to make good what I've done so far. My main concern is ensuring the riverbed is reasonably flat so that it won't look too unrealistic once I've put the resin water in it. Once the filler has dried fully, I'll remove the viaduct sections and clean the filler off them, and seal everything in with plaster cloth. This will also make the slopes on the smaller hill sections at this end more gentle, and look less like foam sandwich. Once that has set, it will be sealed in with a coating of PVA, and the buildings drawn around once more before painting and flocking. You'll get some pictures of that once I've done it.

    As well as the Z-Panzer vehicles I have on order, I have also discovered that Skytrex make 1/200th scale vehicles and soldiers, that will look close enough to put on the layout in certain places- they are considerably cheaper that the Z-Panzer stuff, although cast in white metal, so I'm sticking with Z-Panzer for the tanks, as they are resin, and light enough for my locos to pull once put on the wagons. From Skytrex, I've ordered an 88mm AA battery, which will go nicely with my Z-Panzer sd.kfz9 FAMO halftrack, and they will be placed on a low hill near the castle, with a gun crew. A couple more German soldiers will be used to man sentry boxes at the entrance to the castle and the factory- these are 3d printed kits from Outland Models in China. I have a rough idea of the scene I'd like to depict at the factory, which will justify having the Mercedes G40 6-wheeler staff car there, and a Tiger mk.1- this will place the layout firmly in the time period of 1942, and should raise a few eyebrows (Hopefully not in a negative way) if it all works out. More on this when I get to that stage, but for now, there's something to ponder! I had ordered some 1/220 scale wall lamps for the station and factory buildings, but these are 11mm tall, and would look horribly out of scale if I used them- they would look around 12ft tall if I used them, so I ordered some micro LED's of about 1mm by 1.7mm to use instead- this will be much more fiddly to do as I'll have to find a way of mounting them on the kit wall-lamps and integrate the very thin wiring into my schematics, but it is do-able. I'll use the original lamps on some 1/76 dioramas I have in the pipeline for later.

    So, everything is finally taking shape, and my brain is buzzing with ideas, and how to put everything together, and in what order right now. As I said before, this is all new to me, having only made military dioramas before, so this is going to be one heck of a learning curve as I go.
    Kurt Moose and bostonjim like this.
  9. Znewbie

    Znewbie TrainBoard Member

    Update: Nothing much to show so far, as my 'simple and elegant' wiring solution is becoming increasingly complex and ungainly. I've had to re-wire everything, and connect the wire ends to a small PCB strip board, as the wires were getting too bulky to just solder together in one lump, so to speak. The wires will now go on the PCB strips, with the connectors to the auxiliary module soldered to the ends of each strip. As such, I've had to carve a box-shaped recess into the underside of the baseboard to accommodate this, yet now I've embarked upon this course, the wiring still looks overly bulky. On the plus side, I've discovered that the wall-lamps actually contain more micro-LEDs inside, so careful disassembly will yield some scale wall-lamps with a bit of work. These, with the lamp-posts, will require resistors wired to them to prevent their burning out, so there will be even more wiring to grapple with when the time comes! Hopefully, I should be able to get cracking on the upper side of the baseboard and start completing the landscaping- then I'll have something to show for it!
  10. Znewbie

    Znewbie TrainBoard Member

    Well, this is a journey and no mistake! After much tinkering around with the wiring, I now know the best way to wire up the lighting inside the buildings. i have also acquired an LED module to place inside my factory building that simulates the lighting effects of welding- bright, white sparks with a red afterglow, that looks quite spectacular and will look fabby once installed. Here's a video of the module in action (Not on my layout!)

    The main situation is now that thanks to new furniture in our living room, the layout can now be installed in a display case-cum-coffee table; the drawback of which will be that the design will no longer be 110cm by 43cm, but instead 70 x 70 cm. Much headscratching resulted in a new track plan that yields three sidings, rather than one with a passing loop, utilising all the track bought so far, the only track I've had to order in extra is another pack of European style buffer stops to facilitate this. The bonus is that this size board will give me 170 or so extra square cms of space to fit all my scenery on. Also, thanks to lessons learned with the foam used on the original design, the new baseboard will be made of thinner layers of foam sandwiched for strength and convenience. The bottom-most layer will be 5mm thick, and will seal everything in once the wiring is completed, and the next two layers will be 10mm thick respectively- the lower one will have cut-outs for the wiring runs, while the upper one will have the river section cut from it, the lower of the two will form the river bed. A much cleaner, tidier way of executing everything. The only loss will be the two curved viaduct sections, which will be too tall for the shallower riverbed, but two curved girder bridges will now replace them. I'll upload the new track plans a bit later on.
    bostonjim likes this.
  11. Znewbie

    Znewbie TrainBoard Member

    As promised, here is the updated track plan for the layout, designed to fit within the glass display case/coffee table. There will still be a river at the top end of the layout, forming a moat for the castle. The three sidings will be employed to house the trains I now have. The right siding will be the freight yard, with the goods depot and factory in situ, the centre siding at the top will house the main express passenger train; a newly-acquired class V120 Diesel -pneumatic locomotive and four coaches. (The loco entered service in 1930, and was withdrawn in 1935, but for the purpose of this layout, it suits the aesthetic of the kind of weird WW2 inventions that came out in Nazi Germany at that time.) The left hand siding will be for the remaining passenger train. I assembled the track pieces and tested the running, and realised that the centre siding will need a separate power source to function properly, and this will be achieved by splicing a second power coupling into the main feed from the controller, isolated by a cutoff switch when the siding is not in use. The track was laid onto a large sheet of graph paper, on which the building bases were drawn around, then the wiring routes were worked out and marked on. From this sheet, the shapes of styrofoam can be drawn up and cut; the base layer will be 5mm thick and a solid square. The next two layers are both 10mm thick; the second layer having slots cut into it for the wiring runs, and the third level being the main ground work. Any hills and contours can be cut and added to the third layer.

    Another thing that will make the wiring even simpler is that there will be a town square, which will be made using card sheeting. This means that I can cut a large square access panel into the third layer of the board, through which I can insert the wiring/lighting module and feed the wires for the LEDs, add street lights to the town square perimeter, then attach it to the base to cover all the wiring up. When this is done, if I need to, I can remove the square to effect any repairs/additions as necessary.

    The V120 Diesel I found especially interesting.

    This is a photo of the actual locomotive. Most diesels get their motive power from drive shafts in the engine, or more commonly by electric power gained from the diesel generator. This loco used the diesel engine to generate superheated compressed air, that was pumped into the cylinders you see behind the front bogies, and pistons then drove the wheels, much in the same way that steam locomotive would work. This loco has a 4-6-4 wheel arrangement, and was built by Rheinmetall/Krupp, and powered by a 120 bhp Mann diesel engine taken from a U-boat! This loco was the only one of its' kind, designed in 1929, entered service in 1930, and withdrawn in 1935. It was such a fascinating oddball that I just had to have a model of one on my layout, even though it's set 7 years after it was withdrawn. Marklin make a z-scale version of this loco with a rake of 4 coaches, all resplendent in Deutsche Reichsbahn livery.
    Last edited: Feb 10, 2019
  12. minzemaennchen

    minzemaennchen TrainBoard Member

    If you need some proper flatcars for your Panzer III I can supply you with type SSy45, all metal model, nice, but not the cheapest:
    Kez likes this.

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