Light my fire.
The re creation of fire in modelling is a tricky subject and indeed is open to all forms of interpretation.
The basics of combustion are oxygen, fuel and an ignition source. Once the fire has seeded it, given enough fuel, it will grow and devour everything unless checked.
The initial result is generally large volumes of smoke, but, as the heat increases, the smoke becomes less and the flames more prominent.
Volumes of smoke can be created with cotton wool.
My method, as suggested by Der Feldmarschall is to warm the cotton and tease it into strands. Less is more here as smoke, unless you are burning oil / tyres etc is generally white/ grey and too much will look like cotton wool.
I use unravelled picture wire to make a thin armature onto which the wool can be placed or threaded. If you use a modelling spray dye this can colour your pall as you wish. Flecks of red and yellow paint add drama representing the licking flames.
For Ligny, the wonderful wife also suggested battery operated tea lights inside the buildings. These were very effective with the smoke billowing.
Our railway modelling friends use oil burners in various systems which provide scale chimney smoke and look fantastic.
Something like these would look good positioned in a knocked out tank I think.
I have also used real fire to good effect but of course precautions are required including a full watering can.
Flames can easily get excited and ignore the scale you seek.
I use, if not destroying a building on purpose, a ‘burner’ made of several sheets of silver paper. These together with small amounts of broken up fire lighters allow a controlled burn.
Considerations when taking photographs is the amount of light generated can bleach the picture and also throw unwanted shadows.
However, when the elements come together the results can be pleasing.
Happy modelling and be careful!
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