Sunday, 6 July 2008

How to... Make an Airfix diorama

13th June 2008

And you thought putting the transfer stickers on your Airfix models was job done… Live presents a modelling extravaganza fit to conquer Europe

Enlarge The Normandy landings

D-DAY, NORMANDY, JUNE 6, 1944

The first day of the invasion of Normandy in World War II, immortalised in films such as Saving Private Ryan and The Longest Day, is the inspiration for British model-maker Kevin Nunn's 1/72 scale diorama, which depicts Allied troops storming enemy coastal defences. The models used include infantry-carrying LCVP landing craft, Sherman 'Crab' mine-flailing tanks and a Churchill 'Crocodile' flame-throwing tank. On the shoreline, an M3 half-track disembarks from a larger LCM III landing craft. Commandos scale the cliff face to the left, while overhead a rocket-firing P-51 Mustang provides air support as empty landing craft pull away from the shore to collect reinforcements. Want to have a go at something similar yourself? Here's what you need to know.

The air battle

The air battle

Scaling the cliffs

Scaling the cliffs

Troop carrier

A troop carrier lands

WHAT YOU NEED

- You will require space to work in, a very understanding girlfriend and a lot of spare time. Live's diorama took 750 hours in total to make – it was built by five modellers working in shifts. And that 750 hours doesn't even include the time spent waiting for the layers of landscape and the five coats of paint on each of the models to dry - or the five coats of paint on each of the models.

- To build the scenery, mark out the basic contours with foam board, then fill the gaps with cardboard and scrap paper mixed with PVA glue. Nunn says, 'You then cover it in Mod Roc – a modelling material rather like bandages – plaster it, cover it in crumbled plaster for texture, then paint it. To make grass, cover in PVA glue, sprinkle sand on top, then paint it green.'

- Wave effects on the sea are created using Polyfilla 'combed' into waves and coated in polyurethane varnish. 'You can  also do it with clear resin,' says Nunn. 'It can look better, but it's easy to ruin your whole model if it leaks, so we steered clear this time.'

- After separating the pieces of each model, wash them using washing-up liquid, apply a coat of primer, paint, then coat with thinned blacks to bring out detail. You'll also need to add two coats of varnish. Modern models ship as kits of up to 70 parts, unpainted. 'I have to say it got boring here, because of the sheer numbers involved,' admits Nunn.

- Be patient. Each of the vehicles for this diorama took between six and eight hours to construct and paint. 'We're no longer in the age of blobby little pilots moulded into their seats – the new Airfix models are much more complex,' says Nunn.

0 Once your diorama is finished, put it somewhere safe – preferably in an acrylic-covered box. It would be a shame to go to all that effort only for someone to drop something on top of it and smash it to pieces.

Kevin Nunn is president of the Medway Modelling Club, which celebrates its 25th anniversary this year

Attacking a gun emplacement

Attacking a gun emplacement

Beach invasion

Landing on the beach

THE KITS

Airfix
1. Small troop-carrying landing craft, £3.99.
2. Sherman 'Crab' mine-flail tanks, £4.99 each.
3. Churchill 'Crocodile' flame-thrower tank, £4.99.
4. White M3A1 half-track with trailer, £4.99.
5. Large tank-and-vehicle landing craft, £6.99. airfix.com

Italeri
6. Coastal defence bunker, £7.99. 7. Small bunker and accessories, £7.99.
8. Anti-tank/anti-aircraft bunker, £7.99. italeri.com

Academy
9. North American P-51B Mustang fighter, £4.99. academy.co.uk

Enlarge The Normandy landings

The Normandy landings

1 comment:

Alex Rockey said...

Hi there
I just came across this website and thought that the diorama deserved some praise. It is just exquisite-just one question what did you use for the sea and what paints did you use.
Thanks a lot
Alex (140
England