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Airfix D-Day Battlefront Diorama - with Additions


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  • 3 weeks later...
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We had another short session the other day and I did some experimenting on the figures. We didn't want them all standing on their plastic paving slabs, so one was sliced off for a test.

 

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I wanted to pin the figures in place as well as gluing them. In order to do this, they needed a hole up through their foot, leg or other suitable moulding. The plastic is quite strong, but bendy, making drilling with a small drill a bit tricky. Instead, I wrapped some copper wire around a soldering iron tip and told the soldier to brace himself!

 

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The soldier was prepared for a bit of a sting, so bit down hard on his rifle butt!

 

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Carefully lining up the copper wire, a short hole was melted into his foot and lower leg. Only around 2mm deep, but enough to strengthen the attachment to the base. After the melted waste had cooled and was cut free, he was pushed onto the end of the barbed wire coil to check the fit and depth.

 

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The rest of the figures were then cut from their bases, for those who were moulded with bases. They also had holes melted up one leg. They were hopping mad!

 

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The barbed wire coils were painted......

 

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....along with a metallic dusting over the three sheets of corrugated iron.


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  • 4 months later...

After a break of four months, we got back to the diorama on August 12th. Since late March, life has mainly been focused on home-schooling my daughter. After a day of school work with me, I wanted to give her time away from me. So with the Summer holidays underway, on August 12th, we spent the whole day modelmaking. Most of the painting and detailing had been done on the various components, so it was time to start the final assembly. Work began on cutting some small brass pins to length which would be used to attach the figures.  The pins were filed with a diamond file to rough up the surface to aid the glue joint.

 

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All the figures then had the pins glued in with cyano and their boots touched up where needed, following the melting of the holes for the pins. They were left in the curing cabinet for a while to dry while we moved on to other jobs.

 

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A few small details still needed painting, so those were done next.

 

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While the paint was drying, we started the final assembly by gluing down the field gun. That gave us a position for the two crew and enabled us to drill the mounting holes. After a test fit, they were both glued in place. 

 

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The coil of barbed wire was next. It was quite springy, so were started at one end, attaching it with cyano. It was held down against its natural spring, and glued every inch or so.

 

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Rob the radio operator was next. He and his radio were glued to the bench and the bench glued under the position of the camo net. The barrels and crates were trial fitted, but we didn't know if their positions would interfere with the netting, so they were left loose for the time being. A few options for cargo was also tried in the trailer.

 

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With Rob in place, the camo net was next. Some cotton thread was glued to each corner first to act as guy ropes. Corner by corner, the netting was glued to the top of each pole. When the end was pulled down, it gave us an indication of the space for the supplies. 

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A few positions were tried before they were glued down. They are seen here prior to gluing.

 

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After Ralph's feet had stuck firmly, the rope was attached to his hands. The easiest was to do it was to soak the rope in cyano kicker, and add a drop of cyano to Ralph's hands.

 

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Rob seemed quite at home now under his camo net.

 

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Slowly the diorama was filling up with figures and accessories. While it still looks quite empty here, we'd already added quite a lot of details. They should show up on closer inspection and when it's all done, I'll be taking a number of photos showing the various scenes from different view points.

 

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Tom and Jerry can!  The Jeep isn't attached yet, but Tom is topping up the fuel now while there's time.

 

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Barry was busy setting up another barbed wire barricade.

 

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Ian was injured in earlier combat, but fortunately not too badly. He's waiting to be evacuated. The two other guys in the house are as yet un-named.

 

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The gun crew are talking about their field of fire and the need to lower the barbed wire a little, just in front of the gun. The Sherman is moving into position to provide more fire support.

 

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To finish the August 12th updates, here's a general view from house front. The layout of the figures and weapons is designed to give the diorama interesting viewing angles from all sides, with several small stories going on from where ever you view from.

 

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On August 29th, we got the last of the small details glued down, though there's still a little more work to do. A couple of pulled up road signs have been dumped at the roadside here.

 

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The other two were abandoned a little further around the diorama. They were placed face down so we didn't need to worry about text on them.

 

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Near the field gun, a shovel and pick have been added, along with some broken house roof timbers.

 

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At the trainer, a pick was laid up against the corrugated iron. A shovel in the trailer, a bike against the rubble and another bike in the house.

 

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Roof tiles and timbers were scattered around the house. The tiles were painted the same colour as the roof, but haven't weathered as much, so are a bit bright. I decided it would be easier to weather them once glued down, rather than loose, so they'll be re-weathered once fully dry.

 

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September 1st, the roof tiles were toned down. Once the paint had fully hardened, it would be time for a matt coat and final photos. We'd been thinking about trying to find a real background for some photos.

 

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We haven't had the weather yet for an outdoor photoshoot. The way the UK weather is going now, Summer may well be over! I'd still like to try and get out for a real backdrop, but for now, here's a multitude of pictures from an indoor shoot on Monday, taken at both eye level and from above. Some I've turned black and white, while some others have just been desaturated a bit and red increased to try and replicate wartime Kodachrome film.

 

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We're pretty pleased with the overall result. Looking back, skin coloured tights may have worked better for the camo net rather than the black. The barbed wire would have been better with thinner copper wire, but that was all I had kicking around the workshop.

 

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We made the right call to leave the Tiger tank off and replace it with a Jeep. It would have been unrealistic and perhaps toy-like, to have both tanks, unless the Sherman had been a smoking wreck. Without the Jeep might have been a little too empty. Neither the Jeep or Sherman are glued down and moved around a little during the photoshoot.

 

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The layout seems to work well when viewed from all sides and we tried to make use of figures who seemed less involved in combat but more at readiness. The rubbery plastic figures are of course horrible to work with and only minor work was done by myself to melt away flash etc. Airfix could really do with making a range of styrene figures for diorama builders.

 

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My daughter was eight when she started this model and heading towards eleven now. It is virtually all her own work, but with lots of guidance and advice from me, a little holding of parts where extra hands were needed and I did some of the figure painting detail after she painted the main colours. I also made the camo net over the radio operator, helped with joining the tank tracks and sprayed gloss and matt coats when needed.

 

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