Wednesday, 12 March 2014

U-Boat Diorama


I was in my local model shop recently, and I found myself overcome by a mad impulse to buy a big naval kit.  They have a wide selection of large-scale WWII ships, mostly on the top shelves and covered in dust.  I spied a 1:72 Type IX kit for a bargain price, and quickly snapped it up.  But what then?  I already have a small-scale U-boat kit from last Christmas.  I decided to turn this one into a diorama of a U-boat arriving back after a successful patrol.  This would involve cutting the hull in half, and setting it in plaster or some other such water substitute - a suitable challenge!

I spent far more on the bits for the diorama than the actual model, in part because of the cost of the Andrea Miniatures crew models.  These were soul-rendingly expensive for their size, and I initially baulked and got some cheap plastic 1:72 crew.  However, when they arrived they were of very low quality, and I decided to get the Andrea ones.  I was glad I did, despite the cost, as they were some of the most detailed sculpts I've ever seen, period.  Including FW kits.

Das Boot!

Halfway cutting through the hull.  This was an incredibly difficult task.  I had planned to use a hacksaw, but because of the hull sloping at different angles all the way along, it was difficult to keep it 'straight' and trace the waterline.  In the end I had to get a good knife and simply score along the waterline again and again (and again) until I wore through the plastic with sheer brute force.  That took about six hours - but it gave me complete control over where the cut went.
You can see the basic plan here.  U-boat, on a plank of wood, with a beam to represent the harbour.
The kit itself was remarkably easy compared to the 1:350 version - all the parts were all much easier to handle at this scale, and the most complicated parts (hydroplanes and propellers) are all safely underwater so I could ignore them.
Six tubes of adhesive putty - expensive and heavy, but easy to work with and incredibly durable when it (finally) dries.  It does crack very badly when it dries, but no matter, because ...
... I used water-based surface filler for the water.  I'm going to seal it with a nice thick coat of PVA.
This is on quite a staggering scale compared to my normal modelling, and has presented some interesting challenges in building.  Who knows what drama is in store for the painting...

Thanks for stopping by!

Ed

13 comments:

  1. Now that is kool. with a k.

    looking forward to seeing the coastal command diorama using the other bit of the hull and some kriegsmarine in dingies.

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    1. I love this idea soooooooo much!

      Make it challenging: use a nice and fiddly 1:72 Supermarine Walrus or somesuch!

      [That said, the RAF S&R launches were reather aesthetically pleasing little boats...]

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    2. Thanks chaps! Zzzz, there you go, putting dangerous ideas into my head ... this essay will never get written! Drax, is that the Heath Robinson-looking contraption? I got frustrated enough doing this quite simple kit, I think that would just about finish me off! Cheers guys.

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  2. O! This is very kool indeed! Ambitious too! Bravo.

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    1. Thankyou, my dear fellow. Yes, it pushed the boundaries a little so I'm sticking to simple painting. So I don't make a pig's breakfast out of it all.

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  3. Dang! That's one big kit - really dig where you're going with it, can't wait to see more!

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    1. That is my biggest concern - what on earth to do with it all? I have nowhere to keep this (hence all the photos taken balanced on my chair) - I'm going to have to clear a bookshelf for this beast.

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  4. Ambitious indeed - looks fantastic though Col.

    What have you used for the balctop of the wharf?

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    1. Thanks mate, yes, despite some close moments I'm pleased with how it looks at this stage. Oh, I almost forgot - that's some spray-on texture gravel I got from B&Q, a real bargain and great for doing terrain.

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  5. Impulse buys - they can often the most rewarding and equally the most frustrating of any projects. Looking forward to seeing the completed model.

    Regards,
    Matt

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    1. Thanks Matt - yes, it's all a bit unplanned but something a little different. The first coat is drying as I type!

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  6. Seriously cool! I've thought about doing something like this a few times myself, quite intimidating :)

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    1. Thanks Al - I think the only reason I really got started is that it was all on an impulse. Like flying is supposed to be: if I started to think about it I'd probably loose the knack and fall out the sky.

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