Jump to content

My Daughter's Airfix Battlefront Diorama with additions

Recommended Posts

My daughter and I won one of the Airfix Christmas competitions in 2017 and the prize was the D-Day Battlefront set. Due to other modelling projects, it's taken until now to get it on the bench. In December last year, we were about ready to start and were thinking about the layout. We considered it unrealistic to have a Sherman and Tiger that close together, without one being blown into a thousand pieces! So we decided to leave the Tiger I off the diorama and replace it with a Willys MB, which were being sold cheap at Aldi.

This is the progress so far, much of it her own work, though with lots of guidance.




Edited by Jessie The Jeep
Link to post
Share on other sites
  • 1 month later...

More recent progress. We smashed up some real stones to add more realistic type debris around the model, as the detail on the vac-formed base was too smooth. Still lots more painting and weathering to go, then build the Jeep, field gun and trailer.



Link to post
Share on other sites
  • 1 month later...

In early April, we did some weathering of the road and pavement as the broken scattered fragments of stone still looked too clean. To dirty them down and mottle the appearance, we used some of the Airfix starter set black and brown acrylics, painted onto a piece of scrap styrene as a pallet, then applied to the diorama with a sponge and stiff brush, dabbing on the paint in random patterns and different densities.


It worked well to tone down the road, but is only the first step. We also want to reproduce muddy marks and clods of mud from vehicles and tank tracks along the roads. That will probably involve a plaster/paint/PVA glue mix, possibly rolled on from a small wheel on a stick, but that's all for another day. After the dabbing and stippling, the base was put to one side and left to dry.


Link to post
Share on other sites

The whole family was ill for a few weeks, so little happened for a while until recently when we got back to work. As mentioned previously, we've ditched the Tiger from the diorama in favour of a Willys MB. We got the kit at Christmas, in the Aldi sale. 


There's a lot of tiny parts in the Willys kit. Since she hasn't really done any small fiddly models, mostly aircraft with large parts and just a few small accessories, I suggested we start with the field gun and trailer first. If those got messed up, it wouldn't be a great loss to the overall diorama.


Link to post
Share on other sites

A few days ago, I started an experiment with a camo net. I had one of my daughter's dance class hair nets, damaged a few months ago, to use as the practice net. A piece of 1/8 plywood was covered in parcel tape to stop any sticking. The net was then stretched over the wood.

Some of the Airfix starter kit acrylics were mixed with some PVA glue to thicken it and allow it to glue to the netting. Starting with the brown, and using a small brush, I painted square spirals onto the netting and tape covered board. I quickly ran into a problem. The hair net is woven out of micro fibres which actually resemble long link chains. Because of the thickness of the chains and the way they are woven together, the netting wouldn't lay flat on the wood. This made it difficult to form the spiral on the surface of the tape. The mesh was hovering slightly above the surface and so I was having to poke the brush down through the mesh and then let it partially cure before pressing the net down into the tacky surface to bond the mesh to the glue spiral. 


I did some green later and then let it all dry properly, before peeling the net off the board. It was lifted up to see the effect. Due to the problems applying the glue, I didn't closely pack the spirals, but the overall concept seemed to work fairly well. What I did need was a finer mesh. This would hopefully allow the mesh to lay flat on the board and the smaller weave would support the spirals better.


  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites

I raided the scrap fabric box and found some black tights ( hosiery for American readers ) which had a fairly fine weave. I piece was cut out, approximately the size of a 20 feet square camo net. This was stretched out a little to open the weave and then taped down to the board. This time, it was much closer to the board and it was much easier to get a smaller, more in scale spiral to stick to the mesh. I started with the brown again, painting on the spirals and square cornered snakes, leaving spaces for the green. It does take quite a long time, but appeared to be making a fairly good representation.


After the brown was complete, I worked from the dry side, filling in the spaces in green. The brown didn't change colour much when drying, but the green was very light with the white glue mixed in, but darked quite a lot once cured.


Link to post
Share on other sites

Once that had dried, the glue would be hard enough to stop the mesh from shrinking back to its pre-stretched size. This allowed me to peel all the tape except the corner pieces. I then glued more patterns around the edge of the mesh. After a further period of drying, the camo net was peeled away from the wood. I'm very pleased with the way this is looking.


The netting is balanced on two metal rods over the end of the diorama for this photograph. It will probably be fitted in this location, or this approximate location, supported on some poles and with cotton guy ropes to tension it. The kit radio operator will probably be under here, along with a few other odds and ends. I'm feeling quite pleased with this little experiment, something to keep in mind for future projects.


Link to post
Share on other sites

We had around an hour spare today so had a quick modelling session knowing we'd be having to leave bits to dry anyway. The field gun and trailer were painted first.


She didn't want to tackle the wheel hubs in case she got the green on the tyres, so I did those. I showed her how to build up several layers of dilute paint, allowing capillary action to draw the paint around the hub. A quick force dry in front of the heater, then another coat until a reasonable density was reached.


Link to post
Share on other sites

Cutting and trimming the very fragile chassis and transmission parts took her a little while and lots of concentration; as did working out which way to assemble them. The springs, axles, prop shafts and transmission support are all one moulding. The spring ends didn't all want to sit on their spring hangers, so I bent some thin sheet lead to add a little wieght to hold them in place so she could apply the glue with a fine brush and then leave the whole thing to dry.


 Later in the afternoon, after she'd gone out and the chassis had a while to dry, I took the weights off and compared the 1/72 chassis with the 1/35 version I'm working on.


Link to post
Share on other sites

We're just going to save the Tiger for another diorama. With the Sherman, Jeep, trailer and gun, plus figures and accessories, I think it would look over-crowded with an additional tank. Perhaps we'll go desert for the Tiger, although she has got a 1/72 Hurricane, 1/35 Jeep and a 1/72 Lancaster also in her "To Do" pile!!

Edited by Jessie The Jeep
Link to post
Share on other sites
  • 1 year later...

My daughter's diorama is into its final stages of assembly now. Here's a few pictures of yesterday's progress. I'm particularly pleased with the camo net, one of my contributions to the project. As a first experiment, it worked pretty well. I'm sure I could refine it, but still happy with this first attempt.






  • Like 7
Link to post
Share on other sites
  • 3 weeks later...

Yesterday, 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.


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


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.


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.



Lastly, a couple of general views. Once the last of the weathering is done, it needs a sprayed matt coat to hide any of the glue spots still showing.



  • Like 3
Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

  • Create New...