Sleeping RAF Pilot
OK so this is my first blog and to be honest its a bit of an experiment. I thought I would start with a simple model to begin with for my blog, so here it is, a World War II RAF airman depicted sleeping it off between sorties on a sofa chair. Normally I sculpt my own figures now, but when I saw the simplicity and realism of this 120mm resin figure I just had to buy him.
The first four photos are basically exactly as he is supplied. Work done so far is simply cleaning up the un-attached foot and then pinning and cyno to the main figure. The next step for me is to Dremmel out the rather large base to make it easier for me to level this out when it comes to mounting the figure on the base that I choose. The next photo is the base as supplied which I intend to carve out.
The next stages for me were to give the pilot a quick spray of my trusty rattle can of grey car primer. Not only doe this give a good base for painting later on but it tends to show up any imperfections, and boy there were a few !! A large amount of Squadron Green putty and a small amount of Milliput putty later and I was a little happier with the figure. In addition I removed some of the molded in electrical wires for the pilots mask and replaced with different gauges of copper wire. I also added an officers rank band around the pilots exposed arm by using some lead foil and very fine gauge wire. I used the same wire for the front of the arms of the chair to represent the heavy seams that you would usually expect to see on a chair from this era.
While I waited for the enamels to dry, I began to think about the base and setting for this figure. I decided that a little research was in order so after watching (for about the hundredth time) The film the Battle of Britain I was left with two choices 1) place the chair outside on the grass being as the Battle of Britain was fought in the height of summer and pilots would drag any furniture they could out into the sun or 2) place him inside one of the many run down shacks of small flying clubs that the RAF utilised when the Luftwaffe destroyed the RAF's main airfields. I decided on the second option. I also opted to use a larger than normal base for this figure as from past experience dealing with RAF pilots, they will use any excuse to have a cup of tea and read the paper no matter what else is going on at the time. With the scene set in my mind I then set about creating this on the base. First order of business was to scratch build a simple Formica table that was quite popular in the mid 40's for his cuppa and paper to rest on. This was constructed out of two sheets of Balsa wood glued together and four cocktail sticks for the legs A sliver of plastic card was then wrapped around the table to represent the typical rubber surround often seen on this type of furniture.
For the newspaper I simply typed in WWII Battle of Britain into google images, saved the image, scaled it down and printed a few copies of it. Once printed I then split the paper to create a scale effect of thinner paper (not easy as I found out). The cup of tea was a drinks straw and a piece of thin wire for the handle. everything was painted and I was quite happy with the final result.
Next order of business was the wooden floor of the hut that the pilot would be sleeping in. A short measure of my house floorboards and a division by 16 to give the right scale and more Balsa wood was cut into strips to represent these boards. To get the right colour a small amount of very strong black coffee was used to stain the boards and after a short while of drying they were then cut and glued separately onto to the base with white glue. once the glue had dried the gaps between the boards was washed with diluted burnt sienna oil paints and then the floor was painted in gloss varnish to complete the effect. I should also mention that after some research I found out that RAF pilot boots of that era were in fact smooth bottomed leather and contained no tread pattern saving me some additional scratch details.
Time for oils
With the block colours now complete for the airman I decided to start the oil shading and light on the chair first. Cadmium Red, Burnt Sienna and a touch of Lamp Black was mixed in various shades to create the desired effect of a very well used and comfortable chair that invited my airman to slip into a peaceful slumber and ignore the headlines in the newspaper and his steaming hot cup of tea: