Wednesday 17 June 2015

diving an old wreck


This is something that I have been considering for a while. I have seen a few (but not many) underwater dioramas and have always loved the look of them. One of the main reasons that I haven't built one to date is the lack of diver figures in 1/35 scale. This changed when I bought a Dragon figure kit not so long ago that was on sale. It had two figures in divers costumes. I also have a small WWII Tankietka that I had made a very long time ago but was never totally happy with or could think of a setting to place it in.

The Concept

The tank will be made to look like it has sat at the bottom of a lake bed for at least 40 years so I'm looking forward to rusting and muddying it up. The Seal team figures will be de-militarized and turned into commercial divers. The tank will be sitting on the bottom of the lake bed along with the divers floating beside it.

The Re-work

The kits as they stand are OK but I am really not happy with the finish of either of them. The boat was given a quick bath in some oven cleaner to strip the majority of the paint from it. I then filled and sanded any imperfections that I could see and then applied some grey primer to the model. For the tank I opted to leave the original finish as I will be over painting a rust and mud finish to it. I did however re-position the doors and gun to show neglect and gradual decay to it after being left at the bottom of the lake for so long. You will probably notice a small boat in the first picture, however I decided not to use it in this instance. I am sure that it will make an appearance in a future project.

The pictures so far show the tank in the state of dis-repair that I wanted, however I want to depict this vehicle as being left at the bottom of a lake in an undisturbed condition for a very long time. The first step was to re-coat the whole thing in some grey primer, followed by some Gunze Sangyo 500 grade primer that was stippled over the majority of the surface. To this I then glued some pieces of diorama vegetation to depict some water borne plants. The tank was then "bedded" down into some florist foam and the whole thing was given a coat of white plaster, allowed to dry and then re-sprayed in grey primer. I then decided to use two different colours of Tamiya acrylic greens and layered the greens to provided a graded colour scheme over the whole thing:

The figures

The figures are supplied as coming from the ocean with flippers tied to their wastes, armed to the teeth and having military re-breathers instead of the standard diving equipment. First order of business was to remove the front portion of the figures boots and replace them with the flippers supplied with the kit. I now have the task of deciding upon the pose of each of the figures to make them appear supported by the water that they are swimming in. I also have a little work to the torso of each figure to make them look like civilian and not military divers

Once the figures had been pinned and built up with some white milliput, They were painted in vallejo black/grey and then the difficult part began. The figures were originally designed with re-breathers however commercial divers very rarely use this type of kit, so some standard air tanks were made from some stock poly tube and sheet. To that I added some black aluminium foil and painted them up. The original breathing tubes were cut and adapted to fit onto the new standard tanks and were then fitted to divers. The last steps were really a matter of patience in painting the various details to get the "look" of the divers right:

The Base

For the base I elected to use one of my cast plaster ones as I could tie in the tank easily to it. I used the same technique of florist foam coated with plaster followed by primer and topcoats. To add a little more interest I dipped some spangam moss into some artists gloss medium to set them in an upright position to appear as reeds underwater. Once dried they were set into the base along with some pieces of tree bark to resemble rocks. Not much more detail was needed in my opinion as you don't tend to get a lot more interest at the bottom of a lake bed.

Finishing the model

The base was essentially complete so it was really only a matter of adding the divers. Once these had been securely glued to the base I then decided to give the whole thing a very shiny coat of varnish to further the impression that you are looking at an underwater scene. With this complete I'm going to call this one done. I'm really happy with the finished scene, especially as it used some otherwise consigned to the spares box models that would probably never be used. The finished shots are below and as always I would love to hear your comments and thoughts

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