Dioramas, or three-dimensional miniature scenes, give life to an otherwise static and dry plastic kit. Rather than present a model of a particular aircraft, or pilot, or campaign, a diorama tells a story that attracts and inspires. The effort is well worth it.

This diorama depicts the discovery of a relatively intact Japanese Ki-46 "Dinah" some 30 years after having crash-landed on a remote part of New Guinea. The brutality of the tropics has taken its toll on this long silent workhorse, while young trees and Kunai grass surround and imprison her.

Construction Notes

As the focal point, a 1/72nd scale Kawasaki Ki-46 "Dinah" by LS was used. Since the aircraft was going to have lots of opened panels and broken canopy glass to give it that "skeletal" look, I invested in a Dremel Moto-tool with a grinding tip and assorted drill bits, as well as a good jeweler's saw with plenty of ultra-super-duper-mega-fine saw blades. Before the kit was assembled, it was first determined where the opened panels would be. Then I drilled holes just inside the four corners, threaded the saw blade through one of the holes and carefully sawed from one to the next. Careful trimming with an Exacto knife and some fine files gave the panels a squared, thinned appearance.

The control surfaces without their fabric covering were done next. First, the rudder, aelirons, and horizontal stabilizers were removed by scribing with an Exacto knife, then gently breaking the parts off. The main body of the control surfaces were then cut out, using photos for reference. Next, spacers made from thin plastic card were super-glued onto the back of the frame. After trimming the ends of the spacers so the control surface would be the appropriate width, the spacers were carefully sanded to a triangular point by dragging the part across a flat piece of fine sandpaper. Some cleanup with the Exacto and a small length of wire resulted in fairly convincing control surfaces.

Painting was my next challenge, for Nature is not very kind to derelicts. Much of the paint would be coming off, exposing the bare metal underneath. To portray this effect, the entire model was airbrushed in Model Master's Aluminum Plate. After letting it dry well for about a week, the red-brown primer and olive green and gray camouflage found on aircraft of the Imperial Japanese Army was applied. Hinomaru decals, detail painting and a flat coat were added. The surfaces were then lightly sanded with medium-fine sandpaper until the desired effect was achieved.

The diorama base is a 10-inch-by-12-inch finished pine plaque bought from a craft supply store. The basic groundwork is a product called Celluclay, which was applied in a thin coat and after drying, sprayed medium brown. For the slow-moving stream, an area of the base was scribed with an Exacto knife, then carefully routed out with the Dremel. Acrylic Resin mixed with light olive green paint was poured into the opening in small amounts. The ground cover is made up of Woodland Scenics' fine powdered foam in two shades of green, Caspia branches, and various plant materials found in the neighbor's yard (don't tell).

 

Copyright 2001 Dennel · All Rights Relinquished
dennis@studium.com