It reminds me of fun times with my Dad, and is one creative pursuit I’m not rubbish at!
I’ve been doing it since I was a kid, but more seriously in the last 15 or so years, getting more detailed and technical, but still never to the level of a “rivet-counter“, or “anorak“.
I thought it was making a post out of this build, though, because it’s one of the most technical builds I’ve ever done.
The picture above is of a Mk.Vc Supermarine Spitfire that had been forced to crash-land / “ditch” on the beach of Salerno, southern Italy in 1943 after being hit in the engine during the allied landings as part of their invasion of the country in World War 2.
I’d been wanting to built an American Spitfire for some time and this picture caught my eye.
It was an American squadron – The big white star surrounded by a blue circle was one of the US Air Force’s insignia during WWII – and the subject matter looked cool: it was partly submerged / beached.
Being beached I could do something new I had never done before – use clear resin to cast water as a base!
During my summer break I built them with another model I had in my stash – an American P-51D Mustang.
I tend to make models in batches of two or three, so you can do parts of one while waiting for glue or paint to dry on the others.
I also have a thing where for every Spitfire I build, I have to do a Mustang, too – I currently have eight of each in 1/72 scale. I have to keep my display balanced!
It helps that these two planes are some of the most prevralent model subjects out there and, particularly the Mustang, are a fantastic chrome canvas for so many different squadron paint schemes and types of nose art.
I did a bit of “kit-bashing” by cutting out the drop-down pilot’s door, which was just cast as part of the fuselage.
The kit came together really easily and was a pleasure to build.
(Don’t) Drop the Base.
By father-in-law had some scrap 10mm plywood lying around his workshop that happened to be just the right dimensions for the diorama’s base.
I squared it up, then used his bench saw to rout out 3/4 of the ply to form the part where the sea would be, with the higher section being the beach.
I knew I wanted to use clear epoxy resin for the sea, but wasn’t sure if I wanted it all to be a freestanding block, or contained somehow.
As this was my first attempt at casting resin I decided that using a base with a frame would be easier, so I cut four additional 1cm thick strips to surround the base, nailed and glued them in place and gave it a quick squirt of varnish.
Next, for the beach I used model railway ballast – a course sand that is spread over model train tracks and scenery to simulate gravel.
The two 1/72 figures were given to me by my Twitter friend and fellow modeler, Phil Tanner.
Unlike the original scene where it appears the men are a soldier and a Military Policeman (hence the arm band), I used a pilot figure and another airman. It gave more of a “Well, you stuffed that up!” vibe.
I slathered the base in PVA glue, before liberally shaking a capful of the ballast over top and shaking off the excess sand.
After some online research and emailing the retailer with some questions I ordered Easy Cast clear casting epoxy from Resincraft in Auckland. I also got some blue dye to give the resin a more aquatic tinge, but when finished I don’t think I put enough in, as it still looks pretty clear.
The mixing and pouring only takes a few minutes, but I took my time getting the measurements right so I didn’t have too little, and the plane would look like it was sitting in a mere puddle, or too much and I waste resin, or it overflowed everywhere.
Once mixed and poured I spent some time getting rid of the tiny bubbles that float to the surface through the mixing process, but they dissipated quickly and 24 hours later “the sea” looked glossy, clear and solid!
While the resin looks fantastic, it also looks like flat glass, not the ideal facsimile of an Italian seaside).
There are a bunch of YouTube videos on how to make waves with gel medium, though they’re normally part of bigger videos of casting resin as water / sea. They give good demonstrations of the best application techniques for getting general oceanic surface disturbance.
I got another Twitter friend, Steve Blade of Davy Engravers Hamilton, to make a little name plate for the scene.
As the soldiers in the original photo were looking quite bemusedly at the beached plane, and I had heard the term several times in jest recently I thought what better title than “You Can’t Park There, Mate!”.
I’m super happy with the finished product!
Some builds fight you every step of the way – this was not one of them.
Everything just went right, making this a really fun, enjoyable build and an educational extension of my modeling skills.
“The “temporary” limit will be put in place on Monday and apply until further notice”.” the release said.
Quotation marks around “temporary” give a sense of insincerity, and the fact it’s “until further notice”, with no indication of how long that could actually be don’t fill you with confidence for a quick resolution, or one at all.
Because other wording in the release was quite concerning:
“”While we understand this will be an inconvenience for road users, it is critical everyone complies with the temporary 30km/h speed limit to keep vibrations to a minimum to reduce the impact on the bridge structure and prevent further deterioration.””
30km/h is very slow, considering this is a 100km/hr zone, but it is standard practice and a safer speed for vehicles passing sites where road workers are active.
But saying it’s critical for the hundreds of light and heavy vehicles that travel across the Esk River bridge every day to slow down by over half the regular speed limit there to “reduce the impact on the bridge structure and prevent further deterioration“?
This makes it sound like this bridge, which has done a great, solid, bridgey job over the last 81 years, could now suddenly give way at any minute – Which is extremely concerning!
A Vital Link
It’s concerning because a kilometer or so up the road is one of Hawke’s Bay’s biggest industries, Pan Pac Forest Products, also one of the region’s largest employers, which relies on a fleet of around 100 trucks of different configurations (mainly logging trucks) each crossing the Esk River bridge several times a day carrying thousands of tonnes of products vital for the mill’s operations, as well as the mill site’s staff, who number in the hundreds, commuting to work each day.
But more importantly the bridge is the only sealed route north of Napier towards Wairoa, popular holiday spot Māhia (home of Rocket Lab’s Launch Complex 1) and Gisborne with a combined population in excess of 60,000.
For the most part if you want to get to Wairoa and Gisborne you have to get there via Napier, SH2 and this bridge.
The North Island’s East Coast region, north of Gisborne is accessible by road from south eastern Bay of Plenty, but it would be a hell of a detour to get to Wairoa that way.
A Long-Standing Problem
Issues with his section of road aren’t new.
For decades the intersection of State Highways 2 and 5 just south of the Esk River has been considered a dangerous spot.
An angled approach for those coming from Taupò limits clear visibility for crossing onto SH2 continuing south towards Napier.
A sandstone hill on the right limits views of north-bound traffic, while the heightened, curved Esk Railway Bridge, which leads onto the troubled river bridge cuts visibility to the northeast to less than 50 meters. Far from ideal when 50 tonne logging trucks stream over it towards the intersection.
There have been numerous crashes at the intersection but, apparently, not enough serious crashes to warrant drastic remediation by Waka Kotahi.
The rail bridge climbs quickly to get over the East Coast railway line and Esk River stopbanks and it is curved – nerve-wracking at the best of times, let alone when you are trying to share the narrow curved bridge with fully loaded 18 wheelers coming the other way.
The bridges are even less than ideal when you are not driving over them.
Cycling over these bridges is dangerous enough sharing the narrow concrete walled spaces with cars and trucks, but especially so just after dawn when crossing the river bridge north-bound faces drivers straight into the rising sun all but cutting off visibility at times.
Walking over the bridges doesn’t even bear thinking about.
This section of road has been like this for decades and successive transport agencies have known about it for decades, but chosen not to fix it.
Now it may be too late.
A Civil Engineering Emergency
Mid-morning on March 8 2018 all non-operstional staff at Pan Pac Forest Products’ Whirinaki site were told to leave as a storm had flooded the neighboring Esk River valley and the water level was getting dangerously high. It was decided that staff should leave before high tide, as the river getting any higher could threaten travel across the Esk River bridge.
Flash forward four years and who will now feel safe or secure crossing this potentially structurally compromised bridge the next time there is significant rainfall in the nearby hills?
Pedestrian / cycling lanes on this new bridge would also be extremely advantageous.
Having a bigger, better, newer bridge will also go some way to future proofing this section of road to imminent climate change, sea level rise (Hawke Bay is only few hundred meters downstream of the current bridge) and the ever-present threat of flooding from upstream and the Hikurangi Subduction Zone off the east coast of the North Island
As it currently (barely, according to Waka Kotahi) stands the Esk River bridge won’t withstand too many more trucks going faster than the suburban speed limit over it.
That is simply not good enough.
Rebuild the Bridge and Get Over It
I am a passionate advocate for all things Hawke’s Bay.
I’ve seen my region ignored and undermined for years and I’ve been writing about it, trying to get these inequalities fixed for almost ten years now.
It’s just so sad that a government agency like Waka Kotahi lags so far behind in recognizing regions like Hawke’s Bay need far better roads and transport infrastructure than what they have.
If it really is critical that traffic traversing the Esk River bridge must now travel over it at 30km per hour to prevent further deterioration of the structure as Waka Kotahi said in their statement, then we can assume it’s too late and the bridge is doomed.
State Highway 2 is a nationally significant road.
To allow such a major, important structural part of it to degrade to this level is inexcusable.
This is a Civil Engineering Emergency.
Hawke’s Bay deserves better!
Footnote (Nov 2022):
Since writing this piece Waka Kotahi has limited the speed and weight limits on YET ANOTHER Hawke’s Bay State Highway bridge!
Mayoral aspirant Nigel Simpson a first term, Taradale ward councilor declared in his running for the mayoralty ‘I entered local politics last election because I couldn’t figure out what was wrong in Napier City Council, after a short period inside I figured it out alright, that’s why I’m running for Mayor.”
“Taking major items in and out of the long-term plan and having a considerable number of unbudgeted items is simply poor leadership and inappropriate governance of Napier, it’s time for change.” he said.
“A significant number of opportunities have been missed by the current Council, it’s time to get Napier back on track.”
If that’s the “Mayor Dalton and CEO Jack Track” he’s referring to getting back on then I think his train is going in the wrong direction, and voters with a memory longer than three years will likely leave him at the station.
And thoughout all those issues this council term you may have forgotten about the global pandemic that closed borders and workplaces, disrupted workflow and supply chains and killed and incapacitated millions.
The Jack / Dalton administration also saw a number of high-level managers and experts leave, or be made redundant, but Councilor Simpson chooses to ignore this in his “serious culture issue” claim.
His urging the council to leave selecting a new CEO until after the local body elections is also disingenuous, as he, the council and even the Hawke’s Bay Today know “July is the start of a three-month hiatus in which councils cannot make major decisions in the three months leading up to the local elections”as reported in another council article in HBT barely a month earlier at the end of June.
Sometimes it takes a shot of penicillin to cure a bad culture, other times a new broom to sweep out all the dead wood, or clear a new path.
Prior to 1997 live weekday morning news television in New Zealand was pretty much non-existent. We were aware places like America and Australia had it, but it wasn’t on the NZ public, or media radar.
The only similar programme I can think of in terms of live production in the mornings with such a long legacy is What Now! which has been going on Sunday mornings (originally on Saturdays) for almost 40 years.
1997 was long before the 24 hour news cycle, the spread of the internet (we still had dial-up at our house until the late 2000s) and social media, so if there was live television on New Zealand televisions in the morning it was either an All Blacks game / the Olympics on the other side of the world, or something very bad had happened locally.
Today breakfast news often sets the televisual tone and topic for the day – Covering what has happened at home and overseas during the night, outlining important events that are expected to occur locally that day and interviewing those involved. The lunchtime bulletin at midday acts as a progress report and the traditional 6pm news – the pinnacle of New Zealand’s news landscape for generations almost acting more as a roundup and post-mortem of the day’s events.
Breakfast felt cool and new. It was off the cuff, like local breakfast radio, but larger, more dynamic and on screen. Live filming made it feel more genuine, original and informal than the polished, rehearsed news bulletins.
This was also before Hosking’s career and ego made the Fourth Circle of Dante’s Inferno look like broad daylight. He was more down to earth and even, dare I say it, “cool”(?) then, to the point where he was (good naturedly) parodied on What Now and the local comedy skit shows of the time.
I had dreamed of being part of TVNZ, or just TV IN NZ, ever since I was a kid growing up watching What Now, After School, Telethon, Town & Around, Children of the Dog Star and the plethora of fantastic, locally produced shows that were created in that golden era of NZ television production – the 1980s.
Watching Breakfast brought this dream into adulthood. I remember seeing a Christmas “Behind the scenes” segment at the end of the first or second season that made me want to get into television again (and develop a brief televisual crush on a bespeckled reporter named Pippa).
I’d been working in radio only a year or two before and this looked like the next logical, aspirational goal.
And now as a parent the chances of watching Breakfast much on my mornings off are few and far between, as my daughter usually wields the remote and The Moe Show, Bluey, or more recently YouTube and Disney+ rule our sole television screen, so I seldom get to see much of the show past 7am.
During the nation-wide Covid 19 lockdown of 2020 the show helped provide a steady stream of news, information and, most importantly, personal connection at a time when we were all quarantined at home.
During that period Breakfast even had viewers Zoom, or Skype in to be “guest weather presenters” and do the forecasts for the show.
My Twitter friend, and fellow tall, hairy Andrew F, Andrew Feldon, who runs Mouthwater Coffee in Palmerston North was one of these Sky Soothsaying Skypers. It was like l’d almost fulfilled my dream vicariously!
The Dream Team
I had a recurring dream last year in which I got to meet John Campbell in person. I’ve interacted with him on social media several times, but never “IRL” (“In Real Life”, #Hashtag, YOLO GST, PhD etc…)
In the dream I meet John on set or behind the scenes at Breakfast and he promises to get me on television, either Breakfast, or my own show. It’s unclear how, or why as the dream ends about this point and the details disappear with conciousness.
Many in TVNZ’s news and current affairs talent pool have gotten their big television break, or at least worked on Breakfast at some stage in the past quarter century.
From fame to infamy and, in some cases later on in their lives or careers, being enabled to be purposefully inflammatory and even outright conspiracy misinformationy a number of people have presented and been involved in the show, but my favorite core presenters over the last 25 years has been the most recent lineup of Indira Stewart, Jenny-May Clarkson, Matty McLean, Melissa Stokes and John Campbell.
Other media networks gleefully trumpeted imminent doom for Breakfast on the eve of it’s anniversary, but that was simply never going to happen.
One fewer host does not a Breakfast show un-make.
It may be worth remembering that the stars of some of these networks had significant roles on Breakfast or with TVNZ in the past, which aided them getting where they are today. Crying “nepotism!” now may not be the stable moral high ground they think they are on.
The rapid advancement of technology also means it is far cheaper to run and maintain small-scale broadcast facilities in multiple locations. Imagine what a difference to our viewing and listening landscape reinstating teams of TVNZ and RNZ reporters across the country (not just in the main centers) would make to the diversity of news coverage!
These ideas are particularly relevant given the upcoming merger of Television New Zealand and Radio New Zealand has a strong emphasis on public broadcasting and Public Interest Journalism. There is more impetus than ever before for more NZ media to spread their wings like Breakfast has done and rove across the country telling locals’ stories.
If they need someone extra in Napier I know a guy… Even if he has a voice for television and a face for radio…
So happy 25th birthday, TVNZ Breakfast!
Here’s to another 25 years of informing, entertaining and exploring Aotearoa!