It reminds me of fun times with my Dad, and is one creative pursuit I’m not rubbish at!
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!
Get Your Kit On
I found the ideal kit – An Airfix 1/72 Mk.Vc Spitfire which happened to have the exact “MX P” markings at my local model shop, Cool Toys, in Napier and got it on sale with another Airfix kit of a German Focke-Wulf Fw 190 over the Christmas / New Year holiday last year.
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.
Voila! A beach worthy of Napier’s Marine Parade!
Resin to the Challenge
Time to make the sea!
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!
Lastly I got gel medium to make some waves.
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.
I think Dad would be pretty proud!