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1/35 scale Tarawa Diorama

Started by Old Marine , Aug 07 2017 05:48 AM

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#1 Old Marine

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Posted 07 August 2017 - 05:48 AM

I started work on a small Tarawa diorama.  I wanted to make this diorama for a long time and now I finally have some time to get it started.  I usually don't post projects while they are in progress, mainly because I forget to stop and take photos.  But, I have been following the progress of Manny's Vietnam project and some of Lars' projects in the past and it is interesting to see the progress and how everything comes together.  So here is my Tarawa project.

 

The concept is to depict the Marines as they move further inland and show the confused, close fighting amongst the maze of trenches, and the jumble of wreckage and palm trees.

 

The diorama is small, it measures 10.5 Lx 5 W x 6H.  The height of the model is dictated by the glass display case that I bought specifically for this project.  

 

All these dioramas start out with a few figures and then expand out from there.  I bashed the figures together from a real mix of everything, DLM, Tamiya, Testors, Airfix, Verlinden, Warriors, Master Box,etc...  The hose on the flame thrower is a bit of electric wire insulation.  

Attached Images

  • Tarawa01.jpg
  • Tarawa02.jpg


#2 Old Marine

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Posted 07 August 2017 - 05:52 AM

A closer look at the flame team.  The pick mattock and the long bayonets came from the ICM WWI US Weapons sets.  The figures still need some cleaning up, refining and priming.

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  • Tarawa03.jpg
  • Tarawa04.jpg


#3 doyler

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Posted 07 August 2017 - 05:57 AM

Dennis

Look like another fine project in the making.

Cant wait to see the completed diorama.

#4 cutiger83

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Posted 07 August 2017 - 06:14 AM

Dennis, 

 

I LOVE to watch your work. Looks great so far! Thanks for posting. 

 

I hope you are doing well....Kat



#5 Old Marine

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Posted 07 August 2017 - 06:25 AM

The base is made of a product called "Balsa Wood"  it's a dense foam material but it's incredibly soft and light.  It cuts and sands easily and you can shape it in to any kind of complex terrain.  But, it make a MESS.  The sanding dust is fine and will get everywhere leaving everything in your shop gritty feeling, do it outside.

 

The Balsa foam is glued to a sheet of thick polystyrene to keep it rigid and flat.  

 

You can see the figures are already starting to move around,  I will rearrange them and keep moving them around trying out different positions.  The terrain and other things in the diorama can determine where I position the figures.

Attached Images

  • Tarawa05.jpg


#6 Old Marine

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Posted 07 August 2017 - 06:36 AM

This is one of the photos that I am using for terrain reference.

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  • Tarawa beach reference.jpg


#7 Old Marine

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Posted 07 August 2017 - 06:40 AM

A close up view, you can see the fine grain of the balsa foam. It's easy to work with but it needs to be sealed up with either modeling paste or spackle.

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  • Tarawa06.jpg


#8 cutiger83

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Posted 07 August 2017 - 06:42 AM

Dennis, 

 

Great reference picture! I have never heard of this balsa foam. Where did you find it? Did you carve the small mound in the foam then sand it? 

 

...Kat



#9 Old Marine

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Posted 07 August 2017 - 07:01 AM

This is the balsa foam with the first thin coating of light weight spackle.  I put it on in a rough coat and let it dry and then moved on to the palm trees.

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  • Tarawa07.jpg
  • Tarawa08.jpg


#10 Old Marine

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Posted 07 August 2017 - 07:10 AM

The palm trees are made from Preiser HO scale Palm Tree set.  They are hard to find but they are the best looking ones available.  I didn't like the trunks that came with the set being that they were HO scale they were a bit too skinny.  You can see how big and thick those trees were in the reference photo.  

 

I found sticks out in the yard and stripped the bark and sanded them.  They won't exactly be palm tree trunks but once they are painted and the palm fronds are shaped and painted I think they will be passable.  The good thing about the Preiser palms is that the fronds are cleanly molded in hard plastic with no flash.  Being that they are hard plastic, if you are careful you can bend and twist the branches to make them look more droopy and natural like real palms.  

 

I drilled holes in the top of the tree trunk and glued each palm frond in place.

Attached Images

  • Tarawa09.jpg


#11 Old Marine

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Posted 07 August 2017 - 07:14 AM

Hi Kat,

 

Yes, that's what I did with the Balsa Foam.  It comes in 1/2" thick piece I glues it down and then rough cut the dunes and then sanded it to the way I wanted it.  I found this stuff at an art supply company called "Dick Blick.com" If you go to their web site and type in "Balsa Foam" it should pop up on their site.  It's also great for making stone & brick walls and building facades.



#12 Old Marine

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Posted 07 August 2017 - 07:29 AM

Repositioning the figures after the trees are in place.  You can see I am still moving them around, trying to figure out the the best position.

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  • Tarawa010.jpg


#13 Old Marine

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Posted 07 August 2017 - 07:34 AM

I have added a Japanese Machinegun pit.  This will be collapsed and partly caved in,  I still haven't decided if the top of the tree will also be on top of the destroyed bunker too.  

 

I didn't really like the prone, pointing figure.  He didn't have the "urgent" look I wanted so I was thinking of replacing him with the kneeling figure.  The figures always keep moving.

 

The base has been painted with craft paint mixed with baking soda to give it that textured sand look.  Lot's more to do. 

Attached Images

  • Tarawa011.jpg


#14 Old Marine

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Posted 07 August 2017 - 07:36 AM

Detail view of the start of Japanese bunker

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  • Tarawa012.jpg


#15 Old Marine

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Posted 07 August 2017 - 07:39 AM

Even after the spackle dries you can still cut into the balsa foam and dig out parts to make the bunker or holes and trenches.  The MG is an old resin kit with pieces missing from the tripod.  but there will be so much junk around the gun you'll never see the bottom feet of the tripod.

Attached Images

  • Tarawa013.jpg


#16 Old Marine

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Posted 07 August 2017 - 07:50 AM

This is the display case that I bought for this diorama.  This case is actually for displaying baseballs.  In the bottom of the case there are 3 lucite rings about 1/4" high to hold the baseballs but they work out great to elevate the diorama.  The height of the case is why I had to make the palm tree kind of short.  It's a trade off, maybe the tree is a bit too short but the glass case is a necessity and I think the tree works ok.

 

I have built too many dioramas and a few years later I just ended up giving them away because they were just coated in dust and spider webs.  This stuff is too intricate and delicate and there is no way to clean them, the dust just destroys them.  The glass case is a real bargain at 15 bucks, the palm trees cost 20 bucks, so it's well worth the money and a great way to preserve all your work.

 

There is a lot more to come.  

 

As for painting the figures, what do you think, brown side camo?

Attached Images

  • Tarawa014.jpg

Edited by Old Marine, 07 August 2017 - 07:54 AM.


#17 Blacksmith

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Posted 07 August 2017 - 08:15 AM

Unbelievable... I count you amongst those that genuinely make meaningful contributions to this forum.

You have a true gift for modeling. I'd say "I wouldn't change a thing", if I had the first clue of what I was talking about.

I don't know how you do it, but I am glad you do. I cannot wait to see your continued progress.

In answer to your question, I would definitely go sand-side camo on the uniforms / helmet covers. I will probably faint when I see it though. :)

Bravo Sir.

#18 Garandomatic

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Posted 07 August 2017 - 10:19 AM

Holy cow...

#19 doyler

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Posted 07 August 2017 - 10:24 AM

Looking great Dennis.Just like watching a master artist doing a painting.

#20 cutiger83

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Posted 07 August 2017 - 10:41 AM

Looking great Dennis.Just like watching a master artist doing a painting.

 

 

I totally agree! i love to look at Dennis' work. 

 

...Kat



#21 Old Marine

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Posted 07 August 2017 - 11:49 AM

Thanks  for the nice comments.

 

Here are some more reference photos.  This photo was taken just to the right of the first photo that I posted.  You can see the partially buried 55 gallon drum in both photos. 

 

 

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  • Reference photo 02 copy.jpg


#22 Old Marine

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Posted 07 August 2017 - 11:52 AM

Some more photos showing the limited views and the chaotic nature of the battlefield.

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  • reference photo03.jpg
  • Reference photo05.jpg


#23 Old Marine

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Posted 07 August 2017 - 11:53 AM

A machinegun team runs forward.

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  • Reference photo06.jpg


#24 Blacksmith

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Posted 07 August 2017 - 12:00 PM

A real mix of full frogskin, HBTs with helmet covers only, no helmet cover, etc. I am thankful that there was a mind for combat photography in the island-hopping campaign, to capture and preserve these incredible images. They stand as pure testimony to the service and sacrifice of those that served.

#25 Old Marine

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Posted 07 August 2017 - 12:01 PM

I found this photo online in a Tarawa search.  There wasn't much of a caption but it appears to be medical personnel unloading supplies at the seawall while others unload ammo.  You can see traction splints and boxes of medical supplies.  

 

But, look at the packs, are they Army M-28 haversacks?  Did the navy Corpsmen use the haversack with the big blanket roll to be able to carry more blankets?  

 

What do you guys think? 

Attached Images

  • Reference Photo 07.jpg



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