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.
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
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).