Thursday, November 4, 2010

Building a 1:600 scale airfield (Part5) Scratch Built Buildings

I wanted to create a few representative military looking structures to embellish my airfield so here is a selection:

Weapons store
Made from appropriately shaped polystyrene packaging inserts, asymmetrically cut, stuck to a 20x20cm cardboard base with 'No More Nails' glue and stippled to create a grass texture

After priming it white the Grass was painted in

The concrete was painted grey and I then added in a roadway using a Microsoft word creation

These are the types of things I was after
Command bunker
Made out of an instant coffee jar lid 

Lid stuck to base and the polystyrene layers added and result stippled with No More Nails

Base sprayed white and grass area added

Final concrete finish
Securing s base to the construction

Small Bunker complex
Made from another polystyrene infill

Black infill based and then stippled with No More Nails

White polystyrene inserts added for 'concrete' fronts

Painted grass and concrete added

 Storage Bunker
This time made from a clear plastic blister mould for my son's 'Ben 10' watch

Based and surrounded by polystyrene then stippled

Grass painted on after base spraying white

'Igloo' and paths painted to represent concrete. 'Outbuilding' uses the strap buckle cover 

Monday, October 18, 2010

Scratch Building a 1:600 scale HAS complex (Part4)

Exhaust Ports
Bricks assembled
Having failed in my attempt to cast from the moulds I created time constraints of a looming game meant that I had to cut corners. So back to my son's Lego hoard for a 'long term lease' of bricks. As some of his Lego was inherited from my childhood then these pieces, being 30-40 years old had taken quite a bashing. My source was a 1970's era Lunar Lander in blue - no doubt worth a small fortune if complete but I know it was far from.
Lego bricks of the type chosen

The design was the same as my initial prototype (middle top still sporting 'Green Stuff'' from it's mould mission) and were duly offered up to the HAS board. 

Initial Exhaust Spacing

Initial Exhaust Spacing

Upside down view with Exhausts in place and painted

Only 5 sets of Lego components were super glued together, covered with a thin coat of No More Nails and then stippled. All shelters and ports were then glued in place and any touch up paint applied.
Board with HAS, final taxiways and hard standings
plus vegetation plus some aircraft for scale
 I knew I was tight for space on one HAS so I ended up with a simplified single brick design (bottom right above) so no engine run ups in this HAS then.
I then stuck on some Woodland Scenics Clump Foliage in light green and medium green to represent trees. I also touched up some final paint work to leave me with an acceptable product in time to add to the airfield for the game we planned. Time will tell if i come back to this model to apply detailed finishing touches.
In the mean time a few motivational shots with aircraft out front of shelter or on taxiway.

Tumbling Dice F-15's

Tumbling Dice F-16's

Tumbling Dice F-16's

Tumbling Dice F-16's
Tumbling Dice F-15's & F-16

Tumbling Dice F-15

Tumbling Dice F-15's & F-16

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Scratch Building a 1:600 scale HAS complex (Part3)

Now that I have my shelters how can I mount them?
Well find a board suitable for mounting a number of shelters - my choice was to recycle an old thick card calendar backing (420mm x 330mm) that has already been utilised by my 8 year son for a school project, waste not, want not.

The recycled board with initial layout
I cleaned the board up by demolishing the large cardboard church that had originally been erected plus I removed various grave stones (the small oblongs upper left and right). I then sketched out the approximate location of where I thought fairly random HAS would go plus the associated taxiway. I then suck down various black polystyrene terrain features (these were cut from Pizza bases) with "No more nails" glue, utilising bulldog clips to temporarily secure in place.

HAS layout revised

I then textured the polystyrene to represent grass areas and then, once dry, spray painted with white primer. Next I refined the HAS locations and introduced spaces either side to allow for door opening resulting in additional cut outs. At this stage I had settled on US / RAF 3rd generation HAS design, see RAF Upper Heyford for examples. You can see silhouettes of my Lego / glue tube prototype with circles for aircraft hard standings and areas to allow the doors to open This revised the layout from my original with several HAS rotating up to 30 degrees just to fit them in especially once the exhaust ports were fitted. 

Most topography painted up
I then embarked upon painting up the board with grey concrete hard standings and green 'natural' areas. The main taxi way is still unpainted at this stage

Taxi ways and hard standings

I had two choices for the how to proceed, either to paint markings or to use a graphic package and print them out. The downside of painting is probably my ability especially when it comes to circles. The advantages of using a computer is that of consistency, correctability and repeatability so it is this direction that I went.

I have used standard Microsoft drawing tools in the past for anything from house plans and furniture layout of my home through to creating shop frontages for my scratch built 1:600 buildings. So I turned to MS word and generated the markings for the hard standing area in front of the HAS.

Board with hard standings in place

I then took these markings and placed them on the board in conjunction with the HAS prototypes as another check that every thing fitted OK.

Board with final taxiways and hard standings

I then used this layout to correct with pen markings on the taxi way that was also created in word. This was then revised in word.

Both hard standing and taxiways were then printed in colour and permanently stuck down

Finally, revisions were made to the concrete and the natural areas using paint.

Painted HAS added to Board for final fitting check


Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Scratch Building a 1:600 scale HAS complex (Part2)

I next took different directions for my door and exhaust port solutions.

"H" section joint
I wondered whether the doors could be fabricated rather than cast as I also wanted some hangers to have their doors open. A trip to the local DIY store for inspiration saw me leave with a plastic "H" section jointing strip.

I intended to use computer drawn door frames to cover the solid mould so I then found myself having to slightly revise the door shape to fit.

My eventual approach, after a little trial and error, was to cut a 50mm section of plastic, then remove the small side of the "H" on the outer 10mm on either side, remove one of smaller 'H' quarters for the central 30mm. I then clipped either side into an isosceles triangle with the hypotenuse becoming a hinging point. Not as difficult to do physically as to explain. I also wanted to portrait a shelter with doors open so it was a simple case of cutting this in half. My next step was to add a base to the shelter and glue on the doors

oblong base - closed Doors

  Doors added to base - filling to be done

half doors applied the to a polystyrene quarter circle backing

 T-shaped (open) card base.


I next applied a thin coating of glue and textured the outer surface by 'bouncing' my finger over it. One dried I cut the bases to size and sprayed on a white undercoat.  I tend not to buy off the shelf acrylic paint as I prefer to mix my own.
Essentially, this was a dark grey/green first coat with an olive green over coat. I then used coloured varnish to finish and protect.

When it came to actually applying the printed doors I just didn't like the effect as id just did not sit right with the shelter's colour so, in a reversal to my approach with the taxi ways, I painted them on.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Scratch Building a 1:600 scale HAS complex (Part1)

No modern military airfield representation is complete without a HAS complex. I have not seen any commercially available 1:600 HAS models apart from some sold by PicoArmour but they look a little crude for my liking. So if I want to build my own (cheap) HAS complex then then what do I need to consider?
  1. What do they actually look like?
  2. What can I make them from?
  3. How can I mount them?
  4. How do I represent Taxiways and standings
  5. Environmental setting
HAS appearance and dimensions
I have scoured the internet for information relating to HAS (also known as TAB-VEE or PAS) and the design I wanted to represent was the US/UK 3rd generation types introduced in the early 1980's. They supplemented rather than replaced the indigenous UK first generation in the UK and Germany - I have seen an RAF Laarbruch photo of the both types next to each other. I think the change in design away from a half hexagon was more to do with the available internal space, i.e. there was room for an aircraft and the swinging cat, rather than improved protection offered. Incidentally, during tests on the American version I understand that they were demonstrated to withstand a 500lb bomb direct hit and a 1000lb near miss.

My choice of the 3rd generation type was due to their wide distribution across Europe giving a greater chance of appearing in a scenario and the easier looking construction. They have a semi-circular dimensions with externally braced, centrally split, sliding doors but with different design exhaust ports distinguishing the UK and US variants. I have failed to find any dimensional drawings and the only information I have is on length and diameter (37.5m by 23m / 120 feet long x 70.8 feet wide), I assume relating to the tubular part only. However, I have found a number of aerial photographs with aircraft parked out front so as long as the finished article looks right then that is good enough for me.  

Unibond 'No More Nails' glue tube
My first task was to find a tube that was of the right dimensions. Having looked at various bottle tops I finalised on an empty glue gun tube. I split the tube length ways and then divided it into 6 equal sections (73mm long x 50mm diameter). I used both hacksaw and Stanley knife to achieve this but I will admit that this produced some rough edges that needed sanding down but illustrated that I had chosen a robust material that held it's circular shape well.

I then offered the resultant semi circle up to some thin polystyrene (a frozen Pizza packaging base) and pushed to give an indentation. Once cut out I used my favoured 'No More Nails' glue to fix this together. As I was making a prototype I only advanced with one shelter to iron out the problems.
The Shelter 'closed'

Shelter with Lego Doors (red) and exhaust Port (blue) 
Next up I embarked upon the door and exhaust port design. Thanks must go to my son, Jacob, for allowing Dad to use his Lego in the design process. I duly constructed a solid door profile (20mm deep by 50mm wide), having long given up any hope of making the external bracing and a jet exhaust port design (45mm deep by 40mm wide).

My initial goal was then to take the Lego items to create moulds for use with either plaster of paris or Resin. Having never done this sort of thing before I was in full on experimental mode.


Exhaust Mould
 The door mould was constructed out of Milliput and the exhaust out of air drying clay. I tried both out with plaster of Paris and both took several days to dry out and the result easily crumbled when I came to try and extract the plaster cast. Does this stuff have a shelf life like building cement? (I have since use plaster from a dinosaur fossil science set of my son's and it seemed to be ready to take out of the mould within an hour).

Door Mould
 I also damaged both moulds trying to get the casts out. The Milliput one has a bit of inherent flexibility whereas the air-dryng clay is brittle. Having subsequently asked about at my gaming club the recommended approach was to use latex rubber moulds. This smacked of professionalism and as I was running out of time but only needed 6 sets of both. So necessity became the mother of invention and I went back to the drawing board. I took totally different directions on what proved to be my final solutions.