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.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Building a 1:600 scale airfield (Part4)

 So let’s scatter some of my buildings onto the airfield back drop and see what we get. 

Looking 'North' over a provisional layout

There is still a bit of painting to do to remove the original wider black runway but essentially this is the final layout. On the far side of the runway is the HAS complex with 4x F-16's and x2 F15's (both Tumbling Dice) added for scale.   
In the foreground, left to right are the four buildings of the Barrack block, then the control tower, 'round' hanger, Fire station, square hanger, and workshop (the grey 'concrete' hard standing has yet to have any markings applied), then three warehouse / shopping Malls (two scratch built) and the school complex.
Looking 'East' over the finished Airfield

Airfield painting completed, though I'm still not convinced by the colour of the lighter 'concrete' taxiways as they look too yellow to me. Also, the hand painting to remove the original wider black runway needs to blend into the main field area better.

This picture was taken before a game of Cold War Commander but the layout is the same as above apart from the HQ building barging into the place of the school that has now moved further 'East'. 

Firestation, hanger and workshop hard standing

I've added markings to the hard standing to give a car park and aircraft movement lanes as well as some hazard markings around the fire station

HQ Building warehouses, hangers and the school 

This picture shows, from top to bottom, the HQ Building, a collection of fox-holes, warehouses, hangers and finally the school with houses. The numbered markers were used to 'hide' combatants during the game

HAS Complex
And finally the HAS complex, similarly marked up, this time with British Jaguars and Harriers (both from Tumbling Dice) providing scale.

The making of the HAS complex will be the subject of my next few posts.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Building a 1:600 scale airfield (Part3) Sky Wave Models

I also have a number of plastic buildings (1:700 scale)  from Japanese company Sky Wave:
Set 23 is for airfields:

Hanger Type A

Hanger Type A again

Hanger Type B

Set 24 contains factories but I do not own

Set 25 is a town building set with houses & school / hotel :

Monday, September 20, 2010

Building a 1:600 scale airfield (Part2a) Cruise Line Models

2. I had sourced a number of excellent resin airfield buildings (1:700 scale)  from Cruise Line Models some time ago and whilst constructing the airfield I was also painting these:

CLM7000005 Headquarters/Hospital building
 This building is impressive (Dimensions: 175mm x 100mm x 37mm) and could form a centre piece to a number of scenarios acting as a presidential palace, seat of government or administration, a hospital or a college/ university building. Unfinished -grounds need car parking to be added

CLM7000001 Air traffic control tower

The control tower (Dimensions: 80mm x 46mm x 31mm high) is painted up in limited camouflage and probably only has airfield / airport applications. There are separate aerials but adding these will cause storage problems.

CLM7000004 Fire Station
The Fire station (Dimensions: 75mm x 55mm x 19mm) is painted up in limited camouflage though it could be used in any urban context. I need some vehicles as fire appliances to finish it off so will probably have to convert army trucks. Unfinished.

CLM7000007 Workshop

This building looks more like a factory than a warehouse (Dimensions: 124mm x 52mm x 18mm high) so again will have a universal application. Unfinished. 

CLM7000008 Hanger

This hanger (Dimensions: 85mm x 85mm x 15mm) has had a very rudimentary first coat applied. It is open with 2 sets of doors yet to be applied (there is also a closed variant available). Unfinished.

CLM7000003 Workshop

This general utility building (Dimensions: 124mm x 52mm x 18mm high) looks like a warehouse or small industrial unit with office space so again will have a universal application. Unfinished.

The following buildings have not yet been painted or based:
CLM7000006 Warehouse
CLM7000002 Workshops