Hunter & Hunted – Normandy, 1944
This diorama features three 1/72nd Scale Airfix kits, the King Tiger, Cromwell and Hawker Typhoon. These kits seemed to be ideally suited to use in a diorama setting based on a ‘Normandy 1944’ theme – the main issue being the method of integrating a flying aircraft into the scene and arranging things in such a way that a ‘story’ was told by the grouping of the vehicles. I also chose to use one of the Airfix resin buildings in the diorama too.
Whilst developing the thinking for the final form of the diorama, I started construction of the vehicles. First was the King Tiger –To depict a King Tiger as used in Normandy it was necessary to add a representation of Zimeritt paste to the exterior of the hull and turret. Zimeritt was a cement-based covering applied by trowel in a particular ridged pattern. It was intended to prevent magnetic mines from being attached to tanks by opposing infantry. Several methods of applying this feature to kits has been produced by manufacturers over the years, but I decided to adopt a ‘home-made’ approach by attaching thin sheet plastic card to the exterior of the hull and turret. This was then softened by the application of ‘liquid poly’. A very small screwdriver blade was then pressed into the soft card to make the ridged effect of the Zimeritt. It was necessary to work in small areas at a time while the adhesive was soft enough to work with easily. Of course, to carry out this procedure it was necessary to shave off some moulded-on details which were then re-made and applied to the hull once the Zimeritt work had been completed.
The Cromwell kit was built more-or-less ‘straight from the box’ but I did ‘adjust’ mud guards to appear to be more of a scale thickness, and one of the stowage bins was fabricated from plastic card so that it could be displayed ‘open’. The turret has also been altered to mimic a hit from an 88mm round.
The Typhoon was also virtually built ‘from the box’ using the markings supplied with the kit, although the ‘invasion stripes’ were masked and airbrushed. The alterations made were the addition of a suitable ‘socket’ to take the mounting pylon for the aircraft and the removal of propeller blades. One quandary was how to depict rotating blades. After several attempts using a disk of clear sheet with masked-off airbrushed ‘smudges’ to depict these, I decided to simply leave off any representation of spinning blades as the plastic-disk solution looked far from believable…
I now had to make decisions about the final grouping of things on the diorama. I had decided to use another Airfix product – one of the recent cast-resin buildings – as a central feature. The building did need some adjustment as the floor and roof structures were far too heavy and crude to be of use other than perhaps for wargaming. These features were cut out and replaced by joists, rafters and floor boards made from plastic card. Garden walls were also made from embossed plastic card, and rubble and wreckage was either scratch built or applied using cast bricks and blocks.
By this time I had decided that the diorama ‘story’ was that the King Tiger, having just knocked out the Cromwell, was now cruising by, looking for its next ‘kill’, meantime an infantry team were coming forward with a PIAT anti-tank weapon to take a close shot at the tank. Help is also at hand from a ‘cab-rank’ typhoon who flys over the scene, the pilot weighing things up ready for a firing pass at the Tiger.
Figures were sourced from Zvesda and A&B Figures and the painting of the diorama was completed using the usual washes and pigments to blend things in and provide a realistic amount of dust and grime. The couple of ‘realistic’ photos included were taken outside in natural light with the support pylon for the ‘Tiffy’ simply air-brushed out…