Revell 1/32 F4U-1 Corsair Wreck
By Wayne Kohlmann
This diorama is supposed to represent an underwater wreck of an F4U-1A Corsair in shallow waters off the coast of New Georgia in the Solomon Islands. It’s not a model of any particular wreck but incorporates much of what I’ve seen on wrecks in the Pacific and, in particular, Corsairs.
I was surprised to find that there aren’t many dioramas like this on the internet so, with little to guide me, I spent much of my journey experimenting and trying to find solutions to the myriad of challenges I encountered. The kit is Revell’s 1/32 scale Corsair, which I picked up cheaply at a swap-and-sell. The diorama base is rigid foam insulation covered with a dusting of tile grout and topped off with hardware store epoxy putty that I sculpted into reef. I canted the upper sheet of foam base to simulate the sloping seabed. Small bits of railroad scenery sponge were applied to the reef to simulate sponges and coral. I researched marine life that lives in the Solomons and settled upon making a couple of Potato Cod, a White-Tip reef shark and a ray, all made with styrene sheet and Milliput. The fish are elevated above the sea bed with very small diameter brass rods placed so the pectoral fins obscure them.
The divers were another story. I lashed out and bought three of Royal Models’ 1/35 scale scuba divers, thinking the difference between 1/32 and 1/35 scale wouldn’t be that noticeable. How wrong I was! The Royal Models’ divers are beautifully sculpted and cast but they were far too small for this diorama. I scoured the internet and found a resin kit of two 54mm diver figures from a scene in the James Bond film, Thunderball. I bought two of these kits off AliExpress, only to find that they were very cheap knock-offs of what I think is an Andrea Miniatures kit. I had to re-model the divers’ poses to suit the airframe, fill lots of air holes and re-sculpt many of their details. I scratch-built the scuba equipment using a 6mm knitting needle, copper wire and plastic sheet. The bubble-streams rising from the divers are assemblies of tiny bubble castings I made from ultra-clear Araldite (epoxy glue) that were assembled with superglue. I then took a big risk and painted selected bubbles with Molotow liquid chrome, just to break them up and provide a bit of added ‘reflective’ interest. The colours in the scene may appear somewhat odd but I’ve tried to represent the colours that dominate in the depths of the sea, hence the blue/grey-coloured sand. Additionally, I tried to create a vignetting of the light by darkening the sand at the corners of the base. The base and the aircraft are painted with MRP and SMS lacquers, while the divers are brush-painted with Vallejo acrylics. I toyed with the idea of immersing the whole thing in clear resin but the amount required was cost prohibitive.
I hope you like my project. It fought me all the way and I wondered if I’d ever finish it. I had no idea how much work is involved in a making something of this size, and I definitely have a new-found respect for diorama builders.
© Wayne Kohlmann 2023
This article was published on Tuesday, February 14 2023; Last modified on Sunday, February 19 2023