WWII Airfield Diorama

Create a Realistic World War Two Era Airfield Scale Model

di Alessandro Orseniga
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WWII Airfield Diorama Title

7. Gardening

Let’s now get into the most intriguing part: adding grass to your airfield!

First of all, you should decide which zones you will apply the grass on and the amount of vegetation you desire to reproduce. This is important to properly mask the frame of your model, in case you had already framed it. To do so, simply apply some paper tape along the frame edges next to which you are going to glue the grass. If needed, you can mask some portions of the airfield as well. Once done, your model is safe from unwanted weeds.

Static grass applied next to my airfield model.

 

Static Grass

Depending on the season your diorama is set in, you may choose different hues and lengths for your grass. Moreover, length depends on the scale as well, since larger scales, clearly, need longer grass blades in order to get a realistic effect. That said, you can choose among a wide range of synthetic “static” grass, that can be bought either online or in a hobby shop. Static grass is composed, essentially, by thin, colored plastic fibres, that can be electrically charged in orther to dispose them along a static field while being dropped on a model, so that each fibre will stand approximately vertically, better resembling real grass blades. In addition, mixing various types can lead to great results, provided that each type of grass do not differ excessively from the other ones in terms of colour.

How to Apply It

Once you have made up you mind about grass colour and length, you can finally apply it to your model! To begin with, spread some white glue with a large brush on the portion of the model you want to apply grass on. During this phase, it is important to apply a considerable amount of glue, since in case you were not satisfied with the first result, applying a second layer of grass in the same position would be almost impossible.

Without an Applicator

Once done, if you do not posses a static grass applicator, you can simply put your grass in a small strainer and gently drop it on the model in the same manner you would do with icing sugar. On the contrary, in case you do have an applicator, first you have to proper set it in order to achieve the best result.

With an Applicator

Please, bear in mind that, although such devices might appear quite harmless, they can instead be very dangerous. Always take proper precautions while using a static grass applicator.

Applying static grass on your airfield diorama.

1) Apply a great amount of white glue (even more than the quantity shown here). 2) Set your applicator according to its features. 3) Gently drop the grass.

Generally speaking, your device should be composed, among other components, by a small tank and an external electrode. The latter has to be connected to the surface that you have previously covered in glue by attaching it to a needle. You can otherwise connect the electrode to a sheet of aluminium foil and place the latter below your diorama. Notice that, depending on the power of your applicator, the vertical distance between the aluminium foil and the surface you would like to apply the grass on has to be very limited (no more than 1-2 cm).

Now, just drop the grass as described above: you should notice that fibres arrange themselves vertically while touching the surface. If they do not, try to keep the applicator closer to the surface of your model. Anyway, I suggest you always rely on the instruction provided with your own device: these are general guidelines, but they might differ considering different applicators.

Here it is a comparison between a layer of static grass applied with (left) and without (right) an applicator. Depending on the scale, applicators can make a great difference, although such devices are nowadays unnecessarily expensive.

Here it is a comparison between a layer of static grass applied with (left) and without (right) an applicator. Depending on the scale, applicators can make a great difference, although such devices are nowadays unnecessarily expensive.

Tufts of Grass

If you still find your airfield a bit “flat”, you might consider adding some small bushes or grass tufts to it. The process to create them is rather similar to the one desribed above, however in this case you can choose between two different approaches.

Creating small grass tufts.

Grass tufts created directly on aluminium foil.

The first one consists in dropping some white glue drops on an aluminium foil connected to your applicator electrode and then applying some static grass on it. You will obtain some small tufts of grass that, once the glue is dry, you can gently remove with a scalpel and place them wherever you want on your diorama. In order to facilitate the removal, you could put a sheet of parchment paper above the aluminium foil and drop the glue on it instead of directly on the metal sheet. Both these methods result in nice and defined tufts.

Creating small grass tufts.

In these shots, the method involving parchment paper is shown. 

Conversely, you could drop some glue drops on the diorama itself. However, in this case, you would have to place an aluminium foil below your airfield and connect it to the electrode of your applicator. The effectiveness of this technique, as mentioned before, depends therefore on the the thickness of your model base (no more than 1-2 cm). In this case, simply drop some static grass above the glue drops with your applicator, and you will obtain some nice tufts right where you wanted.

Here it is the final result. Some tufts have been separately crafted and then glued on the field, others have been directly created dropping some glue on the surface and then applying the grass. By varying the size of each drop you can change the extension of the resulting tuft.

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2 commenti

Joe O'Donnell 2 January 2024 - 22:35

Alessandro, thank you for this article, it contains most of what is needed for constructing a model airfield in one place, nicely done. I am atempting to start my first model base. It will be for a 1/72 Me 262B-1a and I have read quite a few articles on such, both the plane and the diorama. The pictures at the beginning are very helpful for the exact reason you call out. From your Who Am I below,” I am a fanatic of precision and, to me, nothing should be left to chance: I want my models to be the result of a real historical study.” You might as well be describing me, I probably spend several months researching before actually pulling the glue out. The aircraft I am building this for is the only remaining German built Me 262B-1a, WNm 110639, only as in there are no others. I am building it as the two seat trainer after some scratch building. All kits I have seen have it modelled as the night fighter which has a different rear cockpit. It is set up for the radar operator and in its trainer from this is where the instructor pilot sits. This plane is currently located at the National Naval Aviation Museum at Naval Air Station Pensacola, FL, USA. Again thank you.

Joe

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Alessandro Orseniga 10 January 2024 - 18:06

Dear Joe,
Thank you for writing. I am glad my article has been of some help to build your model, and I am even happier to know that other modelers like me spend so much time reserching information about a certain subject before building it. That is pretty much what I do every time I begin a new model. The night fighter version of the Me 262 is a beautiful aircraft, personally, I really like its particular camouflage: a great choice!
Forgive me for not answering your comment right away, again, thank you for sharing your thoughts about my article, I always appreciate it.
I hope the work with your airfield is proceeding well, I wish you all the best.
Best regards,

Alessandro Orseniga

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