"Mail Call for the Sons of Thor"
Modeling the U.S. Army in WWII

Structure, Base Coat, Relationships

Celluclay was applied to the styrofoam base. When it was dry, I painted the snow area white and applied a paint/sand mixture over the exposed ground area. This ensured I had a good foundation for the Snow and Dirt products from Hudson and Allen.

I tried a different approach for creating the deeper snow than I had used in a Stalingrad diorama. In that instance, I glued the H&A Snow over a base of plaster. With this diorama, I spread a coating of acrylic gloss medium and sprinkled the Snow over it. I also inserted clumps of Scenic Woodlands grass, which stood up well in the gel-like medium. However, the AGM sucked the snow down into it as it dried. It gave an icy-snow look (very cold temps that have sucked the moisture out of the snow) vs. the fluffier warmer-weather snow, which is what I wanted (I live in Minnesota, so I've learned a few things about snow...). So I had to go over the surface again with white glue and Snow, which gave me what I wanted.

Before all of this, of course, the stryofoam base had been carved to accommodate the dugout shelter the crew has devised, building a front wall with discarded fencing and ammo box lids. The roof tarps were made of two-part epoxy putty. This was also used to make the sandbags over the ammo pit. Verlinden PSP sections were used to support the berm.

The field was further accented with fibers from an old doormat and bits of garden scraps for the field foliage. H&A Pine Boughs were inserted into whittled twigs to make up the pine trees.

Before the figures were fixed in place, I gave the bare dirt areas a final coating of H&A Dirt mixed with sand, water, and a dollop of white glue. This went over the base color quite well and I had no nasty white patches of Celluclay to have to touch up.

I wanted to convey that sense of weather in a freeze/thaw/freeze pattern, and not do another wet, muddy road. I used H&A Slush to give an icier look along the sides of the road and the perimeter of the snow, and used my palatte knife to press it into the dirt ground in random areas where the soldiers would have packed the snow down. I then went over the Slush with a wet brush of water dirtied with a mix of dry pigments to take off the gloss and give it the look of trodden snow and ice. The results are evident on the Final Touches page.

When I conceived this diorama, I wanted to establish a sense of activity and purpose, which is suggested by the mounds of boxes (Custom Dioramics and Verlinden) black fiberboard tubes (Tiger Model Designs), and metal tubes (AFV Club), along with ammo rounds (again AFV Club). The AFV Club comes with post-war markings, so I had to create my own. With the help of Kurt Laughlin's bottomless resources and Mike Canaday's graphics expertise, I had decals for both HE and smoke shells, as well as the two types of tubes (each type having two sizes). I didn't make a final count, but there are probably 100 tubes and 40 rounds of ammo. Plus several dozen boxes, each requiring eight separate decals. I spent a lot of time putting decals on small pieces!

The added details continued with discarded grommets and fuze tubes. Rations cans and boxes can be seen here and there.

The chest and some of the tools from the erstwhile Kendall Model Company/ Trakx 105mm gun maintenance set was employed since many of the tools were identical to those for the 155mm howtizer.

I continued to experiment with the layout until the end, repositioning figures and gear. I kept looking at the arrangement from all sides. I enjoy the art of composition, of creating and breaking patterns. And have some grounding in historical accuracy.

I also like the challenge of setting up relationships between the characters. Who are the men grouped together? Who are the men who are set apart?

I'm not so much into what is referred to as "telling a story" as much as I am in establishing logical and realistic action within a particular event. In this scene, the mail man comes calling as the crew is getting ready for business. Not much of a story there. But if the action of this event is clearly conveyed and the viewer takes an intellectual or emotional interest in it, then I have accomplished what I've set out to do.




Building Italeri's 155mm Howitzer
Background on the 155mm Howitzer
Overview of the Model and References
Building the Howitzer Assembly

Building the Carriage Assembly
Painting and Accessories
Pictures from the Technical Manual
155mm Ammunition
Pictures of Museum 155mm Howitzer


Modeling the U.S. Army in WWII © 2002—2007 Timothy S. Streeter