I got inspired by a black and white picture showing an LVT (Landing Vehicle, Tracked) with Marines sitting on the edge of the loading bay of their landing vehicle, heading towards the beaches of Okinawa in 1945.
I had this old Airfix kit lying around for some time, waiting to get build. Many dioramas I've seen show landing craft and tanks already on the beach but rarely in the water. It always amazed me how these steel monsters could actually swim in water. So I decided to represent it halfway submerged like on the photograph.
I'll describe in the following tutorial how easy it is to build this small diorama.
The only hardware we need are:
- Some spare pieces of extruded foam
- Blue and white acrylic paints
- Transparent Silicon sealand (the kind you use to seal the shower in your bath)
- Balsa wood
- plastic spoon
- and of cours the model you want to use
I cut two extruded foam rectangles and outlined the footprint of the LVT on one. Then I cut the recess out and glued the two pieces together with liquid nails. After drying I painted the upper surface with sky blue acrylic paint.
Then I lined the foam with four strips cut from a sheet of balsa wood.
Then I masked the frame with masking tape and painted a lighter shade of blue to where the waves and trailing foam behind the landing craft would be.
For the water surface I squeezed a couple of silicon beads to the surface and smoothed it with the plastic spoon. I dabbed the surface to recreate the small waves.
After the spoon treatment the surface looks like this.
After the initial coat has dried I applied thicker beads around the recess where the water bulges as the vehicles moves forward.
When the silicon had dried over night I placed the LVT with a couple of sitting tank riders in the recess to check how it looked.
Then came the point of no return. Permanently embedding the LVT into the scenery with more sealant added against the model
Now I added Woodland Scenics Water Effects to the rear and on the tracks
It took almost two days for the Water Effects to dry completely transparent. I highlighted the tops of the waves by drybrushing with white acrylic paint.
I removed the masking tape and painted the frame of the diorama with black acrylic paint.
As mentioned above, I used American Tank Riders from HäT, because no other sets contain sitting soldiers at ease and not pointing or shooting at something. On many photographs the Marines only had camouflaged helmet covers and their green fatigues instead of camouflaged. So I also painted only the helmet covers camouflaged. I used Woodland Scenics Accent Glue to attach the figures to the LVT.
The finished scene looks like this.
I assume that this LVT belongs to a later wave, after the beachhead was already secured. I never saw Jeeps arriving in the first assault wave. This explains also the Marines sitting on the edges instead of ducking in the bay of the landing craft.