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1/16 US Navy carrier deck crewman


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Hi All,

 

I haven't lurked in this part of the forum for ages...good to be back! Due to a recent house move, I have a much-reduced modelling space, with no room for an airbrushing station. Therefore I decided dabble again in figure painting with brushes. I had an idea a while back about converting one of the Tamiya 1/16 figures to represent a modern US Navy carrier deck crewman, as US Naval aviation is a strong interest of mine. I liked the look of the brown-shirted 'chock and chain/plane captain' crewmen:

 

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So I bought the Tamiya Bundeswehr Tank Crewman figure set below, as they wear a similar-style helmet to the US Navy crewman. They also come with goggles, and as a bonus, there is a second figure in the box (though he has no legs!)

 

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The photo below shows the figure head with the tank crewman's helmet detail sanded down, and the other moulded details on the helmet removed. My plan is to convert the head and torso and sculpt new arms. I have not tried this before so it's a step into the unknown. Any help from experienced sculptors would be appreciated!

 

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Hi All,

 

A little bit of progress below. I added an uneven layer of Alteco epoxy putty/Green Stuff mix to the head of the figure, and also made two rounded headphones which I have stuck on to the side of the figure with superglue. I used the tank crewman headphones as a rough size guide and I think they look OK. I used my new sculpting and smoothing tools to put some folds into the fabric 'under-helmet', not the best job in the world but it will be mostly hidden by other helmet details. I have assembled the kit figure torso and I will be removing the moulded detail, before adding on the elements of the flight deck crew's 'float coats' with my putty mix.

 

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The 'under-helmet that I refer to above is the khaki-coloured bit in the image below (one of the many useful reference pics I have found from the net). Next steps are to add the fabric trim around the earphones and flattened putty 'plates' that will raise the green-coloured sections of the helmet up a bit.

 

helmet detail

 

 

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1 hour ago, junglierating said:

If you need any extra phots ...my flight helmet can be made available I always used/use american ones rather than the crap British made items

Great, thanks for the offer. I only have one shot of the top of the helmet, so if you have any like that it would be helpful. 

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Hi All,

 

Small update for you. I have added the cloth coverings for the earphones, and sculpted a pocket and part of the lining for the 'float coat' on the figure's torso. I will thin the lining quite a bit, and probably fill in the areas in between with more of my green putty mix. I removed all the moulded detail from the torso and started to fill in all the longitudinal creases that are present in the Bundeswehr tanker's uniform, as I don't think that they would look natural on the USN crewman's uniform. Next step is to add the outer coloured shells to the helmet with thin plasticard (the small white piece in the photos),  along with some small details. I'm really enjoying this build so far!

 

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Hi all, here is another update. I am calling the head done! I added both of the 'cranial' plates to the helmet, the front one from plasticard and the rear one from putty. The plasticard had to be 'persuaded' to conform to the curve of the figure's head with superglue, and settled down OK apart from at the top, which had to infilled with putty to smooth everything off. The rear cranial was a challenge...I tried very thin plasticard but it failed dismally to conform to the curves, even when boiling water was used. Not much better was wine bottle foil, which was too delicate and easily folded. I eventually decided to flatten some putty, and cut out the cranial plate shape using a paper template that I had checked for the correct size and shape. This was tricky to apply, even with liberal use of hand cream to stop the putty sticking. But I got it on there eventually, and smoothed it off with more hand cream and my silicon shapers (what a revelation these are!). Any minor imperfections will be filled in with Mr. Surfacer after the priming stage.

The headphones and chin strap were made from wine bottle foil with small details added from Plastruct hex rod and wire. The studs that fix on the cranial plates are Plastruct rod, initially they stood far too high off the surface, so I sanded them down quite a bit to resemble the real studs. The patches on the front cranial plates are the number patch and the velcro patch seen in reference pictures, and are made from ordinary aluminium foil. In the background is the figure's torso, I am slowly building up pockets and folds on the float coat with putty, a small piece at a time. Hope you like the progress.

 

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'Adventures in Green Stuff' continues....! I have attached the figure's head to the torso using the connecting plastic part from the kit (shorn of the high collar which was for the tank crewman). I thought that this would give me the right height and 'sit' of the head on the torso, which it does, and also the figure is looking slightly to his right which I think is more interesting than straight on. I then sculpted the turtleneck undershirt for the crewman and re-did some of the seams on the float coat. I also started building up the putty on the figure's back...going quite quickly with this, I may be at the arm-sculpting stage fairly soon 😬

 

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Thanks for your comments @Model Mate and @brodiebear. Here is a little more, I have added the figure's legs and turned the tanker overalls into camo trousers! I also added a belt from foil but this is mostly covered by the bottom of his float coat. I re-did the texture of the material on his back, with several large, smoother folds; having looked at reference photos.

Overall the trouser texture is not too bad, but I now intend to coat all the green stuff areas with a layer of thinned Mr. Surfacer 500 to even out the 'joins' between separate layers occur and some seam lines, etc. are too deep. It will then be a case of evening all the textures out and making all the folds look natural.

After I've done that it will be on with the primer. I have also drilled out holes for the copper wire armatures for his arms. I will sculpt and paint those separately, as I will need to add the tie down chains and hooks as painted items first, and make sure the arms 'hold' them right on the final figure. Looking forward to getting on with the painting!

 

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  • 2 weeks later...

Hi all. Last update before paint, I smoothed out a lot of the small folds and imperfections with sandpaper and Perfect Plastic Putty (PPP), hence the spotty appearance of the trousers. I also re-did the rear pocket flaps, make side leg pockets and a waist bag and signalling wand from green stuff and plastic rod. I had seen these features in a reference photo and they looked interesting.

Last pic shows the figure under a primer coat of GW Chaos Black from a can. There are one or two little bits to iron out with some more PPP and I might build up a couple more folds with my green stuff mix as the right pocket area of the trousers now looks a little too smooth! I plan to start painting the face next, will update when that is done.

 

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  • 2 weeks later...

Hi everyone. I've finally got some painting done! I always start with the face on the figure, it's always the hardest bit for me. This time I feel it has gone OK, although I may do a little more blending of the shade and highlights. I have painted the basic colours on the helmet, turtleneck undershirt and the float coat. I went for a mix of Revell Leather Brown and Citadel Skrag Brown for the undershirt and helmet plates as most of the reference pics show contrasting tones between these and the float coat. The float coat is straight Leather Brown, which I will modulate with shading and weathering. I have only added the first of the 4 camo colours to the trousers, which is why they look a little weird! Lots of shading and highlighting to do on all the clothing, plus small detail painting on the helmet, and then matt coat. I'll post some pics when that stage is finished.

Next stage after all that is done is to add the tie-down chains on his shoulders (I think I will just do two), scratchbuild the locking/fastening mechanism at the end of the chain, and then sculpt and paint the arms separately so that the pose looks natural. Hope you like the pics.

 

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  • 2 weeks later...

Hi everyone, here's a quick update. The shading and highlighting on the figure's head is pretty much all done. There is some more shading and highlighting to do on the trousers, boots, hip bag and signalling wand. I while back I ordered the correct gauge of chain to make the tie-down chains he will be carrying, but annoyingly I seem to have lost it! So the next stage might be slightly delayed until I find it or source an alternative. I also have a wooden base of the perfect size for this figure. I have trialed using wood filler to create the rough anti-slip texture of a carrier deck which I will use on the base. Hope you like it.

 

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  • 4 weeks later...

Hi all, I've got a little bit more done but I feel that this build is progressing quite slowly at the moment! Never mind. I have repurposed on old wooden base that I had, I made a tie-down point and marked indentations for the figure's feet. The anti-skid texture is brushed on Ronseal wood filler, which I think quite accurately reproduces the texture of a real carrier deck. Arrayed on the base are the chain that I will be using (lost for ages, found in an unlikely place!) and the scratchbuilt plastic 'master' pieces for the tie-down tensioners which you see Plane Captains carrying round. The green parts are casts that I made in my green epoxy mix, having made moulds from the masters using 'Blue Stuff' thermoplastic. I will make 5 or 6 I think and select the best 4. Not too much has changed with the figure, he had some home-made decals applied to the helmet and 'VFA-41' on his back (difficult to see in the pic). The large one was tricky to conform to the surface, and it didn't print well, so I ended up coating it in Klear a few times, sanding it down and overpainting it until it looked acceptable. Next up a bit of weathering on the uniform, attaching the chains and tensioners before I start sculpting the arms. He is a bit shiny at the moment but will get a final matt coat. Hope you like the pics.

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  • 1 month later...

Hi All. I have not updated this for a while...getting close to the end now! The process of making the tie-down chain/tensioner units seemed to take forever, I made quite a few castings, but when I trialed the completed units on the figure I decided that one each side was enough. I have affixed them to the shoulder with superglue. The base is pretty much finished, painted with on old rattle can, added a white stripe with some Tamiya primer, and weathered with a dark brown oil wash diluted with enamel thinners. Subsequent to the photo being taken, I have also dry brushed it with acrylic barley grey, which brought out the texture quite nicely. Just needs another Klear coat, then matt coat then some spots and streaks with the Tamiya weathering powders set.

I started the figures arms, shown in the second photo. They look a bit odd as they are just the 'preliminary' arms, made with Milliput over a copper wire armature to get the shape and size right. I will add details and texture with my green stuff/epoxy mix, and fingers crossed it will look OK. Once those are done, the figure just needs his goggles. Hope you like the pics.

 

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7 minutes ago, Model Mate said:

looking really great now! Will you be sculpting hands?

Thanks - I had a try with making a hand last night and it didn't look quite right! What I think I will do is use the kit hands, cut off the fingers and thumb and replace with green stuff/epoxy fingers to get the pose I want.

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