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René Hieronymus
23 articles

No place for mistakes

November 27, 2016 · in Diorama · · 25 Comments

Hi there
well it's about time for me to post some pictures of one of my latest projects. This is a rather big project where I took photos from the very start till the finish and finally my good friend Albert took several photos in his little studio.

The story behind this dio is a rather tragic event which happenend on July 14th, 1955.

While approaching the landing deck of CV-19 USS Hancock, LCDR Jay T. Alkire pilot and commanding officer of VF-124, got way behind the power curve of his Vought -3. As a result he crashed violently into the round-down, a classic ramp strike. In the progress, the Cutlass spewing bits, pieces and large ammounts of fuel which instantly ignited, careened down the port edge of the flight deck. After about 300ft, the aircraft finally crashed into the catwalk and broke up into several pieces. The entire cockpit section with the pilot still strapped into his ejection seat, broke off and fell into the sea.

While LCDR Jay T. Alkire was killed in this accident, seven arrestor gear people escaped with minor injuries, the LSO Ted Reilly just barely made it into safety while running across the flight deck from the imminent crash. The other LSO sharing the platform with him leaped into the net and rolled into safety as well. The hook spotter/talker jumped over the side and was picked up by the plane guard destroyer. The fire was quickly brought under control and extinguished.

The whole idea for this dio came (once again) from a photo, somewhat later I found out that this particular photo was only one of an entire series which were taken on that fateful day.

So when I started the work, everything went beautiful. Within a few weeks the hull was done and the detailing began. I used simple wooden frames for the hull covered them with plywood and 2 layers of plastic sheet. Onto this went several details like rivet bands and all kind of small parts to recreate the ships hull. The hangar is not highly detailed on the inside even though I had originally the plan to put at least part of an aircraft and perhaps a few figures in there so that one could see some parts of it through the partly open hangar doors. I even put some LED lights in there as you can see on the photos of the finished model but somewhere while building on this dio I simply forgot about that detail and before I even noticed the hangar deck was closed and to reopen it would have required some major work.
When I started to work on the details of the ship one of my ideas at that time was to buy the guns and directors via one of those 3D printing technique companies. They sure look good but when I saw their prices, well I would have to spend easily more than 300,--€ and upon closer inspection I decided: I can do that! And finally I built everything myself, the twin 3” guns as well as the 5” guns and the Mk56 gun director too. Most of the detail work went into the gallery on the fantail directly below the flight deck and the catwalks. I wanted these parts the ship as highly detailed as possible, most of all because this area would be in the focus of any photo and anyone who will take a look at my model. So I went as far as I could with the details. The flight deck itself which is a very prominent part of the whole model was made by planking it with real wooden veneer stripes, somewhere around 800 of them were glued piece by piece and finally sanded down a lot of work and a lot of time went into this portion of the model but I think it was worth every minute
For the water I used my old and trusted technique of toilet paper and wall paper glue but since I always want to try something new and improve my own techniques a bit I went another step further. After the paper-glue was dry and rock hard I colored it as usual with acrylics, let it dry again and then I applied a thin layer of white glue, when dry it was colored with clear blue, green and smoke and sometimes a bit of white all in various shades, this whole process was repeated at least 7 times after which I achieved a real “deep” look of the water surface. Meanwhile I came up with just another idea how to do this, which I will try on one of my next dioramas. For the aircraft I used the Cutlass kit which was extensively modified to depict an aircraft being ripped to pieces. I opened up the whole belly and inserted two look alike engines with a lot of tubing hanging out, do I have to say that you can’t see a thing of them? But other damages are more prominent and can easily be seen, for this I recreated several parts from thick aluminum foil. The aircraft itself was covered with bare metal foil while the entire ship was colored the classic way by using acrylics, in various self-mixed grey shades with various filters and washes. I also used some pastels for weathering; to be honest I have no “catalogue or instruction sheet” for doing this I simply start doing it and if something new or additional comes into my mind, I simply try it, if it works it stays, if not you can imagine…

For the explosion cloud I used cotton and some chicken wire. I formed 2 “baskets” of the wire and put a somewhat larger LED bulb into each of them, Additional I used some Christmas deco with almost 200 tiny LED’s on some wire which I also covered with some cotton. This whole structure was colored with several layers of mostly yellow a bit of orange and some black. A s a fact if the lights are out the whole things looks more like a toy and not really spectacular but as soon as you turn on these LED’s…Holla die Waldfee!
I put only 3 figures on the whole dio, the pilot of course, the LSO and the Teller, according to the story the LSO who realized that this landing was going to end in disaster ran across the flight barely escaping the inferno, the assistant LSO jumped into the safety net around the LSO platform and rolled into safety and out of sight of my dio, the hook spotter/teller decided wisely this is the wrong place to play hero and jumped overboard and if you look closely at my dio you might even see him (he was later picked up by the plane guard destroyer)
The whole dio took me only 300 hours to build and I enjoyed every second d of it.
The final thing to do was to ask my friend ALBERT MOSER to do his magic and take some photos of it. So he spent a whole afternoon taking these pictures and all I can say is: every single one of them is simply fantastic!
I really hope you all enjoy them like I do and finally there remains only one question: What’s next?


80 additional images. Click to enlarge.

25 responses

  1. Rene, I saw this at Telford close-up, and must say I admire the detail and depth of work that's gone into this project. Very original idea.

  2. Fantastic work...

  3. I found no no words to commentsuch a raelistic diorama!

  4. Reńe, I think your work is brilliant, especially the way you bring fire to life, you can almost feel the heat even in the photographs. I had the pleasure of seeing your USS Sangamon at Pensacola last October, and again the photographs don't do it justice. I look forward to your next "big project."

  5. I've said it before and I'll say it again ,I'm packin' it in,this hobby's not for me,i'm gonna take up amateur brain surgery it'd be easier to compete!...
    Seriously if this doesn't take an award there's no justice in this world,my only criticism if I dare and something easy to do would be the addition of more crew members other than that fantastic in every detail.
    Thanks for showing N.

    • Hi Neil,first of all thanks for your compliments concerning my creation. Even though I like it when people admire my model I'm even more interested in critics about my work. SImply because thisis the best way to improve my skills. If you work on such a big project for several month it is not unusual that you will not notice if you do something wrong, "you can't see the forest because of all the trees" So thank you very much for your input, this is exactly what I'm looking for.
      Anyhow in this particular event there simply were no more people involved with it. There were 3 persons on the LSO plattform, the LSO, who ran across the flight deck and barely escaped, (you can see him in the original photos as well as on my model, the assistant LSO, he jumped into the safety net and rolled into safety one deck below, (you can't see him neither on my model nor in the originqal photo sequence, because hhe is already out of sight at this very moment) and finally there was the Teller/Spotter, he jumped overboard and was later picked up by the plane guard destroyer, you can't see him either on the original photos but you can see him on my model, just diving into the drink. All the other flight deck personnel which was involved dove into safety under the flight deck at the very instant they saw the LSO running for safety. Due to this only a handful of them suffererd from minor burns. Had they stayed at their duty stations the resut would have been disastrous for them. The pilot off course did not escape, it is thought that the impact at the rounddown already took him out, the canopy was blown of perhaps because of the impact but it seems as if the pilot never even attempted to eject from the plane. Sadly he lost his life when the plane crashed in a gun mount and the entire cockpit section broke off and plunged into the sea.
      This is the simple reason why there are only 2 figures on my entire diio.
      Hope this helps a bit



  6. Stunning workmanship, Rene...your creation is outstanding, sir. One has to wonder, after reading the back story, why the pilot did not eject. It would seem that given the canopy was blown off, that would be the assumption.
    Again...I'm in awe of your [continuing] talent(s). Thank you.

  7. Awesome creation. Your attention to detail and dedication to this project are outstanding.

  8. Having the skill for building a thing like this is one thing, having the psyche to stay with it and complete it is another. Fabulous project, really like the effect of the burning fuel and the frozen moment after impact it depicts.

  9. Very very impressive!

  10. Congratulations! Great job. The sheer size of this makes me wonder where do you keep your dioramas. I saw you a couple of Years ago in Telford and we did chat for a while about the figures you were searching for that Kamikaze project. I wonder what's next.

  11. The way you captured the look of the fire is really authentic. That is something that is extremely hard to do and get right. Trust me with the statement I'm a retired firefighter and have seen my share of the real stuff (and then some). Excellent work sir.

    I really like it when the story behind the build and what inspired you is included. Thanks for sharing.

  12. Absolutely amazing!

  13. Stunnning. Just stunning.

  14. Wow! Amazing dio.

  15. Rene, another unbelievable effort! This must be one of the most dramatic STRIKE accidents of all time.

  16. Everyone has already said it - but AWESOME!

  17. Outstanding that's all I can say


  18. Wow. Words fail. Absolutely stunning!

  19. Unbelievable! Wow!

  20. ,

    1 attached image. Click to enlarge.

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