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david leigh-smith
283 articles

Leyte Gulf; the Orphans of the USS Princeton.

July 16, 2017 · in Uncategorized · · 40 · 8K

This is my first attempt at a and it's been a steep learning curve. I wanted to create a scene that captured something of the spirit of the carrier groups that fought so bravely such a long way from home in the Pacific.

The 'Work In Progress' explains my choice of build, link below...

I was particularly interested in Fighting 27 and wanted to include their plight after the USS Princeton was lost. There are so many incredible narratives (and don't we all model for the stories?) in the Pacific theatre that there are literally thousands of examples of courage, heroism, and valour - you don't have to look far for inspiration.

The figures were a horror. Despite following all advice the paint (Tamiya acrylics) just wouldn't 'take' - a situation remedied by Vallejo Model Colours. For me, what eventually worked was doing the basic colours, varnishing, and adding a wash for details. Next time I'll take more time, the devil is in the detail.

A big objective of the build was to depict a tired fighter just landing on the , having been recently 'orphaned' and another bird just about to join the battle. An aim was to express the relentless nature of battle.

Things I'd like to do differently? Apart from retire, move to the southern Mediterranean, spend all my time playing guitar, model building, playing with my kids, scuba diving? Well,

  • get the right damned equipment.
  • work and practice more on canopies; I think one of the things that really turns a good model aircraft into a great model is the quality of the glasswork. I didn't get anywhere near this aim on this build. Someone on iModeler recently made the excellent point that the one thing even the most war pilot weary pilot in the most weathered plane would want is a clear canopy.
  • make more dioramas. They are addictive.
  • 1/48 is fun; having liked 1/32 as a rule, it's just amazing how much more material is out there in quarter scale.

    I printed a simple sea scape for a backdrop just to give some context to the scene.
    I really enjoyed this build, moving between (two) aircraft to figures, to the base. I'll certainly be making more dioramas.
Reader reactions:
14  Awesome

7 additional images. Click to enlarge.

40 responses

  1. Your first attempt at a diorama, David...? You really expect us to buy that...? Seriously, this is an outstanding piece of modeling - I like every thing about it (yes, even the figures - good work). I'd hate to see what you can accomplish if you mastered that 'learning curve'. 🙂

    • Thanks, Craig. Yes, this is my first diorama but it won't be my last; I really enjoyed doing it and found that telling a bit of a story definitely added another layer of enjoyment.

  2. Dang it, David. I'm moving from inspiration to despondency. You are just too good, brother...

    • David, I've seen your skills and there's definitely no need for despondency. You need to start saving for that 1/48 Catalina - I'd love to see your take on that build.

  3. Beautiful work David ... I have been following your build progress and it turned out extremely nice. Thanks for sharing this with us my friend.

  4. I think you've captured the atmosphere very well, David, and there's lots of detail to see keeping the viewer interested.

  5. The VF-27 Hellcats that landed aboard Essex were "shanghaied" into VF-15 that same night, with their Hell Cat mouths painted out, on the direct order of Admiral Frederick Sherman, the TG commander, who absolutely hated that he had a squadron in the task grou[ that was as "non-reg" as VF-27. So this is the afternoon of October 24, before the shanghaiing.

    • Hi, Tom.
      Absolutely correct! My intent was to recreate a scene after the remains of Fighting 27 landed on the Essex but before Sherman's 'killjoy' moment. I read that he had the cat mouths repainted while the pilots slept.
      Thanks for looking!

      • I always wondered if the sharkmouths were kept on the planes when they left Hawaii. Now I know. Surprising to me they continued on board Princeton, officialdom frowns on displays of unit or personal individuality. Toilet trained a little too vigorously as children, I always suspected.

  6. The figures are recreations of a staged photo of VF-16 CO CDR Paul Buie. You've done them quite nicely.

  7. Self-serving commercial announcement: there are plenty of well-described "diorama moments" in my upcoming Pacific Thunder: The Central Pacific Campaign August 1943-October 1944.

    • Tom, I have this book on pre-order and really looking forward to a great read. I plugged 'Fabled Fifteen' in the Work in Progress thread of this build - it really brought the characters of CAG 15 and the Essex to life. A great tribute.

  8. Nice finish Dave - thought the figures came up well - good job for perservereing with them - captures the moment!

  9. Why thank you, Mr. Mills - they certainly took a bit of persevering. A good lesson in patience learned and although I'm not overly happy with them, it's my faith in iModeler that allows me to post these and stay on the learning curve.

    • Honestly, I would be more than happy with them ( I am sure the next ones will be even better though ) - love the tractor finish and the layout - captures the moment - tells the story - job done!

  10. Well done, David. Exceptional.

  11. Hello David...Very nice build with models, figures and base. Both Hellcats well done with weathering and markings. A fine job indeed.

    • Jim, I have several of the 'In Action' book series (including the Me262, and of course, the 'Pony') - in my opinion the F4U In Action is one of the best modeling aids out there. I consider it a real honour that you'd compliment my build. Thank you!

  12. Thank you David for your kind comments about my F4U Corsair In Action book. I certainly had modelers in mind when working on the photo selection. I am a confirmed 'Corsairaholic' and have lost count of the number of them I've built over the years and look forward to building more in the future. I'm really looking forward to the release of the upcoming 1/32nd Tamiya F4U-1D and sure hope somewhere down the line in the not too distant future, a F4U-4 will follow.

    • I adore the book, the photos are stunning and you can really tell it was written by someone with a love for the subject. Strange how we all have a plane that just 'speaks' to us. The '1D' will be amazing and I really hope your wish of a '4' comes true soon.

  13. Excellent dio David, and the models look great!

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    said on July 17, 2017

    Good stuff.

    • Thanks, Anthony. Great post on the Clyde Room; I'm an Edinburgh lad myself, lovely to see those beautiful ships.

      • Profile Photo
        said on July 17, 2017

        Aye I used to pop in to marionville years ago dont know if they still trade was an rc shop with a wee selection of plastic kits.

        • I remember Marionville; was definitely an RC shop (just off the Glasgow Road?). My childhood memories were of Wonderland models on Lothian Road and I can almost smell it still if I try hard enough. I'd sometimes 'dog' off school and spend all day there just looking and talking about planes to the old guy who worked there. Those were some of my happiest childhood memories. Which is mainly why I build now, I guess.
          Cheers, Anthony!

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    said on July 17, 2017

    Aye. Me too. Though my hangout was Argyle Model dockyard under the heilenmans umbrella in Argyle St. ?

  16. Very nice! excellent work.

  17. Thanks, Robert. As a bit of a 'carrier guy' I'm hoping you could take look at the Enterprise (late '42) that I've started on. Just getting started at the moment but I'd really appreciate any advice/observations as she builds up. My first ship in around 35 years, so looking to learn.

  18. Robert, I've seen your builds and my request for any advice is based on respect.

  19. An excellent diorama David.

  20. Thanks Julian, really appreciate your kind words. Thanks!


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