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Michael E Rieth
3 articles

TBF-1 Avenger Battle of Midway Diorama (1/48 Accurate Miniatures)

March 15, 2019 · in Aviation · · 22 · 2.9K

New Member and first post.

I got the inspiration to do this diorama from the Osprey Combat Aircraft #16 /TBM Units of World War 2 by Barrett Tillman.

I based my model on the after-action report. Not only did I try to recreate the battle damage to the aircraft, but I also "battle damaged" the crew. The pilot, Ens. Albert K. Earnest, had his right cheek cut by shrapnel. The turret gunner, AMM3/c J. D. Manning, was mortally wounded and the radioman, RM2/2c H. H. Ferrier, was hit in the head and knocked unconscious. The hydraulic system was hit, which caused the tail wheel to drop, making the stinger machine gun useless. The cables to the elevator were severed, causing the TBF to lose altitude. The pilot dropped his torpedo at a light cruiser to try to lose weight. He used the trim tabs to level off and was able to crash land on the beach at Island, when the right landing gear collapsed.

I installed a small electric motor to turn the prop, ran the wires down the shell splash and put an on/off switch on the base.

The weathering and battle damage on the model had to match the reference photos that I had and I tried to copy it as close as I could.

The “ocean” was created by forming the waves with modeling clay and covering with crumpled aluminum foil. A urethane rubber mold was poured. Clear urethane resin was poured in the mold. The underside was colored transluscent blue/green and the waves were highlighted with white. The resin water was glued to an oval MDF base and the edge painted Gloss Sea Blue. The splashes were made by covering fiber optic strands with clear resin and highlighted with white paint.

I converted the TBF-1C to an early TBF-1. I'll post another article on the conversion and battle damage.

Reader reactions:
16  Awesome

9 additional images. Click to enlarge.

22 responses

  1. Great Job...! I can see a lot of thought went into this good-lookin' diorama. Welcome! 🙂

  2. Very beautiful job Michael! well done.

  3. Awesome work here. Well planned out!

  4. Really superb work Michael! Welcome to the best internet modeling club.

  5. Are you the same Michael who made this diorama back in 2013?
    I liked the idea then too! Have any of the diorama materials yellowed (or changed color) in the 6 years since? I'm starting to pay attention to the longevity of materials.

    • Yes. It was actually made in 2005.

      I posted here because I like the modeling blog format and how it matches modeler to model. It was also a good first test post for me and others may not have seen it.

      The Polytek water clear polyurethane has not discolored, warped, cracked or shrunk in all these years. It has been kept in my display case.

  6. Michael, your TBF diorama is pretty amazing. The sea effect and the plane are very realistic indeed. It’s a great presentation of an actual event. Splendid work! And welcome to iModeler, hope to see some more of your work soon

  7. Welcome, Michael! Great diorama. Like others, I’ve admired it elsewhere.

  8. Beautifully engineered! The running prop is a great idea!

    • The motor runs off a 9 volt battery in the base. I had some kids stick their figure in the spinning prop at a model contest. I yelled at them from across the room as a reaction. People looked at me like I was crazy, not seeing what the kids did. 😉

      When I have some time on my next diorama, I'm going to try to include an Arduino controller.

  9. Fantastic diorama!

  10. superb diorama! I'm always looking at ways to do water in a diorama, and I think you nailed it perfectly! May I ask how you created the support for the Avenger? I can see you did it via the splash, but curious how exactly you did it. Congrats on a very well done piece of work!

    • I used a tapered clear acrylic rod, drilled a 1/8″ hole through it at the wing height, insert a 1/8″ rod into the landing light as far as it would go and glued it in place. Covered it in fiber optic strands.
      I think it needs some “filling out”, as the fiber optic doesn’t mimic water well. I was thinking of using cotton or polyester fill, but haven’t found a way to make that look realistic either.

      • thanks - the support worked very well it appears.
        I have used some thin cotton strands for water spray, but I don't know if that would work well on a 'geyser' like that one. water is one of the diorama challenges that fascinates me for some reason. Have you considered using some gel medium maybe to fill out the fiber optic strands?

        • I did some tests with pulling out and thinning polyester fill and airbrush misting a clear. The problem always seems to be yellowing of the clear. The gel medium seems to make it a clear hollow shell. Hard to represent atomized water vapor.

  11. Very nice! Creative and packed with action. Well done.

  12. Like this a lot. It’s creative, beautifully built, imaginative, skillful. Great subject.

    A terrific post.


  13. Thank you everyone for your comments.

  14. Action diorama ...i like it !

  15. I missed this when you posted it, but I have to say that this is one of the FINEST works I've ever seen. Add the fact that you replicated an actual event and this is a real winner.

    Terrific first post, Michael! Here's a belated "Welcome" to iModeler.

  16. I love the whole idea!

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