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Red Sky in Morning Sailor take Warning by Rob Kernagan
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Red Sky in Morning.........
Sailor Take Warning.
by Rob Kernaghan

My C2 Diorama

I build almost exclusively 1/700 waterline ships. Usually I display my ships as being underway with their own individual seascapes. For some time, I had been considering the idea of a diorama featuring ships in port.

Ideas came and went, then I found out about Battlefleet Models (BFM). Looking through their website the idea of what to use in my diorama arrived. It would be WW2 featuring a suitable freighter loading vital supplies.

I duly acquired several kits off BFM, including the C2, various dockyard workboats and dock sections. I had long-wanted dock walls and these were ideal.

Being limited for space and time for this project (I always intended this diorama to be at Telford) I still aimed to pack as much as possible into a small space to give the impression of a busy day in port.

Experimenting with various layouts, the end of a pier with the C2 berthed there was just what I was looking for.

Having decided on the layout, I began work by permanently attaching the dock section to the base. This was then brush-painted in WEM enamels. After allowing the enamel to dry, I glazed the pier with gouache followed by washes in oils and dry brushing in acrylics and enamels.

Work then commenced on the ships. I used the small tug/barge kit, the medium/large tug kit and the C2, all from BFM.

Rather than portray a specific event, I decided upon a generic scene, thus my C2 is anonymous, representing the many hard-worked ships of the class.

I found all the kits to be excellent and opted to built them more-or-less out of the box.

On the C2, I added some more photo etch and replaced the resin cargo booms with brass rod. I also added some photo etched ladders to each vessel.

I fully assembled each vessel and sprayed them overall in haze grey followed by brush painting the decks, windows and small details. I picked out the portholes in black ink.

The last stage of painting the ships was the weathering which was done with washes in artists’ oils and dry brushes of artists’ acrylics and enamels.

At this point I retested the layout and realized that the larger tug wouldn’t fit, hence she can be seen on her own miniature seascape on the BFM website. Whilst testing the layout, I added the railway stock and building to get an idea of how it looked. I decided here which railway stock and how much of it to use.

I realized I still had a problem. No dockyard looked complete without a crane. After various experiments, the crane was assembled from leftovers from other projects, painted a suitable grey and weathered.

I then preshaded the water’s edge round the pier in a dirty brown oily color, followed by permanently attaching the various vessels to the base.

My preferred method of rigging is to use stretched sprue with the ship upside down. This has the advantage of being able to let the rigging hang into the correct place via gravity so making the rigging easier to position accurately. To do this, I need to have the ship attached permanently to its base to avoid the risk of dropping it.

Having completed the rigging, I finished the water base. I first painted the whole base in white glue, followed by a thick coat of artists’ acrylics, then a coat of acrylic gel to give it some texture with a final coat of white glue to seal it and give some sheen to the surface.

I completed the painting of the building, railway stock, road vehicles and crew, fitted them in place and as a final touch hung the washing line on the C2.

All in all, this highly enjoyable little project took me 4 weeks to do. I am sure there is plenty of other diorama potential for BFM’s range of freighters and workboats, be they in port or out at sea.

I still have a number of BFM’s workboats in stock and will be using them in dioramas again.

The C2 makes an attractive subject in her own right or as part of a larger project. Perhaps someone will want to feature several C2’s in part of a large convoy diorama?

Materials used:


(All BFM) C2, Dock Section, Medium tug, small tug/barge


(WEM) railway stock, building, some vehicles

(Pitroad) tanks, trucks

(WEM, GMM, TMW, Eduard) photo etched parts


(WEM/ Humbrol) Enamels

(Rowney) acrylic gel, gouache, water colors, artists’ oils, artists’s acrylics

(MIG) weathering powders.




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