Storage Containers

The real location that the Gatport Airwick diorama is based upon, features redundant sea containers that have been converted for use on land. This is a widely employed, cost effective concept. The real location features about three old containers, but for space reasons the diorama will feature just one.

I popped over to the local model shop and purchased a packet of Bachmann 20ft sea containers, these were in the silver grey Maersk livery.


It became apparent very early on that the containers are manufactured in pristine condition, to make a model of a redundant shipping container, this was going to have to change to make it look more realistic.


A feature of many well travelled shipping containers, both still in use on the high seas and in other uses on land, are the repair patches on the container side walls, with paintwork that is a lighter or darker shade than the rest of the box. I set about trying to replicate this weathering feature, making square patches on the box sides using Tamiya lining tape.


Once the Tamiya lining tape was in position, I used a flat Tamiya grey paint to fill in the patched areas. Once the paint was dry, the Tamiya lining tape was removed. The golden rule is to always make sure the paint has dried thoroughly before removing the tape. When the time comes to remove the tape, I find the best method to give a clean line, is to pull the tape back over itself when removing the tape from the model.


The next step was to add a light rusting effect onto the box. I started by scraping off small flakes from a brown coloured pastel stick onto the box using a sharp scalpel, I then dry brushed the ‘rust’ onto the box surface.

picture126 picture125

When dry brushing the ‘rust’, I learnt very quickly to only brush up and down, not side to side, as rust is of course gravity led water based weathering and so the rust streaks wouldn’t look as right if they were horizontal rather than vertical.

picture124 picture123

As can be seen from the pictures, I let the ‘rust’ build up at the base of the container, as that is where the water is most likely to build up and sit. Once the rust was in place, the container box was then given a spray coat of matt varnish to lock in the dry brushed particles to the model.

picture116 picture115

If anyone is exploring weathering techniques for the first time, I thoroughly recommend practising on a model of a shipping container as its a nice simple shape and a hell of a lot cheaper than a locomotive. During this project I also learnt how easy it is to over weather models, it is always better to begin with very light weathering, exercising patience then building up the worn appearance as the project progresses.



Airport Terminal Transit Vehicle

Many multi terminal airports across the world, feature some form of internal transit system for passengers with heavy luggage, to swiftly move from one terminal building to the next. The real location in West Sussex features a rapid transit system (not a monorail!) between the North and South terminals.

I started by cutting out pieces of styrene sheet to form a basic transit vehicle shape.


I then added door detail and internal seat detail onto the main structure of the carriage, leaving the roof unfixed to allow glazing to be added later. The whole vehicle was then given a coating of grey primer.


Next I started to scratch build the chassis by beginning with a basic rectangle shape. Then wheels were added and glued into place on the chassis. The styrene sheet was then given a coat of grey primer. After the primer had dried sufficiently, the chassis was then given a coat of blue paint similar to a very British Airline.


After the coat of grey primer had dried on the main vehicle body, the carriage body was then also given a coat of blue paint similar to a very British Airline. After the paint had dried, glazing was added using transparent styrene sheet and fixed into place inside the carriage body.


The roof has been left ‘open’ to allow 00 gauge passengers with luggage to be installed into the carriage.


Painting People

A very common sight at airports, even in the mid 1990s, is security. The real location that the Gatport Airwick diorama is based upon, even has its own dedicated force within the county. In order to feature this element of an airport layout, I went and purchased an 4mm scale police officer from Montys Models via Dart Castings.


Most, if not all personnel involved in security, will wear very dark coloured clothing of sorts, so when researching the colours to use for painting this figure, I discovered about scaling colour and found out that painting what appears to be black clothing, using actual black as a paint colour actually looks totally wrong.

This realisation about modelling the colour black, also jogged my memory from a visit to the Harry Potter Studios in Leavesden years ago. The tour staff explained that during filming, the majority of the cloaks used in the scenes were actually coloured dark blue, not black, because black clothing doesn’t show up at all well on film and television.

As a result of this discovery, I purchased some colours to use for painting the clothing and opted for Tamiya colours ‘XF-69 Nato Black’ and ‘XF-85 Rubber Black’, which are really very dark shades of the blue scale, but once photographed, show up as black better than Matt black itself.