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The Battle of the Brandywine 11th Sept 1777 Options
Plymouth57
#1 Posted : 18 November 2012 17:05:56

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This diorama is my other big project which was put on hold last year as I returned to my Del Prado Victory upgrade.
At this point in time the model is about half way to completion, I would estimate that I have approximately another thirty figures to make up, about half and half British and 'Yankies'.
The figures are to the standard 1/72 scale and are composed of both stock plastic (polythene)figures from the IMEX American History Series and hand made white metal copies of those same figures, the construction of which I'll go into in detail later. The hand made ones make up the great majority of the total and will be an even bigger majority by the time the diorama is completed. The easiest way to tell which is which is by looking at the bayonets - those with thin offset bayonets are hand made, those with slightly thicker more 'in line' ones are the standard plastic originals.

I have long had an interest in this period (18th Cent) an interest which was greatly helped by the feature film "The Last of the Mohicans" and even managed to survive such historically biased drivel as Mel Gibson's "The Patriot" (read the historical records of the War of Independance and you'll soon see who really acted like Nazis!) I've always thought the redcoat uniforms and tricorn hats look so much better than the later Napoleonic period!Drool

Before the first photos, a short history of the Battle of the Brandywine (or Brandywine Creek as it is also known). The battle was fought in the state of Pennsylvania on the 11th September 1777. The British were commanded by General Lord William Howe on the right with his subordinate, General Earl Cornwallis on his left. A smaller diversionary force was commanded by the Hessian, General Knyphausen. The rebel army was commanded by one General George Washington.
Washington had convinced himself that The British would launch a frontal attack across the Brandywine at Chadd's Ford and had positioned his entire army apart from a few hundred men covering the north, across the river where, he was confident, his muskets and artillery would anhililate the British as they tried to ford the chest deep river. Lord Howe however, didn't like getting his feet wet and under cover of darkness marched two thirds of his force silently to the north with Cornwallis and crossed the Brandywine at a shallower ford eighteen miles further up stream.
As Howe's regiments marched into their battle lines, the American's left to guard the north sent urgent dispatches to Washington who, still convinced that nobody could outmanoevre HIM, dismissed the warnings out of hand. By the time his right flank companies could see and hear the approaching redcoats for themselves Washington was issuing orders by the dozen, most of them contradicting the one sent before it! Eventually he did manage to turn his force around to the right to form two lines facing the British but by then the first ranks had fired their muskets and seeing the British bayonets gleaming in the sun had decided that revolution wasn't such a jolly idea and legged it back into the second line which was still forming up. As the British opened up, driving the disorganised rebels into a full rout the sound of gun fire was heard by Knyphausen and, as previously arranged, that was his signal for the frontal attack across the ford, most of the defending rebels having by now been conveniently stripped away by Washington to face the oncoming Howe/Cornwallis attack. Needless to say the battle was an overwhelming victory for the British, the complete destruction of the American army and perhaps, the whole revolution, was only averted by the approach of dusk and Howe's one failing - he didn't have a modern 'killer instinct', he was a soldier of the old school, winning a battle meant driving the enemy off the battlefield, not slaughtering them to the last man. Washington and his 'patriots' would later prove to possess no such qualms. Are you listening Mr Gibson?
The diorama represents the moment when Howe's lads crested the summit of Birmingham Hill to be met by the sight of the Americans forming up, instead of forming up themselves the Redcoats fired a volley into the blue ranks and charged in with the bayonet, scattering the rebels before them.
Hope you enjoy these first pics and apologies to all the Yanks out there!!Flapper
Please excuse the line that looks like a scratch, its actually a very fine COBWEB! I didn't see it in my workroom and the outdoor sun showed it up in the photo! I hang my head in shame!Blushing
Plymouth57 attached the following image(s):
American viewpoint pic.JPG
American left company pic.JPG
American casualty pic.JPG
First wooden ship: The Grimsby 12 Gun 'Frigate' by Constructo Second: Bounty DelPrado Part Works Third: HMS Victory DelPrado Part Works 1/100 scale
Diorama of the Battle of the Brandywine from the American Revolutionary War Diorama of the Battle of New Falkland (unfinished sci-fi), Great War Centenary Diorama of the Messines Ridge Assault
Index for the Victory diary is on page 1
Plymouth57
#2 Posted : 18 November 2012 17:10:36

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The first three photos show first the American left company looking towards the oncoming British. The following photos show the British view as they over-run the first line of defence and the Rebels pulling back. (Many more figures, especially casualties to be added here)
Plymouth57 attached the following image(s):
Skylines 2 pic.JPG
Over running the fence pic.JPG
Over running the fence from above pic.JPG
First wooden ship: The Grimsby 12 Gun 'Frigate' by Constructo Second: Bounty DelPrado Part Works Third: HMS Victory DelPrado Part Works 1/100 scale
Diorama of the Battle of the Brandywine from the American Revolutionary War Diorama of the Battle of New Falkland (unfinished sci-fi), Great War Centenary Diorama of the Messines Ridge Assault
Index for the Victory diary is on page 1
Plymouth57
#3 Posted : 18 November 2012 17:17:07

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The final three photos of this first post show a close up of the flooded ditch in the centre of the diorama, although not very clear in this shot, the ditch is actually full of a solid 'water' effect resin, it should be clearer in future pictures (I hope).
The last two photos show the entire diorama so far, it only measures 8" deep by 10" wide, the effect of space and distance in the photos is very misleading (but just what I wanted!)BigGrin
Plymouth57 attached the following image(s):
Flooded ditch pic.JPG
Full diorama from right pic.JPG
Full Diorama pic.JPG
First wooden ship: The Grimsby 12 Gun 'Frigate' by Constructo Second: Bounty DelPrado Part Works Third: HMS Victory DelPrado Part Works 1/100 scale
Diorama of the Battle of the Brandywine from the American Revolutionary War Diorama of the Battle of New Falkland (unfinished sci-fi), Great War Centenary Diorama of the Messines Ridge Assault
Index for the Victory diary is on page 1
Dontshootme
#4 Posted : 18 November 2012 18:04:16

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Only one word for this...WOW!
Rob Nolli Illigitimi Carborundum!!!
Current Builds:HMS Victory,SV Thermopylae
Plymouth57
#5 Posted : 18 November 2012 18:09:39

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Aw Shucks! Thanks for that Rob! I'll get back to her someday I promise!
First wooden ship: The Grimsby 12 Gun 'Frigate' by Constructo Second: Bounty DelPrado Part Works Third: HMS Victory DelPrado Part Works 1/100 scale
Diorama of the Battle of the Brandywine from the American Revolutionary War Diorama of the Battle of New Falkland (unfinished sci-fi), Great War Centenary Diorama of the Messines Ridge Assault
Index for the Victory diary is on page 1
Tomick
#6 Posted : 18 November 2012 21:36:04
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Thanks for sharing and is a credit to your skills Cool
mark 2
#7 Posted : 18 November 2012 21:38:49

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Absolutly fantastic.
Thanks for showing us.
Best regards.
Mark
Plymouth57
#8 Posted : 19 November 2012 17:02:53

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Many thanks indeed for the wonderful feedback comments, I'm only sorry that I didn't take any photos of the model as it took shape, this was unfortunately long before I even knew this forum existed!Blushing
What I will do over the next few days is to put together a little collection of photos showing the materials which were used in the construction of the ground work together with brief comments on how they were used, followed by some pics of the casting process I followed to make up the figures themselves.
The beauty of making your own white metal figures is that they can be 'bent' into slightly different positions to increase the variety and they can also be cut up and superglued back together with different heads, arms or even torsos for the same effect. They don't always cast 100% perfect but even the slightly 'wonky' ones are useful. The Redcoat shooting figure in the centre of the diorama for instance was made from two slightly imperfect castings, the top of a standing fireing figure and the bottom from a bayoneting soldier. Each part had a defect in its own top or bottom half but combined, the good parts produced a completely new, perfectly good figure! The other good thing is casting your own (after the initial outlay) works out very economical as nothing at all is wasted, if at first you don't succeed, melt the flaming thing down and do it again!!BigGrin
First wooden ship: The Grimsby 12 Gun 'Frigate' by Constructo Second: Bounty DelPrado Part Works Third: HMS Victory DelPrado Part Works 1/100 scale
Diorama of the Battle of the Brandywine from the American Revolutionary War Diorama of the Battle of New Falkland (unfinished sci-fi), Great War Centenary Diorama of the Messines Ridge Assault
Index for the Victory diary is on page 1
SennaMentalMe
#9 Posted : 19 November 2012 18:35:14

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Great stuff mate, I love looking at dioramas, always a story to be told!! Thanks for sharing. ThumpUp

Kev BigGrin
Plymouth57
#10 Posted : 21 November 2012 16:36:44

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Hi everyone and thanks to all for the positive comments. As I never took any photographs of the base and ground work construction I'll try and give some information on its evolution with some basic graphics and pics to fill in the details where I can. (And I mean basic graphics, I'm still using the Corel Printhouse software that came with my very first PC twelve years ago!)

First of all, the size of the diorama. This works out at 10 inches wide by 8 inches deep by about 2 inches high at the rear. These dimensions were not chosen for any aesthetic reasons (apart from the height that is) the reason for the size was simply that was the internal dimension of the plastic base or frame that the diorama sits in! This is a plastic picture frame from our local Pound Shop with the 'picture' bits removed. At the moment it remains a semi-metallic dark brown colour, I may leave it like that with a coat of polish or I might decide to paint it a better brown or gloss black, thats still up in the air at the moment.Blink

The base itself is constructed from a product called Foam Board, I bought this on-line from the Hobbies on-line shop together with a tool which I'll describe below. The board comes in A4 size and I think I had a pack of five. This is brilliant stuff to work with, light as a feather and fairy strong too. It can be cut with a craft knife (needs a very sharp preferably new blade) or a hot blade type tool which is what you can see sitting on the boards in the first photo below, this is a mains powered cutting tool with a very fine hot wire tip. This will cut through the foam like a knife through butter, or at least it does at first, being denser than normal polystyrene, the foam boards tend to absorb the heat out of the hot wire cutter so you need to either cut much slower giving the blade chance to keep its heat up or simply cut in small sections which, when you are shaping irregular curves and bumps for a natural ground effect is no problem at all.
Also in the photo is another fantastic modelling product called "Subterrain" (I could have done with this years ago!) This is a moulding putty made by the USA company 'Woodland Scenics' which is used to round off any 'angular' looking cuts and to generally smooth out the finished ground work. It feels just like a very smooth hand cream to the touch and is simply spread over the base with your fingers. When it dries however, it tranforms into the same polystyrene as the boards themselves, this, like all the other Woodland Scenics products which will be indicated later, I bought direct fom our local model shop, most of the WS range will also be found in good model railway shops as well.
Ok, here's the first pic with the basic materials mentioned so far...
Plymouth57 attached the following image(s):
Basic Base Components.JPG
First wooden ship: The Grimsby 12 Gun 'Frigate' by Constructo Second: Bounty DelPrado Part Works Third: HMS Victory DelPrado Part Works 1/100 scale
Diorama of the Battle of the Brandywine from the American Revolutionary War Diorama of the Battle of New Falkland (unfinished sci-fi), Great War Centenary Diorama of the Messines Ridge Assault
Index for the Victory diary is on page 1
Plymouth57
#11 Posted : 21 November 2012 16:48:54

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That photo was supposed to be 800x600 like the others! Sorry about that.Blushing


Below are the first three stages of the basic base construction.
The first phase is to construct the hill side as a 'contour map' effect with layers of the foam board pva'd one on top of the other, I did this over a couple of days leaving each layer to dry with a book on top to ensure an even gluing.
The second pic shows the simple sculpting of the hard edges from steps into a smoother slope, at the same time I also used the hot wire tool to excavate the spring and sunken ditch.
The third pic is the smoothed off final finish with the cutter. This was then given a very thin coat of the WS Foam Putty, rubbed well into any badly cut areas and especially into the ditch to round off the edges and sides. If you look at the photo above, you can see how little of the putty was used, for small dioramas like this that small pot would last for years!
Plymouth57 attached the following image(s):
Base Fig 1 Pic.JPG
Base Fig 2 Pic.JPG
Base Fig 3 Pic.JPG
First wooden ship: The Grimsby 12 Gun 'Frigate' by Constructo Second: Bounty DelPrado Part Works Third: HMS Victory DelPrado Part Works 1/100 scale
Diorama of the Battle of the Brandywine from the American Revolutionary War Diorama of the Battle of New Falkland (unfinished sci-fi), Great War Centenary Diorama of the Messines Ridge Assault
Index for the Victory diary is on page 1
Plymouth57
#12 Posted : 21 November 2012 16:56:12

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That's it for now, in the next installment I'll go into detail about the actual materials and products I used to create the ground work before the figures are put in place.
I hope those of you thinking of going down the diorama route will find some useful info in this diary and thanks for looking!
Now I've got some more gun ports to do!!Crying

Happy Building
First wooden ship: The Grimsby 12 Gun 'Frigate' by Constructo Second: Bounty DelPrado Part Works Third: HMS Victory DelPrado Part Works 1/100 scale
Diorama of the Battle of the Brandywine from the American Revolutionary War Diorama of the Battle of New Falkland (unfinished sci-fi), Great War Centenary Diorama of the Messines Ridge Assault
Index for the Victory diary is on page 1
SennaMentalMe
#13 Posted : 21 November 2012 17:17:24

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Excellent post Robin, full of VERY useful information and I've certainly learnt something there, which is very much appreciated and I will definitely be using some of your tips at some point in the near future!!

Thanks again and I'll look forward to the next instalment.ThumpUp

Kev BigGrin
Ger C
#14 Posted : 21 November 2012 17:24:38

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Excellent work,

Do you work for a museumCool
Plymouth57
#15 Posted : 21 November 2012 18:25:41

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Hi Kev and Ger C
Glad you're finding it useful, I've got to take a load of photos now for the next bit!
See you soon!BigGrin
First wooden ship: The Grimsby 12 Gun 'Frigate' by Constructo Second: Bounty DelPrado Part Works Third: HMS Victory DelPrado Part Works 1/100 scale
Diorama of the Battle of the Brandywine from the American Revolutionary War Diorama of the Battle of New Falkland (unfinished sci-fi), Great War Centenary Diorama of the Messines Ridge Assault
Index for the Victory diary is on page 1
Plymouth57
#16 Posted : 01 January 2013 21:08:15

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Hi to everybody and a Happy New Year!BigGrin

I've been trying to decide how to continue this build diary considering the fact that I never took any photos of its actual construction in the first place! I've now come up with a (hopefully) simple solution. In my display unit (along with my 1/700 ship collection) I have a 90mm white metal model of a Roman Legionary, (also made decades ago) which has never had a scenic base to stand on, he's still glued to the flat round metal base the kit came with. So what I'm going to do is to make him a 'proper' home at last, using exactly the same procedure as I used for Brandywine. (I'm also hoping to use this exercise to create an article on scenic bases at the same time)Blink
This new base is far smaller than Brandywine, only about an inch and a half square but the macro setting on my camera makes it seem much bigger! Once I'm past the early sections I can use the Brandywine to illustrate the next steps. OK! Here goes!

The first picture below carries on from the graphics and shows the foam carved landscape after the rough, or more accurately, the straight angles created using straight edged tools have been rounded off under a thin coating of the Woodland Scenics Foam Putty. Applying this stuff is simplicity itself, just dip a finger into the tub and spread the putty all over the foam paying special attention to any obvious cut marks and unnatural looking angles. It doesn't take much at all and I've only dented the top of the tub completing both bases. Once the contours and 'topography' looks OK then leave it as it is to dry overnight. The putty has the consistancy of cold cream (that's skin cream, not a cold dairy product!!)BigGrin but once dry it is exactly the same as the polystyrene foam boards.
The second photo shows the completed next stage which is the undercoating. For the Brandywine I used the Earth Undercoat, again by WS but if your own base is going to be completely covered by grass or similar vegetation there is also a Green Undercoat available too. One coat of this produces a finish with its own 'shading' effect as it is thinner on the high points and darker in the dips. I preferred to give it two coats however and whilst the second coat was still wet, introduced just the tip of my paintbrush with a drop of black acryllic and worked it into the gully or ditch to create the shadows.
This is the final part of the initial base work, the next section will start with the application of the 'real' groundwork, the grass and vegetation!

Back soon (I hope!)Blink
Plymouth57 attached the following image(s):
Sculpted Base 1 jpg.JPG
Sculpted Base 2 jpg.JPG
First wooden ship: The Grimsby 12 Gun 'Frigate' by Constructo Second: Bounty DelPrado Part Works Third: HMS Victory DelPrado Part Works 1/100 scale
Diorama of the Battle of the Brandywine from the American Revolutionary War Diorama of the Battle of New Falkland (unfinished sci-fi), Great War Centenary Diorama of the Messines Ridge Assault
Index for the Victory diary is on page 1
budgie
#17 Posted : 01 January 2013 22:25:57

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Drool Drool Drool i want oneDrool Crying
i have often looked in admiration and awe at such exhibits

Personnel interest would be Napoleanic period (child hood memories of plastic soldiers)

Red tunics for the goodies and blue for the baddies (not true)Crying

Please keep this diary going
Thanks for taking the time and effort for sharing
looking forward to the next installment
Cheers m8
Plymouth57
#18 Posted : 02 January 2013 20:37:43

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Thanks for that Budgie, much appreciated!Blushing
I have three main favourites as far as time periods go, the 'Tricorn Hat' period of the 1700's like the Brandywine (red coats good, yankee blue coats bad!)BigGrin, the Victorian 'Empire' period, Pith helmets etc (red coats good, er, anything else bad) and the true Ancient period, especially the Greeks and Macedonians (red cloaks good, Persians and the rest bad!)Cool
Anyway, just for you I've carried on with the next instalment a little early, it makes a nice change from those damed cannons!Blink

This segment illustrates the first layer of vegetation to be applied ; the basic grass layer. There are quite a few manufacturers of these scenic materials around, my biggest model shop down here in Plymouth has two such ranges, the first is the American Woodland Scenics and the second is the much older company Expo who have been making model railway scenic materials for donkeys years. Of the two, Expo is the 'basic' tried and tested whilst WS are the more expensive 'Rolls Royce' end of the hobby. The grass layer which I have used here is the Expo version which, I think is composed of a very fine dyed sawdust, the staple material of generations of modellers. WS also have their own scatter material called Turf, (fine and coarse), this is a synthetic material which, to be honest is superior, I just happened to have some of the Expo left over and very little cash to spend!Blushing
The Expo comes in a Dark Green and a Light Green and I simply mixed some of each together to create a mid range which looked better.
The top left photo below shows the excellent WS Scenic Cement. This is essentially a high quality very thin PVA which can be either applied by brush or sprayed onto the base with their own hand pump. The picture to the right shows the base with an application of this cement, (this is the little 1.5" square base so the cement was applied with a 1/4" brush, on the Brandywine, being much bigger (relatively speaking, God knows how big Sennamentalme's honking great half track is going to need!), the cement was sprayed on, avoiding in both cases the ditch where the water will be going in later.
The top right picture shows the scatter material, you can just make out the different colours in the grains from the mixture.
Bottom left is this scatter being applied. This is NOT a delicate procedure! The object is to pile the stuff on as deep as you can get it and then to literally push the scatter down onto the base with a fair amount of pressure, not too much if its a large base and fairy fragile but just enough to ensure that the material sticks right in to the glue applied previously.
After about ten minutes the base can be tipped up over a piece of paper and the excess scatter removed by tapping the underside of the base. The result can be seen in the bottom right photo. This will be allowed to dry overnight and then any stray particles in the ditch which (theoretically) shouldn't be glued down can be gently removed with a dry paintbrush. Again, this is the tiny base, hence the huge particle size which isn't so apparent on Brandywine!
This then, is the first layer of grass which simply acts as the base for the next layers of coarser vegetation, rocks, stones and branches. The next addition will be the stones and hopefully I can get some close ups of Brandywine in at last!BigGrin
(But probably not quite as fast as this piece!)Blink

Happy Building All
Plymouth57 attached the following image(s):
Sculpted Base 3 jpg.JPG
First wooden ship: The Grimsby 12 Gun 'Frigate' by Constructo Second: Bounty DelPrado Part Works Third: HMS Victory DelPrado Part Works 1/100 scale
Diorama of the Battle of the Brandywine from the American Revolutionary War Diorama of the Battle of New Falkland (unfinished sci-fi), Great War Centenary Diorama of the Messines Ridge Assault
Index for the Victory diary is on page 1
Wilfy the Sea Dog
#19 Posted : 05 January 2013 22:36:27

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Great tutorial, thanks for that.

I had a search on Woodlands Scenics SubTerrain items & it's pretty nice stuff.

Never really been into trains, but want to build a train layout now!

Bought one of their training kits, N gauge diorama cost £50 odd quid but worth it, it doesn't have to be build as per instructions & would suit anything upto 1/35 scale. Sounds pricey, but with the contents you can build a 2 foot x 1 foot diorama & once you've done one, most of the parts could be sourced elsewhere for a fraction of that price.

Thanks for tips. Great!

Wilfy
Plymouth57
#20 Posted : 05 January 2013 23:10:31

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Hi Wilfy!

Glad you're finding some useful tips in this diary and well done for taking the first steps with that Woodland Scenics kit! They are really the best quality of all the manufacturers that I've come across. If that kit gives you the full quantity of materials that come in the individual items you will probably have loads of it left over at the end so it won't work out overly expensive after all.
If you haven't already got it I would highly recommend the Woodland Scenics Catalogue, I bought mine back in 2009 for £2, it shouldn't be much more now and it's well worth it just for the photos of their finished dioramas especially the water effects!
Keep looking back as I add more bits in, and best of luck with yours.Cool

Robin
First wooden ship: The Grimsby 12 Gun 'Frigate' by Constructo Second: Bounty DelPrado Part Works Third: HMS Victory DelPrado Part Works 1/100 scale
Diorama of the Battle of the Brandywine from the American Revolutionary War Diorama of the Battle of New Falkland (unfinished sci-fi), Great War Centenary Diorama of the Messines Ridge Assault
Index for the Victory diary is on page 1
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DeAgostini