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Originally published on:
Model Shipwrights

Uboot im eismeer (U-Boat in the Polar Sea)

Background…

This is my first take on making ice in a naval setting – the chosen “victim” is Broncos 1:350 type IX c built out of the box with a crew of 4 figures from Fujimi. You could call this a “proof of concept” as it’s a test for a bigger diorama involving a 1:72 Special Navy II A. Being a test it turned out pretty well, and only time will tell, whether it can be scaled up and still work.

The “groundwork”…

I will not go into much detail on the buildup of the base, it has already been described better than I will be able to by Dade W. Bell:

Dade's Water

And GuidoHopp: Guido's Base

Here is another take on ice by Augusto Martinez: Agusto's Water

I applied local materials, but materials with the same properties is widely available at any “do it yourself” shop or already present in most households – like ours which is constantly undergoing rebuilds and repairs. The great pleasure of building af base out of scratched materials is the low price and the joy of creating something unique. I will let the pictures speak for themselves and focus on the ice part.

Making ice…

Again following the philosophy of using cheep materials already in the household, I choose to use pure white candle wax – remains from the wife decorating the living rooms. It’s important, I think, to use pure candle wax, if not for anything else then to prevent it from melting in sunlight and lamps developing heat.

Since the scale is rather small, the ice floes should be relatively thin – also because most of the ice is below the water. I chose two ways of “casting” the ice – which apparently gives some variations in surface structure.

First of I melted some candle remains in a little pot over another lit candle. While hot and liquid I removed the wicker and other irregularities so the wax was nice and clean. Melting a larger amount of wax gives a bigger and more even casting than just lighting a dripping the wax.

I casted the wax in a approx 1 mm think layer on both paper and aluminum foil – it would seem that the paper absorbs some of the moisture from the wax, giving the hardened wax a more frosty/flaky surface, whereas the wax hardening on the aluminum foil was more smooth an regular.

I used both results as the variation thus provided, added some visual variation and to further accentuate this, some of the floes were given a coat of glue and baking soda.

While the casting was done on a flat surface, I also tried lying some aluminum foil over the waves to cast the wax in shape – but it was only a limited success, and since frozen seawater should be flat on the surface, it dismissed this method.

The floes where broken up in irregular shapes, taking care that all edges where broke to avoid the smooth rounded edge from the hardened wax. The pieces were glued on using regular white wood glue. Biggest pieces went on along the edge of the base, smaller pieces moving in on the sub, and some small fragments where placed upright at the bow to illustrate the boat moving through the ice.

The semitransparent thin wax lets the colors from the painted water shine through which is further improved by adding a thin layer of clear acrylic gel between the ice floes tied it all together – I also coated the surface of the floes affected by the boat passing trough the water, to illustrate the floes being washed clean with seawater.

I declined giving the finished diorama a coat of lacquer to seal it, fearing that it would spoil the effects of the different casting methods and the added baking soda – so keeping it in a dust free environment is probably much more important.

Wrap up…

This is both a easy and cheap way of placing your latest vessel in a ice filled environment – although it in its current application probably works best in 1:700 – 1:350 scale. Thicker castings are needed to give sufficient depth in 1:144 – 1:72 scales.

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About Jan Klarbæk (MrMox)
FROM: AARHUS, DENMARK

I want more hours in my day ....