A Tank on the Reef

This scene mesmerised me when I first saw it. Yes, as usual, click on these pictures to see them better. No, I didn't take them myself, I found them on the Modelloursworkshop site which doesn't seem to be being maintained any more. A shame, it displayed the work of some very skilled modellers - Mikl√≥s Sikora and Peter Horvath. There's more to see there, have a look.

The diorama portrays a Sherman tank rusting in the tidal shallows of a beach on the island of Saipan in the Pacific, a casualty of the island hopping campaign by the Americans in WWII. Around the base you can see a montage in the form of a film strip, of the modern day scene, with the hulk being explored and played on by divers and kids.

What's the scale? 1:35 I assume, but it's hard to be certain. For me, it's a masterpiece of resin modelling, and it opened my eyes as to what is possible in this medium. Here we have an example of modelling crossing over into art. It isn't simply 'military modelling', because as well as superb technique, artistic imagination has been applied to the task of rendering this scene. The simple poignancy of the wrecked tank is almost secondary in the composition, in which the kids treat the tank as a diving platform.

That resin work is extraordinary. I've been reading up on it, because waiting to be built I have a 1:32 kit of a Felixstowe flying boat, which I'm hoping to set in its natural medium, the sea. It shouldn't be as tricky, because there won't be much in the way of underwater detail. But in places I'll need to set the resin as deep as this. Anyway, one message came over loud and clear, that immense care and patience is needed, especially to eliminate bubbles etc. I can't see anything of the sort here, any modelling glitches at all. Instead, the mind isn't distracted and taken out of the scene, but rather immersed in the water swirling around the hulk, populated by seaweed, fish and divers.

The modelling of the tank is excellent too. The skills of top military modellers are almost taken for granted these days, but here they are, seen in the utterly realistic weathering of the rusting vehicle. Do I fault it at all? Not in any sense which matters; I just have one or two points of personal taste which prompt me to wish the figures were rendered a little more fine, and that the photos were displayed differently... I guess I like a simpler style of display, and I think the photos have been added in a way which detracts from the main event.

Well, I've finally written this up, and I still think it's great. I wonder if it won any prizes? Maybe so. In the meantime, let's think on to my own experimentation with resin and water effects.

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