Starcevich VC

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The Figures- Japanese.

The Japanese forces present in the immediate vicinity of the T junction included a Taisho 3 ‘Woodpecker’ heavy machine-gun, its trench was located on the left shoulder of the T junction. RPM’s 1/35 Woodpecker was the perfect kit to use to construct the gun (read a review of the kit here). A few metres to the right, a second trench contained a LMG manned by two gunners. To replicate the gunners, I have used figures from Airfix’s Japanese Infantry ‘multipose’ set. With a bit of converting and interchanging of the recommended parts, the figures can be modelled in all sorts of action poses. I used Milliput as modelling putty to fill the gaps, while Magic Sculpt performed better in the role of re-sculpting parts.

From the accounts, the Japanese appeared thin, dirty and ill-equipped, but still a formidable opponent behind two machine-guns. As Starcey advanced along the track, he fired short bursts at the shadows moving behind the guns, forcing the Japanese to keep their heads low, therefore denying them of an accurate beading on him.

The figures were painted using Humbrol and Tamiya enamels. The Japanese uniforms were a khaki sand/ jungle green. In the later war years, the colour of the Japanese uniforms differed greatly in shade because of wartime shortages. Often, factories had to rely on local suppliers, accepting whatever qualities and colours of material available. The paint was mixed to the right quantities by eye, so that no two uniforms were exactly the same colour.

The Arisaka 6.5mm Rifle.

I decided to do some major improvements to an Arisaka rifle which is supplied in the Japanese ‘multipose’ kit. Using plasticard for the strap and extremely thin copper wire for the buckles, I documented the improvement in a series of diagrams (images 44-49)

The Figures- Australians.

Only two Australians got anywhere close to the machine-guns, Starcevich, and his best mate Snow Porter who was scouting and wounded when the guns opened up. It is understood that Porter hid in the undergrowth until Starcevich passed and knocked out the first post. When Starcevich’s Bren gun ran out of ammunition, Porter crawled out and miraculously helped Starcey reload, before passing out. Starcevich then emerged from cover and resumed his assault on the second LMG post, killing both occupants.

The figure I used to represent Starcevich provided me with some difficulties. As the main feature of the diorama, I wanted this figure to be of a higher standard of quality than what Airfix could provide. The answer came when Dragon released its 1:35 British 8th Army set. Parts from this kit provided me with the basis for some conversions.

Starting with the legs, I shaved off the British style socks and also the short pockets. I then used Magic Sculpt to alter the shorts into long trousers, complete with American style gaiters. A 1:35 Ultracast head was used instead of the provided kit head.

The Diorama- Groundwork.

After doing many plans and sketches, the ground was first built up using packaging foam and cork board inside a picture frame border. A layer of wall filler (tinted with acrylic brown) was put down, shaping the basic landforms while going along. While the filler was still wet; sand, dirt, stones and sawdust were sprinkled over the top and lightly pushed into the sludge. When dry, an airbrushing of enamel brown was applied, followed by a slight green misting to look mossy. At this early stage, I fitted a palm tree to the base to see how it would fit and look later on. This particular palm tree was made from a long bamboo skewer as a trunk, covered in glued tissue paper and string. Peppercorns were used to replicate coconuts. The aluminium foil method was used to make the fronds for this tree, but as you will see, I decided to remove this palm tree and make another one using natural ficus benjamina leaves.

The wooden fortifications were made from twigs, bamboo skewers and balsa wood, glued into place and adding more filler where needed. In Starcevich’s account he says that it had rained all night prior to the action, therefore, everything had to look wet, muddy and humid. The thick bladed kunai grass was made from REAL grass picked fresh from the lawn. Once picked, it was left to dry out for a few days before being glued to the diorama. Once glued, it received an airbrushing of enamel green paint. A final spray of hairspray was added to hold the grass in place on the diorama. No preservatives were used at all. You may be able to spot a green snake hiding amongst the kunai. Other grasses were made from rope hemp, dolls hair (from a craft shop) and natural garden twine. To add variety to the groundwork, weeds, mosses and ferns and were added to the groundcover after being preserved with a 1:15 glycerine/water mixture (see images 19-22). Some of the broad leaved plants on the diorama were made from aluminium foil. The techniques used to make some of the ferns and small palm trees can be seen in these two feature articles

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About the Author

About Chas Young (youngc)

I bought my first model kit when I was 12 years old. I began making 1:35 figures and dioramas when I stumbled across the Kitmaker Network and never looked back. My main area of interest is the Pacific war especially Australian, Japanese and British/Commonwealth subjects. I am currently hosting the H...


Hey Chas,nice Dio. do you know,by any chance where was your relative originally from? Croatia,maybe?
OCT 07, 2008 - 11:20 AM
Chas mate, Loved the article! So glad those writing lessons way back in February are paying off, mate Guys, what you may not know is that this vignette earned young Charlie a gong at the Western Australian Model Expo held a few weeks ago. Congrats on the gong again, buddy boy! Rudi p.s. I won't tease you about the Sheila's... did that last week chat soon again
OCT 07, 2008 - 05:29 PM
Indeed e great true story well brought on you're dio!! Superb! Grt Nico
OCT 07, 2008 - 08:54 PM
Hi Chas, As Scott has mentioned, a lot of people will be using your feature as a reference to how a jungle diorama can be portrayed. I like the different techniques that you have used in this diorama they have proved very effective! It isn't easy to build a jungle themed diorama, just trying to bring all the of the natural elements to life and make them as realistic as possible isn't an easy task. This is certainly a diorama to be proud of mate and no doubt you will look back at it from time to time with great fondness. Cheers, Shay
OCT 09, 2008 - 04:29 AM
Thanks all for the replies and sorry I haven't got back sooner, I have been away. I will try to answer all the replies below: Firstly I would like to thank Darren for his work editing and sorting almost 100 photos. I am very thankful and happy with the results. Thanks Scott, Michael, Pat, Tomek, Seb, Martyn, Andrew, Shane, Nico and lastly, Shay my dear friend! I am glad that the diorama techniques are helpful. Personally, there are a lot of elements I am un-happy with but hopefully my next diorama involving jungle vegetation (yes I have one planned!) will be an improvement. Bob, I'm glad you also like the vegetation. Anything you need I could send to you, providing that you check it's ok with your customs laws. Claude, no, regrettably I am not producing girls like an assembly line. I will work on this! Nowww, JB and Rudi, I am very blessed to be a musician, this counter-acts modelling in terms of girl getting ability. I also believe and trust that God will bring into my life the perfect girl at the perfect time...that is, anytime apart from when I am modelling Matija, sorry I don't know much about the origins of the name. Unfortunately, strong ties with the Starcevich family have been cut since a divorce occurred. My cousin still bears the name so that next time I see him, I'll try find out. One of the people I forgot to mention in the article was the one and only Rudi Richardson, former ME of HF, former South African He has got to be one of my biggest critics but has really enhanced just about all aspects of my experience here on the Kitmaker network, from practical modelling help, to online conduct, to spelling and grammar!! Now that he is here in Aussie, I am only 3 steps behind, actually only 2 when daylight saving kicks in. So look out mate, we just might meet in person someday! Thanks everyone, it has been really fun writing this feature! (Darren I just noticed you have named me Charles as author of the article. That name is strictly reserved for when I turn 100 years old!) Chas
OCT 09, 2008 - 09:48 PM
thanks for sharing Chas!! great reference as shay pointed out!! greetings koen
OCT 09, 2008 - 09:52 PM
Only to pleased to help name has been edited.
OCT 10, 2008 - 01:26 AM
Hi Chas, A well researched project showing the nature of some ordinary men in times of conflict. I enjoyed reading the article and your smal dio protrays the event well. Excellent work and a well deserved prize. You obviously out a lot of effort into this project and it shows through both in the article and the dio. Great stuff. Al
OCT 12, 2008 - 06:06 AM
Thanks Koen it is a pleasure. Darren, the name was no big deal but thanks anyway! Alan, thanks for your very kind words. Chas
OCT 12, 2008 - 12:33 PM
Hi Chas, very inspiring this dio. Great work, loads of detail and above all, the crowning ingredient in a catching dio, a personal story! Big thumbs up!!
OCT 20, 2008 - 02:17 AM