This diorama was inspired by a photograph on the cover of Origin of Aviation
in Italy, 1783-1918, by Piero Vergnano. Daydreaming while looking at this
photograph, I was taken back to a specific event in time: the day a proud aircrew
posed with their spanking new aircraft. Since the photo had to have been taken
by a photographer, I decided to construct the moment when an airplane and its
crew were immortalized For Posterity.
The airplane model began as a 1/72 Libramodels vacuform kit of a Pomilio
PE. The top cowling of the engine and the top decking of the fuselage to behind
the observer's cockpit were reshaped from scratch to match references. The engine,
exhaust stubs, piping and wiring were scratchbuilt. The entire interior was
scratchbuilt and extensively detailed with representations of longerons, bracing
wire, seats, dashboard, control levers and lines, gun mounts and windshields.
The under surfaces of both wings received .005 plastic strips to simulate rib
tapes. All struts, braces, and control horns were cut from rod and strut stock,
as was the water tank, the entire undercarriage and the tail skid. The wheels,
propellor, and machine guns are Aeroclub cast metal; many small Fotocut
PE parts were used both inside and out, including rivets on the engine cowling.
All surfaces were brush painted, including camouflage pattern, national markings,
serial numbers, and personal markings (the personal marking of a black panther
is fascinating, but the identity of the aircrew is unknown.) All rigging is
'invisible' nylon thread.
The two crew members are Airwaves cast metal figures and the donkey is
a model railroad figure. The rear dolly was scratchbuilt as was the donkey harness
and chain-link 'tow bar'.
The photographer and his assistant are greatly modified plastic HO gauge railroad
figures. The wagon and horse began as HO gauge Jordan Miniatures. The
wagon was extensively modified to become a mobile darkroom, and the lettering
on the side was built up from railroad decals. I took a bit of 'artistic license'
with the horse and wagon: chances are that photographers were already using
motorcars by 1917-18--but a horse and wagon look a whole lot more cool! The
flash powder can, cut film holder box, derby and cane, and the entire camera
The firm of Alinari in Florence, Italy, has been well known for
documentary photography for over a hundred years--it seemed appropriate to allow
them the honor of appearing in this diorama.
Inspiration: Origin of Aviation in Italy, 1783-1918, Piero Vergnano
Aircraft and kit: Windsock, Volume 3, No. 2, Summer 1987
WWI Aero, No. 123, February, 1989
Bombers and Reconnaissance Aircraft, Harleyford
Aircraft markings: Aviazione 1900-1918, Bernardo Sclerandi, Curcio Periodici
Photographer's gear: several photographer friends
Awards: several, including First Place: 1/72 Dioramas--Single Aircraft
at IPMS National Convention, Virginia Beach, VA, July, 1996