Military Models are a very popular hobby and there are a few different ways that it can be pursued as a hobby depending on what you like to do. Some people simply collect them while other people like to build them. Others like to make dioramas out of them. In just about every case the biggest appeal of models is the link to their counterparts in real life. And these come in a wide variety of types from soldiers to tanks artillery, aircraft, ships and more. In this tutorial I will explain to you about models, how to make them and how to build them into a diorama. I will also go over some other topics such as expense.
Making Military Models
This is a very rewarding aspect of the hobby. You buy a kit and a few supplies and you assemble the model piece by piece. It does take some patience and some time but it is well worth it. The picture shown here is a Stuka dive bomber being assembled.
And the hobby is very well geared for different skill levels. For example the Revell company which makes a lot of military models has their kits labeled by skills from 1 to 3. If you are a beginner or young adult you should start with the skill level 1. This is easy to assemble and requires no painting. For adults I recommend you start with a skill level two.
Here is a look at what you get when you buy a kit like this. This is the Stuka Dive Bomber kit by Revell. I paid $15 dollars for it. You get the box which has useful pictures on it, A bag full of plastic parts, the decals and a set of instructions on how to assemble the plane.
You will need some materials in order to make the kit. This includes paints, a couple of brushes, a sharp hobby knife and some model cement. I bought all of this in a kit for twenty dollars. The kit and paints are made by Testors company which makes a lot of great stuff for model makers.
I also recommmend a basic set of tools. But if you are on a strict budget you can make do for now with very few tools. Over time as you grow in the hobby you can get a nice little tool box and a few different tools. Here are some great tools for this hobby: some small files, emory boards, needle nose pliers, x-acto knives, scissors, magnifying glass, fine sandpaper, a small vise, a pin vise.
How you make the model: You follow the directions that come with it. You will cut the parts off the sprue and glue them into smaller assemblies. And toward the end you will assemble these smaller assemblies together to make the completed model.
This picture shows a sub assembly. This one is five pieces including the pilot, bomber, base and the two seats. You would glue this all together and in this case you would paint it before installing it into the fuselage of the plane. The directions will point out these painting tips.
The plane is almost complete. This kit including the painting took me about ten hours to make. Lot of good fun!
Finally you paint the model. The instructions will give you pictures and drawings so you can give it an authentic look. Once the paint is dried you apply the decals and the model is done.
Scale of Military Models
Scale is an important thing to consider. The scale refers to the size of the model in comparison to the real object. And there are a few common scales for this hobby.
There are two scales that are the most popular: 1/35 and 1/72. If you are unfamiliar with what these terms mean it is that the model is either 1 35th the size of the real object or 1 72nd the size of the real object. An easy way to think of it is that in the 1/72 scale one inch equals six feet. So if a tank were six feet in length the model would be one inch in length. And a 1/35 scale model would be just about two inches in length.
There are other scales but they are not as common: 1/9, 1/16, 1/24, , 1/48, 1/144, 1/250 and 1/300 and 1/87 (This 1/87 scale is the same scale as HO railroads which is perfect if you want to include railroads in your military diorama. And railroads are often a big part of military dioramas.
Military Dioramas with models
The picture on the right shows a military diorama with a Tiger tank and some nice terrain. The backdrop is simply a picture that was printed out on printer paper.
The tank is a German Tiger tank and it is in 1/72 scale.
A diorama is a terrific way to show off military models and there are two trains of though when it comes to this kind of diorama. The first is to just make a realistic looking diorama for the models. The second is to recreate a specific place, time, event or battle. A couple of very common events that are recreated include the Battle of the Bulge and the D Day invasion on Normandy.
If you are going to make military dioramas
You really should consider the scale. If you want to display one model with some surrounding terrain then you can go with the bigger models like the 1/35 scale. But if you want more models and terrain you should consider going with the smaller scale like 1/72. This gives you the ability to fit more stuff on the diorama without the actual diorama being way too large! The diorama in the picture shown above is about eighteen inches in length which is a comfortable table top size for a diorama.
What kinds of models can you get?
Well, just about every kind of military object or vehicle can be bought in model kit. This includes, tanks, jeeps, planes, jets, soldiers and even buildings and building rubble!
Cost of the Hobby
You can get started in the hobby for a reasonable cost. A typical model kit by Revell or Tamiya can cost you ten to fifteen dollars and the paints and glue will cost you another twenty dollars. Once you have a basic supply of tools and paints they will last you a very long time and the only expense will be the actual models.
Resources and More
- Revell Military Models - Revell makes an amazing array of military models including aircraft, tanks, boats, ships and just about every vehicle from a wide array of military branches and time periods. This link will bring you to their selection on amazon.com: Revell Military Models
- Tamiya Military Models - This company also makes a great selection of military models. They also have a great selection of scale soldiers from various armies. Tamiya Military Models and Kits
- Testors Paints and supplies - Testors is the industry standard for glues, paints and tools. They have a complete selection here: Testors Paints on Amazon
- How to Make Military Models - A Tutorial and introduction to military model making
- How to Make Military Dioramas - A nice tutorial that make a WW2 Tank battle diorama and shows you everything step by step including terrain, the models and how to design it.
This is the kit that I use for my military models. Good price and you get a good start. It includes paints, brushes, glue and a hobby knife.
This book sets out to answer a wide range of modelers' 'how-to' questions. It begins by showing all the things that need to be done to build a first model. Paints, glues, knives and other basic tools are introduced. Then it moves on to the use of accessories - etched metal sets, turned metal gun barrels, and simple resin conversions. Here the more specialised tools, such as those made for work with etched metal, are discussed. The book includes sections covering working safely with resin, adding camouflage finishes by brush, spray can and airbrush, and ways of reproducing the German anti-magnetic Zimmerit finish that troubles many modellers. The various types of replacement tank tracks are shown with ways to build and paint them, and the different challenges of modeling wheeled vehicles are also addressed.
Learn everything you need to know about making your dioramas look real! This fantastic revised edition will show you how with new projects, new photos, and expert tips. Includes painting, weathering, and detailing tips for figures, aircraft, vehicles, and more! 290+ photos with color throughout; 41 illus.; softcover.