Sunday, April 6, 2014

Steyr 1500A Tunisian Oasis Diorama By Peter Cottingham

Steyr 1500A Tunisian Oasis Diorama
By Peter Cottingham

 Box Art

I built this venerable old Tamiya kit about 12 months ago, and, as expected with a Tamiya kit, it fell together easily. The only tweaking to the basic kit was to open the bonnet flaps and add a few dings and scratches.
With a DAK scheme, and Tunisia in particular, in mind I gave the Steyr a dusty finish with a well used, but not dilapidated, appearance. Although I had no proof for or against I decided to remove the rears seats and create a makeshift, long range supply vehicle, loaded with fuel, ammo and water, and settled on idea for a diorama base set in an oasis.
For the supplies I used resin accessories painted up with acrylics and AK washes, pigments and filters. With these all in place it was time to begin the base.

 The finished Steyr with supplies

To start with I found some lovely reference photos of the Chebinka Oasis in Tunisia. It isn’t too hard to imagine that this spot could have actually seen DAK troops and vehicles during the war. I then sketched out a simple plan to mark out where I wanted the main elements to go.

Chebinka oasis in Tunisia

The basic master plan

Using some sturdy Styrene sheeting I built up the walls around a picture frame and began layering cut sheets of foam board to build up the rock walls and ground areas.

Styrene sheet walls around photo frame

 Foam board rock layers

The foam board layers were then trimmed back to create more believable rock walls. I usually resort to using DAS clay for my groundwork but these vertical rock walls posed a problem with the clay adhering to the foam board. I then came across Woodland Scenics “Foam Putty” and found it to be an excellent medium for creating rock faces. It took a bit of trial and error to get right, and the long drying times were frustrating, but eventually I had something I could live with.

Woodland Scenics Foam Putty was ideal for the rock faces

 The final rock walls carved and ready for priming and paint

I then primed the rocks with a rattle can general purpose primer, spraying from a distance so that the paint was almost dry when it hit the rock faces. This gave a slightly grainy surface which is ideal for paint and washes.
Acrylic paints were applied heavily thinned and then I went all over the rocks with a mixture of pigments and washes to simulate the subtle strata colours. A dark wash helped to bring out the deeper cracks and then a light spray of deck tan colour was applied with the Airbrush from above to give highlights.

 The final rock colours and early groundwork.

The pic above shows I’d started on the 2 figures and some small twigs were placed where I hoped to add a palm tree and shrubs. I created the palm trunk from milliput and carved in some simple pattern with a scalpel. The leaves are from Js Works in Germany, re painted to a more realistic desert palm hue.

Palm trunk from Milliput and Leaves from Js Works, Germany.

 Final adjustment of vehicle and figures

For the ground work I used a range of gravel sizes from approx 1cm all the way down to fine sand (from my garden). I applied the gravel and sand in layers using diluted PVA glue to stick each layer down. It was more realistic to start with the larger sizes and end up with a layer of the finest sand.
Once the ground was set I then sprayed a graduated layer of turquoise acrylic into the pool area and gave the waterfall a wash and detailing with AK enamel light grime and dark grime. I also added a few small shrubs and reeds around the water’s edge.

Gravel and sand groundwork with greeny blue spray in the pool areas

The water was created with Woodland Scenics “realistic Water” liquid. Easy to use though patience is required as it must be added in thin layers and allowed to set between each layer. Keeping the layers dust and dirt free was difficult but in the end I settled for a compromise with a few natural looking cat hairs and dust specks adding to the authenticity ;0)
Waves and the waterfall were created by layering on thin applications of the realistic water through a small pipette and the waterfall was also gently teased with a brush to give the white foam effect.
Final tweaks included the addition of some dead palm fronds under the trees, a dusting of light sand pigments and a few more reeds to cover up annoying bubbles that had formed in the water. Then I took the diorama out into the garden to get some daylight photos. Here’s the end result which I am rather pleased with :0)

Peter Cottingham

Modeler  Peter Cottingham


  1. Looking pretty cool!

  2. Hey Wouts, thanks for that mate.

  3. very realistic oase ! well done ! great and exellent work my friend ! jy ;-))