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Building an A/B Waterbase for Your Ship Models

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Where A/B stands for Above and Below…

I prefer to display ships in their natural element. While working with my ships I like to portray them in action… guns firing, torpedoes leaving the tubes and racing towards their target, bomb hits, near misses, depth charges going about their grim business; ships sinking, breaking in two, fighting in heavy seas, bows diving in underwater,.. etc I want to simulate water and to portray my ships in action. Ships on water mean above waterline elements but I also want to display below waterline details. I work mostly in the larger scales (1/400 and larger); many of which usually are manufactured as full-hull models. To cut down/sand off the hull of a ship at waterline level upsets me, not only because of the effort involved to do it and the risk of ruining the model, but also because it would force me to neglect the underwater details of ships, like a bulbous or ram bow, the propellers, rudders, barnacles and other incrustations, along with the propeller's whirlpools, etc. I like to make other underwater details can't be presented in a classic waterline presentation (mooring anchors laying on the sea floor, torpedo nets, incoming torpedoes, midget subs, etc.) Displaying submarines in the traditional waterline format demands sacrificing 50% or more of the model and there's no room to recreate underwater scenarios/details.

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About the Author

About Jorge Augusto Martinez (rea00cy)


hi im sorry but i have to disagree with all of you these are only models in name. all these are doing are depicting thousands of people dying and that just isnt right. i know many of model makers and they all feel the same way. a model should be built to depict the model in its prime or at a special point in its life not when its depicting the ship sinking such as the prince of wales and repulse is. as i said these are models in name only. when looking at them they are nothing more than constructions. thank you
FEB 05, 2013 - 05:53 AM
I disagree entirely with what you have written here. These are extremely skilled models on dynamic dioramas very artistically done and I respect the skills involved and thank him that he is willing to share them. I intend to use these shared skills with great appreciation. People get killed in war in real life. This is a model diorama and nobody is losing their life. There's a deeply significant difference. Thank you.
FEB 05, 2013 - 10:18 AM
Mr Calum, You did not understand anything. This is a forum on modelistas. Greenpeace is another site. Its a good thing to think before writing. Daniel.
FEB 05, 2013 - 12:51 PM
Mr. Hayton, With all due respect... This modeler is simply sharing his excellent techniques of depicting ships at sea and in battle, seen from above and below. There may be history here too, as I can see in many scenarios. This modeler's artistry for depicting moments in history should not be criticized. His intent, I am sure is not meant to disrespect those thousands who have died in war. I do not see any gore or floating bodies, just ships in battle and very well depicted at that. And if you were right about your comments, I guess they should stop making movies about war...after all, there are many people who die in movies...are filmmakers to be criticized for their cinematic techniques or depicting history? We modelers, for the most part, document history whether we choose to model a machine as a static display or the machine in full battle...the choice belongs to the modeler and as long as there is no gratuitous gore,then the modeler has accomplished his mission... modeling a moment in history. Regards, Joe PS Excellent work Mr. Martinez!
FEB 05, 2013 - 06:10 PM
@murdo.. correct no-one is losing there life since it is a diorama and i find that comment a little patronising. in construction of models research will have been done to find out what it looked like and what happened to it etc so we will all know how many men died in these instances @DanielMoscatelli.. i understood fully what was said, i dont think that you understood what i said in my post. i said that these were depicting death and that was what i didnt think was correct in model making. the first post was thought about and discussed with other model makers. i wasnt condeming war so i dint know where the greenpeace reference came from. @Grauwolf... i believe that you misread my post i wasnt critizing his ability to depict moments in history i was critizing the exact moments and the depictions. one diorama depicts hood blowing up. that doesnt sit right with a lot of people. you dont need to see dead bodies to know that people died. i went hillwalking with my dad and stood inside the wreckage of a b29 that crashed 70 years ago. no bodies where in it but i know that the entire crew had been killed. just for reference film makers get critized alll the time quentin tarantino got torn apart for django unleashed, steven speilberg got critized for the opening scenes of saving private ryan and also peter jackson was heavily critised for calling the labrador in the dambusters digger instead of nigger. i would like to thank you all though because the small forum that has been ongoing has given me an insight as to what my future holds. im only 24 and have been building models for over 10 years hence the reason im getting these feelings about the displays but if im going to reach the age of 50+ and build something like that and have no second thought for the men or women who died then i may stop construction thanks for reading
FEB 14, 2013 - 04:10 AM
Calum - I can relate to your point of view but I think you're off base when you say Jorge's work isn't modeling. It is ... you just don't approve and that's fine. Personally, I struggle to answer a slighly different question (and variants) that I hear from friends and relatives: Why military subjects? Why weapons of war? Why killing machines? Why don't you model something peaceful? Um, because the Yamato looks bad ass? Because the Scharnhorst is sexier than Kate Upton? Or to be slightly more mature because I think World War II was an event the likes of which this world has never seen and I find it endlessly fascinating? OK ... but that still doesn't really address the question. Which brings me to my point ... we all come at this from our own point of view. Rather than be put off, sometimes you just have to allow that others see things differently. My two cents ...
FEB 14, 2013 - 11:30 AM
I am glad people are keeping this civil with this discussion. Modeling can tread a fine line when certain subjects are covered. People can look at a modeler’s body of work and ask if they have some hidden political agenda. Heck, you can look at my library and ask the same thing. But, in reality there will always be modeling projects that will ruffle feathers, we must all accept that and move on. So, discuss all you wish, but keep it civil as you have so far.
FEB 15, 2013 - 02:06 AM
Calum's point is well taken. As a dioramist who specializes in naval 'combat' depictions myself, I have been often been faced with the dilemma of including carnage in a scene. Because of scale, ship modelers usually have the luxury of concealing the human toll of naval violence without detracting from an honest recreation of the mayhem occurring on or around the vessel being modeled. However, there are instances where depictions of casualties or of people being in desperate situations cannot be concealed in a planned scene. It then falls on the judgment of the modeler whether to carry out the project. For instance, I had collected reference material on the Lusitania's foundering in 1915. Employing the Entex 1/350 kit, it was to be an elaborate cube-of-the-sea affair depicting the ship's forward portion already on the sea floor while her stern was in the air as had happened to the actual ship. But, one of the newer references I had obtained was Ballard's work on his survey expedition of the wreck which included artist Ken Marshall's excellent renderings of the ship and her loss, particularly a brutally honest painting of the Lusitania's final moments. The illustration showed frantic passengers and crewmen fleeing the encroaching water as the hull was taking its final plunge. Since I was using a large scale and since human figures would have to be employed to make the scene a true diorama, I had to ask myself if I really wanted to depict hundreds of tiny men, women, and children fighting for their lives in a hopeless situation. I have decided not to produce such a scene. On the other hand, there are upcoming projects involving inescapable depictions of death and mutilation such as some Trafalgar, American Civil War, Jutland, and even a well-known fictional diorama setting. For these scenes to be accurate renderings of the events, I will have to use the human figure in drastic situations. I can say for my part that I do not relish manufacturing those details, but much a like a war movie director, graphic imagery of human violence and suffering often is a necessary part of the genre I have chosen. In the end, it all comes down to the modeller's artistic judgment and his technical skill, and to the viewer's taste in deciding what is acceptable or not. Fortunately, we live in a world where both can coexist. --Karl
FEB 16, 2013 - 08:54 AM
"What a dooche!"
FEB 20, 2013 - 03:43 AM
Hi again Calum. My apologies, I didn't mean the comments to be patronising, I was just saying what I felt. I still don't agree with what you posted but I've no particular issue with you posting it. You are entitled to your opinion. I just don't agree with it. I've reached the age of 50+ now and I'm sitting here with a damaged back and hearing aids, both injuries I received at different times whilst in the Army. When I lost my hearing I came extremely close to losing my sight as well. Both incidents (back and hearing) were "Blue on Blue". Back in those days we lost more men to accidents than action. I lost some good friends. Sometimes I think of them but I don't dwell on it. It is now shadowed in the past. When I got back into modelling after about 20 years I started building all the vehicles I'd driven whilst serving. It made sense to me to do so... Not as a tribute to lost friends but because I had driven those vehicles. At some point, for one of the WW1 Campaigns, I plan to do a diorama of an incident called the "Iolaire disaster" (Google it, it will show up immediately) which was desperately sad and is still considered so shocking where I come from that it is only mentioned in hushed tones and rarely spoken of. The ship was called "Iolaire" which is the Gaelic for Eagle and is pronounced "yollar" (similar to dollar). This ship is always referred to as "Iolaire" (eye-oh-lair) and never pronounced "yollar". Although "only" 200 odd men died on the HMS Iolaire (I say "only" in comparison to the amount of islanders killed in WW1) this incident was truly poignant and dreadful. The Isle of Lewis hadn't recovered from it and its serious long term effects when WW2 came along and further devastated the islands. Why do I want to model the Iolaire disaster? Because although it happened almost 100 years ago it is a very strong and important part of my history that I would try and depict in the most accurate and sympathetic manner I can as a tribute to those that died in this particularly sad tragedy. Some of my modelling is done for fun, some of it has a serious content. The serious stuff isn't taken lightly. To use a famous quote - "There but for the grace of God, go I".
FEB 28, 2013 - 10:23 AM