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Boys Will Be Boys...

Dioramas the Story Makes the Scene
There are a lot of stories out there and personally I can’t think of a better way to preserve them then in diorama. You can photograph it, show it off, and relate the story over and over. Something sparked our interest in modeling; surely we can find someone with a story to tell. If not family or friends, books, movies, tell your own story (even if you have to make it up).

I was lucky enough to work with a gentleman, who had an interesting story to tell. It was so interesting that I built my one and only Japanese aircraft. My focus has been primarily on the ETO, but his story interested me enough to make a “monument” to it.

This simple diorama was inspired by a story related to me by a co-worker.

My friend (who we'll refer to as "Mr. K" - for reasons which will become obvious later) was in China during the Second World War. At the time he was a teenager enrolled in a missionary school.

The Story as related by Mr. K: “One afternoon we (Mr. K and two of his friends) had been dismissed every from classes and, as ‘boys will be boys’, we went looking for something fun to do.”

“Near our small village was a Japanese forward airbase with three or four fighters based there. So, we decided to sneak on to the base and see what we could find.” (This of course was very dangerous as, had they been caught, they would have been shot or beheaded).

“We spotted a plane in a revetment and approached it. As young men/boys, we were interested in electronics (especially radios), so we decided to take the radio gear from the plane.”

From his description of the plane, and after going through a few aircraft books with him, I was able to determine the plane was a Ki-61 Tony. We then went on to determine the color scheme on the aircraft, as best he could remember.

The kit-build was pretty much an OOB Hasagawa 1/72 Tony, except for opening the radio compartment and finding a scale radio to put in it. I then found some appropriate figures - “civilian looking” and gave them the proper “white shirt and dark slacks” for the school uniform. I "freelanced" the watch tower and Japanese soldiers as, in reality, these would have probably lead to the boys' capture, but they helped place the scene.

Once completed, the diorama was given to Mr. K.
As an aside to Mr. K’s story he told me that, “his two friends became high ranking officials in the Chinese Communist Govt.” Mr. K was a nuclear scientist in China and “worked in their weapons program. He left China after achieving “an age considered to be too old.”

Mr. K has passed on now, but what a neat story he told.
  • Tony-1
  • Tony-2
  • Tony-3

About the Author

About Chuck Shanley (CRS)

I've been building kits since about the mid 1950's. I've built all kinds of subjects, but for the past 20 years or so I've seemed to focus mainly on 1/72 Aircraft and Armor. Why 1/72, mainly for space conservation I build alot. I build primarily for my own enjoyment, and Armorama has helped to en...