It's been just over 7 months since I started my new diorama designed to represent a modern Chinese airport and the major construction period has now ended. Xin Long is open for business, yet ironically it may soon find itself at a new home, if all things go as planned.
Well it turns out a few mistakes had slipped into my diorama but thanks to help from fellow collectors I've hopefully been able to fix them. Plus I thought I'd get out some GSE and try out a few shots as a pre-opening test. So here's the latest update on progress showing my fixes and the first 'in operation' photos of parts of the diorama.
Obviously its not much good having fully equipped gate spaces if none of the pilots can find their gates or lineup their aircraft correctly to meet the airbridges. So one of the finishing touches to the airport diorama is the gate detailing.
You can't have a modern airport without airbridges (or jetways if you prefer the term). In the past I'd made my own for my 1:600 scale endeavours however for a 1:400 airport they need to look a bit better which means buying them in. The only widely available airbridges in 1:400 are made by Gemini but can someone explain what's going on with these...
In the modern age airports are big business and only partly because of what happens airside. They are therefore a brand unto themselves and you can't have an airport without a logo to go with it. Xīn lóng means 'New Dragon' in mandarin. It needed a logo that looked professional and that meant something I could pilfer from elsewhere...
The main terminal now has a modern look with huge amounts of glass windows at the front and a large boxy shape with sloping roof. The structure however still needed some extra touches and here they are.
I had been planning on using a piece of packaging (in this case from a pack of rice crackers) to be the base for the main terminal building, however when it came around to it that plan has been modified. Instead I have fallen back on a method I used in my large-scale 1:600 airport, Imogenia, which is to use cardboard construction.
With the terminal to pier connector completed for the Western side of the field it's time to move onto the Eastern side connector. Because of the slightly asymmetric layout of the piers and the positioning of the widebody gates this connector can't be a carbon copy of the Western connector, however the tried and trusted method of building it remains the same.
Balsa can be an easy product to use, however it can also be frustrating as it is hard to get solid straight lines and cuts due to the softness of the wood itself. Still decent results can be achieved and once you've got a basic construction painting and adding windows is relatively easy.
Though I've been working on Wright Field of late that doesn't mean work has stopped on Xin Long. Indeed since I've come back from holiday construction has begun on the pier-terminal connectors using my old airport construction stalwart - balsa wood. Here's a progress report of work on the West pier connector building.
So far in this project the larger 'East pier' has been pretty much ignored, but now that I've tested out the method on the 'West Pier' it has been relatively quick to apply my learnings to the other concourse. In fact it only took a few hours to bring it up to the same standard. There's still plenty of work to be done however - not least of which will be building the terminal itself and connecting it to the two piers.
The West Pier is really beginning to come together and in this post I begin to put some of the final detailing touches on the apron and determine where and how exactly the airbridges will be fitted. As before Beijing Capital is the guide for the apron patterning.
My recent efforts have been centred around more detailing on what has been named the 'West Pier' and a start on the painting of the pier itself. This is probably a good time to discuss gate sizing also. Gate sizes are mandated by both the FAA and ICAO however lots of older airports (like La Guardia) have odd gate sizes for historical reasons and when you're creating a size limited diorama the standards can be annoying - especially if you have lots of 757s.
I haven't had much time to do a lot of extra work recently but did begin to work on some of the gate detailing, on the left hand pier, using the paint pens . This has covered two main areas - the red gate outlining and the white hashed areas for parking.
What to use to make the airport buildings has always been a challenge complicated by the fact that in New Zealand I have never been able to find the Evergreen Plastics I see my American and British friends using to make their terminals beautifully detailed. Typically in its place I have utilised wood offcuts, balsa, card and plastic containers.