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1:35 Bomb Disposal in Iraq Diorama

by Stephen Sutcliffe

  • Tamiya 1:35 M2A2 Infantry Fighting Vehicle
  • Legend Productions LF1168 M2 Bradley ERA Set
  • Legend Productions LF1170 M2A3 Conversion Set
  • Black Dog F35006 US Soldiers in Iraq
  • Black Dog F35007 EOD Bomb Squad in Iraq
  • Black Dog F35008 US Soldier Patrol in Iraq
  • AFV Club AC35010 EOD Tactical Robot
  • Verlinden Productions Middle East Ruin



The basis of my diorama will be an EOD technician starting his long and lonely walk to disarm an IED in Iraq. As well as the EOD guy I will be adding a M2A3 Bradley with ERA in front of a block of apartments.

Here are the various components of my diorama starting with the brand new figure by Blackdog of an EOD expert

As well as the EOD expert there is his EOD tactical robot by AFV club.

On to the M2A3 Bradley with ERA, for this i will be converting the Tamiya M2A2 Bradley.

To make the M2A2 into the M2A3 Bradley with ERA i will be using two conversion kits from Legend productions.

The Bradley will be placed in front of a two storey apartment block. For this i will be using the Verlinden productions Middle East Ruin. The building is made from plaster.

I will also add a few other figures to the diorama, mainly US soldiers like these from Blackdog.

Once I work out the size i will be placing everything on a base made by . The bases from here are superb and the owner Paul is more than happy to do custom bases.

As well as the various components above i will be adding loads of extras such as stoeage on the Bradley, signs, broken glass and rubble.
I will be starting this build very soon.

I have made a slow start to this diorama, first of all I decided to assemble the building. With the building made up it would make things alot easier as i have to decide upon a layout for the diorama so as I can get a custom base built.


The building from Verlinden is made up of six pieces of moulded plaster




The detail on the plaster is quite nice



The pieces were glued together using two-part epoxy glue. Even after alot of dry fitting the overall fit was pretty awful. As you can see in the picture below there is some awful gaps were the parts mate up. At a later stage i will tidy up some of these seams by filling them with Milliput epoxy putty. I won't go over the top to make the joints perfect as this is after all a ruined building



With the building assembled I made a template of the base. To start with I taped four pieces of A4 paper together then placed the building on top. I then took a model that I have already built of another M2 Bradley and placed that in position on the paper. To simulate the figures I used paint pots.
Using a marker I marked out the shape of the base. i try nd stay away from straight edges on my bases as i think it looks better.


The pictures below show the layout of my diorama




I still may added to the base or tweak things a little. I will now send the template to who will take the template and make the base for me.


To start this project I will be building the M2 Bradley. I will be converting the Bradley into the M2A3 variant and adding ERA armour.


As always with armour work starts on the lower hull and as with most armour kits the lower hull and upper side come in two halves.


Here is a series of photos showing the construction of the lower hull






The upperside was then put in place, the fit was excellent. As I will be adding side armour I had to add the wheels first. The wheel parts were glued together. Here is a picture showing the wheel, sprocket and idler wheel. (Hope I got the names right!!)



The wheels were painted with Xtracrylix XA1812 US gulf war armour and the rubber part was painted with Vallejo Panzer aces 306 Dark rubber. The tracks themselves have been given a basecoat of Vallejo Panzer aces 302 Dark rust. The running gear will be weathered at a later date.



With the upper hull in place the Legend Productions Conversion set comes into play, the set consists of a big bag of resin parts and A PE fret.



A few panels had to be added to the left hand side. 



The casting blcoks on the sidepanel were removed using a razor saw. The areas that needed removing are in red.



With the side panels and various other parts attached the next stage was to upgrade the drivers hatch. the Legend productions instruction consist of a series of photos showing the resin parts in place.



Here is the drivers before and after the upgrade.





The next stage of upgrading the Bradley to the M2A3 variant is to add some armour plates to the hatch which is above the passenger compartement.


Some of the parts to be used



All the additional resin parts area dded and as well as the kit parts. The resin parts needed alot of dry fitting and tweaking to get them to fit. The numbers on the resin parts denote the part number.




The upgrade of the hull to A3 standard is now done so I moved on to fitting the ERA armour. The only problem with the Legend ERA set is that the instructions that came with it are from the M2A3 upgrade set. This meant I would have to try and figure out where alot of the parts would have to go. This was quite straightforward however some took alot of thought as to where to put them.


First I added the large side armour panels.First the panels were removed from thier casting blocks, some rescribi=ng had to be done to the area where the casting block joined onto the panels.




The panels were attached using CA glue



The front ERA panels were then added and that completed the ERA armour on the lower hull.





The last part to be added to the hull were the headlights. Legend provide resin and pe alternatives to the kit parts however no matter how i tried I could not get the pe to bend into the correct shape for the headlight casing. I even anealed the pe first but was still defeated. Not to worry the kit parts are sufficient for my needs. After fixing them in place I added the prominent wire that runs to the headlights from the hull. I used some lead wire for this.



Next I will work on the turret.


To convert the M2a2 into the A3 meant adding alot of resin and some PE.

First I had to remove part of the turret (area in red)

I then started to add the kit parts to the turret



The Bradley has a stowage area at the rear of the turret. Legend provide a new pe one to replace the kit part. To get the complex shape right there should have been a forner in with the Lgened upgrade kit however this was missing. I tried to get the shape right by  bending the pe and test fitting but I never really got the shape right. Therefore i used the kit stowage basket. As the M2A3 Bradley has an additional sensor on the right handside of the turret I had to remove a large section of the stowage basket.

In this picture you can see the removed basket section.


With the section removed I could move onto adding the new sensor. 

Some additional detail was added using pe, plastic card and a lead wire grab handle.

I then worked my way around the turret adding the resin parts.


Then came the ERA tiles.

And that was the construction phase over. The Bradley now a M2A3 was now ready for paint, the resin made the Bradley looks as though its on steriods and made it more intersting

Overall the parts went together beautifully. The resin needed some dry fitting in places but on the whole the fit was excellent.


Before I started to paint the Bradley I decided I would assemble all the figures that i will be using for this diorama. I will be using three sets of Blackdog figure sets. Each set contains two figures which have been moulded in resin. The figures come in several piecs and they are very easy to glue together using CA glue.
The first set of figures has just been released, they are so new that they weren't available when i started this thread. The good news is they fit in perfectly with this diorama.

The other sets:

Here is a picture of all the figures together. Please note that the figures in the bomb suits come with a clear resin visor which I will attach once the painting is done.

Now on to the painting of the Bradley. this was first given a primer coat of tamiya Xf-19 grey. I then pre-shaded the panel lines with Tamiya xf-2 black.

The Bradley was then given a base coat of Xtracrylix XA1812 US Gulf war armour. I then sprayed the ERA panels with Lifecolour UA020 Isreali grey and UA019 sand. I forgot to take a picture of the bradley at this stage...sorry.

Now to the weathering, I spent alot of time gathering different images of the M2A3 Bradley that were taken in Iraq to use as inspiration. A large percentage of Bradleys were quite clean but I wanted one with some grime on it. Therefore I decided to use this picture as a reference.

As you can see in the picture there is some streaking on the ERA tiles and the side panels look rather dirty. To simulate the straeks I used some MIg Abteilung Abt130 dark mud oil paint. This paint has a grey tone to it and is a good match to the dirt shown in the picture. The dirt in Iraq always appears to be a grey tone.
To get the streaks right, I put tiny dots of the oil paint onto the ERA tiles and the rest of the side panels. I then dipped a flat brush in white spirit, wiped of the excess then using a downwards stroke I streaked the oil paint on. I also blended someon the oil paint into the paintwork.


I then gave the sides a wash of Mig Neutral wash. I left the oil paint to dry overnight before applying a coat of Klear. I always apply a coat of clear after using oil paint, that way when I add some lighter streaks to the side panels it won't blend in with the Dark mud oil paint.


The rest of the weathering was rather straight forward, I applied Promodellers dark dirt pigment to areas where the crew would walk and dirty things up. I also applied a wash of Raw umber and black oil paint mixed with white spirit.
The next task was to add the bright orange Ident tarpauline to the turret. My aim was to copy the one in the picture below:

To make the tarp I used a two part epoxy putty called Magig Sculpt. This is similar to Milliput but the magic sculpt can be rolled thinner and doesn't tear, it is also the preferred putty of figure sculpters.

The two parts of the putty were mixed together then I rolled it out using a piece of aluminium rod. To stop the putty from sticking to the rod and to my work surface I used Talcum powder. I then cut out a rectangle and in each corner I piereced a small hole where i would later add the rope which would tie it to the Turret.
The rectangle was then placed onto the rear of the turret and the deisredcreases were added. The putty was left over night to dry and was then painted Orange and here is the finished tarp:

I will add some stains to the tarp at a later stage. On most Bradleys out in Iraq, a framework was added to the top of the turret and camo net was then placed over the top. I am not sure as to the purpose of this, my thoughts are that it helps keep the crew shaded from the sun. If anyone knows please post.
 In the picture I posted before of a Bradly you can see the camo net in place over the turret

I then stumbled across a picture showing just the framework over the turret

I decided i would add just the framwork to my Bradley and have the camo net folded up on top of the hull. I made the frame out of styrene sheet then panited it green

Most Bradleys' also had bundles of razor wire stowed on them. I used two resin bundles from a Legend stowage set to simulate this. The razor wire was first painted Black and then dry brushed with Citadel boltgun metal. I then applied some Promodeller rust pigment. The strap ataching the bundles of razor wire were made of Jammy dog masking tape painted green

Next i weathered the exhaust area, again this was promodeller black and a touch of rust pigment. The exhaust staining is quite widespread on some Bradleys. Also not e in the picture I added some stainig around the feul cap

For the camo net I used a samll section of Mig productions camo net which i painted using various sand coloured paints. I then gave it a wash of Mig dark wash. The straps are made from masking tape.
The orange tarp was given a dirty look uisng pigments.

The final stage was to add some scratches along the side panels. I used Lifecolor Isreali sand and black to simulate the scratches

and this is where i am up to on the Bradley. I will be adding some stowage and aerials to it. As for any more weathering, I am undecided as i don't want to go over the top. Let me know what you think























































As the Bradley was more than likely based at a camp in Iraq and just went out on Day/night missions I only added a limited amount of stowage.



I then randomly placed the items around the Bradley. Also added were a tow bar and a couple of tarps.






My attention now moves on to the EOD Robot. I will be using this years release of the AFV EOD Tactical Robot. The kit consists of one sprue and the instruction are on the cardboard packaging. 

I did a little research on EOD robots and it would apear that AFV have based there tactical robot on the US Talon robot.

The only difference with the kit robot is it has a few more attachments etc.
First up the body and tracks. The fit is excellent throughout the whole build.

After the parts were assembled I put the body on top of a standard Tamiya paint pot, this way you can get a sense of scale.

The main arm

As you can see in the pictures of the Robot above, quite a few wires are visible. I added some of these using lead wire from Little-cars

Here is the Robot prior to painting

Painting the Robot was rather straight forward as its all black, I used Tamiya XF- Flat black. To add a little contrast the tracks were painted with Vallejo Panzer aces 306 Dark rubber. The dark rubber paint brushes on beautifully and I would highly recommend it for anyone doing armour to paint the rubber pads on tracks and tyres.

Hopefully the detail show up well enough for you in the pictures, unfortunatley I couldn't zoom in any further.

Next I move on to the figures and will try to simulate the complex camo pattern on the US army uniforms.

Now on to the fun part....the figures!!! I must admit i am starting to enjoy painting figures. For this diorama I will be using a total of six figures, two of which are in the EOD suits.
The first job on painting the soldiers was to add the base colours, I used Flesh base2 from the Lifecolour flesh painting set as a base for the skin As for the uniform I used Lifecolour Isreali sand grey.



As you can see in the picture below the US army now use digital camo on their uniforms. As it would be impossible to paint tiny little squares I had to somehow simulate the effect



To simulate the camo I used Tamiya XF-65 feild grey and applied loads of little spots, lines and random marks. It took an hour per figure to do the camo. The various pouches, knee pads etc were piccked out with Tamiya paints. To give a faded and dutsy look I blended in some Mig light mud oil paint.
The faces were painted using the various flesh tones from the LIfecolur flesh paint set. I also added some grey to the skin tones to give the faces that five o'clock shadow appearance.
As for the Bomb disposal figures, the suit was painted with Tamiya NATO green and flatblack. Again I used MIg light mud oil paint to give the suits a dutsy look.


Here is the finished result:





Next I will move on to the building taht will be in the background. This will be new territory for me, so I expect a few dramas


The base I chose was from and was made to order, I also had a concrete surface applied to the base, though it looks nice I will be painting the surface.
Onto the base I applied some pavement sections from a company called Diorama plus.

Now on to the building which i will be using, this is produced by Verlinden and is a middle east ruined building. The building is made of plaster and was glued togther with two part epoxy glue.
The building is made of brick that has been plastered. The balconies and roof/floor sections are concrete. To add a little detail to the building I added some copper wire to simulate the reinforcemnet bars that are in the concrete that have been left behind when the concreet was blown away.

Now on to painting the building, here is a step by step guide to what i did:

1. I first applied a coat of Klear onto the plaster, this will act as a barrier and stop the plaster absorbing the paint.

2. I used Tamiya XF-54 Dark Sea Grey to pre-shade random areas around the building and to areas where the concrete shows through the plaster.

3. I then gave the whole building a thin coat of Tamiya Buff to act as the plaster colour. The paint was applied light in some areas and heavier in others to give a nice tonal variation.

4. the concrete was then painted with Tamiya XF-54 dark sea grey and the copper wire was painted with Lifecolour rust paints. The bricks were painted with Lifecolour Isreali sand grey.

5. the building was then given a wash of Mig productions Neutral grey wash and the concrete areas a light was og Mig Dark wash.

With the building painted it was added to the base. First I applied a coat of wall filler and then the building was placed on top.

Next i will apply rubble and smashed glass to the windows. I will aim to keep the building as a ruin.
I have done some more work to the base. first I painted the pavement with various shades of Tamiya grey paints and then gave the whole thing a wash of Promdellers sand mmaking sure to work it betweeb each of the concrete bricks.
The earth to the side of the building wasalso painted. first I added a coat of Tamiya sand texture paint, which is gives it a great texture. The paint reminds me og household emulsion paint with sand added. This was the sprayed with tamiya earth mixed with a little buff. Finally a wash of promodeller sand wash was added.
Some bushes were added too, these are Woodland scenics Lichen which is a natural product that looks great as bushes.

Back to the building, windows were added using Diorama Plus shattered glass. This is a sheet of clear platsic that has been laser cut.

I also wanted to add some debris in front of the building which has come from the collasped balcony. I first spread some wall filler onto some foil and let it dry.

Once dry I broke the plaster into randon chunks and painted oneside with Tamiya xf-54 to represnet the concrete and the otherside with Buff to simulate the plaster finish. I also applied some Mig pigments to simulate the dust. I will let you make up your own minds to how eefective it looks.

All thats left is some for me to add some debris to the rear of the building and add some rubbish etc to the base.

After a marathon of a build I have finished my diorama. It is made up of the following kits etc.

1/35 Tamiya M2A2 Bradley

Legend Productions M2A3 Bradley Upgrade set
Legend Productions M2 Bradley ERA set

Verlinden Middle East Ruined building
Diorama Plus pavement sections and Broken windows

Base was made by and was customed made


All the figures are from Black Dog models

AFV Club EOD Robot

Here are the final pictures, be warned there is alot as there is quite alot of detail.






















Thanks for looking and thanks to those who followed my build thread.