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More mirror display ideas

In the December 2010 FSM, Frank White explains how to create a mirror display diorama. See more of his display ideas and check out some of his illustrations.
By Frank White
Published: November 10, 2010
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U.S. Air Force Pararescuemen assigned to the 301st Rescue Squadron (RQS), perform a high altitude low opening (HALO) parachute jump over Tallil Air Base, Iraq, during Operation Iraqi Freedom. U.S. Air Force photo
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A C-130 Hercules makes a Low-Altitude Parachute Extraction System (LAPES) supply drop at Jo Ju Air Strip during the joint Korean-U.S. Exercise Team Spirit '89. U.S. Air Force photo.
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An F-14 Tomcat aircraft just prior to making an arrested landing aboard the nuclear-powered aircraft carrier USS Dwight D. Eisenhower during Bright Star '83. U.S. Navy photo.
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Space shuttle Discovery seen from the International Space Station during a mission in July 2005. NASA photo.
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The Los Angeles-class fast attack submarine USS Miami surfaces in the North Arabian Sea Nov. 11, 2007, during an anti-submarine warfare exercise with the Enterprise Carrier Strike Group. U.S. Navy photo
There are so many application possibilities using first-surface mirrors, including in-flight or ground dioramas. For example, you can create the illusion of several aircraft sitting side-by-side in a hangar or on an assembly line by having mirrors on opposing walls of a display box, with a half fuselage on each mirror and a row of tool boxes between them, as well as shelves, doors, windows along the back wall. Add a steel-framed roof with lights, and an open hangar door. Now, look into the hangar and see aircraft in both directions.

Or try the same idea with aircraft stored in rows in the American Southwest desert, like the AMARC at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base: Build desert groundwork on the base, then surround it with four mirrors tightly joined at the corners. Now mount fuselage halves on opposite walls. Looking down into the box, it would look as though there were hundreds of aircraft baking in the desert sun.

Here are a few other ideas I came up with:
  • two or three HALO parachute jumpers just off the ramp of a C-130
  • a C-130, C-141, or C-17 doing a LAPES (low altitude parachute extraction system) with the vehicle and parachute just clearing the ramp
  • an in-flight Grumman Avenger with its torpedo halfway between him and the
  • water
  • a burning fighter with the pilot and canopy just above the fuselage
  • after ejetcion
  • an air racer about to go between the pylons
  • an F-14 about to snag a cable on an aircraft carrier
  • the space shuttle in orbit
  • a diorama hillside leading down to a river that butts against the mirror with a half bridge against the mirror also; people standing on the bridge looking at a barnstormer passing inverted under the bridge
  • Captain Sully's A320 about to splash down in the Hudson
  • Even non-aviation subjects, like an Unlimited Supercross biker in mid-jump or a submerged submarine
The only limitation is your imagination. These displays are guaranteed to stop judges in their tracks at the model shows.


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Steps for attaching the front-surface mirror to the backboard.
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Steps for gluing bolts inside the fuselage.
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Alternate method of attaching fuselage to board using bits of sprue and wire.
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Attach fuselage to scrap wood for painting and finishing.
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Paint and decal the model, then add the wings. etc.
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If you are modeling the aircraft with the gear down, be sure to cut the nose gear in half.
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You can either build a scene on the base or add an aerial photograph.
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Bolt the base and backboard together.
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Then mount the model to the mirror.
I also provided illustrations to go with my mirror-display story in the December 2010 FSM. They include some other attachment ideas as well as tips for modifiying kit parts.
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