07 August 2015

Silver Angel

When she came upon us, I heard them say,
"From a silver angel, a cloud of grey"
The sky was falling, the future calling
Lady Armageddon's here today

These words are from from Canadian singer-songwriter Gary O's 1984 song Shades of 45, and they've haunted me for decades, as has the whole threat of all-out nuclear war.

I've recently been examining my own relationship with The Bomb and Cold War paranoia/propaganda in the pages of Picton's local comics anthology, Marmalade, entitled Trinity.

While researching and brainstorming ideas for my little photo comic adventure, I made this quick and slightly horrific illustration in Photoshop of a giant skeleton riding the Enola Gay, on her way to drop the Little Boy atomic bomb on Hiroshima:

This is only a test.

Getting back into modeling after a 15-year hiatus, I wondered if I could build a little version of this illustration...then I looked for suitable raw materials...


I found a tiny 1/144 scale B-29 bomber (with Enola Gay markings) by Minicraft and a perfectly-scaled skeleton by Anatomical Chart Company (disarmingly named "Petite Pete") and set to work...

Bomber assembly.

This model was pretty low on detail, but that's okay, since I just needed the impression of the plane rather than absolute historical/mechanical accuracy. But still, I didn't like the utter emptiness of the cockpit, since all was provided was a platform (painted black, above) where the pilots would be.

Scratch-built "pilots."

Since the eventual model will be displayed "in flight," mounted on clear plexi rods, I didn't need the landing gear, so I cut 'em up and scratch-built some pilots, which, again, just needed to give the impression of pilots through the not-crystal-clear cockpit window.

Test fit.

The Atomic Death from Above skeleton was positioned astride the plane, but I realized I'd have to chop him up to make him conform to the fuselage the way I wanted him to.


While I had him taken apart, I figured I'd give him a new paint job (hand-painted with brushes), too, for a little added realism, so he went into the priming area with the plane...


My primer of choice was Rustoleum's Sandable Primer; I was working to a deadline and didn't have time to go shopping for something a little better, but it worked well enough for this last-minute project.

Still improvising.

Toothpicks, cardboard, a broom, and a box make painting easy...until my paint stand arrives.

Looks like I'm doing archaeology.

Note the twisted head now facing the desired direction (as per my illustration); luckily, I didn't have to cut it off, the plastic was strong enough that I was able to twist it perfectly into position. BUT also not the heinous seam line across the top of the skull. I tried to get most of the seam lines off the rest of the body, but completely neglected the head. My bad. I filed it a bit before painting and got most of it. Lesson learned: take it slow and pay attention.


I used the same rattle can for the chrome that I used on my jetpack earlier this season. I didn't want to get too finicky with accurate painting for such a quick (and tiny!) project, so chrome all over was just fine. My paint job isn't too great, but it meets my needs.


I decided against having the left hand dropping the bomb and opted for an eerie embrace instead. I used wires to keep the figure together and in place (yes, they (unintentionally) look like shackles, so feel free to interpret that however you wish).

Decal or self draw?

I thought I should get some shots of the finished model before biting the bullet and hand drawing the atomic symbol of the skeleton's forehead. I thought I could find a suitable decal, but didn't look hard enough and, like I said, I was pressed for time. So I used a Sharpie...and kind of made a mess of it (see top most image), but it'll do; my next projects aren't time sensitive, so I can take my time to find or make the right parts/details I feel are necessary. 

I did some shots of the Silver Angel against a bright blue sky (desaturated here for fun) for the great lighting the sun provides, cropping my hand out of the photos. The next stage is to mount the thing on clear rods on a little plaque (but there's no rush for that).

That's now two projects completed by the Small Pond Shipyard.
I wonder what's next...

I also did this comic to commemorate the 70th anniversary.

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