Silverstone 1991 Diorama – Part 1

Having completed the Williams, it’s driver and its passenger, I then had to decide how best to display the model. I like to try and push myself when it comes to the displays… when it comes to building a kit, the vast majority of what you need to make an impressive model comes in the box. Diorama building is almost a completely different skill, and requires much more imagination. 

I scoured the Internet for reference photos, and two of the best showed Mansell’s car as it rounded Woodcote corner (the final corner at Silverstone), followed by Alain Prost’s Ferrari, and Satoru Nakajima’s Tyrrell-Honda. 


Mansell & Senna onboard the Williams Renault, with Prost’s Ferrari to the rear
The same scene, a few seconds earlier. More of the scene is visible, with Nakajima’s Tyrrell seen at the back
The second photo in particular, I thought would lend itself to a diorama as the scene contained three cars, the trackside kerb, a grass verge and a gravel trap. 
The inclusion of three cars was a bigger project than I would usually embark on, but I decided to go with it, as this is my favourite era of F1, and having put all the effort into the Williams, how better to show it off!! 

The next decision was how to display the model. I ordered a large “Trumpeter” display case from Creative Models (, but having taken delivery, I found it was just too small to create the scene that I wanted. It was also very tall for its comparative width, and with the 1/43 cars being so short in height, the case looked disproportionately tall.

I searched all over the Internet, and eventually located an eBay seller (stressedoutman) who stocked what looked like the perfect case:


The perfect display case, purchased from eBay seller, stressedoutman.

Measuring 40cm x 30cm, and being only 10cm tall, the case was just what I was looking for.

I then had to decide on a layout for the diorama. I wanted to try and encapsulate the moment as far as possible. It soon became evident that the cars would need to be in closer proximity to each other than they appeared to be in the photographs, but this was a degree of “poetic licence” that I was comfortable with. 

The first job was to sand the base of the display case with the lightest grade finishing paper I had. The original surface was very glossy (almost glass-like), and wouldn’t have allowed any paints or glue to adhere to it. The light sanding was all that was needed to take away the sheen and give a very softly textured surface. 

With this done, the Tarmac area was masked, and sprayed with a mixture of Halfords grey primer, and Halfords satin black. When the paint was dry, I was able to place the Williams (and “stand-ins” for the Ferrari & Tyrell) on the base to see how things looked. 

A tentative first lay-out, with stand-in cars. At this point I’ve already realised that the curve isnt correct, so have made a mock-up kerb from paper
Having done this, I realised that the curve was not uniform enough, and just looked wrong. I found a round laundry basket at home which looked to be roughly the correct radius and managed to draw around it, which at least gave a consistent curve. I then looked back at a video I had of the race in order to try and ascertain the width of the kerb. 

A screen-grab from a video of the race. This was to orove a very valuable resource.

Having done this, I made a paper mock-up of the kerb and laid it in place. I was happy with the new shape, so masked and sprayed the thin white line at the kerb’s edge.  

I then turned my attention to the kerb itself. Unlike modern F1 circuits, the kerbs at Silverstone at the time were quite savage, with broad, high teeth. I made a mock-up section of kerb from thin balsa wood (using UHU to glue each raised section in place). Once this was done, I sprayed the whole piece in Plastikote Stone effect spray paint. This was the first time I had used this technique, but it certainly gave the piece a rough, concrete-like texture. Having done this, I then experimented with different colours & washes to try and bring the texture and colour out. Eventually I settled on painting the concrete section in Tamiya Light Tan (XF), and having allowed to dry went over the whole piece again, this time with Tamiya Smoke (X-19). Again having allowed to dry, the blue and white edges were masked and sprayed with the trusty Halfords cans. One all was dry, I used a black artists pastel to recreate the rubber marks on the raised kerb edges, before sealing it all with a spray coat of Humbrol acrylic Matt varnish. 

Satisfied with the finish I had chosen, I then made an entirely new kerb piece, this time finishing the whole piece with the one Smoke wash. 


The kerb piece has been built, painted and is waiting to be weathered with artists pastels to simulate the tyre marks
Another reference shot of the same corner, showing the kerbs in profile
I then used my airbrush to recreate the light rubber and tyre marks on the track surface. This is something that I had tried and been pleased with on a previous model, but the larger scale of this piece really allowed the effect to stand out, and I feel it really added an element of realism to the piece.


The kerb and track have now been weathered, with artists pastels and airbrush reapectiveky
The next choice I faced was deciding on how to reproduce the Armco barrier and tire wall located on the inside of the corner. The Armco is taken from a Denizen kit (reduced to a two-tier barrier from the three as per the kit). I also spent much time looking for 1/43 scale standard car tyres in order to construct the tyre walk on the inside of the Armco barrier. Eventually I was able to find them in Italy, via eBay:

1/43 scale tyres, bought from eBay seller stock1_italia

Again, these took some time to arrive, which gave me time to consider how to model the rest of the diorama. 

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