I’ve built a couple of these in the past. They are relatively cheap, and easy to build. You can buy most of the material from any home improvement store. I use Lowe’s (they offer a military discount with an I.D.).
The scene that my diorama depicts is a fully armed F-18 taxing towards a catapult for launch, with the aid of a plane director. Aircraft routinely taxi over the arrestor cables to get to the catapults.
These are the following item that you need. 1. 2’x4’ 3/4” CDX plywood. The going price for a 2’ x 4’ sheet right now is around $34 dollars. . I build large bases. I can usually cut two bases out of one piece . You can build several small diorama bases out of a 2‘ x 4‘ sheet. 2. 3M 100 grit sandpaper pack. (Paint section)This is the easiest way to simulate the nonskid surface. (Ground based runways, Taxiways as well)3. Loctite contact adhesive. (Paint section) (To glue the sand paper to the plywood. 4. 3/4” high oak trim. (For a finished edge on the plywood) 5. Wood stain for the oak trim. ( paint section). They sell very small cans. Polyurethane clear coat (optional) 6. Miter box and miter saw. To cut the oak trim. (Tool world section). 7. Trim nails to attach the oak trim to the edge. (Hardware section). 8. Wood glue. (To spread on the edge of the plywood before you nail the oak trim to it, paint section) 9. Nail set. To counter sink the trim nail heads just below the surface. (Tool World section). 10 Felt pads. Put these on the bottom of the plywood so that it can be easily slid, or picked up.(Hardware section)
These are the following model supplies that you will need; 1. Tom’s Model Works aircraft tie downs. They come in different scales. 2. Paint to airbrush the lines on. Either enamels, or acrylics. 3. Tape to paint the lines. 4. Some type of string to simulate the cable. I used Model Shipways. 5. Scrap photo etch. (To simulate the leaf springs that keep the wire suspended above the deck).
1. Choose the size of your base, cut to size. A good manual hand saw can be used, with good results. Make sure to draw the outline of the base on the plywood using a pencil and ruler. Make sure everything is square. 2. Prep the sandpaper to glue on to the plywood. Take a piece of sandpaper, and turn it, print side up. Take a ruler and draw intersecting lines. Where the lines intersect, is where you will punch a hole in the sandpaper so that you can glue the tie down in the center of the hole. 3. Glue the sandpaper to the plywood once all of the holes have been punched. It’s a good idea to take a ruler and draw a starting line on the plywood to line each piece of sandpaper up. Take painters tape and mask off the surrounding area of the plywood that you do not want to get contact adhesive on. Spray both the plywood and sandpaper with adhesive and wait 3-5 minutes. Line up the edge of the sandpaper on the line that you’ve drawn on the plywood. Press the sandpaper firmly down on the plywood. When all of the sandpaper has been attached, take superglue and glue each tie down in the center of each punched hole. 4. Airbrush various shades of gray to get the desired base color. 5. Once dry, measure and tape off the lines you wish to put on. 6. Add oil and grease stains once everything is painted and dry. 7. Stain and attach oak trim to the edge of the plywood.
If anyone is interested in building one of these, and you have questions, feel free to message me. I’d be glad to help.