The Aero Squadron Lounge - a pictorial review

by brae  

Many images in this post can be clicked to view larger.  To see a list of posts showing details on how I made things or what materials I used, as well as more pictures, click this link.

On the property of the local aviation museum sits The Aero Squadron Lounge, a WWI themed lounge modeled after a French farmhouse ruin.  Outside is a replica 1917 Sopwith Camel aeroplane, and inside you will find a unique setting to enjoy a beverage and view the WWI and aviation memorabilia.  Climb the tower for an aerial view of the Sopwith Camel and picturesque grounds.  Stop in today and enjoy one of our signature cocktails: The Flying Ace, The Bombardier, The Tailgunner (limit two please) or The Barnstormer.  Please don't feed the hens.

This build was so much fun, but so challenging, too!  I made just about everything for this build myself, including the 1:32 scale Sopwith Camel, dogwood tree, flowers, hens, fireplace and furnishings.  The things I purchased include the glass, plastic and metal items as well as the display cabinet, shrubs and lighting.

As you can see, this is a 360° build, with the removable fireplace being the remaining component of the bombed out back wall.  This allowed me to include more inside while still maintaining a view of the inside.  It's a difficult build to photograph and is best seen in person where you can walk around and peer into all the openings.

Making things look blasted apart while still holding structural integrity was not easy.  :D

I learned so many new techniques and used a LOT of math.  :O

The Lounge was made using the base kit and the greenhouse addition.  Here's where the idea started.

I swapped the oatmeal container for a mailing tube found on Freecycle and altered the kit by adding two inches to the height, width and depth.   The mailing tube story is rather humorous.  I put an ad on Freecycle looking for a 5-8" diameter mailing tube at least 24" tall.  I had a reply within two hours and picked it up that evening.  You should have seen their faces as I stood in their foyer wide-eyed with a huge grin and actually said, "Hooray," in a tiny sing-songy voice.  Haaaaaaaa!!

The outer walls and the lower portion of the greenhouse addition are pink builders foam.  This stuff was awesome to work with.  All of the outer walls were scored with a brick pattern, even though I planned to cover the exterior with stucco and leave only a few patches bare.  The tower is covered with white styrofoam sheet also scored in a brick pattern.

I couldn't believe how realistic the stone looked after painting.

The front door was made from scrap wood to replace the clean laser cut door of the original.  The working hinges are from Olde Mountain Miniatures

This stone slab was made using white styrofoam, spackling and paint.  The gravel is Woodland Scenics Ballast left over from Baslow Ranch.

This was my first time landscaping in earnest.  I started with a sheet of builders foam for the base, and used a carving knife to slope the edges.  The dogwood tree has been detailed previously, and it had its own raised base.  The grass is Woodland Meadow Field Grass by Heki, from Scenery Express.  It's so realistic!  The mulch is from A Little More in Miniatures, and the gravel path is Woodland Scenics Ballast leftover from Baslow Ranch.  The shrubs and smaller trees are Squeeze Me trees from Model Builders Supply.

The dogwood tree has been detailed previously, and it had its own raised base created during the assembly phase.

I love the way it looks with the bench in front of the tree.

The rustic planter filled in the remaining area and helps disguise the front lawn seam, which is slightly visible from some angles.  The plants are detailed here and here.

The henhouse was inspired by one made by Terry Harville that I saw at the Bishop show.   If there's one thing I have, it's leftover scrap wood, especially from the Heritage build.  I've been throwing all my scraps and punched out pieces into a plastic bin that I can rummage through as projects come up.  The henhouse was made using only scrap items from this bin.

I used Greenleaf half scale speed shingles that I had left over from the Heritage gables for the roof.  The nests are made from raffia cut into small pieces and glued in place.

The breed of hens I've made are Faverolles, a French hen suggested by Teddi.  I have a standing hen not yet completed, but I will add her later.  :D  These are made from polymer clay.

The chicks are flocked using snipped emboidery floss to make soft down.

The eggs were made from clay, using several shades of pale brown.  Lyssa made the basket.  :]

Detail shot of the watercolor paintings from 1916, wartime, that Elga scanned and sent to me.

The tower spiral stairs were a challenge, but I love the way they turned out.

The most challenging light to wire was the tower light.

Even if I hadn't made the tower roof removable in the end, I wanted exposed rafters and holes in the roof.  That meant you would be able to see the wire, even if I cut a channel into the balsa beam and painted it.

I opted to hide the wire in plain sight with conduit made from 3/32" aluminum tubing from my local hobby shop.  I eliminated the chain on this light and made it a ceiling fixture.  The wire goes up through the beam, through the conduit and out the side of the tower.  The end wire runs between the tower and side wall, eventually to be covered with stucco.

To disguise the end of the wire inside, I used a round wooden bead.  I painted the conduit on the beam brown to match the wood.  I painted the conduit along the wall and the wooden bead warm white to make it blend in with the wall color.  I have seen conduit done like this in real life many times.  I added a metal doorbell from Sussex Crafts to act as a vintage light switch.  Now the illusion is complete.  The whole process is detailed in the tower construction post, part 3.  Here is the faux switch for the tower light.

The tower roof was my second major foray into math.  I found this forum thread on conical roof framing, which had exactly the reference photo I needed to help it click for me.

After the supports were formed, I added thin sheets of balsa, shown here after painting. The support system was one thing, but shingling a conical roof is another thing entirely.  I used the same Greenleaf speed shingles, but I cut and applied them one at a time.  With all the layers, the roof ended up being very stable, so I've left it removable.

The cone cap is just a piece of heavy paper painted to match...and the windsock is a glued tube of orange cotton held in place with a head pin.  Yes, it rotates, though it pretty much always falls back into the same place.  :D

I found these fantastic Scene Master spotlights on and instantly knew they would be perfect for lighting up the plane.  They have a vintage industrial look about them that complements the plane and building.  They are labeled multi-scale, and I think they work wonderfully in my scene.  In the final layout, I used only one of the pair that were included in the package.  I aged it with brown and black acrylic to remove the plastic sheen.

The most challenging part of the build had to be the 1:32 scale Sopwith Camel, built from a plastic kit by Academy.

It's been a long time since I built a model car, and I've never built an airplane let alone one with rigging.  I love the way it turned out!

The shiny red nose turned out so well, I couldn't bring myself to age it or dirty it in any way.

The rest of the plane received a modest amount of wear and weathering.

The "wood" portions were easier to mimic than I thought they would be.  When I read that you were to first paint the base color and then paint on the wood grain, I thought, "Riiiiiiiiiiiight."  But, it works!  :D  I used a hand painted base coat of Testors Flat Light Tan followed by Testors Flat Military Brown, also hand painted and then wiped away with a paper towel.  Maybe it's not fine woodgrain, but it is remarkably convincing.

Nothing brings a miniature build together quite like lights, but wiring a structure always has challenges.  This build has its own particular challenges with removable pieces and exposed rafters.  I have a full post on the wiring here.

For those of you in the U.S. who'd like to see one of these theme restaurants in real life, there are still a number of 94th Aero Squadron Restaurants in operation, namely in San Diego, Van Nuys, Miami and Columbus.  The one near me in Wheeling, Illinois has since closed, which is a real shame.  I spent a few birthdays there and even one New Year's Eve.  It was an interesting restaurant and lounge with good food and wonderful artifacts and planes.  Had it still been there, I would have taken some photos of my model in front of it.  :D


Comment from: Lucille [Visitor]
It's an impressive little structure, Brae! You are truly an inspiration to many!
12/26/12 @ 14:18
Comment from: MiniDork [Visitor]
Congrats on the 3rd place finish (although I really think you should have won 1st). Thanks for showcasing these amazing photos in one post, I just love drooling them. So many amazing details. Really spectacular. Looking forward to following what's in store for 2013. :)
12/26/12 @ 14:24
Comment from: Angie Martin Hall [Visitor]
All I can say is...WOW! I really enjoyed seeing these pictures. The work you put into this really shows! Thanks for posting!
12/26/12 @ 14:27
Comment from: Jane s [Visitor]
I have stared at these pictures with awe before but my mind still gets blown from the amazing detail and love you put into it &#59;) love it
12/26/12 @ 15:30
Comment from: Mins [Visitor]  
Oh wow, that really is a masterpiece in itself! I'm so in awe of your work.... Just gobsmacked!
12/27/12 @ 04:01
Comment from: Irene [Visitor]
I think this is just marvellous and it was great to see it all in it's entirety again. I love all the thoughtful details that have gone into it, right down to the cracked step. I'm so looking forward to seeing more of your creations.
12/27/12 @ 07:36
Comment from: brae [Member]
Thank you all so much! :>>
12/27/12 @ 19:04
Comment from: Kathi [Visitor]
A true work of art and photography!
12/28/12 @ 05:57
Comment from: brae [Member]
Thank you!! :>>
01/11/13 @ 10:50
Comment from: Jenny [Visitor]
How do you come up with these things? Just amazing!!!!
03/14/13 @ 17:49
Comment from: brae [Member]
Thank you! :D
03/15/13 @ 17:55
Comment from: Anita [Visitor]
I just found your blog. It is superb!. I've already shared it on my Facebook page. I am so inspired by your work. I am a detail person, this is right up my alley. I love it!
11/26/14 @ 22:08
Comment from: Marilyn [Visitor]
Your work is utterly breathtaking! I have just started into the doll's house world and am really excited - but a little daunted after seeing your standard! Thank you so much for sharing your work.
12/19/15 @ 02:58
Comment from: brae [Member]
Thank you so much! :>> We all start somewhere...just remember to have fun!
12/22/15 @ 16:28
Comment from: cowgirlscadillac [Visitor]  
Omg that is amazing!! I used to work there years ago in the mid to late 90s and loved that place. It was so decorative and homey and such an awesome set up. Was so sad to leave and so sad its gone. I grew up in Wheeling all my life so it was an iconic part of Wheeling history too. I was showing pics of the place to someone and found this picture and had to look i love model replicas and looked at all before seeing which one it was. I was thinking it looks exactly like ours but didn't look til the end on which location it was. I was shocked to see it was the Wheeling one but you did amazing on it even with the steps and walkway and everything. Too bad you don't sell these. Just wanted to say spot on and beautifully done.
02/16/19 @ 06:46
Comment from: brae [Member]
Thank you!! :>> It really was a huge loss when they tore it down. Even when it was vacant, I still loved seeing it as I drove by. I'm glad you found my blog and had a fun trip down memory lane! :yes:
02/27/19 @ 22:01

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