Sera's Aircraft Blog 2017

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Updates from the workbench with news on the latest aircraft being sculpted.
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Sera Staples. sculptor.

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December 21st 2017

Well another year draws to an end and it certainly has been a rollercoaster. Back in January I would have expected to have released about 5 or 6 new models this year but things haven't gone to plan. We launched our first tank (Tiger I) back at the begining of March to high acclaim and have been working hard to keep up with orders. Since then we have released the Lightning F3, Short S.23, S.30, and the Hurricane Prototype. We have also released 50 T-shirt and Mug designs, set up a new shopping cart website and changed the name of the company from Diverse Images to Staples and Vine. I would have liked to have posted more frequently on the blog but as you can see we have been a little busy. Hopefully 2018 will be a little more sedate. We have planned the Spitfire VB (1/48), Sherman M4A3E2 (1/48), and Gladiator MK I (1/48) for next year so far. All three of these are well advanced but I will post more details in January. I also have planned for 2018 a new major project but more latter. That just leaves me to thank all our marvelous customers and wish everyone very Merry Christmas and a prosperous 2018.

November 25th 2017

Some of you may be aware that I am a massive Porsche fan. I love all forms of motorsport but in particular Porsche, and have always dreamt of one day owning a 911. This year I had a 'big' birthday and was given a Porsche driving experience at Silverstone which I took up this Monday. I drove a 911 GTS (450 BHP) and had the time of my life. I was given expert tuition and got a good taste of the capabilities of an awesome car. Experiencing launch control and ABS as well as taking the car around the handling circuits.

Porsche Experience Silverstone

The Experience Centre is a fantastic facility with current and historic road and race cars on display. My car was superbly prepared and everyone was very proffessional. I even had a good lunch. I not only had a great time but learnt driving techniques to help make me a better driver day to day.

November 10th 2017

The new Hurricane Prototype is now in production. There are so many differences between the prototype and Mk I that I am not going to list them. I shall just leave it to you eagle eyed readers to find them all. It is a very good looking aircraft and perfectly compliments the Spitfire Prototype we released last year. The Hurricane Prototype is available with two optional figures - P.W.S. 'George' Bulman (pilot) and Sydney Camm (designer). I have discovered some fascinating facts about these two gentlemen but to find out more you will have to read the history.

Hurricane Prototype K5083

Our next release will be the Spitfire Mk VB of Malta ace P/O George 'Screwball' Beurling in 1/48 scale. Beurling was Canada's highest scoring ace reaching 31 kills by the end of the war. He earned a reputation as a bit of an undisciplined loner hence the nickname 'Screwball' althogh he was also called the 'Falcon of Malta' and 'The Knight of Malta'

Spitfire MK VB of Plt Off George 'Screwball' Beurling.

The Spitfire we are producing is the one he flew on the 25th of September when he shot down three Bf109s. There will be two new figures for this aircraft, Beurling himself and one other. This desert scheme Spitfire I am sure will look stunning next to the other 1/48 scale Spitfires we produce.

October 27th 2017


Once again the time has come for some of our aircraft to be withdrawn from production and 'struck off charge'. The following 33 aircraft will be taken out of our current range at the end of November 2017.

!:72 SCALE

Defiant Mk I (Battle of Britain)
Defiant Mk I (Nightfighter)
Blenheim Mk IV
Gloster E.28/39
Hurricane Prototype
Hurricane Mk IIC
Spitfire Mk IV
Spitfire Mk VIII (RAF)
Focke Wulf Ta 152H-0
Messerschmitt Bf 109D-1
Messerschmitt Bf 109G-6
Messerschmitt Me 109K-4
Messerschmitt Me 163B-0
Messerschmitt Me 262B-1a/U1
Curtiss P-40E (USAAF)
Spitfire Mk VIII (RAAF)
Curtiss P-40E (Russian)

Hurricane Mk IIB (Russian)
MiG 3

DH 88 Comet 'Grosvenor House'

1:144 SCALE

Halifax Mk II
Hampden Mk I (Learoyd VC)
Hampden Mk I (Flint GM)
Hurricane Mk I
Lancaster MK I (Grand Slam)
Lancaster Mk I (Dams raid)
Lancaster MK X
Manchester Mk I
Spitfire Mk I
Wellington Mk IC
Wellington DWI
Messerschmitt Bf 109E
Junkers Ju 87B-2

In December these withdrawn aircraft will be archived in the 'Struck off charge ' section of the website.

October 25th 2017

I am now working on the Hurricane Prototype as it flew on its maiden flight. As we already have a Hurricane Mk I in our stable I thought it would ba a relatively straight forward relaese being able to adapt some of the Hurricane Mk I finished masters - WRONG! I should have learnt from the Spitfire Prototype, almost every part is new. This has meant I have had to return to the silicone moulds to cast fresh metal masters.

Hurricane prototype research

As you can see I have the sourcre material well taken care of and have compiled a parts list for sculpting. The casting from the silicone moulds went well but I did have the odd leakage issue. It is always a bit disconcerting when molten pewter appears where you don't want it.

Hurricane Prototype castings

The reason I hoped to use the modify the Hurricane Mk I metal masters is pretty evident. It takes a lot of work and time to go from the raw silicone mould casting to the finished metal master as you can see here with out Mk I.

Hurricane Prototype metal masters

That hard work is well worth the effort, the transformation is stunning. Still lots to do fitting parts and adding detail. The 2 bladed Watts prop still needs to have its silicone mould made and cast in pewter as do the figures. The Hurricane Prototype like the Spitfire Prototype differs in so many ways from its production version this has become a fascinating project.

October 2nd 2017

Our next release will be the Hurricane prototype in 1/48 scale as it flew on its maiden flight on November 6th 1935. This will be produced with the option of two figures, which will be Flt Lt P.W.S. 'George' Bulman (the test pliot on the day) and Sydney Camm (the chief designer).

Hurricane prototype profile

The all silver aluminium and silver doped canvas makes this a very stylish aircraft differing in many ways from the production Hurricane Mk I. We chose to produce the prototype to compliment our popular 1/48 Spitfire Prototype K5054 which we released last year.

September 29th 2017

Our new Staples and Vine website is live! We can now take online orders for T-shirts and mugs! It has been a lot of work but we are pleased with the result so feel free to explore by clicking on the image below which will take you straight there.

Staples and Vine website

I have used 'Wordpress' to design the website which is completely new for me and has been a steep learning curve. It is a flexible design package which allows for lots of 'plugins' to add more features to the site which will continue to evolve. For instance the site has a plugin to allow it to function on mobile phones and a plugin for a slideshow on the front page. There is also a search facility for the T-shirts and mug. At some stage in the future I may redesign our other sites with similar features but without the shopping cart facility.

September 2nd 2017

We now have a new Staples and Vine logo which is being used across all our ranges and websites. The intertwined S and V represent Tim Staples and Sera Vine the company founders. I am currently working on a new website and several other projects, more details to follow soon.
Staples and Vine logo

August 18th 2017


Please note that Diverse Images Ltd has now changed its name to Staples and Vine Ltd. This is purely a marketing exercise and there are absolutely no changes to the structure, ownership or financial set up of the company. For the moment all email addresses remain the same but in between now and the end of this year there will continue to be more exciting developments of new web sites and new products.

August 17th 2017

The new s.23 and S.30 'C-Class' Empire flying boats are now in production and are another first for us in our 20th year. These aircraft may be 1/144 scale but they are big and heavy. They are comparable in size and weight to our 1/48 sacle Hurricane Mk I.

Short S.23 'C-Class' G-AETY 'CLIO'

The civil S.23 G-AETY 'CLIO' is our first civil 'airliner' and was at the cutting edge of luxury air travel during the 'Golden Age of Flight' before the outbreak of the second world war. I will be adding a 'CIVIL AIRCRAFT' section to the website over the next few days so you will always know where to find 'CLIO'.

Short S.30

Our second 'C-Class' is the S.30 (long range S.23 with inflight refueling) in RAF guise as it operated on special duties delivering radar equipment to Norway. For more information on these two aircraft click on the images above for full histories.
As an aside it is quite interesting to see how close the final S.23 came out in relation to the computer render that I posted on the 30th of June.

July 31st 2017

The new T-shirts and mugs are now available and as you can see there is quite a variety of designs to choose from. Including our initial 20, the range now stands at 50 individual copyrighted designs. All these are available on either a T-shirt or mug. For more details click on the 'T-SHIRTS &MUGS' button to the left. So if someone asks you what you would like for Christmas..... or you could just give in and buy one now.

New T-shirt designs

July 14th 2017

My second pair of hands, the 3D printer, has been very busy recently. While I have been busy making Lightnings it has been whirring away printing out the parts for the Short S.23. The breakdown of the parts is pretty self explanatory but the S.23 has led to us using a new technique for aircraft with a bulky fuselage. Instead of a traditional one peice fuselage we are going to cast it in two halves. This allows us to make the fuselage hollow and improve the casting quality.

Short S.23 'C Class' 3D printed parts.

These 3D printed parts still need a lot of cleaning up, filing and filling before any mouldmaking. To the right you can see the conical pedestal the S.23 will be mounted on rather than displaying it on its ponderous beaching gear.

June 30th 2017

And now as they say time for something completely different. For a long time we have neglected flying boats. For various technical reasons we have steered clear until we felt we could do this elegant aspect of aviation justice. Some manufacturers choose to model flying boats on their 'beaching gear' which does tend to make them look like a hospitalised elephant. Our opinion has always been that these most elegant of aircraft should be displayed 'in flight' and our in house, on base style lends itself perfectly to this. Our flying boats will be mounted on a single bronze pedestal mounted on a gloss black base enhancing the clean lines of these giants of the 'Golden age of flight'.
The image below is a computer render concept of how we intend the flying boats to look. Our first flying boat will be the Short S.23 'C Class' available in civil and RAF schemes.

Short S.23 'C Class' CLIO G-AETY

This is a big aircraft and will be the largest 1:144 aircraft we have produced and is not without its technical issues. I am hoping to add the rigging to the floats but this may be too much of a challenge - it is 1:144 scale after all.
'C Class' Empire flying boats were built before the war mainly to deliver mail accross the empire but also carried passengers in the luxury and glamour of the day. The aircraft I have chosen are as follows and have some interesting histories

The first aircraft G-AETY 'CLIO' ( all C-Class flying boats were given a name begining with C) is in the classic all silver scheme and has the red white and blue flashes which were added at the outbreak of war. It was based at Southampton and delivered mail until May 1940 when it was aquired by the RAF who fitted mid upper and tail turrets and gave it a camouflage scheme. CLIO replaced our next C-Class in the RAF.

Short S.23 'C Class' CLIO G-AETY

Our RAF variant was actually designated Short S.30 as it was fitted with additional fuel tanks and in flight refueling! There is video of the in flight refuelling here (pretty hairy procedure). The video is of the actual aircraft G-AFCU we have chosen in civil guise as it was built. It was christened 'CABOT' after the Sebastian Cabot (c.1476-1557) the explorer who is associated with the discovery of Newfoundland. The in flight refuelling allowed the 'C-Class' to fly non stop from England to America via a northern route. This excellent range made it particularly attractive to the RAF who adopted it as V3137 painting it in camoufage and using it for north atlantic patrol duties. In April 1940 it was adapted as a Special Duties transport out of Invergordon delivering radar equipment to Norway but was lost in early May only to be replaced by 'CLIO'

Short S.30 'C Class' CABOT G-AFCC

You can expect more updates soon on this project as the parts are already 3D printed and if all goes well I am sure Catalinas, Sunderlands, Dorniers, and even Blohm & Voss will follow. Of course the S.23 will be our first civil airliner as well - what a year our 20th anniversary is turning out to be.

June 21st 2017

Our stunning new Lightning F3 is now in full production and selling fast so if you want one be quick!

Lightning F3

This will soon be followed up by a radical departure for us 'Empire Flying Boats' available here in both Civil and RAF schemes. More details to follow about these exciting classic aircraft. Got to go - lots of Lightnings to make!

June 9th 2017

I am now up to date with production and have startded sculpting the Lightning F3. Although based on the Lightning F1A that we produced last year, this is a very special Lightning! Not only did it intercept an unsuspecting U2 at 66,000 feet but in speed trials with F-14s, F-15s, F-16s F-104s and Mirages XR749 was the only aircraft to overtake Concorde from behind down the North Sea. The image below was kindly supplied by Russ Smith via Air Britain - many thanks Russ.

Lightning F3 XR749

Sculpting is going very well and XR749 will feature two optional pilots discussing tactics. I anticipate the sample being finished late next week when I shall post photos. The Lightning is a pretty quick mover for us as well with the F1A being our all time fastest seller, so if you want one don't hang around.

May 11th 2017

I have just returned from my day off at The Bovington Tank Museum where I had a fascinating time exploring the new Tiger tank exhibit. This showed the development of the Tiger tank with one rare tank shipped specially over from America. For more about my visit click on the image below which will take you to my 'tank blog'.

Tiger exhibition at Bovington Tank Museum.

April 6th 2017

Lots going on now we have advertised the Tiger I which is selling well with many customers wanting to collect all our future releases. I certainly need to get out more and with a visit planned to the tank museum in May a visit to the War and peace revival show in July looks like a must. In the past have mainly visited airshows but the Tiger I has opened up a whole new world to us.

April 5th 2017

We have just recieved a copy of Britain at War which this month features the Tiger I. We are mightily impressed with this substantial magazine which features many in depth, well written articles not only on the Tiger but many other aspects of warfare. This month there are articles on the WW I air war, a downed Battle of Britain Bf109E, bombing raids on Portsmouth, and an RAF PoW in Burma and much more.

Britain at War

For more info on the magazine click on the image above. Tim and I both highly rate this magazine so it looks like we will be subscribing.

March 10th 2017

You will be aware that we now have in-house decal printing but you may not know that our latest tech also allows us to print very high quality T-shirts and mugs. Over the winter months I have created 20 aircraft designs based on aircraft through the ages as part of our 20th anniversary. All these exclusive designs have now been copyright protected and are available on both T-shirts and mugs. Our T-shirts are all top quality 215 gsm cotton. The T-shirts and mugs are available through our Diverse-Images website or via the new T-SHIRTS & MUGS button at the bottom of the left hand column. Personally I love the SR71A Blackbird.

Diverse Images new aircraft T-shirt and mug range

We are now taking orders for the T-shirts and mugs but won't be in production until mid April. When ordering a T-shirt please state the size you require not your dimensions. This is the start of a new range which will grow and develop over the years. So if there is a particular aircraft you think we should add to the range please send me an email.

March 3rd 2017

The first tank in our new 1/48 range is now in production. The new Tiger I is absolutely stunning, we are really pleased with the result. The Tiger weighs over 1 Kg (2.5 lbs) and features our first highly detailed cast resin base. The level of detail we have acheived is quite fantastic thanks to our 3D printer which gives me a great starting point from which to work from. I have learned several new techniques during this project which I can carry through to our aircraft range. For more information on the Tiger I click on the image below.

1/48 scale Tiger I S04 of Michael Wittmann as fought at Kursk during 'Operation Citadel' with full crew.

Our next aircraft release will be the English Electric Lightning F3 in 1/72 scale. Some of you may remember our Silver Lightning F1A which sold out very quickly last year. This new Lightning F3 features the two tone grey scheme flown in the mid 1980s with the addition of a blue spine and tail to commemorate the 10th anniversary of the Lightning Training Flight of which XR749 belonged. But why are we doing a model of a training flight Lightning? Good question, this particular Lightning is rather special. In the hands of its pilot Flt Lt Mike Hale it intercepted a Lockheed U2 spyplane flying at high altitude. It then went on to take part in speed trials down the North Sea with various other fighter aircraft of the period together with Concorde. XR749 was the only aircraft to overtake Concorde.

Lightning F3 which intercepted a U2 spyplane and overtook Concorde.

As you can see XR749 was a pretty special Lightning which is why we thought it would make an excellent subject.

February 10th 2017

A very busy time since my last post the Ultimaker is now upgraded to full 2+ spec and I have been hard at work on the Tiger I. For more on the Tiger I please visit my tank blog here. The 3D printer upgrade went well dispite some scary moments

Ultimaker 2 board.

The daunting sight of this wiring made me have second thoughts but the instructions were good and now I am back up and running again.
While I have been sculpting the Tiger tank I have been planning our next aircraft release and what subjects we are going to chose for the rest of the year. Now we have 'in house' decal printing the sky is the limit with what we can choose, but it is a bit like being a child in a sweet shop with so much to pick from.

January 27th 2017

I am sorry it has been so long since my last blog post but it seems as if everyone has bought our aircraft models with their Christmas money and we have been really busy.
I can announce that I am now on Tiger sculpting and, contrary to what some may think, we are NOT stopping releasing new aircraft - far from it!
We have a lot of projects in the pipeline and as ever continue to explore more complex subjects having developed techniques on simpler aircraft. The Tiger is leading me to try out new methods which I will be able to employ on the aircraft so there is a lot of synergy between the two subjects not forgetting that we produce both in 1:48 scale.
As you see below progress is good on the Tiger but for a more detailed explanation visit my tank blog here.

Tiger I progress

In other news we have just recieved the upgrade kit for our Ultimaker 2 3D printer. You may remember last year I fitted the 'Olsson block' to enable me to fit different size nozzels. Well now Ultimaker have released a more comprehensive upgrade.

Ultimaker 2 upgrade kit

You want to see in the box? Of course you do....

Ultimaker 2 upgrade contents.

Well this is what you get for 380. The main part in the foreground is what's known as the 'hot-end' where the plastic is melted and exttuded out of the intercahangeable brass nozzel which you can see below the yellow triangle. This updated unit has revised cooling fans on each side. Next to the hot-end the black cylindrical item is a revised shorter spool holder so the printer won't take up so much space. Above the spool holder is the most important new part for me, a new feeder mechanism which will result in fewer print failures. The plastic I use (ABS) is very hard and rigid and is difflcult for the existing feeder to push through to the hot-end which, when it fails causes gaps in the print and I have to start again. The rest of the contents are no where near as interesting.
I hope to fit the upgrade in the next week or so and first use it on printing the remaining tank parts. Then my printer will be the latest spec and known as an Ultimaker 2+.

January 1st 2017

This is a very important year for us as it marks our 20th anniversary. We have come a long way in 20 years when we released our first aircraft, the 1:144 scale Bristol Blenheim Mk IV. This was Tim's father's aircraft and from this little acorn we have continued to develop our skills to 1:72 and now 1:48 scale aircraft. Not only the size of the aircraft has changed but the complexity and detail has grown as well.
As you will be aware this year will see us launch our new tank range the website for which is already up and running. We do have several other projects underway which will be announced over the next few months so as ever - follow the blog for the latest news.