Mobile Pigeon Loft
Despite the introduction of wireless and the telephone the main form of communication during WWI was the humble carrier pigeon. Thousands of birds were kept in static and mobile lofts several miles behind the front lines. The British Army converted a number of B Type Omnibus’s into these mobile lofts. The lower deck was converted into an office living area and the upper deck was stripped out and rebuilt into the main loft. Wings were added to the sides to give the birds a bit more room. The rear part near the stairs was used to breed the pigeons as well.
A search on the internet brought up several photos of these B Type lofts and with a spare Bus in the stash I set about trying to create my own loft. The chassis and cab were built as per the instructions. On the outside of the sine panels the raised detail was sanded off and the window frames were squared off (photo 1). Next some of the windows were blanked off using plank embossed plastic card and then framed with some Evergreen square strip. (photo 2).
Photos of the interior were non-existant so I added some scratchbuilt furniture such as a table and chair, a cot in the corner, some shelves and a cupboard (photo 3). In the cupboard I added some folders made from cardboard and masking tape. These were painted various colours. A stove (photo 4) was also made along with a couple of mugs from a hollow plastic lollipop stick. On the front wall I added a poster and placed a map on the table (photo 5-7). At the rear two doors were added from the same planked card and hinges made out of scrap plastic (photo 8). In the various photos of the loft there are what appear to be petrol, oil and water containers on each side. I made the two storage shelves from plastic card and scratchbuilt the containers from square strip and plastic scraps. These were painted different colours and lettered for petrol, oil and water (photo 9). A ladder from the spares box was added to the side.
Using the roof as a starting point and the photos as a guide I built the loft using a framework of plastic strip and then covering it with the planked embossed plastic card (photo 10). The outer wings were covered in a mesh I found in my local model shop. The mesh was cut roughly to size and superglued in place. Strips of plastic were then glued along the front edges (photo 11). The front entrance for the pigeons was also built in the same way. At the rear of the loft a door was added. A shovel and pick were added to the rear wall. The pigeons were made for me by a club member on his 3D printer. Some were added to the inside of the loft before the roof was glued in place (photo 12).
At an early stage I decided to paint the loft dark brown and white. The loft was painted as it was being built. I used Humbrol Acrylics throughout. Dark Earth (29) was used as the base coat followed by Khaki (26) and then Natural Wood (110). Decals came from the spares box and the model was weathered, using my own homemade washes, and finally given a light dusting using crushed artist’s pastel chalks (photos 13-15).
A very enjoyable build and I already have plans for three more B Type conversions.