This is the British companion piece to my previous American airborne post. The inspiration here was once again A Bridge Too Far, especially the loading-up scenes on the tarmacs in England.
The models are made up of a somewhat ahistorical hodge podge. I used Heller’s version of the Horsa glider, which the kit says is in the configuration and livery of the craft used by Major Howard in the assault on Pegasus Bridge. Looking around online at other versions of the Horsa, I see that many use the skid structure under the center of the fuselage, but although the Heller kit contained those pieces, the instructions did not show them at all, so I followed orders and left the whole thing off. I also looked and looked but could not find a definitive original photo that showed a radio “washline” on the Horsa. However, quite a number of models I saw had one, so I put one on mine, too.
You will notice two jeeps in the scene, as well as a 75mm pack howitzer and a couple of little Welbike motor bikes. The jeep, cargo trailer and pack howitzer all came from Airfix’s Willys British Airborne Jeep kit. Remembering the scene in A Bridge Too Far in which Sean Connery’s General Urquhart unconvincingly describes glider-borne “jeeps armed with twin Vickers machine guns” that would speed to Arnhem to secure the bridge there, I built that option for my diorama. (Of course, having a Market Garden jeep with a Pegasus Bridge glider doesn’t make too much sense, but as you will have come to see if you’ve read a few of my diorama posts, historical accuracy is less of a priority for me than making something that “looks neat” — with all due respect and admiration to my friends out there who do enjoy getting it right!) The second jeep is borrowed from the Airfix 1/76 Buffalo kit. I painted the driver’s beret crimson and poof, it sort of fits.
The British paratroop figures come from several different places. Some are Italeri (well, ESCI, really, and yes, I’ve had them for a while). At least one (the head-bowed, arm-up, looking-at-his-watch-while-while-trudging-forward officer type) is from the old Airfix set. The Welbikes came with the Waterloo 1815 “British paratroopers with pack howitzer” kit. The officer with the clipboard talking to the pilot is actually from the Caesar Miniatures British Commandos set, but since he had a beret I thought I could get away with camouflaging his jacket and painting his beret crimson, just like the other jeep driver’s.
If you want to see another diorama that depicts a landing-zone scene, by all means check out “Gliders on Landing Zone ‘Z’, 17 September 1944”. It is easily one of the best dioramas I have seen on any topic, and far superior, frankly, in detail and accuracy, to mine here.
I’m on “A Bridge Too Far” kick myself so I absolutely loved your two para posts. What awesome dioramas! I looked at all your photos a dozen times trying to figure out how you did some things so I could copy them. As they say, “imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.” The Caesar commando looks perfect as a para and I’ll shamelessly pilfer the idea. 🙂 I also wish I knew how you blended the green meadow with the backdrop. It’s seamless. Achieving this kind of result has been one of the biggest challenges for me. Love your work, man.
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The radio antenna was used for a TR9 radio. And used for training. Most training in glider landings was done on airfields..This for the ease of retrieving the glider. The glider pilots could stay in contact with the controltower and receive intructions through the TR9 radio. Most operational used gliders did not had the radio antenna and at least the radio was removed as it was not of any use in operations. That is the reason why you do not see them on many photographs. The skid was not on, the much photograped, Horsa prototyps. The production Horsas all had skids. The skid they deliver with the model is actually incorrect. The Jeeps Connery describs in the movie A bridge too far, are the glider borne jeeps from the reconaissance unit. Only this unit had jeeps with the twin vickers (K type) Other units had their jeeps adapted for their own use. He describs these jeeps as they are supposed to capture the Arnhem bridge in advance of the paratroopers, who had to get there on foot.
Thanks so much for this additional knowledge, Jim! It’s satisfying to have some of my questions answered. Cheers!
Fantastic diorama. I’m planning a similar layout. How big is the complete layout. Id like to try and fit the short sterling, the horsa, and a dakota to a getting ready to go scene.
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Ah, thank you! If you look at this post https://schopenhauersworkshop.com/2017/08/16/r-a-f-airfield-diorama-1940-with-airfix-172-blenheim-iv-and-spitfires-mk-i/ and go to the end of the gallery, you’ll see the whole airfield setup revealed. It is comprised of four different modular boards for flexibility of arrangement and to make it easier to store! The sky backgrounds are actual 20″x30″ posters (of photos I’ve taken just for this purpose here and there), which I position just behind the boards in a way that works for each shot. Good luck and have fun with your project!