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Liberation, Italy 1944
TanksForTheMemory
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England - South East, United Kingdom
Joined: August 31, 2016
KitMaker: 50 posts
Armorama: 48 posts
Posted: Sunday, August 26, 2018 - 10:54 AM UTC


This is my first 1/35 project since I downed tools as a 16-year-old in 1984. Those who followed me from another (now defunct) site will know that it all started over two years ago.

Although I joined this site 2 years ago, this is my first post. I'm afraid I find the necessity to host my images on another website an unwelcome requirement. I know you can upload images to your own gallery, but the allowance seems pretty mean. Or do I misunderstand this? Is the red line moving across merely a daily limit? Any advice will be appreciated...

The diorama is called Liberation, Italy 1944. It depicts a hill town (probably in Tuscany) soon after being over-run by the Allies during the advances which followed the liberation of Rome in June 1944 – so my setting is in the late summer / early autumn.

Just as it was with the public at the time, this has been a largely forgotten WWII subject for the modeller (at least compared with the plethora of Normandy / Eastern Front dioramas). The choice of an Italian setting was driven in part from reading two excellent books.

War in Val D'Orcia: An Italian War Diary, 1943-1944 by Iris Origo is a war diary written by an English-born woman who married an Italian aristocrat in the 1920s and lived on an estate in Tuscany throughout the Second World War. From her unique, local vantage point she witnessed the turmoil that enveloped the nation following the Allied invasion, the surrender of the Italian forces and the German occupation and recorded (in often harrowing detail) the effects on her community as the tide of war swept towards – and ultimately engulfed – them.

The second book is Italy's Sorrow a Year of War 1944-45 by James Holland. Easily as good as anything by Anthony Beevor, it’s a very even-handed account of the latter half of the Allies’ notoriously slow, hard slog up the peninsula, full of first-hand anecdotes, character sketches and plenty of details to inspire.

It also helped that a couple of years ago we had a family holiday in Tuscany – the first time I have been to this beautiful part of the world. There is nothing quite like being where it happened to understand how to model a subject.

Like the Italian campaign, this has been a long haul, but if I can get it ready to show at Telford 2018 I will be happy. I have decided to aim for a competition less out of any lust for glory (who am I kidding?) and more for the added impetus that a deadline brings to any project. Like many of us, my modelling tends to come in fits and starts between family and work commitments…

Now I will be the first to admit that the bar for dioramas has been raised a country mile since those barmy days of the 1980s when I last modelled in 1/35. These days it is simply not enough to arrange a well-built vehicle on a tasteful base, dry-brushing seems to be frowned upon and woe betide you if your figures are not up to scratch. Above all ‘accuracy’ seems to be the watchword. While not decrying any of that, I still maintain that this hobby is supposed to be fun and it is the end result that matters – not how you achieved it. However, I do believe that the best dioramas should, as Shepard Paine (and many others over the last three decades) have taught us, ‘tell a story’.

After the initial title ‘Liberation’ came to me it struck me that that word has always meant different things to the various people caught up in conflict: a mixed blessing. For the (unscathed) victor there might be the feeling of satisfaction of ‘job done’, but also grief for dead and wounded comrades and wistful thoughts of a far-away home. For those civilians who had been ‘liberated’ there would be joy, but also grief for those lost and, all too often, horror at the destruction of their homes. For the surviving, but defeated enemy these feelings would be mostly negative, but perhaps also tinged with a relief of sorts…

Anyway, the pic at the top of this post shows the diorama at its current (fairly advanced) stage... vehicles are merely in their basic shades and the groundwork has yet to see a coat of paint - although the buildings are more or less complete.
27-1025
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North Carolina, United States
Joined: September 16, 2004
KitMaker: 1,077 posts
Armorama: 1,029 posts
Posted: Sunday, August 26, 2018 - 12:51 PM UTC
The groundwork and structures are first rate. Look forward to seeing more.
obg153
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Texas, United States
Joined: April 07, 2009
KitMaker: 857 posts
Armorama: 843 posts
Posted: Sunday, August 26, 2018 - 01:47 PM UTC
Excellent work in capturing the setting of a small Italian town! That building to the right looks like an old Verlinden product, but I don't recognize the other one. I, too, look forward to seeing your completed scene!
cheyenne
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New Jersey, United States
Joined: January 05, 2005
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Armorama: 1,386 posts
Posted: Sunday, August 26, 2018 - 09:11 PM UTC
Very nicely done Tim !!!
Looks like you put a lot of work into your build and it shows .
TanksForTheMemory
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England - South East, United Kingdom
Joined: August 31, 2016
KitMaker: 50 posts
Armorama: 48 posts
Posted: Sunday, August 26, 2018 - 09:17 PM UTC
Thanks guys.

Jack, well spotted. The town houses are two thirds of the old Verlinden Productions 1/35 Italian House Facade. As a teenager I remember being in awe of the old Diorama Construction Sets ('DCS'), so it was nice to reacquaint myself with an old friend...

The church is scratchbuilt from foam board covered in DAS clay - although I cheated by using the door and surround from Reality in Scale.



As you can see from the image above, the base made by carving a thick piece of ceiling insulation board. In the old days I always started with a flat piece of wood and thought only in two dimensions – length and width – and left the important third one – height (or depth) – to last. This meant I had to build everything up from the base with polystyrene sheet, balsa and wood. But the beauty of insulation board is that you start with a block and burrow down.
jrutman
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Joined: April 10, 2011
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Posted: Monday, August 27, 2018 - 04:35 AM UTC
You are spot on about this being a much neglected theater of the war. And also spot on with what you have accomplished so far !
J
TanksForTheMemory
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England - South East, United Kingdom
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KitMaker: 50 posts
Armorama: 48 posts
Posted: Monday, August 27, 2018 - 10:24 AM UTC
Thanks Jerry.

It's only as I get older (just north of 50) and read more books and internet postings that I have come to realise that, as in so many other aspects of life & culture, the 'Top Ten' of anything seems to be endlessly recycled. So everything else struggles to get noticed.

As I implied above, the Italian campaign was really a victim of its own slow success even as it happened. After all the initial excitement, the public just seemed to get bored - or worse. Even the troops became aware of this. One British Division were referred to as 'D Day dodgers' in Parliament (although this may have been the result of a misunderstanding and they later adopted the title as an ironic badge of honour).

Having said that, it's an absolute boon for modellers because not only did you have almost every Allied nation involved (Brits, Americans, Canadians, New Zealanders, Indians, Poles - even Brazilians!) you also had Italians fighting against and then with the Allies (initially in their own uniforms, then in British kit) - and that's before you even start on the partisans and Germans.

At the same time you are talking about vehicles and weaponry that started with leftovers from the North African Campaign and ended with those in use at the close of hostilities.

And then there's the beautiful, dramatic, often mountainous landscape and the capricious weather. People like to think of Italy as a hot Mediterranean country - but the winters were brutal in the mountains.

I mean, what's NOT to like?
TanksForTheMemory
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England - South East, United Kingdom
Joined: August 31, 2016
KitMaker: 50 posts
Armorama: 48 posts
Posted: Monday, August 27, 2018 - 11:54 AM UTC
A few more images of the diorama in its early stages of construction...











jrutman
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Pennsylvania, United States
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Posted: Tuesday, August 28, 2018 - 01:09 AM UTC
Last set of pics didn't show up.

I know what you mean about often repeated subjects. We all have to remain in our skill set though. As long as you are having an enjoyable time! That is the key. I try to find unusual topics within my areas of interest and then go with that. Hence my latest dio about the "repair guys".
J
TanksForTheMemory
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England - South East, United Kingdom
Joined: August 31, 2016
KitMaker: 50 posts
Armorama: 48 posts
Posted: Tuesday, August 28, 2018 - 01:28 AM UTC
Jerry, as it happens your 'Unsung Heroes' dio was one of the blogs I was looking at on this site that made me feel it was about time I posted... very fine. If only my figure painting comes half-way close to yours I will be happy.

Now, back to those pesky missing photos. How on earth is that I can see them but nobody else can? These were actually posted on another site and I simply cut and pasted the image link like I was supposed to... it's a bit frustrating!

[See below for explanation - duh!]
Dangeroo
#023
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Zurich, Switzerland
Joined: March 13, 2009
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Posted: Tuesday, August 28, 2018 - 06:46 AM UTC
Hi Tim, welcome to the site! Great looking start there. It looks Italy from my point of view! Looking forward to more!
TanksForTheMemory
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England - South East, United Kingdom
Joined: August 31, 2016
KitMaker: 50 posts
Armorama: 48 posts
Posted: Tuesday, August 28, 2018 - 10:26 AM UTC
Thanks Stefan.

Since you're a lot nearer to the Alps than I am I will take that as even more of a compliment..!
tangodown
#494
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Canada
Joined: August 08, 2018
KitMaker: 96 posts
Armorama: 86 posts
Posted: Tuesday, August 28, 2018 - 10:36 AM UTC
Wow, Great job! I am definitely going to be following this build.
TUGA
#034
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Setubal, Portugal
Joined: April 26, 2002
KitMaker: 1,701 posts
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Posted: Tuesday, August 28, 2018 - 10:41 AM UTC
Hi,


Quoted Text


Now back to those pesky missing photos. How on earth is that I can see them but nobody else can? These were actually posted on another site and I simply cut and pasted the image link like I was supposed to... it's a bit frustrating!



It's because we are not registered users of that forum.

We must go there - to the forum topic - even without being registered users to see them.

HTH

Great job
TanksForTheMemory
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England - South East, United Kingdom
Joined: August 31, 2016
KitMaker: 50 posts
Armorama: 48 posts
Posted: Tuesday, August 28, 2018 - 10:44 AM UTC
Now, since some of my images posted above seem to be invisible to anyone except me I have tried to post the rest after using the clunky Kitmaker method to upload them to my gallery first.

Because I couldn't find a church of the right dimensions for my dio, I elected to make it from scratch (as outlined above).

Here I accept that I may have strayed a little from an accurate Tuscany church because, from what I have seen during my time there, most of the architecture is fairly plain (although no less stunning for that). However, I’m going to pretend that some local worthy in this small town decided that he/she had to save his/her soul by contributing this wonderful doorway to the Mother Church.

It also saved me a load of work because the set (Reality in Scale 'Balustrade') provides a beautifully carved doorway and exactly the sort of heavy elaborate door which you would expect to find on a church of this period.

The structure itself was determined by the site on the base – it’s like a wedge of cheese in plan view (from above). These sorts of ‘cut-off’ buildings are always hard to pull off convincingly because the eye always wants to see what is missing – that’s why we military modellers always love ruins! However, here I decided that the tower would be my salvation (if you will excuse the pun) because it would provide a logical edge to the left-hand side. On the right-hand side the church roof would run into the side wall of the street buildings anyway and the pitched roof should help the illusion.

‏I then set about drawing the structure of the church onto foam board and cutting it out. This is the first time I have done this and the best tip I can pass on is what I have read elsewhere – always use a new, sharp knife blade and a steel rule.

Obviously, this is not based on a real church, but it’s a composite from what I have seen with my own eyes (the circular windows are popular in Tuscany and elsewhere) or on the web. The tower is certainly a recognised style of the ‘four bell’ type – that is, it has a bell in each aperture. Some have flat roofs, some pitched with two sides, some with four - but since the latter is more aesthetically pleasing to my eye (perhaps because it reminds me of Sussex steeples from my childhood) I went with that…

The other determining factors were a) the height of the Verlinden street front, b) the height of my display cabinet and c) the effects of scale. I accept that this church tower is actually a bit short in strict scale terms - but then this isn't a vehicle!



So above you can see the basic structure in place - although I left the church removable until the last minute to help with access for further detail work. The lovely Reality in Scale doorway can clearly be seen...
TanksForTheMemory
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England - South East, United Kingdom
Joined: August 31, 2016
KitMaker: 50 posts
Armorama: 48 posts
Posted: Tuesday, August 28, 2018 - 10:48 AM UTC
Thanks Jose!

That makes sense, I suppose. Sanity restored.

(Although the cynic in me starts to wonder if the internet is becoming a set of cages... )

Sorry, should have 'quoted'... Jose said:

"It's because we are not registered users of that forum.

We must go there - to the forum topic - even without being registered users to see them."
TUGA
#034
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Setubal, Portugal
Joined: April 26, 2002
KitMaker: 1,701 posts
Armorama: 1,115 posts
Posted: Tuesday, August 28, 2018 - 11:15 AM UTC
Hi,



Quoted Text

Thanks Jose!

(Although the cynic in me starts to wonder if the internet is becoming a set of cages... )




It's the sites protecting their bandwith and traffic not allowing third party use.
Ronaldo
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Noord-Holland, Netherlands
Joined: October 14, 2004
KitMaker: 115 posts
Armorama: 102 posts
Posted: Wednesday, August 29, 2018 - 10:52 PM UTC
I like this very much,can't wait to see more.
What did you use for the roof tiles and what kind of figures are you going to use???
TanksForTheMemory
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England - South East, United Kingdom
Joined: August 31, 2016
KitMaker: 50 posts
Armorama: 48 posts
Posted: Wednesday, August 29, 2018 - 11:34 PM UTC
Thanks Ronaldo,

I was going to get onto the roof tiles...

They come from a mould made by Diorama Debris: 1:35 Scale Spanish Barrel Roof Tiles Mould (1350047)

There's also another mould for the larger ridge tiles. To my knowledge, this is the only way to make these tiles in the authentic manner out of real terracotta plaster. However, it is also very time-consuming. By a stroke of luck I happened to mention my dilemma to someone at a model show and - hey presto! - he came up with a supply of ready-cast tiles (I believe made from the same moulds) at a very reasonable price. Just as well, because I needed hundreds of the things..!



The bells took me a while to find - until I had a brainwave: ship modelling websites. Suddenly I had plenty to choose from. These are beautifully cast in brass, complete with nicely moulded clappers.



The circular stained glass window was sourced from an image of the real thing on the internet, then printed out onto transparent plastic sheet using an ordinary desktop printer. It's trial and error to get exactly the right size, so I printed out several at once until I had one that was the right fit. The frame came from part of the cupola to a Pz.IV.

By the way, I have flickering lights inside the church, so these will show through the window and open doorway.

Here's a shot of the front. The ornate holy water basin is another accessory by Reality in Scale.

jrutman
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Joined: April 10, 2011
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Posted: Thursday, August 30, 2018 - 03:06 AM UTC
Yeah that door is mighty fine,
J
TanksForTheMemory
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England - South East, United Kingdom
Joined: August 31, 2016
KitMaker: 50 posts
Armorama: 48 posts
Posted: Thursday, August 30, 2018 - 11:13 AM UTC
Because this diorama has been evolving for some time... (and I'm not referring to Jerry Rutman time here - he manages to pack several years' work into a few weeks) I have been able to work on various aspects at leisure.

As far as vehicles were concerned, I always had a Stug III planned for the area in front of the church.

There were three reasons why I chose a Stug:

Firstly, the last time I built a Stug in 1/35 I was about 13. That one, a modified Tamiya Stug (which I still have, albeit in a somewhat distressed state) won me a Junior Bronze Medal at the Model Engineering Exhibition at Wembley in about 1982! So this build is pretty nostalgic for me...

Secondly, from what I have seen in books and on-line, the Stug III was practically the mainstay of Axis armour in Italy (as it was on other fronts).

Thirdly, the distinctive low profile that made it such an excellent weapon of defence also meant that it would not get in the way of all of my lovely buildings!

The basis for my build is the Dragon (Smart Kit) D6365 StuG.III Ausf.G early production with Schurtzen.



I may return to the upgrades below, but as you can see here I built the kit more or less out of the box with a few alterations. The metal barrel (JB models), Fruil metal tracks and 'distressed' portion of mudguard (Aber PE) are the most obvious here. There's also a pretty comprehensively detailed interior...

This Stug has been disabled by a shot to the front port side sprocket, making it slew off the road. The track will be broken and snaking out from the front when I am finished.

Here it is again with it's basic coat of paint.

TanksForTheMemory
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England - South East, United Kingdom
Joined: August 31, 2016
KitMaker: 50 posts
Armorama: 48 posts
Posted: Thursday, August 30, 2018 - 08:49 PM UTC
To fill up the front left corner of the diorama I have what must be the smallest staff car in history... the Fiat Topolino.



This is the Bronco kit. It's pretty much the same as the Tamiya Simca, which was the French version built under licence, but this one has a solid roof. It has to be said, however, that the quality of detail in the Bronco kit is seriously impressive given it's diminutive size. It also has a stunning little infantry cart to tow.

There's a great review at: https://www.perthmilitarymodelling.com/reviews/vehicles/bronco/cb35156.html

Anyway, the idea is that this car, loaded with liberated booty from Rome, came racing into the town but got shot up, failed to take the corner and crashed into a field of sunflowers. So nothing dramatic there then...

obg153
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Texas, United States
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Posted: Friday, August 31, 2018 - 01:32 AM UTC
Impressive work on the church! It's almost as though you built it around the belfry and that big door. And the paint/weathering on the little Fiat is first rate. I'm really enjoying your in-progress photos.
Dioramartin
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New South Wales, Australia
Joined: May 04, 2016
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Posted: Friday, August 31, 2018 - 01:52 AM UTC
Bravo Tim - mighty impressed by your return to the hobby, that’s a positively exquisite portico/facade made all the more realistic by sunlight & the Stug looks superb already. The Fiat too, is that all chipping or are some perforations if it was shot up…? I have some form (from “A Shot in the Dark” dio last posted April 2017);





TanksForTheMemory
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England - South East, United Kingdom
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Posted: Friday, August 31, 2018 - 03:47 AM UTC
Thanks Jack and Tim,

I was worried that I may have overdone the damage / weathering on the little Topo, but compared to Tim's vehicle mine looks like it's practically just rolled out of the factory... ouch!

OK, while the Universal Carrier is still in the paint shop I will show a few of my planned figures.

So, to expand on my theme, the setting is north of Rome in the latter half of 1944 and the figures are to be a mixture of 'liberating' Allied soldiers, 'liberated' Italian civilians (some possibly resistance) and captured / hiding Germans.

Given that this falls in the Summer months of 1944 I am trying to feature uniforms which seem appropriate. However, I have learnt a few things from my research (by which I mean pouring over images on the internet):

First. the Allies in Italy seem to have worn quite a mixture of uniforms. So it's not uncommon to see shorts and short sleeves mixed with full (or partial) battle dress. Also the Mark II helmet (as opposed to the Mark III 'crab') is almost always seen in period photos even up to the end of the war. This may well have been because a) they were frequently overlooked for supplies in favour of the landings in Normandy and southern France and b) many of these troops had been in action from the North African campaigns or earlier. Or perhaps uniform discipline was simply a bit more lax!

Secondly, although the weather in Italy can be extremely hot - it can also be very wet and cold (especially in the mountains). For example, during the July advances which followed the liberation of Rome there were several days of heavy rainfall. So, although you often see troops during the early months of the campaign wearing tropical kit, by the time the reached Rome and beyond they were often wearing the sort of uniforms and kit which you tend to see in photos from France. But not always...

Basically, this is good news for the modeller because it means that pretty much anything goes!

The markings for my Universal Carrier will be for the 78th 'Battleaxe' Division and so for my Allied infantry I have settled the 2nd Battalion, The Lancashire Fusiliers, who were in action around Cassino and Rome. Although the 78th was withdrawn for R&R at some time in July they were back by September for the assault on the Gothic Line. So this means that I can hedge my bets about whether my dio is set in June / July or September onwards.

The figures which I am using come from a variety of sources.

First off is this pair, from a set called British Soldiers / German Sniper CR 35-108 by Corsar Rex. I'm pretty sure that they're a Swedish company. Now this is a lovely set, beautifully sculpted - but it has a couple of major flaws.



The first problem is that the the faces are rather lifeless and the German, in particular, seems to have no neck!

The other issue is that, while the sculpting of some of the hands is wonderful (especially those of the German), the hands gripping weapons are rather ill defined.

So, as so often, you have to reach for Hornet heads and hands. The head for the Brit had some hair added using Magicsculp. The netting covered helmet is from Sovereign 2000. Although I used only the rear escort figure, I used the left arm from the leading man and simply replaced the hand with one from Hornet and the Lee Enfield from one which came with my Riich Universal Carrier. To this I later added a photo etch rifle sling from a Dragon set.



Anyway, I'm quite pleased with this pair so far. They are going to be positioned on the rear left corner of the diorama walking out of frame...