Following my previous posts (below) on the Braille Scale forum, here is the finished diorama for the Glider Collection museum.
Last Saturday I have delivered the finished diorama at the Glider Collection museum in Wolfheze. Literally glueing on the last figures just hours before bringing it to the museum, I managed to finish the diorama in time to be on display for the Market Garden commemorations next weekend. For those interested, these are the links to the website and the Facebook page of the museum:
The diorama shows gliders carrying elements of the British 1st Airborne Division just after landing on Landing Zone 'Z' on the 17th of September 1944, as part of operation Market Garden. Equipment is being unloaded and gliderborne troops are moving off the landing zone while parachute elements of the 1st Parachute Brigade are jumping on nearby Dropzone 'X'. It represents the north-eastern corner of the part of LZ'Z' that was reserved for the gliders from RAF Keevil and where Hamilcar 325 from Tarrant Rushton landed by mistake. Horsa gliders from Keevil brought in:
* elements of 9th Airborne Field Company, which was an entirely gliderborne unit;
* the howitzers and ammunition of A Troop, 1st Battery from the 1st Airlanding Light Regiment RA;
* gliderborne elements of 1st Forward Observer Unit from the 1st Airlanding Light Regiment RA;
* jeeps for 1st, 2nd and 3rd Parachute Battalion, 1st Parachute Brigade HQ and Signals, and 1st Parachute Squadron Royal Engineers;
* transport for the 3rd Parachute Platoon of the 250th Company RASC
The part of LZ'Z' on which the diorama is based, still looks pretty much the same today as it did 70 years ago. Here is a picture of it. The road leads to the south across the LZ, on the left is Doorwerth Heath and on the right lay the fields preserved for the Keevil gliders:
The diorama is made looking pretty much from the same viewpoint, though a bit more to the south-west. On the left side of the diorama, a tiny part of Doorwerth Heath can be seen, left from centre runs the dirt road and on the right side are the fields. Scattered across are Horsa gliders that took off from Keevil, and Hamilcar 325 which should have landed on the field preserved for Tarrant Rushton gliders. In the right side of the background parachutes can be seen being dropped on the south-eastern edge of Dropzone 'X'..
Following the numbering from the map, we first have the Horsa glider with chalknumber 401. This glider transported a 75mm Pack Howitzer of A Troop, 1st Battery, 1st Airlanding Light Regiment Royal Artillery, together with its towing jeep, accompanying ammunition trailer and a number of its crew. The other part of the gun crew came in by parachute. The glider has crashed through the barbed wire fence bordering Doorwerth Heath..
All the necessary ammunition for the gun was carried in the trailer and on the bonnet of the towing jeep..
The jeep is a modified Airfix/Heller model. The trailer was scratchbuilt and the Howitzer came from Milicast..
Jeep and trailer both carry the Unit Serial Number of 42 on a red/blue square for the 1st Airlanding Light Regiment RA, with the jeep carrying an additional marking for No. 1 gun, A Troop, 1st Battery..
Standing next to jeep, recognisable by the large Bergen rucksack and wearing body armor and leather gloves, is one of the two glider pilots that flew Horsa 401 and its cargo to Holland..
One of the crew members is hitching up the trailer. On top of the jeep's bonnet a yellow fluorescent aerial recognition scarf can be seen..
Next up, we have Horsa 387. It transported vehicles, equipment and personnel from the 9th Airborne Field Company, the gliderborne Royal Engineers unit..
The tail has been removed and the trailer and jeep have been unloaded. Now that these are out, one of the unloading troughs has been taken to help unload a motorcycle out of the large side door of the Horsa. The jeep is an improved Hasegawa model with wheels from the Airfix/Heller kit, the trailer again is scratchbuilt..
The jeep and trailer have been unloaded in a field of freshly cut grass, which lays drying in the early autumn sun. Both vehicles carry the Unit Serial Number 49 on a blue background, for the 9th Airborne Field Company RE..
One of the metal unloading troughs is laid across the ramp to help manhandle a heavy motorcycle out of the side of the Horsa..
Pieces of equipment have been unloaded and the bench attached to the side ramp has been removed and thrown on the ground to ease the unloading of the motorcycle. The safety straps for the passengers are still hanging from the ramp. The cockpit of the Horsa kit received a lot of extra detail..
A glider pilot still wearing his flying helmet and leather gloves can be seen next to the loading ramp, as well as another, recognisable by his large Bergen rucksack, talking to a padre. The BSA M20 motorcycle is an improved model that came from the Airfix Bomber Resupply set.
The padre is using one of the BSA folding bicycles that were flown in by glider 387..
Since Horsa 387 transported quite a large number of troops, a fair amount of chalk graffiti was added to the hull of the glider..
Some slight damage to the wing was received during landing or caused by some light flak..
Across the road from glider 387 we can see a small group of German prisoners. They were picked up from the nearby farms and escorted along the dirt road to a central collecting point..
The prisoners are 'Wehrmacht' soldiers, from the regular German army, as can be seen by their uniforms. They could have belonged to a unit using horses, billeted at one of the local farms..
The German soldiers were clearly captured by surprise, since some of them are barely clothed. Perhaps they were captured during washing or some Sunday afternoon fun with the daughter of one of the Dutch farmers..
The POWs will be questioned by personnel from 1st Parachute Brigade HQ, to find out about the enemy presence in the area..
The last Horsa glider is chalk number 476. This glider carried two jeeps and a number of personnel, belonging to the Headquarters of 1st Parachute Brigade..
One jeep has already left the landing zone towards the Arnhem bridge, the other one, a radio jeep, is still standing behind the glider. The jeep carries the Unit Serial Number 81 on a red square for 1st Parachute Brigade HQ..
A radio operator of 1st Parachute Brigade HQ is trying to make contact with other units over the wireless. The figure came from AB Figures, the jeep is a modified Airfix/Heller model..
An officer is trying to orientate their position on the map. Note the SCR-536 'Handie Talkie' and Sten Gun placed on the bonnet of the jeep..
The jeep carries several modifications for its wireless role. On the front mudguards, the rear and in front of the passenger seat extra batteries are stowed, and on top of the grill a cable reel has been mounted..
Judging by the red patchwork, this Horsa is probably a survivor recovered from the Normandy landings, refurbished and reused for Market Garden..
After the glider had landed and had its tail removed, it was hit by another glider coming up from behind, ripping off the wing and completely smashing the tail section..
One of the glider pilots got injured during the collision and is being treated by a medic..
The tail section has been completely smashed by the other glider coming in to land..
Troops of the 1st Parachute Brigade defense platoon has taken up defensive position next to the glider. The radio operator came from AB Figures, the Bren gunner is a modified figure from the Revell British Infantry set..
Next up, is a jeep and trailer belonging to 9th Airborne Field Company RE. This jeep has been flown in by another glider that lifted off from RAF Keevil. It has driven across the field and is just turning onto the dirt road..
Gliderborne engineers are hitching a ride on top of the jeep..
Equipment has been strapped on top of the trailer..
Both trailer and jeep carry the Unit Serial Number of the 9th Field Company RE; number 49 on a blue square..
One trooper has decided to take a seat on top of the bonnet. Next to him, strapped on the bonnet, a fluorescent aerial recognition scarf can be seen..
On the right side of the diorama we can see the big Hamilcar glider. This particular Hamilcar is chalknumber 325. It transported two Universal Carriers and four troops belonging to 1st Border battalion, the junior battalion of the 1st Airlanding Brigade.
All nine infantry battalions of the 1st Airborne Division had two Carriers each flown in by a Hamilcar. Contrary to the rest of the 1st Airlanding Brigade, which landed on LZ'S', the gliders transporting the Airlanding Battalion's Carriers landed on LZ'Z' and LZ'X' on the first and second lift respectively..
Four 1st Border troops have been flown in together with the two carriers. Three of them have already driven of in the first Carrier..
The fourth Border soldier is waiting in the second Carrier. The two glider pilots will join him and then they will follow the first carrier off the landing zone. In the background parachutes above the south-east corner of Dropzone 'X' can be seen..
The Carriers both display the Unit Serial Number of the 1st Border Battalion; number 113 on a brown background..
One glider pilot is still gathering his kit next to the cockpit..
He is still wearing the characteristic flying helmet and body armour. His Denison smock is laying beside him next to his Bergen rucksack..
The other glider pilot is watching on from the ground, with his Denison smock over his arm. Both figures are modified standard British infantry ..
To reach the cockpit, the pilots had to go up a ladder in the cargo bay, through a hatch in the roof of the glider and walk on top of the wing..
The Carriers used at Arnhem sported a number of modifications to make them more suitable for their airborne role. The lower rear armoured plate, locker and towing hook were removed to save weight, and special mountings for a 3" mortar were fitted on the rear. .
The Carrier models came from the old Airfix kit and have received a lot of improvements and modifications..
After landing, the hydraulic landing gear of the Hamilcar was lowered to reduce the distance to the ground in order to make unloading easier..
For ease of unloading wooden ramps were used..
The first Carrier has cut a track through the freshly ploughed field..
In front of the Hamilcar, some more gliderborne troops belonging to 9th Field Company RE can be seen moving of the LZ..
Two of them are pushing a folding trolley, loaded with heavy equipment..
Among the group is also a radio operator. The large antenna of his Wireless Set No.18 and the headphones make this an interesting figure..
On the dirt road, a trooper carrying a Wireless Set No.38 can be seen riding a Welbike..
He too is carrying a fluorescent aerial recognition scarf, tugged into the top of his backpack. This figure came from the Waterloo 1815 British Paratroopers with Pack Howitzer set. A radio and antenna was added to complete the picture..
A lot of attention was given to the groundwork. the road running across LZ'Z' has a very distinct look, with small patches of moss growing from the verges onto the road..
Between the two fields runs a narrow track..
Small patches of flowers can be seen..
As well as a couple of large sun flowers. Those who have watched A Bridge Too Far might recognize the figure in the background carrying an umbrella..
In one corner of the diorama, this small scene can be found..
A group of soldiers, probably belonging to the Royal Engineers since they are all carrying weapons, are posing for an AFPU photographer, together with one of the glider pilots that flew them to Holland. Among them is also a medic and a wireless operator..
Well, that was it. A rather large post but I hope you enjoyed it. For those who want to see the diorama in more detail, please visit the Glider Collection museum. It is a very fine museum for anyone interested in the subject.
Within the next days I will post a more detailed description on how I have done the groundwork.
Thanks for watching,