0755 hrs. The race was on.
The officer's eyes searched the coastline in vain … Where were they?
From his vantage point aboard the L.C.A. he could see the small port of Courseulles-sur-Mer to his right and could even make out his own landing sector of Nan Green. His binoculars took in the result of the early morning drenching fire that had turned the houses beyond into smoking facades. He needed some "sweet news" ... and soon, but where the hell were they?
Oscillating and crashing through the sour saline waters of the English Channel, the small craft
hacked it's way towards the French coast.
Enclosed within it's thin walls were other Canadian soldiers of B coy of the Regina Rifle Regiment, all tainted with the bilious knowledge that they were 10 minutes late on a late schedule. The company comander's viewfinders swayed again and again, back and fourth, up and down, side to side, his hunt for that news was turning nauseous.
As hopes light dwindled, his lenses locked onto some small strange packages appearing along the shoreline. One by one the wrappers fell away to relive the Regina's supporting armour – the Duplex Drive tanks of B Sqn the Canadian 1st Hussars.
At 0758 hrs, the officer radioed the welcome bulletin back to his Regimental H.Q. in the form of a codeword … POPCORN.
Major Peters had finaly found something tasty to broadcast.
Diorama and Background:
Tidal times and charts played an important role on D-Day and this was very much the case off Juno where coral reefs and shoals presented a natural barrier. To counter this threat, H-Hour was planned slightly later to make use of the incoming tide. This however, left a very small margin of time before the myrad of German beach defences closer to shore, would be concealed under the cloak of the same natural forces.
I decided to include two of these man made obstacles in my diorama.
The first is a Hemmbalk. This construction is designed to raise landing craft ramp-style upward onto an explosive device. In this instance a Tellermine, allthough many such pieces of ordinance were no more than TNT packed into large glass bottles.
The next may not be immediately apparent, but if you too can 'scan the coastline' you may come across a small innocent looking rusty girder. This is part of a Nußknacker bomb which is set off when the 'arm' is forced down onto a detonator, the charge being sealed in a watertight casemate below the sands.
Primitive but effective, especially when you consider that the Canadians alone lost some 30% of their landingcraft to such beach obstacles.
The Sherman V DD:
Points to note are the Canadian markings of B Sqn, 1st Hussars, discarded lifejackets, a loose rolling R.A.F. dingy, minor battle damage and wads of kelp that the tank has collected on it's run in. The water .. er.. "spewing" out of the top starboard side is the last gasp of the systems bilge pump.
Typical for the Canadian DD's is the (over?) use of the black Bostik sealant around the skirt. The vehicle number in yellow is just visable on the top rear of the canvas.
The contents of the steel bucket on the side of the turret is … er well, let's put it this way … Have you ever been seasick?
Some of the DD's went straight at the German fortifications upon landing. Others (as mine) chose to sit in the shallows to make less of a target of themselves, taking on the enemy bunkers from a distance. Both tactics worked, the only problem with the latter was that many Bears (Canuck slang for tanks) became swamped. Their commanders being more concentrated on the job at hand to notice the incoming tide.
On this occasion "our man" seems to have spotted this in the nick of time … better get moving!
Unfortunately, on most sectors of Juno the DD's arrived after their infantry, often with dire results. The odds of being a casualty in those first minutes up the beach was 1 in 2.
The Regina's also had a tough time but it would have been far worse if it wasn't for those "good things in little packets".
This evenings report will involve me raising a glass to Juno and the men who fought to win her.
For now though, it's time to say goodbye and close the weather station on this the 74th anniversary of the Day of Days.
Pull up a deckchair for another annual D-day dio.
I've been planning this one for many years now, but alas, I couldn't get my hands on the (then discontinued) Resicast Sherman V M4A4 DD. With spirits undamped, I considered scratch building one, which would have been a mountain to climb, especially as I did not possess all the info required. Therefore, I sadly decided to put the idea onto the back burner.
Recently, the Resicast product was updated and re-released, so I grabbed it with both hands.
After inspection, my opinion of the kit is that it's a job well done and well worth the money, hats off to Graham Sellar.
There was just one problem. Being set on a waterline scene, a part of me refused to saw off most of the lower hull on this exellent kit. Failure to do this would leave me with no alternative but to scratch build an old Dragon M4A4. Back to square one?
… not quite, although their mechanisms are different, I still had a handfull of parts over from my M4A1 DD project. Most important of all though, I had all the information of this complex build on the DVD included in the new kit plus a few spares.
The new Resicast DD will find itself the centrepiece on another dio, where it can be shown to it's full effect. For now though it's 'graft' time.
Dragon's lower hull was needed for another model, so I've roughly clubbed one together here. The measurements for the bow plate have been transfered onto some sheet. Fitting this to the Dragon hull will be a task in itself.
Welcome aboard the magic mystery tour. Destination? Take a guess …
A quick walk around the turret:
The Ca.. whoops, (nearly gave the game away) I meant this army did seem to have a rather large proportion of early M34 gun mounts with a narrow mantlet. I've modified mine here with a gunners telescopic sight, which required an armoured extension to protect it.
This detail, I admit, is a bit of a rarity, but bear in mind that there was a shortage of Shermans to be converted to DD's for all the nations involved in Operation Overlord. So I thought that exeption could well be the rule here.
With the scratch built bow plate in position I can now fit the two Resicast air bottles (These enflate the rubber pipes or towers and raise the walls of the DD screen).
These bottles come as one solid block, so I had to seperate them to ease later painting and fitting.
The Resicast skirt fitted rather snugly over the Dragon hull. Note cast lettering and other small details gleaned from the resin kit.
The first stageing:
My attitude to military modelling is:
... if you can't have a laugh now and again with your hobby - you'd be better off leaving it there.
So, still not with me? Then it's time for you to do some work. Look up the Roman Goddess of love and marrige.
By the bye, here's a photo of her old man.
The bow plate and fittings in situ.
Yes, I know it looks a bit scruffy, but it's pointless cleaning it all up at this stage, as there's still a lot of plaster and putty to be flung around before it's ready for spraying.
Now I'll move onto a small and innocent detail that is crucial to this diorama.
The M4A4 is longer and heavier than a "normal" Sherman and therefore requires a screen that offers more freeboard. That is to say, that the skirt is larger and higher than on an M4A1.
Resicast has done a good job in the rendition of both of these versions – no problem there.
It's that in a slightly or fully raised state, the rear or aft sports a small top collar.
This umbrella – like feature is designed to stop/reduce incoming waves from swamping the DD.
Slicing off the top rear half of the screen, enables me to build this area up with wire, metal foil and putty.
Now, if I've left you "floundering" with the question: "Why the hell did he do that ?"- bear in mind, that 99% of my dioramas are based upon a certain event.
It just so turns out, in this particular D-Day tale, that the fulcrum point of the whole shebang is nothing more ... than a small strip of canvas.
DD tanks are unusual craft even in model form. Unlike the vast majority of kits, most of the detail is on the "inside". I think the next batch of photo's will suffice to demonstrate this:
As you can see, the detailing is quite extensive and there's more to come.
Some parts had to be scratch made where there were no Resicast spares at hand, but it turned out to be easier than I had first anticipated.
So with this act over with ... I'll leave you with a "bow".
Just a couple of pic's I forgot to add last time ...
(... this stuff gets everywhere😏 )
Next stop completion.
So, if you're up for this, don't forget your wet suit on the 6/6/2018.