Bob Letterman

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(7)Bob’s Older Dioramas

September 1st, 2012 by admin

The Limits of Glory,
Decision at Fontainbleau, a 120mm (1/16th scale) shadowbox Napoleonic diorama.
Bob Letterman

Here are some pics I took recently of the last diorama I finished. I have been working on another, (Logistics), for a long time and it is still far from finished. This is in 120mm scale. It is called “The Limits of Glory” and depicts Napoleon and his Marshalls at Fontainebleau palace debating his giving up the throne after being defeated at Waterloo by Wellington.

An overall shot. The marble is all hand painted, the floors are cut and laid parquet bass wood stained and polished. I made various things like the books and bookcases and then cast them, The desk is made from scratch, the book cases, as are the curtains, etc. Click on images to enlarge.

At the time, Verlinden and I had only a single marshall in production at the time, so I had to convert six of them to various poses, then sculpt all the heads except the courier to resemble the real Marshalls. I used paintings of them to sculpt both them and Napoleon. Click on images to enlarge.

A courier delivers a document. The fireplace works with miniature lighting and blinking circuits.

Le Emperor Napoleon. Click on images to enlarge.

A shot of the ceiling with the chandelier.

In reference to the above diorama, it has been featured in many books and magazines but here is a relatively new article in Military Modelling magazine, (Last year), on my Napoleonic Shadowbox diorama, The Limits of Glory”. It is in the January 2011 issue. Click on images to enlarge.

I have a PDF of the article on my web site. Click on the blue link directly below to view the magazine article in full.

limits-of-glory-copy1

“Nest”, A WW II diorama in 1/24th scale.
Bob Letterman

I haven’t built an aircraft model for a while, but here are a couple of old ones. First, a picture of me just after moving into a new home in 1976. The planes were crated up and I’m preparing to glue them all back together. This photo was a real embarrassment to me. When I was a cop, my partner and I were always making high profile splashy busts that seemed to somehow make the front pages. The reporters were hanging out with us a lot during that period. One reporter came to the house for a follow up on some bust or another, anyway, he saw these and wanted to take some photos.

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The next day, I opened the newspaper and there was this picture. It was captioned, “Bob Letterman, one of St. Louis’ toughest crime fighters plays with toy airplanes when off duty”. I had to take crap over that for months! You can see some of those ancient Tamiya armor kits on the shelf behind me!

The first diorama was built in 1982. It was called “Nest” and featured in several magazines. It was a French “Castle Farm” as is found along the Normandy coast. It is in 1/24th scale by the British firm Matchbox, at least I think that was the brand. The buildings were from scratch, the figures were all converted from those four Tamiya 1/24 Rommel, etc., and the Tamiya race car figures. I really detailed the engine and cockpit as there were no aftermarket stuff back then. BTW, excuse the photo quality, digital hadn’t even been thought of yet! The searchlight was made from scratch using only a photograph. When I was looking for something the shape of the light itself as well as the size, I was shaving one morning and realized the plastic top off a can of Rise Shaving Cream fit the bill!

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I super-detailed the engine and the machine guns from some great photos. No aftermarket kits or photo-etch back then, Everything had to be made from scratch.

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I used two kits to build this with. I needed to have the replacement engine being uncrated.

I used two Heller kits for the cars, a Mercedes and a BMW sportscar. The 1/24 Opel Blitz was an Italeri release. Click on images to enlarge.

I started the built from scratch searchlight with the plastic cap of a Rise shaving cream can!

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Click on images to enlarge.

This figure was of a German soldier in 1/24th scale. I converted him to a pilot. The mechanics were from the Tamiya mechanics set. Click on images to enlarge.

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The Liberation of Shiela, a 1/48th scale Diorama
Bob Letterman

This diorama is about a beutepark. The one located in Paris-Nanterre, France. The Germans moved captured Allied aircraft to these units, making them operational, then, rotate their pilots through to actually fly them and discover the strengths and weaknesses of each type. They all had German insignia for obvious reasons! This is in 1/48th scale, the B-17 and C-47 were from Monogram and the Mustang was Hasegawa, I think. The vehicles were Bandai and some Verlinden. The B-17 and the Mustang were one of my very first attempts with resin/PE aircraft update sets. Fooling with the tiny, tiny PE, I thought to myself, nobody is going to use this stuff! Was I wrong! The figures were mostly kit figures, to be honest, I can’t even remember now where I got all of them.

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Click on images to enlarge.

I hand painted the Nose art on both Sheila and the C-47. Sheila was out of my imagination.

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Little Chief Cockeye was another story. Wes Bradley’s father was in the Army Airforce in WW II. He actually painted nose art for the unit he was in. He then took photos up close and I used this one of his for the C-47 nose art. I will leave the explanation of the title to your imagination.

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Click on images to enlarge.

Souvenirs, a 120mm, (!/16th) scale diorama
Bob Letterman

In the late eighties, I had built a diorama named Comrades. I had sculpted new heads for the 5 figures I used and had painted the sculpted epoxy putty. My business partner asked why I hadn’t put them in rubber as we could have made a head set and sold them. I hadn’t even given that a thought but he was right! So I told him I would make another 4 heads for a 120mm head set. After I finished them, I wanted to make a small diorama to use castings of them. This became the smallest diorama I have ever built. I keep it in a case because all my other dios are free standing and this is too small for that. As a result, I sometimes forget about it. Early war, France. The 2cm flak cannon is a Verlinden product as are the bodies of the three figures. I converted the seated figure from a standing figure and used three of the four sculpted heads on them.

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I like a lot of character in my faces. There isn’t anything wrong with this guys left eye, it is the way the light reflected and I’m too lazy to re-photograph it!

As this one is an SS officer, I gave him a “Prussian” forehead, blond hair and glasses. First the original kit box art. Click on images to enlarge.

“Arrogance” a 120mm (1/16th scale) diorama
Bob Letterman

I am posting all the dioramas here that have been published in print, but never on the web.

I built this diorama at a time when we wanted to give as much coverage as possible to the VP 120mm series. I started with a large wooden base. (Early 90s). Click on images to enlarge.

I then used model RR rock molds to adhere to the wooden walls and create a bluff effect.

I wanted to depict Goering and the generals on the Channel coast during the failed attempt to invade England. (Operation Sea Lion) This was at a point in WW II that the Germans and the allies both were under the illusion of the German invincibility. I have always had this thing about when I use a real personality in a diorama, I want the viewer to instantly recognize him. So many sculptors never, ever capture the look of personality figures. I took the original figure and converted it heavily. First, the original kit figure box art.

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Then my conversion. New head, new arms and legs and added the cape.

The two vehicles are the VP Kubelwagon and the VP Panzer II. This dio is in 120mm. The third vehicle is a 1/16th Mercedes two seater sports coupe. I extended it and made it a four seater so it became a staff car. I scratched the back seat and convertible top. I used a stone wall to replicate a “Lookout turnoff” with a view of the channel.

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All the figures are conversions with several of the heads sculpted to truly look like the characters they represent. The ruined building being used as an observation point is comprised of various parts from VP plaster buildings. Almost all the equipment used are from VP, (What else would I have used at the time), and the trees and shrubs, over 200 of them are made from a VP product at that time and cutting a lot of branches and twigs in the woods! Count ‘em!

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Click on images to enlarge.

Click on images to enlarge.

This rider got a tree branch stuck in his helmet straps. I didn’t have any previous experience painting horses.

“Coccoon” a huge diorama, 8 feet X 4 feet in 1/72nd scale.
Bob Letterman

Immediately after I built Legacies the first time in 1985, I began thinking about my next one. I’m embarrassed to say this, but somebody had given me the old Matchbox kit of a Flower class Corvette sub hunter. No way I can remember who. Anyway, it had been laying around for some time, so I decided to make it the focus of another “Superdiorama”. I remember the most difficult parts were the ship itself as that kit was absolutely horrible and wrong in just about every way possible. The other was the base itself. My wife Susan had bought me a table saw that year for my birthday or it would never have been built.

I cut layers and layers of the dry dock sides to create the “Stair” effect. A pity I never took SBS photographs. Although in 1/72nd scale, the dio is the same size as the other “Superdioramas” BTW, I had that phrase copyrighted. The dimensions are 8 feet wide, (2.4 meters) by 4 feet wide, (1.3 meters). Click on images to enlarge.

I ended up only using the rear half of the hull. All else on the ship was scratched or heavily converted kit parts. I had picked up some reference books in a London book stall and decided as long as I had to scratch it anyway, I may as well convert it to the late war “Modified Flower” design. It has a totally different rake and shear than the older model and many upgrades.

The entire bridge is from scratch. I used the plans for actual ship Charlock 395, then I gave it the non-existent K-396 designation. The gun platform, the gun and the rocket rails were all from scratch.

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Note the sides of the pit. That was so much fun. :-)

In the books and magazines in which this has appeared, there has never been a shot of inside the “Wet Dock”. There are two more vessels, a torpedo boat and a rescue launch.

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For the buildings, I scratch-built the wet dock canopy, the building underneath and the big crane. The smaller cranes were conversions from model RR cranes. See below. I actually went to the docks in England and photographed everything in sight. The crane on the left is a completed and painted conversion. The right has yet to be detailed or painted.

The remaining buildings were extensive conversions of Kibri kits, IMO, the best buildings of all RR products. Very pricey, but well worth it.

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Here are varied shots from various locations throughout the diorama. The color in this pic is terrible!

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Click on images to enlarge.

An added tale. When this was finished, I was having trouble blending the shades of artists oil for the water. Frustrated, I called my partner in Belgium. I have always said that Francois Verlinden was the most color savvy modeler I ever knew. He is amazing. On the phone he told me what colors to mix together to paint the dark waters of the eastern coast of England. I did as instructed, then I located my reference photographs of the real area. Placing the photo next to the celluclay water I had just painted. I said to myself, Verlinden, you are absolutely amazing! It was an exact match.

“Knight Takes King’s Bishop” A 1/35th scale diorama
Bob Letterman

Here is another oldie. Doing these aren’t easy. I have to find the slides, scan them, process them in Photoshop, etc. but these have never been posted on the Internet and, believe it or not, I’ve had quite a few requests.

This diorama, again was made to showcase the VP range at the time. built in 1/35th scale, the buildings are all made from broken VP plaster parts returned by customers. During all those years, I kept a large box and all the returns were put in it. They were not intact buildings, they were all ruins. A broken plaster ruin was never a challenge to build, and I managed to use most of the parts over the years in my own dioramas.

The setting of “Knight takes Kings Bishop was 1982. On June 3rd, the ABU-Nidal faction, a radical Palestinian terrorist group, attempted to assassinate the Israeli ambassador to the U.K. in London. The Israelis responded with attacks against Palestinian terror targets in Beirut, Lebanon. The Palestinians launched barrages against Gallilee. In June of that year, the Israelis sent 60,000 troops into Lebanon.

This diorama is set in Sultan Yackoub during that campaign. The Isaelis are salvaging a SSNP, (Syrian Socialist National Party), Soviet made BTR-60. The Israeli Defense Force salvages all captured equipment and uses them for parts or re-fitting.

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The BTR-60 has taken a couple of hits in the hull, most tires are flat, and the salvage crew are attempting to make it towable. Click on images to enlarge.

I have always been a fan of photographing outside. When there is a slight overcast, the shadows look very realistic and add depth.

I have had several Israelis tell me over the years that one of the signs is upside down. Sorry about that! it’s all Greek to me! Click on images to enlarge.

The BTR-60 is the old VP kit, and, if I remember correctly, the first one on the market. VP kits were always cutting edge back then!

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I always liked photos of this diorama taken from this angle. It looks realistic to me.

This is a conversion of the Tamiya M-113, using the VP Fitter Crane set. The 57 Chevy was a plastic kit, I can’t remember the brand.

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I made the wheels on the BTR, flat or otherwise, fit on the rubble to obtain a realistic appearance.

The Ford Mutt was modified to the Israeli version using photos taken on a trip to Israel. Verlinden had intended to make a conversion set, but never did, at least to my knowledge. One of those projects that was never born!

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Click on images to enlarge.

“Comrades”, a 120mm (1/16th scale) diorama
Bob Letterman

It started with this 120mm scratch 75mm pak 40. T the time there were no 120mm kits available to use with the figures, so I made one of sheet styrene, tube and rod styrene assisted with a router, brass sheet and rod and items from the spare parts box.

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The building is an old water mill converted into a “Gasthof”, or Pub in Germany. The war is nearing the end, the soldiers weary and tired, but still take time to drink and sing and cook some “Brats”.

The Pak 40 painted and weathered. Click on images to enlarge.

All the figures were heavily converted and the heads sculpted to “singers”. The mandolin was made from epoxy and strip styrene. The piano is a converted doll house piece. The fancy stein was also from epoxy. Furniture, deer head, CooKoo clock, chairs and stool were from plastic sheet and stock.

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Click on images to enlarge.

The sink and toilet prior to putting them in the Men’s room. The scratch Cookoo clock as well.

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I thought the hot coals and the brats looked realistic! Click on images to enlarge.

“The Raiders of Zarlon”. a 120mm, (!/16th scale), Fantasy Diorama.
Bob Letterman

In late 1993 and early 1994, we had been commissioning sculptors in Europe and one in the state of Washington to sculpt fantasy figures. I came up with the hair brained idea to create a story line, advertise in the fantasy/Sci-fi mags, and get a following going. I began by building this shadow box, then I made up the story line and put an article in the VP magazine. I built all kinds of special light effects, worked really hard on it, but…. it never looked quite right to me. Anyway, the line never became a big hit as we hoped and the only major occurrence was when the National Organization for Women, (N.O.W.), sent me a seething letter threatening me with a law suit for products that brutalized women. I explained that it was a fantasy science fiction set and nothing that anyone would take seriously. That didn’t work, but, eventually, it all went away, and I decided that fantasy was not my strong suit.

In the first picture, I used a light transmitting material for the green ray, the flash on the Dungeonmaster’s hand was cotton covering a subminiature grain of wheat bulb. The sparks bouncing off the shield of our hero, was made from fiber optics. The dungeonmaster’s eyes were LEDs. All of the gargoyles also had LED eyes. The walls were made of styrofoam chopped into rocks. I used my wedding cake columns and a real ceramic tile floor.

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This was the photo that N.O.W. resented! I made the pit with a piece of clear sheet styrene, that I vac-formed over a large lid, turned upside down in the flloor, and several flashing and intermittent grain of wheat bulbs underneath, it looked like real fire and the lights made it move like real coals do.

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Anyway, as in all businesses, you get grand ideas only to find that you were the only one to think they were grand!

“Masquerade” a 1/35th scale diorama about the Battle of the Bulge.
Bob Letterman

When I was running VLS, I was concerned that we were getting so many of the ruined plaster buildings returned due to broken parts.

I had this idea to use nothing but returned kit parts to build a diorama. Then the customers would realize that plaster is very fragile, and I have never seen any company’s plaster kits that didn’t arrive broken through the mail or other carriers, but….. with a little white glue, the kit is fixed and ready to begin building!. So, that is how this project got started.

I set out to build a castle in the general Bastogne, Belgium area. The castle turned out like this. Every single part of tis building except the roof, the windows and the German insignia came from the returned kits pile.

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I used both German and American figures. Here we see Germans, dressed as G.I.s taking instructions on American weapons from Germans in German uniforms. Behind them is a captured Deuce and a Half, restored to running condition. The snow was made using a dozen coats of hair spray, then dusting with thermo-plastic micro balloons. We sold that stuff in the Techstar line as model snow. It is a pain to apply because the material is extremely fine, but the effect is worth the effort. You can get a dusting of snow all the way to a heavy layer by increasing the number of applications.

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Hmmmm, I built this 25 years ago. That Panther ersatz M-10 was unique for all those years. Looking back, I don’t think I would have wanted to wait that long for Dragon to kit it! BTW, I cut the stencil out of very thin paper.

Here you can see the captured American Jeep, the Generals on the deck above receiving intelligence data from a runner. The soldiers are checking out the first fake tank! They have already started on the second Panther.

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By the way, it didn’t work, they just kept on being returned!

“Lost Cause” a 1/35th scale diorama about Operation Market Garden.
Bob Letterman

Back in 1985, Superdioramas had just been published, and I wanted to finish something a little quicker. I started on what, for me, was a small diorama. A Bridge Too Far was a recent hit at the movies, so, I decided on something British. This diorama was rebuilt after the first one didn’t turn out well. I had used a Crocodile, i think it was, and two other British vehicles. To be truthful, I got in a hurry which is almost always the death blow to a diorama. I put it on the shelf and didn’t pull it down again for several years. By then VP had a nice Firefly conversion, I had a Canadian CMP, (Canadian Military Pattern), C-60L mobile workshop I had built almost from scratch four years earlier. Immediately following this thread is a step by step article on the building of this vehicle. I also had an extremely detailed Daimler Dingo built in ‘84 that I used. Both these vehicles have a step by step immediately following this article.

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The story line is the Firefly has thrown a track, the mobile workshop is there to repair it, and the wounded Paras from the front are being taken to the rear after 30 corp has moved close enough. A British officer gets directions from Dutch civilians.

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Be sure to see the making of this vehicle below.

The same for the Daimler Dingo. Click on images to enlarge.

See what I mean about a very complex model, especially way back in 1984. No PE, No updates!

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It was very handy to have a partner and his family that were Flemish Belgians. They speak a dialect of Dutch as their first language. It came in handy for the signage.

A step by step build of the Canadian Military Pattern, C-60L Mobile Workshop in 1/35th scale.
Bob Letterman

As with the Dingo, In the summer of 1983, I had just received a lot of notoriety for “The Winds of War” diorama the previous year. At the time, I was hearing feed back from my friends that there were those who said I couldn’t possibly compete with the best armor builders in America. I just wasn’t good enough with detail and quality. Judging from the vehicles in the Winds of War, they were right. However, in that year I had learned a lot! I was like a sponge, soaking up every detail and technique out there. At the time the three best were from the midwest, where I was from. I won’t mention their names as it no longer matters, but they were the armor model gods of the day.

I decided I would really take my time and make a couple of armor pieces that could compete with their builds. When you build a diorama that is 8 feet by 4 feet and fill it with 300 figures and a dozen vehicles, you have to find ways to cut down time per model. I started with a Daimler Dingo. My second choice was a Canadian CMP, Canadian Military Pattern), C-60L mobile workshop.. At the time and even today, there are only two CMP models on the market. The Italeri 15 cwt and the Tamiya Quad Gun Tractor. These simulate both patterns of the CMP, and I used parts from both. We went to Europe that spring and I was able to extensively photograph both vehicles, so I had my research plus a couple of books on each I picked up at the book stalls in London.

I chose it because it was an extremely busy vehicle and really unique. To my knowledge, (I could have missed it somewhere), this is the only model of this particular vehicle ever built. I still have one of the photos that got me interested. While building this, I discovered two cutting edge technologies first found in the model railroad products and I thought I had just discovered a whole new way to add detail.

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I began with the frame. I was looking through a Model Railroad shop when the owner called me over to show me two amazing products that had just been released. One was a product he called photo etch! The first release from this new company was tread plate. I bought him out. I used it to upgrade the steps on either side of the cab. I made a new, larger bumper from brass strips and rod and sheet plastic. I converted the frame to a stronger and longer version and used the suspension from the Tamiya Quad tractor with the wheels and tires. I also made the steering workable. I built a new spare tire frame from brass strip and plastic sheet. The exhaust and the drive shaft were modified as well. Various other smaller details were added.

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I took the cab apart, removed the hood, (bonnet) and grille, cut off the console. Then I replaced the windshield frame, the console, and made a hinged working glove box, new pedals, gear shifts. all using plastic card, sheet brass and tubing. I added new door hinges that would be workable.

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On the exterior, I made a new hood, (bonnet), framed out the grille with plastic strip, then added my next new discovery at that train shop. Extruded brass mesh. Not PE, but a process that was around before, but it’s first use in miniatures. The pattern was octagonal, perfect scale and I was in seventh heaven! I carved the Chevrolet logo from card stock and Viola!

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Here is the scratch engine with the wiring coming out of the distributor and radiator, the doors hinged and with working latches. The door above is the kit part. . Even the panels open and close. At the time, working hinges were all the rage, so I hinged everything I could find. Hell. I was on a mission! Click on images to enlarge.

Here I have one of the hinged doors attached and workable. All the glass was replaced with microscope slips. Not slides, they are way too thick. I made a cutter out of a diamond tipped phono needle soldered to a pice of brass tube and cut them all to shape! Click on images to enlarge.

Here is the new bed. I used the wheel wells from the original bed. Click on images to enlarge.

Here is the bed mounted to the frame and the cab being test fitted. The top hatch is from plastic sheet with stretched sprue rivets. So is the hatch cover. I hinged it as well. Click on images to enlarge.

All the workshop was from scratch. The major tools, lathe, drill press were made from plastic and plastic vac formed on my Mattel Vacu-form machine. . Several of the drawers were on hand made slides, so they worked as well. The most difficult parts were the three shop lights. I used wire and small brass rod and tubes for the lower part, the carved a shape in basswood, vac-formed it three times to make the compound curved shroud of the lights. Then micro wire for the guards. A plastic headed pin served for the bulbs. As you can see, that new extruded brass mesh got a workout as well as the new and strange PE stuff. BTW, the chain that hold up the tail gate was secreted away during the cover of darkness from Susan’s jewelry box. She will discover that loss 26 years later when she reads this.

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The following are shots of the completed CMP. It took many awards back in those days, even a few best of shows and a gold medal at the, (then, and maybe still), largest model show in the world. The 1983 Model Engineers Exhibition held annually in Wembley Center, outside London. The nephew of Lord Montbatten, of Pacific theater fame, placed it around my neck. He had some title or another. We Americans are in awe of royalty, so that gave me a major thrill and something to talk about for years.

Here you can see the open hood, doors and panels. Also the working hatch and door hinges. Click on images to enlarge.

This shows all the detail I added to make it look exactly like the real one. After I retired from competition in 1984, I put this and the dingo into a new, at that time, diorama called “Lost Cause”. Here you can see one of the shop lights hanging from a hook on the left rear side panel.

This is so you can compare the model to the real vehicle. Click on images to enlarge.

A Daimler Dingo, super detailed 1/35th scale British Armored Car.
Bob Letterman

In the summer of 1983, I had just received a lot of notoriety for “The Winds of War” diorama the previous year. At the time, I was hearing feed back from my friends that there were those who said I couldn’t possibly compete with the best armor builders in America. I just wasn’t good enough. Judging from the vehicles in the Winds of War, they were right. However, in that year I had learned a lot! I was like a sponge, soaking up every detail and technique out there. At the time the three best were from the midwest, where I was from. I won’t mention their names as it no longer matters, but they were the armor model gods of that time.

I decided I would really take my time and make a couple of armor pieces that could compete with them. My first choice was a Daimler Dingo scout car. At the time it was a relatively new release. We went to Europe that spring and I was able to extensively photograph both vehicles, so I had my research plus a couple of books on each I picked up at the book stalls in London.

The Dingo I photographed had a really complex radio that in 1/35th scale would be tiny. Try to remember that at that time there was no photoetch of any kind for either armor or aircraft. All the brass, aluminum, etc. was from sheets and tubes. I began with the radio. Please forgive the photography, I had a cheap SLR with no macro at the time. Many of the photos are black and white. That was because model magazines rarely printed in color back then. Fine Scale Modeler had wanted me to do a how to book and I was photographing as I went along, but later, they cancelled all book contracts with all their contributors.

It took several hundred scratched parts to create this. I kept count of everything as back then, everybody made a sort of reference scrapbook that was laid next to the model in competition. The judges used them to tell how much was actually done in highly updated and upgraded models. I had plenty of pictures of this radio so I built it from them, all the time carefully test fitting it to the Dingo so to be sure it would fit when complete.

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The painted and weathered radio. The Exacto Knife will illustrate the size.

For the suspension, I used copper wire, brass tubing, sheet plastic and so on. It actually worked and I also made the steering work as well. Click on images to enlarge.

Terrible depth of field, but you can see some of the wiring.

Out of focus, but you can see the inside of the front plate of the drivers cabin. Click on images to enlarge.

There was a lot of rebuilding various things on the vehicle. BTW, That brass cutter from K&S was old then. I just replaced it a month ago with a new one, but it gives size to the model.

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On the left is the exterior of that front plate, on the right the interior. The problem with this model is much of the detail is overlooked as it is so tiny. The darker pieces above each pic are the actual part that came with the kit. Click on images to enlarge.

The entire front end on the Tamiya kit was wrong and was replaced with plastic, stretched sprue rivets and bolts and brass sheet. This was my first attempt at soldering brass parts.

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The entire rear end was also replaced using the same materials. The louvers were made from sheet brass. Sorry, the small pic was all I had.

Note the radio antennae guard just behind the cab and to the right. I remember I spent hours making that thing. I finally used various sizes of brass tubing cut into small slivers and plastic card punched out discs, all attached with tiny brass wire.

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View from the other side. You can actually see the antennae guard better from this angle.

Here it is prior to painting, weathering and final detailing. Note the working steering. I painted it in “Mickey Mouse Ear” camoflage. Note the stretched sprue weld seams even way back then.

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The end of the story was that I ended up beating all three of those guys and I think they have disliked me ever since! It won a gold medal at the Model Engineering Exhibition that, then, was held annually in Wembley and was, and maybe still is, the largest model show in the world. After I stopped competing two years later, I put this and the previous one, a Canadian C-60L CMP mobile workshop, in the same diorama.

Click on images to enlarge.

“Quota” A 120mm !/16 scale Diorama of a Krupp 88 mm cannon factory, WW II.
Bob Letterman

I built this one in 1996. VP had just released their 120mm 88 cannon. My partner asked me to create a diorama using the just released German 88mm cannon kit, so I built “Quota”. This is absolutely the tallest diorama I have ever built. From the base to the top it is 5 feet, (1.6 meters), and standing on the floor base, it rises to 8 feet, (2.4 meters). Those who have seen it in publications are usually surprised when they see it in the museum because the top is considerably over their head. Here is previous editor of Fine Scale Magazine standing beside it while sitting on the floor. It is normally on a 3 foot high floor base.

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I had to forget my usual cardboard/mattboard construction and went to 3/4 inch plywood. I also was personally responsible for the employees Christmas bonus at the Plastruct company! I used huge quantities of Plastruct products building this. In terms of dollars, the roof and gantry cranes were several hundred dollars in materials alone. Remember the scale is 1/16th. There is a working clock barely visible behing the gantry crane.

I used a total of 6 of the 88 kits in building this. Three on the assembly line, the rest for the parts bins and using parts from the 88 exclusively, I scratched the drill press and the giant lathe in the side room. All the figures were converted VP. I ended up using three methods of metalizing and developed three more during this build. I had to make many of the hand tools from scratch.

The event taking place is the completion of the 5,000 88 cannon fabricated in this factory. The officials of the N.S.D.A.P. as well as the Luftwaffe and the press were there to take propaganda photos.

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I made two circuits with flashing miniature bulbs and connected both to tiny speakers. It had the effect of the light and sound of real arc welding. The huge drill press is next to the photographer in the foreground who is directly in front of one of the arc welders, It had a fantastic effect. Also the interiors of the office and the engineering department on the second floor were lit along with the boiler room and the tool rooms on the sides. Click on images to enlarge.

Here you can see the lathe by the floor drain and lots of metal shavings.

Note the lunch table with cheese, sausages, newspapers and playing cards. Click on images to enlarge.

Above the engineer descends the stair case, while the Director gives a tour to a “Guest”. Goering was converted into the director, the guest was a conclomeration of fantasy girls, lead foil and Milliput.Behind is the engineering office with drafting tables, a miniature 88, plans, etc.

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A tedious job was cleaning, prep, painting and weathering parts. Even though new, putting them in the racks with zero weathering made them stick out of the environment like sore thumbs. BTW, all the civilian figures in this were not only posed, but their uniforms had to be turned into work uniforms. I used many of my sculpted heads in this dio as well. Click on images to enlarge.

Military Modelling, a London, England magazine, featured many of these dioramas in a publication released in January, 2010. Click on the links below to view them.

First, the cover.

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Then the entire article.

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The End!