"Taking Aachen"
Modeling the U.S. Army in WWII

The City

One of the most important things to remember when building a diorama is that you need to create an environment that looks like it has been inhabited by real people.

I wanted this diorama to be visually compelling from any angle, not just from the front. That meant serious detailing of the interiors: flooring, beds, tables, bathroom fixtures, etc. I scratchbuilt a refrigerated meat display case and shelving for the butcher shop; magazine shelves for the tobacco shop; file cabinets with open drawers and schedule board for the second floor "Boschert Buro"; and miniature scale building plans and file cabinets for the architect's office. The interior wall of the church was detailed with Verlinden's self-adhesive "marble" paper and stained glass windows, and additional woodwork made from plastic card.

One of the most challenging aspects was building the staircase for the corner house, which led both to the second floor as well as down to the basement, from which the captured German soldiers emerge. The second floor was a good place to put Verlinden's bathroom furniture set (#946), and set the stage for an interesting confrontation between one of the GI's and a sniper.

There's a considerable amount of work involved dressing these buildings. While the two Verlinden city houses came with resin window frames, both the frames and the window openings had to be cleaned up so they would mate correctly. Other windows had to be framed and trimmed with plastic stock. Curtains came from Hudson & Allen, as did several pieces of exposed plumbing.

Since the buildings were demolished, it was necessary to create the attendant debris: rubble of brick, stone, joists, beams and flooring. I build several broken sections of wall, with framing, lathe, and plaster, and similar representations of destroyed roofing.

The interiors and exteriors of the buildings were dressed with appropriate signage. I got translations of various bakery items for the blackboard on the wall above the radio operator, and estimates of what the prices would likely have been in the fall of 1944 - if they were available at all. One interesting detail I lifted from After the Battle was the lurking black figure, outlined in white, which was painted on city walls with the warning "Feind hört mit!" (roughly, enemies are amongst us). Using such historical artifacts lend a greater sense of realism to the diorama setting.

"Taking Aachen"
The Battle for Aachen
Evolution of the Diorama
The City
Vehicles and Gun
The Figures



Modeling the U.S. Army in WWII © 2002—2007 Timothy S. Streeter