"Between Life and Death in the Hürtgen Forest"
Modeling the U.S. Army in WWII

The Figures

One of my goals with this diorama was to create strong sense of the human scale of warfare. To do this, I needed to build plenty of figures. And with the significant presence of the aid station, I had to do a considerable amount of research on the roles and equipment of combat medics.

The diorama features figures from Tamiya, Dragon, Warriors, Nemrod, MK35, Jaguar, Belgo, Royal, Verlinden and Yanks. There are few medic figures in the market, but by using soldiers who didn't have web gear (generally tankers) I was able to expand the aid station team simply by adding armbands. The red crosses on the helmets are from Verlinden and a special set printed for me by Woody Vondracek at Archer Fine Transfers. There was a variety of ways the red crosses, in circles and squares, were displayed even within the same unit. The red keystone and rank insignia on the uniforms are also from Archer, from our collaboration on Woody's first sets of uniform patches.

Seated Tamiya figures were modified for the halftrack; standing figure is from Royal ModelThe old Tamiya figures from the halftrack got Hornet heads, new gear from Tamiya's recent U.S. equipment set, and were reconfigured to varying degrees. I used Apoxi-Sculpt to make a melton overcoat for one, and a mackinaw for another. Many modelers usually dismiss these old figures, and they certainly aren't on par with resin products. But they can come to life with new heads, gear and careful painting. Be mindful, again, of the sense of scale, and use appropriate heads. On the marching figures, Warriors heads and helmets looked better than their smaller Hornet counterparts.

Medics from the 10th Mountain Division, demonstrating the mix of helmet insignia.Most of the infantry figures were built with few modifications. I used a realistic variety of gear and uniform colors and shadings to give each figure some individuality. Even though the M1 helmet only came in one size in real life, there are differences in sizes between model manufacturers. To minimize the appearance of this inaccuracy, I took care to group helmets of the same size together.


First pair of figures from Tamiya; 2nd pair from Warriors; last figure from AirfixThe inclusion of the graves registration team presented the perfect opportunity to use Warrior's chaplain set. Registration teams were part of the quartermaster organization, and black Americans often served in these, and other, segregated units. The heads of the black soldiers came from the old Airfix set and one of Verlinden's tank crews. (Note that since the U.S. Army wasn't truly desgregated until 1948, mixing black soldiers with whites in WWII infantry and tank units is a significant faux pas.)

"Between Life and Death..."
The Battle of the Hürtgen Forest
Evolution of the Diorama
M3A1 Halftrack
Dodge Ambulance and Beep
Willys Jeep, 2.5 Ton Cargo Truck, Trailers
The Figures


Modeling the U.S. Army in WWII © 2002—2009 Timothy S. Streeter