Thursday, 31 July 2014

Michael Wittmann Diorama

It's early in the morning, or maybe late in the day, and very soon we will be at the beginning of August, a fateful month 70 years ago this year for one highly successful and highly decorated tank commander by the name of Michael Wittmann

Some time ago now I decided to put together a diorama featuring Wittmann and The Collectors Showcase model of the Tiger 1 he was commanding when he achieved his famous victory against a British armoured column in Villers-Bocage. I posted about my plans at the time but never got round to posting about the final outcome, namely the completed diorama. I haven't been deliberately putting it off but I was thinking about it again the other day and soon realised that this year, 2014, is the 70th anniversary of his death. What better time then to finally get to grips with that post?

The more historically aware readers might be thinking at this point that Wittmann died in August, not July, and on August 8th, rather than right at the beginning of the month, and of course you'd be right. On August 4th I will be travelling to the picturesque countryside of central Wales to enjoy a few days holiday with the family, away from the hustle and bustle of the city and the almost constant distractions afforded to me by electronic devices and the world wide web. Whilst I won't be entirely 'out of the loop' I certainly won't be sitting down at a machine typing blog posts! So, I decided to get this one in a little ahead of time in that sense

This post isn't a personal tribute, nor is it intended to be a history lesson. For anyone interested in finding out more about the details of Wittmann's life as a tank commander, and/or his death at the hands of the Allies in 1944, then there's plenty of information to look at on the internet. I have taken the liberty of including a few details here, together with links to a handful of what I consider to be fairly reliable and informative sites

Information taken from

Information taken form

The bulk of the post consists of photographs of the completed diorama which, hopefully, you will enjoy my sharing with you and from which you may be able to take some ideas or inspiration for dioramas of your own. At this point I'd just like to say that whilst the photographs are my own work, the diorama most certainly is not. I planned it and sketched it out, decided what figures and models I waned to include and then parted with the cash, but the real hard work is down to one man and one man alone, the incomparable David Marshall, the owner and creative genius behind TM Terrain, whose work you will no doubt have seen many times over at toy soldier and wargaming shows or on the pages of Toy Soldier Collector

The inspiration behind the diorama was the Wittmann Tiger and additional crew figures sets released by TCS a while back. The sets themselves were inspired by the photograph of Wittmann that almost every student of WW2 military history must surely know, the one of him sitting proudly atop the turret of a recently manufactured Tiger tank. King and Country had already produced a three figure set depicting a group of Wehrmacht press men and so I decided to take these sets, together with a pinch or two of artistic license and a soupcon of counter-factual history and build my diorama around the taking of this now iconic photograph

Imagine if you will, Wittmann has recently been awarded the Oak Leaves to his Knights Cross and in celebration of this event he is being photographed en route to arguably his most famous victory at Villers-Bocage, surrounded by admiring onlookers and soon to be fellow combatants. I hope you enjoy the pictures as much as I enjoyed taking them and putting the diorama together

The diorama depicts a somewhat battered road and a muddy track 'somewhere' in France, bordered by trees and open fields. It comprises four terrain boards, each measuring approximately 12" square, which can be displayed as separate stand alone pieces or be placed together to make a larger scene as shown here

A few shots of some of the 'onlookers and soon to be fellow combatants'

Pulling up just behind Wittmann's Tiger I have chosen to put this rather nice model of a Panzer IV made by Figarti. Wittmann's Tigers were supported by such a vehicle from the Panzer Lehr division during the action at VB

Tank and crew taking advantage of the opportunity to refuel

And so to the snapping of that iconic piece of propaganda. Wittmann sits proudly atop the turret of his newly acquired vehicle, accompanied by 'Bobby' Woll and other members of his crew

Finally, I thought you might be interested in this AV footage from YouTube, one of many such items relating to Wittmann and to German Panzers more generally. I hope you enjoy the post


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