Checkpoint Trinity

Welp, time to get off my butt and get back to the modeling bench. Mojo’s been MIA for a few years now, but I’ve just watched the trailer for Christopher Nolan’s movie “Oppenheimer” which basically envelopes almost all of the dioramas I’ve been planning and working on since I saw this picture in 2016 on the inter web (and is shown for discussion only)

Another source for me is the book by Thomas Merlan titled “Life at Trinity Base Camp”, which has many pictures and stories from the perspective of people assigned to Trinity’s Security Team consisting of Mounted Patrol members from Ft Riley commanded by 1st Lt Howard C. Bush. A third source is memories of spending summers at my grandparents in Los Alamos in the sixties and seventies of the last century. We drove past the motor pool many times and I have memories of other things in Los Alamos as well.
So, back in 2016 I scored all of the WC-53 Dodge carryalls that I could find and started building them. All came from the S Model mold which isn’t very accurate other than the basic shape. But it is what it is. I will detail the deficiencies as I try to move forward.

This is supposed to be fun, right?



Are you going to add Indy in a fridge?..

That didn’t happen until the 1950s. I think he was still looking for the Grail when this happened.

There are some interesting pictures from the site though, taken just after that first detonation.

Way back in the distance is Jumbo, which was intended to be a containment device in case the detonation failed. Wasn’t used though. It was hung in a tower a short distance from the bomb. It’s still on site today after the Army tried to blow it up after the atomic test.

Jumbo being delivered from the railway


And in the tower


And here’s a couple of Sherman tanks that were there


This is the tower that was built to hold “The Gadget “ for the test and The Gadget being unloaded from its transport from Los Alamos


Fascinating pictures. The other Sherman appears to be a sand color. What was it used for?

Last September I got a chance to tour the Bradbury Science Museum in Los Alamos. Had lots of great history in the museum.

Don’t know if that will be of any help.

Look forward to seeing more of your project. :+1::+1:


Ahhh… good times! :bomb:



That is a pretty interesting museum. Los Alamos was a great place to spend the summer as a youngster. It was also the home of Pirotti’s Clowns, the worlds only professional five man softball team. Those guys were amazing!

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The tanks were lead lined and were used to collect soil samples. Enrico Fermi was in one the day after the test that broke down not far from Ground Zero. They had to get out and walk back to the observation point wearing their “protective” coveralls and gas masks.:face_with_spiral_eyes:

Here’s two pictures that I think were taken near Ground Zero (the carryalls seem to be in the same place as the one up top) that show what they considered to be adequate radiation protection:


It’s was a nice area and wouldn’t mind going back to NM.


The whole story of the building of Los Alamos is incredibly interesting. I’m pretty sure we’ll learn more about it both in this thread and in the upcoming movie. It started out as a boys ranch for wealthy families that actually instilled toughness and discipline in the lads. The boys wore shorts their entire stay in order to toughen them to climate change. They learned things like land navigation, horsemanship, hiking and outdoor survival. Dr Oppenheimer had visited there before the war and loved the area. The building of the road to town is on my list of dioramas I have dreams about.


Hey Phil, you made my day with this thread & ideas for a diorama - great idea. Convert dreams to reality, you’ve broken cover now so there’s no going back! (Mike’s post reminded me as an English kid in Boston in ’63 the stickers on classroom doors pointing to the nuclear shelter…which must have been a wooden shack in the playground, I don’t remember any drills & I think they’d ditched the duck & cover idea by then)


Hi Tim! Thanks for the message of encouragement!! For the first time in the thirty years since I moved to Maine, I’m kind of hoping for a rainy summer that puts me in the basement instead of out tooling around with my Willys or down at the range preparing for Zombie attacks. We didn’t do many duck and cover drills when I was a young’un either, but being that close to Los Alamos, we would get the lumpy do-da scared out of us in school by the fighter pilots taking off from Kirkland AFB in Albuquerque as they would break the sound barrier literally right over our school. After a few years of that, the city told the Air Force to tell the pilots to knock it off.
This picture shows the current East Road to Los Alamos, State Road 502, coming up from the bottom left of the shot and then sweeping around “The Hiil”to the north on the right. The “Z” shaped road cutting up through the middle is the one that was built for the war effort. I’m a U.S. soft skin boy at the core and the building of that road took dump trucks, road graders bulldozers and excavators that would keep an active modeler going probably as long as an Anthropoid diorama. Also enticing is the idea of modeling the convoys of equipment and supplies going up to Los Alamos and then on down to Trinity Base. More about “the Secret City” as we move along…


I agree. I walked around the cabin he stayed at as young adult. Impressive wood columns. I recall the story being he had breathing issues and rested there with the cleaner air. According to wiki, he had UC and went to recover in NM.

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Yes, they grew some righteous pine trees in Los Alamos. Here’s the ranch school’s main lodge prior to the government takeover