On Iwo's Beach

Armor on the beach - Marines.

My latest effort – something a little different (for me).

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Actually, I started this diorama well over a decade ago, building the LVT, it’s crew and the stretcher bearers, but then shelving the project.
The combination of the Italeri LVT-4 and the Warriors figure set was too attractive to pass up, back when they first came out.

I’ve never built anything from the Pacific theatre, let alone one involving the Marines. (I was Army)

I wound up setting the entire project aside, when I couldn’t figure out how to build a suitable beach scene, I just didn’t know how.
Since then, the inventory of techniques and materials have greatly improved – both mine and the marketplace’s.

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When I resurrected the effort, pulling it out of a box hidden at the back of a shelf, most of my work had to focus on the base. And what better than a scene from the battle for Iwo Jima, and it’s black-sand beach.
The paint jobs on the figures weren’t bad, so I didn’t start them over from scratch – I probably should have as their faces weren’t up to current standards. I fixed them as best I could.

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I added an audience, using the Marines from the MasterBox dog-handlers set, and a bunch of Value Gear crates to fill in some blank spaces and add to the story line. Period photos show the beach scattered with either discarded stuff, or supplies ferried ashore for the continuing battle.

Pic 9 B&W
As always, I like comparing my photos with real pics from the period,

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Picture the LVT, having just come ashore, unloading men and materials, and now preparing to haul away the wounded. The crew is worried about snipers and anxious to get away. But weary Marines on the shore are more casual with the situation.

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The base was built out of insulation foam sheets, covered in combinations of model railroad ballast (black) with some tan shades mixed in, and softened with Vallejo Earth Texture, in a dark earth shade.

The footprints were stamped with a shaped paintbrush ferrule, while the more heavily disturbed sand was simply torn out of the foam with a pair of needle-nosed pliers.

The surf was made with AK Still Water, with AK Snow Sprinkles for the surf-line.

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The Warriors stretcher bearers were a beautiful, mini vignette in their own right, but hell to assemble as a unit.

The combination of the big LVT and the figures forced me to violate my 30cm x 30cm rule. This diorama measures, 37x24.

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I think it all came together nicely. What do you think?

Here’s a tip: I picked up several ‘cookie-baking-pans’, in different sizes (they’re cheap) and use them to hold the base while I cover it with sprinklie stuff (dirt, ballast, turf, etc.) All of the excess – there was a ton of it on this project – collects in the pan and not on your work surface.

Ralph (Bravo36)


Very nice work! I really like the stretcher team figures, they are perfect for the scene! The black sand and Amtrac look great.

On a technical note, I don’t think that Iwo had any palm trees or anything resembling what you have for tree trunks…

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That’s superb… Don’t often see the black sand. Nice idea and executed very well … Great movement and the figures in general are very very well finished… To work

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Nicely done Ralph !!!
Nice representation on the volcanic ash groundwork .
Ditto on the palms , but not a deal breaker .


Despite the vegetation issue, I like what you have done Ralph. Bravo Zulu.


Love the figures, you captured that “raggedly assed marine” look perfectly, and I say that with admiration and a nod to one of the greatest marines ever who I believed coined that phrase referring to his boys coming off the line. God bless Chesty Puller. Btw, love the helmet covers, spot on in my opinion.