Sunday, October 18, 2015

Landing Zone LZ "Z", Wolfheze, Netherlands, Operation Market-Garden, Arnhem 1944

There is a gentleman in the Netherlands whose name is Stefan Landman, and who is a superlative master model and diorama builder. Unfortunately I have not had the privilege of meeting him directly, but have corresponded with him. He has built a diorama of Landing Zone LZ “Z” (Northwest of Wolfheze, Holland) depicting the scene on the afternoon of Sunday 17 September 1944, at the beginning of Operation Market-Garden, the Battle of Arnhem. It is the paradigm for both accuracy and detail. All aircraft, vehicles and personnel are in 1:72 scale. The diorama is displayed in the Glider Collection Museum, Wolfheze, and was placed there in September 2014 on the occasion of the 70th anniversary of the battle.

Probably in order to protect it from fading, the overhead and surrounding lighting is subdued, as is the case in most museums. However before the diorama was placed on display, Stefan took a series of photographs with excellent lighting and background, which present the methodical and meticulous detail encompassed in the total scene. There is also a dynamic presented in the photographs which is not available in the setting, once fixed in location in the museum. Having recieved Stefan’s personal permission, and with full acknowledgement and gratitude to him, those photographs are presented herein to all those who might be interested, but are unable to physically visit the museum. Stefan, thank you very much!

The first two photographs are of the diorama in-situ in the museum, followed by those depicting historical charts plotting the precise glider landing locations (by caulk number) on that monumental day, and from ground level the same location as it exists today. Surprisingly it has not changed that much. Finally before the diorama images is one of the iconic photographs of that fateful afternoon depicting LtCol. W.F.K. "Sheriff" Thompson MBE, OC, 1st Airlanding Light Regiment, RA, assisting his immediate headquarters staff  in offloading the Horsa glider that delivered them to LZ "Z". The specific Jeep is a Truck, 1/4 ton, 4X4, Command Reconnaissance (later 'Utility'), Ford GPW, in service as a Royal Signals Line Layer. See; Military Transport of World War II (Including Post War Vehicles) by C. Ellis and D. Bishop, plate 108. Note the white '42' on the Red over Blue square Tactical marking of the 1st Airlanding Light Regiment, RA, discernible on the front right bumper of the Jeep, and the "Mickey Mouse" pattern camouflage employed on the trailer and canvas cover.

Without being able to show some of the details during construction it is difficult to fully appreciate the factitious level of research and executed detail that went into the construction of the various elements comprising the completed diorama. They are totally hidden in the finished production. Here are just a few examples. The reader is invited to compare these images with the photographs and drawings in both; and