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A Foothold on Red Beach 2

Tarawa 1943 vignette by Andreas Herbst  

n Model by Andreas Herbst
n Text and photos by Martin Waligorski


A Bit of History

In November 1943 the 2nd US Marines Division landed on a small Beto island in the Tarawa atoll in the Pacific. The island, only a few square kilometers large, was defended by  4500 Japanese soldiers.

There were many things during the Beto landing that went wrong. Because of the unexpectedly low tide the landing craft were trapped on the coral reef several hundred meters away from the landing beaches, called Red Beach 1, 2 and 3. They subsequently became proverbial sitting ducks for the Japanese artillery fire. The Marines were forced to leave their ships and "brodzic" towards the shore, suffering horrendous losses.

On the beach the situation turned from desperate to worse. Element of surprise long lost, the Marines were nailed down to the beach. The only protection from the enemy fire was offered by a low beach wall.

Beto went to history as one of the bloodiest battles of the World War II. 1100 American soldiers lost their lives. Of the defending Japanese garrison only 17 prisoners were taken.

The diorama

Selecting the theme for his Tarawa diorama, Andreas Herbst set on depicting Beto beach wall, or rather the very moment of attack from behind it towards the heart of the island. 

How do you, after hours of the most bloody battle, leave the only protection you have, and spring against enemy fire? The drama of this moment was so strong that it simply asked to be captured in an action scene.

It is perhaps strange but the modelling market does not offer very much in terms of figures related to the Pacific campaign. Therefore, Andreas resorted to converting the available figures from a variety of sources. Among them were Dragon, Warriors, Verlinden. On the positive side, the figures could be picked more or less freely depending on their poses.

All heads were replaced with resin ones from Hornet. The equiment and personal gear came from Dragon and Royal Model.

The base was made very simple to keep focus on the men and their movement. The wood stocks were rolled from Milliput, and sand made from... fine sand.

Andreas Herbst diorama took a second place in its class at IPMS Open 2002 Swedish national competition.

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