Messerschmits! 12 O’Clock High!—1:6 Customizer Creates WWII Aerial Combat Diorama Featuring 2 Waist-Gunners Defending a B-17 “Flying Fortress”

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Here they come! Stay sharp! We’ve got to get through! This realistic 1:6 scale WWII B-17 battle diorama was created and customized by Bud Brown of California, and the ProSeries waterslide decals (shown on the aircraft’s outer hull) were provided by Patches of Pride (natch’). All this pic needs now are some special “FIRE” effects so that the .50 cal looks like it’s really “spittin’ HOT lead!” Absolutely outstanding customizing and pics, Bud. Keep up the great work! (Photo: Bud Brown) Click to enlarge.

Man, oh MAN. Some 1:6 scale custom dioramas are SO accurate and thrilling to look at that they make you DROOL with envy. This is one of them. Looking at the photo above, you can practically FEEL all the tension and energy of that moment. And, as we all know, it was life-or-death—EVERYDAY—for Allied and Axis combatants over the skies of Europe during WWII. Do you ever stop to think about the horrors endured by all the young flyers during that extremely dangerous air campaign? Well, if you’re not thankful for your comfy life of freedom now (would you even EXIST today if Germany had won?), then think about just ONE of the shocking B-17 bomber statistics from that war—as recounted to us by the dedicated aircraft historians at the Spitfire Association:

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“In a single 376 plane raid in August 1943, 60 B-17s were shot down. That was a 16 percent loss rate and meant 600 empty bunks in England. In 1942-43, it was statistically impossible for bomber crews to complete a 25-mission tour in Europe.”

“Statistically IMPOSSIBLE” to complete. And yet they went up anyway—time and time again. And this was the result of just ONE mission! Are you paying attention now? Good. Those heroes DESERVE our attention. While Hollywood movies thrill and excite viewers, the terrible truth was—and forever will be—REAL war is HELL. Millions of fathers, mothers, sons and daughters DIED protecting and preserving freedom around the world. Thankfully, the creation, sharing and commemoration of those heroes—in 1:6 scale dioramas—is a growing and popular hobby. When customizer Weldon “Bud” Brown II wrote in recently (see below) to share some pics of his latest custom 1:6 creation, needless to say, we were thrilled. Here’s Bud’s letter—

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Weldon “Bud” Brown II

“Attached are some finishing touches on my B-17 waist-gunner display. The bomber jacket patch is fantastic. I placed the decals on the plane fuselage. I made both the YANK mag and the Bible. I also put in the pin ups (one is my wife), along with a liberators war poster and a German aircraft identification poster. Now if I could just find some expended .50 caliber ammo for the floor. Thanks Mark and Patches of Pride. You have great stuff!”
Bud Brown
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History comes ALIVE— On your shelf? Yes! And what a conversation starter. Bud’s 2-figure, B-17 waist-gunner diorama makes viewer’s eyes POP and their jaws DROP. (Photo: Bud Brown) Click to enlarge.

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Details DO make the difference!— In this closeup, you can see Bud’s handmade YANK magazine, a Bible and some pin-up photos. There’s also a couple of parachutes, some oxygen bottles and even a thermos for coffee. Out-STANDING attention to detail. (Photo: Bud Brown) Click to enlarge.

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This reverse-view shows an ammo belt, Bud’s “Liberators” poster, and the gunner’s step-decks to help stabilize their balance and aim. (Photo: Bud Brown) Click to enlarge.

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Durable and Desirable— Large, textured cloth patches for the backs of 1:6 scale bomber jackets are available HERE from Patches of Pride. Bud chose the ever-popular “Straight Shooter” version (for obvious reasons). ZING! (Photo: Bud Brown)

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Avoid “Friendly Fire”— Bud’s German aircraft ID chart helps his waist-gunners to tell friend from foe. So cool! (Photo: Bud Brown) Click to enlarge.

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Providing backup— Another view from tail-gunner #2. (Photo: Bud Brown) Click to enlarge.

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Pulled Back a Bit— Fully revealed, you can now see that Bud has only one small section of the hull of a B-17 represented. To display a full-sized 1:6 scale B-17 in his office would be, let’s say, “uncomfortable.” HA. But this is MORE than enough fun for a work space! (Photo: Bud Brown) Click to enlarge.

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Adorning Armored Aircraft— This reverse angle clearly shows the exciting Patches of Pride ProSeries waterslide decals Bud chose to use on his custom diorama. The 4 swastikas indicate the number of confirmed “kills” for that gunner. The “Benito Finito” cartoon decal (found HERE) was first seen on Allied Jeeps after the Italian campaign. They look GREAT on aircraft, too! (Photo: Bud Brown) Click to enlarge.

Bottom Line: Our sincerest thanks go out to Bud Brown for his generous contributions to this article. Customizers of 1:6 scale continue to “push the envelope” and amaze us with their creations.

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4 thoughts on “Messerschmits! 12 O’Clock High!—1:6 Customizer Creates WWII Aerial Combat Diorama Featuring 2 Waist-Gunners Defending a B-17 “Flying Fortress”

  1. Sherwood Crump says:

    I like the amount of work and the amazing amount of detail that Bud put into his diorama. I am offended however by the “Liberators” poster and the attention that Mark draws to it in the article. While it may be historically appropriate, it denigrates the efforts of thousands of Jewish, Japanese,Flilipino, Hispanic, Native American and black men and women who fought in World War II for this country.

    • Mark Otnes says:

      Thanks for writing, Sherwood. I’d never seen or heard of that particular poster before, so I looked it up. Turns out it was a Nazi-propaganda poster created during WWII by a Norwegian Nazi-collaborator (Harald Damsleth) who clearly sided with Hitler and Nazi Germany. It’s easy to see that Damsleth was doing his very best to negatively smear the U.S. with his imagery. It’s also easy to see why a 1940s American serviceman (i.e. a B-17 waist-gunner), may have wanted to keep one posted nearby (so as to keep his fighting spirits angry and elevated as those Messerschmitts were diving in). It is therefore, as you say, “historically appropriate.”

      If a miniature toy replica of an actual historic object offended you, then that is regrettable. But I’m sure the denigration of ANY ethnic group was the farthest thing from Bud’s mind when he included it in his diorama. If you think about it, I’m sure there’s also individuals out there who may claim to be offended by the so-called “pin-ups” that airmen often painted onto the backs of their flight jackets; but those images too, were (and still are) real and historically accurate. If customizers only create 1:6 scale customs with the caveat of never offending ANYONE who may see them, then nothing would probably ever be made by anyone.

      Bottom line— I continue to support the rights and freedoms of ALL customizers and artists to create WHATEVER 1:6 scale custom action figures, vehicles, props and/or dioramas they care to create.

  2. kneonknight says:

    Put anything on the internet and there is bound to be someone who will be “offended” by it. The poster mentioned is offensive, but not for the reasons Mr. Crump mentioned. As Mark pointed out, it is a Nazi propaganda poster, depicting the U.S. and our allies as soulless, mechanical monsters, in essence dehumanizing everyone who opposed Nazi tyranny.

    My two cents? Make sure you know why you should be offended before rushing to your keyboard. A little research will prevent a lot of embarrassment.

  3. kneonknight says:

    The only complaint I have about the diorama is that it is too pristine, with no signs of wear and tear that would come from hard usage in wartime.

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