These types of buildings are such fun to make, the simple make-shift nature is easy to recreate with materials which cost very little and also require a good dig around the 'spares box' we all seem to have. I had an idea of the narrow street from numerous photographs of the outskirts of the citadel of Hue and sketched a plan of the M48 and figures to get the composition. The buildings themselves are taken from sections of photographs from both books and shots found on the internet, I mixed and matched different features to suit the scene and more to the point, the parts and materials I had to hand. The first step of construction was an actual size drawing-nothing fancy, just a pencil line drawing incorporating the doors and window frames I was using. These came from a Mini Art set (always plenty spare building and diorama parts with these) and some shutters and frames in laser-cut card from Monro Perdu Studios.
America's war in Vietnam usually conjures scenes of fighting in dense jungles against an invisible enemy, this was not the case when the whole of South Vietnam erupted on the eve of the lunar new year Tet' in January 1 968, Vietnam's most important national holiday. Usually marked by a mutual ceasefire,The North Vietnamese Army and the Viet Cong launched a massive military and political offensive turning many cities into battle grounds, none more so than the former imperial capital, Hue. For decades this historical city with it's walled citadel had been spared the ravages of conflict but it's prominent position on the Perfume River (dividing the walled citadel in the north and the south of the city) and on the important supply route of 'Highway One' from De-Nang to the DMZ (Demilitarized Zone between North and South Vietnam) made it too important strategically to the Communist forces of the North who swiftly overran large areas occupying most of the city which was poorly defended by South Vietnamese and U.S. forces. The only U.S. troops available in the surrounding areas were two depleted Marine infantry companies along with a handful of M48 tanks (due to be shipped from the Landing Craft Utility ramp at Hue).
The Matilda has always been one of my favourite British vehicles, and when Tamiya announced their new kit I waited with great excitement for it to hit the shelves. One particular vehicle had my interest, an Australian Matilda serving in Balikpapan, Borneo, in 1945. I have a passion for jungle vehicles, so this one really hit the spot. I also decided early on that I would include a full interior, as well as the engine and transmission compartments and display it all through open hatches. This would require a fair bit of scratch building, since no aftermarket interiors were available at the time for the Tamiya kit. Modellers wanting to add an interior can now turn to the Inside the Armour interior set for the Matilda. Pictures of the fighting compartment and turret interior can readily be found in books and the internet, but it's another story with the engine and transmission compartments, references of which are very rare. After a long period of searching, however, I was able to find what I needed and I was ready to get started!