When That “Aw Sh**…” Moment Comes
You know that moment. We’ve all had them – the instant that something happens and throws a normal routine day into complete turmoil. Don’t know about you, I’m not a big fan. At best they’re annoying when they happen in everyday life; at the other extreme, they can turn deadly when they happen in a war zone. Our project will depict one of those moments that actually happened during one of my tours, the setting will be one of those countless dusty little towns that spring up out of the desert across Iraq. I passed through more of these than I could count (or remember the names of) during my tours there. I’m not planning to depict any specific events or days, this is more an amalgam taking buildings from one tour, events from another and combing them to show what it was like. These things happened on an almost daily basis. Some kids liked us, some hated us; some were afraid of us, and then there were those who saw us as a source of American dollars (or as they pronounced it doolahs); those were the young entrepreneurs who would turn up within minutes of us halting, toting coolers as big as they were hawking “Pesi, Coke, Icy Cream, Mister!”. God only knows how they knew where and when to be there, but they did and in 120 degree heat a cold Coke goes down really nice.
We’re going to revisit a real”Aw sh**!” moment from 15 years ago in a little town located in what eventually became part of The Triangle of Death. It wasn’t exactly safe when we were there in 2003, but it was by no means as bad as it eventually became reputed. Route Sue was but one of many roads we were tasked with patrolling for security on the road to Baghdad.
As with all projects, we begin with a vision of what you want to show in the end. The actual incident took place over a period of days, which would be impossible to depict. My platoon was on a 1 day patrolling, 1 day QRF, 1 day off rotation. Which entails compressing time – compromise #1. The kid that precipitated the whole incident was probably 9 or 10 at the oldest. Not many figures of kids throwing rocks in that age group in 1/35 scale, so we go a bit older – compromise #2.
Intact correct buildings for Iraq (or anywhere else) are pretty sparse so we are left with one option – scratchbuilding. The mention of scratchbuilding can strike terror in a modeler’s heart. Fear not, there is a very user friendly solution to the situation on the market today and it will bring back memories of your childhood at the same time. Hansa Systems USA offers a block based building system that allows you to build either intact or battle damaged buildings of polystyrene. They are essentially Legos for modelers, you are limited only by your imagination and space in what you can create. The blocks resemble cinderblocks which are a fairly common construction material over there along with bricks (which are also a part of the system). Hansa also offers building kits of a variety of buildings, some are facades, some complete four sided buildings.