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BATAAN 1942:  The Battle of the Pockets

by Mitch Doren

Diorama Gallery

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mitch Doren standing by his 1/35 scale diorama of

The Battle of the Pockets at the

AFP Museum, Camp Aguinaldo

One of the major engagements during the Battle of Bataan was the containment and reduction of a number of Japanese positions behind USAFFE lines from January 23 to Feb 17 1942.  These were known as the Battle of The Pockets.  Filipino scale modeler Mitchell "Mitch" Doren was commissioned by the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Museum to create two dioramas about the Bataan campaign and the Battle of the Pockets was one of them.

 

The Battle of the Pockets was a series of engagements between USAFFE and Japanese forces in the Orion-Bagac Line at the Bataan peninsula.  The Japanese were able to penetrate certain portions of the defenses and established battle positions behind the main defense line of the USAFFEE.  The defenders organized a force to contain the penetration to isolate the Japanese.  There were two areas that had to be reduced, the Little Pocket and the Big Pocket. A bulge in the main line of resistance (MLR) was formed by an attempt by the Japanese break the lines to reinforce the two pockets but was contained became known as the Upper Pocket.

 

It was a tough choice for Mitch which scenario to depict in his diorama but with the help of his technical and historical advisers, he decided to build his diorama after the reduction of the Big Pocket.

 

The diorama has several components and Mitch used a variety of models and accessories and a considerable amount of scratch-building.  While he did have some assistance in the process, about 90% of the diorama was done by him alone.  Here are the components that make up this impressive diorama:

 

Scenario

 

The  scenario of the diorama is after the reduction of the Big Pocket that shows a pock-marked, burned out salient with several dead Japanese troops, scattered weapons and equipment, a dead transport mule.  Here you will see a number of Filipino and US troops in the area checking out for any survivors and foraging for usable supplies and souvenirs.  Two M3 light tanks that participated in the battle stand watch while a number of Philippine Army troops march by.  A US officer riding a horse can be seen from the lower right of the diorama, discussing with an NCO and a Filipino soldier clad in blue denim uniform.

 

 

The Terrain

 

The contours was sculpted using plaster of paris with some areas retouched by fillers.  The trees were all scratch-built from several components including real dried twigs and wood.  The ground was painted with several shades of brown and then several washes and dry-brushing was done to create the effect.

 

Figures

 

The challenging portion of the this project were the figures.  The Japanese figures were a mixtures of Tamiya, Masterbox, Dragon and Mini-Art 1/35 scale figures "sliced and diced" and added with resin arms, legs and accessories to depict fallen Japanese soldiers.  The US and Filipino soldiers were also a mix of US, British figures from Tamiya, ICM, Masterbox that were modified to look like early USAFFE soldiers in 1941-42.  The M1917 steel helmets were spares or resin cast while the Filipino "guinit" helmet were scratchbuilt.  Posing and painting the figures took more time than the other components.

 

click on the thumbnail for larger view

 

click on the thumbnail for larger view

 

Vehicles and Accessories

 

The US M-3 light tanks were from Academy and Tamiya and were built straigh OOB with a few modifications.  That the back of the diorama just above a ridge is a US Bantam Jeep from Mini Art.  Rifles for the Filipino troops were a challenge because they were armed with the M1917 Enfiled rifles.  To depict this Mitch had to modify 1/35  .303 Lee Enfield.  All other accessories and debris were from spares.

 

click on the thumbnail for larger view

The diorama can be viewed at the main gallery of the AFP Museum at Camp Aguinaldo, Quezon City where it sits together with several other dioramas that Mitch has done for them in the past.

 

 

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