The Marder III anti-tank gun
I never indulged violence in most of my dioramas- at least not the dioramas of WW2. There was some blood here and there, a lifeless arm or two emerging from rubble or a tank hatch, but for the most part, I stayed away from the dramatic violence of war in “real-time”. With this diorama, I decided to show some wartime carnage as it happened. It’s basically a snapshot of a Marder III crew being ambushed by a group of American infantrymen. The setting is in the forests of Normandy, not long after D-Day. The Marder III is holding position, overlooking an area of strategic importance. A few trees had to be cut down for a better view; some of the branches were used for camouflage. (Truth be told, I should have covered the entire front hull with pine tree limbs, but alas, I didn’t want to cover up all the work!) There are countless stories like this, where Allied units picked off German artillery, ATV’s, pillboxes, bunkers and other reinforced emplacements as the Allies advanced and the Germans retreated. I imagine that soon, this group of GIs will be celebrating in Paris. (Assuming the German commander that escaped the ambush doesn’t do anything stupid.)
The Marder III was a tank destroyer produced from 1942-1944. It had the excellent platform of the Panzer 38 and a main gun capable of destroying any tank unlucky enough to come into its sights. Unfortunately, it had very little armor and afforded little protection to its crew. Marder translates to martin, a relative of the weasel, and naming it after that small but fierce predator seems apt. Here you can read all about this slight, yet formidable weapon.
I have a friend who asked if the title, “A Marder in the Woods” was a play on “A Martyr in the Woods.” I told him it was a play on “A Murder in the Woods.” But neither allusion is accurate: I’d never consider a soldier killed in combat a martyr (especially a Nazi!), but I also don’t consider a soldier killing another soldier as a “murder”. Oh well, I still like the title, so it goes.