by Peter Johnstone


On the afternoon of March 28, 1942, B-26 Marauders of the 19th Squadron of the American 22nd light Bombardment group parked on the northern side of the Stockroute airstrip (now Dalrymple Rd, Garbutt, Townsville). This was outside the front fence of the home that nine year old Rod Cardell lived in with his mother, sister, uncle and grandmother. So began some of the greatest years of Rods life. Their home was in middle of the American Fifth Air Force Service Command Base. A greater playground a young lad could never find. This Diorama depicts the first afternoon the aircraft arrived.

The story of Rod Cardell has been one that has always intrigued me if you ever get a chance read Rods Book “Wings around Us” It is a good read.


The little old Queenslander “badly in need of a repaint” was scratch built from Plastic card. Unfortunately I had to guess sizes based on the one photo and sketch available. I am sure it is not exact but it certainly passes for a Miners Cottage. I first drew the plans in Autocad, then broke it down into the different components. I then printed the bits out and glued them to plastic card. Cut and assembled. Sounds a lot easier then it really was. 

The figures come mostly from Revel/Monogram  kits. The mother and grandmother figure came from the ICM RAAF personnel kit. They have been extensively modified to suit.

Rod himself was a modified 1/72 Japanese figure, probably a bit small to represent a nine year old, but it is very hard to find figures of nine year old Australian kids.


The kit - 1/48 B-26 MARAUDER "DIXIE"

This kit was the 1/48 Monogram B-26C kit backdated to just a B-26. The modifications where extensive just some are listed below.

1) Repositioning of the fuselage gun openings.

2) Remodelling of the tail gun area and glazing. Remodeled thre times before  I was happy

3) Removal of armour plate from the fuselage.

4) All wheel bay covers where modified to remove unnecessary lumps and bumps.

5) The Engine Cowlings where also extensively modified one side alone took eight hours.

6) The propellers where a bit of a stumbling block and many test cases where made until I realised the Monogram Black widow had the right type of Prop.

7) The biggest job was modifying the wings and tail unit. These had to considerably shortened and reshaped. It was easier then it sounded just a bit of work and planing.

8) Once all the modifications where completed the whole kit had to be rescribed.

Once the kit was finished and all the work was done, after many many hours it was put away for a while and I moved on to do another kit. One day I was searching for a kit and I moved a box on the top shelf of my modelling desk and doom struck. Forgotten by me was that on top of the box was a B-29 I was also modifying to be a RAAF Washington and DIXIE my modified B-26 kit. I had a choice of only catching one. I grab the B-29 and Dixie plummeted 2.1 metres to the ground. It wasn’t pretty, she hit the tiled floor so hard it absolutely shattered. All my work was just a pile of scattered plastic. Parts went every where.

“Gooly gee whiz, that was unfortunate” I thought to myself or words alone those lines but probably unfit for truckies and wharfies to hear.

I picked it up and started with the superglue. This time I was determined to finish. So I glued, and I filled and I sanded and I rescribed until the kit was ready for repainting.

I remasked the kit and repainted it again for the second time.  Then as according to Murphy law I then found another reference that showed some more of a similar aircraft and I had to do some more modifications. So once again I sanded and I filled etc etc etc. This was a little fortunate because I was not 100% happy with the last paint job so I got redo it more to my liking.

I have never had a lot of luck with Marauders, I always have trouble with the star decals on an earlier kit I managed to put a star on upside down and this kit I managed to put both stars on the same wing under and over. Fortunately these are problems that are easily fixed. 

At the time of starting the modification no photos existed of Dixie that I was aware of that showed the Nose art. Request on the net drew no responses so  I was going to have to guess, which I hate doing.


One Anzac day I was watching Whispering Death on SBS and it showed a scene of Marauders getting ready fora mission. I could not believe it, there was Dixie in all here glory with her nose art for all the world to see. My wife was asleep on the couch and though I gone mad when I let out an exclamation or two.  I could finally finish the kit. I ordered the DVD and I was ready to go. I have since found more info on Dixie and her nose art.


The Base is just 25 mm blue insulation board. This board is impossible to obtain in North Queensland but we managed to get a hold of some thru the help of people on the Aussie Modeller web Site.

I just placed the items on the base, drew a rough outline to suit and cut it out with a coping saw, then sanded the edges. The dirt is actually dirt from the real site at Garbutt. I just sieved it thru a fine sieve. I then painted diluted white glue onto the base, sprinkled the dirt over the top.  I then placed the house into the base, not as easy as it sounds with all those stumps. I then dry brushed the dirt with pastels to break up the texture a bit. I find it much easier to use real dirt then plaster etc to make a base, for a start it is usually the right colour and much easier to work with.

The grass is just you normal static grass. I used the grey first because the grass is most like that in the area and sprinkled some greener grass in area to provide a contrast. The grass was stuck down by painting diluted white glue over the dirt and sprinkling the grass over the top.

Fence posts are just round tooth picks weathered with Tamiya smoke and Gunze oil. The posts in the area where usually dipped in Creosote a timber preservative which made them go dark. The wire is just easy line from Red Roo, it was a bit too fine so I thickened it with a bit of diluted black paint. 


The Trees were easy. Unfortunately the day I took the photo it was very windy and they suffered a bit. They are made from tee tree twigs and railway scenery material superglued to the timber. Takes about 5 min to make and when they stand up straight look OK. Tee tree are great if you get the right type they look like miniature gum trees.

This modified kit and diorama may never win any prizes but I treasure it above all others. Its times like this I really enjoy modelling. Now for the next one.

Further images



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