Mylae 260 BC - Roma Victor

Posted by krugi3 on 20 Feb 2021, 20:01

Historical Background

The first Punic war (264 - 241 BC) was the struggle between the two superpowers of their time for the control over Sicily. On the one side the Carthaginians (also known as Punics) were based on the Northern side of Africa (modern times Tunesia and a bit of Algeria) and are mainly seafearing community making trade all over the Mediterranean Sea, on the other side the Romans, purely land based with a strong will to expansion. A clash between the two cultures for predomination of the then known world was inevitable.

The casus belli was the plead for help of the tyrant of Syracuse against the growing pressure of the Carthaginians on Sicily. Rome was more than willing to help and therefore Rome sent troops to intervene. But the dilemma with that war was that the Romans were successfull on land, on sea the Romans had only small fleets from their allies and these are no match for the Carthaginians. So a stalemate between Roman land forces and Carthaginian maritime raids and invasions arose. In a typically Roman manner they built a fleet of 200 ships (based on a wreck of a stranded enemy warship), trained the crews and knowing that the Carthaginians are the much more experienced seafarers invented a secret weapon - the corvus (raven). It was a boarding bridge over which the Roman marines (lots of them!) can engage the enemy. All this was achieved within 6 months!

The first commitment of the fleet was at the battle of Mylae (modern day Milazzo) in 260 BC. Each fleet had approximately 130 ships, a real large encounter. The Carthaginians have absolutely no respect of the enemy navy and engaged the Romans even without making battle formations. The corvus came as true nasty surprise and the Carthaginians were for the first (but not the last) time decisevely beaten.

The war dragged on for further 13 years with several land and sea battles and finally ended with the Romans as masters of Sicily.

The moment depicted is the close combat between two Roman galleys (one command ship and one ship of the line with corvus) and one Carthaginian galley. The Roman ship of the line has just rammed the enemy vessel, commited the corvus and marines are engaging in overwhelming number the Carthaginians. The Roman command ship is in the process of supporting the own ship of the line.

Further information on the ships
    The standard battleship of the period was the quinquereme, this means that each vertical section of rows has 5 rowers in 3 levels (2-2-1, variations possible) on each side.
    The hull of the ship should not get wet, as this would increase weight and therefore decrease speed and maneuverability. The vessels were beached every day!
    Beneath the waterline the hull is covered with metal plates and coated with wax.
    The ships had a high center of gravity as they had a minor draught. This of course affacted the stability of the vessel - marines, when not in combat, had to sit or hunker down on deck.
    Only water was transported on the ships and really small amounts of food. This also made beaching every day necessary.
    Of course there were no toilets on board - you may not saw the galley from a distance, but you will definitively smelt it.
    As the ships were closed on all sides, there was a real problem of ventilation. Some openings on special places helped a little.
    The ram was not part of the hull, so it possibly could broke off.
    Normally the masts are laid down or thrown overboard before battle (in the case of Mylae maybe not, as the Carthaginians attacked the Romans immediately)
    Maximum speed for a quinquereme was about 10 knots (= 19 km/h) - so these vessels were very fast, but only in perfect sea and weather conditions. Waves of more than 1 meter height would keep the ship in the harbour or on the beach. The Romans lost more ships to bad weather than by combat.
    Sinking of a rammed took a long, long time - some scholars even say, that the vessel run full of water and it was impossible to sink it (maybe with the exception if the keel is broken).
    The rowers were not slaves, they were highly trained and paid professionals. It is difficult to get 170 rows coordinated when the crew is not well-rehearsed. Slaves in battles are too high a risk - so please forget all you have seen in the Ben Hur movies! Only in the 16th century slaves were used.
    The rate of strokes was not indicated with beating of drums, instead tunes by flutes (or something similar) were used.

The diorama
    All ships and figures are from Zvezda.
    Ships: Greek Triera, Roman Trireme, Trireme of the Roman Emporer
    Figures: Roman Republic infantry, Carthaginian infantry, Greek infantry, Makedonian phalanx, Egyptian infantry
    The ships are upgraded with ventilation openings, sails are scratch built, improved rigging, some parts of the three ships are interchanged and some changes had to be made as some things are simply wrong (e.g. height of lowered corvus - would be difficult to climb in breast height and then you have no platform to stand on). The Roman ships are all brand new, the Carthaginian ship is a little bit worn out.
    For reaching the interaction between the figures some conversions had to be made and for creating rowers and other marine personal the conversions were quite complex.
    I tried to create sea water for the first time and used Vallejo Mediterranean water, MIG acrylic water and a wide mix of colours to achieve this final result.
    I started this diorama back in 2006 (indeed!!!) and thought it won't be a long affair. But with every book I read and every contact I made it's getting more and more difficult. But now it is finally finished and it looks quite like as I had it in mind 15 years before - but much more historically correct.

Here can see the final diorama:
Many pictures and explanations during the work in process can be found here (German language only): ... f=32&t=737

And here a few teasers:















Greetings from Austria
Thomas Krug
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krugi3  Austria
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Posted by Peter on 20 Feb 2021, 21:11

Awesome diorama Thomas! :shock: :thumbup:

I can't stop watching the pictures! ;-)
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Peter  Belgium

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Posted by Bluefalchion on 20 Feb 2021, 21:45

Unbelievable feast for the eyes.

15 years in the making? That's okay, to create a dio of this quality, it would have taken me 45.
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Bluefalchion  United States of America
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Posted by Kostis Ornerakis on 20 Feb 2021, 22:32

Very impressive work! :notworthy: :yeah: :-D
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Kostis Ornerakis  Greece
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Posted by Konrad on 20 Feb 2021, 23:11

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Konrad  Germany
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Posted by Santi Pérez on 20 Feb 2021, 23:57

Wow, I'm really speechless with all the aspects of this post: the hugeness of the diorama, the wonderful ships, the fantastic scenery, the lovely painted figures, the additional information provided and the very complete photographic report. :love: :notworthy: :love: :notworthy: :love: :notworthy:

Great work, krugi3. My very best congratulations. :thumbup:

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Santi Pérez  Spain
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Posted by XbriX on 21 Feb 2021, 07:35

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XbriX  Poland
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Posted by Kekso on 21 Feb 2021, 08:59

I'll join the others with my compliments.
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Kekso  Croatia

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Posted by Minuteman on 21 Feb 2021, 10:53

Absolutely outstanding work! Everything about the ships, crews and the water looks right, and the whole thing is a work of art.
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Minuteman  United Kingdom
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Posted by C M Dodson on 21 Feb 2021, 13:11

Thomas, you have created a masterpiece of precision modelling, composition with a real ‘feel’ of the actual event.

The water, the faces, bloodied swords the ships, it’s all there.

Some of those pictures look as if they are for real.

A work of art and just reward for your efforts.

Best wishes,

C M Dodson  United Kingdom
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Posted by Bill Slavin on 21 Feb 2021, 15:23

That is just gorgeous in every respect. the water treatment is fantastic! A wonderful achievement.
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Bill Slavin  Canada
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Posted by carlosfaro on 21 Feb 2021, 16:31

In addition to all previous comments of so good recreation of the ships, the accesories, the figures, the Water and so on..What I like most is how dynamic the scene is, the very good choice of background and the quality of your pictures...
I really felt the Experience of the sea Battle, the wind, waves, salt and drops ony face, Water and rowing noises... O believe those romans mighty have similar feelings!
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Posted by Wiking on 21 Feb 2021, 17:30

This is a very good example (for me) how to showcase a Diorama.

The preamble is very interesting for me. I am not so much interested with that timeline.
It is very nice that you give us the option to read the basic information to the scene you show us.
I want to pop one of your point up. That the rowers are not slaves. That fit exactly in my thoughts about that kind of wars ship.
If they are slaves it is far too dangerous that they change sides in a battle.

Then a few words about the used stuff.

The use of the medias with a link.

The pic of the TOP Dio.
Fantastic made from the beginning to the end in a timeline of 15 years!!!

The sum is more as the
modelling craftsmanship, historical correctness, creativity.


Thankfully you do not all historical correct. And don`t install the war ships smell. :xd:
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Wiking  Germany
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Posted by PhilC on 21 Feb 2021, 19:05

Wonderful diorama, with a high level a painting and very lively scenes, congratulations!
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PhilC  Europe

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Posted by sberry on 22 Feb 2021, 18:10

I had the pleasure to see this project grow over the years. Now it's finished and it becomes obvious that the huge amount of work that has been invested during that time has resulted in an excellent result. Congratulations!
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sberry  Germany
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Posted by tullo on 22 Feb 2021, 19:07

:winky: :winky: :thumbup: :thumbup: :thumbup: :thumbup: :thumbup: :shock: :shock:
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tullo  Germany
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Posted by OwenChpw on 24 Feb 2021, 00:05

This is a beautiful, beautiful diorama, just brilliantly done.
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OwenChpw  Australia
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Posted by krugi3 on 01 Jul 2021, 11:26


I'd like to draw your attention to the marketplace section:

Greetings from Austria
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krugi3  Austria
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Posted by despertaferro on 01 Jul 2021, 13:25

Amazing job...!

I wonder why Zvezda is my all time favorite manufacturer... :-D
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Posted by blacksmith on 02 Jul 2021, 13:10

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blacksmith  Spain
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