Surrender Or Else!

A Scene from the Battle of Asal Uttar 

India-Pakistan War of 1965

by Raja Bose




The battle of Asal Uttar (True of Fitting Reply) during the 1965 war between India and Pakistan, was the largest tank battle to take place after World War II. It took place from 8 - 10 September, 1965 near the town of Asal Uttar in the Indian state of Punjab. The battle ended in a decisive victory for the Indian Army despite them being at a disadvantage both numerically and technologically. The primary reason for the Pakistani defeat was the fact that the Indians had flooded the paddy fields in the Punjab causing the Pattons and Chaffees to get bogged down in the thick mud, after which they became easy targets for anti-tank gunners of the Indian Army. The Pakistanis lost 97 tanks in this battle including 72 brand new Patton Tanks and 25 Chaffees whereas Indian losses in this sector were 32 tanks for the entire war.

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Scene depicted in the Diorama

A wounded shell-shocked tank commander from the 1st Armoured Division of the Pakistan Army emerges from his severely damaged M24 Chaffee tank which has got bogged down in the muddy fields of Indian Punjab. The Chaffee has had both its tracks blown off by mines and suffered extensive damage to its turret from multiple anti-tank rounds. An Indian Army officer leading a 4-man patrol from the 1/9th Gurkha Rifles has leapt up onto the tank and is asking the tank commander to surrender or else! He is covered by two of his men, one armed with a .303 rifle and the other armed with a Sten gun. However, the fourth and youngest member of the patrol, unable to keep his enthusiasm under control, is clambering up on to the back of the tank to capture the Pakistani officer himself!

This diorama is built in 1/72 scale on a plain round wooden base. I have used a Hasegawa 1/72 kit for the Pakistani M24 Chaffee tank (and its commander) and an Italeri set of World War II British paratroopers for the Indian Army patrol. Rest of the details are scratch built. The terrain is a combination of Sheet Rock putty, sand, clay and plain ol' dirt mixed with Elmer's white glue. Painting is done using water-based acrylics and dry brushing has been applied wherever necessary. Damage to the tank was inflicted using a red-hot kitchen knife, kept solely for this purpose.

Photos and text by Raja Bose