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Project Notes

#710 Race To Jitra

Building a double-sided box diorama in mixed scales to capture the rapid advance of Japanese forces during the Invasion of Malaya. The Battle of Jitra was one of many engagements where the advancing force overwhelmed the under-prepared defenders on the peninsula.


Here’s a quick demo..



In December 1941, the Japanese launched Operation “E” - The Invasion of Malaya.

The transport ships Awazisan Maru, Ayatosan Maru, and Sakura Maru, were escorted by the light cruiser Sendai, destroyers Ayanami, Isonami, Shikinami, and Uranami, minesweepers No. 2 and No. 3, and submarine chaser No. 9.

Landings in Thailand (Singora and Patani) were unopposed, but the Indian-British brigade defending Kota Bharu put up stiff resistance before being outflanked and overrun. This commenced the rapid advance down the Malayan peninsula, ultimately leading to the fall of Singapore by 15 February 1942.

The Battle of Jitra was fought between the invading Japanese and Allied forces during the Malayan Campaign of the Second World War, from 11–13 December 1941.

just two days after the invasion of british-held malaya in 1941 japanese troops arrived at the town of jitra there they faced a british force determined to halt their advance south but in a remarkable day of fighting a handful of tanks and troops routed an entire division and pushed the british defense of northern malaya into collapse.


The Japanese 3rd Air Corps (飛行集団, Hikō Shudan) and three Air Combat Groups (飛行戦隊, Hikō Sentai) of the 5th Air Corps took part in the Malaya Campaign.[29] In total there were 354 Imperial Japanese Army Air Service (IJAAS) first line aircraft involved together with the 110 Imperial Japanese Navy Air Service (IJNAS) aircraft. The Army units were variously equipped with

  • fighters:
    • Nakajima Ki-27 Nate,
    • Nakajima Ki-43 Oscar,
    • Mitsubishi Ki-51 Sonia;
  • bombers:
    • Kawasaki Ki-48 Lily,
    • Mitsubishi Ki-21 Sally,
    • Mitsubishi Ki-30 Ann;
  • reconnaissance:
    • Mitsubishi Ki-15 Babs,
    • Mitsubishi Ki-46 Dinah.

A couple of videos that I found useful in researching this:



Build Concept

The scene is packed into a small double-sided box diorama. From one side, the forced perspective is intended to capture the Japanese Army in the foreground, with a peek of the Navy in the background. From the other side we see a destroyer and landing forces coming a-shore, with the action on the other side obscured by jungle foliage

This is definitely an experiment: I wasn’t sure how effective the forced perspective would be. There’s some complex blocking and staging required to make the scene look right from all perspectives.

Planning the Scene

The army is represented by a Type 89 Medium Tank accompanied by Japanese Bicycle Infantry and some unmounted Japanese Infantry.

The Navy is represented by the Destroyer Ayanami 綾波

I’ve set the foreground (land) and background (sea) on different levels to help with the forced perspective.


Jungle foliage will help block the views appropriately

build01b build01c

I found a range of trees and foliage on amazon that do a decent enough job and avoid having to scratch build all the trees


Building a Tank

I had both a Type 89 Medium Tank and Type 95 Ha-Go Light Tank from IBG Models that I started building. I wasn’t sure which would be best.

As it seemed that the Type 95 was most used in the Malayan Campaign, I went with that in the end, but using the figures that came in the Type 89 kit.

build02a build02b build02c

Building the Base

build03a build03b build03c build03d build03e build03f


build05a build05b

Lighting the Box

Circuit Design

A short section of 12V Cool White LED strip is mounted in the front and rear of the box.

To make it possible to power from a 5V USB 18650 power bank, I’ve added a boost converter in-line to bring the voltage up to 12V - using LEAP#358 MC34063 Boost Converter Kit.




Does it work? Let me know! I’m pretty happy that it came out close to what I’d planned, and all the tricks of perspective are generally working OK!

build06a build06b

Here’s a quick demo..


Credits and References

Project Source on GitHub Project Gallery Return to the LEAP Catalog

This page is a web-friendly rendering of my project notes shared in the LEAP GitHub repository.

LEAP is just my personal collection of projects. Two main themes have emerged in recent years, sometimes combined:

  • electronics - usually involving an Arduino or other microprocessor in one way or another. Some are full-blown projects, while many are trivial breadboard experiments, intended to learn and explore something interesting
  • scale modelling - I caught the bug after deciding to build a Harrier during covid to demonstrate an electronic jet engine simulation. Let the fun begin..
To be honest, I haven't quite figured out if these two interests belong in the same GitHub repo or not. But for now - they are all here!

Projects are often inspired by things found wild on the net, or ideas from the many great electronics and scale modelling podcasts and YouTube channels. Feel free to borrow liberally, and if you spot any issues do let me know (or send a PR!). See the individual projects for credits where due.