NOTE: When I set this task for myself (doing scenes from Black Hawk Down in toy form), I knew there was no way I could accurately depict the mission with my limited budget and space.
I took a lot of liberties with this photo set alone. I combined details from both the book and movie. Characters are combined/omitted. Uniforms are not accurate, and the sequence of events has been slightly altered.
I made these changes because it would take more time and money than I actually have in order to do it completely right, not to do any disservice to the men who fought and died in the battle. I have nothing but the greatest respect for these men, and by doing these dioramas I hope to show my true appreciation for their bravery and heroism.
Anyway, I hope you enjoy what I've done here.
Super Six-One is Down!
A 1/18-scale Black Hawk Down diorama by Chris Navarro
The world had suddenly gone to shit.
Super Six-One spun wildly out of control, its tail rotor destroyed by an RPG.
They were descending rapidly, and the best efforts of pilots "Elvis" Wolcott and "Bull" Briley did little to forestall the inevitable. In the back of the chopper, Delta SSG Dan Busch heard the chatter over the comms suddenly cease in stunned silence, then resume with greater urgency.
"Six-One is hit!"
"Wolcott's bird is hit!"
"We have a Black Hawk going down!"
Then there was a loud crash, and the world went dark.
Busch crawled painfully from the wreckage of Super Six-One. The Black Hawk had gone down in a narrow street in the heart of Mogadishu. All around them, armed Somalis had begun to converge on the downed chopper.
He could hear one of the crew chiefs groaning in pain. The other guys were silent, and he couldn't tell if they were still alive.
He didn't know how long he'd been unconscious, but the comm chatter indicated that a rescue team was en route to his position.
Enemy gunfire exploded around him, the rounds hissing dangerously close. Busch returned fire, unaware that a group of Sammies were sneaking up behind him with a technical.
Wincing in pain, Busch took down a pair of Somali gunmen who had charged on his position.
The Habir Gedr militiamen were approaching, and Busch checked his six just in time to see them drawing close.
He raised his rifle, and another fusillade of enemy fire erupted around him.
Busch grunted in shock as a volley of shots rang out, striking his left side and ricocheting off the chopper's steel skin.
Dropping to the ground in agony, he took cover behind the crashed hull. He could hear the CSAR (Combat Search-and-Rescue) bird approaching, but the area was still too hot to attempt a landing.
Suddenly the approaching Sammies collapsed in a heap as they were cut down by a barrage of fire.
Lt. Tom DiTomasso and some men from Ranger Chalk Two had arrived, and were clearing the immediate area around the crash site.
Clouds of dust swirled around Busch as the SAR Little Bird, call sign Star 4-1, landed in the narrow street nearby.
One of the rescue pilots, Chief Warrant Officer Keith Jones, disembarked under covering fire from Ranger Chalk Two and moved to assist Busch. His copilot, CW3 Karl Meier, kept the rotors spinning.
"C'mon buddy, we're getting you outta here."
CW5 Jones helped the wounded Busch into the cramped rear space, while Meier helped provide cover with his sidearm. Enemy fire smacked the ground around them and ricocheted off the side of the Little Bird.
Over the comm came the voice of air commander Lt Col Tom Matthews: "Four One, come on out. Come out now."
Meier refused to leave until Jones was safely back aboard.
Clambering back into the cockpit, Jones took the cyclic stick and told Meier "I have it."
He pulled up on the collective lever, and the MH-6 lifted off in a swirl of dust and smoke, leaving DiTomasso and his men to check on the crew of Super 6-1.
Aboard the orbiting C2 (Command and Control) Black Hawk, air commander Matthews and ground force commander Lt Col (Delta) Gary Harrell watched Star 4-1 clear the rooftops and head back to base.
"Four One is coming out," Jones informed the command net.
"Clear. Go!" The men sprinted across the open space toward the downed Black Hawk as Somali gunfire erupted with renewed fury.
Taking cover behind the wreck, Lt DiTomasso and SPC Mike Kurth returned fire as RPGs streaked past, detonating against nearby houses.
PVT John Waddell came next, lugging his SAW as enemy rounds kicked up fountains of dirt around him.
SSG Ed Yurek followed, yelling "The rest of the guys are right behind me!"
Four more men from Chalk Two were securing a building next to the crash site. Although they didn't know it yet, Rangers from Chalk Four led by SSG Matt Eversmann were nearby as well.
Returning enemy fire, the Rangers attempted to secure the chopper itself for the medics and PJs who were on their way, aboard a CSAR Black Hawk.
Although Six-One's crew chiefs clung to life inside the wreck, the Rangers didn't yet know that both pilots, Cliff "Elvis" Wolcott and Donovan "Bull" Briley, were already dead.
What everyone did know, however, was that Task Force Ranger had lost the initiative, and that they had a very long fight ahead of them.
END OF CHAPTER