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DateOriginal Topic
3rd January 2005Rorkes Drift Scale Model
By Paul Cubbin
Dear All, I need a little help. I am planning to build a scale model of Rorkes Drift in 1/72 scale (no, I haven't grown up - I still love toy soldiers). I have found a couple of iffy floor plans but really would love to get my hands on something accurate. Something to show the exterior and interior of the buildings, colour schemes, loopholes, defences etc.. would be great, basically as much info as possible.
No doubt one of the regulars has tried something like this and any help would be greatly appreciated.
If I manage to successfully complete the project I will make photos available to anyone who wants them!
4th January 2005Nick Thornicroft
Hello Paul. Have you tried John Young's book "They Fell Like Stones: Battles & Casualties of the Zulu War, 1879"? There is an
overhead 'plan' of RD drawn by Lt. Chard on page 79, showing the layout of the buildings, defensive lines, etc., & a line drawing on the following page showing the buildings of RD under the shadow of the nearby hill.

4th January 2005Paul Cubbin
Nick - yes, I've seen Chard's drawing, thanks. Its about the best reference piece I've got so far. What I really need is something like a diagram, showing dimensions from each axis.
4th January 2005Neil Aspinshaw
Haven't you seen the model inside the museum at RD?, quite staggering.
The zulu's are all from an Italian scale model producer, all have been lovingly hand painted.
4th January 2005Keith Smith

There is a fine area map of the Rorke's Drift battlefield, drawn to scale, in Laband and Thompson's "Field Guide to the War in Zululand ...". This is, I believe, out of print but there are pre-loved copies available on the website. A slightly zoomed-in diagram can be found in their updated version, "Illustrated Guide to the Anglo-Zulu War". Both map and dioagram have scales.

One can also obtain 1:10000 maps of various areas of KwaZulu-Natal and you might be able to get one of the Rorke's Drift area from the Chief Directorate: Surveys and Mapping (South Africa) at This is essential if you want to reproduce a part or all of Shiyane hill, which was only some 400 metres from the post.

Good Luck.
5th January 2005Paul Cubbin
Thanks guys, I shall follow up these helpful looking leads with glee (although my wife may feel differently). Keith - unfortunately the hill is probably a little too ambitious for me, and may result in premature divorce, but I'll check out the book.
5th January 2005mike grigg
Hi Paul,

I think the film Zulu has inspired many people to dream about going to the battle sites, or creating their own Diarama. i have been fortunate enough to visit Rorkes drift 2 times in the last 12 months, and believe me it is awe inspiring. I know people who have visited the Alamo in Texas, and their response is it's O.K but it's not breathtaking. When I first went to RD, I stood there just looking at the surrounding area. I couldn't speak for over an hour. When I came home armed with my Zulu shield, Assigi and Knobbler. I was ready to create a Diarama of the battle. for 10 months I tried to collect information on the area and sizes of the buildings. Out of all the books / panflits / and help from the Natel Museums in SA, the best I ever got was a copy of Chards map. I was back at Rorkes Drift in November, with the intentions of pacing out the buildings. But because I also had to see Isandlawana and Blood River. But I did manage to get a full size Zulu shield made by a Zulu just outside Ladysmith to complement last years.
I only managed to get a rough idea on the size of the buildings. The hospital which is now the church was 45' x 30'. The Comm t Stores which is now a museum and shop is 60' x 30' . The area itself I'm just finalising. What I have calculated is like myself your'e scaling at 72th. You will need a board measuring 3'x2'. That does not include the mountains behind.
My Zulu and British soldiers I purchased from the UK. They are Italeri, I found they were the best for true to life expecially the Zulus. let me know how far you are in to creating your Diarama, maybe we can help each other further.
5th January 2005mike grigg

if you are after the interior layout of the original hospital, there is a good plan in the washing of the Spears.
5th January 2005Peter Ewart

Did you mean to say the hospital is now the church and the commissariat store is now a museum & shop? Surely it is the other way round?

6th January 2005Michael Boyle

Athough I have yet to accomplish my dream of visiting Rorke's Drift (or Isandlwana) the pictures I've seen do seem impressive. However I have visited whats left of the Alamo a number of times while living in Texas and it's outward appearence does fall short of breathtaking due to the fact that it's 'smack dab in the middle' of downtown San Antonio (imagine RD in the middle of a large city.) However when you enter the compound it's not difficult to become involved emotionally,especially while visiting the Hall of Flags where they fly the standards of each home state and country of the forlorn defenders. (If memory serves there is a Union Flag amongst them!)

I thought the hospital was torn down after the battle. Was it rebuilt to the original plan?


6th January 2005mike grigg
Pete, Michael

Well spotted, i do get over excited when i talk about RD. You are correct the hospital which got completely burnt down, was rebuilt using some of the original stones and is now the museum. looking at the brochure I got from RD, it's not that far away from the original building. You can see a difference between Chards map and the copy I have.

The brochure I picked up is a walk through self guided trail on the battles at RD. It's only a photo copy, and it only cost me 3 rand (25p) from the museum. If I can find a scanner at work, you are quite welcome to have a copy emailed over to you. Infact anybody wanting a copy your'e quite welcome. The comm store: Most of the original foundations are under the church. After the battle, the british soldiers pulled off the thatch roof in case of the Zulus returned and set fire to the building. In later years the missionarries broke the structure down and used the stone and timbers to build the original part of the church.
7th January 2005Paul Cubbin
Thanks again guys. A quick bit of advice needed. I want to get myself an Ian Knight RD book, as opinion seems to point towards him being the benchmark for modern publications on this subject. With relation to the layout specifically, can anyone tell me which is his best - or should I go via Osprey?
8th January 2005Derek C
I was at RD earlier this month and tried to take a photo of their beautiful model in the museum. If it comes out OK, I'll forward a picture to you.
8th January 2005Paul Cubbin
Thanks to all, especially Derek and in paticular Bill Cainan who has kindly offered to sedn me a set of photos taken of his own model. Of course mine will be better.......