Legendary Builder - Lewis Pruneau

Legendary Builder - Lewis Pruneau

16th Mar 2022

Welcome to the Free Time Hobbies Workbench.  Here you can find great builds and techniques from around the web.  We highlight different model builders to show you cool models and how you can do it yourself!


Sometimes the best way to appreciate a piece of art is to talk about the person that made it. This diorama comes from a true master of the craft. Lewis Pruneau is responsible for the incredible build you see today. Tragically, he passed away in September of 2021. However, he left behind one of the greatest collections of dioramas that I have ever seen.

Lewis Pruneau diorama USS Pennsylvania USS Cassin USS Downes Model Ships


In 1984, he won first place at the International Plastic Modelers Society (IPMS) national convention with his 1/35 scale model of “Dora”, a German railroad gun of incredible size. 

Later, he’d be the first person to win “Best in Show” two years in a row. If that wasn’t enough, another modeling legend, Sheperd Paine, called him “the Cecil B. DeMille of diorama builders”. 

Upon learning of his work, Francois Verlinden published a book dedicated to his work in order to introduce him to the modeling world at large. The 1986 book, Superdioramas, is aptly named and still available for purchase to this day.

Free Time Hobbies Workbench has decided to highlight his masterpiece that captured a moment in time after the attack on Pearl Harbor. In it you see the battleship USS Pennsylvania drydocked behind the wreckage of the destroyers Downes and Cassin.

Pearl Harbor diorama USS Pennsylvania USS Downes USS Cassin


Many dioramas seek to depict an example of a place or event. Pruneau’s diorama is something more than that. It is a near perfect scaled copy of that drydock. In a way, his diorama is more realistic than the photograph. 

It gives us the ability to see the scene in color and three dimensions. Most of us never saw the sites of the Pearl Harbor attack with our own eyes and Pruneau’s build gives us another part of that story.


The Interesting Modelling Co. Tribute to Lewis Pruneau - YouTube

US Marines Iwo Jima WWII 1/35th scale - YouTube

Expressions | Lewis Pruneau | PBS

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