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"Good At Estimating Size Of Fortification Details In PHOTOS?" Topic

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Cacique Caribe03 Oct 2018 8:56 a.m. PST

If so, then let's start with this one …

A) How tall would you say is the PERIMETER WALL in this picture from "Dogs of War" (1980):


Here's a different angle of the buildings, if it helps:


Or this video:
YouTube link

B) And what specific nearby objects led to to believe that was so?

C) Has anyone ever drawn and posted a map of that compound?



Oberlindes Sol LIC Supporting Member of TMP03 Oct 2018 9:46 a.m. PST

The yellow building with the green roof was designed and built; it was not just cobbled together like the shacks. So I'll use it for some architectural assumptions. I'll assume that it was built according to the standards of the former European colonial power who occupied the country for the century before the events of The Dogs of War.

I don't remember which country that was, but it doesn't matter, because all of them follow first-world architectural conventions, specifically floor height. Typically, each floor of a building that lacks extensive inter-floor engineering (HVAC, conduits, etc.) is about 10 feet in height.

The yellow building and the entire setting looks pretty basic and low-tech, so 10 feet per floor is a good start. It's probably not less, but it could be a little more, because the building is in the tropics, where higher ceilings are preferred because they provide space for ceiling fans and vent windows for air circulation. So I'll estimate that each floor is about 12 feet.

Thus from the ground to the base of the green roof is about 24 feet. The adjacent perimeter wall comes to about the middle of the second floor, so it's about 18 feet in height.

The structure of the wall is a concrete wall with a cinder block wall of equal height built on top of it. The original concrete wall is the same height as the ground floor of the yellow building. There is even a short yellow wall of the same height as the concrete wall and the building connecting them and proving their equality of height.

Cacique Caribe03 Oct 2018 9:49 a.m. PST

If I'm not mistaken, it was filmed in Belize. If that helps.


robert piepenbrink Supporting Member of TMP03 Oct 2018 10:51 a.m. PST

I like Oberlindes' thinking, but I'd have gone a little shorter--maybe 16' or not quite that. You can count the concrete blocks in the new section--five blocks so 40" plus trim--When you actually see someone standing close on the video, it looks as though the old block wall was about climbable for a fit man--seven, eight feet, tops. So maybe 12' minimum--and eight foot ceilings are not that uncommon: I'm typing under one.

If someone told me he'd measured it at 18', I'd accept that, but 13-16' would be my guess.

Oberlindes Sol LIC Supporting Member of TMP03 Oct 2018 11:23 a.m. PST

I think robert piepenbrink's analysis is plausible.

There is usually something between the ceiling and the floor above, making the total height of each storey greater than the floor to ceiling height, but in that old wooden building, there won't be much other than structural members. So it could be that the total height of each storey is less than 9 feet (8 feet floor to ceiling, plus maybe 6 inch structural beam), putting the wall at about 9 + 4.5 = 13.5 feet.

So, likewise, if someone measured the wall at 13 feet, I would accept that.

bledin03 Oct 2018 11:43 a.m. PST

Looks like 6 rows of cinder blocks in the upper section and maybe 8 or 9 rows on the lower section. Cinderblocks are typically 8" tall. With mortar, about 10 feet or so.

Cheers, Ben

Cacique Caribe03 Oct 2018 11:45 a.m. PST


Well done. Very well done, guys.

Thanks so much

By the way, this is the rest of that scene on the assault of Kimba's fortress:
YouTube link

And here's what the Belize City Swing Bridge has looked like over the years:






I still haven't been able to figure out where General Kimba's Zangaro "presidential palace" compound was located. The front gate entrance looks a lot like the one for the Museum of Belize, but nothing else about the museum grounds looks right. Maybe that's indeed where it was filmed, but back when it was still officially part of the Belize prison service:


I just haven't found any pictures of that compound to see if it really looked like Kimba's "fortress" from the film.

sillypoint03 Oct 2018 1:18 p.m. PST

14 foot plus or minus a few inches.
That's a guesstimate, based on the photos and some math type person, drawing up a plan, asking the boss what height does he want the walls at…boss says…🧐🤪

evilgong03 Oct 2018 3:35 p.m. PST

Count the bricks – Thucydides mentions Greeks sending three men to independently count the bricks of an enemy fort's wall – so they could work out how high to make their assault ladders.


robert piepenbrink Supporting Member of TMP03 Oct 2018 3:51 p.m. PST

There's another technique which often helps in these situations: ask yourself what the local unit of measure is. Various odd translations and recent history books to the contrary. No one stands 3.1 meters tall, or races down the road at 157 KPH. People tend to round based on their measuring and counting systems. So the Big Man might--if the country is metric--say "I want that wall four meters high! No! I want it FIVE meters high!" He's not likely to say "I want that wall 4.75 meters!"

There is, of course, a time lag. Even in WWII, Russians still seem to have been thinking in versts rather than meters, for example. But thinking in round numbers for whatever the local system it can be helpful.

In this case, sadly, I suspect the British Honduras/Belize prison was built to English measure, but General Kimba would be thinking in metric. It happens.

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