Friday, May 22, 2020

Brécourt Manor - Part 9 - Camouflage Netting

Experimental 6mm Camouflage Nets

The final piece of development work on the Brécourt board has been completed. The episode of Band of Brothers I have based the board on clearly shows all the gun positions have camouflage netting over them. I believe this was not true of the actual site and battle - the guns were very effectively hidden in the hedgerow and had no need for any camo nets. I will not be using camo nets in the game because they hide the key positions I want players and watchers to be focussed on. However I did look at how to create and model camouflage nets for 6mm figures.


The research I have been  able to do indicates that WW2 German camo nets that are for sale seem to indicate that the nets are 12ft, by 12ft in size. The nets seem to have 50mm or 2 inch sized square holes with the netting rope between 5 and 10mm diameter.


The Germans would probably have been able to cover a gun with a single net but I need the netting to cover a much bigger area because each of my gun positions is designed to have 6 figures on 8mm bases and a gun and ammo boxes in them. Each gun position is about 30mm x 25mm. A little large but doable.


However if we translate the other measurements to 6mm scale the net would have holes 0.16mm square with rope 0.03mm. This is obviously problematic - it would appear to have no holes and be gossamer thin and very fragile. However if I went for cloth with 1mm by 1mm gaps it would result in nets with holes that scaled to 1 ft square! Compromise was required.


The best material I could find was 90 grade cheese cloth designed for straining cheese and other food products. This gave me according to the manufacturer a 44 by 36 thread count per inch and results in holes about 0.3mm by 0.3mm with the thread about 0.2mm thick. The cheese cloth had a consistent weave and thread size at that grade. Lower grade cloths had inconsistent wave and thread sizes so be careful with your ordering! It came in vast quantities, 1 have 18 sq feet of it, or enough to cover the entire board 3 times! Total cost £7.


The flow and folds and draping you see with actual nets is really tricky to replicate, mostly because any material available for use is going to have significantly thicker threads scale wise and those threads will have significantly more structural strength. This means the folds and droops have to be recreated through cuts, crimps and layers. I found cloth with thinner threads but this was with hexagonal holes and with non-absorbent/ plastic material. The cheese cloth had a consistent weave and thread size.


I started by cutting off a small piece of the cloth - avoiding creased bits - about 10cm by 10cm, easily bigger than the size I would need. I then soaked the square of the cloth in soft tone ink wash to give the cloth a browner rope colour. I followed that up with a brushed on military shade ink wash to give it a greenish tinge.


At this point we need to start thinking about how the net would be raised and suspended and how this would impact on the flow and lie of the net. Normally soldiers would have used poles or tree branches to raise the net, with the edges secured by guy lines or held down by "tent" pegs. At this stage though I concentrated on where the poles would be and simply imagined 4 of them in a rough rectangle at the corners of each of my gun pits.


I fashioned a frame from a single length of wire. This is used as a rough guide to form the netting over and I used the same frame for all 4 of the nets.



I used PVA to glue the cloth to the frame taking care to push down in the middle to simulate sag. Once the PVA dried I then bent the wire between each of the corner posts to shape the net and bent the cloth down the sides and put some folds in the corner where I imagined guy lines would be attached. The whole thing was then checked against the gun pit and the cloth was trimmed to fit more closely to the ground. I tried to cut the edges with curved cuts so that it would look more like pegged out nets so some thought needs to go into where you imagine you guy lines are going.


The either watered down PVA or scenic cement is brushed onto the cloth. This is likely to cause the PVA on the frame to reactivate but this is fine the cloth tends to still hold the shape. The frame Some more bending and crimping of the cloth may be required at this stage and I would check it a couple of times quickly against the model. Then it was given a light dusting of Woodlands Scenics Weeds fine turf to simulate the foliage and cloth weaved into the net. I tended to be sparing here as I wanted the netting weave to be visible but this is very much a personal taste kind of thing. I then lightly drape it back over the frame and leave to dry

Flock being added in stages.
Finished net in position. There is no frame under this.
Photo taken through the net showing flock from the underside

Once dry the glue holds the cloth in shape and support is unnecessary from a structural point of view. I crafted one net with supports using 0.5mm leather thread dipped in PVA to harden and then superglued in place as a test and it seems to work.


Ands that's that.







What do you think? Let me know in the comments.

 

Keep the dice rolling!

 

Charles the Modeller



Monday, May 11, 2020

Brécourt Manor - Part 8 - The Troops


I have managed to paint all the figures for the game. All the minis came from Adler's 6mm WWII range.

 

I was faced with a bit of a challenge as these are 6mm figures and are more frequently based as units on large bases. However because most of the game revolves around the battle in the German trenches I needed to base the figures singly and on bases small enough to fit into the trench. This meant 8mm circular bases.

I reviewed using washers but this was more costly than using MDF although the bases were thinner. Although the MDF was 2mm high this enabled me to paint the edges a variety of colours so I could distinguish one unit or formation from the others. 

Having played a few games with this now, I can confirm the figures are fiddly to move and fall over more than I would like. However because the game uses a small number of figures and the Germans are fairly static its manageable but I wouldn’t recommend it for games much bigger than this.

 


The German forces are a mixture of artillery crew, MMGs and infantry. I decided each gun would be served by 8 figures and used 6 Adler gun crew in various poses and 2 infantry figures. 


The bases were edged with paint based using white, greys and black to distinguish them on the board.

The same figure from 4 different gun crews, distinguishable by the paint on the edge of the base

 For the MMGs I used a mix of Adler’s deployed teams and entrenched figures.

 

I also painted a HQ strip, but am not sure I will end up using it yet.

Finally I painted a range of infantry figures that will make up a squad of reinforcements that arrive towards the end of the game.

 

All included the Germans get to field 50 soldiers.

 

The Americans are mostly paratroopers with a couple of MMGs. The bases were painted in various shades of green to distinguish units.

 

I used rifle armed firing figures for Lipton and Ranney. 

I used vaguely command figures for the 3 lieutenants - Winters, Compton and Speirs. Along with the white stripe on their helmets I painted another on the base.

 


The remaining paratroopers were a variety of non aiming riflemen. 

Finally the MMG teams were painted in both deployed and carried versions. 

The US start with 13 figures and increase to 19. They have a tough job to do!


Next time I’ll talk about the finishing touches and camouflage netting before finally ending with photos and potentially an AAR from a game run over the internet.

 

Keep rolling the dice!

 

Charles the Modeller

Tuesday, May 5, 2020

Brécourt Manor - Part 7 - Hedgerows and Trees


I am now all but finished on the Brecourt board with just some minor experiments and finishing touches to go. Today I will describe how I created the hedges, hedgerows and trees for the model.

Hedges
I already had the hedge lines defined on the model - I’d laid out a line of cork board early in the build. I began the hedge build with brown walnut scouring pads. Each pad was 6mm deep so I  cut strips about 3mm wide. Each strip was then shaped roughly with scissors to make the height variable.
No matter how I tried each of these strips ended up looking like waves on the sea
I then pipetted liquid glue onto them until fully absorbed and flocked with Woodland Scenics Weeds (dark green) fine turf.
Once dry I applied PVA to the base and glued them onto the hedge lines on the model. Gaps were left for gates and I made sure to place lower sections opposite the gun emplacements. Smaller bits were cut and inserted where there were gaps.

To create a somewhat wilder hedge look I tore strips off the Woodland Scenics foliage range and using scenic cement and a brush applied it to the strips, gluing tops and sides. I varied the colours but used more dark green than mid green with light green applied only sparingly. 

By the vegetable patch I only placed and glued the foliage on the top and other side as I figured the small holder would trim the hedge on his side.
To create a proper hedgerow though I then took a selection of bush and longer grass products from a range of manufacturers and cut them into thinner strips and pieces and glued and pushed them into the bottom of the hedges.

Fence
A small section of the border of the vegetable patch seems to have had a wire fence. I used cut down toothpicks as posts and some barb wire from army painter to create the fence and then glued some bushes through or across it.


Trees
I decided to try an experiment with this model and to try using sea foam moss for my trees. I think the moss is frequently used by railway modellers and diorama builders but I had never used it before. I’ll insert a warning here to those who are thinking of using the sea foam on their wargaming tables that I have found it to be very realistic but quite fragile. My board is designed to see only a small number of battles, to be carefully transported and for the action to take place generally away from the trees. Be very careful using on your war games tables!

I found another wargames blogger who had used them before - although at a larger scale than I needed - including detailed instructions..
I started with Plastidip spray. This spray, camo brown, coloured the sea foam and helped strengthen it, making the smaller sprigs more resistant to knocks and breaks. I didn’t bother cutting the foam before spraying - but I would recommend doing so if you are using this for bigger trees as the sprigs easily glue together.

I cut the sprigs into a variety of sizes - I needed some trees about 6cm tall ranging down to 1cm.
I then dipped the sprigs into scenic cement or watered down PVA just covering the upper parts of my tree. I mixed dark and mid green coarse turf, about 2/3rds dark, and the pushed the sprigs into it or dropped the turf onto it. A quick shake to remove the excess, the odd touch up and then clamped in a peg to dry. 

I repeated this a number of times sometimes varying the turf mix and on some of the trees applying another layer of glue and sprinkling mid green fine turf on it.
I used a modellers pick or bradawl to make a hole into the hedges and the gently inserted the stem of my sprig trees into the hole. Scenic cement helped secure it in place and often I used the glue to fix the foliage of trees to another tree for greater stability.

The trees are much stronger than the base sea foam and are fairly robust but I doubt they would last a long time if used on my normal wargaming tables. They look pretty good and are absolutely worth the effort that it took to create them.

Next time I’ll look at the troops that I’ll be using for the refight.

Hopefully it won’t be long before the lockdowns end, until then stay safe!

Charles the Modeller

Brécourt Manor - Part 9 - Camouflage Netting

Experimental 6mm Camouflage Nets The final piece of development work on the Brécourt board has been completed. The episode of Band of Brot...