Monday, February 24, 2020

Brécourt Manor - Part 4 Corrugated Iron, Dug Outs and Sandbags

Welcome to another blog post on my model of Brécourt Manor, based heavily on the look from the TV show Band of Brothers. In the last post I talked about building plank and wicker walls, this post will look at corrugated iron, the dug outs and sandbags.
To make the corrugated iron palisade walls I used cut down toothpicks as posts and aluminium foil for the corrugated sheets. I found a really helpful video online which started me off.

Whilst the youtuber was using tin from a take out tray, I didn't have any to hand so I substituted aluminium foil instead. I folded some foil over until it was about 8 ply. I adjusted the height to size, about 5mm high. Then I used a cocktail stick to score lines in the foil. I painted it completely with rust coloured paint and then gave a heavy dry brush up and down with platemail. I used a strong tone wash and added the odd ash grey highlight. By going up and down this hopefully conveys the idea of rust and water running down the sheet. I then glued the posts to the foil and placed them in the model trench.

I included two dug outs in the trench system, the command/ radio bunker where Lt. Winters found the map recording all the German artillery positions and an ammo store. 
The command/ radio bunker I made larger. I decided to wall this as if it was lined with logs, just to add variety to the model. The logs are simulated by 1mm diameter leather cord strands which I laid next to each other and then used PVA to glue together. I covered the cord with Oak Brown paint and gave a Desert Yellow drybrush.
I used the spoil on the sides to raise the overall height of the bunker and for there to be an opening on the south side looking out into the field.
I intend to create an ersatz desk and radio station but that will be later in the build.
I cut out the ammo store and just covered the walls with the earth layer. The ammo crates are from Perfect Six Miniatures.

I built removable roofs for both bunkers. Again I decided to simulate logs laid side by side. This time though I used cocktail style toothpicks just over 1mm in diameter. These were laid side by side, PVA'd and then covered in the earth mix and flocked with Woodland Scenics fine turf. 
I put the sandbags on the model in place last. Outside the trench I used a bead of flexible filler covered with the base mix to simulate the spoil from the trench. I set this back from the trench edge by a couple of mm. 
Between this spoil I put a single depth, single width line of sandbags. The TV episode showed sandbags on the edge of the trench and it helps give the model trench definition. I also thought they might be being stored there for when needed or were bolstering the defence and preventing the spoil being washed back into the trench.

I made my sandbags using air drying clay. Mel the Terrain Tutor has a really good video on making sandbags. He’s working at a bigger scale but the principle was spot on. I made my sausage 1.5mm wide and gently flattened it to 2mm before using a cocktail stick to mark the individual bags 3mm apart.

I found the lengths would often split after about 4 to 6 sandbags. Once dry, again the lengths would easily break apart at joins if you weren’t careful. However this often worked to my advantage as the ground changed direction and was uneven. I just placed a little PVA down and then gently pushed with my finger. The lengths generally broke at a sandbag join and could then be easily adjusted.
Once in place I coated them with PVA to harden then and a quick coat of skeleton bone and a strong tone wash gave me a great result.

Finally I used several sandbag lengths from Perfect Six Miniatures on the entrance to the trenches at the western edge.
Next time I'll look post a quick update on the guns themselves.

Happy gaming!

Charles the Modeller

Thursday, February 20, 2020

Brécourt Manor - Part 3 Wicker Work and Plank Walls

In earlier posts I covered the design approach and then the building of the base board for the model I’m building to enable a refight in 6mm of the battle at Brécourt Manor by Easy co on D-Day. This blog post will look at the building of the trenches.
I had cut out and caulked a basic trench design into the base board and covered this with a layer of soil and tile mix. This gave me my base floor and colouring. Watching the Band of Brothers Day of Days episode I picked out a number of elements I wanted to recreate in my build. In no particular order these included plank walls, corrugated iron panels, wicker palisades, dug outs, sandbags and trench roofs. I'm covering the plank and wicker walls in this post.
For the trench wall where the 4 guns were placed I wanted to make them a more robust feature.  I figured that with the blast from the guns and the extended presence of the crew firing that they should be properly defined and well built. I decided to make the walls from planks. I used flat tooth picks cut length ways and thin off cuts to represent the supports. I used wood glue to stick them together and a coat of strong tone followed by a desert yellow drybrush.

For the trench sections I decided these would be mainly wicker walling. Building this was quite straightforward but a little bit tricky at first. I used cocktail sticks as the main posts, cut up staples for the middle panel uprights and thread for the wicker.
I put a bead of Blutack down about 4mm deep. I then inserted the cocktail sticks about 10mm apart and then 2 staple pieces between each post. These were painted dark brown. The thread was tied with a simple knot to one end and using tweezers threaded in and out. I found that I used between 16 and 20 runs of thread to make a palisade section about the right height.
I found the thread sprung back and tried to uncoil every two or 3 runs. I just needed to twist it at the end of each run to reduce this likelihood. I also left the uprights higher than I needed them to give me more room to play with.
I didn’t worry too much at this stage about the exact positioning of the thread. I used static grass glue to stiffen the thread and once wetted I found I could easily move the thread up and down the uprights, opening it up where needed and closing it up as appropriate. The glue, being tacky held things in place while it dried.
Once the glue dried the posts were trimmed to size and brown paint applied across the thread and tops of the posts. A drybrush of desert yellow completed the piece and I was able to use the points on the cocktail sticks to pin the piece in place on the board.

Any gaps between the wicker and the trench wall were then filled in and covered with the basing mix.
Next time its on to corrugated iron, sandbags and the dug outs.

Please wargame responsibly!

Charles the Modeller

Tuesday, February 4, 2020

Brécourt Manor - Part 2 The Base Board

The composite aerial image, contour map and trench sketch image I used to plan the build
In part 1 of my series of posts on Brécourt Manor I covered the design elements of my current project, a model of the German guns destroyed by Easy Co, 506th PIR on D-Day. This post will look at construction of the base board.
Although I intend to use 6mm scale figures at 1-2-1 representation, I have used a slightly bigger ground scale. In order to fit everything I wanted onto a 600m by 900mm board I’ve used a ground scale of about 1:550. Even so the actual manor itself is not on the board. I just want to concentrate on the fight for the guns and so need to give the US some room on the western side of the guns.
The base board and my tools
I picked up a 610 by 900mm 6mm ply sheet from a local DIY store. I coated both sides in PVA to (hopefully) prevent warping.
I screwed some 25mm by 25mm trim to the 4 edges, countersinking the heads. I then sanded the edges to make them smooth and fully flush. 
Flipping the board over so the trim was at the top I trimmed some 25mm polystyrene insulation board using a modelling saw and glued it between the battons.
Next I drew lines every 10cm, vertically and horizontally across the board. I then used the maps I’d created to mark the lines of the hedgerows. I believe on the actual field the hedgerows contain drainage channels or gullies, and that the German trenches used a set. However I decided it’s simpler to raise the hedges slightly and move the trenches out into the open for ease of play.
I glued down some cork along the hedgerow lines. 
Next I marked out the trench lines. I used a standard base size to assist with the size of the gun emplacements and widened the trenches to give me space to place infantry figures as well as trench walls. I intend to base figures on 8mm circular bases and so cut the trenches 15mm wide. 
I then cut them out with a modelling knife. The whole trench area is a fair bit larger than it was historically. However, as most of the action will take place here, I am happy to compromise with this oversized element.  
I went around with decorators caulk to fill in the gaps around the edge of the model, smooth out the hedgerow humps and give a solid surface to the trench system. Or at least I did for part of the model. I finished a tube of caulk and then started a new one and finished the work. I then spent a day or two with something niggling me slightly before I realised to my horror that the 2nd tube had been white silicone and not caulk. Cue banging my head for a day or two and cursing the manufacturer for almost identical tube markings.
OK so it has the product description in great big lettering but I went by colour and they're the same!
Whilst not ideal I decided I could live with it. It has subsequently been annoying where bits have had to be cut out causing more minor damage than necessary but I don’t think it’s going to be anything other than an inconvenience.
I gave the whole board a base covering of brown paint.  
Finally I applied a hardening layer of soil and tile mix on a PVA base with a watered down PVA overspray to protect the base and give the later layers of flock a soil coloured underlayer in the event of scrapes or thin coating.
This completed the base and I then began to model the trenches which I’ll cover in my next post(s). 
I took a lot of inspiration from watching videos by Luke APS off youtube. He has a whole range of videos out there and offers some awesome tips to modellers and gamers - well worth checking him out.

Happy gaming!

Charles the Modeller

Battle of Scarif - All Finished

So in my last post I said my next blogpost would be on building the citadel tower. Well I am so far behind in posting updates on my blog tha...