Tuesday, January 11, 2022

Imjin Board - Creating the River Imjin

2 of the 3 boards together. Villages tbc on the one on the right.

So I am almost done with building the Imjin river board. You can find out more about the various elements of the build starting here along with some background on the battle here. I didn’t quite manage to finish up before Christmas and have been distracted by painting a pile of Great War British troops for use in playtesting an upcoming WW1 version of All Hell Let Loose. So I have only a small update on progress. However it is the River Imjin itself.

A modern photograph of the river at the location of Gloster Crossing 

The section of the river Imjin that flows through the battlefield is a wide and moderate flowing body of water. It’s over a hundred meters wide and fairly shallow. There are places where mud has accumulated and low islands appear depending on the season and depth of water. The bridges had all been destroyed with the Belgians guarding a Bailey bridge a mile to the east of the edge of my board. Several ferry points existed prior to the war but these were no longer functioning. The U.N. forces were aware of one crossing point, later nicknamed Gloster Crossing. This was a fordable crossing about a meter or so deep, helpfully marked by partially submerged oil drums, and was used by the British when exploring the north bank. British scouting in this sector failed to identify several additional fordable crossing points. 

A photo taken in 1951. The Imjin can be seen towards the top left of the image. Note the sudden rise of the hills and the scrub covering them.

The battle began with the Chinese attempting to push a company of infantry across Gloster Crossing about  22:00 on the 22nd April 1951. Guy Temple, a young lieutenant, was in command of a small patrol of Glosters waiting in trenches on the south bank. He had orders to grab an enemy for interrogation following intel suggesting the Chinese would be attempting to cross that night. Temple had a funny feeling as he was being briefed and took it upon himself to take down a larger party than normal for a snatch operation, grabbed every Bren gun he could find and as much ammo as his men could carry. 

Chinese soldiers crossing a river in daylight. Later in the battle the Chinese were forced to cross during daylight risking artillery and air strikes.

The Chinese making the crossing were heard before they were seen. Even in the dark it was clear that this was not a small patrol or raiding party. Temple’s men readied themselves and a Very light was fired. The British could see about a hundred men wading across the river below them with the closest troops less than a hundred meters away. They opened up with every weapon they had. The Chinese had no chance, caught in the open in waist deep water. 

British 25pdrs of 45 regiment RA firing during the Imjin battle.

Shortly after the remnants of the Chinese had retreated to the north bank sounds of crossing were heard again. The Very flare revealed another attempt at crossing. The British opened up again and this time Temple remembered that he had artillery he could call upon. Artillery shells landed on the north bank and then in the river. Another crossing party were eliminated.

More voices were heard. This time the Very light revealed hundreds of Chinese crossing with more moving forward on the bank waiting to cross. The Chinese commander was determined to cross. The British fired into the crowds of Chinese in the river. Temple called in a Mike Target artillery barrage with every available gun co-ordinating their fire to arrive at the same moment. The river erupted in great geysers as the 24 guns of 45 field regiment all fired at the crossing point. The Glosters continued to pour fire into the river. However it was soon apparent that some Chinese had made the crossing and with barrels hot and ammo running low Temple wisely decided that the patrol’s job was done. The British departed, running to meet the two Oxford carriers that carried then the best part of two miles back to their company on hill 235. Not one of the patrol was lost or killed.

The Chinese though were crossing in great strength.

I want to start the battle with that crossing attempt and the Imjin will remain a constraint on Chinese movement all through the game. To model it I used the lowest level of foam board as the river bed and a 3mm deep board to create the banks.

I used a thin layer of sculptamold to create a proper bed using a brush to make sure it was thin. The islands were created out of the 3mm foam board and were located based off the 1951 map although it’s not clear they were there during the battle.

Once all the flocking and terrain had been added to the board I painted the river bed in various layers and colours starting off light and using inks and then browns deepened the colour until I was happy. I then used a light coloured fine grit added these to the islands and river banks with a soft tone inkwash. A lighter desert yellow paint was then applied to the river bed closest to the banks to give the illusion of shallow water.

I also dry brushed the desert yellow in a few places on the river to mark my intended fording points.

Initially I intended to use yacht varnish to make the river but I decided, instead, to do my first ever resin pour. I watched a number of YouTube videos and psyched myself up. If it went wrong I was going to ruin the board. 

I followed the instructions very carefully, bought a kitchen butane torch and mixed the resin. I taped the edges of the board and sealed it PVA. I poured the resin and used a cocktail stick to work it into the river. I went over it with the butane torch to pop any bubbles.

24 hours later I was very relieved and happy with my pour. The river was done!

Hopefully I will soon complete the whole board and then I can begin the painting of all the troops for the battle.

Keep your dice rolling!

Charles the Modeller

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