Normandy Bocage in 1/72 scale

I was on the verge of getting a game set up to play over Christmas while i had a few days away from work. But then i was hit with a wave of dissatisfaction like a seven year old opening a really shitty present on Christmas day. My Normandy bocage sections were just not up to scratch. I had to do something about it. I keep looking at Pat’s blog Wargaming With A Silver Whistle and having feelings of inadequacy! Anyway, armed with sections of MDF, rubber matting, poly fiber stuffing, acrylic sealant, coconut fibre, and lots of flock i set about redoing my bocage.

I have a rubber mat that’s about 2cm thick and meant to be used for camping or something, but works well cut up and glued to MDF strips roughly 3cm wide by 10-15cm long, as the base for my bocage banks. I make sure the rubber is a good 0.5cm thinner on each side than its MDF base. I then blend the bank into the base using acrylic sealant or crack filler, but you could use modelling clay or anything else really. When the sealant is dry i give it a good covering in PVA glue and then chuck a heap of sandy dirty gravel on it from out the front of our house. When that’s dry its a heavy spray of dark brown paint from cans i pick up from Bunnings for a few bucks.

The actual bushes are made from a mix of coconut fibre (also from Bunnings for next to nothing) and that poly fibre people use to stuff toys and cushions and probably dead animals. Again very cheap, my wife bought me a bag from Spotlight for about $5 and i will be dead long before i finish the bag. Maybe i can be stuffed with poly fibre. I jam bits of cocktail sticks into the rubber matting top of my bank and that supports the bushes. Lots of PVA again and then get lots of bush material onto the bank. I tried to vary the height as much as possible, but by all reports bocage was anywhere from 5 – 7m tall so i reckon 5 – 7cm is good for 1/72 scale. When the bushes are dry they get another good brown spray.

The last bit is the fun bit when i am throwing lots of glue onto the bushes and then dunking them into a two colour mix of flock (a mid green and a dark green). I use coarse flock from a Vietnamese company called MP Scenery. Its probably the only part of this terrain that costs any significant dollars. I flocked the base too with some finer stuff, and did a bit of lighter brown dry brushing too just to finish things off.

It all came out a lot better than my last attempt, you can see below with the doormat wheat fields and the carpet tile crops. Inexpensive and i think just as effective as anything you can buy. Maybe i can get to play a game now…… Happy New Year!

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German Assault Guns and Tank Destroyers 1940-1945 by Anthony Tucker-Jones

Another excellent book from Anthony Tucker-Jones, published by Pen And Sword books. For fans of German World War Two armour and all you modellers out there looking for some inspiration this book doesn’t disappoint. All the important tank destroyers are featured within its pages, including the Jagdpanzer, Hetzer and Marder, all copiously illustrated with some awesome photos.

Each vehicle has its own chapter with some history behind its design and creation, its combat performance, production numbers, and distribution. Some tank destroyers were born out of necessity with designs that were a product of what was available at the time with restricted resources, rather than anything else. Plenty of success and failure both.

The photos are excellent, with pictures including vehicles in combat and also plenty of destroyed and wrecked vehicles in situ. This is a great reference book for anyone with an interest in the lesser known German armoured vehicles of World War Two. I am immediately going to run out and grab a couple of Hetzers to start with. I think Unimodel make a 1/72 scale kit i need to find!!!

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Sandbags and Obstacles Terrain Part 2

I finished off my sandbag defences, rubble obstacles and embankment this week. Spray paint of matt black undercoat and then a dark brown base, highlighted with a sand yellow for the sandbags, grey and brick red for the rubble, plus some silver highlights for the barrels. I added some flock and bushes to finish things off. Not much else to add, i was very pleased with how the sandbags turned out considering how easy they were to make. I think for some bits of modelling clay they will do the job quite nicely.

I took some photos of a heavily defended ruined crossroads. German AT gun, panzerfausts and a panzershreck can be seen safely dug in, with a lone Panther in the background.

Rural Farm Buildings and Terrain work in progress

I had a fine weekend of starting some terrain projects. First of all using my excellent book “Making Rural Buildings” by David Wright. I have been planning to make a group of farmyard buildings for a while and the ideas and tips in this book are just excellent. David Wright also has his own web site called Dovedale Models which has more inpsirational ideas. I decided on his Dales Farm as my basis to create my new farm for Normandy. You can see a screenshot from his web site below. Using a base of 5mm foam board i created the shell of my first two buildings. Just cut out the sides of your building and PVA them together. Then i added a layer of PVA glue covered in DAS modelling clay that creates a skin we will carve into to make the stonewall texture. So i am up to the etching part next, and that will probably take me all week to finish, but i think will be worth it in the end.

While I was on a terrain drive i made a whole stack of sand bags and rubble from modelling clay. Adding this stuff to small strips of MDF creates some excellent obstacles and cover. i will need to texture the bases and then paint. I also had some metal oil drums from Sergeants Mess and some other bits and pieces that i also added in. The sandbags were easy to make, just roll out a length of modelling clay, flatten it slightly on a cutting board and then cut it into 5mm sections. The cutting action of the knife flattens each end of the bag nicely. Once you have stacked them up you don’t notice the different sizes that inevitably occur. So will write on more progress next week! Shame i have to go do my day job…….