I finally finished my farmhouse for my Normandy terrain. I based this roughly on some of the amazing scenery built by David Wright in his book “Making Rural Buildings For Model Railways”. This book is a must read for anyone looking to build their own scenery. I followed all of the suggestions in it and it improved my little farmhouse no end! I have tried a couple of manufactured buildings from different companies and nothing measures up if you have the time and the energy to scratch build your own structures. Your creations will also be what you want, to your designs, and fit perfectly with your other scenery and models. I think making your own stuff is the most rewarding thing about this hobby!
Using a foam board base for the structure, the key is to give it a coating of glue and modelling clay or ready made filler or plaster. Stonework is then carved into the buildings skin in whatever texture you like. Regular bricks or rural stonework or anything that looks the part. I picked up a $15 electric engraving tool from eBay (China) which speeded up this process a great deal. Hand scribing individual stones is a time consuming effort, but well worth it. Roof tiles were made out of Christmas cards, flashing from aluminium foil. I did buy the chimney pots (another suggestion from David Wright) but everything else is easily found and inexpensive to pick up at the art shop or stationery cupboard.
I was very pleased how this turned out, now i need to finish the rest of my farm, including a little stable with a corrugated iron roof, an old shed with a hay loft and a big barn. Also need to pick up a vintage tractor from somewhere and make some hay bales. Will probably make a farmyard with walls and find some animals to scale to finish the scene. If you want to make your own buildings for wargames i suggest you check out David’s book as it is all you will ever need! I put the new farmhouse on the edge of my table just so you can get an idea.
I finally got around to painting up some mortar teams for my British Army units for Normandy. These plastic figures are great value as you get 4 complete mortars and a whole bunch of crew, radio operators and officers with binoculars. I think for under $10 a box (i picked mine up from Hannants on line) they will make an excellent mortar battery for your infantry company.
It means that you can vary your set up with each mortar and make each base a little different. The detail is not that great, but, in plastic, and for that price you cant do much better. I think other metal manufacturers will do a sharper job but you will pay lots more. The facial detail is particularly lacking and you end up almost painting features on some of them which isn’t ideal. I based my guys on MDF as usual and mixed up the poses to create four different scenes. Another blogger had given me a good tip for using gauze or crepe bandage as camo netting, so i applied some to the helmets of some of my mortar crew. A few highlights and they look pretty good. Also with my new magnifying glass i was able to paint some maps as the spotter checks his coordinates. I also added some boxes and bits and pieces. Happy the way they came out and i always prefer to have my mortars on the board. I used an officer and a radio man as the forward observer. The only thing i may change is the plastic radio aerial which is way too thick.
Below are some photos of my finished teams. Also i based my Revell Tiger tank and did some more weathering and dirt. He is in there somewhere with his buddy the Zvezda Tiger.
I had a whine about my poor old eyes being old and grey and my arms being knackered and broken and a fellow blogger chimed in with a recommendation to purchase one of these. It’s an awesome magnifying glass with a bendy arm and clamp, plus a built in bright LED light. The days of going cross eyed trying to paint tiny dots on tiny men in semi darkness are now a thing of the past. Well they are a thing of 2016. Now in 2017 i can paint even smaller dots of camouflage and even put dots inside the dots. I can even paint tiny maps and tiny ordnance survey symbols on the tiny map. Well maybe not but still it’s a huge improvement. Anyone out there who is struggling with this stuff please go and get one. My lovely wife purchased one for me for Christmas. Woo hoo. Also thanks to my blogger modeller friend for a great suggestion. It even has a small section that is double the magnification. It takes a while to get used to the distance your hand is from the model under the lens. Bit of practice is all you need. I don’t know how i managed before i had this.
A while back i bought two of these Airfix German Reconnaissance sets from Hannants, mainly because they were on sale and a bargain too good to be missed. Even though they were listed as 1/76 scale i thought i could fit them in somehow. On opening up and building these little models i realised that the Kubelwagen included was just so tiny and a really bad looking model that i could not use it after it. The SdKfz.222 is a very average kit but once he is painted up he is passable. Luckily i have a couple of Dragon small armoured cars i will be building soon which will probably replace this guy.
So i still needed Kubelwagens for my officers and forward observers. I soon found some Esci Kubelwagens on sale at Lucky Model in Hong Kong and picked up three boxes of them for bugger all, and you get two vehicles per box which is a bonus. Super easy to build and so much better than the Airfix version. They are only a few parts, which is not a surprise being a little car really, and can be modelled with their canvas roof fully up or totally retracted. I wanted to see my occupants so kept the roofs down in both my builds. You get a few decals too which is nice, but i ended up using my Airfix ones instead. I gave them a two colour stripey camo scheme over the usual dunkelb base coat.
One Kubelwagen is transporting a couple of very important generals while the other has a forward observer unit. The dude in the front has his radio headphones on (Bose wireless i think) and the guy in the back is at the ready with his MP40 and his feet on the seats. Figures are all from the great AB Figures and fit beautifully. Although i did have to glue the front seats back a bit in one so the long legs of the front occupants would fit. You could cut their feet off i guess but how will they drive without any feet….
My second Tiger tank build this time from Revell, after having a mixed experience with the snap together Zvezda kit a few months ago. Revell make really nice kits and this Tiger is no exception.
It’s a really easy kit to build with most of the parts being in the tracks. I managed to make a mess and misread the instructions and get the tracks on the wrong side. After completing nearly one whole side i had to take them all off again and in the process had to sling a few track links. This meant that i didn’t have enough links for the turret tracks which had to be replaced by some spare metal Panther tracks i had…. So that was the only tricky bit and mainly to do with my own lack of focus!
The whole kit goes together really nicely and easily with great detail. I think you can model the commander’s hatch open if you like. Kit comes with a few decals, only a couple of turret number options, but that will do. This Tiger is super solid, only the turret MG is delicate, so i did not see the need for a base. I just went with a plain dunkelb paint job, mainly as i was tired of painting camo schemes and needed a break! I need a couple more Tigers to make up my troop so next will try a Trumpeter version and might spend a bit more money on a Dragon kit too…….
Here is my Tiger wandering the lanes and fields of Normandy.