Saturday, May 30, 2009

Rural Cottages

Here are a couple of rural structures that I am working on. I am continuing to enjoy working with the corkboard. Note that the chimneys are carved from pink styrofoam. I am trying two new techniques with these two models. First, I am using cut away segments of "hardware cloth" for window frames. This material comes in an immense roll that I will never use up in my lifetime!

The second technique is using coconut welcome mat for thatching on roofs. The example below is not trimmed up yet and needs a little refining but I am fairly happy with the effect. I much prefer it to the faux fur method that I have tried in the past.

On the other house you can see how I create the "stucco" walls. I apply the spackle(filler) between the timber frames. Make sure when you do this you go back and clear the spackle off the timers as much as possible. It is perfectly fine for the spackle to have an irregular surface- this is the stucco effect. I prefer the DAP DryDex brand available in many hardware stores- it goes on pink(as shown) but dries white. It also accepts paint very well.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Battle for Seelow Heights

For club's next scenario a pitched battle for Seelow Heights(1945, Eastern Germany) was fought. Hoping to stem the Red onslaught, the desperate remnants of the Fallschirmjager attempted to hold a hamlet against a Soviet advance guard armored force.

The forces arrayed were:
Soviets: 2xT-34 (76mm),2 xSu-85(85mm), 1 xISU-152(152mm), 2o Infantry
Germans: 1xPanzer IV H, 1x88mm AA gun, 20 Airborne Infantry(elites)
(reinforcements arrived later: 2xPanzer VI Tiger(88mm))

The shot below shows the battlefield(yellow numbers will be alluded to in later photos).

The German objective was to hold at least one of the buildings in the center of town by the end of the game. The Soviet goal was to eliminate all German infantry in these buildings; they grouped their assault into three major thrusts with armor and infantry allotted to each.

The Germans chose to layer their defense with infantry spread amongst several buildings and they placed their "88" in the town center to thwart armor attacks that might come from their left and center.

Soviet forces in the rightmost thrust begin to move out.

Another contingent of the northern(right flank) thrust.

To the left(South), an imposing ISU-152 assault gun and tank riders traverse tall grass as they approach the German positions.

A Fallschirmjager signals to a comrade that "Ivan is near!"

At point 1(see first picture) the Germans draw first blood...thought the ISU-152 immobilizes the Panzer IVH, it returns fire and sets the Soviet behemoth ablaze(and unfortunately it was still loaded with tank riders who share the tank's fate).

Soviet forces make an early run with their center thrust and fight their way into a building near the center of town.

Undeterred by the loss of the ISU-152, an SU-85 pushes in on the German right flank.

Soviet T-34's on the right blast away at the crew of the 88 and eliminate this German threat.

But enough time has elapsed for two German Tiger tanks to approach from the west, catching the T-34's in a difficult position.

A Tiger positions itself for a rear armor shot on a T-34(note the unfortunate Soviet infantryman in clear line of sight of the panzer's foreward-mounted machine gun).

The Soviets mass remaining armor in the center of town but they have lost most of their infantry to German riflemen and armor- they no longer have the strength to eject the Germans from the town.

These German troops are caught in the street by an SU-85 which tries to back over them...they easily sidestep the slow-moving threat.

These Russians have reached the "Deutsche Heroes" pub, but there simply aren't enough Reds left to take the West side of town.

Aftermath: General Zhukov purges the advance guard of its commander(can you say "gulag"?), but plans to throw even greater numbers at the Germans tomorrow and to be in Berlin within a week are put into action.

From their Berlin HQ, German propaganda personnel broadcast praises of the "Seelow Jagers" who blunted the Russian advance.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Half-Timbered Row House

With the last of my corkboard(I used much of it on the city buildings and "Deutsche Heroes" Tavern that I will be showcasing in upcoming posts) I made a half-timbered row house. The building consists of cork and stryrofoam construction(styrofoam for the brick facade on the lower level only). The timbers are matchsticks(not actual matches) with spackle(filler) applied between them to achieve the desired effect. I painted the walls tan and gave them a wash of watered-down brown.

The chimney is made from styofoam with bricks carved via x-acto knife and ball point pen. The chimney topper is a thumb tack with the top plate replaced by a small wooden "bit" that I found at Michael's Craft Store.

Here you can see the three sections dissasembled. There is little interior detail as this is strictly a gaming piece.

Finally I thought you might like to see my "shingles"- cut-up cardboard from a cereal box. It is indeed the most time-consuming part of a model such as this to apply the shingles(however, it is fun if you have the patience!).

Materials Used:
Roof Shingles-Cardboard
Chimney-1" Stryrofoam(carved with x-acto/ball point pen)
Chimney Pot: Thumbtack, Wooden Craft Bit from Michael's
Roof Structure-Matting Board(thick cardboard)
Top Floor:
Timbers: Matchsticks(craft store type)
Stucco: Spackle
Walls: Corkboard
Base-Matting Board(thick cardboard)
Bottom Floor:
Front Facade-1" Stryrofoam(carved with x-acto/ball point pen)
Door Frame-Wooden Craft Sticks(a.k.a. coffee stirrers)
Walls: Corboard
Base-Matting Board(thick cardboard)

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Cork Building Part II

Below are some photos of my first batch of completed "cork" rowhouses. The first image shows the model from my last post now painted.

Below is a second building with a portion of the second floor having a patio deck. I'm thinking its suitable as a cafe or pub.

Here you can see the first three buildings(the middle structure's roof needs painting yet).

Here's a shot with the second floors detached. Note that the buildings on the outside have swappable second floors(which can also be rotated front to back for more variation).

To make the buildings above I used about 55% of the four corkboards in the $5 package that I purchased...not bad.

Saturday, May 09, 2009

Cork Building Part I

This is not so much a tutorial as an expose on using cork board for making buildings terrain.

Background: I first saw a tutorial on making cork buildings at the Matakishi's Teahouse site. I need to mention that in England they have access to a better cork material. They can buy "cork flooring tiles" at hardware stores- I checked around at Home Depot, Lowe's, etc.- our stores don't seem to carry this. So I went for the best possible solution- cork tiles from an office supply store(Staples) that are used for making bulletin boards. They came four to a pack for about $10- each tile has enough material to create a moderate sized building. The tiles are weaker than their European counterpart but still not bad to work with. You can see the material below:
Here is my unpainted(it WILL look better when done) prototype. I found the cork very easy to cut. One of the reasons I chose to experiment with corkboard is that foamcore is hard to cut and often it is hard to carefully cut out windows and doorways without peripheral damage(even with very sharp knives!). The cork cut beautifully with the exception of a litte chipping in the material here and there. You can see that I used spackle("filler" to you Euros) to fix up where the chipping occurred.

After building the church tower, I really began to like the modular building concept. My goal is to make a series of row houses that can fit snugly together- and with "swappable" second floors.
Now I am painting the model, but in the meantime I will share my findings on cork office tile as a terrain material.
Pros: easily cut, glues well, lightweight
Cons: chips a little when cutting, grainy surface(textured paint should fix this), durable?(will it hold up under wargaming use or break?)

Thursday, May 07, 2009

Battle for Villers Marie

Club met and engaged in a pitched battle for Villers Marie- a small French hamlet which American forces had scrambled to occupy(only to face an onslaught by a larger German force).

The forces arrayed were:
Americans: 2xM4 Sherman(76mm),1 xM4 Sherman(75mm), 1 xM3 Stuart, 16 Infantry, 1x50mm mortar
Germans: 2xPanzer V Panther, 1xPanzer IV F, 1xPanzer IVH, 1xSdkfz 222 Armored Car, 1xSdkfz 231/1, 1xSdkfz 231/9, 1x75mm AT gun, 22 Infantry, 1x82mm mortar

The American objective was simply to survive, with the promise of a reinforcment force on the way. The Germans approached from the west seeking to eliminate the "yankees".

A Panzer IV and two Panthers advance across a harvested field towards the town. Some French farmer is not going to be happy!
To the north, massed German infantry with half-track support approach the ford across the river.
The American forces are thinly stretched but spread out to cover the major approaches into the town.
A Sherman prepares to decimate anything that dares cross the river.
German forces approach the ford, but few would make it across. About the time they reach the water's edge, American tank and mortar fire cause havoc amongst their ranks.
Brave or ill-advised? A Sdkfz 222 armored car plows forward across the bridge...shortly thereafter it was burning wreckage.
A Sherman peels open a Sdkfz 231/9...not very encouraging to the even less-armored Wehrmacht troops on its flanks.

American reinforcements arrive in the town! 2xM3 Grants, 1 Half track and five more infantry deploy to beef up the defenses.
Without a target in sight, this G.I. decides to take pot shots at an SS Recruitment Poster!

Finally some German armor crosses into the town square, but subsequently into a crossfire of Sherman, Grant and Stuart tanks.

Througout the battle this 50mm mortar crew killed and disrupted the German infantry advance to the north. These guys never saw their handiwork, but it figured significantly into the battle.
As dusk sets, a German Panther takes down a Sherman, but with ammo running low, the Germans withdraw in good order with their three remaining tanks. The Americans have held their ground.

And finally...the or "best shot of the game award" goes to Stephen who fired on an American BAR gunner in a building window. With a -2 for firing and moving, -1 for height disadvantage, -1 for shooting through trees and -2 for building cover...he needed a 12 to kill his target(note the roll picture below!).

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Mid-Week Mechanized Engagement Part II

Day 2...
Finally my flanking Tiger has reached the north side of the town and has positioned itself on the bridge- but there is little left of the rest of my force by now. This Panzer VI will have to be an army of one!
I do catch one of Gareth's Shermans with a nice rear armor shot- poof!
Not long after that kill, and a few American shells just missing me- I score a hit on a second Sherman! Maybe I have a chance after all(but see that Olive Drab shadow on the road behind me across the river- one of Gareth's Grants is closing- having followed my same path using the ford to the east!).

Meanwhile my last resistance in the town, a couple of infantryman, have been cornered by a halftrack and Gareth's G.I.'s...not a chance for me this time!

After knocking out the two Shermans I grow hopeful- but Gareth's end-run Grant immobilizes me, while a second, still in the town, delivers a knock-out. Gareth's massing riflemen and BAR gunners eliminate my last two soldiers on the bridge for good measure.

Roaming the streets unopposed, the Americans gesture to the civilians that it's alright to come out now- the town has been liberated.

Another victory for my son....another loss for dad!