A day of odds and ends today. One of the things I am keen to achieve is to create a tabletop with lots of interesting “bits” to liven things up. I am always slightly put off by games which plonk houses on the table but then ignore things like gardens, especially as in a tactical game such as Chain of Command we should be taking this sort of thing into account.
One of the great joys of being an Englishman is the fact that getting to France is so easy. Of course, we have the battlefields of both World Wars, but equally important is the sheer magic of French culture; the food, the wine, the general joie de vivre of the country and its people, always make a visit to France a pleasure. And, after half a dozen “grand bierres” (wot, no pints!) what better way to show your appreciation of la difference than to hang out with the locals in that most French of structures: the Pissoir.
It is a sad fact of life that nobody makes a model pissoir, so this was my first scratch-build project of the day. I began with a vaguely oval base which would then determine the shape of the structure.
With that cut out I marked the general shape and then drilled holes with a pin drill which would house the supports for the vanity screen that would shield ladies eyes from gentlemen using the facility. I then super-glued cocktail sticks in place as the supports, thus:
Whilst that was drying in the oven I used blue polystyrene to make the actual urinal with some artists mounting board to provide dividers for some privacy whilst letting it all hang out.
Next I wanted some material flexible enough to create the screen. Plastic card would be ideal, but I had none, so I ran an empty laminating pouch through the machine and used that as a stand in. That was then applied to the supports with a hot glue gun.
That was the model pretty much complete I then trimmed the base to better fit the model, then painted it with the tile grout and PVA mix to strengthen it. Next I was reliant on a paint job to make the rather shoddy looking structure into something passable. I went with the pretty standard green colour which seems to be preferred with the actual urinals in white porcelain. I put some posters by the entrance all lauding “le Marechal” over which some brave resistant has daubed the letter V. Vive la France!
Having spent enough time hanging around lavatories, I thought I’d dabble in a bit of gardening. I just wanted a couple of small vegetable patches I could drop into place once the table was set up. My trusty glue gun allowed me to create some furrows:
I then covered this with PVA and dipped it in my basing mix of sieved sharp sand. A slap of paint, a quick dry-brush and then an application of cabbages in the form of decorative roses from the craft shop which were painted with PVA to stiffen them up before getting a coat of green paint. A quick dry-brush with yellow and Robert est votre Oncle!
I wanted to add a few more garden type bits and when phoning Carl at North Star I’d asked him if anyone made a wheelbarrow. I left the ball in his court to see what he could find. I was very pleased with his selection, a complete gardening set from Architects of War which included said wheelbarrow, a nice selection of sacks clearly being filled with spuds, a rake, a hoe and a pitchfork and the piece de resistance, a large steaming pile of poo. I drilled out a couple of holes and added a pitchfork to the poo pile and the rest just got a basic paint job. These will be ideal for scattering about the table. The box of Norman apples was something I found in the terrain cupboard at the club which had a quick repaint to complete the horticultural ensemble.
Finally, I painted up some bits of construction clutter for the Organisation Todt. The OT was working all over Normandy to strengthen the defences and these make for more variety. A chum on the Lardy Group have these bits to me a while back. I think they were Sci-Fi stuff originally but they look fine in a WWII setting.
A productive day was rounded off building a barn. A real cheat job here as I just picked up the Renedra model. I really do think that Renedra have been a superb addition to the hobby and this barn is no disappointment. I am never quite certain that plastic kits are that robust, so hidden from view I have gunned in a load of hot glue to reinforce the plastic cement I built it with. I put this on an MDF base and added some Renedra barrels and sand to the base. Other than those minimal additions this is straight from the box.
So there we have Day Five. Day Six will be abbreviated as I am up in London having lunch with a pal and drinking too much. After this hectic week I feel I deserve the break!
I have wanted to paint up an Airborne platoon for Chain of Command for some time, but, like a good bottle of wine, I’ve been saving it up for a treat. The simple reason is that I like and enjoy paining camouflage and the Denison smock is a truly iconic bit of kit. I also really wanted to paint up these chaps as members of 7 Para with Richard “Sweeney” Todd leading his men in Le Port. The story of how this young officer later returned to play Major John Howard in the film “The Longest Day” is, I always felt poignant. The film portrays the Ox & Bucks as the heroes of the bridges over the Orne, but I always felt that 7 Para did the heavy lifting on the day as they fought to keep the Jerries away from the bridge itself. So, this was to be my tribute to the man who was a hero in both real life as well as on the silver screen.
As reported on Day One of this project I only ordered the figures that day, my request to North Star involved pleading my case for a rapid delivery due to my total inability to plan anything more than ten minutes ahead. Needless to say the lads came up trumps and a large box arrived on Day Three packed with all sorts of goodies. Much of this was ancillary odds and ends that I hope to get completed for the project, such as carts and fences, but key was, of course, the Para platoon.
I am a great fan of both Artizan Designs and Crusader Miniatures. To my mind Artizan are packed with slightly over the top action poses, whilst Crusader are understated classics which really seem to encapsulate the British spirit of gritty determination. A whole platoon of Artizan would possibly be a bit too frantic, like a load of kids on too many e-numbers, but combining the two at roughly 50:50 ratio gives me a really nice balance of action and grit.
I know this was meant to be a bit of a photo diary, but to be brutally honest a few snaps of me wielding a brush would be somewhat tedious, and when I’m in the painting zone I just want to stay focussed and get the job done. So no work-in-progress snaps today. Suffice to say that the Paras are complete. Just the basing to be done on Day Five, tomorrow. Here’s a snap of the whole platoon:
An unbelievably unproductive day yesterday. Everything seemed to take longer than it should have, not aided by the fact that I have up at 1600 and did the post run and had a few pints in the local. And then a few more. As we saw on day Two, I had been inspired to build a hovel based on the home of my peasant chum Sidney Roundwood. Yesterday saw me finish off the model and tile the roofs, a particularly tedious task as I had used up all of my spare Wills railway model roof sheets so had to do this with cereal box cardboard. The grey roof was not too bad, by Maison Sidney needed some smaller tiles to get the real hovel look I wanted and that was just downright boring. So much so I failed to take a photo at that stage.
Again I used the Polyfilla to plaster the walls and tile grout and PVA mix as a wash over the model to harden everything up. Then on to painting. A disaster. I just couldn’t get the colours I wanted to work. I always feel it is nice to bring some colour to the table and I’d seen buildings in Normandy painted in warm tones of pink and yellow. To replicate them was easier said than done, and I’m not greatly enamoured with the final result, but it is what it is. Here two evil Nazis are inspecting the property with obvious distaste.
Then it was on to the church for the redecoration, a task which filled me with dread. If I got the colour wrong it would potentially look daft and then there were all those tiny windows to repaint. Again it was the mellow creamy coloured stone of Normandy I was looking for, really like the clotted cream of Devon with a yellow tinge to it. I’m not displeased with the result. Voila:
It isn’t quite the right configuration for the church at Le Port which has its tower set to one side, but the most prominent feature, the tower, is a pretty close match so I will live with the discrepancy. Here’s the real thing after a sniper in the tower was despatched with a PIAT.
But forget all the above, the true joy of the day was the arrival of a parcel from the ever-reliable North Star. I had explained my situation to Nick and he directed me to Karl, the team’s star player, who with a deftness which defies definition shoved my toys in a parcel and despatched them post haste. Today will be a day of painting my British Airborne platoon, something I am really looking forward to after three days playing Bob the bloody Builder! Three cheers for North Star who have dropped in like 7 Para to save the day. Hip hip…
Okay. so we’ve all done it. Spend hours and hours on a project, you get to the point where, although you’re not happy with it you just say “Sod it, it’ll do”. And that’s where I was with the Maison Sidney. Well, after a bit of sleep and a good think you realise that, in fact, it won’t do. The problem with the Maison Sidley was not so much that I didn’t know what I wanted to achieve, but more that I had run out of the right paint for the roof. I usually use Vallejo Red Leather for tiles, but that had all gone and with Royal Mail’s absurd ban on paints through the post I hadn’t been able to restock. So, a trip to Hobbycraft was called for. No Vallejo there but some Windsor & Newton artists acrylics in Red Iron Oxide and Burnt Sienna allowed me to redo the roof and get more of the colour I was looking for. I also washed the base of the walls with a dark wash to suggest damp issues and dry-brushed with a grimy mix of paints to weather the structure more. I am much more pleased with the results now.
A very busy day yesterday trying to get as much of the build done before the figures arrive as they will be top priority when they turn up.
On Monday I had started putting the two barns together using blue high density polystyrene as the main building material and yesterday I cracked on with a pair of semi-detached cottages to complete the ensemble. The plan was to try some new techniques that I’d read about on blogs, but not attempted myself. Here you can see how the construction began for the cottages.
The bits were then assembled using a hot glue gun so that they went together to create a very simple structure. You can see here how the polystyrene can be carved easily in order for the central wall to support two roofs of different configuration.
Next came the carving out of the doors and windows. This was pretty simple with a sharp craft knife and at this point I added any detail necessary for each specific structure. On the barn shown below I wanted to create something like a stable block with grooms accommodation at one end. This was inspired by the fact that found one small sheet of plastic pantile roof tiles in my spares box and decided that adding them could provide a bit of visual interest.
As can be seen I was careful to fit the roof support to the very precise measurements of the roof tiles.
Next came the laborious bit, the carving of the stonework on the polystyrene. Carving is the wrong word ad I actually drew this on with a simple biro, pressing hard to get a decent indentation. I must admit that I was very pleased with the effect at this stage.
A roof was then added from artists mounting board and a couple of packs of Wills model railway corrugated plastic sheeting were applied with a hot glue gun. I bought the corrugated sheets in error some years ago and they are very flimsy. They are designed to be the clear plastic corrugated sheets that allow light into factory units, so are not ideal for building projects, but I planned to stiffen them up with a liberal application of PVA and tile grout mix.
Next I added the door planking and window shutters. The gouged out polystyrene leaves a rough surface so I added some thin cardboard from a cereal packet as a base and then used strips of artists mounting board cut to size for the actually door and shutter planking. After that I used some Green Stuff to add the ridge tiles on the roof and some ready-mixed Polyfilla to add some very rough plaster to the small grooms cottage. Like a muppet I forgot to add a chimney, but nobody will notice this omission if I don’t tell them!
Next Green stuff was used to fill any gaps where the roughly hewn polystyrene didn’t quite fit. I then sculpted the stone with a pointed tool thingy (technical name!). Any old biro would do.
With the basic models completed I now based the buildings on 3mm MDF cut to shape and the corners rounded slightly. The whole model was then painted with a mix of two parts tile grout (ready mixed) and one part PVA glue. This went on easily and dried pretty quickly. I accelerated the process by shoving the buildings in the oven on a low heat which did them no harm.
With that dry I added some rocks and sharp sand to the base and they were ready to paint.
Somewhat annoyingly, the application of the grout mix had removed some of the detail from the stonework, but sufficient remained to give the right general impression. At the end of the day I have to accept that I am not Ian Weekley or Peter Gilder (fortunately really as they are both dead!), so I do the best I can and that’s it. I really wanted to get the soft Norman creamy stone colour which typifies buildings in the area we are talking about. I am not entirely sure I succeeded. The corrugated roofs I painted based on some photos of French barns with metal sheeting rusting quite badly all over. I think the result is acceptable, but not great. But with my time schedule it’ll have to do!
Finally I cracked on with the cottages. These I partially did with rock and partially with a plaster finish. There are no peasants in France these days, so guessing what their hovels would look like in the 1940s is a matter of guesswork. Fortunately my chum Sidney Roundwood is a real life peasant, so I based the cottages on the tiny hovel in which he dwells with his wife and urchins. Hopefully this will get the poverty stricken look I seek.
As the wife was out, I applied the plaster (Polyfilla) with the butter knife which gave me the very rough and damaged look I was seeking. Again I used mounting board for the roof.
In real life Sidney lives in the hovel on the right.
That was all for yesterday. Today I plan to paint the hovel and repaint the church which is a stunning model from the Miniature Building Authority is not precisely correct for Le Port, but it is very close in size and the tower is a very close approximation of the real one. I just need to get that Norman stone colour, so that should be fun. If I can finish all of the buildings today then tomorrow I am hoping that the Paras will arrive and I can get painting.
There’s nothing like putting a spring in one’s metaphorical step and getting you slaving away over a hot wargaming project than the horrifying realisation that Salute is less than two weeks away and you haven’t built the terrain nor ordered the figures. And that was precisely where we found ourselves on Lard Island yesterday.
In truth we had only the sketchiest of ideas about precisely how the game would look. We knew we wanted to game the link-up between 7 Para and Lord Lovat in the small village of Le Port on the 6th of June 1944, but detail was alarmingly absent.
The fighting around Pegasus Bridge has always fascinated me ever since I cycled through Normandy with a rather enthusiastic girlfriend in the Summer of 1984 and arrived at the bridge just as the full 40th anniversary celebrations got into full swing. The film, the Longest Day has, in my opinion, done much to immortalised the Ox & Bucks for the daring coup de main against this most quintessentially of French bridges. But for me the attack by an elite airborne force against a platoon of ear, nose and throat garrison troops holds little appeal. It has always been the subsequent fighting in Le Port and Ranville which played the key part in protecting the captors of the bridge which has appealed to me.
Of course the first job when planning a game is to get the terrain and the forces correct. The latter was sorted with a phone call to North Star who are expressing a platoon of British Paras my way. Until Postman Pat arrives with them there is little I can do there, so my attention turned to the terrain.
As usual when constructing terrain for games I try to use historical maps and then back that up with Google Earth. I am very fortunate in that I have been to Pegasus Bridge and Le Port many times over the past thirty years (not always, sadly, with the same enthusiastic girlfriend!) and know the lie of the land. I turned first to the GSGS 1:25,000 map of the area from April 1944. Over the past decade France has been seeing more urban sprawl, so villages which were pretty intact in the 1980s are increasingly expanding and losing their former character, so going back to the 1944 maps is the best starting point. As you can see, I clipped the area of Le Port out as that’s the bit I am interested in.
Next I scaled the map to see what a 6’ by 4’ area should look like in the ground scale for Chain of Command. This gave me a smaller map, as can be seen in the following image, on which I added the walls in red and hedges in green squiggles. Google Earth is invaluable here as it allows you to “walk” the battlefield and see, pretty well, what is new and what isn’t. Walls are very important in a Normandy game, as we discussed in the last Christmas Special when look at the Canadian attack on the village of Tailleville on D-Day. They are not just everywhere, they are high and major obstacles so where they and any gates are located is key to getting the battlefield right. Whilst the 1944 map tells us where the buildings are, it doesn’t do a great job at showing the walls. It also is not 100% perfect, so one building which clearly is in the wrong place was moved and another, two shops in the centre which were clearly there at the time, have been added and I put the church on where it had been shown simply as a church map symbol.
It was at this stage I cheated. Laying out my buildings it was clear that I wasn’t going to be able to build everything I needed for what was going to be a fight through the village. I have used the services of HACME in the past to build several Normandy buildings and I now contacted them with images of two buildings, a house and a cottage, clipped from Google Earth which I wanted them to build. That left me with two large barns to build and another “mystery building” which is shown on the 1944 map but has now been demolished and built over. It is marked green on the map and set in a walled enclosure adjacent to the orchards in the top right of the map, so I am inclined to go with a ramshackle cottage in Normandy stone, especially as that will match other buildings in that street.
So, there we have the plan. We’ll keep you updated as to how the Lardy Salute Game progresses and hopefully we’ll make a reasonable stab at passing off our tabletop village as Le Port. I made the basic barn models yesterday and hope to have them at a point today where I can show you how they are progressing tomorrow on Lard Island News.
We’ve had a bit of a break while getting the Raiders supplement ready for Dux Britanniarum, but now we’re back with a bundle of lists to get you started with Operation Barbarossa. We have the Germans at what is probably their most effective – an experienced force the Germans have conquered the West and are now heading East in a drive against Bolshevism. We’ve got the Soviets, defending the Revolution against their former allies and under pressure along their whole western and north western border. Then we have the Romanians, enthusiastic to create a Romania Mare – a “Greater Romania” and avenge themselves for the loss of Basarabia to the Soviets in 1940.
All three forces cover the period of the initial Blitzkrieg into Russia up to the Winter of 1941. You can find the lists here:
The German Barbarossa list: German Barbarossa List 1941
The Soviet Barbarossa list:Soviet Army List 1941
The Romanian Barbarossa list: Romania 1941 Army List
Now, that’s great news, but here’s some less good news. We’re STUCK on the Hungarians! We have the force lists prepared and the AFV stats all crunched but we cannot get hold of the Hungarian tactical manuals of the period. If anyone can advise us what tactical manuals the Hungarian army were using at this time we’d be hugely grateful.
Great news for Dux Britanniarum fans who are attending Salute is that The Raiders supplement covering the Irish, Scotti and Picts will be released at Britain’s premier wargaming event in the heart of London’s docklands.
This long awaited supplement won’t just include the addition of the three new and exciting factions for Dux Britanniarum, but will also provide two beautiful new maps over which to fight your campaigns covering modern Ireland and Scotland. Once again the stunning artwork has been produced by Coral Sealey and we’re sure you’ll agree that they really set the tone for a campaign in the Age of Arthur.
We are trading on stand TJ10 just across from our game at GJ11, so watch out for the Lardy banners.
In addition to Dux the Raiders we’ll be running games of our hugely popular WWII rules Chain of Command throughout the day and rules and scenario author Robert Avery will be joining us from midday to 13.30 to chat about his games. So why not come along and join us for a Lard packed day at Salute?
The Afrika Korps was first deployed top North Africa in early 1941 after the British success in Operation Compass. Predominantly made up of Panzer units of the 5th Light Division and 15 Panzer Division, the list we have chosen here to best represent this force is a Schutzen platoon with appropriate support options. This is a firepower-heavy unit, ideal for taking the wind out of the sails of a British attack. This list is for the early Desert War period, Rommel’s campaign in Cyrenaica, up to the end of 1941.
The list can be downloaded here: German DAK Support List 1941
In fact Lard Island is already awash with Picts, Scotti and Irish raiding and nicking everything in sight. Fortunately they are only 28mm tall and we’re not having to nail down the furniture! Furniture? Yes, apparently so. I was reading an excellent book on the warfare of these warlike peoples and it quoted Gildas as complaining that the raiders were so hungry for loot that in a raid on his monastery they not only took his servants as slaves, but they also took the furniture from their dwelling! The ultimate Dark Age trip to Ikea possibly?
Anyway, we’ll be doing some previews of The Raiders supplement pretty soon, we’re just sending off the artwork for the card decks and getting the supplement formatted. For us the artwork has been key here. Part of the joy of the project has been the opportunity to research a period shrouded in mystery and, we hope, shed some light on those times. So, as a bit of a low-res sneak preview to get you in the mood for whipping out your coracle and heading off in search of a new coffee table here’s a look at the two main maps which will be part of the supplement.
This list covers the early part of the war in the North African desert and is suitable for the period from 1940 through to late 1941 covering the Italian attempts to invade Egypt in late 1940, the British and Commonwealth counter-attack of Operation Compass and then the German involvement with Unternehmen Sonnenblume and the British offensives of Operation Brevity and Battleaxe.
You can download the list here: British North Africa 40-41