Getting Ready for the Blitzkrieg, Part One

In 1939 the British and French had a fortunate eight months to prepare themselves for the German Blitzkrieg.  Fortunately we no longer have that long to wait as the Blitzkrieg 1940 supplement is at the printers and will be with us in just two weeks time.  However, we can still use that time productively to prepare for its arrival.
Of course, you are going to need your early war armies to use the Blitzkrieg 1940 Handbook but you may wish to wait until you’ve seen the huge choice of different armies you can choose from before making your selection.  What Blitzkrieg 1940 does add to the game is the support option for a Stuka bombardment for the German player.  It’s a high cost option, and so it should be. A Stuka attack is probably the real “Shock and Awe” choice for 1940, with the ground-breaking tactical use of dive-bombers to support ground troops.
From a game point of view, one of the results of a Stuka bombardment can be damage to buildings.  This is something new and can mean that intact buildings will need to be replaced or at least noted as being damaged.  In preparation for this, I decided to have a dabble with creating damaged and destroyed buildings which are flexible enough to fill all sorts of gaps when replacing intact structures.
My first step was to look through my collection of buildings and work out what was the median size structure I owned for Western Europe.  This turned out to be a double-fronted 7″ by 4″ model of the type you see below.

This is vaguely unfortunate as I had these commissioned so they don’t really conform to many models which are commercially available.  However, that makes this article all the more relevant.  I needed to create damaged and ruined buildings which could replace any building from approximately 4″ by 4″ up to 10″ by 4″.
My first step was to look on line for damaged buildings which might be available off the peg.  In the end, eBay provided three versions, two from Sarissa Precisions and one from a lesser know company called Dave’s Wargames.  Now, I’ll be honest here, I had not heard of Dave’s Wargames before, but it has long been my belief that some of the smaller companies are often the ones producing the most innovative products, so I was very happy to dip my toe in and order the ruined shop.

On examination, the Sarissa ruined bungalow was not going to work as almost all of my buildings are two story structures.  I could have butchered it to create a very badly wrecked building but it is actually a very nice model in its own right so I built it as it was and added it to my collection  The other two buildings, both two-storey and ruined, were idea.  When I tried a dry run, both turned out to be around 4″ deep and with a 5″ frontage. The depth was almost perfect, as can be seen with the Sarissa model butted up to my existing building.

.The image below shows the partially constructed Sarissa model.  The section shown at the bottom is the damaged en wall section which should be placed where the arrow indicates.  I decided that I would remove that wall and part of the base so that the building when completed would represent one end of a structure.

I snipped away the relevant floor section so that the semi-completed model looked as planned.  The, on a sheet of MDF I marked out where I would add a new section of wall which would allow me to treat the building in a concertina type fashion.  If the building I was replacing was 9″ wide, I could just extend the gap between the two parts and fill the gap with scatter rubble.  That was the theory at least.

Simplicity was the order of the day here.  I needed another end wall which was functional rather than a thing of beauty, so I went for foam board which is easy to cut and stick together with a hot glue gun.  I also used foam board to line the interior of the Sarissa model.  This is a personal obsession of mine I fear.  Having spent the first half of my life working in construction I know that the 2mm thick MDF on the original model represents a single skin of 4.5″ bricks.  The only things we build like that are garden walls and that would be a cheap one.  The cavity wall had barely been introduced in 1939 so the norm would be a 9″ bond which should be 4mm thick.  Suffice to say it was pretty simple to use a sharp knife to add foam board to the interior.  Next, as you may have noticed, I plastered the building.

This is, I am afraid, another Clarkey obsession.  I do not like the flatness of MDF buildings which often have a 2D rather than 3D look to my eyes.  When I build MDF models I use Quick-Drying Polyfilla to create a more natural and imperfect look.  This may appear to be an absurd thing to do, but you literally spread it on with a butter knife, leave for five minutes and then dip your  index finger in water and polish it flat using circular motions,  This is pretty much the same process as a plasterer uses to get a smooth finish on a building but I am looking for some degree of imperfection so it is a relatively fast process.  The entire building, both ends, took no more than ten minutes to do and I think the result is worth it. It’s a matter of choice.

With the plaster on, the next step was to add the window and door furniture.  In the instructions these are meant to be added first, obviously I wait until later in the process after the plaster has dried.

With that done, the next step was to add rubble.  Damaged buildings are not instantly cleared up by fairies who sweep up all of the rubble.  So many ruined wargames buildings are somewhat less than plausible as they lack any such rubble.  Now, buying rubble off the peg is not easy, so I make my own.
Firstly, when using MDF buildings you get left with lots of bits like this:
 Don’t chuck them out!  Well, don’t chuck them all out.  The big triangular bits are next to useless, but the smaller bits can make good bricks or blocks when representing a damaged structure.  However, the best bet is to go on line and buy yourself a couple of bags of model bricks.  I also added some bags of model rubble and a jar of brick dust colour pigment.  Now this is a bit of an investment, not huge but probably twenty quid, so you don’t want to chuck it about like a sailor with ten arms.  I began buy painting on PVA glue to the areas which would have rubble on them and then covered this with a mix of sharp sand and finely ground cork.  This cheap mix gives a decent base.

With that done, I could then add a more moderate sprinkling of my precious bricks and rubble.

The next stage was to paint the buildings, something I shall not bore you with.  Finally I added a few bits to make the damaged buildings look more “lived-in”.  So, the odd portrait here, a road sign there.  Some broken roof timbers added made from bits of redundant MDF from the building sprue.  The key plan here was to leave sufficient space for figures despite all of the rubble.
Some observations.  The building above is the Dave’s Wargaming building.  Unlike the Sarissa model it is made from 3mm MDF and as a consequence looks more chunky.  I like that as I did not need to line the interior walls.  You’ll note that I added a few lose tiles made from cornflake packet as I dislike seeing the lugs from the walls where they connect to the roof (I was bitten by a Waterloo farmhouse kit as a child and never got over it).  Below is the building with the extendable end.

Below is the Sarissa model.  Once again I added roof tiles to cover up the lugs.  This process also adds to the 3D feel of the model.  Below that you’ll see the building with the extendable flank wall and then, finally, with some added rubble scatter which links the two parts together.   Clearly, extending the building to a wider frontage is pretty simple.  To shrink the frontage one could just use the prettier end and add rubble, or use two of the other ends to create a less attractive but entirely functional damaged structure.
Finally, we see the damaged building being used as a replacement in a street scene.

Tomorrow we will be looking at creating destroyed buildings which can be used in conjunction with damaged ones to give use even more flexibility when the stukas come knocking.


4 thoughts on “Getting Ready for the Blitzkrieg, Part One”

  1. Dave’s Wargames buildings are excellent. Good idea about the concertina ruins and the loose tiles to cover the lugs. I prefer using Warbases tile sheets myself but that’s a good alternative.
    Where do you get your scale posters from, Rich?

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