Mitteleuropa: The Lutheran Church

With the Freikorps complete, I really needed to push on with the Germanic buildings which would populate my mitteleuropa landscape.  I had splashed out sixty quid on a very nice twin-domed church and I wanted something a little more austere, and cheap, for the Lutheran congregation.  I turned to eBay where second hand model railway buildings can often be picked up for a song.  I was not to be disappointed.
Looking for OO scale buildings I picked up a piece which was advertised as HO OO which frankly, is what people seem to go with when they are not sure what it is.  OO is 1:76 which at 4mm to the foot is about perfect for 28mm figures.  HO is 1:87 which is a dubious scale more suitable for 20mm or even 15mm figures.  Sometimes you have to take a bit of a risk here and this was no exception, it looked about right and at £6.99 it was cheap enough to take a chance.  Here’s the image taken from eBay.
The first thing I did on receipt was to break off the churchyard and the small figures which suggested that the model was actually HO, but it was large enough and the only thing really out of scale was the doors.  I set to work “improving these”.
First I removed all of the flimsy bits which could break, especially drain pipes and any guttering which wasn’t firmly in place.  Then, using a piece of plasticard which was ,anguishing in my spare parts box, I cut a shape 1.5″ by 1″ to cover the two existing doors.
I then cut strips of plasticard to form the timber which made up the door.  This was done pretty roughly, as with the town gate, as I prefer this “lived in” look.IMG_2809
While this was drying, I removed the timbering around the top of the tower and replaced this with artists mounting board to give a rougher look.
With this done I returned to the doors to trim these into shape.  No need to be careful here, as well will see a few dodgy edges won’t matter.
On to the green stuff next.  Roll out a sausage and then add it around the edges of the doors.  I used a scalpel to get it into shape.  I’m not that arty, as you can see, but this is pretty simple to do.
Okay, so here we can see the superb (ahem) timbering on the tower and the new door.  IMG_2814
Next I painted the tower timbers with PVA glue mixed with a bit of black paint.  Is the black paint essential I hear you ask.  No, I just forgot to clean my brush before shoving it in the PVA.  It does, however, show up better in the photo.
When that dried I set about reinforcing my building.  Model railway buildings are not designed to be particularly sturdy.  Those weird chaps who play with toy trains simply plonk them on the table and gaze lovingly at them as the 1614 to Dusseldorf whizzes by.  To make these wargamer-proof I use a hot glue gun to reinforce all of the internal joints.  Whoever built this building originally did a good job in shoving it full of cardboard (why?) so I din’t bother removing this but just pumped a stick of glue into all the areas.  often the best way to do this is to hold the model upside down and simply pour the glue into the deepest recesses.  When it dries the model is much more sturdy and can be used by real men.
With that done I now stuck the church onto a base of 3mm MDF.  My plan is to add gravestones around the base of the walls and some sort of stone slab effect on the base, but really the reason for doing this is to make the building even more robust.
With that done I added a thin Polyfilla layer selectively.  I don’t want to obscure the stonework, but the flat wall panels look a bit to regimented for a building originating in the 16th or 17th century so it was here I slapped on most of this.  As with the gatehouse earlier in the week, I applied this with a brush and then “polished” it to a smoother finish with my finger and some water when it was partially cured.  You can’t really see it in the photos so here’s a quick snap before me move on.
Allowing that to dry overnight, it was time to start painting.  Here I had a truly wonderful idea.  Before I started I sprayed any windows black. This would allow me to use a flat headed brush to paint the walls whilst avoiding the recesses, thereby leaving the windows dark.
Obviously this was a stupid idea, as I discovered when I slapped on the primer coat and pretty much immediately got brown paint on the windows.
This was even worse when I applied the base coat.  In short, don’t bother doing the “spray the windows black” bit if you try this.
You will note that I am rather fond of strong base coat colours.  I want the church to be off-white, but by starting with a really vibrant yellow I can build up with successive layers of cream and eventually white to get the antiquated and parochial look I want.  Here you’ll see that I am using acrylic paints by Windsor & Newton.  As stated before, don’t use model paints on buildings unless you want to burn cash.
Here you can see the model after I have painted it up.  I largely use big pig hair brushes and dab it on to get a more textured feel.Here I then used some Vallejo stone grey on the edge blockwork.
I then washed this with a grubby mix of dark brown paint and Army Painter strong tone quickshade before picking out the stones with an almond colour interior domestic paint.  I painted the timbering with a very dark brown.  I wasn’t sure what colour to paint the roof, so I added a black undercoat.  This often helps me see it afresh.
With that done it seemed pretty clear that dark grey would look good, so I dry brushed on about four layers working up to white.  While doing that I added the slabs with a paint brush.  This looks a bit bare at present, but I will be adding grave stones and some grass and moss in the cracks to get a more lived-in look.
And here we see the church with some Croats marching by so you can get an idea of scale.
On reflection, the doors could have been a bit smaller but overall I am quite pleased with this for a total cost of seven quid.


14 thoughts on “Mitteleuropa: The Lutheran Church”

    1. Much as I hate painting figures, I actually like doing up buildings. Mind you, the 600 piece model of the Roman Catholic church will put that to an extreme test!

  1. Thanks so much for pointing out the mistakes (or the “don’t bothers”) — I learn more from those than almost anything else.
    But this article I learned 2 great ideas for the HO pieces I’ve been collecting for Chain of Command: Fill the building with hot glue and the way that you created the stonework around the door. I have a fantasy building that I’ve been stuck on because I haven’t been able to figure out how to finish it off and that stonework is just the ticket.

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