In preparation for 29 Let’s Go! I’m amassing what additional bits of terrain I need. It’s always remarkable that no matter how many toy buildings we amass, we always need more! This time our research had brought to our attention a radar station to the East of Isigny-sur-Mer which we were going to need to represent in one scenario. This is, of course, something of an oddity, but fortunately Sarissa Precision make precisely one such model in laser cut MDF, so we snapped it up. Here’s what it looks like in the pack:
Good looking eh? And, we can confirm, it was very easy to put together. The only addition I made to the basic kit in the initial stages was to use a couple of off-cuts from the windows to add as signs on or near the doors (a sort of Nazi Health & Safety notice) and to add a hand rail. This latter addition was simply a paperclip bent thus:
…and a couple of hose drilled, a dab of superglue and Bob’s your Auntie’s live-in-lover.
A handy rail after a night out on the vin rouge in Isigny. So, the completed model looked like this:
All rather dinky, but it wasn’t quite like the Wurzburg model I was looking for, which was the one at the top of the page. As we can see, the MDF model is on some rather clever turntable which is flush with the ground. The real Wurzburg is set atop a big hexagonal lump of concrete and is about five foot in the air. Obviously this is where we reach the practical limits of what MDF can do. Fortunately, this is precisely where the magic of high density polystyrene comes to our rescue.
I decided that I was going to scrap the round MDF base and go for more of an Atlantic Wall concrete look. I first measured up a piece of blue polystyrene 2″ square and marked on how I was going to “hexagonise” it.
I carefully cared this out, use the base of the MDF model to draw on the circle which needed to be removed in order to house the underside of the radar unit. I then chucked this in the bin as it was far too small, started again with a 3″ square piece which came out rather better. It also allowed me to carve in some concrete steps with a craft knife. Easy stuff this.
A small detail I know, but my viewing of Atlantic Wall concrete emplacements has obliged me to come to the conclusion that whilst the Herr Doktor Engineers of the Third Reich were men of precision, the French contractor with his Ukrainian labourers was not so precise. Once can see precisely where wonky shuttering has been used in many places and this was a bit of detail I wanted to add. Fortunately my modelling skills approximate those of a disinterested French peasant with his Ukrainian mate, and I was able to come up with this:
I then lightly sanded this down to remove the harshest edges before moving on to add a screw through the polystyrene base which would hold the radar unit in place whilst still allowing it to swivel (if I did ever find the need to swivel my radar unit…). I drilled a pilot hole through the MDF to achieve this…
And then added a screw to make sure it all worked. For those who’ve never seen a picture of a screw in a piece of blue polystyrene, this one’s for you!
How good was that?
Now I painted the concrete base with a mix of tile grout and PVA. Quite a runny mix as I didn’t want to hide the detail, just roughen it up to look more like concrete. As you can see below, I did not add the gloop to the hole where the base of the radar would fit as I didn’t want spoil the tight fit.
With that done, I reinserted the screw and glued the whole thing into position on the MDF base I had cut to size. The screw does a basic job, a two year old could probably tear the radar from the base, but fortunately my days of consorting with two year olds are long gone, so I should be safe.
I also added a set of steps made from artists mounting board. My original plan was to have this unattached so that the radar station could rotate, but frankly it was too difficult and I did realise that this was not a REAL radar station so rotating it wasn’t really necessary. So I stuck the steps in place. I now wish that I’d glued the top section to the concrete base rather than using the screw, but we live and learn…
As you can see, I gave the concrete another wash of gloop to marry the model to the base. Pat G, a good pal of Lard and supremely talented techno-whizz, has sent me some dragons teeth that he’d made on his 3D printer so I added them to the base for a bit of local colour. I think I’m going to have a look through my spares box to find some additional bits and bobs to breathe some life into the scene. I’m also considering using a pair of my wife/daughters’ old stockings to make the fine wire mesh which was part of the radar dish. That could potentially lead to disaster, so we’ll see how that turns out when I paint the finished model.
The French had been using camel-mounted troops in North Africa for some time. With typical patrol areas equivalent to travelling from London to Naples and back (2,500 miles), they had proven ideal for ‘flying the flag’ in the remote desert areas of the Sahara and Maghreb. With similar large areas to cover it was natural