Stalingrad: Relighting My Fire

Well, it’s bee a bit of time since I posted about my wargaming journey towards Stalingrad, largely because I’ve just been so busy with other stuff.  Anyway, I have continued picking up a few bits and pieces but I have studiously avoided cracking on with the really BIG job, that of building the city terrain.  Over the festive period I had a chance to get into the Lard Island workshop and right that wrong by starting the first test model from the pile of MDF buildings I had assembled.
As I have mentioned previously, I spent a hundred quid on eBay to buy a table full of MDF Stalingrad buildings from a company in Poland.  In truth, they are not the most detailed models.  All the detail is etched in, so no separate piece for lintels, window ledges or any raised relief, but I could add all of that using card or wood, so that was fine with me.  I really just wanted something in MDF to give me the basic model, the rest I could add. Here’s the basic model completed.

Looking inside, you’ll note that I have reduced some of the sections of flooring to allow better access.  In truth, there is still too much of it and I need to consider how to deal with that now.  I will probably just have some areas of the ground floor so full of rubble that they cannot be accessed.  We shall see as the build continues.
Anyway, the lesson learnt here is that one MUST allow access or whole areas of the model are unusable.

Okay, on to stage two.  Lining the walls.  The MDF is clearly too thin for brickwork, so I planned to use foamboard to line the walls.  I got a craft knife, cut out the sections and laboriously worked my way around the building, like so…

I used a hot glue gun to attach the bits, cutting out the apertures before sticking them in place.  I cut the sections in strips, placed them against the wall, used a pen to mark the windows, cut the holes out and then glued it in place.  This was a laborious process and I was glad to be listening to a decent book an Audible to make it more acceptable.  Honestly, it was VERY BORING, so I did it in a few chunks, half an hour at a time.

With that done, I began plastering the internal walls with quick drying Polyfilla. You can see the tube in the next photo.  Pipe it in, smooth it about with a finger and then polish it to a flatter finish using a finger dipped in water.  In this case a rough finish is fine, this is going to be a bloody great wreck anyway.  I did the walls and then went round the tops to get a decent match between the top of the MDF wall and the foamboard as the cutting out can produce a rough finish.  With that dry, I painted the tops of the walls with PVA and sprinkled on some MDF bricks and blocks.  This was based entirely on what I had seen done by our great chum of Lard and SUPERB terrain maker Alan Sheward.  His Stalingrad project was the inspiration for all of this but if I can get anything a third as good as his project I will be over the moon.   These bricks will create a rough and less regular finish.  I think I may have over-done it, but we shall see.  That’s why I am doing a single test building.

With that done, I added floor planking from coffee stirrers.  Another laborious job, but they certainly look better than the plain MDF floors.  I sprinkled some brick and blocks around too.

I wanted to get a rough, burnt out feel to the floor boards so I set alight to the overhanging sections, allowing them to burn back until they looked right.  I wouldn’t recommend doing this and nor would the Lard Island Health & Safety Officer…

The coffee stirrers actually keep burning after you bow them out, so you can get quite a controlled effect…

…but remember to damp them down with water once you get to the right place as fire is really not something to mess with.  Like Sidney on a bad day…

With that done, I painted the whole model in PVA glue.  This serves to tie it all together, give it strength and generally provide a base for paint to adhere to.

Now I will leave this to dry overnight while I think about the next step, which is what to do with the ground floor.
Ideally I’d have liked to create some fighting positions on all four faces, but I have buggered that up by having too much intact upper floors.  As it is, I think I may fill the two sides with rubble so that the ground floor has positions to the North and South (see below), whereas the areas shaded in red will be heaped rubble.  Ladders or similar will allow access to the East and West fighting positions on the first floor or above.

I plan to build the rubble sections our of blue high density polystyrene.  I am not sure at this point if I will add them now or paint the existing model first and then add these extra sections later.  Anyway, when done the relevant windows will be sand-bagged and the fighting positions may be duck boarded to look like a permanent fighting position which will give better cover.
So, that’s where we are for now.  Thus far I haven’t burnt down the workshop, which is fortunate as it’s in the same block as the stock and post room!  Hopefully we shall have an update tomorrow, but now the boring stage is over, I am rather enjoying this project.


10 thoughts on “Stalingrad: Relighting My Fire”

  1. And its starting to look good. I’ve also been playing with MDF having just assembled some buildings for NWE. Sarissa chateau, large farmhouse, and bombed out building. I am thinking they won’t look as good as yours.

  2. Alright, another project Rich. I’m slowly piece-mealing in my bombed out buildings myself. I like the thought process here for making the walls a bit thicker. Where did you get the MDF bricks from? My buddy here got me a bombed out factory from Sarissa, and this inspires me to better direction on how I want to “pimp” my building. Looking forward to more installments.

  3. Inspirational! And love posts like these where you think through the process for us!
    A doubt: for it to be realistic. shouldn’t there be interior walls (even though they might “get in the way”?
    And when it comes down to actually gaming, do your rules cover street fighting in some way? if so, can you give a few details?

    1. Thanks Tom. There should be interior walls and I am currently contemplating on how to deal with that. In truth, internal walls are generally of lesser weight and quality and load bearing external or internal structural walls, so they tend to collapse pretty easily, but a structure of this size would likely be divided into three apartments on each floor and would have two structural load bearing walls in the interior. That’s not simple to replicate, hence why I am doing this trial model first before launching into the rest of the structure. I fear it is too late to correct this model now, but it will have to do.
      As for street fighting, Chain of Command certainly have rules for moving and fighting within structures. The key here will be looking at tactics for street fighting. By 1945, the Soviets had developed some pretty effective small but combined-arms teams to clear German cities block by block. I am currently researching how that was done in Stalingrad.

    1. I bought a packet of them ages ago at a show. I am not sure who from or where due to time. I also save all of my off-cuts from other MDF projects which can be chopped up very easily.

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