The road to Stalingrad is, they say, paved with good intentions and having intended this series of articles to be about building Stalingrad terrain, I have singularly failed to produce any such thing. Until now.
A while back, I purchased some MDF buildings from both Warbases and Charlie Foxtrot Models, both companies I have mentioned here many times due to the quality of their products. I don’t intend to focus here on building these; essentially you add a bit of glue and Bob’s your uncle. Suffice to say, that the main buildings looked like this when I have got them assembled.
These are a couple of houses from Warbases…
…and here are some from Charlie Foxtrot.
Of the two makes, the Charlie Foxtrot models tend to be a bit larger and slightly more complex to put together, but complex here is about on the level with unwrapping a chocolate orange, i.e. more complex than opening a Mars bar, but simple enough.
I should add that I also took advantage of some of the smaller models in both their ranges, like garden shed, wood stores and the likes, as I plan to base my models as modular units with other terrain on larger bases. Both produce some nice stuff and I have re-ordered more stuff from both to flesh out this project. I must say that the Warbases houses are prefect for that I want. They have a smaller footprint but have loads of nice detail that shout RUSSIA! or, in this case SOVIET UNION!
Okay, so as you can see, the buildings all have flat roofs. I did consider using teddy bear fur to thatch some buildings, but the photos I have been studying showing German forces advancing on Stalingrad show wooden plank roof which, presumably are made watertight with pitch or tar. So that got me thinking about how best to achieve this look.
Here, as always, I am looking for a solution which is both simple and cheap. I did consider planking out all of the buildings using artists mounting board, but this goes a bit wonky when cut into strips and the look would be very regular. I wanted something that looked like it had been built by a dodgy Communist builder, and that meant a more irregular look.
Here I hit on the idea of using planks of three different types. Firstly I used some card or around 200 gsm which we use for printing out signs for shows. I got a few sheets of this and a guillotine and sliced away in a rough, unmeasured manner.
The trick here is to try to keep the slices as regular as possible with the naked eye. This will give you lots of minor variation and irregularities which will look good.
Next I got a cornflake packet and did the same again. This gives a somewhat thicker cardboard for the variety I wanted.
Finally, I found a decent number of coffee stirrers in my car. I most certainly did not drive to a local coffee shop and nick a handful, oh no. That would be terrible! However, it was a very nice latte.
With my three grades of planking, I then set about sticking them onto the roofs with PVA glue.
As you can see, I was not afraid to leave a few gaps, the solid MDF of the roof looks like other planks showing through. Or so I initially thought. As I went on, I tended to allow gaps to occur by accident but not leave then intentionally,
At this point I did consider the fact that the whole venture might not be a good idea as, frankly, it looks bloody awful. However, when you back a horse you must let it run, so I carried on. If trying this (and please don’t until we get to the next episode of this series when we will, I hope, find out if this works or not!) you should note that I plank one side of the roof at a time before letting that dry. I then plank the other side.
When dry, you can trim the planks with scissors to tidy it up and add any random bits of plank which have been used to repair damage.
At this point I again wondered whether to chuck the whole lot in the bin, but I persevered. Ridge tiles were added. Charlie Foxtrot supply a nice piece of plastic angle which I stuck on with superglue.
On other building I used cornflake packet scored down the middle to create a ridge. With that done, I slapped PVA over the w hole lot to get it rigid.
Here are the Charlie Foxtrot Buildings…
…and here are the Warbases ones:
As you’ll note, I used some Warbases shingle tiles to roof the largest building, the Collective Farm Manager’s House, but the rest are planks. Where dormer windows create a gulley we in the UK would use rolls of lead to form waterproof flashing. I have no idea what an oppressed Communist builder would use, (maybe turnips?) but I added flashing from paper which neatens up the model.
So there we are. They look like a right dog’s dinner. However, I suspect that the visual lack of appeal is down to the garish colours of the cornflake packet. When the whole thing is undercoated, I hope it will look a whole lot better…fingers crossed.
As I am the worker who controls the means of production, I will now head out to get some hardboard for the module bases and think about how to make some fences. I feel another coffee coming on…
Well, maybe not for dancing in the street, but hopefully the latest Summer Special will bring a bit of sunshine to even the most jaded of grognards. I have oft said that one of the great joys of my job is editing the Summer and Christmas Specials, and once again it has been a real