In the last blogpost the Swedes inspected their forces in preparation of the Horka battle at Joy of Six this year (more here). The Russian spies were in attendance and following their report a few brushstrokes had to be done, but now I dare to say they seem to be ready for inspection and eventually to welcome the attacking Swedes.
There is a total of 91 cavalry 60 by 30mm bases of 9 No. riders (apart from the irregular elements on 60 by 60mm bases of 8 riiders) and 64 infantry 60 by 30mm bases of 24 No. infantry in this army as well as Command bases and artillery bases. Tsar Peter himself has inspected the various infantry detachments – General Golitsyn flying column with the elite regiments who may be ordered to March behind the cavalry and attack the Swedish left flank on they day!. The three other Generals Sheremetev, Hallart and Repnin are ready as are their men. A few rounds were fired by the artillery to mark the occasion. I have included a few of the sketches that the scouts manage to deliver to the Swedish King.
In other news I progressed my Bag the Finn project (more in the last blog post, link here) adding two more aircraft types:
The Fokker D.XXI that was the Finnish primary fighter aircraft during the Winter War (I painted it in the simple paint scheme used during the winter war – the more elaborate camouflage pattern used last time was used during the continuation war).
The Polikarpov I-16 that was one of the three fighter planes used by the Russians in the Winer war (ther others were I-15bis and I-153). The I-16 was the most common type and about half of Fighters were of this type at the start of the Winter War.
Below are two relevant titles from Osprey and contain a lot of useful information on the fighting during the Winter War era. I really enjoy doing these 1/600 scale planes from Tumbling Dice.
A short one this time but I think there are one or two important points hidden in it all, I let you find them.
Bag the Finn
I am currently working on some Tumbling dice 1/600 aircraft models with the intention of doing some games involving the The Lentolaivue 24 or LLv.24 (24 Fighter Squadron) fighting throughout Finland’s three wars during WW2. I intend to use the Bag the Hun rules by the Too Fat Lardies (link here) and the campaign system Squadron forward. I got the aircraft a long time ago but it has taken some time to get this started. However Mike Hobbs Malta project inspired me to get this going – thanks Mike.
Postscript: There is a useful article in the Lardies Summer Special 2009 called Blue Swastika with background and scenarios for the Finnish Winter War for Bag the Hun. This article can also be found in the Scramble supplement (Thanks Jim for reminding me).
I have been buying a fair few books about Finnish and Soviet Airforce of the Period. But my starting point is the suitably titled Lentolaivue 24 from Osprey (link here). As with any book there are several places where you may get the book cheaper and sometimes the second hand market can be very favourable.
As I have mentioned before the family on my mother’s side are Finnish and this is why I have an interest in this particular theatre of the Second World War.
I have heard many stories from the Finnish war period – some heroic but most of them being about the sad realities of war and the people that had to endure them directly and indirectly. For example one of my relatives, a pioneering educationalist working in the Finnish border areas, had to take home his two sons in coffins during the war – both of them were volunteers and the youngest was 17. With a Finnish sense of dark humour the story was retold with the afterthought that the only good thing was that he only had to do one trip as they fell at the same time.
My hobby is very much related to war – in doing miniatures, models and gaming various conflicts sometimes in a seemingly light hearted way. However I think it is important to remember that in reality it is far from a game. This awareness does not take out the fun of it but adds respect to how I deal with it.
One of the things are symbols used by the various belligerents during the War and as you can see on the picture above the Finnish Aircraft carries a Swastika symbol. The Swastika had been used on Finnish Aircraft since the early days of the Finnish Air force in 1918, following independence from Russia and therefore its use is different to that used by the Nazi regime. Finland were allied with Germany but through a common enemy in the fight against the Soviet Union – it did not share the overall objectives and world view of the Nazi regime.
I will paint and decorate these aircraft as close as possible to the way in which they looked at the time, not out of disrespect for anyone but out of respect to the historical records of the period.
This is a slow burning project and I will write a short note on each aircraft type, what paints I used and some pictures as I complete them. Starting with the Finnish ones and the, to me, most Iconic of them all the Brewster Buffalo. It is a little bit fiddly, but if you can paint a detailed 28mm miniatures then this should not be a problem.
The Flying Beer Bottle (Lentävä kaljapullo)
The Finns bought the Brewster Buffalos (B-239E) from the United States in 1939 and they were first flight tested by the Finnish Air force in early 1940. A few were combat ready before the end of the Winter War in 1940 but none of them were used in combat.
However during the Continuation War the Brewster became one of the most successful aircraft of the Finnish Air force. The Lentolaivue 24 got them at the end of the Winter War in April 1940 replacing the Fokker D.XXI they used successfully during the Winter War. During the 14 months before the start of the Continuation War the pilot trained hard with their new machines and during the Continuation war they successfully destroyed 459 No. Soviet warplanes by these at a loss of 15 Buffalos (a 26:1 victory ratio) until they were replaced by the Messerschmitt Bf 109G (in May 1944).
I used the ISA240 F2a Brewster Buffalo x6 from the Tumbling Dice shop, it can be found in the 1/600 range, link here. I do not know what the best way is to paint these are and you may want to do some further research, this is how I did mine.
Clean it, magnetise it,
Make sure you clean it up with a scalpel (be careful) or a small file as there is some flash but not excessive. I then glue a 0.5mm * 2mm magnet under the aircraft. This is a little bit fiddly and you may have to redo a few but that is all part of the fun! In addition make sure you align the polarities – i.e. glue them in the same direction. I will take some photos of how I manage this when I do the next set of aircraft. This allow you to mount them on flight stands that you can magnetise too. You may end up with a collection of hundreds or aircraft but you may rarely use more than a dozen on each side in a game – therefore you can have a set of flight stands you use for all your aerial dog fights. It also means that you could have different set of stands, perhaps if you have different rules ets, and so on. But more on this later.
As I wrote last week I got myself a few pots of the paints from the Finnish Aircraft colour paint set. In retrospect I probably had all the colours I needed already as part of my base set up, however I put the ones I got to use in this project.
Priming – I used a Vallejo White Polyurethane Primer (mainly because I normally use grey or black for my miniatures, and had it lying around). It has a nice thin consistency that works deceivingly well. I thought white would work best as I was not going to use the primer as part of the shading.
Let it dry (a few hours should be fine)
Paint undercarriage light grey – I used the Lifecolor Light Grey UA 541.
Paint top green (do not paint the front bit that will be yellow and avoid the yellow part behind the cockpit, not critical but makes it easier to achieve a good yellow later on) – I used the Lifecolor Olive Green UA 540.
Let it dry (if you are doing a large batch like I did there is no reason to wait, just do step 6 for the next).
Paint top with Black camouflage patterns (avoid the parts that will be yellow) and do the front propeller part. I used Vallejo Model Color Black 950.
Let it dry (see note above on large batch)
Paint the propeller hub/top with a flat brown/light rust colour (I have seen some different colour for this, most of the time it is black but I wanted some contrast so mine have this colour).
Paint the Yellow parts, also under the top of the wings – I used the Lifecolor UA 544.
Let is dry (see note above on large batch)
Paint 80% of the Black camouflage parts in Vallejo Model Color Medium Sea Grey 870. I kind of left a black outline of the pattern.
Paint 80% of the Green with a 50/50 mix of Lifecolor Olive Green UA 540/Vallejo Model Color Yellow Green 78.
Let it dry properly (a few hours should do fine)
Use Windor & Newton Nutbrown ink, be generous and process to 12 immediately before doing the next plane. This is an old 6mm painter trick Dr. Mike taught me many years ago. You may want to use some other wash/ink type of thing or skip this step if you want a neater look. I think it adds depth to the colour and make it look better painted than it is.
Dab a piece of toilet paper carefully on the model to take away excess ink, do not rub – this was sourced from Modelling Supreme Industries and is sold by the sheet (Sorry, but at least humour me with a smile!).
Let it dry
Give the yellow parts a little bit of more paint on the top sides (using the same colour as above, looking at the colourized picture above and some others they tended to be relatively dirty quickly so leave some of that ink stain. It does not make the model look prettier but more real).
Paint the glass part of the canopy in blue carefully, let the non-glass part shine through – I used Vallejo sky blue or something similar.
I suppose you could highlight them further and perhaps put a dot of white on each window – however I just did the 18 steps above.
Next it is time for some decals and this is requires some patience to get right. I got the decals from Dom’s Decals some time ago, link here. He has a warning of a current backlog on his webpage (April 2018) so I suggest you send him and e-mail and ask him about the current status. Some of the best of the wargames industry are the small players (mostly one person bands) and I have found most of them more than happy to engage in some conversation upfront as to what the expectations are with regards to getting your orders sent to you. Dom does a fantastic service to the hobby with his decals – give him and others like him a fair chance to continue doing so.
You need the set 1/600 Finnish Hakaristi Markings (1918-44).
Basically I cut out every decal neatly and then stick a few of them in a small bowl of water for a while lift them out and wiggle the off on a plastic (sometimes they fall of in the bowl) I use a scalpel (gently) for this . I used 4 transfers for each plane (I did not do the underwing ones), two on the wings (second smallest ones) and two on the sides (the smallest one). This is my high-end set-up.
This is the result, I really like they way they turned out and from a distance they look decent enough for my gaming table.
When I have finished (no pun intended) all the aircraft for this project I will do some custom transfers (I bought a sheet for this purpose) to allow some further markings to be done like tail markings etc. This is probably overkill and I do not know if I will be able to do these yet so it is currently just a plan – but if it is possible I will do them like this. After this I will seal them with a matte varnish.
Swedish Army for Horka 1708
The Swedish King and his Generals mustered the forces for the Horka Battle to be fought 15th July in Sheffield at the Joy of Six show (more here).
The King was seen smiling and the mood amongst the ranks was very good. They Russian position was strong but so was the Swedish morale. Here are some colorized sketches from the event. There are a total of 72 cavalry bases and 28 infantry bases as well as a few leader bases and artillery bases. Here we go….
“…but in summary of Salute I can say “a lot of people, met some new and old friends, the games looked great, got some gifts(!), picked up some stuff and bought some more, What a Tanker from Too Fat Lardies looked fun, a fantastic GNW battle from Michael Leck – from my perspective the Show rolled a Six.”
From about a week ago!
We have been busy with the Little Ones year end Rugby Tournament the last week so I have not been doing that much hobby wise lately. We went to Isle of Wight and had a blast – it is a wonderful part of the world.
I realise that it is now about 10 days ago since Salute 2018, so I think there are plenty of better places for an overview of Salute – I suggest you try Big Lee’s most excellent blog here. Alternatively, or as well, you could go to youtube and watch the terrain tutors very nice video of the show (press play below) – if you have not checked out his other stuff do that as well.
What follows are just a few snippets of things from my personal experience.
Twisting the Dragon’s Tail
On St George’s Day! 100 years ago the Royal Navy attempted to block the Belgian port of Zeebrugge. The idea was to block the canal entrance by sinking obsolete ships – this to stop U-boats and light shipping from leaving port.
The game presented by the Maidstone Wargames society showed the actions of the HMS Vindictive that carried a troop or royal marines that were to take out some German Gun positions. It was a beautifully presented game and the ship was a thing of beauty and scratch built (using a lot of tomato pure tubes as sheeting material – that is hard core in my books – “What a we having for Dinner today?”, “It is another round of Pasta with Tomato Sauce!”).
Mission Command: Normandy
Mission Command is a new set of WW2 rules that promises to capture the essence of tactical and operational combat for company level to division level. It captures the way in which different armies (nationalities) operated in practice in terms of tactical and operational command, control and communication. It was a pleasure to have a chat with the guys. I found it intriguing – more information here. It is currently at the final stages of playtesting and a relatively inexpensive beta ruleset can be obtain through the link above. The game is Umpired and orders are given at the beginning of them game but can be modified. However the changes to the orders have to be achieved within command structures where the fog of war, imperfect information and confusion can cause unintended outcomes.
The Battle of Foy
Most of us remember this from the phenomenal Band of Brothers book and TV-series. This table was a joy to watch and the group presenting it was passionate about sharing their enthusiasm. I have a special place somewhere for snow terrain and this one was inspiring. The miniatures used were 20mm and it was played using the Bolt Action rules. The tall pine trees are made with the same technique as I used from my trees earlier in the year (more about how to make them here).
Tumbling Dice and another Diversion – Bag the Finn!
Paul at Tumbling Dice (link here) have a nice range of 1/600 aircraft and I bought myself a bundle of his nice aircraft that I want to use for some aerial dogfights between Finland and Soviet. They are very nice and they are relatively easy to paint them and it will not cost you a fortune to get started. I have some already that I used for Battle of Britain 1940.
I also got myself a selection of books from Amazon recently about the Finnish and Sovietic air force of the period – mostly second hand from Amazon at a not too heavy cost.
I will be using the Too Fat Lardies rules Bag the Hun for these (link here). The Scramble supplement have a little piece of using the Rules for the Finnish Winter War to get me started, but I think I will focus on the Continuation War period – those Brewster Buffalos looks far too cool!.
I was not going to but I got some of Lifecolors nice paints for this project (I got all the colours individually, from their paint set pictures below a part from the black as I thought I could get away with it!). This is a perfect on the move project as it does not take a lot of space – a handful of paints and a handful of planes and you can take off anywhere!
The only question is what playing surface to use. It would be really good have a aerial picture with good resolution of a winter land scape from above. Have not seen anyone doing one and I do not know where to get a good resolution picture from – any ideas gladly taken?
With some help from the Welsh Wizard, Mike Hobbs, we manage to order for a sufficient amount to get a healthy discount from Eureka (more here) – who did their annual trip from down under to Salute. They have a good selection of stuff and I got myself a lot of 15mm (some WW2 Australians with Great Coat and Russian Partisans) and some 28mm stuff (for my Mutant 1984).
I will show these in a later post as I have no intention of doing anything with them at the moment. Big shout out to Nic and crew – see you next year!
What a Tanker!
Too Fat Lardies were demonstrating their What a Tanker game and it looked great. Go and do yourself a favour and buy the book from here. If you need a little more convincing check out the stuff below. Had a good chat with Rich, Nick and Sidney – thanks for your time!
For more on the game if you do not want to take my word for it.
A video by the Lardies themselves:
Also check out these links for podcast whilst you paint your tanks:
The Veteran Wargamer (Jay) have gone Tank Mad in a wonderful way – check out his two podcasts for more here and here.
We are hopefully doing a game of What a Tanker this weekend using some 15mm German tanks vs Russian or American tanks – preparations are underway more to come.
However 6mm may be a good option and I spotted Baccus Shermans and Panzer IVs at Salute – they look very nice and the Sherman is due out very soon.
Michael Leck and friends, as have become tradition, presented yet another stunning table with a historical battle with a Swedish denominator – this time depicting the battle of Stäket 1719 (more here). This is a small battle at the end of the Northern War with with the King having been shot in Norway in 1718 and with the Russians and Cossacks terrorising the Swedish east coast with a fleet of Galleys (this was know as the Russian Harryings (Rysshärjningarna). The attack was repulsed but the Russians managed to escape without any damage to their fleet allowing them to continue their harrying the following year.
The galleys and the terrain boards (and a few of the miniatures) were made by Jan (who is another exile Swede living in the UK). The rest of the miniatures were flown in with Michael and chums.
As I have declated before Michael, and I, used to roll dice and use our imagination in the same role-playing club many moons ago. It is always nice to see him and his latest stuff – he actually brought me two presents, a giant stag beetle and a Swedish king. Many thanks Michael!
How much is your collection worth!
I also had a nice chat and a coffee with good friend Peter Riley who is running the Wargamer Collection Calculator (I have discussed them before on the blog, here) that now features a wargames directory with more than 1,000 traders, clubs and societies – is your club on it? Their base offer is in effect a collection manager where you can log you wargames collection in words and pictures with some high level estimate of its potential worth – perhaps for the purpose of using this as a basis for a separate insurance of your collection. Even if you do not want to insure your collection you could perhaps use it as a collection manager. Registration is free. Check them out here.
…I think that represents a biased but still fair sample of Salute goodies! I forgot the Daleks, here we go.
Horka 1708 update – Swedish Infantry and Artillery thoughts
I have been working away with the Horka project and here is the Swedish Infantry contingent. 28 bases (compared to the 64 Russian ones, presented earlier here).
I am also working on Artillery and have come to some kind of compromise for artillery. The Russian used a lot of smaller artillery pieces – battalion guns. In the accounts of Poltava once of the key elements is the Russian Artillery ripping away the advancing Swedes, changing to shrapnel for the last 200 meters. Placing a few cannons on the sides, as is the typical set-up, where the cannons representing 8 to 16 pieces of something like are shown as two bases on the sides, that does not really convey the story. So I will use thin frontage bases (15mm wide) and put them between the Russian battalions to illustrate these pieces. It may be overkill from a ratio vs model count – but we can deal with this and having a quick glance at the way it looks I do not think there is a way back. More about artillery in a later post. This was just me getting carried away!
Second blog update today, as I was a week behind due to various reasons…
I made a New Year resolution of getting my Winter War progressed and I think I have done so during January and February (if you go back and check some of the previous blogs). However it is time to box it up for now and progress with the hobby day job of getting ready for Joy of Six this year – I have no idea about my current progress on this project as I do some stuff on it every now and then. I will spend the next few weeks getting this back on track – I suspect that I will need to paint a fair few Swedish infantry units. So the Winter war gets packed away …. (links to the relevant blog entries forming part of the winter war stuff at the end of this blog posting).
….and the 6mm Great Northern War is back in focus.
However before the snow melts let us have a look at some of the Winter War stuff I have been working on since the last Winter War blog update 2 weeks ago. First some road tiles and then a log fire.
Doing Winter Roads
I wanted to make some wintery roads and got myself some self-adhesive vinyl planks. I have used these before and they come in 3 foot lengths. At these lengths they are fragile and can easily snap but it allows the creation of longer pieces – which I like. If I am not careful enough I have to make a new one! – no problem. You could make shorter lengths if you are worried about handling and storing them.
The width of the Raate road was 5m (so in 15mm the same as 50mm). The planks are 150mm so I used the whole plank width to be able to model the cleared sides of the road as well as the elevated road surface in the middle. I did this by cutting 50mm wide lengths from a plank and sticking them on the top of the base plank I was doing.
Then I mixed some brown emulsion, caulk (decorators filler, or alternatively an acrylic sealant), bird sand until I get a Nutella like consistency!
Then I covered the roads with the brown mix, I added some extra sand on the sides and added some tyre tracks with a kebab stick.
Then I let it dry for a an evening and then shook of any excess sand and trimmed the sides to make them less straight.
Then I drybrushed the road sections with white acrylic hobby paint.
Then I added (on the sides of the road only) the snow flock mixed with mod podge (matt) or PVA glue and a dash of white paint (acrylic) – I think I prefer the mod podge but pva glue is more affordable. On the top of the road surface I use mod podge mixed 1 to 2.5 with Water (you could use PVA instead of Mod Podge) and sprinkle some snow flock over it (I did not include any acrylic paint in the mix that went of the road). Let it dry and apply some Varnish on top (matte variety).
Log fire prototype
I wanted some fires on the table for a scenario where the column of Sovietic vehicles have stopped and the Sovietic soldiers have dug in and Finns attack at dawn while it is still dark. I had seen some LEDs being used for fire/smoke markers in the past (using the round LED flickering candles).
I went on eBay and ordered a set of red constant light LED 3mm 9v-12v (I got ten for £3.99 including postage) and the same but orange flickering (random flashing). I also got a tube of bare conductive electric paint glue (to avoid needing to solder the wire) for £6.91 and a battery holder with a switch for £3.94.
Then I connected up 2 of the orange and one of the red LEDs with the battery box (adding 8 1.5V batteries of course). If you do this, be careful and do not leave it unattended until you are sure it is working as sparks can fly and cause devastation even at these low voltages. Anyway here is how it looks like.
Then I put the construct and some of the cabling on a base and glued it down with hot glue, covered it up with non-drying clay, put some stones around the fire, a dollop of clear silicone on top and pulled it up a little bit to look like flames.
Here is the finished article.
I really enjoyed doing this, a few notes:
Unless you have a permanent setting where the cabling and LED are in you board there will be an elevation around the fire – I suspect no one would put a fire on top of a little hill surrounded by enemies, if they would make a fire at all! If I develop this further I may look at incorporating this into the roads with fires on the sides (in the ditches) or having small hills on the sides with the fires at the start of the slopes.
There are some lower voltage LED that would required smaller flat batteries, I may look into this instead.
Work is taking more than its fair share of my time at the moment, but it happens to most of us. However, I have had some time to get some things done over the last week or so, this is just a summary of that. As always, I do hope it is of some interest.
Chain of Command – dice, casualty markers and suppression markers
Gaslands – finally a game
Finnish and Sovietic dice
I am currently working on some terrain and markers for winter war Chain of Command. I wanted to have some dedicated Finnish and Sovietic dice so looked around and found a fair few Sovietic options but only one Finnish (very nice ones, sold by Dice of War in Australia, see here). These are not specific ones needed for the game, just the type where the 6 is replaced by a unit or a country symbol and could therefore be used for any game that uses D6s. I wanted to have blue ones for the Finns and Red ones for the Soviets, and thought I could perhaps do some myself. I found some 16mm blank dice on ebay and got myself a few different colours (these are from China so will take a week or two to arrive!, at least if you live in the UK).
I then ordered some labels/stickers from Amazon (13mm).
From Label Planets website (link here) you can get a word template for this label set and buy bigger quantities as well. From this you can design your own labels.
I wanted to have 1 to 5 in the same font as used for the Chain of Command rules. This font is called Vulgar Display of Power (download it here). In addition I wanted the hammer and sickle for the Soviets and the hat emblem that the normal enlisted men had for the Finns, replacing number 6.
Here is are the files with the sheet I made for the Soviets (Russian Dice) and sheet for the Finns (Finnish Dice), these are word files. You can change these to add your own colours and symbols.
I have to admit that I had some problem with the laser printer I was using in aligning the sheet so that it printed out correctly (I wasted three sheets but luckily managed to get two done, which was all I needed)- the final result is not perfect and if you have trouble I can only say I am sorry.
This is how they turned out.
One of the striking things with the Winter War are all the pictures of dead Sovietic soldiers especially in the fighting North of Lake Ladoga. Behind my romanticised view of the war and Finnish bias, I am not immune to the hell those Sovietic soldiers had to go through trapped on those wintery stretches of roads, with inadequate supplies of just about everything. Go to the Wikipedia page and read about the Battle of Suomussalmi (link here) and check the losses on both sides – 50% losses for the Soviets and less than 10% for the Finns.
To create a reminder of this I did a few terrain features with dead Sovietic soldiers (I keep on using this term as the soldiers in the Red army were not only of Russian nationality). They were based on Peter Pig casualty markers (based on anything with a great coat and headswaps to pointy Russian hats and early war helmets).
…and here with some painting, winterization and blood (sorry!).
These are based on the concept of snow flying around as bullets hit the area. I used something called Universal Cooker Hood Filter to do the effect. It is like cotton but much stronger, I attached a part of it with superglue and when dry I dragged it out and trimmed it. I also added a little bit of snow flock carefully on the cloud. I think they do the job well enough.
I have seen explosions markers made out of clump foliage and wanted to make some for the winter war table as it will contrasts nicely with the snowy background, and also have some practical game purpose. So I searched around the net for some ideas and found a few different options.
I made my set of explosion markers by following the recipe by the Terrain Tutor (link here). Always excellent, this time he blew me away again!
I also had a game of Gaslands with my micro cars! (using 50% templates), and it was great, but more on that another time.
/ All the best (yes I know I should be doing GNW!)
This is a follow-on from the post two weeks show some more Chain of Command markers I need to play the game. These are the ones I have done (for other markers go here):
Patrol Markers – done, see below.
Suppression fire – done, see below.
John Bond has a good guide on doing patrol markers and I was going to do them in this fashion using poker chips and then put stickers on – elegant and what you need (link here).
Having read the guide I got myself some Poker chips and found some Finnish and Sovietic symbols on the net to make the stickers from. I then thought that it would be cool to add some skiers on the finish ones and then it all went in another direction, adding stumps, trees and bushes. Overkill – perhaps, but why not? Difficult to turn these around to indicate that they are locked down! Had great fun doing them.
I made these from 10mm wide strips of some wood I had lying around – I suppose I could have used lollipop sticks as well. I added some twigs, green foam, stones and winterises and added some fluffy stuffing mixed with pva glue and some white paint. The last part to stimulate snow flying as shots are being fired.
I am going to make the suppression markers the same, but smaller.
Romans for Command & Colors
I also had my order in from Marching in Colours (link here) of some various miniatures – excellent as always. I spent the weekend basing and a very limited amount of detailing a large lot of Roman (and allied) infantry that I will be using for my Command and Colors game (see more here although I have changed some of the proposed basing conventions). I will do a write up of progress so far next week and also discuss the amount of bases and hexagons needed for this project. I am also working on the forces that will serve under the Barca family, but that will take some time to complete as I will need to focus on the Great Northern War stuff for the next few months.
If you recall episode 6 of the Band of Brothers TV series about the Battle of the Bulge, you may remember the wintery forest fighting scenes (well that was most of it anyway). I really like the cinema photography of that episode (as well as many of the others) and the relatively clear line of sight with regards to obstacles – the dominant thing at forest floor level being the tree trunks. Of course the Ardennes is not only tall pine trees but it is the tall pine trees that, in my view, helps to set the scene. What breaks the line of site is not necessary the trees but the white fog that sweeps the forest and the uncertainty is what is lurking out there.
Mature Scandinavian pine forests look very much the same.
Most winter wargames tables have traditional looking Christmas Trees with some snow – it is the ticket to add some winter feel to your terrain. The pine tree is an evergreen and the Christmas tree shape is easy to deal with and to pimp up to look wintery. They are also relatively cheap, and easy to manage on the wargames table. I have use these to, in my opinion, great effect for my Fraustadt 1706 and Gadebush 1712 tables that was laid out at Joy of Six in the past.
However, in adhering to my new year resolution of doing some Chain of Command Winter war (that is the war fought between Finland and Soviet Union 1939 to 1940) I wanted to try to get some tall pine trees on the table. I looked around the net for some commercial ones but did not find anything that I particularly liked.
I then stumbled upon an excellent video (link here) from the world of railway modelling and followed it to the letter, with the following exceptions:
Basing – I based mine on 40mm washers
Skipped the step on the highlighting with the turf (as, in my case, I will highlight with snow)
I did not add the additional branches on the tree trunk (but perhaps will do that later).
I added some snow (step 1 a mix of snowflock, white paint and glue added on the edges of the branches, dry, step 2 apply hairspray to the tree and let snowflock drop over the tree standing from above).
Have a look at the video (link here) by Luke Towan.
That thing of using the steel brush on the balsa to create something that looks like a tree trunk is just amazingly efficient.
This is how mine turned out – a compromise if we compare to the picture of the forest above – but spot on for what I was looking for!
I did a total of 19 in the first batch (as I can not count to 20 yet! – it seems). I have made enough to do another 70 or so, but not sure how many I need.
Took them for a test drive and I like the way they add to the overall look.
Now I need to figure out a practical way of basing them so they do not fall that easily – I suppose a bigger base with magnets or something like that.
The video show what material you will need to make the trees, it should be all straightforward, but if not let me know. I speculate that the total outlay for doing the 95 trees would be in range of £70 to £100, which is less than £1 per tree. I will let you know when I have finished my batch as I do not know how much spray paint and glue I will be using yet. It is not a difficult project to do, but I trust that you are careful when you use any sharp tools and read the recommendations on any packaging on the materials that you use. I am not saying this as a general statement to absolve myself of any responsibility when you are sent on a violent trip to God-only-knows-where from spray glue fumes or sent to hospital to put your cut off finger back – I am saying this because I still tend to rush into things without considering the safety of myself or more importantly others around me before the production of a piece of shitty wargames terrain.
They are relatively sturdy (the spray glue and in my case the additional hairspray to apply the snow creates some rigidity) and will probably last for a while. I suppose a few more coatings of hairspray would make it even stronger (use poundshop hairspray).
I am using mine to do Winter War using Chain of Command, but I suppose the trees could serve equally well in many other conflicts using other rules. 😉
I intend to do some for Summer actions during the Continuation war at some point, but without the snow of course.