Wednesday, 26 June 2013

Dog Company

Inbetween painting and building the boards for Brecourt Manor I have been painting a few figures. First up are some US Airborne who will represent Dog Company, who came to the aid of Easy Company during the attack.

Dog Company was lead by Lt Ronald Speirs, who was a platoon leader, during the assault. Speirs arrived with five men and they captured the final gun. During the action, Dog Company had one man killed and one wounded (source; Winters) or two men killed (source; Ambrose). The entry on Wikipedia makes reference to two men killed, and one wounded in the assault of the fourth gun. What they all agree on is that one of the men who was with Speirs and lost his life that day was Sgt Julius 'Rusty' Houck, of Co. F., II/506th. In memoriam; Sgt. J. A. Houck .

In his book Winters makes mention that Sgt Bill Guarnere took part in the assault on the final gun with Co. D.; or at least alludes to the same. This is not mentioned by Ambrose or Koskimaki. Unfortunately I do not have Guarnere's memoirs and the material on Mark Bando's site Trigger Time appears to make no reference on this subject. This is unusual since Mr. Bando does seem to like to point out Mr. Ambrose's errors or potential errors.

The figures are from Warlords excellent Bolt Action, US Airborne range.

Monday, 24 June 2013

A Wet Pallette

Yes it may sound rather kinky! But a wet palette could be the one of the greatest inventions ever!!!!

I had until a few years ago never heard of a wet palette until reading a very good post on the Flames of War forum. I'm not sure if you can access the Battlefront forum if you have not registered but this is the link to the relevant article Gallery-for the love of painting (Panzer IV platoon); if you are not a member of the forum I would strongly recommend joining, its full of great ideas, eye candy etc.. Anyway buried in the post is a 'how to' make a wet palette. Great idea I thought must do that, so a couple of years later still had not got round to it.

Then when looking for inspiration on a completely different subject I came across this site and an article on how to make a wet palette; Flory Models. This was about a week ago by the way. So this time I had a rummage round the house and made myself a wet palette;

 So take one sealable tupperware type container;

Then add one sponge cloth;

Pack of four from a well known high street trader. Okay it was Sainsburys and I think they were £1.50 for the pack. Cut to required size;

Soak the sponge cloth under the tap and squeeze out the excess water, place in base of receptacle. Then cut out  a piece of grease proof paper;

Following the instructions from the Flory's site I boiled the kettle let it cool for a couple of minutes then soaked the paper in the hot water. Then removed the paper from the water and carefully folded it to drain off any excess. Then placed the wet paper on top of the cloth and sealed the container.

As you can see I have used the wet palette, the paint inside has been there for about four days now and is still pliable. This is my usual palette;

More and more I'm using Vallejo paints these days and though its great to be able to put a few drops on the palette, it drys quickly (unless you use a flow enhancer or medium to prolong the paint life out of the pot). So now with the wet palette, I should have less waste and especially if mixing paints the same colour combination should  last a while.

In all it took about ten minutes to make and all I had to buy were the cloth sponges, and this nifty little gadget could potentially save me money on paints.          

Friday, 21 June 2013

Building the Brecourt Gun Battery Part 5

Finally I've started to paint the boards. Had a little bit of trial and error before settling on a method which I'm comfortable with. The boards have been given a base coat of Sandtex Exterior paint 'Bitter Chocolate'. In to that I mixed in sand, grit and powdered filler. Then sprinkled on more sand and cat litter onto the base coat. I have then applied another coat (roughly) of the Sandtex paint alone over the base coat.

The extra pieces I had painted previously have been added to the boards, literally just pushed them into the originally mix and then applied some more of the base coat around their edges to hold the scenery in place.

The 'paths' which I had applied in filler have been painted with acrylic burnt umber, to give an initial first contrast from the base colour.

I have also started to make and add on sandbags made from Milliput. This are fairly easy to make; I had a go at making sandbags a few years ago to put on a Sherman (which is still not finished!). I followed a tutorial from Amorama making sandbags (remember this is for 1/35th scale) then and now. There are plenty of tutorials out there, including books from Games Workshop and Forge World, who recommend using Green Stuff. I have used Milliput again. I roll my putty out on an old ceramic tile to reduce it sticking, and make sure you have a pot of water nearby to reduce the stickiness, if required. Also, though this is probably common sense, once the sandbag is down let it cure for a short while and then you can go back to it and really push it into more interesting shapes it required. Lots more to do, and I'm going to add them on first and paint before completing the ground colour for the boards.

This board is the 'test' board. I had experimented with drybrushing the ground but was not entirely happy with the result. So I decided to airbrush the ground colour. I'm much happier with the result. The colours are from the Vallejo Model Air range. Airbrushing is more time consuming, but very rewarding. The other down side is the cost of the paint, particularly since I have a habit of going over the area painted just to add that bit more detail/effect. Of course it will be covered eventually in flock. I've also made the roof for the command bunker, which is removable.

Time to crack on! More to follow.        

Saturday, 15 June 2013

Hollywood vs History....or which is it?

Episode 2 of the HBO mini-series 'Band of Brothers' contains the now famous attack on the gun battery at Brecourt Manor. One detail which stands out in this scene is the fact that the German artillery positions are covered by camo nets.

Now on my miniature version I have neglected to make provision for a frame to support camouflage netting. The reason being I'm not fully sold on the idea that the Germans made that much use of netting. They did use netting, but every time I watched this episode and scene, there was always a niggling sensation that something may not be entirely right. I was well aware of period photographs of German positions covered by  camo netting, but mainly of photos of the Atlantic Wall, and the large fixed positions.

The Allies certainly used camo netting to hide gun positions

I've searched my collection of books on WW2 for reference material either written or pictorial, which would support the use of camo nets by the Wehrmacht. Unfortunately there was nothing concrete which indicated the use of such netting for an improvised position/field fortification. Turning to the Internet came up the same result, and several forums had post on this subject, all of which had the same or similar conclusion to mine. The German's used camo netting but sparingly. The Germans were well known for using mother nature to hide positions, vehicles. etc.

There must be hundreds if not thousands of images of Wehrmacht vehicles/guns/positions, covered in brush/branches; some on the move, some not. What I did see on a few photos was the use of chicken wire, no doubt to hold in the foliage. The use of chicken wire is classically seen on helmets.

The description of the battery position at Brecourt describes the guns being dug into the hedgerow, covered by the trees.

This image appears in 'Beyond Band of Brothers', Major Dick Winters, and is captioned as one of the guns at Brecourt. A similar, if not the same image reversed, appears in 'D-Day with the Screaming Eagles', George Koskimaki, and is captioned as one of the guns at Holdy. Holdy was within Drop Zone C, and was a battery position not identified (it was also captured on D-day). Of note is the lack of real defences around the gun and the position of the gun in relation to the tree line, and no camo netting. A lone source does not make good conclusive evidence, and yes there are many unanswered questions, when was the photo taken i.e. how long after the action, the image may not/does not show the full gun position, damage caused to the site which may disturbed its original layout, etc.. The battery at Holdy was most likely part of 191st Artillery Regiment. Note also the gun shield, more in keeping with the 10.5cm leFH  howitzer, than the mountain gun which I had mentioned in a previous post.

So which do I follow, what History seems to be indicating or Hollywood? Well I'm going with History. I'm not going to put camo netting over the gun pits no matter how 'cool' it may appear. Taking into account descriptions of the site and other reference material, I'm inclined to follow the thought pattern that the position would have used natural coverage to hide the guns. Of course practically, the frames will get in the way of game play, unless removable. Aesthetically the appearance of the netting covering the gun pits may be appealing, but I do not believe it to be necessary.

Okay so this is a minor issue and realistically it can be argued it comes down to personal opinion/taste. As I have raised in earlier posts, there are several controversies regarding this action. More so perhaps due to it's increased notoriety over the last few years, since the TV mini-series. Which obviously increased it's popularity and generated debate.  

Wednesday, 12 June 2013

Building the Brecourt Gun Battery.....Part 4

Okay so its still blue!!!

But I have finished off building the trench sides and floors and painted them too! I have also added some of the scenic items supplied with the Warlord guns.

Now I took the decision to paint and bed these into the boards before adding the ground work. Why? Well these are metal pieces with quite thick bases. I'm hoping that by compressing the styrofoam now will make it easier to hide the bases, rather than disguise them later when the base ground colour is added.

I still need to work out the roof for the command bunker. Reference material indicates that 'earth' bunkers were reinforced with logs. Clearly I have not done this with the internal walls, but may incorporate logs into the roof structure. The jury is still out on that one at the moment.

The trees which will form part of the surrounding hedgerows I had planned to fix permanently into the board. But since I intend to use 'Woodland Scenic' tree armatures I have cut away part of the hedgerow bank and added the tree bases provided with the armatures. This will give the choice to leave the tree in or remove when transporting/storage.

The plastic bases have then been covered with modelling clay so only the hole is left showing.  Next will be to paint the ground base coat and bed in some more scenic items which I have painted ready to go.