Military Trains, Trollys, Rubble, and Ruins

WR’s Festung Breslau April 1945 scenarios required lots of building ruins and their rubble for the 20mm Flames of War (FOW) miniatures to transit, give cover to, and charge across. Adding some rubble to all the Volkssturm platoon team bases creates additional demand for linoleum discarded scrap pieces, Breslau has several trolley lines branching out from the city center plus railroads heading to the train station and rail yard…. so rail tracks, some abandon train freight cars, city station, and trolley infrastructure to complete the tabletop. So, here is how WR fulfilled the rubble requirement and tabletop trolley trams. Later in this blog posting, WR will cover his FOW military and supply train construction for future rear area battles between the German security forces and Russian and Balkans partisans. Lastly, a quick detail on his heavy Flak Train construction for those interested readers since this blog posting is train themed.

Rubble: Over the years WR has saved the FOW linoleum base corner trimmings just for this purpose. The question quickly arose how to reduce the “standardized corner clipping” of several years to a more ragged and blasted look. Thinking on the project task over several days, WR one morning was pounding nails…. then thought about the impacting process…. pound the debris pieces with same hammerhead. Process worked… but quickly scattered the pieces in all direction with each impact. Hence the old wash cloth covering. WR pounds the pile covered by the worn wash cloth, which holds the pounded debris material under the worn fabric. Linoleum title makes great rubble since it has a flat surface like most concrete walls, using cat litter doesn’t give the same look and texture since it is more rounded in general ragged shape.

Rubble materials. Floor tile (Linonulm scrap pieces) used with FOW basing, old hand cloth to cover the rubble during hammer pounding, and piliers to break into into rough / ragged pieces. Bagged or container for holding the scrap pieces.

Staining the wood cut boards. Basically thinned Tamiya paint (XF-10 Brown). Dip into thinned brown wash, then dried on wax paper. Remember to separate the stained boards while drying.

Gluing pounded rubble mix to former Zvezda bases saved from 1/72 sets. Typically takes two or three gluing stages to mound up rubble for height. Then add several finger pressure broken wood scale boards. I use the fingers to break the small boards for the broken end look.

Ruins: Over the years WR found he was collecting the old Matchbox 1/76 scale kit display bases. Many of these display bases had one wall from a ruined building for model display background. So, playing around with the single wall building displays, WR hit upon the concept of gluing three or four of these walls to form a defined ruin building perimeter. Apply some linoleum created rubble in the interior and just outside the wall ruins. Glue to a shaped linoleum floor tile and terrain flocking as needed. End result is a ruins zone, excellent for FOW 20mm gaming. Also these ruin zones could be used for WR’s future Blood and Plunder gaming, a new side project started last Christmas. Examples in photos below.

Two Linoleum 12′ square tiles from Lowes (84 cents each), ruins with rubble project from old 1/76 Matchbox kits mounted on linoleum tile base, Lastly, Volkssturm platoon based with rubble.,

Trolleys and trams. These are old San Francisco trolley car tourist trade models painted in Breslau tram deep red or green colors taken from old cityscape photos. N scale train / tram clip together tracks. Sample Zvezda bases for rubble markers and street barricade rubble linear piles.

Trolley, trams, trolley rails, rubble piles, and rubble street linear barricages in storage box. WR uses a two layer storage approach for flat terrain pieces. If rubble breaks off, just PVC back on.

Complete rubble construction steps process. the ruins process is similar, just a different and larger type of bases:

Step 1) Gather the required materials for rubble. Linoleum broken tiles, staining wash paint, PVC glue, small sized wood raw boards, something for the underlayer base. Tools are piliers, hammer, worn hand cloth, craft knife if needed, brushes etc.

Step 2) Break the linoleum scrap into small pieces. Doesn’t need to be really small, the hammering process with reduce size quickly. Grab a handful of rubble material, place on solid flat surface (I used concrete patio), cover with old worn handcloth, then hammer the pile to desired rubble size. Brush up the rubble, and the finer dust or near linoleum powder, and place in temporary storage container. Repeat hammering process till sufficient material created.

Step 3) Gather the bases for the rubble piles. WR saves his Zvezda miniature display bases for his rubble. They come in various sizes and shapes….1″ to 3″ in diameter. They make excellent bases for the rubble piles, lightweight and sturdy for the heavy rubble mix applied above. WR spray paints his Zvezda display bases flat white or brown for the PVC to grip the plastic better. Otherwise, sized linoleum title can be used for the rubble bases, WR based his linear rubble sector length on 1″ x 4″ or 1″ x 2″ bases for example.

Step 4) Finnish off the basing to taste before applying the rubble. WR applies a cover of Woodland Scenics brown flocking material for the base edges for example. This step can be done after rubble applied by WR found the flocking material became mixed with the rubble, and as such looked funny.

Step 5) Apply the rubble material to your basing project with PVC glue. In the photos you see linear 2″ and 4″ rubble street barricades, rubble piles for destroyed buildings, tabletop random piles, rubble around the tipped trolley cars, and the bases for Flames of War platoons (like WR’s Volkssturm and Hitlerjugend platoons). Perform two or three gluing stages to build the rubble or ruins height. The finer linoleum pounded “powder” works great to fill in the large rubble gaps. When completed, WR applied a final water thinned coat of PVC to “seal” the rubble pile, gluing any small loose pieces in the process.

Step 6) Stain the glued rubble material with a shade of thinned brown water based paint. WR used Tamiya XF-52 Earth Brown color. Just brush the thinned paint on the rubble with old brush and let dry.

Step 7) Stain the wood boards with desired brown color. Again WR used a thinned Tamiya color for this effect, darker (XF-10 Brown) than the XF-52 Earth Brown color used for the rubble wash. Make sure to separate the boards after staining otherwise they will stick together.

Step 8) Glue the wood boards to the rubble piles. How much wood depends on the modeler and the base area surface size. WR typically had 3-5 broken boards on his larger FOW team bases (2.5″ x 1.75″). Lesser number or wood broken boards on the smaller command teams. WR used his fingers to snap the boards into two lengths, different lengths as the process continued. PVC glue used to mount the small broken wood pieces scattered across the team bases or ruins.

Step 9) Apply other battlefield debris to bases as desired. Think items like old jerry cans, discarded weapons, broken furniture, doors, baby prams etc.

Step 10) Spray a clear sealer coat on the rubble pile bases. Review the photos to show the process and examples from WR’s rubble and ruins terrain collection.

Trains: For the upcoming WhedonCon Convention in Los Angeles (June 7th-9th at LAX LA Hilton), WR plans to run several Partisan warfare games, especially involving trains, FOW Sicherungskompanie forces, and Soviet partisans or Partizanskiy Brigada. These platoons can be found in the FOW Red Bear and Grey Wolf Ver3.0 hard book supplements. As WR paints up his German allied 20mm (1/72nd) miniature force, made up of Ukrainian, Latvian, and German security platoons with support, he is faced with the task of collecting and / or building a model train based from FOW organization. We all know of the armored trains which roamed the rails in Russia and Eastern Europe, but WR desires a low key train, the common rolling stock with “protection and weapon improvements” to transport the rear zone security detachments or Sicherungs platoons. In addition, WR desires an ability to swap out different weapons on his “improvised train” models or rolling stock. So, he came up with the following outlined process to model his train and the weapons carried.

Before the process of construction, WR gives some background material. Years ago, FOW Battlefront posted an internet topic “Train raid” scenario and “Train Attack” mission, which gives additional insight towards the unarmored train warfare using FOW Ver3.0 rules. Note: A keen reader’s eye will note the railcar machine gun cars have different ranges between the two train warfare articles. WR is unsure why? a HMG should have 24″ range and not 16″ range. If reflecting a LMG weapon team, then 16″ range is correct. Armored trains covered in the MRB Ver3.0 may have slightly different characteristics too. With that said, here are the old internet Battlefront “Train Raid” scenario and “Train Attack” mission as .pdf:   The-train-attack-mission .pdf and the Train-Raid-Scenario .pdf files. Before starting on your own military train project, WR recommends reading both these topic articles.

To constructio….First thing…. American railroad rolling stock doesn’t look like European rolling stock. The number of wheels, axles, and car coupler designs are completely different. So with some patience, WR strolled through european Ebay sites and found several cheap Marklin HO scale models, of low flat car and low walled gondolas, over the last several months, mainly to transport his security platoons (infantry railcars) and weapons (gun rail cars), plus build a 8.8cm FlaK37 train (more on this special train later). Plus, while looking for the suitable military rolling stock, WR found several plain old fashioned Marklin HO scale box freight cars, some flat cars, and hopefully soon, a couple of fuel or liquid tank cars to make up a supply train configuration.

Once the raw rolling stock Marklin HO models started to arrive in the warren, the process of conversion commerenced. The flat car rolling stock remains unchanged. Same for the freight box cars for the supply trains. Just some subdued common brown paint color applied for a generic supply train if not already so colored. WR could have painted the rolling stock in military Germanic grey shades, but decided the basic brown gives more regional scenario wargame opportunities.

Raw material under construction. Stained wood board and some basic plastic card material. Upper row shows the plastic card glued then woods boards applied to railcar gondolas. Right photo shows construction of the weapon trays for placement in low short gondolas railcars.

For the Infantry and Weapon (gun) railcar military rolling stock, a bit more construction effort is required. First item of note. WR wished to have his military railcars with the ability to remove the weapon (gun team) or the infantry teams mounted in the railcar. This would allow the railcar for other purposes and, if destroyed, remove the glued infantry manning the railcar to reflect the wrecked infantry railcar. Thus WR had to design a system of removable bases, or sabots, for all the teams.

Railcar interior construction. First the infantry railcars then the weapon (gun) railcars:

Step 1) Measure the interior dimensions of the low walled short Marklin HO scale gondola infantry railcar. Then WR cuts plastic card measuring the correct length and approximately 1cm in height (width). This plastic card provides the stifl backing to the future wooden board walls glued to the gondola low wall edging. Additionally, the plastic card creates the steel (bullet proof) protection look when painted primer grey, and creates the steel side exit doors for the infantry railcar. To create the doors look, before gluing the plastic card to the gondola interior walls, WR figured out the centerpoint on the gondola long side plastic card, then scored out the door opening on the plastic card with a sharp xacto knife. Scoring with a sharp xacto knife, but not cutting completely through the thin plastic card material.

Step 2) Glue (ethyl cyanoacrylate used) the sized plastic card to the Marklin HO scale gondola interior walls. Note the end walls can be completed across the short gondola length or, as WR did it, a small opening was left to allow the soldiers to transit between the individual railcars during their mission. Let dry.

Step 3) Cut to length required and glue stained wooden boards to the exterior exposed surface of the plastic card directly in vertical alignment with the low gondola wall. WR used ethyl cyanoacrylate glue again for this step. Make sure to leave clear the area of the “scored” gondola plastic card doors. While building the wooden board protection wall. use an overlapping interweaving wood board effect as possible. Let dry.

Step 4) Paint the infantry railcar gondolas as desired. Again WR mentions he kept his railcar exterior a neutral brownish color and not painted as a military grey look. For the wood boards apply brown stain touch up as needed. Paint the interior wall plastic card a primer grey color for the steel (bullet proof) sheeting, including the plastic card doors. WR dry brushed a little gunmetal color to create worn steel plates. Some rust effect could be added if desired. If you wish a fancy look, give the doors some painted hinges and knobs. I say paint them… as any raised surface will interfere with the infantry and weapon (gun) team sabot installation (see below). Lastly, WR applied a black wash, let all paintwork dry, then sealed the gondolas with a clear spray.

Step 5) For the weapon or gun carrying railcar gondolas, the process is similar but different to allow the weapons to have some bullet proof protection and engage their enemies. WR omitted the armored plastic card backing look as these cannon have gun shields (Flak 20mm and the Infantry IG18 cannon) to protect their crews. A modeler could just add the armor plastic card step if desired. So instead, WR just glued the stained wood boards vertically to create a low wall above the low gondola wall. Along the side and gondola end with interweaving effect. The height and firing opening determined by the actual 1/72nd scale gun model when test placed inside the gondola. Keep in mind the wood board covered sabot height too. A broad opening was left centerpoint on the gondola to enable the cannon weapon to be disembarked, using a basic wooden ramp, from the railcar gondola. Look closely at WR’s finished weapon railcar gondolas to see what he has been explaining in text above. A photo is a thousand words.

Step 6) Paint or stain as required to finish the weapon (gun) railcar gondola. Then black wash, let dry, and then seal with clear spray.

With the gondola transport completed, time to create the weapons (guns) and infantry team sabots for the gondolas:

Step 1) Quickly rummaging in his old discarded miniature bases bin, WR found sufficient cut thin metal sheets to mount the weapon or gun mounts with their crew. For the large infantry car, WR cut out plastic card to interior size of the short Marklin HO scale low walled gondola, keeping in mind the added plastic card backing walls to the gondola, hence slightly smaller than the actual Marklin HO scale interior dimensions.

Step 2) Realizing that WR couldn’t leave the raw textureless bases, WR glued the same stained wooden boards to the bases. Zap-A-Gap ethyl cyanoacrylate glue was used for the affixment since PVC wouldn’t hold wood board bonding to metal or plastic card. Once dried, sanded the exposed wooden decking edge to fit the interior of the gondola railcar as required, keeping in mind the small windage needed to clear the plastic card walls.

Step 3) Paint or wash stain the weapon or gun team sabot bases as required. A black wash was applied later, let dry, then clear seal the sabot bases.

Step 4) Construct the weapons (guns) kits and paint them. WR purchased Zvezda 1/72nd FlaK 20mm single cannon models and German Infantry IG18 guns to weaponize his railcar gondola. Two models of each and they come with some crew miniatures too. Remember to save the Zvezda display bases for the rubble pile project. Plus WR created 8cm mortar teams, and to compete the military train armament, found an old Pak 36 37mm cannon. Glue these weapons (cannon) to their individual sabot wood board covered bases so they can peek over the weapon (gun) railcar gondola walls. Note… the sabots are never glued to the gondola.

Step 5) Paint the required crew miniatures to man the weapons. Since WR’s security (military train) was to be manned by Ukrainian and Latvian security platoons, with some German advisors present, the miniature uniforms followed these Eastern Front uniforms for the 1941-1943 period. WR painted the single Latvian platoon in their former 1940 brown uniform to contrast the Ukrainian middle grey uniform. For WR’s infantry cars, the middle grey uniformed Ukrainians posed a striking effect. Another benefit for the Ukrainian uniform color… they look similar to the German rear area security forces, especially in 1/72nd scale, hence they can perform double stand in duty on the tabletop.

Step 6) Per a modeler’s desire, extra weapon equipment, ammunition boxes, jerry or fuel cans, boxes, tarps, etc can be placed on or inside any of the gondolas. Maybe a raised shady tarp covering. To complete his military train, WR purchased a small Marklin HO scale passenger car for the officers to travel in style, provide a possible military kitchen area, have a radio room for long range communications, and hold additional military supplies.

Note: For the infantry car sabots, WR just painted up a representative number of 20mm miniatures. Painting and placing a complete platoon’s worth of 20mm miniatures would be a dense mob in the small gondola space. Basically represents one-third the number of miniature 1/72nd soldiers… about ten in each infantry railcar vs. the platoon’s thirty soldiers on organizational strength.

Note: Typically most military train security railcars with infantry platoons, and WR thinks every armored train railcar, carries two machine guns. So, if you look closely on the infantry railcar sabot, WR mounted two machine gun teams on each sabot base, one MG team at each end of the infantry sabot. They are not part of the disembarking security infantry platoon organization (per Grey Wolf supplement), but are found under the Sicherungskompanie HQ platoon. Same thing for the 8cm mortar teams, they are organized from the Sicherungskompanie HQ platoon.

WR’s Sicherungskompanie force. One Latvian (at left) and two Ukrainian Sicherungs platoons (foreground right). Behind, the Company HQ weapon HMG / 8cm mortar teams organized with their own optional command team. Center rear, WR painted a Todt organization worker platoon.

Side view. Latvian platoon in right foreground. Ukrainian Sicherungs platoons above them. At left, the two HQ platoon HMG / 8cm mortar teams with cmd, and the Todt worker platoon.


For WR’s complete Sicherungskompanie platoon list at present time of writing:

1. Company HQ has Company CinC, 2iC SMG teams, two 8cm GW34 mortar teams, two HMG teams using the old MG08/15 weapon (in FOW terms they should rate as LMG teams). Hey… they are rear area platoons… why give them the good machine guns. Looking closely, there is a Lativain and Ukrainian version of the Company HQ group, hence WR painted two different HW team groups. Also, as a last minute thought. WR painted an extra command team for each weapon team group so he could create independent weapons platoons for anti-partisan scenarios.

2. Latvian Sicherungs platoon with command team and six rifle teams in their brown former 1940 Latvian army uniforms. WR used a Strelets 1/72 WWI Russian infantry (summer uniforms) box of plastic miniatures for this platoon.

3. Two Ukrainian Sicherungs platoons with their command team and six rifle teams. WR used the Strelets WWII “Police Battalion” box of miniatures (2 of them in total) for each of these Ukrainian platoons. The extra miniatures leftover completed the crew manning the infantry railcar gondola (sabots).

4. One must have a Todt Organization platoon to perform the labor working party and track repairs. So WR painted in their brown uniforms a platoon’s worth of workers tolling away on the work project. These pseudo-military infantry teams normally would stack their rifles while working, if armed in the first place. So if fired upon, takes them a moment to grab their rifles, pistols etc, and return fire. Most likely WR would force immediate platoon morale test to regain their rifles and return fire…. otherwise they bolt for the rear for good. For the Todt organization platoon, they are the working party miniatures found in the 1.72nd Revell German Pioneer set.

5. Lastly, WR has several railroad version armored car kit to construct. At the time of this blog post, only his Aufkl Pz Wg P204(f) have been built and painted (RPM 1/72 kits). Still to build; his Pz38(t) tank carrying railcar (RPM), and former Russian BA-6 and FAI armored cars (UM kits). These armored cars will patrol the railroad track before and after his military or supply train, or maybe be independent platoon to arrive and support his security forces against partisans.

WR’s budding rail armoured car force. Here are the two Aufkl Pz Wg P204(f) armoured cars. These a former French Panhard armored cars adapted for German security forces.

So depending on the scenario, WR now can create a military train with options on the train’s armament and supportive armored cars. WR refers the reader to the above linked FOW scenario and mission .pdfs on possible train armament and infantry platoon packages. In total, the military train itself can have:

  1. Up to three infantry cars, each rail car per FOW rules holds an infantry platoon. WR painted and separately FOW standard based two Ukrainian and one former Latvian security platoons for disembarking on to the tabletop. Keep in mind WR’s FOW infantry team basing is larger since he games FOW in 20mm scale, and not the standard 15mm scale miniatures. Till they disembark from the military train for ground combat, WR has the infantry team sabots to place in his infantry railcar gondolas.
  2. Two weapon (gun) railcar gondolas. They can swap out the Pak 36 37mm A/T, two Infantry IG18 guns, two Flak 20mm single mount guns, or two 8cm mortar teams. Generally WR would use one cannon team and maybe a mortar team in a single weapons (gun) gondola. The Flak 20mm generally were independent weapon (gun) gondolas. Each of these weapon gun teams can, in theory, disembark from their railcar gondola and be placed on the tabletop with standard based FOW gun teams.
  3. Lastly, WR painted up a train command team to provide overall command to his military train command.

The finished infantry transport railcars, the weapon bases for the gun railcars, and the ability to remove the infantry miniatures from the infantry railcar shown. Construction detail in text.

Marklin HO scale supply train railcars for the growing WR collection. The three short double axle low gondola cars, three freight boxcar types, a single long low gondola car, and two generic flat cars…. to carry military vehicles and such. Still need short tender behind small locomotive.

Flak Train: Players who use the Nachtjager LW supplement see these Luftwaffe platoons as a LW German divisional support choice. WR has always wished to have these railyard hidden German assets on a tabletop so while searching about for rail stock, WR purchased several Marklin HO scale long low gondolas to construct his FlaK railcars. Maybe a partisan raid on a German rail supply depot yard scenario thinks WR. Somebody will be surprised. Modelcollect makes a 1/72 10.5cm FlaK39 kit on the open market (available on Ebay), but alas, no 8.8cm FlaK37 1/72nd model is presently manufactured, except for Battlefront OOP smaller scale 15mm scale miniature kit. So WR would have to build his own 20mm (1/72) version for tabletop use.

FlaK37 Twin 8.8cm Railcar construction:

Step 1} WR purchased several Marklin HO scale long low walled gondola railcars. These railcars are four axle models and not the common short Marklin HO scale double axle railcar models, used for the infantry and weapon (gun) gondolas, as seen in the railcar gondolas collection photos above.

Step 2) Construct the 8.8cm FlaK37 cannon kits. WR used Zvezda 1/72 kits for these 8.8cm cannon. They come as complete FlaK37 cannon with base carriage, gun crew 1/72nd miniatures (five miniatures I think), but no trailer wheels. WR didn’t need any wheels so the only change in the construction process is “don’t glue” the mounting to the ground base carriage. This allows WR to swap the cannon from their ground base carriage to the built FlaK railcar mounting box.

Step 3) Build out the FlaK railcar ammunition bays. WR looked into his scrap kit part box, sorting bags, and trays. He located a bunch of KV-1 tank fuel tanks of the rectangular shape with curved forward edge from the many PST KV series kits he has built. Just right for an ammunition stacked bin look. Glue four in a vertical stack, one atop the other. WR constructed eight KV-1 fuel tank stacks, four for each railcar in two zones (see photos). Lastly, WR measured, trimmed, and glued plastic card to create the armored walls around the stacked ammunition bins. Glue in some odd looking low boxes between the ammunition stacks and the 8.8cm FlaK37 railcar ready ammunition supply station is finished.

Step 4) Building the railcar 8.8cm cannon mounts. With the need to swap the cannon from railcar to ground carriage base, the 1/72 Zvezda kit has two plastic extension pins beneath the bottom mounting. WR kept the pins intact and cut out a 1″ balsa wood piece to create the raised mounting platform. Atop this WR glued a scrap Esci / Italeri interior deck from some old Sherman kit…. the one with the engine interior if WR remember correctly. The reason for the plastic top layer is to give a solid mount for the plastic cannon pins to hold on…. balsa wood bored holes would wear out quickly. Mounting holes drilled to match the pin dimensions and distance apart. See the photos for the finished look.

Step 5) Painting was easy. WR painted his 8.8cm FlaK railcar, and all the 8.8cm cannon and carriage mounting, in panzer grey color, then applied gunmetal / steel color edgework for appearance of wear, then finished off with applied black wash for the fine detail to pop out.

Step 6) WR glued the supplied 1/72 Zvezda gun crew miniatures together then painted as Luftwaffe uniformed gunners. A couple of spare extra gunners painted from the spares box added to complete the railcar crew. For the carriage gun ground base, WR assembled some Caesar 1/72nd Flak and AA crews miniatures, painted up as matching Luftwaffe gunners like the railcar crew, then glued to the stationary carriage ground base. Note, position the ground base crew miniatures so that the 8.8cm cannon can easily be swapped out.

This is what the actual 8.8cm FlaK37 railcar mounting looked like. Positioned in a railway yard for AA area protection.

FOW FlaK AA railcars platoons come in two varieties per the Nachtjager LW supplement. Don’t be restricted to LW deployment and scenarios, these FlaK railcars rolled the German controlled rail network in France, Italy, and Russia during the later half of the MW period too. The twin 8.8cm FlaK37 railcar version, and later single mount 10.5cm Flak39 railcar, plus dozens of railcar variants for the smaller AA cannon like 20mm and 37mm, roamed the rails. Battlefront posted details on these heavy AA railcar FlaK platoons years ago under Ver3.0 heyday of the MRB. WR saved his internet copies as .pdf versions:  Twin 8.8cm FlaK37 Railcar.pdf and 10.5cm FlaK39 Railcar.pdf

Two Flak 8.8cm railcars. One has 8.8cm Flak cannon on railcar, the other 8.8cm Flak cannon are mounted on Zvezda 1/72 kit carriage base. WR constructed the models so cannon can swap out.


Close up side view of the stock long low gondola Markin HO scale railcar and the completed Flak 8.8cm model. Note: WR didn’t model his FlaK railcar with sides folded down for firing position.

FOW data for the FlaK37 railcar.



Cheers from the terrain & Train construction dept.



2 thoughts on “Military Trains, Trollys, Rubble, and Ruins

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