Winter Terrain

With the planned WWII Flames of War Peiper’s Charge Bulge scenario set in the winter month of December 1944 and coming up at the local HMGS-PSW regional convention in Fullerton CA, WR took stock of his wintered terrain early last month. Other than an old white bed sheet there was limited suitable terrain to give that “cold” feeling on the tabletop. So it’s time to create, construct, paint, flock, and place in the freezer some terrain…. lots of surface area terrain for a 18′ x 6′ table worth in Peiper’s Charge. Time to call in labor reinforcements too…. aka Daniel, to assist on this winter project. Results of several weekends and after work evenings is written next.

First up is the background ground sheet tabletop cover. Two 5×9′ drop sheet are purchased from Lowes ($12) with a pale tan or buff cloth color. To these laid out sheets WR and Daniel sprays “spots” of light brown and dark brown scattered across the drop cloths. Once dry…. a few minutes in the hot sun did the trick, a light dusting spray of semi-gloss white spray paint applied to blend the spots, especially the dark brown ones. Then after locating an old semi-gloss white paint can, well season ancient paint no doubt, WR and Daniel apply a dry brush scatter effect across the drop cloth using old 2″ stiff brushes. Heavy or light, randomly across the cloth material in different directions. Used semi-gloss to give a “glimmer of ice water” effect. Gloss white paint works too but WR only had semi-gloss. WR already has some large clips to attach the drop cloth edge to the convention tables and smooth out the cloth wrinkles.

The 5′ x 9′ drop cloth given the mentioned texture paintwork.

Basic ground cover done…. time to create some fleece cloths with a similar treatment for the woods (outlining them on the tabletop) and ability to drop down heavy snow drifts or deep snow areas. Purchased some Blizzard white fleece cloth on sale at the local JoAnn store (a fabric and crafts store) during their 50% off sale. WR uses fleece cloth over common felt as it is flexible and more importantly, the loose fabric threads in fleece tend to attach themselves to the textured rough surface drop cloth, wood hills, large terrain tiles, or other terrain WR has in his collection. Helps keep the fleece cloth edge firmly flush on the tabletop and preventing the fleece cloth edge curling up.. Fleece cloth has two nap sides, a smooth nap side and the “rougher” nap side. It is the “rougher” side which is placed face down, to cling to my other terrain when hand pressed during game setup. The fleece smooth nap side is given the terrain paintwork.

First, a random spotting spray of the two brown shades, a lighter tan (off white) color and the dark brown shade on the wood underlay pieces. For the snow drifts or deep snow pieces only the light tan spotted spray effect is done. The darker brown gives effect of deep / shaded wood interior with limited sunlight hitting the ground. Drying in the sun again then WR lightly sprays the tan color against the cutting edge of each individual fleece cloth shape. Some light tan overspray is done on the top surface inwards for about an inch or so, to give the blending effect to the drop cloth and brilliant white fleece material interior thus defusing the brilliant white fleece cloth color to the tan / buff under color of the terrain drop cloths. In other words, avoids the stark hard white line look.

All the cut fleece shapes are laid out on the lawn and the spotted brown and edge paint applied. Note the snow drift or deep snow pieces don’t have the heavy or dark brown spotting effect.

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Ludendorff Bridge 1945 Preparation

WR intends to use this updating blog post to show some of the steps WR completes to bring his Remagen Ludendorff bridge 1945 Flames of War (20mm) scenario to life. Each week WR hopes to update this blog article with news of forward progress towards the Remagen Ludendorff bridge scenario, the unit miniatures needed or painted from bare plastic or lead, reference material collected, scenario written up, model and terrain construction, and the long list of small but incremental steps towards a “hoped for” successful scenario game, playtested sometime late March or early April, and featured at the Memorial day regional LAX convention.

Look for the dated updates [xx/xx/2018] below as WR adds to article text.

Previously WR had posted the complete scenario outline and commentary for changes. The Flames of War (FOW) Ludendorff bridge scenario link on WR:  Remagen Ludendorff Bridge 1945

While WR takes inventory of the miniature requirements and what he has already painted in his WWII 20mm American and German collections this weekend, he starts with the basic tabletop terrain requirements. There is the Rhine river itself to simulate, a steel beam long railroad bridge, converted to vehicle transit, two river stone piers, a ramp rise and overcrossing for the rail line to and from the bridge, a railroad tunnel outlined by a cut stone opening into a high but somewhat climb-capable hill with rear uphill roadway, a sunken or anchored river barge(s), some woods, and two separated villages or built up areas. The roads, buildings, and woods WR has in his wargame terrain collection….. the other terrain will need to be constructed.

The scenario map. For WR’s scenario game the squares are 12″ deep and 15″ wide to create a 25% increase in tabletop width due to the use of 20mm scale miniatures.

02/26/2018] First the four towers flanking the four corners of the bridge. WR looked around and found on Ebay these foam cemetery vase inserts ($3 each) which are 8″ tall and 3.5″ wide at base, tapering to 2.75″ at inverted top (base). WR applied a light cost of drywall spackling to fill in the airy holes found in the form and smooth out the foam nicks. Once dry, sand to create a smooth finish then “file out” the stonework grooves and notches to taste. See photos below for example of technique.

Applying a light cover coat of drywall spackling to fill in the foam “airy holes and any nicks or dents. Once dry lightly sand to smooth texture using a sanding block for drywall work.

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Preparation Operation Overcast FOW 1945

Along with the Battle of Saalfeld 1806 napoleonic scenario, WR and Daniel have arranged for a larger post war May 1945 scenario called “Operation Overcast” 1945. This scenario is a different mold for WR’s normal Flames of War (20mm) scenarios; not historical but a hypothetical scenario with possible combative action between former allies the United States and their opposite number the Soviet Red Army, with scenario goals not necessary combative but the seeking of former German military technology itself, and most importantly, their inventive human technicians. Toss in the streams of German refugees, escaped concentration camp population, fanatical “Nazi SS” diehards to cause trouble, models representative of the advanced German technology on the tabletop, and the horrors of post war German still under the deaden atmosphere of the war’s end.

WR intends to use this updating blog post to show some of the steps WR completes to bring a convention level Flames of War (20mm) scenario to life. Each week WR hopes to update this blog article with news of forward progress towards the Operation Overcast scenario, the unit miniatures needed or painted from bare plastic or lead, reference material collected, scenario written up, model and terrain construction, and the long list of small but incremental steps towards a “hoped for” successful scenario game. At the same time, another concurrent running progressive blog article will cover the Saalfeld 1806 scenario planned for October 1st, at the same convention.

Look for the dated updates [xx/xx/17] below as WR adds to article text.

Here is the Operation Overcast scenario notes (.doc) file: Operation Overcast 1945 Scenario notes

Forward then…. the time start line for Operation Overcast scenario is the final German surrender document ending all the active combative operations. Signed at Reims France on May 7, 1945, the Second World War ended on May 8th (or 9th in USSR). Before this date the major power; USA, Britain, and the Soviet Union all had active special operations in progress, with their forward armies, and behind the German lines. These special operations; small fast-moving columns of light vehicles, well armed soldiers, and veteran hand-picked officers regarded for their military and scientific knowledge, comb the open and enclosed German countryside for hidden technological hardware and the scientific brains behind the wonder weapon design.

The May 7, 1945 surrender document signed at Reims France. There was other regional surrenders before and after this date but this document ended the active fighting universally.

General situation May 1945 when peace came. Only the white zones controlled by German army. The red zones occupied by allied forces during the last two weeks of active war.

Post 8/4/17: Some high brow background material. The Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) established the first secret recruitment program, called Operation Overcast, and hence the name for this scenario, initially “to assist in shortening the Japanese war and to aid our postwar military research.” The term “Overcast” was the name first given by the German scientists’ family members for the housing camp where they were held in Bavaria. In September 1945, the JCS established the Joint Intelligence Objectives Agency (JIOA) to directly oversee Operation Overcast and later Operation Paperclip. In November 1945, Operation Overcast was renamed Operation Paperclip by Ordnance Corps (United States Army) officers, who would attach a paperclip to the folders of those rocket experts whom they wished to employ in America. President Truman formally approved Operation Paperclip in a secret directive, circulated on September 3, 1946.

The later Operation Paperclip was the secret United States Joint Intelligence Objectives Agency (JIOA) program in which more than 1,600 German scientists, engineers, and technicians (many of whom were formerly registered members of the Nazi Party and some of whom had leadership roles in the Nazi Party) were recruited and brought to the United States for government employment from post-Nazi Germany (after World War II). The primary purpose for Operation Paperclip was for the U.S. to gain a military advantage in the burgeoning Cold War, and later Space Race, between the U.S. and Soviet Union. By comparison, the Soviet Union were even more aggressive in recruiting Germans; during their Operation Osoaviakhim, Soviet military units forcibly (at gunpoint) recruited 2,000+ German specialists to the Soviet Union during one night and sent them east. WR will add more dated scenario background material on future updating posts below.

Final military operations at war end. Soviets have taken Berlin. American armies surging into southern Germany, then Austria. Canadian and British take the North Sea coast line.

Early predetermined occupation zones circa 1944 into early 1945. The final zonal borders shifted with discussions between the allies. Note Austria also had several occupational zones.

The purple zone became Russian controlled after the western allies retired back to their established occupational zones.

This Flames of War (20mm) scenario has a large “build and paint” list of projects, especially compared to the other napoleonic Saalfeld 1806 scenario which has the majority of the terrain on hand (in collections) and miniatures painted. The list and expanded details of completion will be regularly posted to this updating blog article as WR and Daniel finish them: Continue reading

Preparation for Saalfeld 1806

Today is August the 1st. In two months WR is scheduled to GM, with his son Daniel, the 28mm Battle of Saalfeld 1806 napoleonic scenario at the regional HMGS-PSW Fall convention, held in Fullerton CA (CSUF) on Sept 30th-Oct 1st, and in conjunction with the International Plastic Modelers Society (IPMS) convention at the same location. Full convention details found on scanned flyer at end of this updating article. HMGS-PSW

WR intends to use this uupdating blog post to show the many steps WR completes to bring a convention level napoleonic scenario to life. Each week WR hopes to update this blog article with news of forward progress towards the Saalfeld 1806 napoleonic scenario, the unit miniatures needed or painted from bare lead, reference material collected, scenario written up, and the long list of small but incremental steps towards a “hoped for” successful scenario game. At the same time, another concurrent running progressive blog article will cover the other planned Flames of War (20mm) post war May 1945 scenario planned for Sept 30th at the same convention.

Look for the dated updates [xx/xx/17] below as WR adds to article text.

Scenario notes .doc file for Battle of Saalfeld 1806: Saalfeld 1806 Scenario notes

Initial 8/1/17 post: Why Saalfeld 1806? Well, about a decade ago WR acquired small Prussian 1806 28mm collection. At the same time, found on the Ebay world, someone was selling a collection of 1809 era unpainted (raw lead) 25mm Old Glory Saxons, which for a very cheap price, found a new home in the WR miniature ranks. About four years ago, just before moving to the new gaming warren, WR spent several winter and spring months painting up the 25mm Saxon collection for future 1809 campaign battles and also covering the 1806 era organizationally. WR is aware that the Old Glory miniature backpacks are French inspired and not Prussian look for the 1806 Saxons… but for this scenario, their gleaning white ranks will suffice unless Dan M and his “1806 correct uniform” Saxon miniatures make the tabletop. Either way, the Saxon army portion on the tabletop Saalfeld battlefield is miniature covered.

Required Saxon units for Saalfeld 1806 are: Saxon Hussars, KurPrinz Regt, Pz. Clemens Regt, the Xavier Regt, and a Saxon foot battery. All are found in the Saxony box below.

Saxons ready to go. The line cavalry is stored in another box but only the hussar regiment was at Saalfeld.

For the Prussians a lot more work is required by WR. Thankfully at Saalfeld 1806 the Prussian contingent is small and includes the following units: Schimmelpfenning Hussars, von Ruhle, von Pelet, and von Rabenau Fusilier btns, several Jager company sized detachments, the von Muffling Regt, and two Prussian artillery batteries. From the various Prussian miniatures groups pictured below, the Prussian contingent will take form during August.

Lots of basing and unit touch-up work required in the three early 1806 Prussian boxes.

Mixture of 1813-15 Prussian Landwehr and early 1806 Prussians (hussars, uhlans, and grenadier btns.). At least the majority are based into units.

Four Prussian musketeer regiments, three jager battalions, and three small fusilier battalions. The Prussian artillery is found in the common Prussian artillery box not pictured.

For the French 5th Corps (Lannes), WR has a large collection of bicorne republican and early imperial era French infantry and artillery to select from, including the actual numbered French ligne regiments. The painted French cavalry collection is more 1809-1812 era regiments but for the early Imperial campaign battles is little changed from an elevated eye viewing distance. WR will have to paint up the two French hussars regiments (9th and 10th) as they have distinct uniforms.

Massed early Imperial French regiments are needing their standards and some rapidographic black line work.

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Generic 17th – 18th Century Fortress

Three decades ago WR had a scenario involving a 17th-18th Century fortress on the tabletop. Looking about the slim terrain offerings back then, it quickly became apparent that WR would have to build the fortress from scratch. Build a simple fortress outline, small and compact but have the look and feel of a 17th-18th Century fortress plus be able to store the finished project. The project must allow placement of miniatures on the walls (with their basing), be compact in size (approximately 2 feet square), and be adaptable for different basic configurations, town layouts, and entrance gate locations. A tall order of construction and gaming priorities for the wood worker rabbit.

WR Vauban fortress under construction. Basic wood walls done many years ago. Recently found some scaled brickwork textured paper (from Greece) to complete the decade old project.

WR Vauban fortress under construction. Basic wood walls done many years ago. Recently found some scaled brickwork textured paper (from Greece) to complete the decades old project.

Looking at the WR library collection on european fortresses (pre-internet days back then), old photographs taken from european fortress visits in his youth, WR sketched out a basic design on paper from old notes written while in Costa Rica. WR even placed miniatures on the flat drawn walls, thought about the length of the curtain walls, ability to place fortress cannon, tabletop march the actual 28mm miniatures about within the fortress wall perimeter and position miniatures firing over the ramparts… basic gamer stuff. WR quickly determined that the glacis outside the fortress would have to wait for now.

So, first stop was a cheap and local material source to complete the underlying wall structure. Easy step after a brief thought… just took a walk around the local Lowe’s or Home Depot or similar DIY store wood molding department. The same stuff everybody uses for cabinets, wall boards, ceiling trim, door trim etc. After pawing thought the shapes and sizes, three styles or molding shapes together formed the walls. WR bought 16′ lengths for the walls, assuming and making allowance for manufacturing (angle cutting) mistakes. Additional wood materials are balsa or basswood sheeting (1/8 and 1/4 inch thick) and various wood strips for the fortress gate construction. Wood glue, some basic undercoat paint, hobby tools,, sanding paper (various grits) or Dremel tool for sanding the wall joints.

With material on hand, the next step was draw the fortress outline on the half-inch plywood under-base. Simply sketch the curtain wall outline and length, the bastion shapes, and other design notes for construction. I kept a small scrap piece of wall wood molding styles handy for wall dimension calculations. WR should note the bastions in the end all came out slightly different in size and shape, adding character to the finished fortress but Sebastien le Prestre de Vauban would have fired his junior engineer for shoddy bastion work.

Cut out the wood molding material to shape and length then wood glue the fortress together. This took several evenings since the horizontal levels required some pin work to hold in place while the glue dried.

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Cutaway of the fortress curtain wall showing the three molding wood strips and basic dimensions. Fortress is mounted on a plywood sheet for rigidness and easy transport.

Close view and molding angles to complete the bastion "entrance". Finished bastion will have entrance across the opening.

Close view and molding cut angles to complete the bastion “entrance”. Finished bastion will have entrance across the opening. Note the flat surface glued joint lines for the curtain wall esplanade. Bastion upper esplanade surface is cut balsa or basswood cut to shape of bastion.

Basic outline of the fortress "half" without ravilins.

Basic outline of the fortress “half” without ravelins. Twelve inch ruler for measurement. WR made the fortress in two halves for easy storage in a file cabinet drawer.

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The ravelins. WR made four ravelins to place before the exposed fortress curtain wall and cover the fortress gates. Same materials from making the curtain wall but sheet balsa or basswood for ravelins esplanade surface.

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Nebelwerfer smoke trail markers

During our two recent Flames of War scenario games both Daniel and WR completely forgot that American artillery could have counter-battery the hidden NW41 nebelwerfer battery stationed behind the Hill 105 (see my Assault on Hill 105 scenario AAR’s). Rocket launchers leave telltale smoke trail pointing back to the NW41 launcher location. So to remind our forgetful brains I quickly created and built some smoke trail markers to place before each firing launcher.

Nebelwerfer battery firing their NW41 rockets.

Nebelwerfer battery firing their NW41 rockets.

Materials list:  Smoke trail markers are simple to come by. Material list includes:

1) Off white pipe cleaners purchased from Ebay under “pipe cleaners”. A packet of 50 pipe cleaners was very cheap from China and with free postage too!

2) Bass wood strip 1/4″ by 1/2″ for the black vertical bass wood support.

3) I used vinyl floor tile for my bases cut to size. Gives a little weight to all my FOW plastic miniature basing. Base size is 2″ x 1.5″ which matches my FOW nebelwerfer 2″ base frontage.

4) Cotton ball for the small cloud of smoke at base of smoke trail.

5) Various hobby tools, Dremel drill, white PVC glue, and some small clips to hold the pipe cleaners while gluing.

6) Tea lite candle and small bowl of water.

7) Flat black and various shades of grey water based paint. Base paint if needed.

8) Base ground covering and terrain flocking of choice. Woodlands Scenic material is my common choice for the ground texture and small rocks, bushes etc..

Note: I purchased two 50 pipe cleaner packs since I plan to make other smoke trail markers for my Sherman Calliope tank model, my Russian Katyusha launchers and various other rocket launcher equipment used in WWII and modern era.

Also I should note that I play FOW in 20mm scale (not the standard 15mm) so my basing method for infantry and small miniature cannon, mortars and other equipment doesn’t match common FOW basing. This was noted in my AAR “Assault on Hill 105” at end of article. Continue reading

Vineyards and Barbwire

Several readers of my WR blog has questioned me on my vineyards and barbwire construction. So a brief overview of my terrain usage and construction discussion for my readership. Materials needed can be found in your local hardware store and hobby shop:

Bass wood strip of any length with bevel edge. The bevel edge avoids a vertical edge showing on the vine model wood base. White household glue (PVC) in a bottle, Zap-a-gap cyanoacrylate glue*, wire brads (nails), galvanized wire 28 gauge, a wooden dowel, a small hand drill, small light weight hammer, a hand file or sandpaper, and hand pliers. Woodlands brand flocking, small rocks and clump foliage materials for the ground texture and the actual foliage on the vines. I added in a beer and TV/DVD for background entertainment.

Material used for vine and barbwire construction. Bass wood strip, brad nails of 3/4" length, galvanized wire and hand pilers (not shown).

Material used for vine and barbwire construction. Bass wood strip, brad nails of 3/4″ length, galvanized wire. Not shown is Woodlands foliage materials, white household (PVC) and Zap cyanoacrylate glues and tools.

Vineyards: Cut the bevel bass wood to the length desired and then slightly round off the corners using a file or sandpaper block. I used three different lengths (6″, 4″ and 2″) because my underlying vineyard terrain mats outline the terrain feature on my tabletop. The actual bass wood bevel strip used for the vines was 5/8″ wide and 3/32 depth.

The actual vine model lengths are for show and can be displaced if the miniatures require additional space. The underlying terrain mat determines if the miniatures are in the vineyard or not for LOS and combative actions. The majority of my vine models are 6″ lengths. Continue reading