Friday, 31 October 2014

Reinforced Shell Hole

Battlefront Miniatures have recently released their 'Battlefield in a Box' range of First World War terrain pieces. Now, in my opinion, not only do these look pretty nasty, but they are uber-expensive as well. I prefer to make my own terrain and feel a lot better off for it than something that has come straight out of a box. I had a discussion on TMP about my preference and was told that people have neither the talent, time or room to make such items. I argue that they do; especially as the Shattered Battlefield set is so bloody easy to make yourself and for a fraction of the cost. With this in mind, I decided to make a reinforced shell crater for my 20mm First World War games and this is a timed tutorial to show how easy the process is. I grabbed a blank CD that was lying around:

Then, taking some Green Stuff, I moulded into a thick lip for the crater, then smoothed it onto the CD edge, making sure to get rid of the way around. This took about ten minutes including mixing the Green Stuff. Total time: 10 mins.

Then on one edge I cut a small amount of the Green Stuff to make it look as though someone had dug a vertical edge against the sloped side of the crater which was sandbagged. This was doctrine of the various armies in the First World War and shellholes were used as defensive positions by the Germans in particular in the latter part of the war. 

To make the sandbags I simply took a small strip of Green Stuff, flattened it slightly and laid it across the top of the vertical edge. Then I scored lines on the strip as individual bags. I added another layer above in precisely the same manner. Then in the Green Stuff below the first line of bags I scored more lines as though there was another line of bags there. Total time: 20 mins.

Then it was put aside overnight for the Green Stuff to cure. I also glued a small square of paper over the hole in the centre of the CD. The next day I sprinkled sand over the top of painted on PVA glue:

Then I shook off the excess and left it to one side to dry. This whole process took literally two minutes. Total time: 22 mins.

The next stage was to prime it, I used a spray can car primer from Halfords. It's an acrylic and will fix the sand in place for easier painting later. This took about ten seconds, but let's round it up to thirty seconds, as I had to shake the can... Total time: 22.30 mins.

After I left the shell crater to dry whilst I was at work, the next stage was the base colour of German Camo Black Brown from Vallejo. This was liberally applied with a big brush and took me three minutes. Total time: 25.30 mins.

Once this was dry, I went back to the piece and drybrushed it all in Khaki and painted the sandbags also in Khaki. The drybrushing was simple and pretty heavy handed (load up a big brush with paint, wipe most of it off with a paper towel, then gently brush it over the piece, the highlights will be picked up nicely). This took no more than two minutes. Total time: 27.30 mins.

Then it was a matter of inkwashing the sandbags in Army Painter's Dark Shade Wash and left it to dry. Then I drybrushed the sandbags in Iraqui Sand. I've lumped these two sections together, but in total they took about a minute. Total time: 28.30 mins.

Next up was to add some texture to the base, for this I used my premixed grey rubble mix.  I appreciate that not everyone has this, but it is worthwhile making these premixed weathering as they save a lot of time and hassle in the future. There is a link to how I made this one HERE.

I painted some PVA glue in random blobs across the shell hole, sprinkled the rubble mix over the entire piece: 

Shaking off the excess onto the paper towel the result looked pretty good to me. This took two minutes max, including searching for where I had put my tub of rubble mix. Total time: 30.30 mins.

I did the same again with some dessicated cork, this is similar to what I have done with the bases on my figures for Through the Mud and the Blood, so everything ties together.  This took another minute. Total time: 31.30 mins.

And that was it apart from spray varnishing, which took a matter of seconds. The end result took me 31 minutes and 30 seconds. Of course, this didn't include drying times, but the piece was left to dry overnight or whilst I was at work in between steps, so that didn't interfere with the schedule. Remember though, you could do quite a few of these at once, it would push the times up a little, but not much if they are done in stages, like I did. In total time it was probably a week's worth of small steps (I lost count, as I started this before moving house and was only able to pick it up again once we had sorted the house out properly! However, that also demonstrates that these things can be made in the middle of chaos!).

Here is the final finished piece, manned a three man German HMG. It's not amazing, by any stretch of the imagination (my modelling sills with Green Stuff leave a lot to be desired, but it was the first time I'd used it, in my defence...), but looks good enough for me and was a damn sight cheaper than the Battlefield in a Box, coming in at probably less than £2 for the materials used.

Thanks for looking and I hope this inspires someone!

Monday, 27 October 2014

The Shuttleworth Collection in Bedfordshire

This blog has been quiet for a bit as I have moved house recently and have only just got the war room into an organised state. Unfortunately, I still have little time for painting at the moment, because I'll be off to Belgium for a fortnight on Sunday, so everything is on hiatus for the foreseeable future. However, I spent this weekend in Bedford for a friend's wedding and took the chance to visit the Shuttleworth Collection at Old Warden. Here are a bunch of photos of some of the amazing aircraft that they have there!

When we arrived this Tiger Moth was taxiing after a flight, what an arrival!

Then it was quickly inside to see the amazing treasures held within! Like this Bristol Fighter, possibly my favourite First World War aeroplane. The cobwebs and ghoulish co-pilot are part of the museum's Halloween nonsense for kids.

Check out the rigging on that bad boy! This is partly why I don't build many British biplane models... There is so much rigging on them!

Another original plane was this lovely Sopwith Pup. A classic and beautiful little scout.

There were also two reproduction BE 2e that were on loan from a company in New Zealand, most likely The Vintage Aviator group. They were on their way to Stow Maries, a restored WW1 airfield in Chelmsford.

Then there was the classic fighter, the SE5a.Nothing more needs to be said about this great plane.

The last First War plane in the first hangar was the Avro 504K trainer.I have seen quite a few of these trainers in various museums, probably because many of them survived long after the war.

There was also a few smaller planes, such as this model of the Fokker DR1:

And this Sopwith Camel scale model, ether of which would look great in my display cabinet at home...

This little vignette of a BE2c trapped in telegraph wires was based on a contemporary photo of the same scene, a very interesting idea!

Another collection to be envious of...

In the next hangar was a Hawker Hurricane, it's always a pleasure to see these lovely birds.

The sleek lines of the Hawker Hart.

And a partly-reconstructed ME163 Komet. An absolutely nuts concept from a desperate Reich...

This drop tank was from an ME262.

If I were to start a photo collection of strange dummies used by museums, this would be the first.

Moving further through the hangars we came upon this Lysander, a very important but under recognised aeroplane.

Another treat was the Polikarpov PO-2, from Russia.

There were many civilian aircraft in the displays, this was my favourite, the DH88 racer.

Also buried near the back was this Bristol Scout, another sleek First War aircraft.

There was also many reproductions of the early attempts at flight, some of which looked downright dangerous.

A definite highlight of the trip was this Belriot XI, the world's oldest flying aeroplane, even if it is only limited to doing short hops these days.

It's hard to believe that this even got off the ground, never mind crossing the 23 miles of the English Channel!

Another early flyer was this Bristol Box-Kite. State of the art at the turn of the twentieth century!

The last aeroplane that took my interest was this original Fieseler Storch. One of very few German planes in the entire museum.

There was the engineering hangar but I didn't take any photographs in there, as the space was a bit cramped. All in all, it was a great visit and as somewhere I have wanted to see for many years, I was definitely not disappointed. If you do get a chance to drop by next time you're in Bedfordshire, I thoroughly recommend it!
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