Saturday, 17 April 2021

BSC2021 - Getting Started

 Today is a lovely, warm and sunny spring day, so I was able to set up the tables on the patio and get started on building the hills.  😃

Over the past couple of days, I managed to get some paint on the Bailey Bridge, allowing it to take pride of place to test fit the hills to ensure that I build a gap that it will fit.  Even though it's just green and brown, it was a real nuisance to paint.  Getting paint inside the tiny bits was no fun at all:  when (or if) I build its sister, I'll paint first and assemble after!

Following the plan I'd prepared, I set out the insulation board and got to work.  (and reminded myself to take photos to document the build process 😉)

I checked my assumption that 2" was enough height for the bridge over the gorge.

Looks OK to me!

I started cutting:

Following the advice from Pat Smith's "Setting the Scene", I was careful to just use points of glue - he points out that if the entire surface is covered in glue (especially with white glue), it will not create a bond.

Moving on, I traced the desired cut lines on the next hill as the glue was setting for the first.

It was about now that I realised the white glue was not creating a bond between the insultation board and the plywood base.  So I decided to try an alternative: double sided carpet tape!  

Carpet tape turned out to be just great.  I probably overdid it, but the only way those boards will shift is by tearing them apart.

To mask where two boards come together, I decided to put a mini-gorge.  Not the best photo, but the gorge can be seen in the shadow.  Hopefully it will be a bit clearer as the build progresses.

I got into the swing of things, and didn't photograph everything.  This is how the boards looked at the end of the day.

My original plan was to go for a 4" maximum height with the boards, but I now think that 3 layers (3") will be enough.  Compare the current progress with the photo of the valley.

I keep reminding myself that this is a representation for gaming on, not an exact scale model.  If I need additional height on the side slopes, I might add some removable hills to fit the corners.  Any comments greatly appreciated!

Thursday, 15 April 2021

BSC2021 - Supplies!

 With some help from Doug, I have procured the remaining supplies I need to get going on my BSC2021 Build.

First, a hot wire cutter to cut the insulation foam board:

And second, an 8' sheet of 1" insulation board.  (If I abandon the project now, I could just use this as an alien monolith...)

I'll start carving the hills to shape on the weekend!

To show that any project worth doing is worth over-doing, I kitbashed an RCE survey crew from the Perry Desert Rats and Zulu War British Infantry boxes.  The dumpy level is a combination of two helioscope sets and the level rod is an infantry colour with the end chopped off.

Sunday, 11 April 2021

Tiger Tiger Burning Bright

Even though I recently added a Tiger I to my collection, I didn't really like the model that I picked.  There's nothing wrong with the Warlord/Italeri model, but it just didn't do it for me.  So I ordered this lovely model from Die Waffenkammer.

The tank commander has a blue band on his sleeve to show he's with the Hermann Göring Panzer Division.

I have nothing much to say about it.  It's a lovely model, it was nice to paint.  As usual, I have magentised the tank commander and the hatch, so I can swap them back and forth to show the tank status as 'buttoned' or 'unbuttoned'.

Here are the two Tigers, Waffenkammer on the left, Warlord on the right.

Also, I finally slapped some paint on the last of the three Waffenkammer Valentines that I picked up two years ago.  I'd previously painted one as a Red Army lend lease Valentine, and another as a RTR tank for the North Africa campaign.  I'd procrastinated on how to paint this third Valentine, considering such diverse ideas as Canadian livery, which was only used for training in the UK.  But finally, just wanting to clear it from my backlog, I settled on putting it into the Red Army.

Tank commander is from Bad Squiddo.

Hatch can be open or closed:

Here are the three Valentines together.

Saturday, 10 April 2021

BSC2021 -more planning!

So, on to the next step:  more planning!  

Here are the floor tiles.  Hopefully by putting the plastic side down, I'll be able to protect the table underneath from scratching or other damage.

The tiles have a tongue-and-groove assembly on each side, so they can fit together snugly.  However, this is intended to be done once only, and won't stand up to multiple connecting and disconnecting.  Great for laying down the subfloor, which will not be seen for years at a time, not so much for what is intended to be a portable game board!  

So instead, I will butt the smooth sides together, and just depend on friction to hold them through a game.  It means there will be a visible line where the boards rest against each other, but will be much easier for assembly and removal.

I've used a sharpie to draw out the road center lines with dashed lines for where the road shoulders will go.  I'm starting out with 4" wide roads, but may adjust that as the build proceeds.  The narrowest part of the river gorge will be 9½" to match the bridge (again working the wrong way on this!).  My intent is that the height of the bridge abutments will be 2" above the river bed.  The maximum height of the hills will be 4".  My idea right now is that the entry road (coming in from Valguarnera) will enter at 1" height, and will be 3" or 4" where it moves off the table towards Leonforte.  The 4" max height is based mostly on concerns about storing and transporting the boards.  If they get too tall then they'll be much less practical.

I've adjusted the layout a bit from my original concept.  I'm thinking of potential reuse of these boards, so I want to be able to connect to other boards that I could build in the future.  So instead of continuing off the far ('west') end of the board, the exit road will turn 90 degrees to the right and exit in the middle of the 'north' side of the board.  This will make a future connection easier.  It will also let two sides of the 'west' tiles be 'at grade', so can connect with any flat boards - this might allow (for example) using the same boards for the NWF, with a British force to advance from the plains against some wily Pathans in the hills!

I have mixed thoughts about the road surfacing.  I think the road was paved in 1943, but again, considering future replayability, an unsurfaced road will allow use in pre-20th Century settings.  Maybe, (thinking as I type), cut the road bed into the hills, and then have slate-coloured felt that can be laid down for roads or removed depending on the setting.

Next step will be to obtain some insulation board and a hot wire cutter!  That's going to take me a few days, so next BSC update probably won't be next weekend.  In the meantime, more art from the Canadian  War Museum. This time, a Bailey Bridge in Italy!

Friday, 9 April 2021

BSC2021 - background and plans

 For some time, I've wanted to include a Bailey Bridge in my WWII collection.  Many years ago, I even scratch-built a 1:100 version for my FoW collection out of Plastruct pieces!  It wasn't a great model, and is now long gone.  After I started my 28mm project, I kept an eye open for Bailey options in 1/56 scale.  I was initially tempted by some of the MDF versions from Sarissa and WarBases, but eventually decided that they were not sufficiently detailed.  Eventually, I came across the Wespe Models 1:48 scale plastic model.  I ordered two of these, with the idea that I'd build one as a finished bridge, and the second as an "underconstruction" version, with the idea that they could be swapped out.  (Of course, Bailey Bridge models are readily available in other scales, such as 20mm or 1/72).

The Valentine has been added to provide a reference for scale.  My vehicles are all 1/56, and the bridge is 1/48, but for me that will be close enough.  Having a slightly large bridge means that at least the vehicles will fit!

The Wespe model is definitely NOT a wargame toy!  The pieces are all quite fine, and it turned out to be a very fiddly thing to assemble.  I am still very pleased with it, though, as it comes as a DIY kit.  The basic kit includes 4 identical sprues, which each have 10 panels, 3 transoms, 2 end posts, 3 bracing frames and 1 base plate.  There are also 7 deck pieces, separate from the sprue.  As a lovely bonus, Wespe even threw in two extra sprues, so I have plenty of spare parts! The kit also includes a detailed pamphlet with a history of the Bailey Bridge as well as instructions on how to assemble the model in any of a variety of configurations.

The pamphlet provides a table listing the load class that can be expected from different configurations, from the single truss/single storey (SS) through DS (double truss/single storey), TS, DD, TD,DT to TT (triple truss/triple storey).  I chose to go for the DS configuration, which would provide a MLC (Military Load Class) of 40 over a span of up to 80 feet.  MLC40 is enough to support a Sherman tank, so that will meet my needs.

These photos show the assembly process.

This is a quick mock-up of how I plan to show the sappers building the bridge.  The men are from Perry Miniatures Desert Rats - they are leaning forward, which real men would not do when carrying a bridge panel.  Those panels are 600 lbs each, so each man is lifting 100 lbs:  their backs would be straight to avoid injury!

Here is the assembled bridge (unpainted, the pieces are quite nicely moulded in appropriate colours!).  The ramps are just resting in place, and are there for show.

Of course, I am approaching this project in a back-assward fashion!  A bridge by itself isn't really justified unless there is something for it to cross.  That takes me to the Lead Adventure 'Build Something Contest' or BSC.  This year's theme is 'Difficult Terrain', and of course Sicily is full of difficult terrain.  My research quickly took me to the Battle of Leonforte, 21-22 July.  

Leonforte, like many towns in central Sicily, is atop a hill.  The Germans had destroyed the bridge over the Dittaino River on SS121, the state highway leading into the town.  The Loyal Edmonton Regiment entered the town on the 21st of July, but were trapped by a fierce counterattack from the 104th PanzerGrenadier Regiment.  Meanwhile, 3rd Field Company of the Royal Canadian Engineers worked through the night to build a Bailey Bridge to replace the bridge blown by the Germans.  This was the first time that a Bailey Bridge had been constructed under direct enemy fire. The RCE sappers got the work done.  It was very dramatic:  Lt Col Walsh, the CRE (Commander Royal Engineers) supervised the construction personally, and the Company commander Major Southern took a patrol of sappers ( along with some infantrymen from the Eddies) to push back a German MG that was harrassing the bridgebuilders.  Gunners from the 1st Canadian Anti-Tank Regiment managed to manhandle a pair of AT guns across the river, and provided additional covering fire.  In all, there were some 21 awards of gallantry for the battle, including 5 for the RCE plus another one for Major Welsh of the RCA.

Some more detailed accounts of the battle can be found at the links below:

Here is a photo of the bridge in 1950, rebuilt to replace the temporary Bailey Bridge.  This provides a clear view of the valley, and gives a good sense of scale of the 50 foot gap to be crossed.

This image is a capture from Google Earth, showing the highway SS121.

Now here is my plan.  My idea is to build a representation of the actual terrain - not a scale model.  I'll use four 2'x2' subfloor tiles, since they are relatively cheap from the nearby hardware shop.  They will fit together on the table, but will break down to a convenient size for transportation to and from the club - assuming that we are able to return there someday!

I'll build up the hills from hard foam insulation boards, and probably cover them with plaster for texture.  The bridge abutments will be built into the boards, and the Bailey Bridge can be set on top.  The gap between the abutments will be about 9 1/2 " (per the photo below - I'll be building the terrain to match the bridge; real life is not always so accommodating!).

That's it for the current update.  I'll finish up with some paintings from the Canadian War Museum for inspiration!

Tanks in the Dittaino Valley - inspiration for the terrain

Bailey Bridge under construction: