Sunday 28 July 2013

Mounted Skeleton in 28mm from Gamezone

This is one of the Guardians on Horseback from Gamezone. A model that needed quite a lot of cleaning and green stuff to get descent. I need two mounted skeletons for a future scenario, and have another Guardian on Horseback waiting in the tin mountain.
Paints used:
Metal – Citadel Chainmail
Cloth, shield – Citadel Red Gore
Saddle, gloves – Citadel Foundation Calthan Brown
Wood on backside of shield – Vallejo 843 Cork Brown
Saddle Cloth – Vallejo 886 Green Grey
Shirt – Vallejo Panzer Aces 310 Old Wood
and a wash of Army Painter Strong Tone Ink

Wednesday 10 July 2013

Normandy trip – Day five – Falaise Gap and a great blog giveaway

Last day and we looked into the last days of the Normandy campaign – the Falaise Pocket.
First we stopped to look at the Trun-Chambois gap, the very narrow stretch of land where the German forces had to traverse under artillery and direct fire. It didn’t sound too bad, the gap between the Allied forces were some five kilometres. When you see it you understand how narrow that is, especially considering that the Allied forces had the higher ground.
We stop on the hill near Trun, looking over the gap. The little town below us saw heavy fighting. Can you see the castle in the distance? Above the bus.
It’s near the horizon, in the middle of the picture.
Now? Between the phone-lines, near the horizon, 1/4 in from the left.
OK, between here and there is where the German VII:th Army tried to escape, under constant fire. You can see nearly everything in between, the only cover is some small wood here and there, and some hedges. Approximately 10 000 people died around here.
Close-up of the castle.
After this we went to Montormel. This hill plugged the gap more or less, and was held several days by Polish troops, the First Polish Tank Division (the remnants of the Black Brigade, the Polish armoured unit that fought valiantly and successfully in Poland, escaped the fall and continued fighting on the Allied side in France, escaped that fall, and was reborn as an armoured division). Mont Ormel was under more or less constant attack, and hampered the German movements immensely.
View over the gap
Greyhound Armoured car
Sherman named after the commander of the division
A visit to the memorial followed, another nice museum, where we had far too little time to spend.
After this our bus took us to Paris and the airport and home…. Or so we thought. The French air controllers didn’t think so. They went out in a one day strike, effectively shutting down air traffic over France.
That meant about 1000 cancelled flights from Paris, and a horde of stranded people needing somewhere to sleep and needing to travel home some other day. Our guide spent a couple of hours trying to get us somewhere to sleep that was not a sofa in the airport and a flight home.
We ended up in a luxurious hotel a couple of blocks from Arc de Triomphe. Not too bad, considering. Jan and I had a nice dinner, a nice walk and an even nicer beer at Champs-Elysées.

Big Lee, at BigLee’s Miniature Adventures, is having a great giveaway. The reason: 1 000 000 hits since he started the blog. Quite an achievement, but considering all the good stuff he writes it is not surprising.
So hop over to his site and join the fun, be it the giveaway or even better the content of the site.

Rest of the trip:
Part 1 – Day 1
Part 6 – Day 3 - Merville
Part 9 – Day 4 - Bocage

Monday 8 July 2013

Normandy trip – Day four – Bayeux and Radar Museum

The group stopped in Bayeux for lunch and a tour of the museum of the Bayux tapestries. During lunch Jan and I found a guide-book at the tourist information centre, and found something called Musée Memorial de la Bataille de Normandie.
Given the choice of old cloth (Ok, they are interesting, and are war-related) and D-Day, we chose the latter.
The museum turned out to be very interesting, with a lot of gear and vehicles inside, and a good movie also. Absolutely recommended if you happen to be in the vicinity. Unfortunately there was a ban on photography inside the museum, but there were some AFV:s outside that I hadn’t seen before on the trip.
Hetzer, one of the very few German AFV:s we saw. In bad condition sadly enought.
American M10
And a Sherman, always Shermans….
A Churchill Crocodile, unfortunately missing its armoured trailer. But still.

Next stop: Musée du Radar.
This relatively new museum shows the radar facility in Douvres-la-Délivandre and gives a good overview of its history. Don’t miss the very good guide-book when you buy your tickets.
Würzburg Riese radar. Very impressive.
On site in 1944 was also a Wasserman radar, but it was destroyed in the fighting. Here is a diorama of how it looked. One of six very nice dioramas in 1/87 scale showing different wartime radars.
Bunker turned into a museum. This two-story bunker was the nerve centre of the base, and was used as fighter command.
A diorama in 1/47 scale, showing the construction of the bunker. Really nice.
Assorted stuff on display.
Another bunker, this one a shelter.
A barracks, if I remember correct.
A smaller radar.
A great museum showing something quite unique, well worth a visit.

Rest of the trip:
Part 1 – Day 1
Part 6 – Day 3 - Merville
Part 9 – Day 4 - Bocage

Sunday 7 July 2013

Normandy trip – Day four – Bocage

One thing that you hear every time there is talk about the Normandy campaign is…bocage. High hedges with earthen embankments surrounding small pastures that made life miserable for the attacker, and a perfect setting for defence. I’ve tried making bocage on two occasions, here and here. I thought the results were decent, considering I had never seen the real thing.
One of the things I really wanted to see up close on this trip was just this, bocage. As I was the only one in our group who had this craving, we didn’t take half a day off to do an in-depth study of this terrain-type (sadly, I think I would have liked that…), but I got my chance when the bus stopped at a British cemetery. Everyone but me went for the graves, I jogged away to the bocage a couple of hundred meters off.

I tried to take more photos of bocage from the bus. Below are some that are at least decent.
So, what did I learn?
- The sides of the earthen embankments are far steeper than I thought.
- The embankments also seem to be rather narrow, not as wide as I made them in my previous tries.
- The embankments are overgrown with grasses and other plants.
- The lower part of the hedge is usually pruned to make it less bulky, a simple way of giving more space for road-traffic and movement close to the hedges. This I have seen from war photographs also.
- A couple of meters up, the hedge grows out, making a canopy of sorts.
- There are a lot of trees in these hedges.
- They are very uneven in height.
- Lots of different types of bushes and trees, meaning lots of different shades of green.
- When I was there, June 8-12, some of the hedges and trees bloomed. Yellows and whites. The same with the earthen embankments. 

Guess I have to improve my old bocage-hedges a bit, mainly applying static grass to the ground, and make lots of new ones.

By the way, nearly two years ago I found an excellent military history site, reviewed here. There you can find a very interesting report on lessons learned and tactics used in the fighting in the bocage.

Rest of the trip:
Part 1 – Day 1
Part 6 – Day 3 - Merville