1/600 forests

Today I have been working on creating fir forests fir my 1/600 and 1/1000 games.

For my next Operation Sealion game I needed 39 hexagons of fir tree forest. I tried to make them in a way that they would appear to be continuous forest but would also accommodate either a 60mm x 5mm or a 15mm x 10mm base.

My 60mm bases are of MDF bought from Wabases.com.  The trees come from Busch model railroad suppliers, from their N/Z range.  Most of the trees are to large, so I used the smaller ones by snipping off the trunks anc cut the larger ones in two.  The lower half was trimmed with scissors to copy the upper half as far as possible.  A splash of dark green paint on the tip of the lower half disguised the cut.

Here is the process:

Reviewing films from a new perspective.

During the last few days I have been rewatching some of my old DVDs with the commentaries frequently provided.

Yesterday I watched “Black Hawk Down”, first as the movie, then with the director/producer commentary and finally with the commentary of three guys who were actually involved in the operation in 1993.

It was very interesting to hear the views of those three people.  They focussed mainly on the accuracy of the film, with many references to the innacuracies from their own viewpoint.  But my main take from their commmentary was that they considered this a victory for brave American troops.  While not disputing the bravery of the individuals, my own viewpoint from watching the film and reading the book it is based on is that this was a typical American operational failure, where the organisers believed that overwhelming superiority of firepower would always win easily, and then discovering that the enemy has other ideas to the contrary.

While applauding the ideal that “nobody gets left behind”, this was probably the main reason for the domino effect that led to the ignominious result of this “snatch” raid.  Let’s not forget that despite the massively disproportionate casualty rate, the original objective of capturing the enemy leader failed within the first 15 minutes.  The rest of the operation was devoted purely to casualty recovery, and led to far too many deaths on both sides.

I also watched “Tora Tora Tora” with the director’s viewpoint.  This was mainly focussed on the difficulties of making the film.  I love the story about rehearsing a US navy sailor in firing a MG against  fabricated “Japanese zeros” and then saying a single line.  In the rehearsal the director shouted “Boom” when the explosion was to detonate.  In the live shot the sailor fired the gun “for real”, got soaked by the underwater detonation, then stared at the director.  When asked afterwards why he did not say his line, he replied: “You didn’t say ‘Boom'”

Today I am rewatching from a new viewpoint “The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas” while doing the ironing.

The Defence of Bilsington 17 Sept 1940

The Defence of Bilsington

17 September 1940. 09:30 – 13:00

This was an interesting engagement. Here is the battle map supplied to both sides:

map-11-bilsington-6mmThe commanders are asked to give orders using map squares for reference. The hex grid is for my use when creating the battlefield and fighting the battle.

The British commander had forces retreating from the south after a previous engagement. There were several depleted infantry companies and three intact batteries of 25 pdr artillery, with the Brigade and Artillery HQ units. He also had reinforcements from the north: a machine gun company of four platoons, an engineer platoon and a squadron of three troops of Matilda 1 tanks.

His plan was as follows:

“The broad plan will be for the fresh troops coming from the north to take up defensive positions in and around the village to cover the bridge. The depleted forces will fall back through the village. The force will look to hold the river line, their exact response will depend on the size of the enemy forces and the security of their flanks.

More specifically, the two infantry companies from C1 (road from the north) will take positions in the village and on each flank to cover the bridge. The Matildas will wait at the crossroads as reserve, particularly against anything crossing the river to east or west. The engineers will prepare the bridge for demolition.

The three RA batteries from D4 (road from the south) will pass through the village and unlimber on the hill in C/D1. The infantry coming up the road will rally at the crossroads and those elements not too battered will also form a reserve.

The remains of the two Somerset companies (arriving from the south-west) will move north to the river. If they can cross they will, and fall back towards the village. If not they will move east to the bridge. This will also give the British commanders information about the fordability of the river, and hence the security of their flanks.

Once all the force is on the north bank they will establish their defensive positions and await developments. They will leave the bridge intact is case further British elements appear, but at the first sign of enemy approaching the bridge should be blown. They should hold the river line unless threatened by overwhelming strength, especially from enemy who have crossed the river and approach from the flanks.”

He was unaware that the Germans would be attacking from the east, and therefore north of his defended river line.

Here is the German plan. The German player was aware of the retreating British forces that he wished to cut off, but not of the British reinforcements from the north.

“Expected arrivals in game terms, with draft orders:

Turn 1.  Artillery HQ, 105mm howitzer with 1/2 track and supply truck, 75mm infantry gun and two trucks. 3 x 37mm AT guns with 3 trucks, SP 20mm Flak gun, SP 47mm AT gun.

Orders: SP guns to move directly to the village, then swing south towards the bridge.  37mm guns to take up defensive positions in the village, covered by 75mm gun.  105mm to take position to cover both village and bridge, with artillery HQ.

Turn 5. (approx).  Infantry Regimental HQ, SP 20mm Flak, 150mm Howitzer with 1/2 track & supply truck, Bicycle Infantry Company.

Orders.  Artillery to take position with 105mm battery.  Infantry to move to village and then towards the river line taking defensive posture.  SP Flak gun to take post at crossroads.

Turn 13. (approx). 1 Infantry Company and 2 Rifle Platoons, 3 Pioneer platoons (one with flamethrowers).

Orders. To move towards village or river line as the situation demands.

Turn 17. (approx). 1 Infantry Company.  To be deployed as the situation demands.”

I played this game using my amended memoir 44 rules. The main changes, apart from weapon capabilities for 1940, were to the order structure. Memoir 44 is a card-driven game and players’ orders are restricted by the cards they have in their hand at each turn. Both sides were restricted further due to the fact that they initially had troops only in a limited sector of the battlefield, so cards ordering troops in the left, right or centre sectors could be useless. The number of cards issued to each player was equal to the number of HQ and Radio truck units available added to the number of flags rolled with all eight battle dice. As it happened, neither side rolled any flags, and so the cards were 5 to the British and 3 to the Germans.

Because I was using 3-D terrain (incidentally the models are from Odzial Osmy’s 3mm range and the terrain hexagons are based on Warbases’ 6cm hexagon MDF tiles), the deployment of model bases could not be the same as in the board game. I therefore decided that each base would form a “unit” in M44 terms for all combat purposes, but that for orders, each campaign unit would be treated as a “unit”.  Example: 8/RTS (8th Royal Tank Squadron – reduced scale from 8th Royal Tank Regiment) had three models, representing 1st, 2nd and 3rd troops. Each model could fire individually and take three hits before being destroyed. However, they could be deployed in separate hexagons, but commanded as one unit.

I also expanded the “Command Car” rule to include radio trucks, so that the potential orders in any one sector could be increased. This all helped to limit the sometimes stilted nature of the game where units with clear orders can fail to move for several turns while attention is diverted elsewhere according to the turn of the card.

And so to the battle. I kept a track of the time for each turn (1 average die x minutes per player turn) but will not report it as it seems disruptive to the narrative.

(Note: due to automatic corrective text editing, the expression “anti-tank” has been rendered as “Ant-tank” several times.  Apologies.)

Also the reference to 6th Dorsets in the narrative should be 6th Devonshire Battalion.

Word version:


PDF version


Memoir 44 > Memoir 40.

This is my take on Richard Borg’s boardgame Memoir 44.
The photo does not do justice to the actual game mat from Deep Cut Studios. it is far more green.
The game tiles were made from:
Town. Langton Miniatures 1/1000 scale buildings based on late C18th French buildings.
Forest. BUsch scale N/Z pine trees, cut to scale.
Roads. A mix of B&Q tester pots, pebble Nd terracotta, covered with model railway sand.
Hedges. Green kitchen scourer pads, torn to shape, painted with diluted Basetex Grass Green and sprinkled with dark flock.
Rivers. A mix of various blues and soot tester pots, painted three times with Army Painter dark dip, with Woodland Scenics mixed flock to add the effect of random shrubbery growing beside rivers.

Battle to follow.

1/600 Forests

As part of my Operation Sealion campaign, the latest battle calls for 39 hexagons of fir tree forest.

Because of the number of units involved in this engagement I decided to play it in 3mm or 1/600 scale.

And so I began my forest construction.  My first priority is playability and my second is that it should look reasonably realistic.  In my terrain design I had to allow for the insertion of WW2 bases of 15 x 10 mm and earlier (2mm) periods of 60 x 5 mm.

The first step was to use my hexagon tiles bought from Warbases, and then to add trees purchased from Busch.  Many of the Busch trees were far too large for my game, so I adapted them.  The first step was to cut the top half from the tree and use it as a separate tree.  The remainder was trimmed with scissors to form a second tree. Then the trunk  was cut to the minimum level to facilitate glue adhesion.   Occasionally a brush of dark green paint to the exposed wire on the top of the cut down tree was needed, after the trees were attached using a large dollop of “very sticky glue”, available from “The Works” or “Hobbycraft” in the UK.


This photo shows: a Warbases hexagon base, two bases after painting with Basetex, a small tree and a large tree, the large tree separated into two, and finally the two trees made from one large tree ready to affix.

And here is a view of the 39 hexagons drying out on my bookshelf (most of them appallingly out of focus, because the picture is taken with a smartphone).  The out of focus technique prevents fellow gamers from reviewing my book collection and comparing it with their own.


I will post a view of the finished battlefield soon.

NB “soon” is a wargamer’s term approximating to the Devon/Cornish term “Directly” or the Spanish “Mañana”.  i.e. “When I get around to it”




A missed opportunity

In the last week the British news has been following the visitof the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and their children, Prince George and Princess Charlotte, to Canada, culminating in their departure by float plane from Victoria, BC.

During my visit to Victoria, British Columbia, in April this year one thing I never got around to was to take a seaplane/floatplane trip to view Vancover Island from the air.  Somehow the availability of aircraft and me never coincided.

I do regret the missed opportunity, and so the third in line to the throne has already experienced at the age of three something that I never achieved at the age of sixty-two.  But from the photographs it appears that he did not relish te experience as much as I would have.