One morning in July 1940 Adolf Hitler gathered his generals and calmly stated: “Gentlemen, I have decided to launch an attack on England next week. The operation will take place…”
He rolled a few dice and placed his finger on the map.
The officers were stunned. The Führer’s finger was poised on the coastline east of West Bay in Dorset.
“It is not possible!” exclaimed Manstein.
“Anything is possible for the Wehrmacht.” replied Hitler.
“We should at least test it with a tactical evaluation, suggested Model.”
“Very well, conceded Hitler. Make me a model of the area.”
And so it began.
The first step was to obtain a detailed contour map of the area. This was used.
It is a modern Ordnance Survey map, so modern caravan camps and expanded residential development must be ignored. The satellite image was also studied.
A hexagon tessellation at a scale of 1 hexagon to 100 metres was overlaid parallel to the coastline and the contours at 25m, 50m and 75m traced, along with roads and waterways. To make the 2cm hexagon slope height differences compatible with the ground scale the contours should be at 20m, 40m and 60m but the 25m intervals are clearer to copy from the map, and it’s close enough.
Next the waterways were adjusted to run through hexagon sides. Some of the broader sweeps of the river were simplified to fit. Then the contours were aligned to the nearest hexagon edges. Finally the roads were tweaked to pass through hexagon sides.
With the plan in place the arrangement of hexagon tiles was designed on the layout. It involved juggling the six types of slope tiles, as illustrated below from Kallistra’s online catalogue.
It was important that the waterways were flat and effectively at sea level. No waterfalls here. Then the slopes were constructed to follow the contours as far as possible. One further useful slope design would be four low edges and two slopes rising to a point. This can be made by sawing two existing Type B tiles in half and joining the halves together, but not for this layout.
Some new river and stream tiles were needed. These are made in one of two ways:
1. by running a wet brush across a flocked tile and scraping the damp flock to each side with a craft knife, thus creating banks.
2. by painting the river onto a bare tile and adding flock afterwards.
The rivers were painted in layers. First beads of PVA glue were run along the length to make ripples. Then a layer of blue/brown/green/grey mixed paint was added and topped with a PVA coat. Next a touch-up layer of paint and another coat of PVA. Rivers were bordered with trees and shrubs.
Roads were added using Noch self-adhesive model railway products. Two types were needed for the brown and yellow roads on the map. (The pink highway/A road is a modern addition and was ignored.) The larger road was modelled using the dark tarmac trimmed to remove the white edges.
The minor road was modelled with the lighter option. The original plan was to use a single lane of the roadway, about 15mm wide, but troops are modelled on 2cm wide bases, so 22mm width was used.
Where the narrow road climbs a steep hill a “wiggle” was introduced.
Both types were applied using a wallpaper seam roller.
For town streets the cobbled road was used, applied over bare hexagon tiles spray-painted with grey stone texture paint. Buildings are from various sources and the gardens are from Timescape.
Hedges are of two types: Irregular Miniatures shrubbed hedgerow, painted and flocked, or home-made. The metal ones are useful to bend around road curves or where slopes meet flat ground. The home-made ones were made by attaching Woodlands Scenics clump foliage in three colours to the sticky side of a vinyl floor tile, covering in diluted PVA and baking in a warm oven.
The beaches were originally made using pieces of Games Workshop plastic “Desert” playmat, but for this project enhanced with builders’ fine sand.
Not wanting anything permanent, I made the cliff faces from Noch Sandstone rock compound applied to thin MDF and attached to the tile edges with school glue (which it is hoped will be removable later). The cliffs were painted with Homebase “oyster” from an old tester pot.
The barbed wire was made by burning the fluff from pipe cleaners and twisting the wire, after wiping clean, roughly around a paintbrush handle.
The layout was enhanced with a few pigs and cows and telegraph poles. There was a debate about stringing grade 000 black cotton between the poles, but dismissed for reasons of practicality.
There is on the model a radio mast made from the top half of a 1/72 Hornby electricity pylon (pending a better model on order). It is shown on the map, but is probably a post-war addition. But it makes a good objective for the raid, so it stays.
The only thing missing is a few civilians, for decoration or as refugees.
5 thoughts on “Unternehmen Launenhaft: The Landscape”
I’m so enjoying your Sealion posts (have been reading the old ones too) and hop to run my own campaign soon. I thought it worth passing on that old OS maps are available to view online here: https://maps.nls.uk/os/ look for the section marked “Map Series – England, Wales and Great Britain”
Thanks Alistair. I used this map mainly because I have the OS app on my iPhone.
The first campaign ran out of steam, and this one is a simple solo small-scale affair.
A much better map for my purposes than what I was using. Clearer contours too.
That looks fantastic- a great tutorial on how useful the hex tiles are.