Model railways

In my WW2 gaming I frequently have to represent railways.

Unfortunately no supplier is able to provide 10cm railway tracks. The maximum metal (Irregular Miniatures) or resin (Leven Miniatures) seems to be 6cm, which has become the standard length. So every 10 cm hexagon terrain tile with railways is a compromise, involving cutting at least two pieces.

Cutting the rail sections is a problem. I am using Leven by default, but the resin pieces do have a tendency to snap unexpectedly during the cutting process and fly off in odd directions.

Anyway, here is my latest effort, awaiting painting…

Killing two birds with one stone

Recently I asked for suggestions for how to make my 6mm ruined towns look more rubble-strewn. Thank you for the ideas.

Today I mixed up a roll of Milliput modelling material for another domestic purpose before realising that it would not work. I now had a block of hardening putty with no apparent purpose.

My first idea was to make some entrenchments scaled to my 10cm hexagon edges. Then I remembered my previous problem. So I rolled the putty into small balls, crushed them flat, squashed the edges to 2cm (my gaming road width) and attacked them at random with a small cross-head screwdriver.

And here are the results, awaiting curing and painting:

A neat, pristine road amongst ruins
Several bases of rubble, awaiting painting
One new base in a street

Progress reports will follow.

Positives and negatives

While I am quite pleased to find that I have almost enough buildings to cover three quarters of my table with ruins and intact buildings representing Arnhem after two days of conflict, at the same time I am disappointed that some of my more appropriate models still languish in the “to paint” box.

Final details like walls, gardens, trees, telegraph poles, etc. are to be added tomorrow before I attempt to introduce some local kids to the joys of “real” wargaming, rather than just pushing 1:35 tanks around the grass verges on the estate.

Apologies for the photo’ quality. Taken using an i-pad, floodlit by 3 multiple-LED work lights just after dusk.

Back to 6mm gaming

After fart-arsing around with many different wargaming ideas for the last few months, including playing my Market Garden campaign with hex and counter just to keep it rolling, my 6mm mojo has been reactivated.

Thus we are back in the Shedquarters building a new battlefield.

Battlefield under construction

Wargaming progress: March 2019

The story so far…

As usual I have too many wargaming balls in the air at one time.
I am working through my in-tray, but now have adopted the system that if a game is on the table then other projects will have to be recycled through the pile of paper, unless they are research, reading, rules development, etc. that can be done without disturbing the current game.

Each project gets an hour to progress before the next one is examined.  That way I do not get stale.  So, in the last two weeks I have:

1. Printed, painted and played with some WW2 naval models, to playtest my rules for use of submarines with my hex-based adaptation of Axis & Allies War at Sea. The trial game has already been reported here.

2. Received some new Kallistra half-hex tiles to square off the edges of my terrain. This makes a world of difference to the visual aspect. Unfortunately part of my order was incorrect, receiving unflocked rather than flocked tiles. Sally at Kallistra was very helpful and sent replacements, but this time with the wrong orientation (cut side to side rather than point to point).  Anyway, it’s all sorted out now and Kallistra refunded my return postage.  I am now in the process of creating roads on some of the half-hexes before my 1939 Poland game can progress.
Having discovered that the half-hexes are simply whole hex tiles cut in half I had a go at some half-slopes for where my hills run off the board.  Photographs will follow when the rain stops enough for me to comfortably get to the man-cave.

3. Designed and printed labels to create WW2 tokens for use with both my Memoir ’44 and Advanced Squad Leader boards*.  My idea is that if the terrain is viewed top-down, the troops should be too.  I have tried using various top-down images, but the definition on 13mm square tokens is too low to easily identify troop types for mechanised warfare.  Therefore I have adopted map symbols. As a basis for the images on the labels I am using the German system from 1939/40 for map symbols. I have not been able to find a comprehensive pre-NATO system for the Allies, so the German system is used for them too.

The labels are printed onto Avery A4 sticky label sheets, then stuck onto 13mm gaming tokens of different colours which I obtained from Plastics For Games. Unit labels German for blog

4. Played two engagements of the ongoing Play By E-mail campaign of Market Garden and started a third one, using the tokens described above and Memoir ’44 boards and rules.

5. Started research for a (probably) solo campaign for Operation Lion – the possible German invasion of Britain in July 1940 (before the “Battle of Britain”).  I am re-reading Kenneth Macksey’s book: “Invasion” and have ordered an old copy of the GMT game “Britain Stands Alone” from the USA, for orders of battle if nothing else.  I have yet to decide whether to use the board game as a basis for air, naval and land battles (solo or with an opponent), or whether to use the ASL boards for a rolling terrain campaign for maybe one German regiment to follow its fortunes – or both!!!

(I refer my honourable friends to the comment in the second line of this post.)

Oploo 4

* I was always too lazy and short of time to learn how to play Advanced Squad Leader properly, but have found a myriad of uses for the hex-boards, of which I now have several dozen and am always on the look out for more.

image

They are particularly useful for “rolling terrain” type games or campaigns involving exploration into unknown country. My latest idea is to create a template to place over ASL boards to create a board for Commands & Colors and its various derivatives, or for transfer to my Kallistra terrain for 6mm games.

A modelling dilemma

For my next “Market Garden” battle I have a large rail bridge for which I already have one straight rail hexagon tile embanked to the correct height.

My problem is that I also have two road/rail crossing points to create. I already have these crossings at normal ground level.

Option 1.  I make sloping railway hexagons to drop a height of 12mm over 10cm, which is a far steeper gradient than would look realistic.

Option 2. I keep the railway embanked at 12mm height and create bridges (real or indicated by painting) beneath for the roads. To do this I might need to carve beneath the normal terrain level to make a useable bridge.

The photo shows a Sherman tank (based) with the current embankment and a normal ground level railway, and an indication of the slope required for option 1.

Nominal ground scale is 1:2500, but vertical scale is 1:285.

I think that by setting up a mock-up and having seen the result I use the exaggerated slope method. So now all I need to do is to make two convincing sloped embankments and fit (and paint) the rail tracks..

The number of bespoke Kallistra hexagons in my collection is getting a little worrying, but it is keeping two companies in business – Kallistra and Really Useful Boxes!

Serendipity and repurposing

It is a well known fact that in our household very few purchases (except food) are used for their intended pupose.  So it was no surprise that when I spotted in the centre aisle of our local Lidl a pack of brown felt pads for the protection of shiny floors against furniture legs for less than 2 pounds/dollars/euros that I snapped them up for potential wargames use.

(I since bought a supplementary pack of beige ones, which have vanished after arriving home.)

The pack has circular pads of 32x10mm, 36x15mm and 48x20mm; square pads of 20x20mm and one sheet 200x200mm.  All are about 2mm thick.

Felt pads. 15mm versions used up.

Coincidentally, within a week I needed to create for the Market Garden campaign a wargaming area of heathland in 6mm.

Some time ago I bought from eBay some Chinese model trees as an alternative to the “flocked bottle brush” type of which I already have plenty.  Examples below.

In the pack were lots of tiny trees which remained in the box for potential future use.

“Aha!” thinks I, “This is my serendipitous moment.”

By twisting the miniscule tree trunks together and pressing them onto to the sticky side of the felt pads I managed to create  clumps of bushes.  The felt underside helps prevent them from being inadvertantly moved against the flocked base terrain hexagons.

I may decide to use my previously described method of coating the bushes with diluted PVA glue and baking in the oven at a low heat to solidify the models, but for the time being they will suffice, when properly placed, interspersed with occasional trees, to represent my heathland.