Wednesday, October 24, 2007
The glider-based units in my army provide most of the heavy weapons and support elements. For my army, that means a Glider Intel & Recon Platoon, an Anti-Tank gun platoon, and a Glider Field Artillery Battery. None of these units were depicted in Band of Brothers, so as long as their base work matched the rest of the force I could do pretty much whatever I wanted to with them.
Glider Field Artillery Battery
When the job calls for a little more bang than a 75mm shell can deliver, you turn it over to the big boys of airborne artillery. Gun for gun they hit harder than the 75s, and at six tubes to the battery they've got two more guns than the heavy 105s of the ground pounders -- they're like UberMortars!
Right now, the bases look a little sparse -- no rocks or sand bags, very little spare equipment laying around. All that will change when I add the snow. The idea here is that, drawn by jeeps, this mobile unit was pulled into position just moments ago and haven't yet had time to make a mess. The flat open space of their large artillery bases will give me room to model fresh tire tracks in the snow. Later. Some day. After I paint everything.
The shell casings were made just like the 75mm shells -- plastic rod, with a score line around one end and the other bored out with a pin vice. Here we see something I've wanted to include on an artillery piece for quite a while -- a spent shell being removed from the gun. This was one of the basic shell loader poses, with one hand removed from the shell, the tip cut off, and the metal casings hollowed out just like all the plastic examples. A bit of green stuff hides where he got uglied up when I carved the arm away from the body.
I did all my normal tricks to these guys, with raised boots and close positioning, bent arms and rotated heads. Here we see one of the loaders with his shell much further into the gun than normal -- all I did was clip off the front of the shell and move his left arm out of the way.
I do like the opened up ammo box on that one, though.
By the time I got to this unit, I was (finally) starting to run low on figures, so I didn't have quite as much variety available as I might have wanted. But I did my best, and mixed artillery and AT gun crew with a few basic infantry men. And every gun got a field telephone - riding a glider does come with some advantages.
The command team for this platoon is pretty basic, though it did involve a bit of arm repositioning.
And I like the observer team, but its nothing special.
But I rather taken with the idea I came up with for the staff team:
When you're on the go, what makes a better staff table than the hood of a jeep? I'll add in a large map on the hood after I paint it all. Even now it has some fun details, like wires for radio and telephone.
And extra papers, made of little bits of plastic from the blister packs.
Glider Anti-Tank Gun Platoon
This fairly straight-forward unit is mounted on nice, matching bases showing simple dug-in positions -- from the spares box I had lengths of plastic logs stacks up that were almost the perfect size. In fact, I used the trimmed-off ends to make the short sections on the bazooka teams. Super glue and sand made a nice, natural build up of earth in front of each little stack, giving these boys just a bit of cover.
The guns themselves don't involve very much, just my basic mix of as many poses as I can get, trying to work as much action into a rather static scene as I can. Sometimes I get happy accidents -- something went wrong with fitting this guy to the gun, so it ended up looking like he's peaking around the side of the gun shield.
I didn't use any card board or anything like that to base these guys. Some of them had their base tabs removed to make them a bit more flush to the ground, especially figures between the legs of the gun carriages, but many of them were just glued down, with a little super glue and sand around the edge of their base tab to make the lump more natural.
Shell casings and stacks of ammo boxes are what links the teams in this platoon together, aside from the low wood-and-earth wall. They were made just like the 105mm shell cases, just using smaller plastic rod -- about 1/2 the size, to be about 57mm in rough scale.
Maybe I was starting to run out of ideas, but much like the 105mm platoon, this glider command team is a little bit stock:
But I do like this bazooka team. The prone casting, with its base tab sawn off with a razor saw, was just the right height to take cover behind my low wall. Too bad for the load, though, 'eh?
To make something distinctive and matching about this platoon's jeeps, I gave them all a coil of rope around the front bumper in addition to other random goodies. Oh, and curse the resin vehicles with cast-on bases. They suck, BF. I'm just sayin'.
Glider Intel & Recon Platoon
OK, finally more infantry for me to have fun with! Since I could do whatever I wanted to with these guys, and didn't have a big cannon to contend with, I decided they would be scouting their way through a very rough, dense forest.
This also gave me another opportunity to use one of my favorite modeling materials. Its something I always seem to have plenty of just laying around the ash tray, and its texture paints up as such nice, interesting bark...
And I still like my little Woodland Scenics stumps. But seriously, with all the layers and undercuts, I think all this is going to look really cool when it has snow on it with stumps and things poking out.
I did a lot of my half-removed base tab stuff in this platoon. By that, I mean I'd use a razor saw to cut one foot up from the base tab, leaving the other foot attached, and then with some wire clippers I'd hack off half the base tab. That way I still have half a base tab to make a stable gluing point, but I have the other foot loose to place up on some handy object, like a fallen tree trunk. I really think this makes the figure look more dynamic.
It also lets me do things like above, using change in angle to affect the miniature's stance. By rocking the guy above so far back, I effectively change him from walking along with his rifle pointed at the ground to braced and firing from the hip, like this:
I did that a few times in this platoon, trying to make as many figures as possible look like they are actually hooting. For what ever reason, Phil at Battle Front likes to show troops walking more than fighting.
Now, half of the intel platoon are the jeeps, and I had a lot of fun with these. I could usually only cram three guys on a jeep, but I did want it to look as much as possible like the infantry teams had just boarded their own transports. I also wanted to be able to tell the difference between armed, roaming MG teams and unarmed, lurking observers, so I had to include the guns. This gave me the opportunity to do things like this:
There was lots of cutting, bending, and puttying to make it all come back together. I didn't want to just cram the men and guns on...
...I wanted the men to look like they were using the gun, like this guy from Old Glory:
The Battle Front figures could do it, but they required a lot of hacking and gluing to make it happen.
Ahw, look, the scout thinks he sees something!
Tuesday, October 23, 2007
I also started thinking about what I'd do with the other gun teams that would eventually make up the entire collection, namely the glider-crewed short 105s and the big 105s of the ground-pounders. I decided that it would look cool to model their bases to represent the sort of terrain that gun might have been positioned in. More on this later, but what that boiled down to was making the bases for the Pak 75s the most rugged, the heavy 105s the most permanently emplaced, and the light 105s sort of in the open, as if their jeeps had just dropped them off. For this platoon, a semi-rugged firing position is suggested by modeling the guns pushed up to the edge of a low ridge.
I don't have any shots of this platoon before I put the coffee on them, but I still used my old trick of cutting out a few layers of card and covering about 1/2 of the top of each base with it. The front edge of this card layer formed a bit of a miniature cliff face towards the front of each base, which I faced with small pieces of rock. I tried to glue them onto the base at a slight angle to create a small overhanging shelf. That way, when I put the snow on at the very end there would be a small clear area and you'd be able to see under the rock shelf and it wouldn't just look like a snow drift. I used super glue and sand to hide the joint between the rock and the card board and then went about adding the guns and crew. This profile shot gives about the best view of this as I've got:
Most of the figures were just glued down to the top layer of card, unless I'd thought up a clever way to model yet another soldier with one foot up on top of something. I wanted to get a lot of interaction around the guns, with men standing on the trails, loading shells, removing shell casings, and anything else I could think up. I got a good bit of millage out of working a crew member up against the wheels of the gun carriage or up onto the exposed lip of rock.
To visually link all the teams together, everyone got a large storage crate of ammo, and plenty of spent shells. I made the shells for this platoon from plastic rod, roughly to scale for a 75mm shell. I cut small lengths of rod for each shell, and used an xacto blade of lightly score a ring around the rear end of each. Then I used a pin vice to hollow out the center of the rod, leaving an empty canister. This was, let me assure you, a pain in the ass, especially since each gun would need four or five shells.
The gun crews are a mix of just about every gun crew type of American Battle Front make: paratrooper artillery and mortar crew figures were used for most, but there are a good helping of basic American artillery and anti-tank gun crew figures, as well as a few intended for basic infantry duties.
The command team for this unit is based on a scene of Winters trying to explain the plan of attack to Dyke. It didn't have anything to do with artillery, but it did make for a decent scene to model. I made the map board out of a small piece of plastic card, with lead foil from a whine bottle glued on and folded back to look like a wrinkled map. Their heads were slightly rotated so the two officers would be looking at each other, and a little bit of green stuff cleaned up the seams after I repositioned their arms to hold the map board. The base got the same "lip of rock" treatment as the guns, with a spent shell (hidden in this view) to tie it into its platoon.
The staff team for this battery was a lot of fun to do. Based on a scene in the HQ tent just before a mission, with officers going over a map, it seamed like a good place to put a little more rear-echelon detail into this force.
There were some arm and head position adjustments to make everyone look at each other funny, as well as some table details, like the extra papers made of foil, and a sidearm shaved off of a model. Both that and the pack of smokes on the table are details right from the show -- I love that kind of thing.
I went nuts with the details around the table on this one. I set lower rocks onto the base without any cardboard, trying to make it look like the staff team was just down the hill from the guns. Some of the items are pretty generic, like packs and ration boxes:
But others are more specific. Resting on the platoon's standard matching ammo box is my representation of an electric signaling light used by observation teams during the war:
Speaking of observation teams, I based this platoon's Observer on the scenes in the forward OP bunker in Band of Brothers. Covered in logs and down in a deep fox hole (made from layers of card and sand, smoothed on the outside with epoxy paste) this would really match well with 2nd Platoon:
And the top comes off to reveal the team inside... along with Joe Toye's boots drying on the back edge.
Finishing off the artillery battery is their supply container. Rather than use another cart, I made these two guys drag the parapack along the ground. Besides the green-stuff pack, there was just a bit of arm repositioning and a few straps to model. I also added a batter-powered beacon on the ground, with just a hint of the rock lip. You can see a real pic of the beacon at Trigger Time.