(Photo courtesy of Deutsches Bundesarchiv (German Federal Archive), Bild 101I-494-3376-20)
Over the past few months I have been building up the forces necessary to play the Villers-Bocage scenario from the Battlefront book of the same name. This is somewhat of a daunting task, as the Germans alone have 11 panzer Mark IV Hs, 5 Tigers, 7 sdkfz 251/1c, 4 motorcycle stands with 4 Panzer Lehr MG teams, and 7 SS panzergrenadier MG teams. Amazingly enough I have finished all but the Panzer Lehr scout platoon for the Germans.
The British are slightly behind. While I have completed (with substantial help from my son) the British infantry company with AT platoon and 4 Sexton battery, I still have 16 (out of 20) Cromwells to do. Now Cromwells are not camouflaged and are relatively easy to paint, but 16 of anything is not a drop in the bucket. I hope to have them done by the summer.
And then there are the houses. . . The scenario has fifteen odd feet of densly packed town homes in the heart of the town that the Germans and Brits fight over. There is no easy or cheap way to recreate this. I think buildings from Crescent Root are probably the nicest (I have several) and they come painted, which is even nicer. They are also currently out of production and a bit expensive as well. Musket Miniatures makes very nice 15mm buildings as well. In fact, the Musket Miniature ones look very similar to the homes in Villers Bocage in 1944. They do not come painted, however, and I am not sure I want to spend the next year doing that. My current solution is to make the houses out of wood. The houses will be solid with a removable roof. I will paint them with a textured paint and use balsa wood for windows and doors. These will NOT be as nice as any of the professional manufacturers, but may allow me to do the battle without going too much over budget. Anyway, I'll post the results of my experimentation as I continue. First I need to finish the Panzer Lehr scouts.
Actually, all roads don't lead to Villers-Boage, and it is very easy to get lost in the vicinity by taking wrong turns on the narrow roads. Not that I would know personally . . .