Saturday, February 23, 2013

Another One Bites the Dust . . .

I finished the Musket Miniatures French Bakery over the week.  This house had been languishing for quite a while but I am on a construction roll here so I put in the effort and finished it off.  It still needs the matte coat, but it is essentially finished.  I added a couple of signs to the outside walls as they looked a little bare.  This house took a long time to finish, so long that I had forgotten what color I had used to paint the outside walls.  When I applied a number of hues that weren't correct it set me back until I finally found the right one.  Still it is done and will occupy space. 
My other less than successful houses were removed from their Simple Green bath and scrubbed again with something labeled "Barkeepers Friend."  Frau PanzerCDR says this may do better at removing resin model mold anti-adhesion material.  We'll see. 
Your standard Musket Miniature French Bakery.  Nothing fancy here, though the croissants smell nice. 

Another view.  I added the signs to break up the otherwise drab exterior. 
The rear view.  Lots of windows to shoot out on or through. 

Several Musket Miniatures houses all in a row, which is how they'll be displayed in Villers Bocage central.

(L-R) A Musket Miniatures row house, a Battlefront house and the Musket Miniatures Bakery.  They all fit together pretty well. 
Inside the Bakery: four medium stands of FV infantry will fit with ease. 

"Where is Herr Wittman?  We are ready to attack!"

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Two Steps Forward, Two Steps Back

The image below is NOT a good sign:

Better living through chemistry.  Where is the MSDS sheet?

I think a combination of colder than normal weather while priming and insufficient cleaning of the resin models resulted in the primer flaking off my LAST three Musket Miniature houses.  As such I am starting (again) from the beginning following a lengthy bath in simple green for the models.  This is not good, though not a killer.  The "L" shaped house here was the most important as it anchored an intersection.  Still, I hate having to go back to the start and do it again.  Sigh.

The latest house flanked by free stuff from Battlefront's house subscription.  You can't beat free.
On the other hand, the latest house and the walls and outer buildings showed up in the mailbox on Friday.  This should help fill the space as well as absorb HE as required.  Given the upcoming housing density I am thinking that my German Grilles will be especially effective as bunker busters in any non-Villers Bocage scenario, as well as just looking really neat. 

German Grilles support the defense of a French town of vital importance to the stability of the front.  A 15 cm gun barrage is good at persuading the Tommies to attack some other place.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Two Down, Four to Go!

First the good news:  I have finished off two more of the Musket Miniatures French Row houses for my ever expanding Villers-Bocage scenario.  They still need a matte coat but I may wait for the temperature to rise a bit.  I still have four to go but I am getting VERY close to completion.  I can smell the scent of victory in the air!  Of course, that might just be primer. . . 
The front view of the house.  I have different shutter colors to tell them apart. 

The rear view. 
A disassembled house.  Each has three levels and a detachable roof which gives the greatest possible troop density if you are conducting a large scale urban fight. 

Each level can easily hold two medium size stands. 
Battlefront house on the left and the Musket Miniature house on the right.  I paint the walls white so that the stands inside stand out more. 

Here are two similar German infantry stands in the houses.  I think the stand in the right house is easier to see.  The somewhat garish floor helps in this respect. 

L-R Battlefront house and my recent additions.  Dimensionally and color-wise the results are similar. 

L-R Battlefront, my 2 Musket Miniatures house, and then Crescent Root houses.  I think the last are the most visually appealing, the Musket Miniature homes the most useful for massing troops and most detailed, and the Battlefront a nice balancing between the two. 
And now for the bad news: the primer on tow of the remaining houses started flaking off in the middle of their first coat of paint.  I am not sure if this is a function of the lower than normal temperature in the basement when I primed them or the non-stick coating really working but the end result is a fair amount of frustration on my part.  Luckily I know a fair number of useful vocabulary words to assuage my irritation.  Some of them are even German!        

Saturday, February 2, 2013

The Roads of Villers Bocage

When I first started my Villers Bocage project many years ago (2007?) I initially despaired of EVER making/buying/painting a sufficient number of houses to ever run the scenario.  My initial cost estimates of ~100 USD per foot of urban area seemed excessive even for the most obsessive compulsive wargamer.  Well, several years and a whole lot of money later (don't ask how much) I think that not only do I have enough houses to run the scenario as shown in the Battlefront book, I have (or will have shortly) sufficient houses to expand the area of operations.   This is a good thing.  Really!
Let me explain.  The Battlefront scenario really concentrates on the center of town and the two main east-west roads that run through it.  For the forces in the scenario, this is very small as with over 30 tanks blasting away, it doesn't look like the two roads would remain unblocked for long.  This would really negate a lot of the German power which is concentrated in the 5 Tigers and 11 Panzer Mk IV Hs.  Throw in a 7 halftracks and a bunch of motorcycles and it gets crowded fast. 
Rubble, a Tiger and a Panzer Mk IV block a road in Villers-Bocage. 
A little research indicates that while the Brits and Germans did battle down the main avenues, they also fought in the southern portion of the town as well.  Maps from a couple of books on the battle show the Germans lost at least half of their tanks south of the main drag.  Portraying the southern section of the town would allow more space to maneuver and have the players actually use their forces instead of merely generating a huge traffic jam.  The maps and airborne imagery also suggest that the southern part was not as built up as the main road center of town which would be easier to portray with fewer houses.
Typhoon-eye view of Villers-Bocage before the Allies bombed it to rubble. 
Map from Villers-Bocage, Through the Lens of the German war Photographer by Daniel Taylor. 

The Panzers in the Battle of Normandy, 5 June to 20 July 1944 by Georges Bernage.  It looks like more Tigers were lost in the southern area than on the main street shoot out. 
Given the painting I am engaged in, the houses that Battlefront is selling now and a couple of other Crescent Root houses that I got recently, I MAY be able to do more than just the Battlefront scenario area.  I would try that first, but then I think I will expand a bit to try to bring more of the southern part of the town into the fray.  More is typically better, and this is no exception. 

Crescent Root houses.  These aren't the best for putting stands inside but they look really neat. 

Some Crescent Root chateaus.  They will easily fill up the southern part of my basementVillers-Bocage. 

Templecon 2013

I drove over to the Templecon convention today to see the FOW Tournament and of course shop at the Battlefront vending area.  The tournament looked really neat with lots of well painted interesting armies and great terrain provided by Battlefront.  While I did not play myself, I snapped a couple of shots at some of the more interesting (well, to me anyway . . . ) armies and terrain.
A LW German Panzer brigade with lots of Panthers.

More LW Panthers.

British Armored group with British Para support. 

A "standard" tournament table. 

And another.  I liked the hills here. 

A crucial crossroads in the Ardennes complete with snow.

A snow themed German Army. 
LW Panzer IV/70s take casualties but eventually prevail. 

LW British recce finds RT Panthers too much to handle. 

Soviet infantry proves quantity has a quality all of its own. 
I also enjoyed speaking with the Battlefront crew in their vending area.  Given my previous purchases I didn't need much (well, nothing really . . .) but I did get another Challenger for my son's British Armored force.  Not like he needs a cheese weapon to win anyway . . .
Back to painting houses!