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Operation Deadstick

6mm WW2 Demonstration by Tony Francis

Figures and Vehicles

Tanks

All of the figures and vehicles used in the game are from Heroics and Ros. The superb 21st Panzer Division's French conversions are by Armstrong Miniatures, but these are now supplied by H&R so everything came from one source in the end.

Panzers  Panzer-IVH and U-304(f) half-tracks Panzers  More of the Panzer IVs and converted French half-tracks Centaurs
Royal Marine Commando Centaur fire support tanks
Bunker and MMGs  German tripod mounted MMGs in front of a Shapeways bunker German Infantry  716th Infantry Division troops ready to defend the bridges Panzer Grenadiers  German PanzerGrenadier platoon in barely discernable 3-colour Heer pattern camouflage jackets Paratroops  Glider infantry platoon in Dennison smocks - again, all that effort and it's barely visible !

Gliders

The gliders are nice little models but suffer from pitting on the wings and a less than perfect fit between the wing and hull, hence the copious amounts of various fillers (Squadron Green putty and Citadel Liquid Green Stuff). The overhead view of the glider park at RAF Tarrant Rushton shows the gliders now complete with roundels and other markings from Dom's Decals (the invasion stripes are hand-painted). For the game, each plane is mounted on a flying stand made from the base of large Games Workshop flying stand, drilled out to accept a length of 6mm acrylic rod. The top of the rod is also drilled out to take a 3mm rare earth magnet, which mates with a similar magnet fitted in the base of each plane. Click for larger versions

Gliders  Assembled and patched gliders Gliders  Six Horsa gliders in camouflage and invasion stripes Focke Wulf
Focke-Wulf FW-190 Fighter-bomber

Personality units

Lovat
Lord Lovat and Piper Bill Millen
Labourers
Italian Labourers intercepted by the Paras
Sentries
The two German centries who were guarding the bridge when the gliders landed

I am indebted to Johannes Blunck of Hamburg for pointing me to the following photograph of one of the patrol boats that attempted to attack the bridge. I was labouring under the misapprehension that the boats in question were some flavour of R-Boat, but in fact it appears that the two vessels were the V206 Otto Bröhan and V212 Friedrich Busse, both Vorpostenboot or converted trawlers.Getting detailed photos or plans of either ship proved impossible, so I cobbled together a 3D model from what information I could find, plus pictures of other V-boots, and again had that model printed.



V-boot CGI  V-boot 

Terrain

The terrain boards are made from three cheap, plain interior doors fitted side-by-side. Although this might seem an extravagance, in fact it cost little more than it would have done to buy the timber and sheet material to make our own, and they have the added advantage of being perfectly square, identically sized and pre-assembled ! It also accounted for the slightly odd size of the finished game (6'6" by 7'6" - each door being 78x30 inches).

Each board then had a layer of 1" insulation foam stuck on top using a glue-gun type adhesive (after checking the instructions, which pointed out that the glue I had was not suitable for foam ... make sure you get a solvent-free one if you try anything like this !). Now this didn't go to plan first time ... the insulation foam (Celotex, from Wickes) had a layer of silver reflective paper coating on the outside. The idea was that we'd stick the foam down to the boards, then the top layer of paper would be peeled off to leave the foam surface underneath. This went wrong in so many ways ! With the top layer removed, the tension of the paper on the other side made the foam curl up, regardless of the fact it was glued to the baseboard - it simply pulled away from the glue amidst a cacophony of creaks and groans. In an attempt to salvage things, we pulled all of the foam completely off the boards, peeled the silver paper off the reverse side and stuck it down again. When we came back to the workshop a couple of nights later, we found that the all of the foam had shrunk anywhere between ¼" and ½" all-round. I tried to fix this with various fillets and patches, until Phil finally persuaded me that the patient was dead, and all resuscitation attempts should stop. So everything was ripped off the boards (again) and the glue was cleaned up as much as possible.

A week later came the second attempt. This time we used sheets of white polystyrene foam (the stuff that tends to bead up). It's not quite as nice, but it a) stuck down first time with PVA, b) didn't warp or shrink and c) could be cut with a hit wire foam cutter, which the yellow insulation stuff couldn't (being fire resistant). A number of panel pins were knocked through the foam into the base boards so that it wouldn't shift while drying, and all of the edges were wrapped in black gaffa tape - which protected the edges of the boards, made things even more secure and also hid any white gaps between the boards. Things were looking a damn sight better ...

Trashed terrain The state of things after the initial, disastrous attempt to use Celotex insulation panels failed miserably. Fixed terrain :-) Second attempt using normal white polystyrene boards. Road network The road and track network painted in, along with a base coat of blue on the waterways. Flocked Boards Flocked boards, ready for hedges and trees. The far (Ranville side) board has already been hedged.
Painted Rivers Lots of minor patching work done. Horsa Bridge installed. Rivers painted in final dark-to-light blending. The fan heater perched on the left is attempting to dry the river a bit faster ! Orchard Steve Tucker installing 250 trees in orchards by the river bank. Hedging A five-man work crew installs hedges on the western side of the canal (l-r) Phil Richards, Andy King, Tony Gibbs, Dave Sime, Brian Simons Almost Done Terrain boards almost complete - view from east to west across the river (nearest) towards the canal. The various blocks of polystyrene are used as leaning pads to avoid damaging the terrain when reaching across.

Pegasus ... The Video

One evening, half-a-dozen club members got together to make a big push on the boards - we made quite a bit of progress, getting a lot of flocking done (until the flock ran out) then covering the Horsa bridge board with hedges. For a laugh, we made a little time-lapse video for your enjoyment ...

A Sticky Evening ... from brigadetony on Vimeo.

The Club Open Day and the Great Celotex Disaster

When the first pass terrain surface was stripped and replaced, we left one section in place since it seemed to be OK - still flat, with none of the curly tendencies of the rest of the board. When the game was unwrapped for the club Open Day however, we had a nasty surprise ... This one remaining Celotex board had bubbled up in the middle, creating a rather impressive but definitely non-historical hill on the eastern bank of the river. The sterling efforts of Dave S and Tony G plus half a glue gun cartridge and a bunch of screws managed to get the board back into shape for the day, but we were faced with having to completely replace the board for the next show (SELWG). In the end it wasn't too hard - stripping the old board was messy but straightforward enough (although the initial intention of trying to remove it intact failed as it disintegrated into hundreds of small pieces). The Celotex was replaced with white polystyrene, painted and flocked in a couple of evenings and then a five-man working party replicated the roads, hedgelines and fields of the original board in an evening. Once again the work was recorded for posterity ...

Repair and Replace from brigadetony on Vimeo.

The Bridges

The only 6mm scale model of Pegasus Bridge I could find was the one by Najewitz Modellbau in Germany. This is made from a wood-pulp material called finnpappe and cut out by laser. It's an excellent little model, but unfortunately my fat fingers managed to make a complete hash of assembling it and I was concerned about how robust it would be on the table after several show trips. So instead I decided to make a computer model, and have this 3D-printed by Shapeways. After several iterations I finally have a physical copy in my hands - many thanks to Joost at Shapeways for helping me fix the various problems and getting it to work.

Pegasus Bridge CGI  Pegasus Bridge Model  Pegasus Bridge Model  Pegasus Bridge Model  Pegasus Bridge Model Pegasus Bridge Model

As for Horsa bridge, the bridge over the river Orne, I had no option other than to make it myself as there seem to be no commercial models out there. So that has also been designed as a CG model and has been 3D printed too. Fortunately I took plenty of pictures of the scale model at the Pegasus bridge museum in Normandy, which served as invaluable reference material. Like Pegasus, Horsa has been through a couple of rounds of being rejected by Shapeways but the finished version has finally appeared and I am extremely pleased with the result.

Horsa Bridge CGI  Horsa Bridge - CGI model Horsa Bridge Model  Unpainted printed nylon model. Horsa Bridge Painted
Painted and varnished

Neither bridge is an absolutely perfect scale model - the limitations of the 3D printing process and the small scale mean that compromises have had to be made, but I think I've ended up with some half-decent representations in 6mm scale. Both bridges can now be bought from the Brigade Models Shapeways Shop, as can many of the other buildings.

Buildings

One of the most famous buildings in Normandy is Cafe Gondree, situated at one end of Pegasus Bridge. Najewitz Modellbau make a lovely little resin version of this, along with some other useful Normandy buildings, which I plan to use. The distinctive tower of Benouville Church, recipient of a PIAT round on the day as it was full of German snipers, has to be scratchbuilt, again 3D modelled and printed. As for the Chateau, this will also have to be scratchbuilt, assuming it features at all - I don't yet know if it will fit on the terrain.

Benouville Church CGI  Benouville Church CGI  Benouville Church

As far as houses go, there are far fewer out there than I thought. As mentioned above, Najewitz have one or two, as do Timecast, but that's about it - no one makes a large enough range of houses to assemble a decent sized village without lots of repetition. So again, I've gone down the 3D modelling route for these. One very pleasant discovery is that, if the buildings are carefully modelled, they cost no more than resin ones do, they are lightweight and very robust (drop a resin building on the floor and if you're lucky it'll only chip in one or two places - drop a plastic 3D print and it'll bounce).

House 1 CGI  House 3 CGI  House 4 CGI  House 5 CGI
House 1  House 4  House 5

Rather than being fixed to the board, the buildings are on small scenic bases that fit around the road network. Probably the most work went into the graveyard around Benouville Church.

Graveyard  Graveyard 

Trees

These were sourced from eBay and came China - you can't beat 100 trees for £7.99 ! However, beware the ones described as 'Bright Green' - they have a glow worthy of Chernobyl ! These ones had to be hit with a quick overspray of Humbrol Dark Green acrylic spray paint to tone them down - see the photo below for a before (right) and after (left) comparison. Other foliage, bushes, hedges etc were made from model railway materials, mostly from Woodland Scenics.

Trees

Bibliography

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