Sunday, April 26, 2009

"Mir sein die Kaiserjager"

Here's one for the Austrians. The song (and march) of the Tiroler Kaiserjager, who did a lot of the fighting in the Dolomites.

Note the photo of the minenwerfer with the finned projectile that appears towards the end of the video. I've the model from Brigade games that I need to put together. Just the thing to plunk in the middle of the Collina della Formica.

With that thing looking over the Allied lines and lobbing hate into their trenches from above, there will be plenty of incentive for the Allies to want to eliminate the stronghold!

Speaking of which, here is a recent shot of the Anthill in progress. As you can see, the flagstones have been added to what was once the floor of the now-ruined building.

Looking down into the defensive works set in the "basement".

Looking from the back ("back" here being the side facing away from the enemy).

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Mein schlauer Plan...

The Protagonists...

The Collina della Formica nears completion, I have received a bunch of Austrians and French from Scarab Miniatures, and my barbed wire and bases are on their way. It is time to look at what the next stages of my Italian Campaign project will be.

1) Paint up a small garrison of Kaiserjager for the Anthill

2) paint up a platoon of the French 701st with some support weapons

3) detail and paint Kallistra trenches

4) mass produce a wad o' barbed wire emplacements on 75mm square bases, as well as some rocky outcrops and sangars for cover.

These will not necessarly be done in this order, and I'll probably work on things like barbed wire positions between painting phases. But it should see me through to the summer, and in July I'm going to get myself a fold-up ping-pong table for gaming on.

I might even get myself either this one or this one for "flavour"!

I have been mulling over a setting and scenarios for my games, and have started on a cast of characters. The French capt. Raymond de Bouillon-Cantinat, Marquis de Sangfroid, commanding a detachment of the 701st that has been sent to Italy, will be sparring with that young but extremely self-confident scion of the noble Tyrolese house the Count von Talus auf dem Skree.

The Marquis is the latest in a line of Bouillon-Cantinats who have found their way into my French armies down the ages. It is only natural that he make an appearance here!

Monday, April 20, 2009

Tre Sassi

Lots of goodies due here in Tokyo this week through the post.

I've ordered both French and Austro-Hungarian minis from Scarab Miniatures, including an observation, AA and MMG team for the fort garrison. Also on their way are a bunch of round 25mm bases from
Litko Aerosystems, and three boxes (eighteen metres worth!) of barbed wire from Antenociti's Workshop.


on the Collina Della Formica continues apace. I spent the last few days on the laborious- and totally unexciting- task of modelling the stone effect in the trenches and and on the walls. A mix of techniques, but the effect is pretty good.

Now I have to finish texturing the inside walls with a few think coats of filler to blend in the card and balsa "stonework", and then I'll glue down the larger walls.

After filling in any gaps I'll add the emplacement covers and doors, then it is pretty much a matter of painting.


A large part of the inspiration behind this is the
Festung Tre Sassi, an Austro-Hungarian fort built in 1897 near Cortina.

Here in 1916,

...and as seen today. What a beautiful place to have to be fighting a war!

When the Italians declared war in 1915, the Austrians actually decided to withdraw from their line of forts in the Dolomites to a line further back from the border, and used the mountains themselves- to great effect- as natural fortresses for the Italians to have to attack.

There appears to be a good
museum at the Tre Sassi that I'd love to visit if I ever get to that corner of Europe.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Il Piave mormorò....

Dating from 1918, a popular Italian song about the Piave campaign.

Austrian Terror Weapons...


No, I'm actually talking about this;

I'm putting together an order for some more of the excellent Scarab miniatures, and find myself hesitating about whether to order a flamethrower or not.

The idea of deliberately setting out to grill one's fellow man or to ruin his lungs (as was the case with my great-grandfather) for the sake of the fulfilment of some political goal or redrawing of a border just doesn't sit comfortably with me. 

Yes, I know I'm being neither logical nor consistent. War is hell in all it's aspects, and being blown to fragments by a shell or being hit in the face by a high-velocity rifle bullet can be no less horrific, but there is something about the use of flamethrowers- and the use of toxic gas- that "pushes the envelope" of my comfort level when it comes to using them in a wargame. 

It is a personal thing. It is not something that I need a debate with others on, or that I lose sleep over. I know it is just a game. I may very well order them anyway just as models anyway. 
Somewhat heavy thoughts for what is after all just a gaming blog, but for me the issue sometimes arises, particularly when gaming WW1 and later where one doesn't have the excuse of colourful uniforms to justify collecting the miniatures.  

I've had an interest in military history all my life, and as I look at the human cost vs. ultimate benefit side of things down through the ages, the study has pretty well made a pacifist out of me.  

And like that other great pacifist and pioneer of our present-day hobby,  H.G. Wells, I like to limit myself to just playing with toy soldiers.  

I won't be bringing up this issue again on this blog, but I do feel that it healthy for me to reflect on just how nasty warfare can be in the scientific age, and not to let myself get too divorced from the reality as we move our metal models around on the tabletop. 

Sunday, April 12, 2009

More WIP pics

Spent the afternoon working on the stonework again. These were cut into the surface of the papier-mâché. I like how they came out.

I also used a sheet of thin card to cut out the stonework for the trench mortar emplacement. Looks rather like ceramic bathroom tile in this picture, but I will give it wash of PVA/filler "goo" to soften the edges.   All will be hidden under a coat of paint later anyway.

The top "decking" between the ruined walls will get the same treatment. I will add a hatch to the floor to represent access to the MMG pit below.

Another day or so with the trench interiors, then I will begin work on the walls.  About another week to go and it will be ready for painting!

Saturday, April 11, 2009


A very quickie update. I have now installed all the trench bays, and am fitting out the interiors and have started on the external stonework.

The section on the right was cut into the papier-mâché surface.

The section on the left was made from balsa chunks. Once dry, they will be trimmed down and given a thin coat of acrylic filler, with more filler used to blend it into the surrounding rock face.

The blue foam wall rubble was just marked in with a ball-point pen.

The same after some work with acrylic filler and trowel.

The other big news for me is that I have just received my copy of Mark Thompson's "The White War".

I'm already hooked- great reading ahead!

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Back to work!!

I have just spent the last few days in Kashima city on a business trip, and when I came back I resumed work on the Collina della Formica.

Before I left I had glued the observation post bay assembly into the top, so that by the time I returned it had had plenty of time to dry out. Now I can get to work knocking it around again!

Just one more bay to complete and the trench assemblies are done.

There is a little more work to do on the internal planking and detailing, and I'm going to add a stone floor to the mortar enplacement for variety. I've also started "dressing" the stone work on the parapets.

I still need to add a detachable top for both the machine gun emplacement and the observation post- currently I'm pondering the best way to do this and what material I should use.

The foam walls you see here have been placed in position with toothpicks, but have not yet been detailed. Once I do this, and the trenches are completely finished, then I'll glue the walls down with PVA.

I also decided to re-contour the base around the ruined walls so that the building doesn't look so much like it was perched on top of a birthday cake. It entails some extra work to the project, but I feel it makes for quite an improvement.

The same, after having covered the foam with a "goop" made from a mixture of papier-mache, filler, and PVA.

When that dries out and the walls have been glued down, I'll use acrylic-based putty to enhance the look of the rock formations.


I found another photo of an actual Austro-Hungarian fortification of the time. Somewhat similar to my image of what the Collina della Formica may have looked like before having been shelled into rubble!

I'm under some time pressure to get the actual construction done though. Here is what my desk currently looks like- a major disaster area! No place for any painting and there is much too much dust around to do any painting anyway.

So once the model is completed, I'll leave it a few days for the glue and filler to dry out thoroughly. At that time I'll organize my desk top, and clean the room completely so that there is no dust to settle on wet paint.

Then I'll get to work on painting its garrison of Kaiserliks, and on undercoating the "Anthill" prior to the massive undertaking of painting it!

I'm probably looking at the end of the month as a completion date.