Sunday, March 6, 2011

Le Casino

When i made my last posting, I was fairly certain that I didn't have much of a chance of meeting the 28th Feb deadline for getting my Riva-Bella casino boards done. Surprising myself, i hunkered down and actually made it!

Uni started back on Monday, and the decision to travel to the Newcastle campus for two of my subjects looks like the right one. Introductory French is really quite fun, even if there is an exam every other week. The French Revolution and Napoleon class is taken by Philip Dwyer, Napoleonic scholar and author of the recent biography 'Napoleon: The Path to Power 1769-1799'. I'm REALLY looking forward to getting into this subject, and have already chosen my major essay subject, which is concerns the organisational and tactical developments in the Revolutionary French army.

So, for those of you who are visiting the blog for the first time, perhaps some explanation is in order. The excellent Guild forums ( Holds a yearly 'project build' for members, where basically you set deadlines for yourself throughout the year for whatever project you're working on. Great way to keep focused, especially when you consider that at each deadline, your work is put up for voting against all the other entries.

So, my project is to build up, in 20mm (roughly 1/72-1/76) scale, a set of terrain boards and forces representing the attack on Ouistreham and the Riva-Bella casino by Commandant Kieffer's French commandos of No.4 Commando on D-Day. The forces i've been building up are based on the TooFatLardies rulesets, Troops, Weapons and Tactics (TW&T) and I Ain't Been Shot Mum! (IABSM).
My first task consisted of two terrain boards depicting the fortified Casino strongpoint and the adjoining beachfront board, two squads (or gruppen) of German infantry, a 2cm flak gun and a 10.5cm howitzer, both crewed; a commando MG section, mortar team and sniper, and bringing up the rear a two storey building.

The boards were made on a 2 ft square MDF base, built up with coolroom styroboard sheed which was then covered in builders filler and then a pva/sand mix. The Casino and the bunkers were made from blue foam sheet, again covered in filler and the sealed with pva glue. Trenches and other details were made from balsa, and the grass is teddy bear fur. The whole lot was painted with emulsion paints picked up from the local hardware store in $5 sample tins. Static grass and wire was added, along with various obstacles - dragon's teeth, Czech hedgehogs and Belgian gates, scratch built with either blue foam offcuts or plastic strips.

On the whole, I'm really happy with the result, and am looking forward to getting started on the next two boards, 'due' 30th April. These will be the AT wall and PaK positions where the commandos advance first bogged down. It will be located adjacent to the casino, and accompanied by another beach tile.
As far as figures go, the Plastic Soldier company is providing the basis for my German troops, leavened out with superb (but expensive!) AB command figures and heavy weapons from the excellent Kelly's Heroes range. The guns and their crew are from Britannia, and were a joy to paint up. The Commandos are also from Britannia, and are again lovely to paint. Supporting the commandos will be a Royal Marines Centaur IV tank from Cromwell, along with a troop of Britannia DD Shermans. As the local gaming club is looking at getting into 20mm WWII gaming, I'm also going to try to paint up some more generic British and German forces, based around the 15th Scottish division and the 21st Panzer division.

So, on to the pictures. Next up i'll be making a start on the first of two commando assault teams, as well as the Centaur, so stay tuned.