Friday, May 31, 2013

Off to Church

L'Église Saint Vigor du XIIe et XIIIe siècles
After the last AAR, a few of you have asked about the church. Looking through my blog, I realised that despite posting a thread over on the guild forum, I'd never actually posted anything up about it here. Well, time to set that right.

The model is my rendition the Église Saint Vigor du XIIe et XIIIe siècles, a Norman constructed church built during the 12th and 13th centuries. This church (it IS a church, not a cathedral, despite it's size!) is in the town of Cheux, just north of the river Odon in Normandy. Cheux was  fought over by the 15th (Scottish) division and the 12th SS Hitlerjugend during Operation Epsom, and as Epsom is what I have loosely based my collection around, it seemed fitting. And every gaming collection needs a church, right?
I didn't take any work in progress photos, which I often a problem of mine. (That said, I have documented my recent bocage building exercise and will try to get a tutorial up shortly)

So, in lieu of pictures i'll have to try to describe the process as best as possible. 

The project started, as most do, with research. The superb Over the Battlefield volume on Operation Epsom provided the inspiration, having a few decent shots of the church.  The Battlezone Normandy on Epsom, along with the Battleground Normandy (confusing, isn't is) also provided several good modern day photographs from a variety of angles.

The model's central structure is built from foamcore board, with cereal box cardboard and blue foam used for the butresses and other raised details. The semicircular apse at the end of the nave is from heavy card, bent, taped and glued.

The most difficult thing was working out scales, and it involved a bit of research and cross referencing between photographs and google earth. Perhaps surprisingly, it wasn't actually that difficult once I got my head around the dimensions and drew up some templates. Lots of repetitive cutting though, and I must have gone through 20 hobby knife blades. I toyed with the idea of making cardboard tiles for the roof, but as I wanted it finished this century I decided on lightly scoring the cardboard to give the impression of tiles.

That done, I mixed up some dark buff emulsion paint with fine sand, and slapped a heavy coat on the lot. Then it was simply a matter of an ink pinwash to bring out the details, then drybrushing in progressively lighter colours.

The stained glass windows are colour photocopies made onto overhead paper, which i ended up backing with white card to make them stand out. The gravestones are metal offcuts from the shed, and the crucifix in the graveyard is from a plastic necklace I found in the dollar store.
The church is 1:72ish scale, and consequently it’s a bit large, but works well for the skirmish games I usually play, and provides a nice objective. The belltower roof is removable for snipers, FOOs and such. I did toy with the idea of making a full interior but then realised I like my sanity a little too much. That said, I may go back and make the central nave roof removable, adding a basic interior.

So, some pictures… First off a comparison between the real thing and my model. I must say I’m well chuffed with the result. Unfortunately I wasn't able to replicate the dismal looking weather :)

L'Église Saint Vigor du XIIe et XIIIe siècles in Cheux, Normandy

My attempt at posing a similar photo. Except for the weather, not a bad match

Front view, Lloyd carrier and 6pdr in defensive positions
Lt. Harry Macleod leads the No.10 platoon PIAT team into action
6 pdr and an Lt. MacLeod's No.10 Platoon await the dastardly hun

Churchill Mk III in the churchyard.

Top down shot to show scale. The bell tower is great for snipers or FO teams
Speaking of... A sniper and an FO team in the belfry

No.10 Platoon defend the churchyard
RAF Liason Morris LRC 'Limejuice' in front of the apse. You can see the details made of blue foam and card in this shot.

The church and the churchyard. the wall is blue foam.

Church from behind. This shows the semicircular apse made of heavy card.

M10 3" Self Propelled gun provide some anti-tank suppport for No.10 platoon.


  1. Like the man said. Awesome


  2. Cor! I thought it was a real church! Fabulous model.

  3. Absolutely brilliant Ben, great scratch-building - a similar off the shelf product in resin would have cost a bomb and weighed a tonne!

  4. You need to give up your day job, that is absolutely fantastic. 10/10

  5. wonderful model and centre piece for gaming.

  6. Just had to grap my jaw from the floor... Your church is amazing!

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  8. Brilliant Ben!
    Quick question -is blue foam available from Bunnings?


  9. Stunning chuch build !!!

    I´m very impressed by your work !!!

    Best regards Michael