Having got my two Paraguayan chatas built and painted I’ve gone back to building more scenery items, this time fortifications. Progress has been steady but nothing’s got painted, so this is an in-progress post again.
I mentioned in my previous post that I’d painted the chatas because I wasn’t happy with the fortification that I’d started after I’d built the boats. The picture above shows a view of it from the front, the intention being that it would be a raised artillery redoubt with infantry trenches in front of it (and again, for the Paraguayan War – the circles around the front represent base sizes for individual infantry figures).
The next picture shows it from the rear, with a ramp up to the gun level and a powder store and shelter underneath. I decided I didn’t like it because it was too high, but too difficult to trim down due to all the supporting bulkheads inside. So it’s been consigned to sit on a shelf in the hope that it’ll quietly go away!
Having got the chatas and their crews painted, I’d also had more time to reconsider the Paraguayan fortifications I needed. These fall into two types really, artillery emplacements and infantry entrenchments. The infantry entrenchments need to be able to represent either quickly constructed trenches or rifle pits, or more permanent trench lines. I decided to design the infantry fortifications first, build a test model and then move on to the artillery emplacements. Since I’ve got some Ironclad Miniatures 15mm field fortifications to paint at some point, I decided to make my own fortifications fit in with them as far as size goes. This means they’re lower than I’d normally have gone with, but they’re essentially representative anyway so I’m not too bothered about that.
I went with mounting board again for these models. Each trench section consists of a base, a vertical rear wall and a sloped forward surface, with wooden dowel used to represent horizontal tree trunks and cocktail sticks for the smaller diameter trunks/timber used to hold the horizontal trunks in place (with the basic trench form and wood bits shown above and below).
Everything is fixed in place with white PVA glue. Using mounting board for the base and adding the vertical rear wall and front sloping face makes the basic structure very stiff and it resists warping during construction and painting really well (whereas foamcard is not as resistant to warping). Not shown are two triangular “plates” used to close the ends and make the basic structure more robust. The rear vertical wall then had four lengths of dowel glued in place and vertical lengths of cocktail sticks spaced along it to represent the posts used to retain main timbers in place. The non-timbered surfaces were then covered with Vallejo white pumice mix ground texture (shown below – I use the white mix because it’s quite coarse and drybrushes up well when painted in Humbrol dark earth, which is the colour I’ve always used to represent earth on both scenery and figure bases).
I chose the length of this piece so that it could be used to cover the frontage of one infantry battalion in line formation, with the trench and an unpainted infantry unit movement tray shown below. I’ve since made two more lengths of trench and consequently trimmed the ends of the base on this piece to leave less of a base overlap (which looks better when the entrenchments are laid end to end).
Having got the first length of trench built, the next thing to do was plan out the artillery emplacements (shown below), a quick sketch on the left and the properly measured/aligned bases on the right.
I opted for a smaller artillery emplacement than the original design, based around a single heavy gun mounted on a traversing carriage (the guns in the photo are HO scale 3-D prints from Shapeways). Rather than incorporate infantry entrenchments on the same base, I can use the smaller lengths of trench laid in front of the artillery positions for that purpose. I also decided to build two emplacements, each mounting one gun and being mirror images of each other. I’ve also incorporated a shelter/storage area in the design – it’s marked “MAG” on the plan above, but the Paraguayans generally constructed their gun positions with magazines well to the rear and usually well-protected, so some form of shelter is maybe more appropriate.
Once again the base and walls are mounting board, with construction being the same as for the small length of trench (shown above). The low gun platform was added from foamcard with mounting stiffeners around the sides. After the basic construction, the next step was to add all the timber components (shown below).
This took quite a bit longer to do than the small trench, with quite a few different lengths of dowel to cut. I used a matchstick to form the frame for the entrance to the shelter (and you’ll notice that this is not the same emplacement as in the preceding picture).
After that, it was a case of slapping on the ground texture again (shown above)! After making the first one I thought that the roof on the shelter looked a bit unsubstantial, so I added foamcard squares to the tops of both shelters and slapped on some extra texture to build it up! I used a piece of card dragged across the texturing on the gun platform to even it off and leave a level surface for the gun and crew to stand on.
The first emplacement is shown above and below.
Having got both of these done, I then added another two lengths of trench, giving me three in total. Progress on the whole lot is shown below.
Whereas I’d normally keep going with making stuff and add more trench lengths, I’m now going to try and get these bits painted, otherwise they might not make it into the Season of Scenery challenge! I’ve still got quite a bit of scenery planned, but I didn’t want it to turn into a two month “build loadsa scenery” challenge followed by a “paint all the scenery you just built” period of several months!