Project 716 – Modelling

Martin back with the first article on my modelling activities for Project 716.

Today I’m going to talk a bit about how I have created my 81mm mortar platoons Tobruk nests and my anti-tank nests for my 7.5cm anti-tank gun platoon. Both of these are costructed in a similar way using some basic materials and tools along with a collection of spare parts from other models I have built.

Tools wise all I used was a sharpe modelling knife, a set of clippers and pencil and ruler and a bit of fine sand paper. Material were just some 3mm and 5mm foam card off cuts, I also used some plastic putty from Vallejo (70.400) a viscous accrylic resin this I used to seal the foam card to create a more concrete like surface once I had shaped the foam card and removed the upper paper surface.

The models needed to equip my nests were donated from two sources; I used spare parts from Sdkfz 251 half track kits for both these builds. For the 81mm mortar pit the donor kit was from PSC providing a mortar fixed onto a mounting, which just needed a bit of trimming to leave something which looks similar to the actual rotatable floor fixing used in real Tobruk positions and also a loader crew figure for the position. For the AT nests I used the super structure part for the 7.5cm Pak40 armed Sdkfz 251/9 half track and the gun from the Battlefront 251 sprue. The superstructure part provides both a mounting for the gun to affix to and also a steel lip for the top of the nest adding extra protection for the crew. Due to the fact most of these positions are underground I have gone with just a couple of crew, the loader crew figure and a commander again left over from the PSC sprues as I had used all the BF frigures when originally building the halftrucks, sadly BF don’t provide us with lots of different crew options with their kits.

Paints wise I used vallejo colours following the guide in colours of War for my crew and weapons and a light grey for concrete parts.

Mortar Toruk Nest

The Mortar Tobruk is simply a piece of foam card glued to medium base with a circular hole cut out of the centre, the hole needs to be just big enough to fit the mortar and crew figure in so about 15mm across, I cut this out before fixing it down to the base. I cut the sides a 45 degree angle to blend back into the base. I then peeled the paper layer off the top of the foam card and covered the entire model in plastic putty applied with a brush to seal it all which creates a smoother concrete like surface. I then trimmed down the mortar part and fixed it in against the rear wall of the hole, this leaves the barrel roughly reaching the middle of the pit which is perfect for range finding when firing in any direction. The base edges were covered in Windsor and Newton fine grain sand texture medium to roughen the texture of the base ready for painting. This takes about 24hrs to dry which provided a window to paint my crew figure, for this I simply followed the Grenadier painting guide from Colour of War (or D-Day Germans).

My parts
Test assembly
Ready for painting

Once all this was dry I simply painted the model up using some Vallejo London Grey for the concrete and the mortar in Middlestone with a sepia wash applied over it all and then the mortar was highlighted with a mix of middlestone and khaki. The base was given a coat of chocolate brown and then the entire model carefully drybrushed with dark sand and the sky grey with a top white highlight on the base area only. The last step was to glue in the crew figure and these were basically finished. But as I have a visual theme in mind for my entire Force Idid a bit more detailing work on the basing.

The Mortars ready for final basing

7.5cm Anti-Tank Nest

These are a bit more complex than the mortar pit but follow the same basic process. I started by placing the superstructure part onto a rectangle of foam card the size of a large base and marking up where it sat this allowed me to then work out how big to make the overall concete emplacement as I could see what needed to be cut out. I cut out the area of the superstructure part and shaped the edges again to blend them down in to the base. I also clipped out the short front edge of the superstructure part. I did this for two reasons. I have actually mounted the gun facing the longer rear edge as this provided me a narrower entry to the emplacement which mimics real world positions design. I cut the foam card at an angle away from the gap in the super structure to creat a funnel shaped opening to the back of the nest. One thing with mounting the gun this way around is that it is slightly shorter and the barrel support catches on the superstructure part pointing the gun skywards, this isn’t what you want, to solve this I cut off the mounting peg from the bottom of the gun which allowed me to move it backward ever so slightly so it sat down flat creating a much more asthetically appealing position. In the real world there would be a block under the gun that it is bolted to but as you can’t see this area due to the gun and crew figures I didn’t feel the need to mess about here.

The assembled gun position

I then painted this up in the same way as the mortar pit with the steel nest lip painted in the grey of the concrete rather than the middlestone of the gun itself to stop it looking like a burried vehicle. The bunker entrance was enhanced with some thin strips of card to look like planking acting as a retaining wall around the opening – you could alterntively make some sand bags to cover this face from green stuff or air dried modelling clay which would look good.

After painting


Once you have your basic nest model sorted you can add some basing to blend them with your other platoons. As my project is to make a Force representing the first line of defenders I wanted to make them look like they were placed fairly near the beaches where the ground is still fairly sandy, all these emplacements would be protected by razor wire to stop infantry attacks so I added this along the front edges of the AT gun bases, the mortar pits are a bit short for this to look effective on. I have added some sand and bright green ground scatter material mainly to the front edge of my bases, whilst the rear areas are left barer or with just the odd tuft or shrub. I didn’t add any scatter here on the AT guns as this area would be highly trafficed by troops coming to and from the emplacement so any vegetation would be trodden down over the years leaving just bare ground.

To create my basing scheme I make some sample bases which helps me get colours I like and a consitent look to them irrespective of what sort of Team it is. The image below shows the difference particularly in how the tufts look when placed in isolation or over the scatter and in how the scatter mix affects the overall look.

First test base didn’t quite look how I wanted

For my final sandy scatter blend I used a mix of fine sand and grit (mine is actually off Arromanche beach from a recent trip to Normandy) mixed with GF9 meadow blend scatter about 70/30 with the odd patch of short (2mm Gamers Grass) bright green tuft and the odd Army Painter lowland shrub to represent taller clumps of dune grass. I prefer to place the tuft and shrubs into the scatter to help it all bend together and to me looks more realistic.

Using the sand blended with flock gave me more the look I was after

So there you have my take on a fairly quick and easy way to make some interesting teams for your D-Day Beach Defender Force rather than just using the regular models, all out of spare parts from other projects which if you play Germans you may have anyway and some basic modelling materials.

Untill next time, happy hobby, Martin.