Ok… this is a project that I started long times ago but not really getting up to speed on. By writing this post maybe I can gather my thoughts on all the different tasks that lies ahead of me making this into playable scenarios on great terrain pieces.
It all started when I was going through the different scenarios in the Skirmish Campaigns scenario book: “Normandy ’44-First Hours”. Several of the maps was so bad that I tried to find better maps other places.
In the process this battle caught my attention. Several things make it interesting, a desperate battle around one single little bridge that was equal important for both sides, one single long causeway going through a flooded field that first Germans tried to cross, then the Americans, hopeless lack of bigger tanks and very interesting terrain triggered my interest. Many days of fighting in the same small area are great when building terrain because the stuff you build can be reused several times. The houses in the area are few, so that I can build every single one of them, and because they are typical Normandy houses, I can use them to make molds so that I will be able to multiply the houses for other Normandy scenarios.
Earlier on I had bought some of the tanks that was going to be used in the battle, captured french Renault R35’s, a stupid little tank that was both expensive to buy (I needed 4 of them) and they needed som conversion to work as I wanted them to. I also had to find out how they was painted, if they had camo and what their turret numbers was. One forum in particular was very useful as members was doing a great job by looking through movies and photos to find facts on all this. Find a link to the forum together with the WIP on the tanks here!
It didn’t take long before I found a book that is covering the battle: No Better Place to Die. It is an absolute must to all like me that want’s to do scenarios of this battle. It is filled with useful information and lots of pictures that isn’t shown elsewhere. Reading this book made me very excited about the project.
Another thing that I have been doing is to plan how to do the terrain. Google Maps been very useful as their satellite photos are very detailed in this area. I have been cutting and manipulating the map to make it fit better into a tabletop format. So Right now I’m aiming for 4 pieces of terrain boards that is 60×120 cm, together that is 240×120 – if the terrain really should be downscaled to 1/72 it would probably be much bigger, but I’m not sure a bigger terrain will make the game more fun – but I’m still thinking on maybe make it 360×180 which will force me to play it another place than in my home because of the size.
This is how I at the moment want to make my terrain boards. I will skip a big part of the causeway as I’m not sure that it is needed because of the curve in the road. Click the picture to get a bigger one.
When it comes to houses I found pictures on most of them in the book I was mentioning, but also several could be found doing an internet search. But maybe coolest of all was when I found out I can use Google maps’ street view, so many cool details I discovered by doing this. The following images are all screen dumps from the Street View feature in Google Maps:
In the top right the little bridge is visible. This is probably the first view that many of the US soldiers got of the bridge. The big farm to the left was I hide out for some german soldiers that arrived the evening before. The farm itself will make a fun task to build.
This view is from a bit further down the road from where the other picture is taken only looking backwards instead. The same spot as where the road bends to the left the Americans put a 57mm AT Gun, this gun alone together with some bazookas was all that they had to stop the german tanks. The hills to the left of the road is what remains of some kind of fortress that dates back to ancient time.
This is a better view of the bridge. The fields on both sides of the causeway, from the river all the way to the treeline in the horizon was flooded by the germans which made the road the only way to cross over. The causeway does bend to the right which made the crossing a bit more safe to cross as there is not line of sight all the way down the causeway. An abandoned german truck was placed just in front of the bridge to stop the tanks from crossing. German artillery and mortar fire was hitting this area very hard for several days.
The farm seen from the bridge. It is maybe hard to see on this image because of the small size, but with Google’s Street View you get a very good idea of the how the farm is build on several different ground levels, which makes it very cool to build. This I would never know if I had just studied the pictures found in the book.
This is the first thing the german tanks saw when they passed the bend in the road. The first tank to reach this place was taken out by two bazooka teams hiding on both sides of the bride, the second tank was hit by the 57mm AT Gun. German soldiers dug in on both sides of the causeway.
In the end of the causeway on the german side of the flooded fields, looking left you see this hedgerows, so typical for the area.
Looking to the right you’ll see a house heavily defended by the germans later on when the americans try to cross the causeway. Further to the right the Chapel is seen. This too was a place where heavy fighting took place.
This image is pure gold when I am going to build the houses.
Further down the road this houses lies.
Right now I try to decide if I will use the scenarios from Skirmish Campaigns or them from IABSM. The difference is that Skirmish Campaigns scenarios are downgraded so that what was a company in real life are platoons in this scenarios. Skirmish Campaigns also use what they call “Variable Attachments” which is a roll you make to see what extra units you get, this can be units that are known to be in the area but not necessary in the battle, extra artillery or can be civilians that assist as if they where scouts. This make the scenarios more fun to replay. IABSM’s scenarios are more detailed and the amount of troops you get is closer to what it actually was in real life – but I’m not sure that it is fun to play with three companies per side. I will probably do something in-between.
Stay tuned as I will start to post my work in progress in a couple of weeks.