I have wanted to build my own houses for a couple of years now. I started out building them in balsa and tried using liquid rubber for making moulds. The mix wasn’t very succesful as the rubber stuck to the smaller details of my wall pieces. I guess I could have sealed the surface better before pouring the rubber over the wall pieces, but still I decided to start all over with new materials, balsa wasn’t the easiest material to work with. Later my life took on a new direction getting a family and was out of the hobby for some years. Not long ago I saw the work of Emmanuel Nouaillier and remembered my old project. Full of inspiration from Emmanuel’s splendid work I took it all up again. Now I use other materials, mainly foamboard, the moulds will be made of silicone. I will make several facades in different sizes and designs so that I can mix them to get a great variety of houses all in the typical Normandy style.
To make a good start I have chosen existing houses to be models for my farm houses – the houses in the area surrounding the bridge at La Fiére Manor. This bridge was fought for during several days in the start of the Normandy invasion. The houses will include a big Manor-like house, a chapel, a couple of farm houses plus lots of barn buildings, some stone walls and of course the bridge itself.
Finding pictures of how the houses looks today, has been quite easy, especially using Google Maps “Street view”, but still have taken me many hours. The problem is that many of the houses was damaged during the battle and when rebuilt some of them was altered, so making them true to the appearance of 1944 has not been possible for all houses, only for the houses where I have been able to find older pictures. I will change the dimension of some of the buildings to make them fit my “system” (explained further down).
Here are some overview pictures of the area and it’s houses:
This little piece of land was the scene for some of the hardest fighting during the first days of the Normandy Campaign. The bridge that was important for both the German and the allied armies was in the center of all this. The americans needed it to breach out of the beach-head, and the germans to be able to counterstrike the allied forces on the beaches – this lead to several days vicious fightings. In a fairly flat land the old stone houses became important objectives to defend against the attacks that kept coming. The white rectangle is “old” indications of the boards I planned to build to be able to play the missions (every rectangle was going to be 120mm x 60mm). Later I have found that the game board has to be bigger for several reasons. Shortening the causeway and the flooded fields is still a must, the length was 500 meters which would be 7 metres in 1/72-scale.
1. Main building of the farm called La Fière Manoir, a cool detail is the round tower on the backside of the building.
2. Small building that is built up against a stone wall on the back of the farm. The use for this house is unknown.
3. A small house in the end of the long, big barn building.
4. Extremely long barn building.
5. A small house that I guess has been the residence for workers on the farm.
6. Barn building.
7. Yet another barn building.
8. This house I don’t know what has been used for, or if it belonged to the farm or not. I do have pictures showing that windows and door openings was a bit different from today.
9. A small building on the other side of the road, probably used for animals or tools.
10. The bridge.
11. The first house in the small village, called Cauquigny, when coming from the bridge.
12. Barn building belonging to house nr. 11.
13. A small chapel with belonging graveyard and a special stone wall surrounding it. Some of the first fightings was in and around this building as US paratroopers, that was dropped on the “wrong” side of the bridge, took up a defensive battle here*. At this moment the bridge was still in the hands of the germans.
14. Yet another farm.
X. Not visible on any of this pictures is a couple of extra farm houses. This buildings will all be made out of pieces made for all the other houses.
A newer picture of the manor.
The manor shortly after the battle. Several of the houses has been damaged especially the main building.
The bend in the road to the left was where the americans put up a 57mm AT gun, the only weapon along with two bazookas that they had to defend against the german tanks.
This pics really show how cool the main building is, built on a small rise and with the old tower on the back will make this a beautiful piece on the game board.
Cauquigny, the little village from where the Germans launched their attacks on the bridge and from where they made the americans bleed when they attacked the village from the causeway.
This is how far I am with the project:
This building is extremely long. I have made it shorter, but still it is a very long building for a game board. The big opening has also been made smaller, a little bit sad but otherwise the building would be too big. The two side pieces in the top of the pictures will be used in both ends of the building which is one of the reasons to why I will make moulds of every wall piece. A few details including doors, chimney and roof still needs to be done. I have ordered some tiled plastic sheets from Wills that I will use for roof.
The small house don’t have the doors or windows done yet, but I also still have to do both the roof dormers and the roof itself.
Door and roof missing.
This is how the barn looks today, more or less the same as then.
Several parts missing on this. From the start, when the project was less ambitious I was going to use the same pieces for the front and back, but has later decided against it. Doors, roof, windows, chimneyparts and of course the new pieces for the back of the house still missing. The lower piece on the left of the picture will be re-used on the other side of the house towards the garage plus several other places and I will probably make an extra mould for this because it will also be re-used a lot on other buildings.
This is how the building looked like after the battle. When the americans launched their attack the causeway was covered by machine-gun fire from this building. The house have been altered a bit since then – today it has more windows on the front of the house. This is the only picture I have seen showing that the design of the chapel has been changed since the battle – newer pictures show the house with a big white arc up at the roof.
The barn building belonging to house 10. Few details plus the roofs missing. The two steps up to the door is some I added without knowing if there are any in real life.
How it looks today, there is not much indicating that it has been changed since the battle, but I am not sure on this. In the background the Chapel (house 13) is visible.
I am making windows that I will mould and re-produce so that they can be added to my wall pieces – in this picture only one is ready.
That’s all for now. In a short time, when pieces for the first building is finished, I will start making moulds, and the result of that will tell more of how the final look will be – not as beautiful and detailed as Emmanuel Nouaillier’s, but hopefully very nice buildings for gaming.
Some bonus info on this project:
- The pieces I make will be assembled to work as base elements in a system where I have made rules for sizes for both length and height of the buildings. In this way I will be able to re-use many of the parts and to make a great variety of buildings with as many floors as I want to add on them in the different games we will play. This system also gives the possibility to make the inside of the buildings if there is a wish to be able to put figures in the houses.
- The plan is also to make ruin parts that I can add either if the houses from the start has been damaged or if they during the game takes hits from artillery.
- This is the first batch of houses that has a typical Normandy rural design. Next I will do town houses in the best Carentan style.
* As I remember it from my memory.