Chris Kemp's Not Quite Mechanised

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Modeling for Wargaming

Wargames models lead a hard life. They travel by car, are dropped and are squeezed by inexpert hands

I have an idiosyncratic approach to modelling wargames units, and am happy to use stand-ins if I cannot get hold of the correct model. So for example, for the moment, my Romanian troops are all Japanese. In 15mm they look close enough for me. Often I will make do with a rough scratch-built model if the one I need is not easily available. I have built a number of SP gun conversions based on the models that I had to hand at the time, just as the Germans and Russians did.

You can be as accurate as time and your pocket allow - it only matters to you and your friends. Mine just groan when they find the odd American in amongst the Germans. They are used to my "Generic Brown Infantry" who masquerade as everything from Russians to Japanese.

German Balkenkreuz page. Printable markings to cut out and paste on your models. You will need a copy of microsoft Word to view this page

They may not be very historically accurate, but the sort of polythene toys that you see in "battle packs" can get you started very quickly. A quick paint job, and perhaps a bit of hacking about with card and glue will give you an approximation of the model that you want. 20mm plastic figures are cheaper than 15mm metal, and my first Eastern Front collection was based on this scale. 

I wargame now in 15mm because it gives me more space, but I really like the 28mm stuff! Don't let a lack of models or money hold you back; improvise, and have fun!

Making do is a time-honoured wargames tradition. At one time, I was short of Soviet BA32 armoured cars. My first quick fix was a matchbox toy fire tender with a Grant 37mm turret on it. I then progressed to a Morris Armoured car hull casting with a T34 turret. Recently, I have acquired a 15mm model. It doesn't fight as well on the table as the fire tender did, but my friends are happier and it looks much better!

20mm Bodges and 15mm BA32. Author's collection

From Seriously Suspicious, Decidedly Dodgy to "Oh, it's a BA32" (L to R)

Remember that your toys will survive much better if the glue and paint goes on solidly, if you do not put lots of fragile detail on your models, and if you finish them off with a couple of good solid coats of matt or gloss varnish to taste. I find that putting bases on my models really helps them survive falls.

Two ME109s in the workshops. The tailplane will be glued back on, and a reinforcing fillet added underneath. Both aircraft will receive new bases. Neither plane has a propeller. They do not survive wargaming for long.