Friday, 20 April 2018

Desert hill, and a burned out T-55

WHADDUP? I’m back, bitches! I’ve been quietly working on a lot things but last year I was too busy to keep this blog up to date. Fortunately I took lots of photos so I have a backlog of stuff to put up here now.

I’m not one for butterflying from project to project but, while at Vapnartak with the humble Shogun Tora Kamakaze and General Francisco Deano I saw (and bought!) PSC’s new plastic T-55s. They reminded me how close I was to completing my ‘Afghanistan’ project in 2011. I was working on a present-day scenario but, seeing the world changing for the worse over the past decade, it began to feel somewhat ghoulish so I shelved it. However, since then I’ve ended up with a lot of Soviet kit for my ‘Chechen war’ project – more than I need – so I have decided to finish the project as the older Soviet–Afghan war.

This post is adapted from my old Flickr account way back in 2011. It’s a desert hill with a burned out T-55 tank, and one of my first attempts at terrain making after I got back into wargaming. There are a lot of things below that I’d do differently now.

Here we go…

I bought three different kinds of Woodland Scenics rock moulds. The casts are really detailed but they are a bugger to get out of the moulds. Once I had enough casts to work with, I glued them to a piece of polystyrene then glued the whole lot onto a cork base. I picked cork because I had some lying around within arm's reach, and I regretted it later…

I patched the gaps between the polystyrene and the various casts with ready-mixed plaster. When the filler had set I glued sand and various sizes of Woodland Scenics ballast and rocks to the hill. Where I had large gaps between the casts, I pushed a few rocks into the plaster to break up the surface.

I shaped the cork tile at this point. Up at the top, you can see an Old Glory 15mm Middle Eastern Irregular that I put there for scale.

I wanted this to be more than a generic hill so I added a T-55 tank from Peter Pig. I cut off the dead bodies, carved out a gap between the turret and the ground below it, and drilled a deeper hole into the turret hatch. This was the first time I had worked with resin and it was much easier than I expected.

I was an idiot to use cork for a base. It was too bendy and, when I picked up the hill, the gaps I had filled in between the casts cracked open. I decided to turn the hill into a terrain tile, so I stuck the whole thing on a vinyl floor tile. I’d also forgotten to leave room for the wrecked T-55 tank, so turning the hill into a full terrain tile gave me a place to put it. I added more sand and Woodland Scenics ballast and rocks. I undercoated the tank and put a wash of paint over the plaster.

At this point I put a wash of PVA glue thinned with water over the whole thing to seal the sand in place before I painted it.

Painting was straightforward, but I wanted to avoid the cliché of ‘desert yellow’. The base colour is Americana’s Fawn. I highlighted everything with various sand tones and light greys, then washed it with a couple of different browns and greys (the colour names escape me).

Tip of the day: if you're in the UK, some pound shops sell a set of nasty brushes with stiff white bristles that are probably intended for oil paints. The bristles are hard-wearing and I find them useful for drybrushing large areas.

I undercoated the T-55 with black and drybrushed it with various shades of brown and orange. I dithered for a while over whether to add some green paint to the rusting tank. I decided against it because the tank turned out quite well. At the time, I didn’t know how to do things like chipping effects so I didn’t want to ruin it. Besides, I still have two more T-55 wrecks in the loft to play with…

Since I finished it, I mounted the tile on a square of polystyrene, to match my other terrain tiles. the following pictures are a ‘walkaround’ of the finished terrain piece. The photos could be better but at the time I only had an iPhone 3 or 4 and I was still trying to figure out how to light and photograph miniatures.


  1. Replies
    1. Thanks! The pictures are far too yellow because I didn't know how to take good photos back then. I'll be posting better pictures when I revisit some of the older terrain pieces.

  2. Beautiful terrain! Hope you share games with us in the future, as I'd love to see your table set up.

    1. Thanks – there’s a lot more to come so you’ll see the full table soon enough! I probably won’t post AARs because they don’t interest me much, but some may turn up on Abwehrschlacht’s blog, so check out his posts.


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