The Bocage ’44 Gallery

Last April (2010) I completed my late-war American and German soldiers and equipment for northwest Europe in 1944-45. It is my plan to do three galleries using these figures: D-Day, hedgerow fighting/the bocage in 1944, and fighting in a bombed-out German city in 1945. To accomplish this I have been collecting buildings and hedgerow material for about seven years. Last week (June 2010), we photographed the hedgerow-fighting gallery, which is seen here. Like most of my galleries, structural and/or environmental elements play a large part in determining the focus of the gallery. In this case, much of the focus is on a French village (about 34 buildings) and the hedgerows themselves. Unlike most of my galleries, which reflect my tendency to paint huge armies, this gallery has relatively few figures involved (less than 200 soldiers and fewer than 50 vehicles). My W.W. II collection is much bigger than what is shown in this gallery, but I found that modern fighting does not lend itself to galleries showing thousands of figures because, while W.W. II involved millions of men and women in fierce combat, their war was often fought on a far more individual level, behind their own section of wall or in their own foxhole rather than as a line of regiments charging one another across a great field of battle. Consequently, this gallery has a different look than my previous galleries. I hope you enjoy what you see. I had a wonderful time putting it together.

The presentation of this gallery reflects three different moments: (1) a peaceful time in the village during occupation, but before the hedgerow fighting in the area engulfs the village, (2) the actual hedgerow fighting, and (3) the German and refugee withdrawal from the village.  

As indicated above the village is composed of about 34 buildings: 25 by Landmark, 6 by Firebase Miniatures, and three by Peter Pig. The 25 Landmark buildings are produced in China and come pre-painted. They are very nicely painted and sculpted except for two problems: (1) they are a quarter inch too short and (2) the manufacturer left the bottoms of the doors unsculpted on each of the buildings. To correct this I used plastic to add another quarter inch of height to each Landmark building and while doing that I corrected the problem with the doors by giving them their missing bottoms. Because of this change, I also needed to repaint each of the buildings. I do not believe the Firebase Miniature buildings are currently available. I think the company was purchased by Brookhurst Hobbies, and they have not re-released the line. I purchased my Firebase buildings at Brookhurst Hobbies. They were pre-painted samples Brookhurst received when they bought the company. Because the paint jobs on these buildings looked very much like my painting, I did not bother to repaint them other than to clean up some chipped areas. The only flaw with my Firebase buildings is that they are plaster not resin.
My three Peter Pig buildings are from their Normandy line of buildings. I think Peter Pig has redone this line and while they are similar to mine, they are not they same. The village streets are made from sheet plastic scored with the back of a #19 hobby blade to make it look like cobblestone. The sidewalks are also made from sheet plastic. I painted the streets an overall dark gray (by Floquil) and then drybrushed them with Floquil Foundation (tan); the sidewalks are also overall dark gray and dryburshed with Floquil Concrete (light gray). The fountain is from some long forgotten D & D range. The walls in the town are Landmark. The signs on the buildings are mainly from the Flags for the Lads line and we have converted them to homemade decals. The French civilian population is from Preiser’s HO figure line. I use Preiser a lot to fill my need for civilians in different periods. I did not do much painting on them though I often do and may go back and paint them myself at a later time. They come nicely painted, but they do not look like my figures, and I like my figures to match one another. The German officer sitting in the café with the girl on his lap is by Old Glory. He was originally a French Napoleonic general with a girl on his lap. I did some modification, and I am pleased with the results. Their table and extra chair are by Peter Pig. They came from their HQ and Stuff pack. I did some modification there as well (cut off the things that were on the original table, added a plastic tablecloth, an HO bottle of wine, an up-side-down, lampshade to act as a bowel, a couple of thin pieces of plastic painted as bread, and a German officers peak cap cut from another figure.

The hedgerows are of two types: (1) the pre-made, lump-like bushes are by J.R. Miniatures. As you can see, I like them and purchased many. They come 4 to a pack for $6.00 a pack, and I think they paint-up well; (2) the hedgerow pieces that have trees and bushes are homemade using sheet plastic for the base, Milliput to give some texture to the bases, and trees and bushes from HO train lines. I used both types because while the J.R. are relatively cheap and cover a lot of area, I thought they needed the homemade pieces to give my bocage a little more character. 

My soldiers and vehicles are by a number of companies: Command Decision, Flames of War, Peter Pig, QRF, and Quality Castings. Most of what you see in this gallery is Command Decision. The ambulance-jeep is a modification of a Command Decision jeep with wire supports added and stretchers from their wounded pack. I might note that I found it very difficult to find an American ambulance. The one shown here is by either Quality Castings or QRF, and it needed a lot of work. The scissor scope is from the Peter Pig HQ and Stuff pack. The PK Volkswagen is by Busch. They make a number of military cars for the Germans. Nice stuff but expensive. The camera came with the car. I am not sure what line of figures I took the cameraman from. The best German officer peak caps are by Peter Pig. Therefore, I bought quite a few of their officer packs and cut the head off for use wherever I needed a good peak cap. The Famos and disabled Tiger I in tow are by Flames of War. In terms of my equipment, wherever you see gear that has been covered with tarps, it is likely that what you are really seeing is chips of plastic covered by paper tissue and then painted. The vehicle decals are by Decal Details aka I-94 Enterprises. My refugees are by Preiser although Peter Pig makes good refugees as well. I have some. Two of the bombed out buildings are by J.R. Miniatures and the third is from Firebase Miniatures. The trees not used as hedgerows are the same I have used in my other galleries as is the ground cover and the background murals.

Thanks again to my daughter for her photo work. We hope you enjoy this gallery. In the next year or so, we will add the other two W.W. II galleries mentioned above, but I think I will posts some other periods first.

The Bocage ’44 Gallery