Terrain Idea for Microarmor

By Joe Shaffer

My micro-armor set consists of Western Front units and one of the long term problems I've had with the period is recreating the bocage. My idea grew from descriptions of bocage in Stephen Ambrose's Citizen Soldier and in Against the Panzers by Vannoy and Karamales. Both of these books emphasize the extremely dense nature of the hedgerow. Despite this popular name, "hedgerows" had little similarity to what we would today call a hedge, so modeling it has required more, in my opinion than scruffy bushes.

Materials:

  • good scissors
  • white glue
  • fine sandpaper
  • coping saw or foam cutter
  • tan or light brown (earth tone) paint and brush
  • ruler and ball point pen (for marking out strips on felt)
  • 1x2' heavy cloth. (Recommend a stiff but thin needle point canvas or a material called buckram.)
  • Styrofoam, about 1/4" thick (Recommend Terrain Maker stream hexes.)
  • Tan felt (12 x 15" sheets)
  • Green turf flocking (used by railroad modelers)
  • Various colors of foam turf (also sold in railroad modeling shops)
  • deciduous micro-scale tress (optional)

Cut the 1/4" thick styrofoam into strips about 1/4" to 3/8" wide. Since bocage ranged from a meter or so to three or more meters high, varying the size of the berm by cutting the foam in different widths will enhance the "natural variety" of your terrain. As for length, the Terrain Maker hexes will yield strips 1.5 to 4" inches long. Your lengths can vary.

Using white glue, paste these strips into longer lengths on the heavy fabric. The exact lengths are not too important and many lines of these styrofoam strips can be laid on your 1x2 fabric; they only have to be an inch or so apart. After the glue has thoroughly dried, use your fingernail and the sandpaper to shape and round off the strips by lightly scraping the edges. The result is the berm that is the base of the bocage. Cut these into strips leaving as little of the fabric showing as you can. You can cut the strips themselves into different lengths at this point; I used a variety ranging from 1.5" to 2".

The next step is to cut the tan felt into strips of two widths: one about .5" and another about 1.25" Glue the styrofoam strips onto the felt, centering the styrofoam on the narrow felt strips and along one edge on the wider ones. The wider felt will represent the sunken roads that paralleled many hedgerows. Next, use a tan or brown paint to paint the styrofoam strips, and the fabric and felt bases, but do not paint the "road side" of the wide edge of the felt. As you generously coat each strip in paint, use green flocking to cover the strip. When dry, glue foam foliage clusters in varying colors and shapes along the tops of the strips. If you have micro scale deciduous trees a scattering of these glued in will enhance the product. Note that the deciduous tree-making technique described n Terrain Maker is good. A final touch would be to lightly dry brush the road edges with a darker brown to add texture.