Modelling - models
As already mentioned the availability of the Tirpitz in 1/350 scale made by Tamiya was intrinsic to the project. This is a beautiful model of this mighty pocket battleship.
Unfortunately, as with many of Tamiya's early models, it was possible to motorise the model and so came with a full hull. Luckily moulded into the hull's side was a plimsoll line which gave a guide which I could cut down. Construction is very easy for anyone with the basic modelling skills and as with all Tamiya products, the instructions were clear. Because of the complexity of the superstructure, I found it easier to paint in sections before sticking it all together. Tamiya also provided the Flak ships. These were actually 1/600 Destroyers, but I wasn't unduly concerned about this difference in scale as they were only there to represent small vessels and in fact I think it added to the apparent enormity of Tirpitz.
The Mosquitoes were 1/300th metal models bought from Trafalgar Miniatures. Eight were needed for the attacking aircraft and I bought another three to chop up and base to represent crashed planes as we knew that it was going to be quite 'bloody'! The planes were based on plastic stand mounted on a square plate approximately the same size as the aircraft. The planes were then painted, including the markings and the bases painted to match the blue cloth that would be used. Each plane was identified using coloured sticky paper dots on the base.
Modelling - scenery
With my model-making background, I looked forward to the dam construction particularly and soon started to look for ideas and materials for the construction. As I started to think more and more about the game, I began to see potential pitfalls that I couldn't overcome to my satisfaction. By its nature, the dam would have to form a reasonably substantial 'step' on the table, behind which it would hold back a body of water. This would mean that the scenery would have to be fairly bulky, being about 6 inches or so on top of the table.
Considering that the game was likely to be quite large and that we would probably take this to three or four other shows, the size of the scenery would be an important factor.
I was also worried about the 'look' of the game. Previously I believe we had always managed a good visual impact from the two bridges, boat, gliders and troops of our 'Pegasus Bridge' game to the snow of 'Bastogne' and I just wasn't sure that a dam would hold people's imagination. What we needed was something a little more eye-catching.
While I toyed with these thoughts, we also had the problem of working out a mechanism by which the bouncing bombs could be represented. There were even thought of building some kind of 'what-the-butler-saw' box that would represent the bomber approaching the dam and having a button that the pilot would press when it was time to drop the bomb.
Unfortunately none of us really had the electronic skills to create such a box and even if we could have, I was concerned about how this would let us represent a flight of bombers.
Would we let the bombers negotiate their way to the dam and then take the players off, one by one, to drop their bombs? What would the other players do at this time and how long would it take to go through this process, reset it and work out the effect of the bomb drop?
And again by its nature only the pilot and one or two of those organising the game would be able to watch the bomb run. It would mean nothing to the other players, let alone anyone casually watching.
The scenery was constructed from polystyrene sheets glued with PVA to a plywood base, which had been pre-cut to the required shape. The plywood served a number of purposes. It gave template around which to cut the polystyrene, it prevented any warping of the glued layers while it also gave added strength to at least the base to reduce damage during transportation. Unfortunately it also added some weight, although this was a price worth paying. The fjord was built in a modular way as to allow a degree of flexibility in the layout. This meant that if the flight path was too hard, we could straighten out the route (or visa versa). Once the glue had set the final shape was created by sawing off the excess and gentle use of a hair-drier to melt some edges for effect. The whole structure was then painted with some chocolate coloured emulsion and dry-brushed (with a big brush!) with white to add a few highlights.
Flock was scattered on to a thin wash of PVA to finish off the tops and some ledges and a stream and waterfall were created using molten candle wax. When it came to the tops we were in two minds. We had thought of getting several small pine trees to cover the tops of the fjord but it would have probably cost several hundred pounds to do it real justice. The odd tree here or there would have looked pretty feeble, so we took the decision to leave them clear and hoped that the green flock would perhaps give the impression of tree coverage.