Welcome To My US Ardennes Kitbash Page.



This figure came about, after watching the film of the Battle of the Bulge, and it got me thinking about can I make something based on one of the US soldiers I saw in the opening scenes of the German attack on the pillbox. The soldier a sergeant I believe was using an M1 Garand rifle, with a grenade launcher attachment on it. So after a quick raid on my spares boxes, as I knew I had the piece I wanted somewhere. I have decided to put together this kitbash of a US soldier during the Ardennes offensive.


The kit used with this figure is a pair of DID Ricky Foster trousers, a pair of Newline US double buckle boots, a DML helmet with the heart symbol on it covered with white cloth. And for something different a captured German winter padded smock. The idea for the use of the smock came from another film called Battleground, and in that after capturing some German troops, the US soldiers are seen wearing the German's winter coats.


The problem I soon found with this kitbash is, that although I could pose the figure as I wanted, I could not get the rifle butt on the ground as well. So it was with great nervousness, I decided that I would have to take my drill and grinding piece to the figure...

This is my first major use of my model drill on a figure, and I used the tutorial by Ed (1stlooey) for instructions on how to do this. Luckily for me I only had to do minor surgery on my figure, compared to the extensive work Ed has done with his figures. As all I had to remove was the part behind the knee on the folded leg to give me more movement there, and the removal of some of the front of the hip joint on the other leg.


As I could then get the figure posed as I wanted, so that the rifle butt was touching the ground. The original headsculpt that I wanted to use was the DML Lou MP figure, but after a chat with Terry (The Bhoy), he mentioned about using maybe a younger head for this figure. And after a quick think about it, I then swapped the heads over to the DML Sam Blake one, and I have to admit that Terry's idea is a lot better, as this head adds a whole different effect to the whole kitbash.

While putting this kitbash together I got to wondering about the actual launcher itself, and if I could find any information about it. And after a quick look though the 5th Rangers website and I found this.


Rifle Grenade Launcher, M7 & Grenade, Projection Adapter, M1

The M7 rifle grenade launcher was attached to the barrel of the M1 Garand; allowing it to project various types of AT and AP rifle grenades such as the M9, M9A1, signal flares, gas grenades, and standard fragmentation grenades using the adaptor as shown in the picture on the right.

A special blank grenade launching round was used to propel the grenade from the launcher; and fitting the projector to the muzzle disabled the gas system on the M1 by depressing the gas screw and cutting off the gas port.

To fire the weapon normally; the launcher had to be removed.

The rifle grenade sight, M15 was used on the M1 for aimed fire; but was seldom seen in combat since practice and improvisation would result in suitable practical fire. The M7 along with the rifle grenade was a common weapon encountered in the Ranger company. It was used to great effect against all manner of targets, and can be seen in good numbers during the D-Day landing.

Another website I have found for some very detailed information on this type of launcher and grenades is from the Inert-Ord website. This is a very informative site, as I was curious how the grenade would have been held in place with the pin removed. Further details on how this launcher was developed is here.


This device pictured on the right, first adopted early in WWII, allowed a hand grenade to be fired from a rifle. It replaced the M7 fragmentation rifle grenade.

With practice, a grenade could be accurately fired out to a distance of about 200 yards.
The grenade was mounted as shown and the safety pin removed. When fired inertia would cause the arming clip, holding the safety lever, to drop releasing the lever, arming the grenade.

Many thanks to Ed at Inert-Ord.net for all his help.

I have just made a new page up for my website, after doing some work setting up the pose this figure.

As it suddenly dawned on me just how much of my model making skills just come automatically to me after about 30 odd years of model making. So to explain some of my techniques with my figures, I have made a new Figure Posing page.

Figure Base

I have finally found some spare time to update this kitbash, and above are some images of the snowy landscape that I want for this figure. The base was made the same as my others and for this one I just left the plaster mix as it is as I want to add some Snow material to the top of the mix.

Important Note: Make sure that the base is primed to stop the water from the PVA mix penetrating the wood. The best material for this I feel is clear varnish as it acts like a shell on the base. Because on this base I have had it warp on me, when I added more of the plaster mix on top of what I had already used.

In the pictures above I have placed the figure onto the base, as I want to check the position and to get the feet right on the base. In the first picture above I have pressed the foot into the mix, so in the second picture when it is removed it leaves a footprint. To bind all the plaster into the base, I then mixed up some water and PVA glue and painted it over the whole of the plaster. The purpose of this is to remove all the lines and marks from the plaster mix as shown on the right above. Also with the stones that I added to the base, when I am painting on the PVA I can smooth the mix around them to make them look like they are part of the landscape, rather than them just plonked into it.

These pictures show the feet again after I have painted the PVA over the top, as now I want to emphasise the weight of the figure in the snow I have also done this where the knee would be as well. So to do this I again pose the figure and press the feet into the plaster then remove it again. With the last picture above, I make ridges around where the foot will be. So that the figure is part of the base, which adds to the weight effect.

The effect can be seen with the pictures above I obtained from a book I have on 1/35th scale figures, in these you can see that the models are part of the landscape. So building up the plaster mix around the feet helps with the illusion. Plus, to add more depth to the foot, when the plaster is dry I will score it slightly with a knife (to help it bind) and add more plaster and the PVA to make the snow look deeper before I add the Snow material on top.


This update will help to explain what I mean about not sealing the base properly. Because I thought I had done and that it would be alright now once it had fully dried, to add more of the PVA and plaster mix onto the base on top of the dried material I had already applied. But was I mistaken...


As I thought that I would just build up the landscape a bit and cover the small cracks that had appeared, but because I had not sealed the base properly and I was adding more plaster and water to it. The result is shown on the right here.


A is where the added groundwork has cracked again because the base has bowed upwards in the middle. And B is showing the slight bow that developed in the wooden base. This has annoyed me immensely, as I thought that I had stopped this from happening because of the amount of neat PVA that I had used to seal the base. But I think what is occurring is that as I am adding more plaster mix to the base, the protective layer of PVA I thought I had, has become liquid again due to the water which makes it useless.


Note: I have never come across this happening before with my bases, so I can only think that because of the amount of plaster that I am using to make the shape of the snow landscape. And the base not being sealed properly, this is why I am having this many problems with this diorama. So with all of my bases from now on, I am going to use a non-water based varnish on the base first to seal it. That way I can add more of the plaster mix to the base, without the worry of the base bowing on me.

Adding the Snow

This where I have finished the base with the Woodland Scenics Snow on it. I was very nervous about how to use it, as it was explained to me but I was still concerned in case I ended up ruining the effect. Maybe this is why I have taken so long to finally getting around to doing this.


But I did not need to have worried because the application of the material is very easy, and the effect it has is amazing and I am very impressed with it.


To apply the Snow material I was told to paint on a coat of watered down PVA, and then use a shaker or sieve to sprinkle the Snow onto the base. This I did making sure that I kept as much of the water mix off the base edges as I could, once I had covered the groundwork with the Snow.

I then tipped it up slightly on it's edge to remove any excess material, this I then saved and put back into the bag.


Any spots that I had missed were covered by dripping the water mix onto the groundwork, and then pinching some material between my fingers and sprinkled it onto the wet patch. The next step I was told about to do with this, was to get a sprayer something like the bottles the gardeners use to spray feed onto plants. Mix up a very weak mixture of PVA glue and water, shake well and set it to a fine mist setting.


Note: Then spray the whole base gently at arm's length, I aimed the spray so that it would go past it and the water mix would drop onto the base. The whole point of doing this is to gently dampen the Snow material not soak it.


This was then set aside to dry ( I am not sure how long it takes so I am leaving it overnight) and the result that has now happened is that the Snow material has started to 'fluff' up, and it does actually look like very fine snow. Also I have found that taking my time to smooth all of the lines and brush marks out of the plaster mix when I was sculpting it, has had the added benefit of making it all look like smoother deeper snow.

Many thanks to Terry for helping me and sharing some of his Snow material with me.

Here I have just added my figure back into the diorama and he looks like he is part of it. Not just sitting on top of it and all that is needed now is a touch up with some PVA water mix onto the boots and trousers, and a sprinkling of the Snow mix onto that to look like he is snow covered.



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