I am currently making a system of trenches and bunkers, to put on a refight of Bir Hakeim. This will be a long project, and I am doing the scenery first.

First a list of what you will need.




The air drying clay came from a local art and craft shop, (do not confuse it with the oven baked variety!). The superglue is the medium viscosity type. The scalpel has a size 11 blade. A cutting board was raided from the kitchen. The paints are the same as those used for the barb wire bases. The darker areas of the sand are either ink or very thinned down burnt umber. The stone chippings are either Cotswold buff or Devonshire gold chippings. The chipping MUST have a gritty granular finish. I have found some chippings are smooth stones smothered in yellow dust. This type will not give you the finish you want so check carefully before you buy from the local garden centre or builders merchants. The grit and sand can be obtained in a bag of sharp sand and then pass it through a sieve to separate the constituents. The plywood is 4mm thick. I bought the bunker, (not illustrated),  from Ironclad Miniatures, who were at the Partizan wargaming convention. The clay working tool, between the ruler and the stone chipping, can be obtained from a craft shop.


I cut the bunker, using a hacksaw, (do not inhale the dust produced!). Then checked the position of the bunker, in relation to the other modular pieces ,before gluing it in place. The white clay around the front is the result of a previous abortive attempt to fit to another board. I also removed two small triangular section from between the two bunker pieces, to make them conform to the sand bags better.


Now you need to start making sand bags! Cut a 12mm x 12mm, (approx), slice of clay. Roll it out on the board until it is about 3 to 4 mm across. Do not worry about any marks embossed on the surface.


Then taking the scalpel cut the line of clay at right angles. The action of pushing down on the clay makes it look like a sand bag shape. The scalpel needs to be sharp. If it sticks in the clay dip it n water, to wet the blade, to make it cut more cleanly. You may need to place your finger next to the blade to stop the clay dragging forward with the cut. The length of the sand bags are not critical. You could pinch the corners of the sand bag to get the shape better but I decided early on to take them as they are. If the ends of the bag are exposed then I place a line in the visible end, with the scalpel blade, to look like a seam.


Having glued the bunker in place and allowed it to dry I have added a construction line to show where the sand bags are to go. Lay a line of super glue in place and lay a line of sand bags on them. Try not to get the super glue on your fingers!


Here is a close up of the sand bags. As I work with an angle poise lamp next to me it produces a lot of heat. This can start to prematurely dry the clay. In this picture you can see a crack in the end bag on the middle layer. This can be easily rectified by brushing over the crack with a paint bruch full of water. This applies equally with finger prints, (before the clay dries too much obviously!).


In this picture an SHQ 20mm Mediterranean British rifleman gives a size comparison. Also the end of the line of sand bags needs to be straight to butt up evenly to other trench pieces.

Initially an engineers square would be useful, and subsequent pieces could be ‘squared off’ by using other completed trench pieces. Slowly build up the height of sand bags by applying a layer of super glue between each layer of sand bags, until you get the height required. Brush water over the bags, when you have finished, to lose any finger prints on the clay.


Next cut some triagular shapes, from off cuts of Dow Corning Floormate floor insulation. I have cut a small piece of 1mm thick plywood sheet, as a standard, and cut around the former with the scalpel. Position the triangles and glue them in place with the tile adhesive. I have left a small space between the side of the triangle and the edge of the base. This has given a space to place a skim of tile adhesive on the edge. This is levelled off using and engineers square. When dry and set, if this is not square then wrap a piece of sand paper around a small block of wood and rub the sides down until they are square.

In the picture above I have again used a previous piece to give continuity.


Here is a picture of the sand bags going over the bunker. It also gives an idea of the look of the sand bag walls.


Here, I did not take any pictures of the next steps including the rocks, (oops!). Basically take the chippings that you require and get an idea of where you roughly want them. Lay a thick layer of tile adhesive against the sand bag wall and taper the adhesive towards the edge. Using the clay tools push the adhesive against the wall of the bags, This will strengthen the wall. Dont go too high up the sand bags, as the top two or three layers will be exposed. Push the stones into the adhesive. The adhesive will bulge up around the edges, as long as this does not cover the top of the stone, this is not a problem. Remove any excess with the clay tool. Then take a size 1 paint brush, with a lot of water and go around the edges of the stones. The adhesive will level and spread evenly around the edge of the stone. When all of the stones have been done then scatter the grit, from the sharp sand, over the wet adhesive. Next scatter the sand over the adhesive.

Leave to dry, preferably over night.

When dry, brush off the excess sand and paint the base with yellow ochre first. Before it is dry drop blobs of either Vallejo sepia ink or watery thin burnt umber, (or both), here and there on the ground work. This can be spread about using a size one brush loaded with water.

Again leave to dry.

Next dry brush, unevenly with yellow ochre, then successively lighter shades of yellow ochre mixed with white. Concentrate the lighter shades on the rocks. Leave to dry, then next night do a final layer of near white over the rocks and only VERY lightly over some of the remaining ground work.

Paint the sand bags with white enamel, as an undercoat and allow to dry. Then paint with Vallejo 819 Iraqui sand. Wash with ink, (Vallejo sepia watered down).Next dry brush with successive and mixed layers of Vallejo 847 dark sand and Vallejo 837 pale sand.

After the sand bags have dried do a final dry brush of pale sand.


Here is the finished item.