Tutorial: Making an American Observation Post (Bolt Action/K’47)

For a few games in the new Defiance supplement for Konflikt 47 and some in Bolt Action require the players to each choose a building or model in their deployment zone which is considered a command post or an objective. In previous games we used burned-out buildings, but I really wanted something more specific.

As I was writing up the home rules for Mechanized Cavalry for these two games, I decided to make one. This is the process I underwent to create an observation post for my US Cavalry forces.

Cavalry OP in the Pacific

Step 1: Have a Plan

I knew from the start that I wanted to make an OP that worked well in the Italian Campaign, primarily because I have a large Italian army and a large US Mechanized Cavalry army based for Italy. I read a ton of primary sources–particularly reports from mechanized reconnaissance forces operating in Italy and the Mediterranean and went through pictures to see how OP’s were established.

One of the biggest advantages to an OP is that they were temporary, but not necessarily well-concealed. OP’s were primarily to scout out enemy troop movements, and a reconnaissance force might hole up in one for days, sometimes longer if they weren’t spotted. But they were not permanent locations.

When I set out to make my OP, I decided I wanted it to be a little (very subtle) ridge line, like a ditch or the summit of a very short hill. I also decided I wanted the squad manning the OP to be mostly prone or kneeling (for obvious reasons). So I sketched out a rough idea of the layout and then cut out some foam board.

Doesn’t look so great now, but wait!

After I cut this out, I beveled the edges at a slight angle and then I added some greenstuff to create a little hill. I dropped in two cut-down coffee stirrers along each side of the hill as I wanted it to look like they had removed beams from a fence.

At this point I began working on my miniatures which would make up the five-man squad commanding the OP. Again, I suggest going into this with a plan. The idea is that you want to test fit the torsos where you want them to go before gluing a bunch of bits together. Knowing that I needed at least one radio operator, an NCO, and arming my squad according to the Mechanized Cavalry ruleset (three carbines, two SMGs, one optional bazooka), I went to work.

I did a dry fit of my miniatures on the hill to make sure they all laid flat against it.

To make the prone figures, I used the US Marines plastic sprues I had and kit-bashed them with the new US Infantry sprues. For the two kneeling figures, one torso is from the new US Infantry plastic set and the other is from the old US Infantry plastic set (all from Warlord Games). The one squad member with the tankers leather helmet is from the Warlord US tank crew metal set.

I will do another tutorial on how I paint American infantry in a future blog post. =)

Now that my miniatures were painted, I could begin working on the OP proper. I used whiteglue to secure the sand basing mixture I made (combining the sand from WWS and GW with some different grains of ground cover from Woodland Scenics).


At this point I decided to secure it down even more once the initial glue was dried. To do this, I sprayed IP Alcohol over the whole base and then thinned down white glue over that. The IP Alcohol helps the white glue seep into every nook and grain of sand helping the glue seal in the sand.

The next step is to prime it.  For this step I used Army Painter Necrotic Flesh spray primer. I then used a series of brown washes to bring the color down, and then highlighted over it with a few shades of brown and tan to match the semi-arid ground tone for which I was looking. Using WWS static grass and some Woodland Scenics flock, I then added in some ground cover.

I drilled in a hole on the one side to add in a tree, super-glued a radio leaning against the tree, and propped up a bazooka and some rounds for it. Here is a photo of the base at this stage:

Note that I also painted the wooden planks as well.

At this point all that was left to do was finish up the detailing and add the miniatures and it was done!

I am also working on an additional OP for my German forces, so look out for that in the future!


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