Siege Works


My current project is modelling a modular set of siege works, based on illustrations in Christopher Duffy’s book “Fire & Stone – the Science of Fortress Warfare 1660-1860”.  These siege works are entirely scratch built, and I thought I would describe the technique in this blog.  Here you can see a sap, running away from a parallel, through a couple of zig-zags, and a pair of 18th Century British Infantry sappers working on the sap head, with a British Engineer Officer looking on.



This section is going to be a short 4½ inch long sap (I also have 9 inch long saps).  I start each section by cutting out a piece of cork tile as the base, then chamfering the front and back edges of it.




I then glue polystyrene strips onto the tile to represent a trench (using PVA glue since a spirit based glue would melt the polystyrene).  I measure the gap between the polystyrene to be just over 20mm (the gap for my parallels would be just over 30mm).  I do tend to mix up imperial and metric measurements, to whatever looks right.  The rear (left) of the trench is sloped down, and if I cut the polystyrene carefully I can get two angled strips from one section.  The front (right) of the trench has a steeper chamfer.



I then cover all of the polystyrene with Polyfilla (a decorating filler), smoothing it down with a pallette knife.






The front of the trench is going to be surmounted with Gabions.  These are baskets filled with earth.  I found suitable images of Gabion fronts and tops online, and copied them onto sheets like this.  I get 10 Gabion fronts across a portrait A4 sheet.


I get 12 Gabion tops across a portrait A4 sheet, more than the fronts since the latter will be curved.  I cut them out including curves around the front of the tops.



I then glue the Gabion tops on to sections of polystyrene, using Pritt Stick (as it is non-spirit based and dries fast).  Once dry I scallop the front edge of the polystyrene, following the curves of the Gabion tops and chamfer the front (enemy side) of the Gabion sections to a slope.



I lightly score the Gabion fronts between each basket, bend them into curves and stick them on to the front of the polystyrene with Pritt Stick.



I print out online images of Fascines (bundles of sticks bound together with chains) and glue these around sections of drinking straws.




The completed Gabions are mounted on the front wall of the trench, with a row of fascines glued across the top.  I then use Polyfilla to cover the front (enemy side) of the Gabions, bringing it slightly over the top of the Fascines, to represent earth being thrown over it.

Finally I paint the model.  I have used Dulux matt emulsion, the green being the same colour as my terrain boards and the brown being the same mud colour as my river banks.  The image below shows the front and back of completed sections.


I should finish all of the modular sections by the end of October, and will then post pictures of a complete siege works.  I will probably show a Napoleonic one, since I do not yet have 18th Century French figures.  Siege warfare did not change significantly from the mid 17th Century to the mid 19th Century, so I can use these modular siege works over quite a period.  Christopher Duffy’s book “Fire & Stone” does contain rules for wargaming a siege.



7 thoughts on “Siege Works

  1. PDL October 11, 2016 / 7:35 am

    Very good Rod, very high standard of modelling. Looking forward to seeing the complete works.


    • rodwargaming October 11, 2016 / 7:41 am

      Hi Paul, glad you like it. Just finishing some siege gun and mortar positions, and will post pictures of those later this week.


  2. Fitzbuttress January 10, 2017 / 2:42 pm

    Thank you, Rod! Your siege works look tremendous! I’ve been looking for an easy and relatively cheap way to model ‘proper’ siege works for ages. Could you say where you got the images for the gabions and fascines from?


    • rodwargaming January 10, 2017 / 6:09 pm

      Hi Niall,

      Glad you liked the blog. I can’t remember exactly where the images came from, but I googled Gabions and found some photos online of wargame models of them.

      I found one with a front view of a couple of Gabions and saved a copy of that. I then cropped it to show just the two fronts then opened that cropped picture in Paint. I stretched out the “white” Paint border to five times the original size, went into “select”, copied and pasted the pair of Gabion fronts then dragged the copy to beside the first ones and flipped the picture horizontally. I then repeated that until I had a row of Gabion fronts.

      The tops I found similarly. The original view was only a bit of the front edge of the Gabion, so I copied that, and used Paint to flip that vertically to create a round top for the Gabion (I think that I had to stretch the image slightly to achieve a round top. I then copied the round tops into a row.

      Lastly the Fascines, where I again found a photo of a model. I copied that and added extra vertical copies to make it about three times the original size, so that I could roll it around sections of drinking straws to produce the correct shape.

      I used trial and error to decide how many Gabion Fronts, Gabion Tops and Fascines to print on each row. I wanted them to fit my 1:72 plastic figures. They could be slightly larger for 28mm or slightly smaller for 15mm.



  3. Ian Daddo-langlois June 27, 2021 / 5:46 pm

    Brilliant idea. I am trying to do something similar for a Dybbol game i am planning but the idea would work for any siege up the late 1800s i am sure. All the commercial gabions come in such small quantities. This a really great way of doing something complex. Cheers for the inspiration


    • rodwargaming June 27, 2021 / 6:04 pm

      Hi Ian,

      Glad you liked it. I have been inspired by others and it is good that my ideas are of use to others.



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