by: Mario Matijasic [ ]
Introduction:The Battle of the Falaise Pocket, fought August 12 – 21 1944, was the decisive engagement of the Battle of Normandy in the WWII. Following the Allied landings in Normandy in June 1944 and the subsequent breakout from the beachhead, German forces in the region soon found themselves nearly encircled in a pocket south of Falaise. Over the course of several days, German troops conducted desperate counterattacks to breakout to the east. While some succeeded in escaping, around 40,000-50,000 Germans were captured by the Allies. With the collapse of the German position in Normandy, Allied forces were able to race east and liberate Paris.
Adapted from: https://www.thoughtco.com/battle-of-the-falaise-pocket-2360447
Review:The latest book from AFV Modeller covers a fascinating build story in which Robert Doepp recreates a wartime photo through a very complex 1/9 scale project based on a super-detailed BMW R75 motorcycle and its crew. The scene depicts German soldiers on a heavily laden motorcycle escaping from the Falaise pocket.
The book is delivered on 112 pages in A4 softcover format. Flipping the pages, I must admit I’m very impressed… printed on a high-quality paper, this title is well structured and professionally presented. The layout is very attractive and offers a perfect synergy of images and image captions which explain all the steps of the project process in detail.
The book opens with a short introduction. The author briefly outlines his two big passions in life: motorcycles and modeling. After seeing an inspiring image of four German Paras of an unknown unit trying to escape from Falaise pocket, the link between the two was made and Robert embarked on an ambitious project described in this book. There are a number of different problems when “rebuilding” a photograph, but when a finished model is photoshopped to the original photo background, I have to say Robert did an amazingly realistic job.
The first section covers the BMW R75 construction. The author used an old 1/9 scale Revell kit for this project but heavily modifying, converting, scratchbuilding the tiniest detail to get as close to the real motorcycle as possible. The chapter delivers all the work on the wheels, the frame, transmission, engine, fenders, seats, front forks… it is difficult to stop reading these pages as they provide so much insight into a master modeler’s genius. The work on the wheel spokes and engine cylinders proves there really is a fine line between genius and madness. Next up is the construction of a sidecar and again the level of detail added to improve this model is just fantastic. Several images on the end of this chapter show the completed masterpiece from different angles. Absolutely amazing craftmanship.
Painting the model starts with laying the Dunkelgelb base color and then weathering using various products: oils, enamels, pigments. The images show the process really well, while the captions offer thorough explanation of the techniques utilized. I especially like the aspect of playing it by the ear when it comes to choosing the ‘correct’ colors as well as mimicking natural effects but keeping in mind the appearance of the scale result. Although this is not primarily a “painting and weathering” title, even an experienced modeler can learn a great deal from Robert.
The next section covers figures, probably the most demanding aspect of the entire project. The author shows using wire skeletons to establish body proportions and then test fitting the poses to get the composition of the figures match the original photo. Sculpting the figures is covered in detail, each individual figure having different facial features, unique uniforms and equipment. Again, several images on the end of the chapter display finished figures on the motorcycle, showing amazing attention to detail all around.
The work on the figures continues with figure painting section, the technique used was oils over acrylics. Head painting step-by-step is followed by uniform painting set-by-step, covering the bluish coverall of the driver, as well as splinter and marsh camouflage patterns.
After finishing the model and the figures, the author made a simple circular base. The groundwork was kept to a minimum, showing a part of the gutter channel noticeable on the original photo. The step-by-step sequence is followed by a neat trick of attaching the base to an electric turntable in order to display the masterpiece from every angle and then fixing it to the professionally turned wooden base.
The two following sections display images of the BMW R75. First chapter delivers 10 pages of rare wartime photos which served as a reference for the author, while the second chapter offers 8 pages of photos showing walk-around of a restored motorcycle. The captions provide interesting info on the vehicle. Altogether these images are a very valuable reference material for modelers, as well as vehicle enthusiasts.
Finally, a gallery of the finished vignette closes this title. The large images show the model masterpiece from different angles while the author’s comments offer his thoughts on recreating the wartime photo and the mistakes which are inevitably a part of the process.
Conclusion:Although it could be perceived as a simple showcase for Robert Doepp's recreation of a wartime scene, this book is so much more. It presents a wealth of inspiration, offering a glimpse into the thought process behind this amazingly complex project and going all-in to achieve a higher level of scale realism, pushing the boundaries and upgrading modeling skills to a level of perfection we all crave for. Well done, Robert!
A big thank you to AFV Modeller for this review sample.