Digging A Ditch
by John "Scarab" Salmond

A soldier can find cover almost anywhere—Behind a rock or structure, foliage, a shellhole or even the subtle undulations of an open field. Any soldier with a little time and a brain in his head will dig a hole, jump in and stay there. Sometimes small groups of soldiers band together and connect their earthen sanctuaries in an effort to give themselves a little extra room, coordinate their attacks and even to share a little camaraderie.

I got this idea from a WWII scene I once saw of an 88mm gun emplacement. Thought it would be a different way to build a trench. This is truly not a trench per say because it is above the ground, so we'll just pretend. Please read the entire tutorial before doing the trench. This will give you an idea of how it is done before you commit any of your material or hard earned cash.

Materials Needed:
1/4" dowels
1/8" dowels
1/4" masonite
Whiteglue
Sifted sand
Styrofoam
Static grass
Water

Step 1: The Base
I first made a thumbnail sketch of how big I wanted it to be using some WM figs. After I determined the size I drew the outline on a piece of masonite and then I filed down the edges to give it a beveled look. I grabbed some styrofoam and, using the cut out masonite, I drew the outline on the foam so I could start cutting the outside slopes. Before you cut your foam you want to determine whether or not you will have raised ground inside your trench. I wanted raised ground to also give my troops an advantage of elevation. This made it so I needed to have the outer dirt slope higher. once the slopes were done I glued them in place with whiteglue thus forming my outer thrown up dirt. I measured the inside of the foam to get an idea of how long I wanted the dowels to be. I needed to remember that the middle would have raised dirt so they needed to rise above my outer dirt. After cutting the dowels I wanted to give them a hammered-in look. I used 60 grain sandpaper and ran the one side of the dowel over the sandpaper (1A). As I did this I rotated the dowel to make sure I covered all of the edges. You will want to cut your dowels in stages if you have slopes that move closer to the ground as I have done. All of my dowels are not the same length. I varied the lengths to give it a random feel.

I then wanted to give it a smooth look so I rubbed it on the masonite a little (1B). One of the No Quarter magazines shows a process for getting the same look using a hammer. I just wanted to show a different method. You can do whatever you like.

Now that I have my dowels ready I can start gluing them on the inside of the foam. Again, made sure you are random in your size and length. It looks better in my opinion (1C).

Once I finished glue all the dowels in and letting them dry I filled in the middle of the trench with foam so I had elevation. I like to use playground sand out of my children's sandbox to use for the dirt. I sift it with a noodle strainer that has about a 1/16" of an inch cross-section or less. I want random rocks but not too large. Using the whiteglue I generously applied it to all of my dirt areas. After applying the sand I used dumbbells to weight it down so my wood would not warp (1D).

After it is dry I go back and fill in any gaps I may have and I spray it all with white primer (1E).

Step 2: The Pant
I do a dark brown wash (half paint, half water) on the sand and poles first. I dry brush two lighter browns on the sand. I only dry brush one brown on the wood shaft. I do a lighter color on top of the poles. I also glue two colors of static grass in a random fashion to the dirt to leave some dirt exposed. Throw some tall grass on there and you are done (2A & 2B). Get some Longgunners or Widowmakers in there and start the bloodbath. Enjoy! If you have any questions please feel free to ask.

Scarab