Some time ago, when reading old issues of Miniature Wargames, I came across the articles on terrain building by Ian Weekley. The windmill especially caught my eye and I made the firm resolve to build one myself. Well, I finally did it!
The postern windmill is counted as one of the great technological innovations of medieval times. It was mounted on a post around which the whole building could be pivoted so as to guarantee an optimal use of the prevailing wind. My model is based on a marvelous manuscript illustration I found in a book on medieval rural life, but also on pictures I found on the web, such as one from the Grand Duchy of Stollen and one on the Barbarians, Bears & Beavers blog.
I decided to go for a simple shape and for a roof made of planks instead of a thatched roof as in the Weekley model. The core of the model was made out of thin balsa wood, with a door on the side opposite to the sails and some sort of window to haul in sacks at the side. The whole structure was then covered with small matchsticks – they may be a bit out of scale, but they provide a very nice effect of structured wood that would be quite time-consuming to achieve with plasticard. The matchsticks, especially when covered with a coat of thinned PVA glue, also give strength to the whole thing. The entrance gallery was made out of strips of balsa again. For the post, I used a wooden rod and pieces of thick balsa wood. The structure for the sail was cut out as a whole from some plastic packaging I had lying around, with tiny strips of plastic making up the lamellae. All three pieces were mounted separately for painting – I used the hole I drilled in the middle of the sail to temporarily pin it unto a piece of wire.
After a good undercoat of thinned PVA glue, the whole structure was painted with Stormvermin Fur, washed with black ink and drybrushed with Baneblade Brown and Vallejo Silver Grey. I applied a first coat of varnish before assembling the pieces so as to not damage anything if I should happen to be clumsy. Assembly was done by pinning, which not only gives a strong connection but also helps to align the parts.
Here are some pictures of the finished windmill together with a satisfied customer:
Basically the whole thing is scratchbuilt. The only ready-made parts I used were a tiny dice frame for the front window, a spare ladder and a sack from some baggage pack I had lying around. The other sack I sculpted myself with green stuff – my first success in handling that awful material!
Building the windmill has been great fun and not too much work. I am not much of a modeller and many of the things you see in magazines or on blogs can look quite intimidating. I find that 15mm is a great scale for scratch building as it is much more forgiving than 28mm – you don’t have to add as many details to make it look decent.
I am looking forward to playing our first game with the new model – I have already devised a special scenario featuring it…