The roof tiles
Soon after I started this project I came to realise that one of the biggest challenges that lay ahead was going to be the roof tiles. Many Mediterranean houses of the WWII era - and certainly, from what I could see from photographs, almost all Italian ones - had a distinctive style of terracotta roof tile with a curved profile slightly tapering to their bottom end.
Although the tiles are regular in size and shape, together
they produce an effect of varied courses and colours which is impossible to replicate by moulding en masse
. So they have to laid individually.
At first I could find no source for these tiles in 1/35, but then I came across these moulds sold by Diorama Debris:
1:35 Scale Spanish Barrel Roof Tiles Mould (1350047)
from http://www.dioramadebris.co.uk/135-scal ... 7-50-p.asp
To my knowledge, this is the only way to make these tiles in the authentic manner out of real terracotta plaster. I tried one of these moulds and, after a bit of practice, it worked very well. But it was very
time-consuming. By a stroke of luck I happened to mention my dilemma to someone at a model show and - hey presto! - he came up with a supply of ready-cast tiles (I believe made from the same moulds) at a very reasonable price. I'm not sure he is still making them, so I won't name him for now. Let's just say that I was a very lucky guy because - as you will already have seen - I needed hundreds of the things..!
Making the actual roof structures themselves was hardly easy either. Because I had plans to add interior lighting and other details, I needed to ensure that each roof was removable - and strong enough not to warp once in place. The answer was to make a false internal structure out of foam board that slotted into each of the buildings. To this I then added the roof from thick card before starting to lay the tiles.
Here is the main church roof...
For this roof and that of the houses I used a style which I had seen in Tuscany where the half-round tiles are interspersed with flat tiles of roughly equal width. This way I would be using half as many tiles for the same area of roof.
To give the impression of the flat tiles laid between the others I used strips of brown card laid from the bottom up with a slight overlap. The half-round tiles were then laid in rows on top of them over a ribbon of Bostick
glue. This sets pretty quickly - but not so fast that you don't have time to adjust the rows if needed.
Last of all I added the ridge tiles and bedded these in with Magic Sculp to represent the cement render which would be used in real life.
The steeple roof, which was actually the first that I tackled, was made slightly differently.
I began by building an inner frame from triangular pieces of foam board, mounted this on a square balsa wood base and then covered the structure with thin basswood. This was glued and tacked in place to give it a slightly concave profile - a little 'sag' - and then some suitable holes for damage added. This belfry would have been an obvious observation post for the defending Germans and thus a prime target for the Allied guns before the town was liberated.
The tiles were laid more closely together than on the other roofs (see the reference picture above) because this crowded look seemed to suit the smaller structure better then the more widely spaced variety. For this style there are no flat tiles - only more barrel tiles laid beneath the others, but upside down (so the curve faces up).
However, rather than do this the authentic way (and thus use twice as many of my precious tiles), I cheated by adding the upside-down tiles only at the very bottom of the roof.
It's a bit messy, I admit, but - hey - this church had already stood for quite a long time before the Allies started taking pot-shots at it.