by: Bill Cross [ ]
One of the real problems the German Army faced during the invasion of the Soviet Union was the wretched condition of the infrastructure, especially the roads and bridges. Even without Stalin’s "scorched earth" policy of destroying as much as possible during the retreat, Germany faced the task of getting large amounts of men and matériel over the rivers and streams of that vast expanse. Various solutions, including bridge-laying versions of the Pz. IV were tried, but the nexus of necessity and Russia’s often abundant forests meant wooden bridges used as often as not for getting from one side of a stream to the other. Photos abound of wooden bridges, including ones that couldn't support the weight of super tanks like the Tiger I (see page 311 of Tigers in Combat, vol. 1).
There are resin bridges around, but now a Russian firm called Bastion 35 has come up with a line of real wood bridges, fences, gates, windows and other diorama items. Bastion 35's kits are made from real wood— I repeat, the kits are from real wood, not styrene, not resin, but that stuff that comes from trees! The parts have minimal staining, and the rustic look actually works very well right from the box (now, there's a concept!). The bridges are an especially welcome addition to the modeler's repertoire, since most resin versions cost upwards of 3-4 times the price of the Bastion 35 kits.
Inside a rather undistinguished pasteboard box are:
27 6mm x 11cm rounds
4 6mm x 5mm x 14cm beams
4 6mm x 5mm x 18.5cm beams
2 3mm x 3mm x 18.5cm beams
1 baggie with 12 misc. angled support beams
1 sheet of road bed planking
1 baggie of small planks and supports
2 misc planks
Remember as a kid what fun it was building houses, forts and what-not from Popsicle sticks? You ate the frozen treat, then used the stick to make things. Well, the Bastion 35 kits bring back some of that guileless fun. This particular kit recreates what is called a "Summertree kneebrace" bridge, which I suspect is a Russian translation of something German, but it’s a rigid frame v-leg bridge design, probably as old as the Romans. The pieces require little or no clean-up, and the instructions, while basic, are good enough you can figure out which parts are the base (the rounds) and which are the surface (the flats that form a sort of road bed). To make matters even better, the pieces go together with cheap white glue.
I'm always glad to see niche companies putting out products that address a real gap in the hobby. Bridges are such an important part of even basic dioramas, and can really make a successful small display for both armor and figures. I will be reviewing three other items from Bastion 35 shortly.
And for you sticklers for detail: the Pz. I on the bridge is in Case White markings, but it's the only tank I had handy when I took the photos.