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Pen & Sword- WWI Trench Systems

ISBN Number:
Tuesday, August 31, 2021
Pen and Sword Books
Retail Price:
Reviewed By:
Michael Reeves

Pen & Sword- WWI Trench Systems

Book Specifics

Wargames Terrain & Buildings Series

Author: Douglas Hardy

ISBN: 9781526793546

Price: $29.95

Paperback, 136 pages with 250 color photos

What's Inside

The Wargames Terrain & Building series by Pen & Sword has been an interesting one and even though the scales don't necessarily align with the ones typically built in the AMPS scene, the techniques involved are pretty universal. With the 100th anniversary of the end of WWI seemingly ages away in the long year and a half of the present pandemic, we have seen some of the major players like Meng and Takom move away from doing WWI subjects and players like Copper State Models, ICM, and others stepping in to fill the void. The content of this book is an excellent starting point for those looking to place their pieces in a trench scene, regardless of scale or manufacturer.

The Introduction gives an interesting rundown of the history of trench warfare and sets the book up nicely. Chapter 1 on Wargaming the Great War is just a short two page overview of the hobby of wargaming. The next chapter on Materials looks pretty straightforward and is similar to any other diorama book on the market. Most modelers probably have all or most of these tools already.

The next few chapters focus on different techniques for constructing, painting, and weathering commercially purchased pieces and also techniques to scratchbuild your own. The chapter on commercial scenery looks at the three most popular wargaming scales- 15mm, 20mm, and 28mm and gives a nice selection of pieces from companies such as Ironclad, Early War Miniatures, and Amera among others. The author also briefly mentions the rise in 3D printed options. While these scales again are pretty small in relation to typical armor scales, the painting and weathering techniques are still useful as the materials of the various pieces are made from typical diorama materials- resin and vac-formed plastic. I found the scratch-building section to be most useful as it goes into depth in using foam, coffee stirrers, and other assorted materials to recreate the effects. If I had to find one flaw, the very small section on recreating barbed wire with the two very small photos could have been expanded on.

The last chapter covers an extensive section on researching WWI trenches. After a brief summary of good book and website resources for photos, he goes through a rather extensive section on visiting battlefields. While some are well preserved, others are reconstructed trenches to give one a better idea of what life was like there. The book does a great job of differentiating between the two. The list of trench sites includes:

  • Trench of Death, Diksmuide
  • Memorial Museum, Passchendaele
  • Hooge Crater
  • Hill 62 and Sanctuary Wood
  • Bayernwald (Bayern Wood)
  • Auchonvillers


There are many excellent books on building dioramas out there- starting with the man himself Shep Paine no less. Any of them are worthy additions to one's model room. The focus of this one however makes it stand out from the rest. It doesn't go into great detail of building bunkers, gun emplacements, or detailing out your trenches with war material and the like. What it does is give you a great set of skills to recreate the base foundation of your WWI trench scene-- with the trench built, what you add in is entirely up to you. I have a trench piece I have set aside due to other projects, but from what I have learned with this book, I am inspired to get back to it soon and apply the techniques with shell holes and detailing up the trench walls.

Highly Recommended for Beginner to Advanced builders.

Thanks goes out to Casemate Publishing for this review sample.

Reviewed by Michael Reeves


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