Wednesday 22 May 2013

6mm Desert Terrain: El Alamein Train Station

El-Alamein is located about 66 miles (110 Kilometers) east of Alexandria and takes its name from the twin peaked hill known as Tell al-Alamein, upon which it stands. In 1942 there were just a few buildings clustered around the station, and it had no strategic significance in itself. However this general area, hemmed in by the Mediterranean to the north and the Qattara Depression to the south, presented the British and Commonwealth forces in 1942 with an ideal defensive position. Here at last was a front line with secure flanks, short lines of supply and communication, spanning a distance of just 40 miles and protected by hastily expanded minefields. With Rommel's advance towards Alexandria blunted at the First Battle of El Alamein (and his later pre-emptive offensive stopped at the Battle of Alam el Halfa) the allies were finally given the breathing room they needed to begin planning offensive rather than defensive operations.
El Alamein train station in 1942 
Today the Rail Stop at El Alamein has been replaced by a much more modern building further down the track and the original building is in very poor condition. It is still a focal point for battlefield tour groups and there are tentative plans (in conjunction with the Imperial War Museum) to restore the building. Nearby there is a war museum with collectibles from the Battle of El Alamein and other North African battles as well as Italian and German military cemeteries on Tell el-Eisa Hill just outside of town.
El Alamein train station today
I chose a 6mm model of the Station made by Timecast from their North African and Middle Eastern Buildings collection. I've bought and painted some of the other models in the range and was impressed with the quality of the casting. Timecast use an acrylic polymer/high density gypsum mix for their buildings, which gives a high level of definition and detail. It looks and feels like it is made from plaster but this material is much tougher and less likely to break. I have found the buildings to be quite absorbent, especially with the first coat of paint, so it is essential to prime these models properly before proceeding any further. Having said that this is a wonderful material to work with and I am surprised it isn't more widely used.  
The platform side of the building
Entrance to the ticket hall
This is a two part model comprising the station building and a separate platform. I chose not to glue the two parts together as I didn't think the bond would be very strong, and working separately also simplified the painting process. I tried to find a colour photo of the station that was contemporary with 1942 but couldn't (no doubt one will turn up now that I have finished the model!) so in the end I painted this to match the version on the Timecast Website shown here. Of course I now need to find some rails to lay in front of this building, so I guess I need to check out the likes of eBay for some cheep Z Scale track. 


  1. It is great to see the then and now pics with the model building it makes it seem so much more realistic. Nicelt painted model as well.

  2. The station has not changed much since '42! Very nice model.

  3. I also see that it has barely changed in 6o years. The model is very nice

  4. It looks great Lee! Timecast makes great terrain.


  5. This might interest you Lee. One of my favourite exhibits from the AWM and rather relevant in this instance. Tel el Eisa is just up the line from El Alamein station.


    1. Interesting... I was hoping to find something showing the signs on the outside of the Alamein station but none of the pictures I found were clear enough to copy. I figured I can always add the signs later if I find a suitable picture or transfer to use.

    2. Right, you've prodded the perfectionist in me and now I have to add the signs to the model! LoL.

      I've been hunting on-line and managed to find some faded original pictures of the station name in English and in Arabic (they were either side of the main doorways). I've cut, pasted, edited, and reduced them down to the right size and printed them on the thinnest paper I can find. When I get home I'll cut them out and see if I can add them to the outside of the building (there's no way I'm trying to paint these signs at this scale!).

    3. "Right, you've prodded the perfectionist in me and now I have to add the signs to the model! LoL."

      My work here is done ;-)

  6. Spiffy. Nice to see the terrain you're making as well as the figs. I think at smaller scales, the former can be even more important than the latter.

  7. Well done on the painting; looks great. Probably need to find a pre-war photo for the signs.

  8. Very nice - not helping me resist 6mm that's for sure!

  9. Nice looking building.



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