Fascine width

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Adrian Harris
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Fascine width

Post by Adrian Harris » Mon Apr 23, 2018 6:43 pm

I'm about to prune some Forsythia and there look to be a lot of nice straight branches, so what length would I need to create a fascine ?

In the pictures of the tanks awaiting unloading before Cambrai, the fascines look to be barely wider than the tanks, which must have made driving over them somewhat perilous.

Do I assume correctly that the thicker branches will need to be split lengthways, to create an even sized bundle ?

Adrian.
R.I.P Margaret I.L.Y

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Chris Hall
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Re: Fascine width

Post by Chris Hall » Mon Apr 23, 2018 7:52 pm

Adrian -

I'm currently working on 3 fascines for the planned display at Tankfest and Amiens 100.

Based on the 'standard' pictures of tanks on railway wagons pre-Cambrai, I agree that the fascine is only just wider than the tank body (driving over one must have been a feat of skill !). For our models, I'm working on a width of 17 inches. The best description of the size and construction of a fascine I've found is actually in the Haynes Guide. This states that the fascine was made up of 75 individual bundles, bound together with heavy chains. To scale, the whole thing will have a diameter of about 9 inches.

The wood used was described as 'brushwood'. This is readily available from garden suppliers as brushwood (reed) screening. I've bought several rolls of 4 foot screening, which I'm cutting in half, trimming down, and then rolling up in bundles held together with cable ties (the outer ones will be wired, so the cable ties will be hidden inside). I'll then tension the bundle with ratchet straps, and wrap around with chain and a shackle.

Each fascine had a railway sleeper at the bottom, presumably to make a stable platform on the roof / unditching rails. I'm using a length of 34mm square battening.

It's all good fun ! I hope to have at least one finished for Boscombe Down (in return for Steve's unditching beam), if you can wait that long .....

You'll definitely need to split your sticks, and probably allow them to dry out first ! I've had some willow curing for the best part of a year .....

All the best,

Chris
2 x Mark IV's (Abt. 14 Beutepanzer Liesel and F30 Flaming Fire II)
Morris Quad, limber and 25-pdr (45RA, Korea 1951)
M3 Lee (25th Dragoons, Burma 1944)

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Fascine construction

Post by Chris Hall » Fri May 11, 2018 3:22 pm

Having said how I intended to do it, I thought I'd better actually get on with it ! Tankfest isn't long away now .......

This is what I'm trying to recreate (C Battalion before Cambrai):

Fascine 1917 2.jpg
Fascine 1917 2.jpg (54.39 KiB) Viewed 2001 times
Fascine 1917 3.jpg
Fascine 1917 3.jpg (76.71 KiB) Viewed 2001 times
Here are the basic materials:

Fascine 2018 1.JPG
Costs per fascine are:
  • £11.99 - a roll of Brushwood Thatch Natural Fencing Screening (4.0m x 1.0m), which is enough for a single fascine if you cut it in half lengthways. Available from a range of online garden suppliers (post free if you shop around);
  • £3.98 - 2m of chain, cut into 2 x 1m lengths, from the local hardware shop;
  • £3.82 - a length of 3.4cm battening (enough for at least 5 fascines !), from a well-known DIY store :wink:;
  • and a supply of cable ties (doesn't everyone have a bundle of them in the garage ?).
A helpful, understanding and practical wife is also useful :lol:.

As I said, each fascine will be about 17" wide for our models. So cut a piece of battening to that length, as a measure. I then stained it with some old fence preserver, which gave it a nice railway sleeper look (which I'm sure is what they were). This will form a flat base of the fascine when it sits on top of the tank.

Then start bundling ! Cut (saw) your brushwood roll in half lengthways, which will give you two long rolls each around 20" wide. Unroll them a bit at a time, cutting of a length of around 6-8", which you can then roll up and hold together with a cable tie. Rinse and repeat until the you've run out.

I then cut down a spare garden container of Helen's (OK, it did once hold chicken s**t) which was about 10" diameter. This provides a useful container to build the fascine. Start with the battening, and then stuff in as many bundles as you can, ensuring they all reach the bottom. It ends up looking like this:

Fascine 2018 2 small.jpg
Now to wrap the chains around, and tension them. In 1917 this was done with the aid of two Mark IV tanks ! The fascines were under considerable pressure - there are recorded instances of them bursting and killing both Chinese labourers and soldiers hunting for firewood. But, in this modern, safety concious age, I used a couple of ratchet straps between a couple of trees:

Fascine 2018 3 small.jpg
Fascine 2018 4 small.jpg
Then fasten each chain with a shackle (note to self: find a pair of chain cutters to cut off the spare links :roll:).

Cut out all the cable ties that are showing - the bundles will stay together, under pressure. Then you just need to trim each end to the same length as the batten, and neaten it all up (a battery-operated hedge trimmer proved ideal for this). The final result should look like this:

Fascine 2018 5 small.jpg
And, on Liesel (who didn't carry a fascine as a Beutepanzer, but could have done in her 4571 British service days .... ):

Fascine 2018 6 small.jpg
Fascine 2018 7 small.jpg
Fascine 2018 8 small.jpg
I'm pleased with the outcome, which looks like the pictures and isn't just a 'bundle of sticks'. As Kent (I think) says "it's all in the details". I put together two fascines this morning - just one more to do for the intended trench-crossing display at Tankfest and Amiens 100.

I hope you've found this fascine-ating :oops: (well, if I didn't say it, Steve Stuart would have).

The next job will be to fit the chains that hold the fascine to the tank, but that'll require more thought. It would be really nice if someone could design a servo-operated release mechanism (Adrian ?).

All the best,

Chris
2 x Mark IV's (Abt. 14 Beutepanzer Liesel and F30 Flaming Fire II)
Morris Quad, limber and 25-pdr (45RA, Korea 1951)
M3 Lee (25th Dragoons, Burma 1944)

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Re: Fascine width

Post by Adrian Harris » Fri May 11, 2018 3:38 pm

Looks very good Chris, though with a couple of spare Range Rovers I don't understand why you settled for ratchet straps :lol: :lol:

Do you think the sleeper would sit at the midpoint of the front (3 o'clock if viewed from the RHS), to provide potential energy to get the thing to roll off the tank ?

A servo operated catch should be fairly easy to rig up, but it depends if the fascine needs a nudge to get it moving forwards. Or did they just use the motion of the tank to provide the forward momentum ?

Adrian.
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Re: Fascine width

Post by Daniel Scholefield » Fri May 11, 2018 4:37 pm

Looks very impressive and I like your tensioning rig! The main take I am getting from this is the comparative size with the Crib I am trying to make. I keep looking at it and thinking it is oversize even though it is (as far as I can tell) dimensionally accurate but looking at the fascines it appears that the size is right so that is positive.

I will eventually need a servo release too as the principle is exactly the same as the fascine release. Looking at the real things they appear to be mounted so that they would fall under their own weight once the retaining chains were released? Either that or the tank would 'bump' them off by coming to a halt depending of how they ended up when being mounted onto the roof.
Mark IV No. 35 aka. L9 Lightning III

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Re: Fascine width

Post by Adrian Harris » Fri May 11, 2018 4:50 pm

Some pictures seem to show them sitting on the cabs, as the way Chris has it but others, such as below, seem to show them teetering more on the front unditching rails:

British-Mark-IV-Female-Tanks-being-loaded-aboard-railway-trucks-at-Plateau-Station-in-preparation-for-the-Battle-of-Cambrai.-IWM.jpg
British-Mark-IV-Female-Tanks-being-loaded-aboard-railway-trucks-at-Plateau-Station-in-preparation-for-the-Battle-of-Cambrai.-IWM.jpg (102.36 KiB) Viewed 1977 times
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Re: Fascine width

Post by Chris Hall » Fri May 11, 2018 5:40 pm

I did do a reply, but it clashed with Adrian's post and now seems to have got lost in the ether :evil: so I've now got to remember what I said !

Adrian -

Only one of the Rangies has a towbar. Otherwise ...... :wink:

There's an 'official drawing' on page 110 of the Haynes Guide that shows the sleeper teetering on the front edge of the cab. Presumably, once released, the whole thing rolled forward under its own weight - it did weigh 1.75 tons. But it must have been a complete b******d to get it on top of the tank, so I doubt they were too fussed about exact textbook alignment :). But it'll be fun to try and find out when we've got it all set up, to recreate a bit of lost history.

Daniel -

I'm looking forward to seeing your crib, and seeing the two designs side-by-side (will it be ready for Tankfest ?). I believe they were about the same size, so by my scale calculations that's 17" wide with a diameter of around 9-10". The crib was lighter, and easier to build, but felt to be too weak. But they were both stopgap measures - the fascine was a one (possibly two) day wonder, and I don't think the crib was ever used in battle. The Mark V* certainly didn't need it.

All the best,

Chris
2 x Mark IV's (Abt. 14 Beutepanzer Liesel and F30 Flaming Fire II)
Morris Quad, limber and 25-pdr (45RA, Korea 1951)
M3 Lee (25th Dragoons, Burma 1944)

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Re: Fascine width

Post by Steve Stuart » Fri May 11, 2018 7:48 pm

Our email is on the blink I would have replyed sooner. Just to show that my sense of humour is up to speed.
The Women members of the Tank Regiment can have on their berets, attached instead of a Hackle, a miniature version, namely a 'Fascinator' :twisted:
Great to see the fascines appearing, I will have to make some attachments and see what can be done to have a release mechanism.
Steve

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Re: Fascine width

Post by Adrian Harris » Mon May 28, 2018 1:17 pm

I've ordered a 180° servo for testing. The operation seems pretty simple but I think it would be a good idea to put a red marker on the transmitter switch for the release mechanism, so that it doesn't suffer a premature release - always embarrassing, especially in public :oops: :oops:

I'm wondering what to do about mounting the mechanism in the cab. I'm assuming there will be a crooked bar protruding from the rear of the cab but it will be quite a bit of tension so will need secured well, especially given the lack of suspension.

Adrian
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Pete Nash
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Re: Fascine width

Post by Pete Nash » Mon Jun 18, 2018 4:07 pm

Chris

I don't see why you can't put fascines in 'Lisel'. After all, who is to say the German's didn't recover some fascines and put them on their butepanzers to test their effectiveness and to work out counters to them?

Just because there are no records doesn't mean that it never happened.

Pete

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Re: Fascine width

Post by Chris Hall » Mon Jun 18, 2018 5:48 pm

Pete -

It's all in the research .....

The Mark IV Beutepanzers are a particular passion of mine - some might say a religion ! I have a large number of pictures of them, some in action, and have accounts of their (very short) operational history (only 5 days in Liesel's case). And in precisely none of them is there any allusion to the use of fascines (which, by mid-1918, had been replaced by cribs, which were probably never used in action to be captured).

Also, I believe it would have been very difficult, and highly dangerous, to try and recover a fascine stuck in a trench. They were under tremendous tension, and there are a number of accounts of them bursting and killing people. Also they weighed 7.5 tons !

So, I'm afraid, I'll stick with my firm research. I'll play the game of "well it could have happened, based on likelihood / balance of probability", but I won't go as far as "nothing says I definitely can't". That's a bit too close to fantasy for me.

But thanks for adding to the debate !

Chris
2 x Mark IV's (Abt. 14 Beutepanzer Liesel and F30 Flaming Fire II)
Morris Quad, limber and 25-pdr (45RA, Korea 1951)
M3 Lee (25th Dragoons, Burma 1944)

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Re: Fascine width

Post by Steve Stuart » Mon Jun 18, 2018 11:28 pm

fascine-mechanism.jpg
Fascine Mechanism
fascine-mechanism.jpg (157.19 KiB) Viewed 1333 times
This is from The Tank Museums files. It seems to bring together a number of ideas about how the facsine mounting worked and how was released.
I have posted this rather late in the evening but it may be useful for further ideas to be developed.
Steve

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Re: Fascine width

Post by Adrian Harris » Mon Jun 18, 2018 11:47 pm

Thanks Steve.

I have to admit I bought a set of the brushwood screens from Wyevale but when I got them home I realised they were four times the price of the B&Q ones, so I took them back for a refund. Haven't managed to get around to getting to B&Q yet though :oops: .

Adrian.
R.I.P Margaret I.L.Y

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