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I'm getting ready to start a new dio. It will be sent before the battle of the bulge when equipment was starting to be a massed ready for attack. My question is when would this have started and is there an easy way to represent ice/snow so winter uniforms don't look out of place without coating the model in the white?
I am not sure without delving into my library (I'm at work) when the buildup started, but I do recall that snow did not actually fall until a few days after the Bulge started. Accordingly, for a diorama set during the buildup, the weather should be autumn and the troops should not be wearing white camo.
The Bulge is a big area -- about the size of Connecticut, Rhode Island and Long Island combined. The elevations also varied a great deal -- from high hilly ridges in the northeast to cleared plateau in the center, to more wooded hills in the south. As you probably know, distance and elevation can affect precipitation immensely. For instance, here in Hartford, CT, it can be sleeting, but in the northwest foothills of the Berkshires -- a mere 30 miles -- there could be an inch accumulation of snow.
To the point. Some areas of the northeast Bulge aready had an inch or so of snow, for example, but due west towards Malmedy and Trois Points there was only drizzle and rain.
The Germans had camouflaged their equipment accordingly. They were not going to apply snow camo if snow had not yet fallen; that's why you see all the photos of Tiger IIs of 501 sSSpzabt, and the Panthers and Pzr Ivs of Hitlerjugend, sporting the 3-tone camo scheme.
Study your photos and note the dates when they were taken. Many of these show snow scenes, but were photographed after the action had ended -- sometimes weeks afterwards. So the guys above are right, in general -- no snow until later.
I think the attack started on the 16th or 19th of Dec. across the entire front. I didn't find a reference to any amounts of snow until about Christmas. For a 'build-up" dio no snow would be your best bet
My 2c Bob