Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Louisberg Grenadiers: Unit Design

Having already posed on my thoughts concerning a flag for this battalion (they’re going to get one) I now turn to the appearance of the unit. This will be battalion arrayed in a firing line two deep, all musketeers firing from the standing position, the front rank being off- set to the rear rank to deliver their volleys.

Once again, I have turned to Redoubt Miniatures to supply my host with a few extras such as a different looking officer, sergeant and a fifer from Front Rank to complete the unit. One compelling reason for completing the unit with Front Rank is the wastage I would have otherwise experienced from Redoubt's six figure packaging - sometimes I just don't need four spare figures left over.
The assembly of the Louisberg Grenadiers from three parent regiments lends itself to a three division deployment to my way of thinking. Being the senior company (numerically) the 22nd will be my centre division with musicians and ensign. The Grenadiers were placed under the command of Lt Colonel Alex Murray (abovementioned 'different' officer figure) who will also be depicted with the centre company – on foot, naturally.
Whilst I am not fielding separate musicians for the other companies, I may make either the drummer or fifer with the centre division from one of the other two companies of the 45th or 40th grenadiers to assist representing the nature of this amalgamated unit. Whilst common in later times, this is the only such converged grenadier battalion for the Quebec campaign.

My battalion will look something like the following diagram:  light blue for musketeers, green for sergeant; red for officers, yellow for musicians, grey for the ensign and white for the Lt Colonel. Just as soon as I get my figures in the post, I'll do a review - which are thin on the ground from what I have been able to find on the internet.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Quebec: 78th Highlanders unit design

Quebec - 78th Highland Unit Design

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Quebec: A Flag for the Louisberg Grenadiers

A Flag for the Grenadiers

Friday, December 2, 2011

HMS Drake

This is my HMS Drake, I believe the first of nineteen ships of the Royal Navy to be so named. Commissioned in 1653 and another survivor of the Ango-Dutch Wars, the 12 gun 6th rate was sold on in 1691. This latest 1:1200 scale Langton Miniatures model I have marked up as another member of the Red Squadron at Lowestoft  (3 June 1665) under the command of the Duke of York - the Drake being captained at that battle by Richard Poole of Sussex, descendant of a line of sea captains which continued into the subsequent century.

Unfinished Business: Quad Convoy Pt 2

Bit of a misnomer really, as this isn't just about a Quad convoy but a section of 25 pdr artillery. It's been a while since progressing this build as I had to order further models and then finish existing projects which I commenced in the intervening period. I won't discuss getting in the 'mood'.

For me to deploy a gun section I needed four kits to represent the battery in tow as well as deployed. This is particularly the case for these models as I wanted to show the deployed guns on the traverse plate which travels hitched underneath the carriage which is dropped when deployed with and the gun dragged back onto it for stabilization when firing and quicker traverse. As it happens, I have rarely seen the 25 pdr in this deployed configuration within wargaming armies.

The Airfix kit comes with crew figures of which I only intend using the single seated figure for each model. He would look ludicrous riding along on the gun at full speed when towed which is just another reason to have separate models for deployment. I wanted to have my guns look as actively manned as possible - hence the need to include the seated gunner.

I also observe that the Airfix kits essentially provides the Mk I or II variant of the 25 pdr (without muzzle brake). As my section is for winter 1940 this is ideal for me as the Mk III didn't appear until later in the war (1943).

The gun and ammunition trailer have been based separately to allow for variable positioning amongst table-top terrain. This is another reason why I'm no fan of Flames of War style basing conventions as for me, the fewer models or figures per base in this period of wargaming allows for more realistic posing on the table. On that subject, I am building sangers for each gun but on seperate base extensions for optional cover/concealement.

As this artillery troop is to support my emerging 'Jock' Collumn it represents elements drawn from either C or F (Sphinx) batteries of the 4th Royal Horse Artillery Regiment which supported the 7th Armoured Division in the winter of 1940. The 4th was raised from independent companies based in India in 1939. The third battery (G) had been pulled out of Egypt before the Italian push estwards and the remaining batteries were to go on firing in support of Operation Compass in December that year.

In marking my troop up, I have dispensed with the bridging numbers and have provided the 74 unit number as the premier artillery regiment for the division at that time. I have to say that in building this unit, it really was fun and it really has developed into something more than just a couple of supporting models. With the additonal models to depit 'hitched' and unlimbered variants and given the ten figure crew, this really has become for me a unit in itself. Next I will be 'kit bashing' the two spare Quads for a travelling and deployed observation section.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Quebec Developments

There's obviously a lot of interest in the Plains of Abraham battle for Quebec as it consistently gets more hits than any other posting on this blog. I'm painfully aware that readers are also no doubt disappointed as all the posting does is outline my wargames project intentions. Well, yesterday I placed my first of many orders to accumulate the armies as outlined in my 'calculations' postings.

Initially I have placed an order through Warweb in the USA - I've been dealing through this site for years as a happy customer. I have placed orders which, amongst other projects, will provide for both British guns and crew and the light infantry except for detached elements from the 78th highlanders. I have ordered figures from both Old Glory and Blue Moon thus far and will be ordering from the following US and English based companies in two weeks:

Conquest Miniatures
Redoubt Enterprises

I will do as full a review and photo comparison for scale comparisons as I am capable.  I intend to mix and match as many figure variants and manufacturers throughout each battalion as possible, being of the view that soldiers come in different shapes and sizes as we all do in real life. Because of the high numbers of grenadiers represented at Quebec; however, it seems likely that the Louisburg Grenadiers will most probably have to be all Redoubt.

Whilst I'm running three blogs already, I'm pondering whether or not to make this a project site on its own.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Small Berths

After an absence from my work table for three months (due to the imposition of work duties) I have returned and finished a half started model - me yacht.  This little chap is a 1:1200 scale Langton Miniatures Royal Yacht (AD 10) from Rod's Anglo Dutch series of superb models. For me, this yacht will serve as my Yacht the Fanfan.

The Fanfan served in the Red Squadron at the Saint James Day Fight on 4 August 1666 and whilst they may have had an armament of up to eight guns (presumably small calibre) the Fanfan appears to have had only two to defend itself on the day (1).

Derived from the Dutch word for 'hunt', the English fleet had only just introduced the yacht into service from the United Provinces earlier that century which were seen as ideal dispatch and courier vessels. One of several built but his time, the Fanfan was commissioned by Prince Rupert in 1666 and appears to have survived the war, being relegated to harbour transport in 1692.

I have photographed the Fanfan with a similarly small berth escourt, namely another Langton Miniatures vessel - a small merchantmen or ketch (two masts) also from his Anglo Dutch collection (AD12). I have a fondness for these smaller vessels and have elected to commence my wargaming collection starting from the tiny and working my way up. To fight by their side, I am about to commence building the English 6th Rate Drake, also of the aforementioned Red Squadron who will team together to fight in combinations against a Pinas, Cromster and a Dutch Fluit. After that, I will build my remaining heaviest ships, the English 4th rate Bristol and the Dutch 46 gun Dordrecht.

I have a perhaps obvious preference for a greenish sea just to be different but also inspired from several paintings of the era. Nevertheless, I have based all by vessels on 3mm glass in accordance with the recommended Langton dimensions which I cut myself  - it's surprising how competent you can get at it with only the smallest amount of practice. I wanted glass so it wouldn't scratch and sits under a better weight than perspex. It also means I can fight on other different coloured surfaces.

(1) Frank L Fox, The Four Days Battle of 1666, Appendix H.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Quebec: British Figure Breakdown

British Order

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Battle Report: Trouble Up North

Several years having past since I built the thing, my keep finally got its baptism on the table-top. The scenario: a fast and loose representation of an assault on the royal castle in York. The game length: 12 turns to burn the Normans back to hell. The rules: Warhammer Siege and Conquest. The players: Matthew and Guy versus the Unlucky General, all members of the Goulburn Wargames Group.

Matt threw together a slick scenario requiring a half-hearted Saxon uprising with a more substantial commitment from their recently landed Norse allies. It was a haphazard affair as none of us had properly read through the Siege and Conquest rules or prepared the game in our usual fashion but as long time WAB adherents, we reckoned on being able to muddle along. I took to the parapet as the defending Normans and their mercenaries whilst my fearsome opponents took charge of the sieging masses. They figured with two periers and as many onagers and rams, I just couldn't hope to slaughter enough of them before they breached the walls. With only two units of ten archers and as many crossbows and no artillery, I reckoned they were right.

With my crossbow Sergeants in the keep and on its curtain, I placed dismounted Milites in the inner bailey to put some backbone into the ever dodgy mercenaries. My archers took to the outer bailey walls, with my foot out of range but within reach to reinforce the walls. My considerable cavalry force was placed well to the rear as a last reserve.

Starting just beyond bow range, the assault began with some fairly ineffective artillery support. Guy's two onagers, when they weren't misfiring were straying way off target. Whilst taking out some Sergeants on the Keep itself, they never looked like knocking off so much as a splinter from my walls - and so it was to remain. It was to be a job for the grappling irons and a deadly climb to the top for the poor sods running for the motte.

The perrier barrage for the assault on the bailey was slightly less successful again, taking out as many of the attackers as defenders. Good shootin' Matt! As with the motte, those buggers would have to climb the walls too. The walls themselves are a tribute to Matt who practically knocked them up over night in time for the game. Pity he hadn't allowed sufficient width to stand most of our bases but hell ... beggars can't be choosers. Come to think of it, perhaps Matt just couldn't bring himself to ruin his own models.

When his rebel foot hit the bailey wall; however, they hit it hard and all at once. Over the course of the game my archers lost control of the walls, only to have them regained by my infantry. At the same time a ram was beginning an arduous hammering at the left flank section of wall. Thankfully, both rams were brought in too late in the day to break through the reinforced walls in time. The defence of the outer bailey walls was dogged, my Normans giving ground in most rounds - one corpse at a time. Facing Ulfhednar and what seemed an endless army of Berserkers, they lost far more combats than they one. But with only a one figure width, the Normans were able to hold the bailey walls loss after loss, thanks to the leadership of the Bishop with one unit and King William with the other.

Meanwhile, back at the motte, things were not going so well. I had simply failed to garrison the keep and curtain sufficiently. Once at the base of the walls, I had not enough men to cut the ropes and repel the Viking hordes. Racing to the battlements, the Milites took up the fight, dispatching first the Berserkers and then fighting off one of three large warbands. But it was not enough and with no reserve within reach, it was only a matter of time before the Unlucky General failed a crucial morale role and witnessed the flight of the Milites. Worse still, the plodding knights were caught in the rear by a blood-thirsty pursuit and all cut down. Fortunately, this was only after we had agreed to run the play to a thirteenth turn to see what happened - the Norman forces of King William having already held its ground once more conquered! All that was left was to start the harrying in the morning.


We are notoriously slip-shod when it comes to the rules and none of us were as familiar with Siege and Conquest as we perhaps should have been. Still, we worked through it and reckon them to have worked well. At first we thought it too easy for grappling hooks and ropes to achieve figures on the walls. Then again, when properly manned, they are easy enough to cut and repel - my best rolling throughout the game. So, it seems to have balanced out. Whilst this time the Unlucky General was not so unlucky, I think we can safely put that down to the tight time frame for victory and the habit of Matt and Guy to forget to move before their eagerness to start shooting got the better of them. If they could have stuck to the turn sequence I think I'd have lived up to my tag. Nevertheless, the motte curtain was achieved even though the bailey was secure. I think I'll put it down to a draw.

Oh, and one more thing. Whilst the motte was designed with a fair gradient to stand figures on (especially when based in fours) Guy's troops were based singly and in those ugly movement trays. He was unable to place them on the approach without a domino effect wreaking greater havoc than my archery ever did. There's a lesson there I think. Down with movement trays!

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Be2a: Part 6 & Final

It all over - essentially. As you can see, I have finished rigging by Be2a (one of them) and mighty relieved I am I confess. The rigging line is a twisted metallic coloured rayon thread which certainly gives the impression of twisted wire - perhaps a bit to stripey - I'm still undecided.
This model is the one where I made the wheels myself as well as the skid rails. The prop-head is just a dress making pin but serves well enough as they had no spinners and were minimal in size. The wiring was fiddly, though I should be getting used to it. It's actually one of those pain points that I keep putting off.
Pleased to say that no struts gave out in the rigging process which is always a possibility when under strain. Now for a few admissions. The guides on the tail plain should also be underneath - not just on top - and if I did this again (which I doubt very much) I'd make a penetrating peg with receiving holes to tie through, top and bottom.
I suppose this is why I am a model maker only as far as wargaming directs me. If I were a modeller proper, my Be2a's would be far more precise but as it is, I'm only after a reasonable representation - which I have probably stated before. Even as I write this I realise I haven't yet put my stabilizer skids underneath the wing tips - on to that shortly.
I am extremely satisfied with the engines - I had no idea how that would work, being a first effort. I ended up not weathering or dirtying the airframes. I have spent long enough and certainly blogged enough on this build already. Whilst satisfied, I'm glad it's finished. It's certainly been worthwhile as I now have two airframes which to date are rarely seen over the table-top.
Together with my Avro 504 I now have the aeroplanes which were used in the TV Series Wings and therefore have essentially covered the early war standard airframes for the British in WWI. During the last two months I have also obtained a Revell De Havilland DH2 which I am going to need if I'm to campaign in this specific period.
I have also bought a Fokker EIII to partner up with my Pfalz EIV so I can field both sides in a few scenarios at home if a random game should be needed. For the time being; however, I have to say goodbye to WWI aviation modelling as my Airfix 25pdr and Quad models have turned up and that's another build which requires completion. If it weren't for blogging, I'd never have the motivation to get anything done.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Williamite Warfare

One of the two reasons I have been deathly quiet on the blogging front is my boots and all leap toward what I have called Williamite Warfare. I have completed the first draft of a core adaptation of Warhammer English Civil War (WECW) rules and the first of a series of 3-5 army lists for the Dutch.

The period under review is the late 17th century in Western Europe, covering the campaigns of William of Orange: The Franco-Dutch War from 1672 through to the end of the Nine Years War in 1698.

I have created a blog site onto which I am intending to upload the rules adaptation and army lists named, not surprisingly "Williamite Warfare". Until I have completed a French list for the first half of the Franco-Dutch War I shall be refraining from posting much and have not really 'anounced' it - which may be up to a few weeks off yet.  I am also seeking permission from whomever owns the rights to Warhammer Ancient Battles and WECW - which is proving difficult to discover. Any help would be appreciated.

Apart from harbouring a long-term love affair for the fashions of the period (social and military) I believe it to be a unique period where the armies of Europe underwent a revolution toward the linear system and experimented with rapidly developing technologies: the swan song of the pike, introduction and replacement of the plug bayonet with the socket, the uptake of the flintlock over the matchlock and the supply of cartridges. Combined with this, drastic experiments with fire delivery systems, cavalry doctrine and the development of the battalion as the logistic and tactical organisation still with us over 300 years on.

Needless to say, I'm looking at the project as a strictly not-for-profit venture. Everything will be freely available. I've put a lot of time and effort into the exercise thus far, writing and re-writing as I go. When I learn how, I'll link it to this blog for anyone interested. Finally accompanying the long standing ranges of Dixon and Foundry, Riever Castings, Copplestone and Front Rank have developed wonderful new sculpts to fill complimentary ranges in 28mm. My colleagues at the Goulburn Wargames Group will be building 28mm armies and posting as we go.

So ... if you're interested, stand by. I suspect some of you may be as I have two followers already - thanks for the vote of confidence.

Be2a: Part 5

As you will have noticed from the activity or lack thereof on any of my blogs, progress to date has been glacial. Glacial that is, unless you are into research and rules writing like I seem to have become. I'll leave that to another post but to say I derailed myself is an under-statement and half. For the first time in weeks I finally motivated myself to sit quietly at my work table instead of the library and move the latest builds toward their conclusion.
As you can see, I fixed the top wings and painted the struts the same wood colour as the skid assembly and undercarriages, which are now also fixed. Another error in my modelling was the angles of the twin exhausts. Both models have the exhausts running wide at the front end, narrowing at the rear. They should in fact be straight and parallel. This became an issue when attaching the skids but in gaming, no one will notice. In other words, this will win no awards for precision or accuracy but should serve as a fair enough representation for my purposes.

What I am pleased about; however, is how the engines and exhausts appeared after painting. After undercoating, they got a thick coat of gloss black mixed with gun metal (enamels) and a heavy dry-brush with gun metal and then a lighter dry-brush with gun metal mixed with steel/aluminium. They have smoothed over the balsa base quite nicely to my eye. I don't think I'll bother dirtying the engines of planes - but I may change my mind.
The cardboard skids seem to have ended up sufficiently rigid (thank goodness) and provided workable flexibility, which given the exhaust situation, made them preferable to my toothpick versions. I'm also pleased how the tyres I made have turned out and they should pass muster after painting - which is underway. To be honest, both planes pitch too far back on their undercarriages when upright but as they will spend most of their time mounted on flying stands, they'll look fine - I hope.

The last thing I need to attach is the tail rudder which I will also fit with a double ended pin joint for further strength - all fused with SupaGlue. Done by tonight, all that will be left is the rigging for which I have purchased some 35wt rayon thread with a metallic twist colour - we shall see how it comes off. I'm looking to avoid painting wires - it's bad enough I'm rigging these things at all.

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Be2a: Part 5

Returning to work after my Easter and Anzac break has slowed down this build somewhat but yesterday I got back into it. I have par-drilled the underside of the top wing as you can see above. This is very much a 'by-touch' exercise and I use a small craft hand drill and feel for penetration on the other side of the wing with my finger tips, ensuring not to break through. The purpose is simply to provide something of a recess to take my struts when glued.

And with no further ado, it's onto the strut-gluing. I have to admit to not being as precise as I might have been at this stage. Between the two models there is variance in the central strut location. Anyway, I commenced with the central four struts, fixed to the fuselage and supported with Humbrol paint tins during the setting process. They are not perfectly aligned as you can see but there is flexibility in the joins, the PVA glue taking a longtime to set hard but binding perfectly well in the meantime once clear - a handy attribute. The struts align when the top wing is in place provided I don't leave it indefinitely - which I didn't.

Having finished the crew painting, now seemed the best time to fix them into position. I should have painted the struts previously and had every intention of doing so but it slipped my mind over the break. As predicted, the crew look smaller somehow once painted and I'm happy with the fit.

All that is except my observer 'gunner' who we will just have to imagine is standing up to turn to his rear, which makes absolute sense. The choice and posing of crew is clearly important in painting a picture of what's going on - beware of the goon on your tail chaps!

Gluing the top wing, I fixed it to the central struts first before proceeding with the others. I have to ensure they were level and of course they are shorter than the outer struts. From there I fixed each wing in turn, allowing them to set before switching to the other wing. When fixing these struts I used PVA again and simply sandwiched them using paint tins to press them together.

What's interesting is how the wing assemblies have aligned themselves. Given that the measurements are correct, the strain is taken up across the whole model and it has set squarer than it ever looked like it was going to. All but two struts were the length I needed, the other two requiring a bit of a pinch to set them into the drilled recesses. We'll see how they stand up to the rigging - I'm not confident and anticipate having to craft their replacements.

Having forced myself to undercoat the wire parts and engine block and bay late last night, they are now prepped for painting. Over time, the balsa body work appears to me to be well matched with the natural doping of the printed card sections (wings and tail). I am now just going to lacquer the balsa, leaving the struts and metal work only to paint. I had previously painted the cockpits but given how much room my crew figures took up, I needn't have bothered.

I will proceed with the metal painting before constructing the undercarriage for ease of access. My spinning propellers have been cut and etched from .0075 Butryrate sheet which will be fixed with a cut down dress making pin, the receiving ports for which have been drilled into the front of the engine blocks.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

WSS Casualty Marker

Having a number of Front Rank casualty figures to hand, I have embarked on a programme of casualty vignettes to accompany each of my battalions as I build my United Provinces army for Ramillies. There's not a lot to say about this except that the detonation shown I imagine to be from a grenade and is made from synthetic stuffing for toys and the figures are painted as Prussians in Dutch service.

I can tell you that it looks better at a distance than it does close up but I wanted to show how it is constituted. I painted the base with dabs of black and shades of brown with an old frayed brush and then dabbed blobs of black deeper into the stuffing with a finer brush to get some shrapnel effects happening. 

Kroonprins Von Prussian: Part 3

More than two months in the construction, what was meant to be a break from Project Lewes turned into some bizarre epic build in itself. Nevertheless, the first of the Prussians, my Kroonprins Von Prussian regiment in Dutch service is complete, bringing my United Provinces army for the battle of Ramilles up to three battalions in strength. Whilst that seems rather paltry, in fairness these battalions are 33 figures strong, bringing the figures painted up to the hundred mark.

I have to say, in appearance the Prussians look alarming similar in uniform detail to my Swiss regiment thus far - all blue with yellow lace, even down to the red stockings. For me, apart from regimental labels painted on the rear of the bases, these Prussians do have red neck cloths and they also have grenadiers which the Swiss lacked. Other than their leather breeches, there's not a lot to distinguish them from my Swiss other than the colours they rally to - more on that further on.

The officers perhaps are the most distinctive with their black and white sashes - with no more details to hand, I elected to make them in alternate bands of colour with minimal silver inclusions - no gold tassels. Each of my officers has a different coloured wig, representing the hair colour range of the figures within this regiment - I always vary within each unit I paint. If I haven't stated so before, it is probably the wigs that got me into this period and a motivating factor in my plans to collect in the preceding period ... yet another project.

Officer of grenadiers

I have made one of my officers an officer of grenadiers. This decision is essentially speculative but not illogical. Like the grenadiers themselves, the blue cuffs which further distinguish them from the fusiliers are of a different hue and are so depicted on the officer. I ensured I have one officer per division which, in my representation is one officer per stand of nine figures three ranks deep.

Pre-fatigued regimental colour
Pre-fatigued colonel's colour
The flags are hand painted (as usual) on tissue paper, matte coated and then battle fatigued with a pin and frayed with a scalpel. Whilst weathered, I did not want the colours dirty, given the care taken with them generally. I hope my flags indicate a veteran unit but entering the field of battle fresh. The next unit flag I construct will be using gauze as an experiment - I hear great things.
The drummer has a generic and long standing Germanic pattern of red and white hoops with an unadorned wooden body. I have no idea when this started but the red and white scheme can be seen on Prussian drummers for succeeding generations through the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. So, I just back dated it to the start for this unit.

Re-painted Foundry fusilier

Unlike my other two battalions thus far, my Prussians are advancing with grenadiers lobbing grenades - why wouldn't you? Every previous advancing posed figure I had has been stripped and used for the core of the battalion which, save for the drummer, is bolstered with Front Rank figures for all officers, sergeants and two fusiliers.
I have to admit that I am relatively satisfied with how my grenadiers turned out. I had my doubts for some time but they look to have painted up fine. I elected to paint the raised, reinforced front of the cap rather than build it. About the only thing I'm not entirely convinced about is the faded red for the cap itself. I think a deeper red would have brought out the yellow embroidered details far better.
If anyone reads this who had any clout at all with Front Rank or other manufacturers , then I make an appeal for them to release some Prussian grenadiers if they haven't already. Don't make others build these like I had to do. A properly sculpted Prussian grenadier will make mine look shabby but surely it's a small gap which needs to be filled in this period?

Grenadier company in action

I took some care with my colonel commandant and as stated previously, he is the only figure I elected to paint in civilian attire. Taken from a pattern I found on-line, his coat is pale grey and white striped with a yellow stripe in-set. His hat, like others, has a feather or fur trim which I dry brushed white over an ochre base. Normally I would do this over grey but I think this works well.
My next battalion for the United Provinces will be Dutch proper. My good mate Matt of the Goulburn Wargames Group has advanced be a stack of marching posed Front Rank figures. I haven't really done a marching battalion before. I have a number of battalion guns and one is being wheeled by its crew which will be perfect for the model as a whole. I will also have to think about doing at least two squadrons of Dopf's dragoons. In the meantime, please look for my next posting which is this battalion's accompanying casualty marker - something a bit different.
My army thus far