Monday, December 17, 2018

Caesarian Romans: Cohort IV Legio III Gallica

There's not a lot of difference at all between this and my previous cohort except I'm improving my home made decal application techniques. You really need to trim away as much of the backing paper when cutting them out as you can. It made them more pliable.
I've never really said much about my Signifers. The Signifer for this cohort like most of mine to-date is the standard inclusion within the Warlord Games Caesarian Roman box. They all come with the bull on a relatively plain shaft. I have hacked and changed and carved new ones and supplemented them with different standards from other manufacturers to individualize each cohort. I  adorn my shafts with awards (plastic card discs which I drill in the centre and this time built a raised centre with a small pellet of Green-Stuff. I also made tassels below the grip from Green-Stuff.
As this cohort is from a different legion to my previous use of the bull figure I got to use it again - easy.
Likewise I kept the Greek style helmet for my Centurion which comes with the set instead of kit-bashing a Gallic version. The bare headed legionary was just a metal head replacement from Warlord (I think). I paint the shield numerals but probably should have printed decals for that also if I'd thought it through properly.

I've run out of time before getting home for Christmas. I pushed to create this cohort in just over a week - a record for me. I have another 70% completed but I have work and packing to do in just 48 hours. I'll actually be gaming these bad-boys using Hail Caesar first thing in the new year. I've managed to crack out six cohorts this year (4 x legio XI and 2 x Legio III). I intend to finish my legion and a half by this time next year. No more posting for me until 2019 so a merry Christmas and a very happy new year to everyone.

Saturday, December 8, 2018

Caesarian Romans: Cohort II Legio III Gallica

Apart from an obviously different shield design, my rendition of Legio III Gallica has nothing particularly different to my previous cohorts of Legio XI except perhaps one thing. I have designed and printed off my own decals which is a first for me.
I've taken the oft cited Bull motif for this legion from the back of a Roman coin (pictured). There were plenty of bull sketch motifs available through an internet images search but I thought they all looked too modern.

I then Photoshoped it to a plain black design. I had to take care with the dimensions and undertook a dummy print run so I could cut out the down-sized printed image and trial them on one of the Warlord shields. I had to re-size the definition lines and make them thicker on the master so they would show up on the miniaturized print - the detail on trial versions disappeared under miniaturization.
I'm still not convinced they are thick enough and I could have included more detail. Upon reflection I should have curved the tail closer to the bull's back: I might have made him taller that way and still fit onto the shield. The final image size was 12.03 wide x 6.9mm high.

I have used Lazertran decal paper. The decals printed off nicely and an entire A4 sheets worth of black bulls - enough for easily half a legion which is all I need. I then cut them out (carefully), trimming off as much around the images as I dared. I then floated them off in cold water - the temperature of the water appears unimportant.
Reading the fact sheet and watching a YouTube tutorial I brushed the shields with mineral turpentine and applied the decals after pat-drying them. I found it better to pinch the decals in the centre when applying them over the central shield ridge. I then immediately brushed them with turpentine which Lazertran recommends to soften their decals to form over irregular surfaces.
I noticed as the decals dried the backing for the decals turned white. At first they went blotchy white until eventually they looked like they were just cut out from white paper and glued to the shields. This was disturbing and if you try this yourself - don't panic. I hit the decals again with a wash of Microsol to ensure softening to ensure they 'melted' them into the shield form. It didn't do them any harm and I observe that these decals are much tougher than those which usually accompany plastic kits.
I always lacquer my decals before proceeding with other detailing just to fix them to the surface. As it happens, Lazertran recommends this to make the backing paper go translucent. This is modern magic and it really worked as they promised. Juno be praised! I used Humbrol Matt Cote but I suspect any varnish will do. I think you'll agree they came up a treat.
Making your own decals was so easy and I'm definitely doing this more in future. I've never been satisfied with the limited ranges available for Romans in particular and now I can make any design in any colour and apply it to any shield colour. Some guidelines advise that you should spray the printed decal sheets with a varnish spray and allow it to set properly before cutting out to float them off the backing paper. This is not at all necessary for using Lazertran.
It really couldn't have been more straight forward. My image is a black bull on a white background. It is a JPEG format. I had worried about the white background being printed along with the black bull but like a document printed on different coloured paper, only the print or in this case the black image was printed - which of course is what I wanted.

Monday, November 19, 2018


Let me address my use of the term 'Indians' before moving on. I mean no disrespect to any of the North American tribes or 'First Peoples' or 'First Nation' (a political term I understand) or 'Native Americans' or Aboriginals as the Canadians have termed them. I'm simply referring to the first recorded peoples populating what is today the United States and Canada - terminology alters over time so call them what you will.

It's hard not to be fascinated and impressed by elements of the tribal warrior cultures. I recall as a child being captivated by the 1970s BBC series adaptation of Fenimore Cooper's Last of the Mohicans. This was further rekindled by the Michael Mann 1992 feature film of the same name - a firm favourite to this day. More please!

I think there's something very sad about the destruction of any culture and something tragically heroic about defiance in face of overwhelming odds - which pretty well wraps up the entire story of resistance to colonialism. It's one of the principle reasons I can't generally relate to what we term 'colonial wargaming' - it's too often overwhelmingly one-sided and there's a nasty ethnic cleansing or genocidal agenda behind most of the military campaigns. It's just not for me. But I digress - so let's move on.

I maybe kidding myself but I find the French and Indian Wars different from the campaigns which came before and after when it comes to Indian involvement. For a myriad of reasons the tribes fought on this side or that and against one another on the side-lines.
All of my Indians are generally more often described in wargaming as Eastern Woodland Indians and all of mine will be those tribes who fought alongside the French Canadian forces at the Plains of Abraham. It occurs to me that they will be the first Indian toy-soldiers I have owned since a multi-part plastic Timpo set in the 1970s. So, it's been a while.

My order of battle requires a number of tribes which I've divided into skirmish units (for Black Powder) - namely two units of Huron warriors, one of Abenakis and an Algonquin war-party. My first unit is my interpretation of a Huron war-party in skirmish formation.

These sculpts are all Crusader Miniatures from their Woodland Indian ranges - which I love. This particular group are only 21 figures which I fix on round bases of three figures each. Whilst this is a small number of figures for me, they are far from simple to paint.
I collected as many images as I could for Huron warriors on the internet - not as many as you might presume there might be. I'm only relying on images which are specifically identified as Huron. They have very varied dress as well as their warpaint styles. It doesn't seem like warpaint practices were specifically delineated or categorised that I can find and there seems scope for individuality in application. General rules for colours such as red and black and their meanings are understood which I won't repeat here.
It doesn't appear that there was a great difference between tribal practices - so to the untrained eye (my eye included) you'd be hard pressed to identify an Algonquin from a Huron at a particular time in history. Nevertheless, my reliance on only images of Huron when painting Hurons and Abenakis when painting Abenakis warriors may bring out differences if they are present.
My first challenge is that Indians warriors are highly individual and highly ornamented fighters. So, these 21 figures are like painting 60 regulars as far as effort and attention to detail is concerned. My first hurdle was interpreting the head-dress of these sculpts. On a close examination there were two styles which I have divided into a short war-bonnet and a porcupine or similar 'roache'. My difficulty with the roache head-dress interpretation was I couldn't find any exact images which shows a roache like they are depicted on the figures. In other words I have interpreted the sculpts as depicting what I think are roaches. All of my roaches have natural brown roots with red dyed tips.
All loin cloths I have seen are either red or blue with little divergence. Everything seems to be decorated from the moccasins to the multi-coloured trim on leggings. I can see now why most people appear to wargame Native American armies at skirmisher level.

A note on the sculpts themselves. I love the animation and the detail but they have particularly squinty eyes and if you paint eyes (like I do) they are a pain. Also, the tomahawk handles are way too thick - like a tree trunk.
I went for muted (washed) war-paint which was fun to do. Every image I found depicting arm bands and body jewelry was silver - so mine are also. As a final touch I decided to experiment with a gloss/sheen lacquer coat on the skin of the bare chested warriors to show them sweating in battle and try to bring a bit more to life. I had to mix gloss with matte finish for this as I had no satin and may have overdone it. Again, I'll finish the bases when I get back to Oz.

Better get back to those Romans.

Friday, October 12, 2018

Western Desert Force: 2 Pounder ATG Portees

Well I believe that's all for the ground forces of my Western Desert Force 'Jock Column' at long last. I have finished of assembling and painting two resin and white metal 2 pounder Portee anti-tank guns in 20mm - naturally.
These models are Britannia models (product code RVM106) which is now distributed through Grubby I see. They are great models which come with all the campaign detritus you could want as part of the casting. Only the wheels, the gun and the gun shield come separate and require fixing (I used Selleys two-part epoxy Araldite).
It occured to me during painting that the tarpaulin underneath the collapsed windshield needed to be visible as if through glass. I finished it off with some gloss varnish.
The crew are Raventhorpe Miniatures (pretty sure) though I'm not sure about my crewmen in the helmets. I'v got such a mixed bag of stuff over the years and it's been so long in the creation that I've lost track.
I don't know why but I've been putting these two models off for years. Now all I need is some air cover - for gaming in Rapid Fire.
So my Desert Force now has two ATG portees, three armoured cars, three tanks, a battery of two towed 25pdr howitzers with accompanying observation team and a fully motorised infantry battalion. I think they have all been documented through this blog under at least the 'Commonwealth' label. Next will be their Gloster Gladiator. Now I will get back to those Abenakis.

Saturday, September 29, 2018

Western Desert Force: Morris C9 Armoured Car (Part 2)

Morris C9 armoured car ... check. Tricked up just a little with some green-stuff canvas rolls and a balsa and plastic card crate on the back. The two figures are AB Figures I believe with their legs ignominiously snipped off.
I love armoured cars probably more than tanks but I'm sure I don't know how to use them properly on the table-top. They always get nailed as there's always something bigger and nastier about the place.
Like it's running mates (the Rolls Royce A/Cs) I didn't mark it up. There appears very little unit identification evident on any of the photos I referenced so I opted out. In all likelihood this is the only C9 I'll ever have. A simple and enjoyable build with a rapid result in terms of actual construction time. It's 20mm or 1/72 scale I believe as is everything I do in WWII.
Now it's time I got back to and finished my woodland Indian skirmishers for the Plains of Abraham.

Western Desert Force: Rolls Royce Armoured Cars (Part 2)

Well that took a while. A trip to Auckland and a rolling series of most welcome visits to Tonga has seen me turn from miniature army builder to tourist, host and travel guide. Well it's back to the workbench and my 'Jock Column' now has it's armoured car company at long last. They are 20mm models or perhaps 1/72nd scale?
I'll add the aerials after they ship home but for the time being they are finished. I opted to have very faded dazzle camouflage although the darker grey does still look rather dark.
I've made one a potential leader car or command vehicle if they operate as a two-some which I always depict with a commander in the open-top state. One of the front vent doors broke off when painting and I still can't find it - so I'm putting it down to battle damage or campaign wear and tear.

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Caesarian Romans: Cohort IV, Scorpio & General Part II

Well in spite of other products having been pre-scheduled for my attention I've derailed the production process to crack out another Caesarian cohort of Roman legionaries. Or are they Marian? What the hell - late republican Romans will do.

This is my cohort IV for my legio XI and I have to say I'm having just as much satisfaction painting them as I did their three previous counterparts (cohorts I-III). Thanks to a new print run of Veni Vidi Vici decals, I was back in business for continuing to build what I hope will be my first complete legion.
For this group I went back to the basic blue background with a handful of unpainted leather shields - with black detail instead of white. I used the separate command pack centurion from Warlord Games to further differentiate the unit from the others. This time around he and the optio have natural beige horsehair plumes.
I built up the signum with a couple of battle honor discs out of plastic-card and a tassel from green-stuff. I cut and filed the bull which comes with the Warlord sets to reshape it into what I hope is a convincing ram and added some green-stuff horns so I suppose this makes them the golden ram cohort? I'm happy enough with the final result.
I have jumped the gun a little by completing two scorpio. According to Hail Caesar army lists, I get to field one artillery piece for every three cohorts - so I have two more to do before fielding both of these at one time - if you worry about that sort of thing. I have thought of building a shield stand for the crew but in not doing so I am not identifying them with any particular legion which makes them far more adaptable.
A quick word on my chosen wargames rules. I love Warhammer Ancient Battles (WAB). I'll continue to play it into the future. I have; however, been converted to Black Powder for later periods and am looking to play my Romans with it's ancient counter-part: Hail Caesar. I'm less inclined to fiddling with casualty removal and figure counting for dicing than I used to be. I also like the command aspects of the Hail Caesar approach. They are generally quite similar in many respects.
I also painted up an army general and his escorts. In this case I think he will be a Tribunus Laticlavius (the senior Tribune and 2IC of a legion). He will command my army on the table top when fielding up to five cohorts when the eagle is not present - hence the veillarius who I have based with him. My vexillum will be the army standard for a detachment - anything less than a majority of a legions cohorts. The vexillarius comes from the abovementioned Warlord Games command pack and his escorting centurion is the commander who would otherwise have been in charge of this latest cohort. I have made him a centurion from the first cohort (seemed logical) and jazzed up his plume.
I have bought myself two boxes of the now defunct Wargames Factory Caesar's Legions plastic Romans to add to the mix. I have already built and am prepping another Warlord Games cohort - this time all gladius wielding. I only have enough left o make one further cohort after that until my new purchases arrive. I will build my onager only after the sixth cohort is done - a promise to myself. I will also be experimenting with a testudo model. For those of you following the Lead Adventure Forum you will know I've been exchanging ideas with Tom, aka tyrianhalfman (user name). The shields and figures won't get into Tonga for another two months so that little project will have to wait.

Friday, August 10, 2018

Western Desert Force: Rolls Royce Armoured Car (Part 1)

One of the few advantages to being deployed overseas unaccompanied (and there really aren't many) is the time I have on my hands to chip away at my long accumulating stock piles of models and figures. I have a multitude of projects and ideas for my hobby which repeatedly swirl to the forefront of my thoughts only to be filed and re-filed to the back of my mind for when I ever get time to put them into effect. Years ago I bought all the necessary elements for an early war Western Desert Force for the British - a combined armed battlegroup many of you will be familiar with as a 'Jock Column.'
Coincidentally, the last addition I made to the group was my cruiser tank and the artillery observation crew (see previous postings) the last time I was in Tonga. Well, I am getting all worked up again about WWII and I am about to embark on a Dieppe build with nine tanks and few extras in the pipeline. Before I can proceed with that in all conscience I have reasoned I need to finish my Jock Column first.
1938 at Lydda railway station
For my Reconnaissance company I have a pair of what I believe are 1920 pattern Rolls Royce armoured cars and a Morris C9 armoured car all made in resin by Cromwell Models. When I consider the difficulty (read failure) in procuring Cromwell Models products recently, I consider myself fortunate in possessing these items at all. I really don't know if they are resin or plastic but I can tell you they glue very nicely with Humbrol poly cement.
British Army armoured car convoy in Palestine - The daily 10:30 Jerusalem-Afuleh convoy leaving for the North - circa 1936
Now a little word on the Rolls Royce Armoured Cars. My models appear to me to be the MkI 1920 pattern. More commonly, the 1924 open-topped pattern is depicted in North Africa during WWII. Having said that, the images (of which there are several) from the Library of Congress clearly shows the 1920 pattern in use up to 1938 in Palestine and Egypt with the RAF and 11th Hussars.
The Osprey New Vanguard 189 The Rolls-Royce Armoured Car tells us many of the 1920 builds were deployed to the Middle East and ended up in the possession of the RAF who do not appear to have adopted the 1924 pattern rebuilds or the open-topped turret.
British Army Eleventh Hussars arriving at Ludd. Train load of armoured cars etc. arriving at the Lydda Junction from Egypt with the 11th Huzars on July 15, 1938

The 11th Hussars retained their Rolls-Royce armoured cars most of which appear to have been the 1924 pattern (most obviously identified with a high cylindrical turret). Whilst many of these were retrofitted with the open turret, the practice does not appear to have been universal.
My Jock Column has the older 1920 models present in the region pressed into service. In the days before Operation Compass the 11th Hussars D Company comprised Rolls Royce armoured cars seconded from No:2 RAF company and the following images show nicely the mix of variants present in operation at that time.
The above and subsequent shots are taken in Maadi, Cairo in July 1940. In fact the RAF also had hybrid 1920/24 pattern vehicles - it was all about extending the service life and making do.