Tuesday, October 29, 2019

ECW: First Steps

On reflection, it might well be the second step as I have already embraced both Warhammer ECW and Pike and Shotte rules. I bought a couple of boxes of Renegade miniatures back in about 2007 when visiting Devizes from The Keep which is still in business with their own website I see.
I have always wanted to wargame the English Civil War. It probably started with my Ladybird book on Oliver Cromwell and worked it's way from there. I was and am still a big fan of the old 1980s BBC TV series 'By the Sword Divided', I've seen the movie 'Cromwell' more times than is healthy and gobble up any documentary offerings via TV or YouTube. I have copies of and love The Devil's Whore and To Kill a King and I've been playing quite a bit of the computer game Pike and Shot. So, I have started to get serious about prepping for my collection phase with research into an order of battle - or should I say orders of battle?
Why ECW? For me it's the violent passion which seized British peoples and politics throughout the seventeenth century which attracts. Parliament or King is still a subject which divides people to this day: I don't have an English friend or colleague who isn't firmly in one camp or another. As an Australian with a strong republican sense I'm not surprisingly for Parliament - it's almost impossible to have a completely neutral position on the subject. Religious fanaticism plays a massively important role across the whole affair along with cultural prejudices and persecutions. Throw in diseases, witch-hunting, atrocities and round the whole thing off with a beheading and what's not to like?
A shot from the siege of Arnscot castle in By the Sword Divided

Having said all of that, I'm confident if I were to return to 1643 in my time machine I'd find ignorance, intolerance, bloody-mindedness, hypocrisy and extremism to be universal. I doubt very much if I'd care for many people on either side. As for 'my Parliamentarians' I am confident they would be more entitled and self-serving than even those in government today ... but if I had to pick a side, it's them.  

Normally, my approach is to find a battle I like then generate or use a readily available order of battle for one side or another. These days I prefer to do both sides (yep, takes longer). On this occasion I am starting with a battle which best represents the protagonists and I'm extending my army from there to represent forces available in a general theatre of operations.
There's something about the heart-felt amateurism of the earliest stages of the war which appeals. Also, whilst recognizing that the 'English Civil War' was far bigger than just England and the English, I'm starting with the Western Association and the West Country theatre of operations of the first civil war (1642-43).
Like a lot of other people, I'm fascinated with the activities and relationship between Parliamentarian champion Sir William Waller and the Royalist leader Lord Ralph Hopton who were friends and enemies. For me it's got it all.
I'm generating army lists from an order of battle I've been developing for the battle of Lansdowne (often spelt Lansdown or even Landsdown/e). That battle appears to have a good representation of regiments available to both leaders at the time (July 1643). I've done quite a bit of on-line research and investigating various accounts with reference to previous exchanges by fellow wargamers on the TMP discussion threads. I'll be attaching that in a separate post and link to my PDF on Google-docs for those interested. I have lashed out and bought all available scenario works by Bob Giglio so I may need to revise my own findings when they arrive and when I get a chance to read them. What I do have I'm satisfied with - I'm hoping Bob will have covered some gaps.

Friday, October 18, 2019

Calgary: Dragon 1/72 Armor Pro Chrchill Mk III

There are good kits which look good and assemble effortlessly, there can be good looking kits which are a pain to assemble and then there are bad kits which are painful to build and behold. For all the reasons I love the Hasegawa 1:72 kits I have loathed building this Dragon model.

In fairness, Dragon produces the model which is the Dieppe 1942 variant of the Mk III Churchill - so full marks for supplying the market with something I needed. It is also a good looking kit so my assessment falls very much into the middle category - thank goodness.

The instructions are; however, very poor. They rely completely upon illustrations but often they are from a point of view which is no use at all. I have at least two parts which I cannot guess how to fit them on and I'm not convinced they can been seen on the completed model. Parts are not always provided with recesses or receiving holes and sometimes they are illustrated but do not exist. I found myself reaching for my reference works constantly which were of limited assistance. Also, thank goodness for my magnifying lamp because some of the illustrated detail is a strain for my ageing eyes.

The bogey assembly is something I've never come across before. It does work but this is a kit you really have to test the parts for to properly ascertain how they go together - it's not at all obvious. There are adequate fixtures for the drive wheels and for the life of me I couldn't figure how the rear drive wheels went together - no combinations made a proper fit. When assembled, the bogeys are far more detailed and complete than the Hasegawa counterpart but you can't really see them and there is no real benefit.

If I was to have my time again this is a wargaming project worth spending that little bit extra and getting the die cast model for - if it's available that is. I could have saved myself a power of grief

The end result for all of my complaints is a good looking model and I'm very happy with how it matches up with the other Hasegawa MKI's and II. I've made a lot of errors but it will pass for wargaming.

I elected to go for a green colour scheme. I've read so much on the Churchills and the Dieppe raid that I can't remember where I gleaned half of my knowledge on the subject any more. Suffice to say that the introduction of the MKIII in 1942 coincided with the phasing out of the old khaki colour scheme. Now no one seems to know or has published any definitive comment regarding what colour were which tanks. 

The MKIII might just as easily have been painted with remnant khaki like earlier tanks or have been painted in the new scheme being adopted at the time it was finished - and I've seen it modelled in both. So, I have elected to go with a dark green (bronze green) just to shake it up a little and because variety is the spice I life.

At the point in the painting process I was required to fix the decals I was delighted that this kit gives me three MkIII markings for Dieppe - Blossom, Beefy and Calgary: the latter being the tank I am representing. Hooray! The molding details do present a problem as the tank sides include tow cables which are smack-dab it the way of both the Canadian national emblem and the vehicle serial number. Curiously, the marking guide provides for a Canadian decal on the front hull but there is no room to fit the serial number, tank name and national emblem. I left it out as this suggestion was also inconsistent with my other vehicles.
The decals required cutting to get around the cast cable and Microsol has never been more essential to better melt the decals onto the uneven surfaces on the front hull. I chipped it (possibly too much) and gave it some rain marks and minimal oil weathering in key mechanical areas. The photos are without much light assistance and I lightened them up 26% on Photoshop.

Well that's it for my Dieppe project for the time being - on to Franco-Prussian was 15mm and some French for the Plains of Abraham.

Horace & Helen: A Kind of Love Story (Part 2 of 2)

Finding consistent reference shots of any of the Daimler Scout Cars for the Calgary regiment is problematic. In fact, it's largely a waste of time. What if interesting about this particular project (the Dieppe project) is how much observation and scrutiny of photographs is required.

Firstly, we wargamers tend to look for patterns and consistency where there was none. That lesson well learnt, I looked to the evidence for each vehicle (not a lot) and went from there. As it happens, I believe that Horace and Helen were both similarly marked up which was not necessarily the case for the other Daimlers at Dieppe.

Serial numbers look to have been used but only on the right hand side - there being no evidence for those photos taken of the left hand sides. Life with my Churchill models, I've gone with representative serial numbers for the decals to hand - they are not the correct numbers for either vehicle.

National markings appear clearly to have been placed on the underside rear. I came to the conclusion that the photo of Horace also indicates a second emblem on the rear of the engine hood. I am assuming that Helen has also but like other Daimler after-action photos, the engine cover is removed (possibly blown off).

Few other markings are in evidence - they are pretty plain save for the number in the diamond and the vehicle name.These shots were without the aid of a light-box and it's a bit dark and dull. I lightened them up on Photoshop 26% believe it or not. They are now due a matt spray coat end then all that's left are the bases for another day.

Monday, October 14, 2019

Uniform Guide: Second Empire French Line Cuirassiers

The usual go-to reference works for embarking on any new army painting project are regrettably insufficient for the Franco-Prussian War campaigns of the Second Empire French. I have to say the Osprey offering on the subject is woefully inadequate and introductory at best. I've had to scour the internet for what I could find to round out all I wanted to know before painting my Cuirassier regiment. So, as usual, I'm sharing my findings in the best traditions of co-operating on the World Wide Web.

Please note I'm staying away from the Guards regiments for the time being because I'm not painting any.

The French had to supplement most of their line regiments with all manner of heavier horses to bring their regiments up to strength for the 1870 campaign. Colours would have varied greatly with a general reliance on darker colours (bays, chestnuts etc). Consistent with the First Empire and into the 20th century, the French trumpeters were mounted on greys. This appears to have remained consisted for line and Guard regiments.
HELMETS - Line Regiments
The steel bonnets of the cuirassier has a brass front plate, chin scales, a brass edged steel peak and crest. Mounting the top of the crest is what is described as an 'olive' I believe (also of the same brass) which held a scarlet tuft (all ranks). The horse-hair manes were black for all ranks except the trumpeters whose manes were scarlet. The helmets are wrapped in a turban of marine cow hide (dark brown/black).
Interestingly and helpfully, the Cuirassier regiments of the line had a standardized uniform with no regimental distinctions. Their jackets were dark blue with red collar and epaulettes (silver for officers and white for trumpeters) with dark blue cuffs piped scarlet and scarlet cuff lapels with three brass buttons. The jacket is scarlet piped down the full length of the front button line on the front edge (button hole side) but has a plain bottom seam around the skirt.  In some images there is a scarlet trim visible at the edge of the breast plate. Rank chevrons are in scarlet. The piping for the officer is in silver and the trumpeter piping is in white. A black belt with brass buckle secures the tunic about the waist - only visible on the trumpeter who has a plain fronted jacket with no lace.

The baggy trousers were scarlet with a thin, pencil line black stripe down the centre length on the outside of both legs. Officers had a broader black stripe.

Black leather and knee high for all ranks with steel hooks. Gauntlets when worn were white.

A polished steel cuirass has brass shoulder straps and as stated above, the scarlet edge of the padded lining is sometimes depicted - visible front and back. The rivets are brass and the ensemble is secured at the waist with a black strap with brass buckle.

The straight cavalry sabre is brass hilted with a steel scabbard and white sword knots for all ranks (presumably silver for the officers). Hangers are white (sometimes depicted black).
The water bottle appears to have been slung across thee shoulder with a black leather strap and harness. The water bottle appears to be a grey/blue. Trumpeters look to have a cartridge box (black leather case) slung over the shoulder with a while leather strap/belt.
Dark blue edged white with a white grenade in the rear corner. The tubular Portmanteau is also dark blue with a white grenade in the centre. When it comes to the piping around the outside of the portmanteau I have seen it naked, white and red. I don't know if the regimental number appears inside the grenades or not - I suspect they might but I can't make any out.
1870 Sedán: Carga del general Marguerite by José Cusachs
Apart from white epaulets and grey mounts trumpeters are more often than not depicted with brass trumpets with red chords and tassels.
This from 1876
BRIDLE, REINS and Leathers

Thankfully these are all invariably portrayed as black leather.

Sunday, October 13, 2019

Canadian Infantry: Dieppe Part 2

I can't remember the last time I got stuck into such a pile of toy soldiers before - there's over 100 of them which make up my two battalions. I painted them in three major batches to mix up flesh tones and uniform colours as khaki battledress for Commonwealth units varied significantly. The bases remain unpainted and the mortar and ammo containers are likewise waiting for the bases to be finished before completion - when I get back to Australia.

When addressing flesh tones I found myself wondering if there were any black soldiers serving in Canadian infantry regiments in WWII but particularly who may have served in time for Dieppe (1942). I strive for accuracy and it would also have made a change to have been able to mix it up a little. After some time researching on line I could find very little positive evidence and given the times and attitudes of our societies in that period - I'm thinking not. Whilst I could speculate that there might have been a few in either of my regiments I found no evidence to support the supposition and no 'black' or obviously darker faces appear in any of the photos I could find surrounding this campaign.

It's funny where a simple curiosity can take a line of enquiry. When it comes to race or ethnicity in Canada more generally there seems to be divergent appreciations of the make-up of even today's population given that census data refers to nationality and not ethnicity: so black (African) people may refer to themselves as British or otherwise and depending upon the routes and circumstances of entry into Canada. Migrant populations have divergent ways of referring to themselves depending on their histories. In any event, the black populations of Canada is smaller than the first nations people from what I can gather. Given the results at Dieppe I shudder to think of a non-white soldiers treatment as a POW by the Germans in WWII.

Okay , so a very long story short - my Canadian infantry for Dieppe look homogeneous but I have included a browner base for some of them to break up the masses of 'pink' faced troops. It's probably the sort of detail I go to which makes not a lick of difference at this scale.
I've used two types of aggregate base material - one for each regiment. Curiously one of them is a clay-based product and the other a light mineral product. I glued both using PVA then once set, coated with a diluted PVA solution. Frustratingly the mineral based couldn't break the surface tension of the diluted PVA application - it just beaded and then ran off. It then occurred to me to brush on white vinegar as cooks use it to break water surface tension. Well it worked a treat but they smelt good enough to eat for some time.
Organized for Rapid Fire rules (naturally), these 1942 infantry battalions retain the anti-tank rifles which were later replaced by the 6 pdr anti-tank gun. I've included the Vickers and crew but at Dieppe they deployed MG Battalion support elements from the landing craft. I'm also sourcing some Bren teams with anti-aircraft tripods which will complete infantry for White Beach.
In the meantime they are ready for packing. I'm near to completing my Dragon 1/72 scale MkIII Churchill and Daimler Dingos.