Friday, November 17, 2017

My SYW Russian Cavalry

Russian cavalry consisting of cuirassiers, horse grenadiers, dragoons, hussars and Cossacks.
(click all pictures in this post to enlarge the view)

For the past couple of months I have been cranking out Russian cavalry for my SYW Russian army, circa 1758.

I have 9 squadrons of 12 figures consisting of 12 cuirassiers, 24 horse grenadiers, 24 dragoons, 24 hussars, and 24 Cossacks. I can also use the 16 Connoisseur Napoleonic Cossacks that I have.

The 3rd Cuirassiers (one squadron, with another to be painted in the future:

Russian cuirassiers usning Minden Austrian cuirassiers and one Prussian kettle drummer.

A closer view of the 3rd Cuirassiers. Standard was copied from Kronoskaf.

The Kargopol Horse Grenadiers (two squadrons)

The Kargopol Horse Grenadiers distinguished themselves at Zorndorf in 1758
The figures are from RSM, except for the officer, standard bearer and musician which are Minden Hanoverian Horse figures. The horses are also from the Minden Miniatures figure range.

The Dragoons (un-named as of now) - two squadrons

Russian dragoons using Hanoverian Horse regiment figures from the Minden range.

The Hussars: the Horvat Hussars in blue and red; the Gruzinski Hussars in yellow and red:

Horvat Hussars (left) and Gruzinski Hussars (right). Eventually I will paint a second 12-figure squadron for each regiment.

Another view of these colorful Russian hussars, for which I used Austrian Hussars from the Minden range.

The Cossacks

The 24 Cossacks in the foreground are RSM figures mounted on Minden horses.
The unit in the background are Connoisseur Cossacks which seem to be size compatible with the RSM/Minden figures.


Well, that's pretty much it for my Russian cavalry contingent in my army. I still need to add a second dozen figures to the 3rd Cuirassiers, the Horvat Hussars and the Gruzinski Hussars. When those are painted, my Russian brigade shall be completed. The Russian army did not bring many cavalry regiments with them into the SYW battles with Prussia. This does not include the Cossacks, of which there were many more. At Zorndorf, the Russians were vastly outnumbered by the Prussian regular cavaly.

Monday, November 13, 2017

In Memorium - Janet Akers (1948 - 2017)

Painted by Janet Akers

This past weekend, we held a memorial service for my sister, Janet Purky Akers (1948 - 2017), who passed away as a result of colon cancer that had spread throughout her body. She was cremated, at her request, and is survived by her two sons Kieth and Alex, my mother (age 95) and me.

Janet Akers was a professional artist and enjoyed traveling to such diverse places as France, Italy, Great Britain, Mexico and Southwestern United States (particularly Sedona and Taos, New Mexico) where she painted landscapes and wildlife. Some samples of her artwork can be seen by clicking on the link to her web site.

I have posted two of her paintings on this blog.

Painted by Janet Akers
The memorial service was held at her house and was attended by approximately 40 of her closest friends, family and acquaintancs. It was not a religious service, but rather, we all gathered to tell stories and our memories of Janet. It was really great to hear about her through her friends as one after another they stepped forward to tell their stories about Janet. We all really could feel her presence at the gathering. I learned many things about my sister that I did not know and I was glad to meet many of the people that I had heard her talk about all of these years.

Janet's colon cancer was discovered 3 year ago when she had her first ever colonoscopy. By then it was too late and had she had a colonoscopy on a regular basis earlier in her life, any polyps would have been discovered and remove and she would still be with us today. I'm sure that she would want me to tell as many people that I could to have a regular check up and colonoscopy after age 50. I ask that anyone reading this to heed her advise to have regular check ups.

Janet was one of those people who always seemed to be followed by bad luck. Like Lemon Snicket, it seemed like a series of unfortate events were her life. However, she always bounced back and persevered, largely through her love of the arts (music, opera, art and painting) and travel. Her artistic talent improved by leaps and bounds over the years and I am amazed at where her skills had taken her  by the time of her passing. Her two sons were the joy of her life and it always came back to her love of her sons and family.

Rest in peace Janet, we will miss you.

I post this report not to seek sympathy and prayers, etc., but rather to have my own memorial to my sister permanently placed in the blogoshere.

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Gruzinski Hussars (Russian)

Russian Gruzinski Hussars - click picture to enlarge

Yesterday I finished a 12-figure squadron of the Gruzinski Hussars for my SYW Russian army. Eventually this unit will be increased to my standard 24-figures for cavalry regiments. I call them "squadrons" for game operational purposes whereas in my 1:20 figure to man ratio, 12 figures would represent 240 riders which approximates to two actual squadrons.

I will temporarily brigade the Gruzinski and Horvat Hussars into one 24-figure hussar unit until I can get around to painting a 12 more figures for each unit, bringing them up to 24 figures.

The figures are Minden Miniatures, of course, and they are actually the Austrian Hussar figures painted as Russian Hussars. The only differences in the figures are the markings on the sabertache and shabraque (see image below from Kronoskaf), which have the "ER" royal cypher and the saw-toothed edging, respectively, on the Russian uniform. The Austrian castings have the Austrian eagle on the sabertache and the "MT" cypher and different border edge on the shabraque. The figures were simply "converted with paint".

For the source of the above image and more information on the Gruzinski Hussars, please click on the link to Kronoskaf below.

The Gruzinski Hussars are very colorful and delightful to look at, as I am sure you will agree. It is not often that one gets to use the color yellow on any wargame regiment, so I could not resist painting a dozen of these, even though I still needed to paint another dozen Horvat Hussars to complete that unit.

A 12-figure squadron of Gruzinski Hussars, seen at ground level

Another view of the unit, so far. The bases still need to be terrained and finished.

Next in the painting queue, the first dozen Russian cuirassiers. My Russian cavalry arm has been growing rapidly and now includes 24 each of horse grenadiers, dragoons and hussars, and 36 Cossacks. Since the cuirassiers are the only figures that I have primed and ready to paint, they will be next on the list.

After that, I will get back to painting Russian infantry again. I also need to start work on equipment such as artillery limbers and ammo wagons, and a few more artillery pieces and crew.

Monday, November 6, 2017

Horvat Hussars (Russian) & Cossacks

Russian Horvath Hussars (click pix to enlarge)

Over the weekend I finished a dozen of the Russian Horvat Hussars, which fought at Zorndorf during the Seven Years War. The regiment was rather large at 10 squadrons compared to the usual 3 to 5 squadrons that most Russian cavalry regiments put into the field.

For a history of the Horvat Hussar regiment, please click on the link to the Kronoskaf page that details the history and uniforms of the regiment:

I used the Minden Austrian hussar figures as suitable substitutes for Russian hussars and these basically require no conversion work other than paint. The sabertaches would have the "ER" cypher of the Empress Elizabeth and there would be some noticeable saw tooth edging (or '"Van Dyking" as it is often called) on the edge of both the shabraque and sabertache. I did not bother to paint the cypher onto the sabertache - too much extra work for minimal  visual payback, in my opinion.

Horvath Hussars are actually Austrian hussars that I have "converted with paint". In the left background you can see some Connoisseur Napoleonic Russian Cossacks.

This points again to one of the things about 18th Century military uniforms and available figure castings: they are very similar country to country so it is easy to substitute Austrian, French and Prussian castings for the various Russian castings that one requires. While Minden does not yet have any Russians, other than the artillery crew, this is no reason not to start of SYW Russian army if you want to field one on your table top.

I am working on a few things behind the scenes that hopefully will address the need to add Russian figures to the Minden range. More about that later as the events unfold. I will just say that I think that you will be happy when the news is released.

I finished off the basing with the usual tufts and static grass on the hussar bases, and while I was at it, I also finished off the basing for the second group of Cossacks that I painted last week.

Two 12-figure pulks of Cossacks, one in small fur hats (L)  and the other in tall fur hats (R).

Here's how they look once I have mixed the two different hat styles into two separate units. This looks much better to my eye and creates more visual diversity.

Here are the Cossacks again, but this time they have been mixed up into one large 24-figure unit. I think that the RSM and the Connoisseur Cossacks (in the left corner) are compatible in size and so I plan to use both units in my SYW battles.

In the three pictures above, if you look at the upper left corner of each photo, you can see some Connoisseur Napoleonic Russian Cossacks that I had previously painted. They look to fit in very nicely with the RSM SYW Russian Cossacks (mountedon Minden light cavalry horses) so this enabled me to increase the Cossack horde from 24 figures to 36 figures, without painting any more of them. Nice!!!!

In the picture below, you can see how the two styles of RSM Cossacks look when you mix the headgear styles (small hat and large hat) together in one unit. This creates a more diverse look to the horde. Also, painting different kaftan colors and different horse colors adds to the irregular look.

A close up view of the growing Cossack horde.

Next in the Russian Queue
I always paint one sample figure of new units that I have never painted before for several reasons; one, I want to see what the figure looks like after it has been painted, and two, to figure out the order in which to paint the various parts of the figure. Sometimes this reveals a potential difficulty in painting that is easy to solve by simply changing the order in which you paint a pelisse versus the dolman or the breeches, etc.

I like the Gruzinsky Hussar in the yellow and red uniform and so I plan to paint a 12-figure squadron of these in the near future. I don't like the look of the dark horse, so I will paint these with lighter colored horses so as to show off the rider and his uniform without the darkness and distraction of the horse.

The cuirassier is an Austrian cuirassier from the Minden range and does not require any conversion work.

Russian cavalry painted samples: 3rd Cuirassiers (L), Horvath Hussars (C) and Gruzinsky Hussars (R). Click to  enlarge the picture.

So as of today, I have 12 hussars, 24 horse grenadiers, 24 dragoons and 36 Cossacks in my Russian army.

I am making good progress on the Russian cavalry combat arm and only need to add 24 more hussars and 24 cuirassiers to complete this part of my army.

After that, I will turn to painting more infantry, hopefully including some of the new figures that are in the pipeline.

I am aiming towards hosting a SYW Russian versus Prussian game at next year's Seven Years War Association Convention in March 2018. It will be based on one of the historic battles during the war and in fact, I spent the weekend developing the tabletop map from the historical map, using a board game map and Google Earth satellite images.

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

More SYW Russian Cossacks

RSM Russain Cossacks for my SYW Russian army.
Click on all pictures to enlarge.

I have been on a good painting frenzy of late and I finished a second set of 12 Russian Cossacks. As with the others, these are RSM figures mounted on Minden light cavalry horses. The combination looks very lifelike and visually appealing.

I find that the RSM and Minden figures are very compatible and so I use both figure ranges in my SYW armies.

A closer view of the new Cossacks, wearing short hats.

The picture below gives one a sense of how the whole Cossack unit will look. The grassed set of 12 wear the tall fur hat and the ungrassed set of 12 wear the short hat.

Two squadrons of RSM Russian Cossacks mounted on Minden Horses. The lefthand unit will be grassed
later today after the ground spackle has dried.

Next in the Queue

I have another dozen Russian dragoons to paint to build the regiment up to 24 figures. I am giving them a coat of grey primer today so that I can start painting them tomorrow. After that, I will either turn to the Horvat Hussars (using the Minden Austrian hussars) or the 3rd Cuirassier Regiment (using Minden Austrian cuirassiers).

Because 18th Century armies and uniforms are very similar in look and style, it is relatively easy to recruit figures from one country's troops for use in another country's troops, in the event that the needed figures are not yet a part of the Minden Miniatures figure range. I find that the French infantry with turnbacks work for Russian Musketeers, RSM Russian Grenadiers are used in my army, Hanoverian Horse, Austrian Hussars and Austrian Cuirassiers suitably fill in for their Russian counterparts.

Minden already makes the Russian artillery crewmen and some of the more common Russian artillery pieces, so this combat arm is fairly well handled within the range.

My SYW Russian Army, so Far

With the completion of the Cossacks, I now have enough Russian cavalry to fight a small battle - 24 Horse Grenadiers, 24 Cossacks and 12 Dragoons (up to 24 by the end of this week). I could also use some of my Austrian cavalry to augment the Russians, if needed.

The infantry contingent has 3 musketeer battalions and one grenadier battalion for a total of four battalions. In a pinch, I could use my green coated Hesse Seewald battalions as Russians (in fact, I had this in mind when I started painting my own Hesse Seewald regiments).

The artillery contingent has four cannon: a Shuvulov Secret Howitzer, a 12 pound Howitzer, a 12 pound smoothbore and a 6 pound smoothbore. I still need to paint limber teams for my cannon. I am thinking that I will delegate the 6 pounders to the infantry to use as regimental guns, which the Russians often did. I have been reading that the Shuvulov Howitzers took longer to reload, so in my rules they will only be able to fire every other turn.

I have some new Russian infantry wearing their Summer kit at Griffin Moulds awaiting the production of master moulds. If the figures pass my muster, then I will put them into production moulds and add them to the Minden range. I sculpted the figures using Richard Ansell's dollies, so there should be similarity with the rest of the Minden figures that Richard sculpted. My own effort is passable, but nothing up to the standard of Richard. So if my sculpts do not look good to my eye, then I won't put them in the range. So we shall see.

First Anniversay of my Retirement

Today, October 31st, is the one year anniversary of my retirement from work and my new career as a gentleman of leisure. As one of my longtime friends said, "Jim, you were made for retirement." I can't dispute that.

Retirement has given me more time to devote to the figure business and to painting figures, so that part of it is great. I have also played a number of solo wargames which I do to generate pictures for this blog or test out scenarios and rules changes. My solo game year to date include:

Cheraw (AWI campaign game)
Winnsboro (AWI campaign game)
Fisher's Crossing (AWI campaign game)
McDowell's Camp (AWI campaign game)

I like the solo games because they give me the opportunity to do what little army men were made for - playing wargames.

I also did a little bit of traveling this year, going to the UK in June and Fort Donelson, Tennessee in October. I also did the Christopher Duffy tour of SYW battlefields last October, but that took place before I officially retired. I would like to visit some more ACW battlefields in the USA this next year and a return trip to the UK for another wargame mini convention is definitely in the works.

Year Two of Retirement should be just as busy and so I'm looking forward to seeing how the year unfolds.

Saturday, October 28, 2017

Russian SYW Cossacks WIP

Russian Cossacks and Kalmuks burning Zorndorf. ("Zorndorf 1758" - Osprey Campaign  125 book). RSM Miniatures makes the two mounted figures in the center - tall hat with the red kaftan and the short hat with the orange kaftan. The Kalmuk shooting the bow and arrow might be found in some range of 28mm Asiatic Horse Armies, as their "uniforms" appear to be a bit of a throw back to days of olde.

I have been working on the cavalry portion of my nascent SYW Russian army, of late, and have some pictures of the Cossacks that I am working on over this weekend. Today I finished a 12-figure squadron of Russian Cossacks, shown below:

RSM Cossacks mounted on Minden light cavalry horses. The lances are cut down North Star 100mm spears .
Click all pictures to enlarge the view of the photograph.

I am using the RSM Cossacks, both in tall hat and short hat, for my Cossacks and am mounting them on Minden light cavalry horses. By using the Minden horses, this brings some consistency to the overall look of my Minden Russian army for the SYW.

Step 1 - sort by kaftan color
I want some variety in the appearance of my Cossacks and the best way to do this is to paint them all in different colors. So I sorted the figures into groups of threes and gave each group a different kaftan (the coat) color. Then to save time, the color that I paint on, say, the kaftan is used on one item in the other group of Cossacks. For example, the blue kaftan Cossacks on the left in the picture below - after painting the kaftan, I might use the same blue to paint the trousers of the next group of three figures, Then I would follow it up by using the blue on the saddle blanket or blanket roll on the back of the horse. 

This provides a little bit of economy on your time because you are using the same color for a number of different clothing items all at once, rather than going back and forth to the paint jar as needed.

Cossacks grouped by the color of their kaftan.
RSM Cossacks mounted on Minden horses - click picture to enlarge.

Step 2 - sort by horse color

Painting the horses different colors also adds to the variety of the unit. So the next step is to rearrange the Cossacks into groups of 3 or 4 figures and then paint each group's horses the same color. Again, this saves me a considerable amount of time.

Cossacks grouped by the color of their horses.

Step 3 - now mix all of them up
Now that I have finished the clothing and the horse colors on all figures, it is time to mix them up at random, as shown below. This also adds a look of variety to the Cossack hoard.

Now you can mix them up in any order to get the look of variety in the hoard.

A Connoisseur Cossack Find
I found a previous set of 14 Connoisseur Napoleonic Cossacks that I had painted years ago and it looks to me that they are somewhat compatible with the Minden figures, as shown below in the comparison of Cossacks to Minden dragoons.

Connoisseur on the left, Minden on the right.

This instantly gives me another 14 Cossacks to add to my army without having to paint them.

Dragoon Update
Last week I finished painting a 12-figure squadron of Russian dragoons. Since the uniforms of all dragoon regiments were the say, this unit could be any regiment in the Russian cavalry establishment. I plan on painting 12 more dragoons this coming week, to bring the regiment up to 24 riders.

A completed squadron of Russian dragoons, using Hanoverian Horse cavalry figures.

Russian Cavalry Organization in my Army

Might current thought is to have 24 figure units, one each, of horse grenadiers, dragoons, cuirassiers, and hussars, plus 30 to 40 Cossacks.

As of today, the horse grenadiers are completed, the dragoons and Cossacks are half-way done, and the cuirassiers and hussars are yet to be started.

I plan on painting the Horvath Hussars, who fought at Zorndorf, using the Austrian hussar figures. The Russian cuirassiers will be recruited from the Minden Austrian cuirassiers.

One of the nice things about 18th Century armies is that the uniforms are all very similar, in some fashion, so it is easy to "convert with paint" if you can not find the exact figures that you are looking for.

Monday, October 23, 2017

Russian Kargopol Horse Grenadiers

My SYW Russian Army, so far, at least.

My SYW Russian army project is back at the top of the painting queue again. I completed a second squadron of 12 horse grenadiers last week, which brings the regiment up to my standard two squadrons of 12 riders per regiment, or 24 figures in total.

Kargopol Horse Grenadiers

Russian Cavalry
You are probably asking yourself, "I didn't know that Minden Miniatures made Russian cavalry?" And you would be correct, we do not make them. However, the Minden Hanoverian Horse regiment figures look very similar in that they have no lapels on their coats. Their coats are unbuttoned, versus closed for the horse grenadiers and dragoons, but who is to really say that the Russian cavalry would not unbutton their coats on occaision?

The other noticeable difference is that the Russian cavalry did not have lace on their shabraques, so it is a simple matter of not painting any lace on the shabraques. You could also use some green stuff epoxy putty to fill in the pistol housing and shabraque to give everything a smoother appearance. I have converted some of these figures with putty as samples, but I am waiting for the masters to return from Griffin Moulds.

Minden Hanoverian command with head swaps and RSM horse grenadiers
mounted on Minden medium horses.
I used RSM Russian horse grenadiers for the rank and file reiters and placed them on Minden medium sized horses. This helps to create the illusion of consistency with my other Minden cavalry regiments in my Prussian and Austrian armies.

Russian cavalry horses were smaller than those of Prussia and Austria, which would put them at a distinct disadvantage on the battlefield. I did a head swap of RSM foot grenadier heads attached to the Minden Hanoverian Horse command figures.

Kargopol regimental flag - from Kronoskaf

The flags are down loaded from the Kronoskaf web site and adjusted to size in Word. The horse grenadier flags in Kronoskaf only have one side, so a little bit of copy, paste, moving and reducing of size is needed. You end up with the flag fringe in the middle of the flag, in the staff position, and no fringe on one of the ends of your flags, but the cavalry flags should be so small as to not be noticeable. At least that is so with me. I think that GMB Designs makes the correct flags, so buying your flags from them eliminates the need to improvise.

General Organizational Information for the Russian Cavalry
According to Kronoskaf, while the organization of Russian cavalry, in general, had 5 squadrons, only 2 or 3 actually fought on campaign, the other squadrons (primarily the 4th squadron) remaining at their bases in Russia. The 5th squadron was often not even raised and existed in name only.

Not every regiment actually fought in the SYW. The only dragoon regiments in the fight were the Tver, Tobolsk, Nizegorod and Arkhangel regiments. The horse grenadier regiments that fought in the SYW were Kargopol, Narva, St. Petersburg, Rizhsky and Ryazan.

There were five cuirassier regiments fighting in the SYW, but only 2 of the 5 were issued cuirasses (oh goody!) until late in the war. These regiments were largely converted from dragoon regiments prior to the SYW and thus had not received their official cuirassier gear. They even retained their old dragoon coats. The other two regiments, Prince Fedorovich and the "3rd" regiment, were dressed as cuirassiers with chamois colored coats and breeches and a black cuirasse front plate. We will probably use Prussian or Austrian cuirassiers for the Russians in my army.

Usually all three types of heavy cavalry only wore their summer uniforms on campaign, This consisted of a buff colored waistcoat with long sleeves. The dragoon and horse grenadier blue coats were saved for parade and cold weather use. One would think that they would break out the coats around October when the weather turned colder.

Russian horse grenadier uniform - formal and winter dress. - Kronoskaf

Russian horse grenadier summer uniforms - Kronoskaf

One nice thing about the Russian cavalry, at least from a painter's point of view, is that the uniforms and shabraques are, well, "uniform" or the same for each regiment.

In the Painting Queue
I have primed another 12 Russian Dragoons and plan on painting them this week. Since the dragoon regiments are smaller, I think that I will only paint one squadron of 12 figures for my dragoon regiment (I suppose that horse grenadier regiments should also be 12 figures). I use the term "squadron" rather loosely in my SYW army organizations. I simply divide my 24 figure regiments into two groups of 12 figures. At a 20:1 figure to man scale, this translates into 480 riders per regiment, which represents a campaign strength. I could go with 36 figures in three 12-figure squadrons, but then I start to have problems with spacing on my game table, so I keep cavalry regiments at 24 figures.

After painting 24 Russian dragoons I will turn to the Cossaks. Again I will use RSM Cossaks mounted on Minden light cavalry horses.