Sunday, February 28, 2010

Minden Prussian Dragoons

Please click on the pictures to enlarge the view. Minden Prussian dragoons. Keep in mind that when you enlarge the view, the figures are about 2 to 3 times their actual size, so this distorts the details and features, particularly the eyes, which in actual size, are meer pin pricks of white and black paint.

The first of the Bayreuth Dragoons
Here are a couple of pictures of the first six Minden Prussian dragoons that I painted yesterday and this morning. They are DR5 Bayreuth Dragoons. This will eventually be a 30 figure unit in "Phase I" of their assembly. In my 1:20 organization, five squadrons would be equal to about 30 figures. However, the Bayreuth Dragoons were a ten squadron regiment, so somewhere down the road, I might have to paint all ten squadrons, for a total of sixty figures. I have decided to mount the riders two per stand (2 inches square) rather than three per stand.

Olympic Hockey Gold Medal Game
More later-- must watch the US vs Canada hockey game right now. Even Mrs. Fritz is watching the game, so you know that it must be The Event of the Year.

Oh my goodness, the USA hockey team tied the game at 2-2 with 0:24 seconds left in the game. We are going to sudden death overtime. Regardless of who wins the match, this is an exciting Olympic hockey game.

Congratulations to Canada for a fine win in overtime. It was an exciting and very memorable game. Well played! I was rooting for Team America, obviously, but in a way, I sort of wanted Canada to win since hockey is their sport and a near religious experience for Canadians. I think that a loss would have really depressed the whole country. Not so in the US. Our team played well and did their best and we are proud of them. I am sad to see the Winter Olympics come to an end. Mrs. Fritz, Lady Emma and I enjoyed our evenings watching the games.

I guess that I now have more time for painting Minden Miniatures in the evenings.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

The Bayreuth Dragoons Are Coming

Last night I cleaned and primed a dozen Minden Prussian dragoons so that I could start painting them over the weekend. I have decided to paint them as the DR5 Bayreuth Dragoon Regiment, which is probably one of the most famous Prussian cavalry regiments, due to their celebrated charge at Hohenfriedberg in 1745. At that battle, they swept away the whole center of the Austrian infantry battle line and put the exclamation point on a resounding Prussian victory.

I can only hope that my own version of the Bayreuth Dragoons will perform as well.

While I was waiting for coats of black primer to dry (I spray all four sides of the figure, then when it dries, I tip the cavalry figure over onto its side to spritz the bottom, then after that dries, I reverse the figure and spray the other side of the belly of the beast), I needed something to do between applying coats of primer. It takes about 15 to 20 minutes for the primer to reach the first stage of dryness.

So I began to eyeball the 60 Minden Austrians that have been sitting on my work table for over a year. You've probably seen them, mounted on pennies to increase their height relative to my Potsdam Miniatures and the Staddens - adds a couple of millimeters to the height. Well, since I don't need to increase the height of the Austrians for use in my Minden Project (afterall, all the figures will be Mindens), I felt that I couldn't use this batch of figures... unless.... I could somehow pry them off of the pennies.

So I picked up an Austrian infantryman and gave it a little tap on the table. Low and behold, the penny fell off. Eureka! If one penny could be removed in so easy a manner, then why not all of them. That would give me two 30 figure battalions of Austrians to jump start my Austrian army (albeit, they need to be painted) and save me a little bit of money that I could reinvest into more Minden Austrians. So while the primer was drying out in the garage, I was prying figures off of pennies, and by the end of the evening, I had all of the Austrians removed from their penny bases. So now they will go into my Minden Project as well.

They won't get painted anytime soon, however, because I want to paint the Prussian dragoons first, and then finish off the second battalion of IR5 Alt Braunschweig. That should be enough work to keep me busy for the whole month of March. In April, I have to paint 24 British Dragoon Guards (Elite Miniatures) to use in our Fontenoy game at Little Wars on April 24-25, 2010. So the Austrian Mindens may not see paint until May, but now I have the figures and I can put them into the painting que.
Update (Saturday afternoon)

I have finished the first sample figure this afternoon and it really looks sweet! I always paint one figure complete, from start to finish, whenever I tackle a new unit or new figures. This gives me 3-D template or uniform guide to use for the rest of the regiment. It also allows me to experiment with the paint and find the right color combinations and to figure out the most efficient order for painting the various parts and bits of equipment on the figure. When I am done with the sample, I get an index card and write down the paint formulas that are used on each piece of equipment: coat, breeches, facings, shabraque, gloves, etc. This way, I won't forget which paints I used a week or two down the road.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Wedell Grenadiers & Dragoon Castings

Wedell Grenadier Battalion (1/23) - Minden Miniatures

Click the Pix to enlarge your view

I completed the basing of the Wedell Grenadier Battalion (1/23) this evening and thought that I would post a couple of quick pictures for Show & Tell before going to bed for the evening. You can see the rest of the brigade, so far, in the background.

I have a battalion of 24 to 30 Prussian jagers that are primed and ready to paint next. I might just paint a few of them and then switch over to the first of the Minden Prussian dragoons that I just received the other day. They are real beauties, as you can see in the picture below. I plan to prime a few of them tomorrow evening and then paint one each of the officer, drummer, ensign and trooper so that everyone can see how they look after they are painted.

Overhead view of my Minden Prussian brigade so far.

So far, I have one battalion of IR5, two battalions of IR1 and one grenadier battalion. Also completed, but not shown, are a dozen Prussian artillery crew and some Berlin Zinnfiguren 12 pound cannon.

30 figure Minden Prussian Dragoon regiment plus extra officer

And above, here is a Full Stokes Shot of the Bayreuth Dragoons (DR5) after they have been cleaned up (filing the bottom of the horse base and taking a swipe of a rat tail file underneath the rider so that I have a cleaner "metal on metal" bond when I apply the super glue to the castings. Minden Miniatures castings don't need much in the way of pre-primer preparation, as the castings are so incredibly clean. Mostly, I swipe the base of the horse with a file so that some bare metal is exposed so that the glue will make a better bond when I eventually glue it to the base. Rarely, if ever, do I find any flash on Minden figures. That's nice.

By the way, a Full Stokes Shot is a picture of all of your miniatures lined up in their unpainted state getting ready for the priming booth and eventual painting. Stokes Schwartz made such pictures famous on his Grand Duchy of Stollen blog. I don't usually post unpainted pictures on my blog, but I thought that they would convey how good they look. I can't wait to actually paint them.

You can also see 60 Minden Austrian infantry in the background of the last picture, above. I was going to use these in my BAR Austrian army, but that's the equivalent of two Austrian battalions in the 1:20 Minden Project that I could use, if only I can pry the figures off of the pennies. I may try freezing the figures in the freezer for a couple of hours and see if that loosens the bond. It's worked before, so I will give it a try again.


Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Wedell Grenadiers Are Finished

I was finally able to find some spare time to finish the Wedell Grenadier Battalion (1/23) for my Minden Project. I've been watching the Olympic Games with Mrs. Fritz and that put a dent in my painting time. So I completed the 15 figures from the IR23 Forcade half of the battalion to go along with the 15 grenadiers from the IR1 Winterfeldt half.

I then glued the figures to their bases and applied the spackel compound with a trowel. Then I dipped the stand into a pot of fine gravel (Gale Force Nine brand) and will let the stands dry overnight. Tomorrow I will apply dark brown ink, dry brush some tan paint, and finish off the stands with some patches of static grass. Pictures will be posted two days hence after the static grass step is completed.

I now have four battalions of 30 figures (3 musketeers and 1 grenadier, plus two mounted colonels and 12 artillery crew) or enough for one brigade of Prussians.

Yesterday, a packet of Minden Prussian dragoons arrived from the UK and I was impressed with the work of sculptor Richard Ansell on the dragoons. In fact, these might be some of his best work yet! The detail work is outstanding, but it doesn't overwhelm the figure to the point where you feel that you have too many bits to paint. They are perfect, in my humble opinion. I haven't had a chance to set them up and take pictures. I hope to prime a half dozen or a dozen over the next couple of days and paint one each of the officer, ensign, drummer and trooper so that I have painted samples to work from. The dragoons will be painted as DR5 Bayreuth Dragoons.

Good fortune abounds, for this evening, a second packet of Minden figures arrived from the UK. I have to say that Frank Hammond's service is first rate. And so is his penmenship, what with my name and address neatly handwritten on the package. The 60 or so musketeer figures will eventually become the IR13 Itzenplitz regiment. My basic plan is to have at least four regiments of musketeers, each in a distinct uniform: IR1 has white small clothes and red facings; IR5 has straw colored small clothes and straw facings; IR13 has white small clothes and white facings. So all that I really need is a regiment with straw small clothes and red facings. It might be IR12 Alt Darmstadt or IR34 Prinz Ferdinand that meet this criteria. This way I can look at a regiment and know at a glance which regiment it represents.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Mollwitz Pictures

A close up photo of the Prussian army square formation that was used at Mollwitz. Stadden AWI artillery crew, Elite Miniatures French SYW 12-pounder, and RSM limber team are seen in the foreground.

Click all pix to enlarge the view

Our refight of the battle of Mollwitz, which was fought on April 10, 1741, represents Frederick the Great's first battle. The battle was fought on a flat and snowy field not very far from the Silesian capital at Breslau. Marshal Neipperg's Austrian army had cut off the Prussian line of communication back to Breslau, so Frederick was obliged to fight a battle. Although the Prussian advance to battle initially caught the Austrians by surprise, it took the Prussians nearly 90 minutes to uncoil their columns into a battle line. Their relative inexperience resulted in their trying to cram too many troops into a tight space. As a result, several battalions had no place to deploy, so they formed up on the right flank, between the first and second battle line, and perpendicular to the two Prussian lines. In effect, they closed the sides of a great rectangular formation of all the infantry, that proved to be very fortuitous as events unfolded.

Another wider view of the initial Prussian deployment. Here you can see the infantry formed into two lines of 4 battalions each. We split up the nineth battalion by placing two stands (grand divisions) at the end of each battle line, in between the two lines. The Prussian light cavalry was placed on the left flank (nearest to the bottom of the photo) while the Prussian heavy cavalry were placed on the right flank. You can also see some of the Austrian cavalry deployed on the middle table. The Austrian infantry were placed on the back table to the left of this picture.

Austrian infantry is deployed on the back table, in front of the village of Mollwitz. Bill Protz sits and contemplates unleashing his cavalry on his Prussian foes. The Austrians had 6 musketeer battalions in the two forward lines and a reserve of one grenadier battalion in the third line.

Historically, the Prussians were still deploying their heavy cavalry on their right flank, when the Austrian cavalry commander, von Romer, noticed that the Prussians were offering their flank to him, so he ordered a cavalry charge and hit the Prussian cavalry in the flank. Most of the Prussian cavalry in this sector was chased off the field.

Austrian cuirassiers (left) get the better of the Prussian cuirassiers (right) on the Prussian right flank at Mollwitz.
The main cavalry action on the Prussian right flank worked out the way that I had hoped it would. I rated all of the Austrian cavalry as "Elite" to give them an edge in the melee, while the Prussians were rated as "Trained" for their cuirassiers and "Poor" for their dragoons. What really made the difference though, was the Austrian superiority in numbers: 12 sqds of cuirassiers and 8 sqds of dragoons for a total of 240 figures (12 figures per squadron). The Prussians had 7 sqds of cuirassiers and 5 sqds of dragoons, or 144 figures in total. Historically, the Austrians had a 2:1 advantage in cavalry (8,000 battle cavalry vs 4,000 for the Prussians).

All in all, I think that the scenario worked in this sector. I did make one change. I had given the Prussians an extra grenadier battalion to deploy in this sector. During the game, I removed the grenadier battalion because it was stopping the Austrian breakthrough. Without the grenadier battalion in this sector, the Austrians would now be free to roam around behind the Prussian infantry lines and try to cause some trouble.

Light cavalry melee on the Prussian left flank. Some 3-pound regimental guns and a half battalion of Minden Prussians close off the flank, in case the Austrian light cavalry breaks through.

Suren Uhlans de Saxe and Stadden Black Hussars come to grips in the light cavalry action. I posted this picture for Stokes so that he can see what the Suren figures look like. They could easily fit on smaller RSM horses, for those using smaller figures.

Some Crusader Esterhazy hussars (light blue) join in on the monkey pile atop the a squadron of Black hussars.

For our SYWA convention game, we will eliminate the cavalry fight on the Prussian left because we will only have 16 feet of table length, compared to the 24 feet that we have at Bill Protz's house. Historically, these forces did not engage in serious fighting since they were deployed on the far side of the marshy Kleiner-Bach stream.

The Prussians advance in the center and blow away two Austrian battalions with their first fire card advantage.

The Prussian right-hand brigade also advances towards Mollwitz. Here you can see the half-battalion of Minden Prussians closing off the army rectangle. Those are Suren Prussians in the front line.

King Frederick II directs the battle from the middle part of the army rectangle.

The Prussians make their final advance to push the Austrians out of Mollwitz. They have opened up their rectangle by advancing the half battalion of Mindens (white flag with blue rays) to add more firepower to their front line. The Austrian cavalry to their right are engaged in melee with the Prussian cavalry, so it seemed safe to open up the lines for awhile. A battalion of my own Potsdam 30mm figures form the second line.

We stopped the game around 2PM in the afternoon. At this point, the Austrian heavy cavalry had routed all of the Prussian cavalry off the table. I arbitrarily removed the one Prussian grenadier battalion in this area as this is a tweak needed to improve the scenario for the convention game. If the Austrians are going to be outnumbered in infantry, then they need to have a distinct advantage with their cavalry.

In the center, it looked like the Prussians would eventually punch their way through to Mollwitz. Two of the seven Austrian battalions were routing and only one Prussian battalion was getting close to 50% strength. For the convention game, I plan to reduce the Austrian infantry from 7 battalions to 6 battalions in order to fit the allotted table space. With 16 feet of length, roughly half of the table will be allocated to the central infantry firefight, while the right most 7-8 feet will be reserved for the huge cavalry fight.

On the Prussian left, the Austrian light cavalry seemed to have the edge on the Prussian hussars, but the Prussians had enough infantry in this sector to neutralize the Austrian hussars. Again, we will delete this part of the battlefield in our convention game due to space limitations and the fact that historically, it was not an essential element of the battle.

A battalion of Stadden Prussian Guard Grenadiers turn to face the Austrian light cavalry, just in case they defeat the Black Hussars and try to exploit their victory. One battalion of such infantry can usually hold off equal numbers of cavalry in our BAR rules.


Saturday, February 20, 2010

Mollwitz Game Today

A pre-battle view showing the set up of the Prussian army (right) as it advances towards the Austrians in front of the village of Mollwitz. Note "army square" deployment with half battalions on each end, closing the rectangle.

It is 12:30 AM and I am getting ready to hit the hay and get some sleep before traveling north to Brown Deer, Wisconsin where we will play test a refight of the Battle of Mollwitz. We will use the Batailles de l'Ancien Regime rules, or "BAR" for short.

Prussian Order of Battle
8 x Prussian Musketeer btns - Veteran
1 x Prussian Guard btns - Veteran Guards

3 x 12 pound foot artillery (18 crew) - Trained
3 x 3 pound battalion guns (12 crew) - Trained

2 x Cuirassier Regiments - Trained (8 sqds)
1 x Dragoon Regiment - Poor (5 sqds)
1 x Hussar Regiment - Poor (5 sqds)

Totals:9 btns of infantry; 18 cavalry squadrons; 6 artillery pieces

The Army Commander is Field Marshall von Schwerin (Veteran)
2 infantry brigadier generals - rated Veteran
2 cavalry brigadier generals - rated Trained
Optional: King Frederick - roll dice to determine rating (1-3 = Poor) (4-6 = Trained)

Austrian Order of Battle

2 x Musketeer battalions - Poor
4 x Musketeer battalions - Trained
1 x Grenadier battalin - Trained

3 x 6 pound foot artillery (12 crew)
2 x 3 pound battalion guns (8 crew)

3 x Cuirassier Regiments - Elite (12 sqds)
2 x Dragoon Regiments - Elite (9 sqds)
2 x Hussar Regiments - Veteran (5 sqds)

Totals: 7 btns infantry; 26 cavalry squadrons; 5 artillery pieces

Austrian Army Commander is Marshal von Neipperg - rated Veteran
2 infantry brigadiers rated Trained
2 cavalry brigadiers rated Elite

As you can see from the table above, the Austrian army is outnumbered with respect to infantry, which is generally of average to poor quality. Its Elite cavalry outnumbers the Prussian cavalry.

The Prussians have more infantry, all rated as Veterans, but their outmanned cavalry are all of lower quality.

Hopefully, the battle will follow the pattern of the historical battle with the superior Austrian cavalry running the Prussian cavalry off of the field, while the superior Prussian infantry has its way with the Austrian infantry, unless the Austrian cavalry can intervene. It should be an interesting battle. I will post pictures on Sunday after the battle.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Wedel Grenadiers

I started work on the Wedel Grenadier battalion over the weekend, using Minden Prussian grenadiers. The battalion consists of two companies from IR1 von Winterfeldt and two companies from IR23 Forcade. The battalion was considered to be one of the best in the whole army and in fact, it was trained by Winterfeldt himself, whilst he was still a colonel in the army during the 1740s.

I completed the two stands for the IR1 half of the battalion and will start on the IR23 sections this evening. I have a little bit of a conundrum to solve though, and that is, my current arrangement calls for each regiment to have two stands of six grenadiers, or a total of four stands with six figures, for a total of 24 figures. However, I want to have 30 figure battalions. So I either must paint three extra figures from each regiment and have one stand of mixed grenadiers (which is sort of OK) or maybe have one regiment contribute three stands (6 by 3 stands = 18 figures) and the other regiment contributes two stands (6 by 2 = 12 figures).

Another idea is to have 32 figure grenadier battalions with 8 figures on four stands. The only problem is that I would have to make my own bases for the 8 figure configuration, as my 60mm by 40mm stands only hold six figures. And I'm too lazy to take some 40mm by 80mm or 120mm stands and cut them down to the proper length. I don't think that I want to go with 32 figure grenadier battalions and 30 figure musketeer battalions. What to do?

Sunday, February 14, 2010

IR5 Alt Braunschweig - Minden Miniatures

IR5 Alt Braunschweig Regiment - Minden Miniatures.

I completed the first of two battalions for IR5 Alt Braunschweig yesterday and you can take a closer look at the results by clicking on the pictures. The flags are from GMB Designs, and because this battalion has both the liebfahnen (white) and the regimentfahnen (colored), that indicates that this is the first battalion of the regiment in my growing Minden army. The second battalion will have two of the colored (yellow with red flames) regimentfahnen.

The inhaber of the regiment was Prince Ferdinand of Brunswick, although the regiment was actually under the command of Colonel Johan Christoph von Prignitz, who perished at the battle of Rossbach in 1757. I have not been able to find any information regarding the identity of the colonel who would have replaced von Prignitz after Rossbach. A major von Lestwitz is mentioned at the battle of Torgau in 1760.

The regiment was garrisoned at Magdeburg during peace time and it recruited from the cities and towns of Magdeburg, Calbe, Stassfurt, Aken, Egeln, Gortzke and Loburg, among others. Frederick held the regiment in high regard, noting that it was one of his "good" regiments, and as such, IR5 usually accompanied the King as part of his royal army. The grenadier companies were combined with those from IR20 and were commanded by Major Christoph von Billerbeck ("Jung Billerbeck").

As part of the King's Army, the regiment fought in most of the major battles in the Seven Years War including Lobositz, Rossbach, Leuthen, Hochirch, Kunersdorf, Liegnitz and Torgau.

The regiment wears straw colored breeches, waistcoat and facings (lapels and cuffs), but retains the red coat lining, so that the turnbacks are red. I chose IR5 as the subject for my second Minden regiment because it has the straw small clothes, as opposed to the white small clothes in my IR1 regiment. Thus, I will be able to tell the two regiments apart from one another simply at a glance, based on the lapels, and also by the rather colorful flags that the regiment carries.

Next on my list of Minden figures to paint is a grenadier battalion, which will be painted as the Wedell (1/23) Grenadier Battalion, comprised of the grenadier companies from IR1 Winterfeldt and IR23 Forcade. This was probably one of the best grenadier battalions in the Prussian army. So half of the figures will be painted as IR1 grenadiers and the other half will be painted as IR23 grenadiers. I also have a battalion of Prussian jagers primed and ready to paint, but I may switch back to musketeers and finish the second battalion of IR5 before I start on the jagers.

Lady Emma Cuddleston-Smythe enjoying her Valentines Day Brunch.

Since today was Valentines Day, I took Mrs. Fritz and Lady Emma Cuddleston-Smythe out to brunch. You can see from the above picture that Lady Emma was enjoying the day. Mrs. Fritz declined to allow the royal photographer to take her picture. Who am I to argue. Tomorrow, it is Presidents' Day in the US, which means another day off for me. We plan to go see the movie Avatar and I am rather looking forward to it, what with all of the buzz about the special effects.

Next Saturday, I will journey up north to Brown Deer, Wisconsin at Chez Chevert, where we will refight the Battle of Mollwitz. I am looking forward to seeing how that battle turns out for Frederick and his Prussians. Good infantry and very bad cavalry for the Prussians, and the reverse for the Austrians.