Monday, April 26, 2010

Broken Wheel Vignette

General von Winterfeldt supervises the replacement of a wheel on an RSM 12-pounder. Minden Miniatures "labourers" provide the muscle power. Click all pix to enlarge the view.

Minden labourers change a broken artillery wheel on a 12 pounder (RSM gun).

I finished off another Minden/RSM artillery vignette yesterday, as I continue to be inspired to find new ways to utilize the labourer figures in their waistcoats. The idea came from the Osprey book "Artillery Equipment of the Napoleonic Wars" which depicts a similar scene in that era. I simply cut a couple lengths of brass rod (North Star metal spears) and glued them into the hands of two figures to provide me with a couple of men using levers to hold up the gun carriage while the broken wheel is being removed.

Two other labourers are shown rolling the new wheel, probably taken from a nearby limber, into position so that it can be fitted onto the axle. A Prussian jager officer has been painted as a Prussian artillery officer (with his sword arm bent lower) to offer some supervision to the effort. And finally, I used one of the Minden wagon drivers as a spare crewman sitting on an ammo box watching the wheel replacement.

Reverse side view showing the two men rolling up the new wheel to place it on the axle. Two other crewmen use their levers to hold up the gun carriage while the spare is put on the axle.

I've now added an RSM limber team to line up with the repaired gun. This gives you an idea of how well everything fits together. Eventually, I will paint new limbers for the RSM project and make the stands with all the same widths.

It all looks rather splendid when the vignette is placed "in situ" on the wargame table (see picture above). I plan to paint a new limber team on a similar base to complete the vignette. This particular limber is used in my BAR (Batailles de l'Ancien Regime) Prussian army. My Minden armies will have their own limber teams.

Update - Tuesday Morning - Preview
Now that I am getting more adept at using my pin vise, wires and putty, I think that my next generation of limber teams will have horses with small pins drilled into the harness (on the side of the horse's body) so that I can actually string some wire (depicting reins) connecting the limber trail to the horse harness.

This morning I have added a picture of the Prussian artillery park to give you a taster of what is to come from the workbench of Atelier Fritz. I've got a lot more ideas percolating inside my head and I can't wait to bring them to life.

Here is a picture of my growing artillery park for the Minden Prussian army. I like the way that the basing on the stands really brings everything together. You really begin to get a sense of the movement and activity in the battery once you put all of the pieces together.

The inspiration for this comes from Barry Hilton's League of Augsburg site featuring his French Napoleonic artillery park. The two RSM guns are on the right, and two Berlin Zinnfiguren 12 pounders are on the left (unfinished bases). RSM limbers are behind the guns as well as a scratch built supply wagon that Ed Philips made from bass wood, Old Glory artillery wheels and assorted bits and pieces.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Marshal Schwerin

Marshal Schwerin and his dog Otto. (click pix to enlarge).

I finished painting my conversion of the RSM Prussian general on Friday and got the basing completed yesterday. As you may recall from my report of the other day, I had lopped off the right arm of the figure and manufactured a new arm with green stuff and a wire armature. I wanted to turn the stand into a little vignette, so I added one of the dogs from the Eureka set of Frederick the Great playing his flute. The hound seemed to be about the right size in proportion to the RSM figure. I glued the dog onto a rock, and then filled in the base with epoxy putty, then painted both the dog and the rock. It seems a bit like hauling coals to Newcastle to paint a rock, but it was necessary to hide the putty and blend the dog's base in with the rock.

Comparative picture of the RSM Prussian general as if (left) and with the conversion (centre) as well as the dragoon vignette (RSM horses and Minden Prussians)

Pictured above, you can compare the original RSM Prussian general to the converted model and see the difference. The foot figures are all from the Minden range of Prussians, so you can see how compatible the two ranges are.

Little Wars Convention

I spent the past couple of days at the Little Wars Convention in Lincolnshire, a suburb of Chicago. On Friday night, I was part of the War College panel of wargamers discussing how to put a good convention scenario together. We had a good informal conversion with about a dozen interested bystanders and I may put together a separate post at a future date and go through the main elements of convention wargame scenarios.

I did a fair amount of shopping too and came home with some nice goodies. I found a vendor who was carrying the complete range of Ral Partha/IWM paints and scooped up about three bottles each of black (they make the best black paint in the world, bar none), white, red, dark blue, brown and dun. Rich Smethurst, who used to own Ral Partha, is now carrying the old line of paints again, which is terrific news. The Partha paints always had a little bit more plastic or acrylic like substance in them which made the finishes more durable and they seemed to provide better coverage than any other paint that I have used. I don't have my notes with me right now, but I will post an address for contacting Rich if you are interested in these excellent paints.

I found a miniatures company called Tiger Miniatures that makes 19th Century Colonial figures in a sort of Perry style. I picked up a couple dozen German Seebattalion figures to represent Hesse Seewald in the 19th Century, in our upcoming Mafrica Campaign. I also bought some US Marines to augment my force of Redoubt Marines as well as what turned out to be Canadian Mounties, which I will use as mounted command for my Marines. I talked Bill Protz into buying some of the Bulgarians, who were kitted out like Russians. Now Bill can have a Russian adversary serving as military advisor to the Khan in Tranjipour. Bill also bought a small escort of mounted and foot Bulgarians, again these looked like Russians.

On Saturday, Bill, Randy and I ran a BAR version of Fontenoy, in 1745. Once again, the French defeated the British army.This time, however, the French trounced the British very badly. In fact both wings of the French army were enveloping the British center by the end of the game. It was a good game, but a very one sided victory for the French. I will post more pictures later in the week.

Bill Protz oversees the defense of the town of Fontenoy. The buildings were all made by Herb Gundt, hedges by K&M and I have no idea who makes the gabions.

Monday, April 19, 2010

RSM Conversion

No, the only RSM figures in this picture are the limber/limber horse/rider and the heavy gun model. However, the pictures that I took are not good enough to show in the headline, so I put this one in instead. A good picture is worth a second look. See the RSM pictures below.

Last night before going to bed (around 1 AM), I got a bee in my bonnet to start working on a conversion of the RSM Prussian general to command my Minden Prussian army. I assume that eventually Frank is going to have some generals and maybe even (hope of hopes) his Royal Nibs Himself. But I digress. Since I can hardly wait for the Minden generals to eventually arrive, I thought that I would try a conversion by cutting off the right arm of the general, replacing it with a raised arm, and building up the new arm with epoxy putty. My feeble efforts are shown below.

The conversion is on the left and the original figure is shown on the right for comparison. Not too shabby, if I do say so myself.

I used an Exacto fine saw to amputate the figure's right army. I then filed the stub flat and drilled a hole in the shoulder socket to insert a piece of wire. The wire was trimmed to about 12mm, the same length as the original RSM arm. This became the armature around which I would add the green stuff. Once the glue was dry, it was a simple matter of rolling out a small sausage lump of putty and kneading it around the armature. Then I shaved off the extra bits and formed the arm, adding a little built up putty at the wrist to depict the gaunlet glove. Finally, I had to nudge and work the putty to try and form a hand, which was not easy. I had plenty of extra putty, so I rolled out some spaghetti strands and wrapped them around the waist to make the officer's sash. Another little loop became the cravatte on the tail of the horse. Relatively simple stuff, I guess.

Rear view showing more of the arm, plus a waist sash worn outside the coat, as Frederick did, an enhanced pigtail so that it is more noticeable, and a cravatte on the horse's tail.

A side view of the before and after figures.

I think that the arm will be OK, but I was having trouble shaping the gauntlet glove, which you really can't tell from these pictures. Hopefully, once the figure is painted, the paint will hide the worst traits and bring out the best. I was going to make this a Frederick figure, but after finishing I realized that Frederick is often shown with his lapels closed, whereas I retained the orginal lapels on the figure. This did not give me any space in which to add a Pour le Merite (see, he's not the only one missing one, if you catch my drift) on his chest. So I think that this will become Marshal Schwerin and I will add an ensign on foot carrying the regimental colour of IR24 Schwerin and put him on the base with the Marshal. For some reason, I have about six extra IR24 flags from GMB, so I might as well put one of them to good use on the command stand.

I will prime the figure tonight and hopefully start painting him tomorrow. We shall see how he turns out. I have no ambition to ever be a figure sculptor and even with my small little conversion, I can see how difficult it is to create the fine details that we take for granted on the figures that we all purchase. Kudos to every professional sculptor for a job well done.

Update on the Conversion
Tuesday evening I primed the general figure and started painting him. He is looking good so far. I wish that I had added a Pour le Merite sash across his shoulders, but at the time I was not thinking of him in terms of being a Marshal. I should have him finished tomorrow night, but the basing will have to wait until I can find another figure or two to add to the command stand vignette. Hmm, maybe a sign post on top of a cairn marker or something like that.

Joe versus the Volcano
It has occurred to me that the recent eruption of the volcano in Iceland, whose name I can't spell, much less even attempt to pronounce, is going to disrupt even more than air travel. If the airplanes are not flying, then neither are the packages that go back and forth between Britain and the United States. That means no Battlegames magazines or Minden Miniatures or books from Caliver or Ken Trotman. Oh my goodness, we are all doomed!

OK Fritz, take a deep breath and relax. Every figure company on the island of Britain is going to be at Salute next week and so they will be too busy to take and ship orders anyway. Plus, you are going to be running your Fontenoy game at Little Wars next saturday. And finally, you still have plenty of Mindens to paint before you even come close to running out of lead inventory to paint. Off the top of my head, I have one Prussian grenadier battalion and a cuirassier and dragoon regiment left to paint. I have two Austrian infantry battalions, one Croat battalion, and a regiment of cuirassiers and some artillery crews for the Austrian army. That's about four or five months of painting that I can do before I run out of Mindens to paint. I would imagine that the air will clear up in that time span and airmail delivery will continue once again.

Actually, I'm not really in a panic, I just wanted people to consider that there are other things impacted besides passenger airline travel all due to the volcano in Iceland.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Dragoon Bivouac Vignette

Two Bayreuth Dragoons (DR5) on piquet duty. Click the pictures to enlarge.

I bet that you did not know that Minden Miniatures makes dismounted Prussian dragoons for the Seven Years War, did you? I would bet that Frank does not know it either. Well, they don't make dismounted dragoons, but when I was looking at some of the Prussian jager figures, I found one pose in which the hands and rifle cover up the belly box for cartridges. Everything else looked like dragoon equipment to me, from cavalry boots to aigulettes on the shoulder. All it would take to convert the jager to a dragoon was to paint it light blue, instead of dark green.

My previous general vignette, plus a Minden casualty figure on round base, and the dragoon vignette are all tied together by a common basing and terraining system.

Following up on my idea of using the Minden wagon drovers as soldiers sitting around the campfire, I decided to take one of the drovers, wearing a tricorn, add an RSM banded musket, and voila! I had a seated dragoon as well. And after cutting off the reins for the general vignette, I was now an old hand at converting horses with reins to horses without reins, and thus I hit on the idea of depicting a dragoon horse tied to his grazing stake while his owner was taking a short rest from the war.

I had some extra saddles and shabraques from a Mirliton Miniatures of Italy Napoleon Russian cuirassier. Fortunately, both shabraques are squared off instead of having rounded edges. So this was a near perfect fit for a Prussian dragoon shabraque. I filed down the underside of the saddle with a rat tail file and fitted it on top of a wooden hitching post that I made from a wooden fondue stick (you can buy these at the grocery store). I also drilled small holes in the bottom of each post, where it would attach to the base, so that I could insert some metal pins to make the hitching posts more secure when I glued it to the base. The piquet stake that the horse is tied out to is simply a spare piece of metal rod (formerly a North Star spear) that I had in my spare bits box. The rope is made from two pieces of florists' wire that I twisted together to make it look like rope.

So now all of the elements came together: RSM standing horse, Minden jager painted as a dragoon, and a Minden drover painted as a dragoon. The accessories included an RSM banded musket for the seated dragoon, and a Mirliton saddle from their Napoleonic range of figures. For a final touch, I built a little fire with bits of twigs and surrounded the fire pit with some Gale Force Nine rough talus rocks.

I really liked the way that this vignette turned out. I can place the stand somewhere on the table for reconnaissance duty where it won't get in the way of the game. The hitching post for the saddle has given me some ideas on a larger cavalry vignette that I would like to try one day. I can envision a hitching post with about four saddled (made of paper and putty) or unsaddled horses. There might be a water trough or else some of the Minden pioneer figures could be moderately converted to be carrying buckets of water (bucket from the Minden artillery tools sprue), or shoveling hay or manure or maybe even combing out the horse with a brush.

A picture of the completed artillery crew vignette after application of the static grass.

I wanted to post a picture of the artillery dragmen "en bricole" showing how the model looks after the static grass and dark ink have been added to the base. The previous day's pictures only showed the base with uninked gravel. The final basing really shows off the model to good effect and demonstrates how elegant these Minden Miniatures really are. Nothing else on the market looks quite as good as a well painted Minden. I mean Holy Cow! Those guys look so real.

Bring out your dead! Perry AWI Hessian casualties on the top row and Minden casualties on the bottom row, shown for comparison.

I decided to go with the one inch round bases for my casualty figures. The round base gives me more room to enhance the base with extra tall grass (bits of sisal scrub brush), rocks, hats, drums or what have you. So save all of those bits and pieces that you clip off of other models and save them in your bits box. You never know when they will come in handy.

For my next conversion project, I plan on taking an RSM Prussian general and cutting off his right arm so that I can make a new arm that is pointing off into the horizon. Since his new arm will be pointing off at a forty-five degree angle, it was also necessary to twist the figure's head off to its right so that it is looking in the same direction that it is pointing. I sawed off the arm this evening and drilled out a new hole in the arm. Then I clipped off a piece of an old North Star spear to 12mm, bent the piece in the middle to show where the elbow will be, and then I glued the wire armature onto the body. Once the glue dries, I will attempt to build a new arm and hand with green epoxy putty. This is my first attempt at a major figure conversion such as this. Hopefully, the sculpting part will work out OK and then I can paint the figure and get it based. Wish me luck!

It is 1:00 AM on Monday morning and I finished my general conversion. The arm was relatively easy, but shaping and sculpting the hand was a problem for me. I finally got the glove hand to be "good enough" and called it quits. Since I had plenty of green stuff left over, I also made an officers sash around his waist outside the coat, added a bow to the horse's tail, and enhanced the general's pig tail a little bit. I will have to let the putty dry for a day or two before priming it and painting it. I'm looking forward to seeing how the figure looks when it is painted. Off to bed now!

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Artillery Vignette Completed

RSM limber team and artillery piece; Minden pioneers used as artillery crewmen prolonging the gun.

I completed the painting and the first stage of the terraining of my artillery vignette this evening (although it is now nearly 2 AM in Hesse Seewald so I will keep this post short). The crew consists of five of the Minden pioneers painted as Prussian artillery crew working in their shirt sleeves and waist coat. An Austrian officer, painted as a Prussian, provides some direction to the men. I will ink the bases and add the static grass this afternoon.

I cut a piece of wire and drilled holes through the trunions on the gun trail to serve as pole used for lifting the gun. The two fellows holding the pole required some minor conversion involving the moving of their hands and a slight twisting of their head. The two men with the drag ropes were unalterd. I used two strands of florists' wire twisted together to simulate rope.

A closer view of the two dragmen and their ropes.

The reverse view of the picture preceeding this one.

I had to draft a Minden Austrian officer into the Prussian army because I was running out of Prussian officer castings and I wanted to place one officer on the stand. The Austrian pose with the officer pointing was exactly what I was looking for. His cuffs are too big and I should have filed them down, but I was in a hurry to get my first gun model completed and photographed. The next time I will file the cuffs of use the Minden Prussian officer holding his sword in both hands.

I am off to bed to get some much needed sleep. This was a fun vignette to work on and was relatively easy to do. The main conversion was taking one of the pioneers and cutting his right arm away from his body so that I could position him better for holding the lift pole. He is the fellow on the left side of the gun as you are facing towards the barrel. I will certainly do a similar vignette for the Austrians at a later date.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Reviewing the Troops

Major General Hans von Winterfeldt reviews IR13 Itzenplitz regiment.

I finished the inking of the bases and the application of the static grass this evening on the Prussian general vignette and the regimental commander of IR13 von Itzenplitz. Click on the pictures to enlarge the view. I have decided that this will be Major General Hans von Winterfeldt and he will be one of my two infantry brigadiers in my small Minden Prussian army.

Winterfeldt as seen from the front angle.

This evening also saw me working on the artillery bricole vignette that I showed on my blog the other day. It took a fair amount of filing and bending of arms with pliers (covered in duct tape in order to protect the figures), but I was finally able to position two of the pioneers into a position where they look like they were designed to be lifting the trail of the gun with a wooden bar. A third pioneer is lifting at the end of the gun trail and two more are dragging the gun with ropes, that were made by twisting two strands of florists' wire together, to similate thick rope.

I am really jazzed to work on the artillery vignette over the weekend. I primed the figures this evening and I can start painting them tomorrow night. Hopefully I can complete them by Saturday and get the basing completed by Sunday evening (with piccies posted).

I keep looking at the fellow holding the general's reins and I see a drum major holding a large baton and leading a group of drummers down the road. I might add in some of the Eureka Saxon oboists to the group if they are similar in size, but not larger than, the Minden figures. My imagination is running wild on these vignettes. I will have to stop soon, for the second battalion of IR13 von Itzenplitz is primed and ready to paint. I would like to complete that battalion this month and then go crazy on some more vignettes that are percolating in my mind.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Command Stand Vignette

Prussian brigade commander (RSM) and his attendant (Minden) is holding the horse's reins. Minden Prussian colonels are shown in the background for comparative purposes. Click the pix to enlarge the view.

This evening I painted a new command stand in between innings of the Chicago White Sox vs Toronto Blue Jays baseball game. The general and horse is from the RSM95 range and the horse holder is from the Minden range. I think that the two ranges match up nicely.

I began by cutting and filing off the reins on the RSM standing horse and then drilling a hole completely through the horse's muzzle about where the reins would be positioned. I did not want to mess around with super glue and felt that wire run through a hole in the muzzle would give me the strongest bond of wire to horse. I used florist's wire for the reins. The Minden horseholder on foot completes the command vignette by holding the reins while the general surveys what is happening on the battlefield. The Minden figure has a dimple in his fist that guides the pin vise that one uses to drill out a hole in his hand. The wire was then glued into the hand of the horse holder. I glued both pieces to the round wood base prior to priming with black primer.

Another view of the command stand plus a Minden Prussian colonel shown for comparison.

And finally, a shot of just the command stand.

I applied the mixture of spackle compound and brown paint to the base, cut off a few pieces of sisal from a scrub brush to depict tall grass and then dipped the base into a jar of fine grit or railroad ballast. I will then allow the base to dry overnight (although it is very hard within 3 to 4 hours). Tomorrow night I will apply a coat of dark brown ink to the base, leaving a few spots bare so that the original light brown ballast can show through. Then a quick dry brushing of GeoHex Tan paint and the base will be ready for the final application of static grass.

I rather like the way this base turned out. Both figures were easy to paint and having the servant holding the general's reins looks pretty nifty, if I say so myself.

I hope to start on the "Bricole - artillery vignette" this weekend and maybe work on another base showing a dismounted dragoon with his horse tied to the wooden stake that dragoons and cuirassiers carried with them. I plan on using one of the Minden Prussian jagers as a dismounted Prussian dragoon. This is easy enough as the jagers wore cavalry boots and have aigulettes on the shoulder. I will simply convert the jager to a dragoon "with paint" and do no other conversions. There were several Prussian dragoon regiments that did not have lapels, so the foot jager will work just fine.

Decision finalized on the shape of the casualty stands
I decided to use the one-inch round MDF base for my casualty figures, unless the figure does not happen to fit onto that particular base. I want to thank everyone who left their comments on this choice on my blog. I liked the rationale that the round stand looks a little different from all of the other square and rectangular stands in the battalions and that the round shape instantly tells you that the figure is not part of a unit on the table. As a plus, there is enough room on the round stand to add little accoutrements here and there.

Artillery Vignette Experiment

Artillery matrosses dragging an RSM 6-pound cannon into position.

This evening I was looking at some of the Minden 18th century pioneers/work crew figures that I received about a month ago and was trying to think of some different ways of using the figures. Drawing on a book full of pictures of miniature soldiers, I found one of my favorite pictures: an American Revolution artillery crew man handling their field gun into position with muscle power and bricoles (drag ropes). You can see the actual pictures in the background, along with my attempt to recreate the scene with the Minden pioneers.

I should also mention that the limber team and driver looking over his shoulder (Imrie-Risley 54mm figure) was copied exactly by Steve Hezzlewood when he sculpted the same set for the RSM or Pax Britannica range of figures. So that part of the vignette is virtually handed to me on a silver plater via the RSM95 range of figures.

I placed a few of the pioneers around the cannon as if they were lifting the gun trail. The immediate problem is that none of the figures are really suitable for this purpose. For one thing, all of the figures are facing to the right and I would either need one figure facing to the left, or one figure that could stand perpendicular to the gun trail with his hands down at his side or slightly in front of him. If the figure were looking straight ahead, then we would only need one pose to complete this diorama. Some of the other figures are readily usable to depict the matrosses dragging the gun with ropes, or bricoles. Here it is a simple matter of cutting some florist's wire and running the wire threw the figures hands and attaching the other end of the wire to the wheel axle.

A couple of the other figures are passable if they are posed around the gun trail, but I would have to do some serious figure converting to move the arms and hands into the right position so that two figures could be carrying a bar between them, with the gun trail resting on the bar. I may give conversion a try and lop off some arms and rebuild them with green epoxy putty. It could be interesting. To finish the scene off, I added an Austrian infantry officer pointing and giving direction to the crew. This figure could be painted Prussian view to "convert with paint". The Prussian jager officer is another Minden candidate for the job.

Pioneers (left) and some slackers sitting around the camp (right).

Next, I looked at some of the wagon drivers that Frank had made and I envisioned them sitting around a camp fire or something similar. I plan to cut some logs from twigs found in the back yard and create a camp scene with the figures. As a temporary thing, I used some artillery chests from some French Napoleonic guns that I had laying around.

Finally, you can see some of the work crew with their tools, as they were intended to be used. I could also see them holding bakery tools to use in my field bakery vignette. One could also place artillery tools in the pioneers' hands and instantly you have an artillery crew working in their waistcoats, having shed their jackets. So there are many uses for these figures, beyond their employment as pioneers.

And last but not least, I found employment for some of the horse holders that Frank added to his range. I have one man holding the reins of an officer's horse that I will use as a command stand. I took the RSM Prussian officer and standing horse, trimmed off the reins, and drilled a small hole through the lower part of the horse's snout to accomodate the florist wire/reins that were being held by the servant. I primed this set this evening and the blackened figures don't show up very well, so you will have to wait until I apply some paint to the general and his servent tomorrow night. It should look pretty nifty.


Monday, April 12, 2010

IR13 Itzenplitz Regiment

IR13 Itzenplitz regiment - first battalion, with two Minden 3-pound artillery in support. The gun models are from RSM95. Flags are from GMB Designs.

I was going to post some of these pictures last night, but my camera battery died and needed to be recharged. This is the first battalion of the Itzenplitz Regiment, numbered IR13 in the Prussian establishment. This was a Brandenbourg regiment and Frederick the Great rated it as one of the best regiments in the army. During the Seven Years War, the regiment was usually a part of "the King's Army" and thus fought at Lobositz, Prague (it missed Kolin), Rossbach, Leuthen (where it distinguished itself as part of the spear-point of the attack as part of Wedell's advance guard), Hochirch , Kunersdorf, Liegnitz, Torgau and Burkersdorf.

Minden's new casualty figures are shown in front of IR13. Please leave a comment in the Comment section at the end of this entry and let me know which wooden stand looks best for the casualty figures: (1) large rectangle, (2) small circle, or (3) narrow rectangle. I am trying to decide which size stand to use with this collection. Each time a stand is removed from the game, due to casualties, I will place a casualty stand on the table.

Christopher Duffy states that it was a tightly run regiment, known as the "Donner und Blitzen" regiment under the regime of Major General August Friedrich von Itzenplitz, who was mortally wounded at Kunersdorf. In 1768 it was given the unique privilege of being rated immediately below the Garde and number one among the senior regiments of the army, regardless of the seniority of its chef.

Tsar Peter III was briefly made the regiment's honorary inhaber in 1762, until his demise in a palace coup orchestrated by his wife, the future Catherine the Great of Russia. The regiment's station was in Berlin. It wore a blue uniform with white facings (cuffs and lapels and collar). Duffy gives the regiment straw colored waistcoat and breeches, but Bleckwenn and Dorn & Englemann depict the regiment wearing white breeches and waistcoat. I have chosen to use all white in my version of the regiment. In my mind, Hans Bleckwenn trumps all other sources.

3-Pound Battalion Guns

3-pound battalion guns and crew

I plan to have one battalion gun with each regiment of two battalions in my Minden army. The artillery crew men are Minden Prussians and the 3-pounder is from RSM. RSM sells them as 3-pounders, but in fact they are really 20mm French Napoleonic 12-pounders. You can tell by the extra notch in the trail, which was used to reposition the gun tube when the cannon was travelling attached to the limber. The stand is the same size as my infantry battalions: 40mm wide by 60mm deep. The infantry stands are turned with the long 60mm edge facing front and thus having a 40mm depth when used for infantry. I also have a stand that is 40mm wide by 80mm deep that I will probably use for limber teams. There seems to be a certain consistency using the 40mm measurement that sort of ties everything together quite nicely.

Casualty Stands
One of the pictures above features three of the new Minden generic casualty figures on three different stands: rectangle- large, circle, or small and thin rectangle. I cannot set up a poll in this blog, so please kindly click on the comments box below and cast your vote or opinion as to which size stand you think looks best for the casualty figures. I will eventually terrain and grass these bases, but for now I wanted viewers to see the choices before I made a decision.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

IR13 Itzenplitz Regiment

My temporary painting table is still our dining room table, due to the flood. I just haven't moved things back to the basement yet. I've got my copy of Bleckwenn in front of me for uniform reference and 19 infantry figures on the table. This was taken last sunday. You can see the regimental artillery piece and crew on the righthand side of the picture.

When you are feeling blue and in a grand funk, there is nothing better to pull you out of it than to pick up a box of Minden Miniatures and start burning up your brushes. That is exactly what I did this week as I began work on the third regiment in my Minden Prussian army for the SYW. I have selected IR13 Itzenplitz as my next regiment.

Itzenplitz is adorned in white small clothes, white lapels, collar and cuffs and has red turnbacks. I have tried to select regiments that have some noticeable differences so that I can distinguish which unit is which on the table top. IR1 Winterfeldt has white small clothes and red facings and thus is a rather generic looking regiment in the army. IR5 Alt Braunschweig has distinctive straw colored small clothes and facings with red turnbacks. So I can readily identify the regiment by its straw colored facings and breeches. Itzenplitz is predominantly white, so it too is easy to pick out at a glance.

I have completed 18 of the 30 figures so far, for the first battalion of the regiment, and hope to have the remaining 12 figures done by the end of this weekend. Hopefully, I can get them based quickly and take some photographs for posting in the middle of next week.

Last weekend, I painted a few "quickies" consisting of four Prussian artillery crew and two 3-pounders which I will use as regimental artillery pieces for each of my regiments. I chose to use the same 60mm by 40mm MDF base for both the infantry stand and the regimental guns, only I turn the stand on its vertical axis so that it has a frontage of 40mm. Each gun will have two artillery crewmen. So I can churn battalion gun sets out fairly quickly. For the 3-pounders, I use the RSM 3-pounders, which in reality are their 20mm Napoleonic French 12 pounders which they also sell as 25mm 3 pounders. It sounds odd, but they actually work quite nicely.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

The Leuthen Wargame

A detailed model of the famous Leuthen Church as rendered by Herb Gundt.

{NOTE: Click the pictures to enlarge the view}

At this year's Seven Years War Association, I hosted two wargames whose common theme was that both were fought in the snow: Mollwitz in 1741 and Leuthen in 1757. Since these battles also happen to be Frederick the Great's most famous actions against the Austrians, I thought that it would be appropriate to run both games on my winter terrain set up. I want to thank that master modeler and wargame architect, Herb Gundt, for making the buildings, roads, frozen rivers, trees etc from the photos of the actual churchyard and town, and for taking my sketches for terrain features and small buildings and making them a reality. The winter mats were made by a company called "The Terrain Guy" and he did a nice job of recreating the look of ground in the winter.

Alas, my colleagues in the SYW Association did not deem my games to be worthy of the "Pour le Merit" trophy given to the best game at the convention. I daresay that even the most unbiased observer who looked at all of the games would say that the Leuthen/Mollwitz games had the best looking terrain, the best painted figures, and an exciting game scenario that was not decided until the very last couple of turns. I think that any historical museum would welcome such a realistic display within its walls.

While I was very disappointed at this decision, on the plus side, I kept my losing streak of never having won the Pour le Merite trophy alive, the people who played in my games all seemed to have a good time, and finally, I know that I did my very best to present one of the highest quality games that was EVER displayed at the SYW Association convention, the likes of which are not likely to be seen again.

The Opposing Forces
Prussian Army
Prussian Infantry: 8 musketeer btns + 2 grenadier btns = 10 btns x 60 figures = 600 figures
Prussian Artillery: 2 10lb. howitzers + 4 12 lb. Brummers = 6 guns x 6 crew = 36 figures
Prussian Cavalry: 5 sqds light cavalry, 5 sqds dragoons, 10 sqds cuirassiers = 240 figures
Total figures = 876 plus command figures

There were four Prussian infantry players (3 + 3 +2 +2 btns per player) and two cavalry commanders for a total of six Prussian players in the game.

Austrian Army
Austrian Infantry: 8 musketeer btns (60 figs) + 1 grenadier btn (36figs) = 516 figures
Austrian Artillery 5 guns (4 x 6lbs. + 1 x 12lbs.) = 26 figures
Austrian Cavalry: 6 sqds light cavalry, 4 sqds Saxon dragoons, 12 sqds cuirassiers =264 figures
Total figures = 806 plus command figures

There were three Austrian infantry commanders (3 btns each) and two cavalry commanders for a total of five Austrian players in the game.

Scenario Notes
My thought was that it would be too time consuming to try to recreate the opening flank attack of the Prussian army on the Austrian left wing at Leuthen. So instead, I decided to fight the battle at the point where the Austrians had reformed their battle line, completely perpendicular to their initial deployment, around Leuthen and facing the oncoming Prussians. Thus, the forces could be relatively equal, albeit with a slight advantage in Prussian figures since the onus of attacking the walled churchyard was on them. This resulted in a highly competitive game on both cavalry flanks and in the center, where all of the infantry was deployed.

The Austrian Deployment
I will keep commentary to a minimum and simply post captions to the pictures that follow. I think that they do a nice job of conveying the action during the game.

The Austrian High Command observe events as they unfold, from the high ground behind Leuthen village. As Phil Olley says, "every wargame worth its salt should have a windmill on the table". I agree - windmill by HG Walls.

The Austrian left wing cavalry and infantry deploy and await the Prussian attack.

Austrian infantry (Front Rank figures) line the walls of the Leuthen churchyard. This was part of the two brigades that defended the center.

Another view of the Austrian center. Old Glory Hungarians on the right and Front Rank Austrians on the left. RSM95 limber team supports Front Rank Austrian artillery crew and gun.

Field Marshal von Piglet reviews his Austrian troops (at the request of Her Ladyship, Lady Emma Cuddlestone-Smythe). The picture also depicts nearly all of the Austrian infantry deployed in the center.

Prussian Deployment

Von Zieten's light cavalry brigade of Stadden hussars deployed on the Prussian right.

Der Alte Fritz confers with his staff before the battle begins.

The Prussian army deployment, as viewed from the left flank of the army.

Driessen's heavy cavalry brigade protects the Prussian left flank. Suren dragoons, Elite Miniatures cuirassiers.

The Game Action in Progress

Austrain hussars attack Zieten's hussars from the front, whilst the de Saxe Uhlans outflank Zieten and charge across the bridge, on the Austrian left (Prussian right) flank.

As you can see, the Austrians were getting the better in this melee. Eventually though, both cavalry forces in this sector neutralized each other.

With the threat of the Austrian light cavalry removed, the Prussians commenced their assault on the village. Their plan was to work around the left and right flanks of the Leuthen churchyard before launching the final assault on the churchyard itself. An interesting strategy that worked.

Prussian left wing pours into the town of Leuthen, having routed off most of the Austrian infantry on their right flank. Minden Prussian figures on the bottom left.

The Prussian left wing infantry also converge on the town after their cavalry won the huge melee in this sector.

Tom Miller (standing) leads the Prussian heavy cavalry brigade on the left against the Austrians and Saxons commanded by Bill Protz (seated wearing cap) and a gentleman named Rolf (seated in the background).

Tom's Prussians finally gain the upper hand on the Prussian left (Austrian right), which allowed the Prussian infantry to advance onto the town.

With both flanks caving in, the Prussian finally launched a direct assault on the Leuthen churchyard (after whittling down the garrison with several turns of artillery fire). Patience in a wargame can be a virtue, as the Prussian players demonstrated. The grenadier battalion in the front of the church were repulsed, but the Guard Grenadiers were able to rush through the side gate - although it took them 2 turns to push down the heavy wood gates as they forgot to bring their pioneers with them (this was determined by dice rolls each turn - bad dice rolling meant that the Guards could not enter the churchyard).

The game ended with a very convincing Prussian victory. The forces were fairly equal in size the Prussians having 10 battalions and the Austrians 8 battalions. I figured that the attacker needed some extra troops in order to have a chance of success. The cavalry forces were equal in size and there was a tremendous amount of cavalry "back and forth" in the melees that nearly lasted the full game.

The Prussian strategy of neutralizing the enemy cavalry on the flanks, then caving in both infantry flanks, then assaulting the churchyard, proved to be a success. I had figured that the Prussians would bombard the churchyard with the howitzers that I gave them and then send in the elite rated grenadiers to capture the church. You never know what your players are going to do in a game, but their strategy proved to be better than the one that I had envisioned.