Friday, 15 November 2019

Polish Uhlans - 28mm Murawski

Another unit of Polish Uhlans painted, bringing me to a total of four lance armed Polish Cavalry units for the Duchy of Warsaw now. New unit is on the front left. All Murawski Miniatures.

The lance armed cavalry for Duchy of Warsaw is very distinctive so getting these done was a priority. Poland had a lot of cavalry!

Regiments as positioned are:
Rear Left:  Krakus Regiment; Rear Right: 21st Regiment
Front left: 9th Regiment; Rear right: 20th Regiment

I've also ordered a tripod for mini-tripod for phone so may take some more pictures of the units when that arrives!

Sunday, 10 November 2019

Saxon Leib Kuirassier Garde - 28mm Black Hussar

More Saxon Kuirassiers, this time the Leib regiment, to join their brother Zastrow Kuirassier regiment.  Great figures again from Black Hussar. Conflicting source information about the horse furniture led to some moments of indecision with these (see below), but I'm happy enough with the end result.

Spelling is important by the way. Due to me getting the "e" and "i" the wrong way around for some time, I'm at risk of my German wife innocently enquiring about the fate of the "Love Kuirassiers" (Lieb) instead of the Life Kuirassiers (Leib), forever more...

Like the Zastrow regiment and Austrian Cuirassiers, the Leib regiment only wore front plates.

A pic below with their Zastrow colleagues.  Both the Zastrow and Leib regiments fought at the Battles of Dresden and Leipzig. The Zastrow regiment broke two Austrian squares at Dresden. The Leib regiment captured a battery of 12 Russian cannon at Leipzig and fought with Russian Cuirassiers/Dragoons that tried to retake them. These Saxon Kuirassiers were serious business. I believe they were also the last Saxons to change sides at Leipzig, the idea being offensive to their inherited knightly/noble honour code.

Given the figures are interchangeable, I mixed in six of the Zastrow Kuirassier figures to the Leib regiment, as the poses (swords down or shouldered) are more durable for wargaming. Three of the rank and file plus the three command of the Leib are all from the Leib figure range though. 

As to the above mentioned issue of horse furniture, I agonised over what mix of yellow, red and white border to go with. For example, here's what they look like with yellow and red rather than white and red. This seems to be the most common representation, but after doing some this way I noticed that it was also looking very much like Austrian heavy cavalry, so I reverted to the white and red. This also matches the white and yellow I did for the Zastrow nicely. Once again I left off the Cipher detail though!

Rawkins in his Army of Saxony book, suggests that the source conflict is due to different variants of horse furniture existing over time, including perhaps even for different squadrons within the same regiment. The saddlecloths also tended to wear out more quickly than other aspects of the equipment, particularly the edges, hence also the cropping of the corner into something rounded rather than pointed for durability.

Sunday, 27 October 2019

28mm Windmill

Windmills - an ingenious method of energy generation pre-fossil fuels, and after for that matter! Windmills like this were a common site in Europe in the 18th and 19th centuries. Being able to reliably mill and then store grain (see the Granary), helped generate an economic energy surplus that fueled important technological and cultural growth - like making fancy hats for the Guards. ;)

This is a modified Sarissa Precision Post Windmill. An MDF kit, which is rather impressively large, and was cheap worldwide postage to New Zealand too. Post windmills were so called because they sat on a turntable post that enabled them to be turned to face the wind in optimal fashion. 

The modifications I made in assembly of this were firstly to triple the thickness of the posts at the base, as these looked a bit anaemic being just 2mm MDF. Really it could do with a central post too  but I decided I could live without that. I also chopped the based size down from 13cm square to 10cm square, to reduce the footprint.

I discarded the rather nice staircase it comes with (but will use this for something else in the future), in favour of a more modest ladder. I made this from scraps of MDF in the kit.  I also cut down the loading crane above the top door to a retracted position. The purpose of this was similar to that of reducing the base size - to cut down the footprint. I want it to be a minor terrain feature, rather than something takes up significant space and gets in the way. Also helps with storage!

The colouring is a bit dull and monotone, but then they were functional buildings that tended to be pretty plain! I was originally going to add tiles to the roof, but decided to paint it first to see how that looked and thought it was good enough.

The windmill blades come off for storage and can thus lie flat and take up little space. I magnetised them but this turned out to be unnecessary as they have a socket fit which is pretty secure.

Windmills were iconic features of many Napoleonic battlefields. The tall tower structure, and perhaps ability to be turned, also made them excellent command positions for Generals to get an elevated view of the Battlefield. Army engineers could quickly make a few suitable 'windows' in the upper story if needed...

Below is the Moulin de Valmy, a rebuilt post windmill which is a memorial to the Battle of Valmy in 1792, where Revolutionary French forces defeated the invading Prussians.

A painting of the battle.

Here's an image of the windmill at the Battle of Leipzig. Napoleon flanked by Murat and Poniatowski. The windmill was used as an observation point by Napoleon.

A windmill at Battle of Ligny.

Another post windmill from the present day, with  similar appearance. The Sarissa kit comes with this sort of staircase.

Wednesday, 9 October 2019

More French Artillery - 28mm Perry

An assortment of figures put together to make up some French artillery. Four 12 pounders and four 6 pounders. I had two each of 12 and 6 pounders with crews, plus another two 12 pounders and two 6 pounders left over from French limbers. I bought two artillery crew extras packs from Perry to make up the numbers so that all guns could have four crew each.

The 12 pounders crew come dressed in fatigues, which is not a great look for Napoleonics, somewhat worse than campaign dress! But I figured I'd still have a single battery of them! They also come with six crew each so only four figures from extra packs had to be added here to crew all four guns.

And then some more six pounders finished. Figures are a couple of gun sets, two spare guns from French limbers, and Perry extra crew sets to make up the numbers servicing the guns.

Sunday, 6 October 2019

Bavarian Artillery - 28mm Perry

Some guns for the Bavarians from Perry miniatures. Nice enough models, though campaign dress on some of them which I'm never a fan of. I gave them blue overcoats to make that less noticeable, though more likely they would have had grey/brown overcoats of course.

Unlike the infantry which had cornflower blue coats, the Bavarian artillery uniform was a dark blue. The guns themselves were a lighter blue-grey colour.

The howitzer crew below (right most gun), has the loader sticking his arm right down the barrel to place the charge!

Wednesday, 4 September 2019

Scratch Built Granary 28mm

A scratch built Granary, made from card, PVA glue and sand, and finished at last after much effort! Granaries like this featured in several Napoleonic battles, so a useful building to have. 
I've added quite a long post here with more detail than you probably wanted to know about historical granaries and their miniature construction... read on so forewarned ;) 

View of the other end of the granary.

Showing the multiple doors on the other side. They were for loading grain, with the hole above the top door being where a post for a crane was extended to facilitate this.

Design and Construction

I thought I would discuss design and construction here in a some detail for any interested, and for my own future reference! Many of the issues are relevant to wargaming buildings in general.

The building I ended up making is clearly based on the Essling Granary at the Battle of Aspern Essling, even including the sundial. However the aim was not to create an exact replica, but rather an isomorphic transformation of it. I.e. I wanted to keep a similar height to the building and to the size of doors and windows (so they don't look out of place with 28mm figures), but shrink the length and width so that the total area of the building was about 200cm squared rather than 600cm squared. The reason for this is the ground scale in wargaming. Similar to many other 28mm gamers, I use 25-50 yards represented by 2.5cm or an inch. So even a large building like a hundred yard long Granary should only be 10cm or 4 inches long at most. If I allow that it also represents some nearby features like the northern walled Master's Garden at Essling (which was in a mutually supporting position), then 15-20cm would be ok. This would also allow a building that would still look large and imposing enough next to 28mm figures. 

Multiple companies already sell versions of the Essling Granary in scales from 3mm to 28mm. The best option in 28mm I found was this laser cut pre-painted MDF version of the Essling Granary from Empires at War. This is a fine kit, except that it is prepainted MDF and quite large. Prepainted MDF looks great alongside other prepainted MDF buildings, but if your other buildings are plastic or resin like mine, many people think MDF can look a bit flat and kitset like in comparison. That is not necessarily a problem because you can also add texture and so on to enhance them - see this video example from Too Fat Lardies. However, the main problem was the size. Unfortunately this kit is 30cm long, and as mentioned I wanted something more like half this size to avoid groundscale problems.  I also found another laser cut MDF Prussian Granary from Terrain4Games. This looks like being another very useful alternative. Quite a different style though, and I'm unsure of its dimensions.

Anyway, having reviewed the options I decided to have a go at making my own granary from scratch,  especially given the overall design looked pretty simple to me - though as I found it still has considerable detail to attend to...

Materials I used were very basic:
  • Craft knife, ruler, pencil
  • 2mm cartridge cardboard for walls
  • Thin cardboard from a cereal packet for framing and tiles
  • PVA Glue
  • Fine grade railway ballast (or sand)
  • An MDF base (20cm x 15cm)
The first thing I did was to sketch out some rough plans and experiment until I got something that looked about right, keeping some figures nearby to check on size. 

I transferred the design to the cartridge card and cut out the sections. With craftknife and ruler I cut out all the windows and doors. While the overall shape is simple, it turns out there are over 50 windows including the roof ones, so I started to see this was going to be rather more work than I had imagined!

The pieces were glued together, and then I started adding framing and tiles with the thin cereal packet cardboard...

This was the most time consuming process as there ended up being 200 window framing pieces, 200 other framing pieces, and over 1200 tiles to glue on, one by one...! It was completed over several evenings. I'd HIGHLY recommend getting some very inexpensive tiling sheets from Warbases if you are contemplating something similar. These would save a lot of time. Unfortunately I didn't find out about them until halfway through the tiling process when they were mentioned in a video I had on in the background (one of many videos that passed while tiling...)

Next was adding some rough texture to the non-framed parts, by painting a mix of PVA glue and fine ballast/sand on these areas. I've used this technique for ages for any sort of rough stone look. Very easy, looks good, and strengthens wargaming terrain up considerably.

As so...

Done and drying...

Once dry I then painted the entire building with PVA glue to seal and lock it all together so it is nice and tough for wargaming and storage. This is particularly helpful for the roof tiles.

I sprayed it with black undercoat and left it to dry. Then I played around with several colour combinations to find something that looked ok to me - note the completed section on the end which is what I went with. The basecoat I ended up choosing was Vallejo Yellow Ochre - I originally tried just Buff highlighted with White but the contrast was not enough. Here it is with the Yellow Ochre done.

Then drybrushed with Vallejo Buff.

Then drybrushed with White. 

Framing was painted white, and I decided to also line this framing with a umber colour to make it stand out more. Probably not necessary but I like contrast at this scale for wargaming. Doors and windows  were painted in a rusty dirty metal to represent oxidised iron (doors on the Essling Granary are faced with iron, and windows have iron mesh). I decided to go with a grey slate for the roof rather than brick, simply drybrushing successive layers of gray until it looked about right. The Essling Granary probably has brick tiles if you see the photos below, but they can look quite grey because of lichen and weathering, and I thought slate tiles would look better anyway. Basing was completed to match that used for my figures.

The roof lifts off so troops can be placed inside, it's a practical gaming piece after all. It also has a couple of magnets to hold the roof securely in place, but those are not really necessary to the build and it would have been ok without these.

Lastly came what I thought would be a very easy task - just sticking on a photo printout of the sundial! However, at such a scale reduction this ended up looking disappointingly blurry, washed out and unattractive. So another couple of hours was spent with paint brushes ranging from 0 to 5/0  enhancing it so it would be bright and clear on the wargaming table!

Here it is available to print out for other wargamers who want a nice bright "just painted in 18th Century" version of this! Or the original from a current day photograph if you prefer. 

 Then I very carefully cut this sundial out and glued it to the model - completed at last! 

Historical Granary Photos

As I mentioned, Granaries were important terrain features in several large Napoleonic battles, including Aspern Essling in 1809, Raab in 1809, and Austerlitz in 1805. Those battles involved Austrians, and perhaps readers are aware of other battles where Granaries were important.

As can be seen in the photos below, these Granary buildings all share the same features of very solid construction, multiple stories with dozens of small windows, iron faced doors (at least in the case of the Essling Granary). On one side these buildings have the distinctive banks of doors for loading grain. The walls were so strong that they were impervious even to cannon fire, which made them very imposing defensive positions. 

Essling Granary

Essling Granary from battle of Aspern Essling. The granary I based mine upon.

Note the tiles have a red or greyish appearance depending on the lighting and distance.

One of the iron faced doors, which still has musketball holes visible. The brick construction under the rough coat is also visible.  The walls of the Granary are over a metre thick! Hence the resistance to cannon balls.

Here's a better view of the sundial, showing the detail with greater contrast, though unfortunately not taken at an exact 90 degree angle. Whether or not the original building had this sundial is not certain I think, but information here where this photo is from suggests the original was made in the 18th century and restored in the 1990's. Of course it also says that the Battle of Aspern was in 1810 and that this building was the French headquarters (the battle was in 1809 and this building wasn't the headquarters), so who really knows. But I assume such town sundials were not uncommon before mechanical clocks, plus it looks good so I added it!

Here's a painting of Austrian Grenadiers attacking the Essling Granary. They suffered very heavily and were ultimately unable to force their way through the iron doors. Archduke Charles was appalled at the casualties they suffered, and denied their request to try and assault it again. One Grenadier battalion suffered over 90% casualties in the fight for Essling.

One last point on the commercial models available for the Essling Granary, is that many of them seem to be constructed incorrectly compared to the actual building - e.g. they get the ends of the building around the wrong way.  There's also some question about what are really 1809 features and what are more recent additions, and it's likely impossible to say for sure without some more detailed research. The arched door on the end opposite to the sundial may be a later addition. In any case though, if you're trying to do a model of the Essling Granary I'd recommend using the actual building or historical sources for references rather than other wargaming company or hobbyist models of it! 

Kismegyer Farm

Another very similar building is Kismegyer Farm from Battle of Raab in 1809, where Austrian Regulars and Landwehr held out right until the end of the battle. See Wargamer Rabbit's  blog entry for more on this.

Solkonitz Granary

Another Napoleonic Granary, Solkonitz Granary from Battle of Austerlitz in 1805.

Painting of the eve of Austerlitz, though the Solkonitz Granary is located behind the viewpoint of this painting I think so not visible.

Looks like the Solkonitz Granary has since been converted into a hotel/housing complex since the above photo was taken!


And so it is done! I'm pretty happy with it. Very satisfying making something from a few scrap materials. While it's based on the Essling Granary it will be useful for similar buildings in other battles. And now that I have the thing built, I had better get on and finish everything else I need for Aspern Essling!