Thursday, 17 July 2014

Two shades of Grey

When you’re a slow painter and you're trying to stay focused on finishing a single unit of figures what’s the best thing NOT to do? Possibly deciding to revisit some figures that you’ve already completely finished, varnished, based (and even used in battle) and re-painting something!

When I originally painted my Prussian Jagers I used a dark grey for the blanket roll and a mid-grey for their trousers (possibly dazzled by the array of paints in my Foundry collection) but I was never entirely happy with this as the overall effect, when combined with the green jackets, was a figure that looked too dark. So having recently consulted the Hinton Hunt painting instructions (on the Hinton Hunter) for the line infantry I saw that Marcus Hinton described the colour of the greatcoat as ‘medium light grey’. Well, as you know that’s good enough for me!

PN.28 Jager, firing - the one on the left is the revised version.

One of the great things about the Foundry range of paints is that if I change my mind again about the colour I believe there are another 48 shades to try.

Sunday, 13 July 2014

Admiring Austrians

As a teenager I did briefly toy with the idea of collecting an Austrian army. It appealed for a couple of reasons - firstly it looked like they’d be easy to paint as even I could manage white all over (this is long before I had any ideas about lining in black). Secondly I was captivated by the story of Napoleon’s 1805 campaign and the surrender of General Mack at Ulm.

AN.85 Austrian Uhlan Lancer (mounted) charging. This dashing figure was painted by Don.

AN.73 Austrian Curiassier (mounted) charging. This figure has had his sword replaced with a pin which makes getting him out of the storage box a bit tricky.

It has to be said at this point that my entire military reference library in those days consisted of just two books (Montgomery’s History of Warfare and Lawford’s History of the British Army) and it’s from these limited resources that I gleaned all my information on the Napoleonic Wars. For some reason the episode at Ulm caught my imagination, although in retrospect it seems like a bad motivation for wanting to paint Austrians.

Napoleon accepts the surrender of the encircled Austrian forces at Ulm - I want an army that can surrender too!

AN.77 Austrian Dragoon (mounted) charging. Another of Don's works.

At the time I was painting my Prussians another budding wargamer at school painted up a unit of Hinchliffe Austrians. It was the first time that I had seen beautifully painted and shaded figures and it made me feel that my own output was quite inadequate (made worse by the fact he was in the year below). I think this well and truly put me off the idea of an Austrian army at the time.

 This is for the 'Archduke' - Page W.G.12 from the Hinton Hunt Catalogue.

However with the passing of time my attitude has mellowed and I do have a smattering of Austro-Hungarians in my current army including the 51st Gabriel Spleny regiment, my Tirolean Jagers, some Hussars and one artillery battery. Like the Prussians, the supply of genuine vintage figures has proved to be thin on the ground and although my infantry arm is small I have been lucky enough to assemble a decent cavalry contingent. I’m looking forward to working on the cavalry although I think that day is still a long way off.

Wednesday, 9 July 2014

More Prussian perusing

Following my last post Steve kindly sent me some photos of his own Prussian Landwehr cavalry. He had a unit that was a mixture of Hinton Hunt and the DK version and confirmed that they are very hard to tell apart. This is good news for me as DK can be of variable size and quality but it means that the figures I have should fit nicely in the ranks
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Steve's Landwehr lancers - the one on the left is DK, the one on the right is Hinton Hunt.

I’m not so sure about my Prussian Hussars though – I have a couple of Clayton castings of PN85 Prussian Hussar (mounted) charging that are pretty good quality but I’ve never been able to find any vintage figures. Recently Old John managed to find me some DK castings to make up the numbers to a full six figure squadron however, unlike the lancers, there is a bit of a size discrepancy with these.

PN85 Prussian Hussar - the Clayton HH is on the left, his kid brother DK version is on the right.

It may be that the size difference will be less pronounced when the figures are painted - well that's what I'm trying to tell myself.

Thursday, 3 July 2014

Perusing Prussians

I spent many happy hours as a teenager thumbing through my copy of the Hinton Hunt Figures 20mm catalogue drawing up lists of potential purchases. It was necessary to buy a minimum of 100 figures at a time to get them at an affordable price so the lists tended to be quite long. In addition to my Napoleonic wish lists I also toyed with the idea of ECW (foiled when my school mates opted for Minifigs), ACW (rejected because the figure poses sounded limited) and even Norman Conquest (what an investment that would have been!). In the end I decided to stick with the Napoleonic Prussians that Dave and I had already started to collect – a rare example of restraint.

A well thumbed page of my original Hinton Hunt Figures catalogue - click the image to zoom in for the full 'anorak' experience.

Back then I only got to see the figures poses I actually bought as the catalogue wasn’t illustrated and Miniature Warfare magazine had just the occasional fuzzy black and white picture that might (or might not be) Hinton Hunt figures in action. Now though, with my second wargaming childhood, I have examples of most of them and those I’m missing I can at least get to see pictures of.

Der Kreigspieler 139 Landwehr Lancer - an almost perfect (and contemporary) copy of Hinton Hunt PN.39.

One example that I hadn’t seen before dropped through the letterbox this week (thanks to Don) namely PN.39 Landwehr Lancer Trooper (mounted) charging. I now have a 6 figure squadron of these (they are actually the Der Kreigspieler equivalent of Hinton Hunt but this is one of those occasions when DK is of a quality almost as good as HH) and the plan is to combine them with a squadron of HH Uhlans – but first those fusiliers!

Sunday, 29 June 2014

Prussian Plans

Now that the French army is more or less complete I thought it would be good to turn my attention to the Prussians. It was the Hinton Hunt Prussian army that I painstakingly collected and painted in my youth that was the original inspiration for this blog so it seems fitting to push them to the front of the painting queue now I’m at the seven year milestone.

 A simple paint scheme at last - blue and grey, what can possibly go wrong?

Another reason for elevating the Prussians to this position is ease of painting – blue and grey are very forgiving colours to paint especially when combined with the black straps of fusiliers. In fact I would say that Prussians are the easiest Napoleonic uniforms to paint followed in order by Russians, French, Austrians and British (am I the only one who puts off painting British infantry?).

This is yet another reason to go with Prussians and a warning to us all about keeping substantial reserves in the lead pile.

The only problem with going Prussian is that I have found it very hard over the years to accumulate enough Hinton Hunt figures to make up full units. I do have one or two units now but vintage figures are very thin on the ground so I will be using Clayton and reproduction figures where necessary to fill the holes in the ranks.

 As I remember the Hinton Hunt painting instruction sheet gave details for a Silesian regiment with yellow collar and cuffs but I've gone with red for West Prussia on this one emulating the unit I painted back in 1972.

So to get things rolling I’ve started work on a unit of West Prussian Fusiliers using PN.4 Private (firing). This unit is the exception to the rule as it will be made up entirely of vintage figures, some lovely old castings I acquired a few years back in a virgin unpainted and fully flashed up state. I’ve been looking forward to doing these as I painted a battalion of them for my original army back in the 70s.

Tuesday, 24 June 2014

Seven years on

Believe it or not it is seven years ago today (click here) that I started this blog to document my attempt to collect two opposing wargame armies made up solely of 20mm Hinton Hunt figures. Back then it seemed like a pretty impossible dream but after the recent spate of recruiting activity for the French army it would appear that I am nearly there.

A tot up of the troops painted, based and ready for action comes in at 592 and of these 367 have been painted by me, 90 by Matt, 36 by Don, 24 by Lee with a further 75 figures refurbished by me (the Swedes). By accident more than design the figures are split pretty much 50:50 between the French and “Nations Allied against Napoleon” so I do have the required two armies albeit that the mix of Allies is not really an historical one.

To address this problem I intend to split the Allies into two different forces - one will be a ‘continental’ army comprised of Austrians, Russians and Swedes and the other will be for the ‘hundred days’ with British, Nassau and Brunswickers (the Prussians will float between the two forces to make up numbers).

So there are still a few more units to paint before I hang up my brush and, although it's unlikely that this project will continue for another seven years, I intend to carry on until either my enthusiasm or the lead pile runs dry.

Friday, 30 May 2014

The Great Redoubt (part 3)

Suitably refreshed the commanders returned to their respective headquarters to resume the fight. The French columns were now getting very close to the Russian line and started to come under canister fire from their guns. This fire was directed chiefly at the 4th Swiss regiment who were soon down to half strength and eventually forced to retreat exposing the guard behind them.

The 4th Swiss take a pasting from the Russian guns and are forced to retreat.

The first shot on the guard and Cambronne is down - merde!

 Hey, come on now Roy this really isn't cricket is it?

In the centre the 105th and 45th regiments now began their advance on the redoubt. Braving shot and shell the 105th paused at the base of the hill to loose off a volley at the defenders while the 45th inclined to the left to extend the French line. Inside the redoubt casualties were steadily mounting amongst the Russian defenders and Kutusov took the precaution of ordering his guard regiment forward in support.

A baptism of fire for the 105th ligne as they lead the 45th forward.

The Great Redoubt errupts in flame and smoke as the Russian defenders open fire. The Nassau grenadiers are now down to nine figures and will have to quit the field.

The view from behind the Russian right flank as the guard move up in support.

Here they come - in the nick of time!

The French line foot artillery spent most of the battle firing on the redoubt. The battery nearest the camera is the most recent addition to my forces and was completed just in time to take part in the game.

On both flanks the cavalry were now in action with the French winning the first round of light cavalry melee and the Russians the heavy cavalry one. Murat eventually managed to see off Roy’s lancers but we were both surprised to see my heavy cavalry recover and go on to win a second round and rout his heavies. We were both pleased to see that such a change of fortunes was possible under the rules, although Roy was possibly less pleased than I was.

My light cavalry take on the Russian lancers and send them packing.

Somehow the French heavy cavalry manage to bounce back from a lost round of melee and rout their Russian counterparts.

With the Russians pressed hard on both flanks it just remained for the French to storm the Great Redoubt and secure a stunning victory for the emperor. The 105th now charged forwards but at the same moment that cunning fox Kutusov ordered a ‘passage of lines’ to put his untouched guard infantry into the front line of the redoubt. The 105th were repulsed, the Great Redoubt remained firmly in Russian hands!

The 105th ligne make a spirited attack on the redoubt but are repulsed by the Russian guard.

The combined grenadier battalion come under canister fire from the Russian guns - ouch!

And with that we ran out of playing time agreeing that the battle had ended in an honourable draw, although Roy conceded that given the situation with his flanks he would probably have been forced into a strategic withdrawal. So a victory of sorts for the French but one with serious losses compared to those of the Russians who live to fight another day.

The Russian militia were untouched - these are not Hinton Hunt but are lovely figures all the same.

 The Pavlov's also escaped without a single casualty.

The position of the forces at the end of the battle (click on the map to zoom in).

My thanks to Roy for another splendid day of playing soldiers (although I did feel it was jolly bad form of him to fire upon the guard) and to Dave for the maps and photo special effects. I was also happy that the rules seem to be working well as for the first time we didn’t feel the need to tweak them. The two armies now return to their quarters to refit and recuperate – perhaps another unit or two of imperial guard would do the trick…