Befreiungskriege 1813-14

Painting and modelling 28mm Napoleonic wargaming miniatures

Archive for the ‘Saxon Musketeers’ Category

Painting the gilded lily

Posted by Martin on January 9, 2010

Painted and based Saxon officer

Painted and based Saxon officer

Cast your minds back to last September (oh, where has the time gone?) and you’ll recall I did some modifications to a Calpe Saxon musketeer officer. Well, the next step was to use this figure for my colour palette experiments. I also wanted to try out my new basing materials – model railway ballast and Silflor tufts. You can see the result in the photo here.

Of course, I don’t normally base up single figures like this but it was always intended as a one-off experiment and I do have a highly specific subsequent use in mind for this figure. In terms of the colour experiments, it was mainly a case of fine tuning decisions I’d already made and just double checking that they would work properly Specifically, I’ve used this figure to verify the following combinations:

  • For yellow metal: VMC Burnt Umber, VMC Brass and VMC Gold.
  • For yellow: VMC Flat Earth, VMC Yellow Ochre, VMC Flat Yellow, VMC Lemon Yellow.
  • For grey-blue: VMC Prussian Blue, VMC Grey Blue and VMC Deep Sky Blue.
  • For white: Andrea White Set 2nd Shadow, Andrea White Set 1st Shadow and Miniature Paints White.

In addition, I painted the blanket roll using the Foundry Rawhide triad over a basecoat of VMC German Camo. Black Brown.

As you can see, I’m still tweaking recipes – in particular the one for white. I think I now have enough contrast between each of the three layers and a white with sufficiently good coverage (thanks to an indirect recommendation from Peter Royle via Peter F.).

This was also the first time I’ve broken into my stash of Silflor grass tufts and I’m pretty pleased with the result. Just two tufts were sufficient to create a pleasing effect but the one tip I will pass on about these is that you need to press them down firmly with tweasers into a blob of PVA to get them to stay put.

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Posted in On the Workbench, Saxon Musketeers | Tagged: , , | 11 Comments »

GMB Saxon infantry flags

Posted by Martin on September 28, 2009

GMB 1811-issue flags for the Prinz Maximilian regiment (B&W image)

GMB 1811-issue flags for the Prinz Maximilian regiment (B&W image)

I’ve had my samples of the new 28mm Saxon line infantry flags from GMB since July and my orignal plan was to couple a review of them with some detailed historical background information. Two things threw a spanner in the works. The first was the inevitable intrusion of real life in the form of the Summer holidays; the second was a realization that the history of these flags from 1811 onwards is complex and obscure.

So I’m only going to tackle the easy, undisputed bit of the history of these flags in this posting: in 1807, King Friedrich Augustus ordered new flags for his line infantry regiments. It wasn’t however, until 16th July 1811 that he was able to formally present these new colours to the line infantry regiments in a ceremony at Muhlberg. Following re-organization of the army, each of the eight regiments of line infantry comprised two battalions of musketeers and two companies of grenadiers. A flag was presented to each of the 16 battalions of musketeers. The first battalion of each regiment received an Leibfahne (white background); the second battalion of each regiment received an Ordinarfahne (background in regimental facing colour).

If it wasn’t for the 1812 campaign in Russia, then the story of these flags would have probably remained quite simple. However, by the time the remnants of the Saxon army limped home, according to most sources, ten of the 16 flags had been lost. Piecing together which ones, where they were lost, what happened to them and, crucially, whether and how they were replaced in time for the 1813 campaign is where the complexities lie.

Now Peter F. and I are (with the help of several kind correspondents) slowly researching these questions and we hope to soon have access to several of the most reputable sources on the subject. In the meantime, Grahame’s first batch of flags cover those issued in 1811, so it seems suitable to press on with a short review of them here.

Above you can see a picture (converted to black and white to avoid naughty people exploiting Grahame’s hard work) of Pack SA5 which includes both the Leibfahne and the Ordinarfahne for the Prinz Maximilian regiment. The other packs cover 1811-issue flags the other seven line infantry regiments and there’s a gap in the numbering sequence which I presume is for the Lieb Grenadiers. In due course, I think Grahame hopes to make more flags to cover those issued to regiments that lost theirs in Russia.

The regimental facing colours were red, blue, green and yellow and interpretation of the precise shade is open to some conjecture in each case. For example, Grahame has chosen a darker mustardy yellow for the Prinz Maximilian regiment whereas, given the choice, I would have opted for a paler shade. That’s based on having sight of plates from Hottenroth’s 1910 book Geschichte der sächsischen Fahnen und Standarten (more of which on another occasion). But that’s a minor quibble and a personal preference.

There is, though, one historical error common to all the flags in this batch: the reverse and obverse of the flags are swapped the wrong way round. To be fair to Grahame, this is something he knows about and I know he’s been doing some soul searching about whether he should correct it. On the one hand, he’s as much a seeker of historical accuracy as Peter F.; on the other hand, he was a little worried about having to deal with customers who believe widely available English language sources that have perpetuated this error. I’m sure Grahame will read this and let me know which route he intends to follow. Plus, chances are that few people who look at your Saxon battalions won’t be knowledgeable enough to spot the mistake. Just don’t invite Peter F, Grahame or me to inspect your troops 🙂

Even German sources vary about some of the smaller precise details of the flags and the only way to be sure would be to be able to inspect the originals (where they still exist). So Grahame has had to make choices about which sources to follow – a tough decision because these are peculiarly detailed flags with many file details and variations. All of which also calls for a high level of draftsmanship and that’s where Grahame really excels. As usual with his products, the amount of detail that he packs into an area less than 30mm by 30mm is astounding.

So, overall then, Grahame’s produced a set of flags that uphold GMB’s reputation for making the best 28mm Napoleonic wargames flags on the market. And, barring minor issues, he’s achieved this while having to wrestle not only with the complexity of the design of these flags but the obscurity of historically accurate data.

Posted in Forward Patrol, Saxon Musketeers | Tagged: , , , | 7 Comments »

Gilding the lily

Posted by Martin on September 4, 2009

Customized figure with bandage close-up.

Customized figure with bandage close-up.

Here’s a quiet little heresy: even the new Calpe Saxon musketeers with their 50+ different individual figure poses leave me with a hankering for more variety. Alright, they do provide (more than) enough variety but everybody else can have that variety too. I’m after something unique, individual, special…

So I’ve decided to customize some of the figures – Peter F. won’t mind because that’s how he started out on the slippery slope to full-blown figure sculpting. I’ve chosen the word customizing with care because that’s what I see myself as doing rather than converting. All I intend to do is add a few touches here and there that give me distinctive figures or, more precisely, a unit of figures that’ll have a distinctive appearance. And to get the ball rolling, I’ve started with an experimental figure that I intend to use for a very special purpose (which will remain secret for the next few weeks).

If you want to play along at home, there are a few things you’ll need:

  • Extreme patience and an excellent sense of humour because modelling putty has a mind of its own!
  • A figure to butcher. I chose a Calpe Saxon musketeer officer from Pack SM9.
  • Various implements for cutting, pushing and generally bending putty to your will. So far I’ve used a scalpel, cocktail sticks and pins plus a pencil as a rolling pin.
  • A little pot of water to keep your implements wet so that they don’t stick to the putty.
  • Talc which came in hand when I was trying to roll out flat sheets of putty without the pencil sticking to them.
  • A flat surface. I used a cutting matt.
  • A paintbrush. Any old brush will serve so don’t use your best Winsor and Newtons, Da Vincis or Raphaels for this. It’s for positioning bits of putty accurately and brushing it with water to achieve a smooth finish.
  • Good lighting. As good as you use for painting.
  • Last, and by no means least, putty. More of which in a moment.

Next, a disclaimer: I’m a novice sculptor so anything I say here is based on my very limited experience and numerous cock-ups. But hopefully, my schoolboy errors and how I’m learning to cope with them might prove entertaining if not instructive. Peter F. has offered to give me some guidance and encouraged me to give it a go so I thought I’d get stuck in and then have something concrete to take back to the master for critique.

The one really good piece of advice Peter F. did give me was about putty. I’ve messed about with Kneadatite Duro “green stuff” before – mostly as a sort of epoxy adhesive / filler when I’ve drilled and pinned arms and heads on to figures. I learnt from this that I find it awkward stuff to work with. It’s a bit too stiff for my tastes though other people seem to get on with with perfectly well. When I asked Peter F. about this, he let me in on the secret that a lot of sculptors mix different sorts of putty together to get something with a consistency that suits their individual style.

The clues are there when you look at Peter’s greens and compare them with those sculpted by the Perrys. Theirs are a dark green – the colour of pure green stuff; while Peter F.’s are a lighter pea green (for want of a better description). The reason is that Peter F. mixes green stuff with white Sylmasta A+B putty. Both green stuff and A+B are two-part epoxy puttys so if you have sensitive skin you ought to take the precaution of wearing latex gloves when working with them and don’t put the putty in your mouth. I’m not sure of the ratios Peter F. uses for his recipe or how he actually mixed them together but here’s what I did.

First, I rolled out four equal sized small balls of the component parts of the puttys – one of each of the materials, if you see what I mean. Then I thoroughly mixed up the two parts of the green stuff; followed by doing the same for the two parts of the A+B. Lastly I rolled the two piece of putty into sausages, twisted them together and kneaded throughly until I had an even-coloured green mixture. This 50-50 mix was much easier for me to work with and reminded me of the plasticine that I used to play with when I was a nipper.

Once I’d done that, I set about making some embellishments to the figure. I started gently by adding a rectangular repair patch to the shako cover; then I got a bit braver and added piping to the outside seams of the trousers and finally I decided to attempt to add a bandage around the figure’s left knee. I thought that this last challenge was going to be the toughest because I’d struggled to get the piping just right. However, the bandage worked out best of the three. I think that’s partly because I learnt quickly through practice and got the hang of working the material. Also, when it came to the bandage, I realized that I needed a planned approach and made it in four separate stages: the main bandage, a ball for the knot and two “ears” hanging down as the ends of the bandage.

I’m actually rather pleased with this first attempt and I’m certainly motivated to try some more. So my imagination has already turned to other sorts of customization I might attempt: bandages over one eye, rolled up trouser legs, ripped trouser bottoms, various repair patches, neckerchiefs… What sorts of things can you think of?

Posted in Conversions, On the Workbench, Saxon Musketeers | Tagged: , , , , | 6 Comments »

Don’t you just love e-mail?

Posted by Martin on July 18, 2009

Well, sometimes…

And last night was one of those sometimes because I got a couple of messages that made my day.

The first message was from Grahame Black (of GMB flags fame) to let me know that he’s completed work on flags for all eight 1811-15 Saxon line infantry regiments and he’s now working on the ones for the Lieb Grenadiers and researching the old 1802 flags (some of which were issued to battalions in 1813 as replacements for those lost in Russia in 1812). Each pack contains two flags: a Leibfahne and an Ordinarfahne. The Leibfahne was on a white background carried by the first battalion of the regiment; the Ordinarfahne was on a background in the regimental colour carried by the second battalion of the regiment. Other details of these flags and their histories are complex and sometimes disputed so I’ll save them for another time. In fact, Grahame says in his e-mail that he’s going to send me samples for review, so that’ll be the ideal time for me to go into all that.

The second message came from Dan at Wargames Illustrated to say that he’s checked over the article I’ve written for him about collecting a late Prussian Napoleonic wargames army and he’s really pleased with it. I’m basking in the glowing comments he’s sent me and I can’t resist quoting him here (sorry but it’s not every day you get sent something like this):

“It’s a great fully rounded read that manages to cover all aspects of a complex issues i.e. army structure, command and toy soldiers – everything a potential Prussian gamer would be interested in, and no padding.”

There’s more but I think I’ve stroked my own ego quite enough for one Saturday lunchtime. The article is scheduled to appear Issue 264 which will be published in September and the plan is for it to be illustrated with photographs of Peter F’s collection of his own Calpe figures.

Posted in Commissions, Forward Patrol, Saxon Musketeers | Tagged: , , , , | 4 Comments »