Monday, 26 May 2014

Totally Off Topic & Very Cool

While wandering the web (as you do when you can't be a**ed to paint soldiers) I came across a remarkable site - this chap superimposes old photos onto pictures taken today at the same spot. He's Russian, and most of the pictures are from the Great Patriotic War (WWII to you and me in the West) - they can be very atmospheric.

Anyway I was very impressed by Sergey Larenkov's Links To The Past

Week 20 Progress - British Casualties

At the end of Week 17 I'd completed 78 figures, and so was 92 figures behind schedule. My plan for the following week was to plough on with some AB French Legere - I'd done the Carabiniers and was pleased with how they had worked out, and thought I'd press forward with the rest of the battalion. Unfortunately, I'd run out of GW white undercoat, and in my eagerness, used the Army Painter white undercoat.

Now, the last time I used this was also the first time I used it. That was awhile ago when I pretty much ruined the BM French and British Line Infantry I had bought - the AP undercoat dried with a thick and "dusty" consistency totally unsuitable for 18mm figures (or 28mm come to that). They went straight into the Dettol - actually I need to get them out - that was over a year ago! Anyway, so this time round I followed the instructions absolutely to the letter and the result was better but still not  the quality of finish I get from the GW undercoat. And so I'm blaming the AP undercoat for my general lack of enthusiasm for painting the rest of the AB Legere - there was a roughness to the AP undercoat that obscured the fine detail on the AB figures and made my cackhanded painting "style" more difficult to achieve.

Apologies for the long-winded excuse for not completing what I said I would.

Instead, I painted some AB British casualties. In this I was quite inspired by a very kind gift from Paul Alba (Napoleonics In Miniature) of a battalion of marching AB British infantry and some late British cavalry. Clearly the casualties are way off the plan to carry on with Laval's Division and the 3rd & 4th Spanish Divisions at Ocana. However, I have it in the back of my head to do a British battalion in the midst of a heavy firefight (something similar to this French battalion  I did a couple of years ago) - they won't really fit in with anything else I've got as I tend to do my figures in march attack poses. My catalogue PDF from AB doesn't show much pose variation in the suitable British packs (B08 & B09) so my thinking was to add some interest with these chaps.

So there are two "deaders" (one flank, and one centre company), a "shortly to be deader" (those gutshots were fatal back then), an officer being carried on a musket by two fellow soldiers (I have visions of "gallant officer refusing to leave the Colours" for this one), one chap who has just stopped a French musket ball and is slumping forward, and a rapscallion heading off "to collect water" - he's British, surely he isn't "windy"? I'll not comment on the significance of his brown trousers... So eight in all (I'm counting the officer on the musket as three figures). So this would be 20 - 25% of the battalion - I figure add in a couple of standard bearers and a drummer and the command stand would be pretty much there. So one bag of AB B09 Flank skirmishing, and a couple of bags of B08 Centre Loading & Firing would sort me out - any vacant slots left could be filled by company officers.

And the marching figure is the one that started this off. It's fairly subtle - he's supposed to represent a chap just being shot. Before you ask I've bought several sets of British casualties folded in with AB figures bought from eBay - I could probably paint a battalion of casualties. I figure he will work as "filler" for Paul's fine gift of a line infantry battalion on the march. You may well notice a difference in stle on these figures - they were undercoated in black when I got them and I decided to go with them as they were - I'm not really happy with them but they turned out better than expected.

And here are the Spanish Militia that were almost finished three weeks ago - still almost finished as the basing needs to be done. The flag is by Adolfo Ramos (you can see the accompanying colonel's flag in the picture below) - being Spanish he has a very good selection of flags for the Peninsula War (and plenty of other stuff too in different scales). This pair are actually "generic" line infantry flags - provincial militia flags had the distinctive coats of arms for their province in the corners (as did line infantry).

This is the first militia battalion painted some months ago. Both battalions are wearing the standard M1805 uniform - the army that marched to Ocana was very well equipped by Spanish standards (and when I was originally researching the confusing mess that was Spanish army officialdom from 1797 to 1809 this uniform was one of the few things I could be fairly sure was "right") so I feel justified in not making them too hodge podge looking.

Having painted two units in white I quite fancy doing something like the Spanish Royal Guard (921 men from the 1st battalion served with the 3rd Division) - they had a rather spiffy dark blue uniform with with bright red facings. However, the Histoire & Collections book on Ocana shows them in a new uniform issued in 1809 (dark blue uniform, white lace buttonhole trim and shako). This is quite dull compared to the previous uniform (the Guerreros & Batallas book has the older outfit) - but I could see how a guard regiment could get new gear first. I had a look at the AB PDF (this has pictures of all the figures in the range) and the AB Spanish in shako still have the same sort of jackets as the bicorne chaps - so don't really work. So this one needs more research - I've ordered the new book on the Spanish Army by Stephen Summerfield and Ged Cronin so hopefully that will shed some light on the matter. In the meantime, as an alternative to white I'm rather thinking red facings and brown jackets - this was the uniform of the Regiment da Linea Voluntarios de Sevilla (a Cuerpo de Nueva Creacion according to Guerreros y Batallas ie formed after May 1808), and also one of the uniforms commonly worn by the provincial militia - so a possibility these guys could do double duty in the future.    
And here is the painting table - as you can see very little change, although front and centre are five companies of the Hesse Darmstadt Erb Prinz awaiting their command figures to be dealt with.

So, final results for Week 20 - 88 figures painted, 112 figures behind schedule. I'm hoping a return to Spanish infantry will let me regain some ground.

Tuesday, 6 May 2014

National Army Museum Closure / Spanish Army Museum Exhibition

There has been a big kerfuffle on TMP over the last week or so as people realised that the National Army Museum in Chelsea is closing for two years for a complete refurbishment. I only realised a couple of weeks ago when I was looking to see what the monthly lecture programme was over the Summer (short answer - for the next two years, there isn't one) - so the closure hasn't been publicised very well at all.

Essentially, the story is that the NAM has been looking for funding to redevelop the site for years but very little cash was forthcoming. Now that the centenary of WWI is here someone thought it a good idea to finally give the NAM the dosh - so the NAM will be closed for 2014-2015 for construction work. Evidently the Museum will be lending their WWI exhibits to other museums throughout the country - but the NAM website doesn't give any real specifics, merely referring to "outreach projects" and such - it doesn't sound very ambitious.

Apart from the exhibition areas the research resources of the Museum will also be unavailable for at least the next six months which is a major pain in the bum for those researching anything to do with the British Army at all. Although I believe individual British service records are held elsewhere - my only WWI research of this sort involved a relative who had emigrated to Canada when young and joined their army. The Canadians have a really simple website that will send you a CD with copies of all the original documents. So I know my Scottish Canadian relative served as a sapper from 1916 until the end of the war (and as I know his unit I can read the unit war diary entries from the web). I know he had an undistingueshed but unpleasant career (no medals) but that he got into trouble for catching the clap - which was apparently quite a common affliction.

Anyway, back to the NAM. On TMP some people are working themselves into a high old dudgeon about the closure. I can see both sides of the argument - although closing for the centenary of the start of WWI, the bicentenary of Waterloo, and seventieth anniversary of D-Day is pretty appalling timing my feeling is that, as a nation, we're so bellicose that it would be hard to find a good two years to close - but at least the Imperial War Museum will manage to re-open (fingers crossed) at the end of July after their refurbishment.

Still, never fear - I was thinking about places to go for a few days break and Madrid looked like a good possibility. Lo and behold - the Spanish Army Museum in Madrid looks like a good bet generally - but even better, they have a temporary exhibition with toy / model soldiers until the 2nd June 2014 Temporary Exhibition - if you click on the pictures you can get large scale pop-ups of the images, and jolly nice they look too.

So, after my Valencia Toy Soldier Museum visit last year, I'm thinking this could be well worth a look.

Sunday, 4 May 2014

Paint Table Saturday 3rd May 2014

Three weeks on from my last Paint Table Saturday entry and my target figure is 170 figures painted. You will recall that the last time I showed anything I mentioned that I'd lost count of how many figures I'd painted in 2014, and so I was starting from scratch. Since then, of course, we've had the Easter bank holiday so I should have been steaming ahead....well I've managed another 35 figures (so I'm now 92 figures behind schedule):

8 Spanish Militia
1 Spanish Malaga Line Regiment Officer
25 Hesse Darmstadt Erb Prinz Regiment
1 French Legere officer

So, seven of the eight Spanish Militia figures will complete my second (rather well dressed) provincial militia battalion. The eighth is a rather nice figure by Polly Oliver (from a bag of their American AWI Minutemen) - I have quite a lot of these figures assembled from purchases made from eBay over the years (2.1kg after my weigh in last week which is equivalent to about 650 figures), which have sat unloved in a drawer since I bought them. He'll get fed into a scruffier militia battalion once I get started on it.

The Hesse Darmstadt guys are done but not based up or "dipped" yet. You can see them sitting on the window sill in the photo above. If you have read the last few posts you'll know that I struggled to find appropriate figures for these chaps who performed so well in the Peninsula for the Emperor. Warmodelling (Fantassin) do a set of figures suitable for the Peninsula but I'm not struck on them - this left converting something else, waiting for a good manufacturer (AB, CGM, Xan or Khurusan) to bring something out, or going slightly off-piste.

Naturally, I went off piste. AB's 1806 Prussians work perfectly for Hesse-Darmstadt figures serving in North-West Europe in 1809 -  the problem is that the Erb Prinz Regiment changed uniforms on the way from Hesse to Spain. So, as I fancied painting some AB 1806 Prussians anyway, I decided to ignore the uniform change (okay - it's slightly imagi-nations, but if any button counters whinge, I'll pick up my toys and go home like the adult I am). This decision has led to some slightly mind bending questions of how I treat various aspects of their organistion etc - see More On The Erb Prinz here for this. They would have been mounted on their stands and be just about ready to be terrained except I decided rather at the last minute to add some NCOs and casualty figures (any figures left over as a result will be committed to the second battalion).

The Spanish Officer from the Regimento de linea de Malaga is (after slating them loudly and often) by Fantassin. He's actually a French Legere officer officer but close enough in 15mm to switch sides with a lick of paint. He's wearing the 1805 uniform of white coat, dark blue cuffs and lapels, and white collar piped dark blue. He was lying around on my table, looked easy to do, and would get my numbers up!

The Legere Carabiniers and Spanish Militia from previous weeks painting.

After being quite pleased with how the Legere Carabiniers turned out (although I'm now thinking the trim on their boots should be red as they are carabiniers) I started painting some Legere, so the officer was another easy figure to get some scores on the board.

Finally, these are my morning supervisors, Toby and Archie. Toby is an old boy, and these days he needs to go to the loo more often than he used to (I know how that feels - after the first pint or two I seem to spend half the evening in the loo), and he tends to wake up at 06.30 most mornings. My weekend therefore starts with a cold foot in the small of my back (my wife's way of saying "go and sort the dogs out") - she has unnaturally cold feet that, carefully placed, can get me out of bed in double-quick time.

Archie (the one on the right) in his normal supervisory role at my desk. I thought this came out rather well as a "selfie" - although clearly I need a shave. It's a poor show when you need to perform your ablutions before blogging!