Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Prussian Artillery Command Stand

Colonel Karl Friedrich von Moller, commander of the Prussian artillery at Rossbach and Leuthen. Minden Prussian officer mounted on an RSM standing horse, accompanied by a Minden Prussian officer (his spontoon has been replaced with the regimental flag). Click to enlarge the view.

I was browsing through my copy of Hans Bleckwenn's uniform books on the Prussian army of Frederick the Great when I happened to come upon a picture of the artillery uniforms and their regimental flags. I had always intended to have a separate artillery commander for my Minden Prussian army, so when I saw that the artillery had its own flag, I knew that I had to put one on the eventual command stand.

The flag itself looked like it might be a tad beyond my painting skills, were I to hand paint it, so instead, I took the book to the copy shop and photocopied the flag at 33% of its original size, versus the picture in my book. This reduced the length (the fly?) to about one inch and the width (the hoist?) to about an inch and a quarter. This turned out to be a perfect fit for the officer on foot, who would be holding the flag. I also tried reducing the flag to 45%, but while the added size displayed the flag details much better, it was way to big for the figure that would be holding the flag.

After reducing two copies of the flag, I cut both pieces out and glued them to a sheet of plain white paper so as to have the two sides opposite one another. Then I photocopied this version and produced my own flag sheet. White glue was applied to the underside of the flag and then the paper was pressed together around the flag shaft. Then I took a small paint brush and used it to shape and curl or furl the flag so that it would look more natural.

Colonel von Moller shown outside the Gasthaus Alter Fritz, modelled by Herb Gundt after an inn at Hochirch (across the street from the church where IR19 met its demise). Herb made all of the buildings, trees and the guard house shown in the picture. Click the picture to enlarge.

Von Moller (left) confers with Marshal von Schwerin (right) while Major General von Winterfeldt (center) looks on. Click the picture to enlarge.

The foot figure holding the artillery flag is the Minden Prussian officer on foot with spontoon. As with most Minden figures, you are required to drill out your own hole in the officer's hand, which is a simple matter to do if you have a pin vise tool. So instead of inserting the spontoon in the resulting hole, I clipped off a section of a North Star 100mm spear with flat head spear tip and used it for my flag pole. This flag pole will never break off due to the fact that the holding hand has been drilled out. I like it this way.

Finally, I glued the mounted Prussian officer (also a Minden figure, but mounted on an RSM horse) onto a 1.5" diameter round base from "Georgo Bases" -- this is my standard size for command stands in my Minden armies. Then I glued down the flag bearer and terrained the base with spackle compound, covered in railroad ballast, then washed with brown ink and flocked with static grass. The final vignette is quite eye pleasing, if I do say so myself.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Casualty Stands for SYW

Grenadier Battalion von Wedell (1/23) with assorted casualty stands scattered in front of the battalion. Casualties are all Perry AWI Hessians, "converted with paint" plus one Front Rank fellow (center with raised arm). The "healthy" grenadiers are Minden Miniatures. (Click pix to enlarge the view).

It has been a while since my last posting on the blog, but that belies the fact that I have been very busy working on my figures for my Minden Project for the Seven Years War. The annual Seven Years War Association Convention is getting close at hand and if I am not careful, I shall run out of time and not have my Minden armies ready for action at the convention on March 21-23, 2011 in South Bend, Indiana.

I have been painting casualty stands for the Austrian and Prussian armies lately, and you can see some of the results in the picture above. The concept is that each battalion will have 3 to 5 round casualty markers that I will place on the table top once a stand of figures is removed from play. Each battalion has five stands, so I probably do not need any more than 3 casualty stands per battalion as it will be a rare occurance for every stand in the battalion to fall in battle.

Once you lose six figures, a stand of marching figures is removed from the table. The player will then set a round (1.5" diameter) casualty stand on the field in the spot where the stand was removed. Thus, as the battle progresses, we should see an accumulation of round casualty stands on the table and sort of keep track of the ebb and flow of the action. By the end of the game, we can visualize where the fighting was heaviest by the placement of casualty stands.

The stands serve a second purpose as well: the side that has the most casualty stands on the table top at the end of the game, will lose a Victory Point to the opponent. The most VPs in the game will determine the winner (or at least, it will be one of the variables).


Front Rank wagons, RSM horses, and Minden wagon drivers are shown above. I've also used some of the pioneer figures as hired hands to carry sacks of gun powder or baking flour, whichever the case may be. The sacks are made from epoxy putty and fit nicely into the hands of the pioneers.

I spent a good part of Saturday evening cleaning and assembling some Front Rank artillery munitions wagons that will be part of the artillery park in my game. As you might recall, each cannon model will be supported by a stand of 2 matrosses, 1 stand with a supply wagon, and 1 limber stand, all located behind the gun model. This will represent the depth of the artillery battery or section. So I have to prepare supply wagons for all of my Austrian cannon. The Austrian wagons will use the wicker cover on the wagon, while the Prussian wagons will use the wood cover. This will make it easy to distinguish the two armies' batteries (although Austrian Yellow Ochre and Prussian Blue will also do the trick).

Finally, I completed the first battalion of another Austrian regiment: Regiment Botta, in blue facings as well as a couple battalions of Austrian grenadiers. I will post pictures tomorrow.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Prussian Camp in the SYW

Marshal von Schwerin and his dog Otto greet one of the residents of Potsdorf, where the King's Army is encamped. Click or double click all pix to enlarge the view.

Last evening I tore down my winter terrain, stashed it away and then set up a large Prussian encampment during the SYW. Please stroll through the camp at your leisure and inspect what is going on. Also, please feel free to click on the comments box at the end of this blog entry and leave a comment or two. I like to read what people think.

All buildings are made by Herb Gundt, model master supreme. The handsome church and some of the large trees are my latest editions of Gundt masterpieces to grace my wargame table. I made all of the terrain squares a few years ago. They are ceiling tiles covered with spackle compound, brown paint and flock and are fairly easy to make, but not very durable, so I use these tiles mostly for game in my basement, rather than taking them to conventions.

Musketeer regiments von Winterfeld (orange flag) and Alt Braunschweig (yellow flags) practice their steps on the marchfeld in front of the town of Potsdorf.

Jagers patrol the nearby woods to catch any deserters or worse yet, some of those pesky Croats.

A view of the Prussian camp area behind the town church (made by Herb Gundt). On the left hand side you can see the field forge, artillery repair area and the field bakery. The soldiers tents can be seen on the right with the officers tents next to the church.

Der Alte Fritz addresses his generals and gives them the orders for the day. Note the sentry box near the Royal Tent. A courier arrives with a message.

Meanwhile, back in the camp, one of the rank & file gets familiar with a camp follower.

The stocks await any soldier who gets out of line in camp.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

2010 Year in Review (Part II)

My RSM French Army made their grand review in the summer of 2010

Let us continue with the review of the second half of 2010. I like to read comments from the viewers, so please feel free to click the word "comment" and then post a message or ask a question. I will answer your questions within the comments section.

July 2010
Not much to report on the gaming or painting front during July, as I was beginning the grand clear out of wargame armies and terrain. Packing old friends and sending them on to new inhabers took up most of my hobby related time during this period. One pleasant surprise was rediscovering my RSM French army, a part of which is pictured above. I just did an inventory of my SYW French army and it has 15 btns of 24 figures = 360 figures, 8 artillery pieces and crew(4 per gun) and 11 cavalry regiments of 12 figures = 132 horse and finally 8 command stands. Now this is a superbly painted army, by Dennis Smail of Lexington, and it is not an army that I want to part with, but if someone is crazy enough to wave a lot of cash in front of my nose and offer to buy the whole army lock/stock/barrel, I would have to reconsider. I will not consider any offers to break the army into pieces. So there you have it.

August 2010
I did not do any gaming in August as my daughter had leg surgery at the beginning of the month and I had to help her convalece at home. Most of my RSM Austrians and Bavarians found new homes, so I had a lot of figure packing to do.

On the painting docket, I finally found the time to paint that wonderful Prussian field forge that I purchased from Berliner Zinfiguren a couple of years ago and added some supply wagons and limbers to my Prussian battery.

Field forge from BZ, blacksmith and assistant from Hovels, tents from Miniature Building Authority. The artillery "gyn" or hoist was scratch built by der Alte Fritz. Artillery helpers are from the Minden pioneer set of figures.

September 2010
I finally got to play in a wargame, as our group traveled to DeKalb to visit Randy's house and play in his North Africa, circa late 19th-early 20th century wargame scenario. It was sort of based on The Wind & The Lion film.

My Redoubt US Marines prepare to "Speak Softly and Carry A Big Stick" somewhere in North Africa.

Moroccan Spahis (Askiri Miniatures, I think) serve as personal bodyguard for El Krobar.

October 2010
We fought the Battle of Korbach (July 1760?) at the end of the month, so this provided me with a little incentiver to first paint some more British cavalry, which our group is sorely lacking. So I added a squadron of Life Guards using some superb Stadden figures and H1 horses, as squadron of Suren British Horse (1st Horse Regiment) and a squadron of RSM British dragoon guards. It wasn't enough as the French continued their mastery over the redcoats in our series of BAR games. I don't believe that the British have ever won a battle. This is partially explained by the fact that we have refought Fontenoy several times and failed to reverse history. Nevertheless, my beloved redcoats will need some reinforcements in the future in order to improve their competitiveness.

My entire British cavalry contingent (5 squadrons of 12 figures = 60 figures), or enough to equal two French regiments (36 figures each) or one regiment of the French Carabiniers (60+ figures).

November 2010
Our group did not do any war gaming this month as the Korbach game was held on the last weekend of October and Thanksgiving holiday taking out a couple of good weekends, with everyone having family commitments, etc. So I took advantage of the extra hobby time to start work on the Austrian equivalent of the Prussian battery for my Minden project.

The first two sections of an eventual 4-section Austrian artillery battery that will have two 6pdrs and two 12pdrs. Guns are from Berliner Zinfiguren, crew are from Minden, and the limber teams in this picture are from RSM.

At some point during the year, I had also painted two battalions of the Kollowrat Austrian regiment, so now I was clearly in the build up phase for the Austrian army. My goal was to field two armies of Minden figures in time for the SYW Association Convention in March 2011, but now it looks like I might be running out of time unless I devote all of my spare time to painting my own figures. With a few commissions still left on the books, that might be hard to do and thus push the unveiling of the Minden game into 2012.

December 2010
We played two smaller games this month. The first was our annual Light Infantry game held at Chez Frey in Dekalb, and the second was the end of the year winter raid on the Austrian field bakery at Schloss Fritz, just after Christmas.

The capture of Lady Catherine by the Hesse Seewald Jagers in our annual light infantry game. We came THIS CLOSE to capturing that little scamp, Lady Diana Pettygree, who applied the business end of her riding crop to the faces of some jagers, who tried to grab at her reins. The rest of the little band of traitors managed to escape. But not Catherine, Mu ha ha ha ha!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I just realized that I have never posted pictures of the first game on this blog, and I will remedy that later this week. Needless to say, the minions of Lady de Winter had the little traitor, Lady Pettygree, literally in their grasp, but she managed to escape along with most of her retinue. Alas, pour Lady Catherine did not escape. The jagers turned her over to the tender mercies of Lady de Winter. What will happen to poor Catherine? Stay tuned in 2011 as more of the story behind the mysterious Black Coach is unveiled, at last.


Saturday, January 1, 2011

2010 Year in Review (Part I)

This was one of my favorite photos of 2010, depicting the Minden Prussian battery in full fig, as Harry Flashman might say.

This was one of my favorite painted units during 2010 - the Ottokaner Liccaner Croats from Minden Miniatures.

Happy New Year everyone, and may you all have a prosperous and healthy 2011. I was going to post my annual "year in review for 2010" before the sands of 2010 flowed away, but I was striken with a flu virus the past two days and sitting in front of my computer was a no-go as I could barely get out of bed. I'm still a little tired and dizzy, but my health seems to be improving as of 2PM on January 1, 2011.

As far as New Year's Resolutions, hmmm, I think that I will give up sugar again and see if it will help me loose a little bit of weight. It worked two years ago, when I lost 10 pounds, but a lot of the weight came back between the holidays as Mrs. Fritz and I discovered egg nog and scones at the new gourmet food shop that opened recently in Hesse Seewald. On the wargame front, I want to try and play some solo games this year with my Minden armies. In general, I would like to do more gaming and less painting -- afterall, we do collect all of these miniatures with an aim for eventually fighting battles with them. Too often, I forget about this and delve deeply into painting, to the exclusion of all else.

The first of the Fife & Drum moulds are flying over from the UK to the USA and I am hopeful that we will get the British Guards and Lights and the American Militia into production by the end of January. I am told that Continentals are next in the que on Richard Ansell's sculpting table. We will probably go back and forth between American and British forces so as to keep things even for both sides. It doesn't look like we will have a UK distributor, but you will be able to purchase Fife & Drum Miniatures directly from Battleroad Games & Hobbies.

Now, let's get on with the review of 2010:

January 2010
The new year opened with an interesting wargame at Chez Protz, featuring the Russian army of Count Apraxin and the second tier Prussian army commanded by the Duke of Bevern, somewhere in East Prussia. It was a nice Prussian victory with a double envelopment of the Russian flanks by the Prussians.

IR1 von Winterfeld Regiment in the Prussian army - Minden figures.

My new Seven Years War project using exclusively Minden Miniatures Austrians and Prussians got underway as I completed the first Prussian regiment (60 figures divided into 2 battalions of 30 figures) in January. Appropriately, I chose IR1 von Winterfeld as the first regiment in my Prussian army. You can see the picture, above, of the whole regiment, complete with GMB Designs flags.

February 2010
I hauled out the winter terrain, made by Herb Gundt along with snow mats from The Terrain Guy, for a refight of the Battle of Mollwitz, which took place on the snow covered fields of Silesia in April 1741. The game resulted in a Prussian victory that seemed to follow its historical source, with the Austrian cavalry riding down the Prussian cavalry while the Prussian infantry secured the victory in the center of the field. This was a play test for an eventual convention game at the SYWA Convention in March 2010.

The battle of Mollwitz, replayed in February 2010.

On the painting front, I completed IR5 Alt Braunschweig and the 1/23 Wedell Grenadier Battalion, using Minden figures. I also started the first dozen of the new Minden Prussian dragoons, painting them as the famous Bayreuth Dragoons (DR5).

March 2010
This month featured some good things and quite a few bad things. On the bad side of the ledger, we had another flood in our basement and had to get the chimney caps replaced, both of which put a big dent into the national exchequer of Hesse Seewald. Fortunately there was not much damage in the basement, so that was good. We had the pipes routed out as roots were clogging them up, causing the sump pump to work extra hard and burn out. We now have the problem fixed.

On the disappointing side of things, my colleagues in the SYW Association did not feel that my presentations of Leuthen and Mollwitz were worthy of the Mitchell Cup for the best in show game. I am not sure why this group continues to overlook my efforts to put on a fine game year after year, but this year was particularly hurtful for me as even the judge was raving over how good my games looked. I know that I put on the best games that I have ever done in my entire career in wargaming and can do no better. So I needed to let this pass and just conclude that my colleagues are never going to give me the honor of winning the Mitchell Cup. With that in mind, I endeavored to "get out of myself" and plunge ahead into new waters, as we shall see in April.

Here are a couple of photos from the Leuthen game at this year's SYWA convention.

Prussian Guards assault the Leuthen churchyard, held by the Rot Wurzburg regiment.

Austrian forces deploy in the village of Leuthen

On the painting front, I completed a battalion of Minden Prussian jagers (24 figures, later increased to 30 figures). I based them in a single rank, three per stand, with the same frontage as a formed battalion. This way, one can easily see that they are unformed troops by looking at the stands, yet they don't take up any more frontage if deployed in two ranks.

April 2010
I believe that Bill, Randy and I hosted a Fontenoy game at the Little Wars convention this year - my memory is a little faulty on this, but I definitely recall that the French crushed the British with another one of those famous wargame double envelopments of the British line. It was not a pretty thing to see if you are a fan of the British army, as I am. Sigh. Oh well, it was a good game nonetheless.

On the painting front, I started working on vignettes to improve the overall look of my wargame table. This has several benefits: they are fun to work on and advance your modeling skills, they look good, and the creativity helps me get over percieved slights mentioned in March. The vignettes proved to be very therapeutical for me.

Vignettes of (left to right) Wintefeld, Schwerin, and dragoon piquet duty.

The Marshal Schwerin command figure in the center was my first major figure conversion. I clipped off the right arm of an RSM Prussian general, added a wire armature for his arm, and covered it with green epoxy putty so that the arm is now pointing at something.

Artillery Hoist (l), Broken Wheel Repair (c) and Drag line (r) vignettes.

I used the Minden pioneer figures as Prussian artillery workers in the three vignettes shown above. With a little bit of minor arm movement and some imagination, you can have these wonderful figures doing practically anything!

May 2010
The Der Alte Fritz Journal surpassed the 200,000th visitor milestone some time on May 9, 2010. I am very honored that so many people take the time to visit my blog and want to thnk you all again for your support.

There were no games played this month, so I focused more time working on vignettes (The Die Hard Dragoon, Dragoon Officer with Telescope and the Artillery Hoist). I also completed the first battalion of IR49 von Diericke fusilier regiment, a few more Prussian dragoons and Croats.

By the end of May 2010, my Minden Prussian army was nearly completed with 8 battalions of infantry, 1 jager battalion, 3 x 12pd artillery and 3 x 3pd artillery and a dozen dragoons. From this point forward, I would be concentrating on adding Prussian cavalry or commencing the Austrian army.

My Minden Prussian Army as of May 20, 2010

June 2010
We opened up the month with a Sudan game at Chez Protz and my beloved Seaforth Highlanders were virtually wiped out in the battle. Those darn Fuzzies were upon me before I had time to whittle them down with firepower. It rather reminded me of the Zulu horn attack. Despite the disgrace, it was a fun game, even for me. There is something about 19th Century Colonial games that does not allow one to take it too seriously. Lots of "chin chin, better luck next time old bean" banter was going about during the course of the game. :)

It was a bad day for the Seaforth Highlanders...

The Black Hussars graduated from the painting table, all 30 figures, as did a battalion of Croats (Ottokaner Liccaner regiment). Wow, those Croats were fun to paint with all of the different animation in their poses.

The first 20 figures of the Bayreuth Dragoon Regiment

Minden Black Hussars, partially done in June.

Well, that takes us through the first half of 2010. The major accomplishments were building up my Prussian army, playing in six games, and finally getting the basement flood situation fixed. Come back tomorrow for part II of Fritz's 2010 Year In Review, covering July through December.