Saturday, October 28, 2017

Russian SYW Cossacks WIP

Russian Cossacks and Kalmuks burning Zorndorf. ("Zorndorf 1758" - Osprey Campaign  125 book). RSM Miniatures makes the two mounted figures in the center - tall hat with the red kaftan and the short hat with the orange kaftan. The Kalmuk shooting the bow and arrow might be found in some range of 28mm Asiatic Horse Armies, as their "uniforms" appear to be a bit of a throw back to days of olde.

I have been working on the cavalry portion of my nascent SYW Russian army, of late, and have some pictures of the Cossacks that I am working on over this weekend. Today I finished a 12-figure squadron of Russian Cossacks, shown below:

RSM Cossacks mounted on Minden light cavalry horses. The lances are cut down North Star 100mm spears .
Click all pictures to enlarge the view of the photograph.

I am using the RSM Cossacks, both in tall hat and short hat, for my Cossacks and am mounting them on Minden light cavalry horses. By using the Minden horses, this brings some consistency to the overall look of my Minden Russian army for the SYW.

Step 1 - sort by kaftan color
I want some variety in the appearance of my Cossacks and the best way to do this is to paint them all in different colors. So I sorted the figures into groups of threes and gave each group a different kaftan (the coat) color. Then to save time, the color that I paint on, say, the kaftan is used on one item in the other group of Cossacks. For example, the blue kaftan Cossacks on the left in the picture below - after painting the kaftan, I might use the same blue to paint the trousers of the next group of three figures, Then I would follow it up by using the blue on the saddle blanket or blanket roll on the back of the horse. 

This provides a little bit of economy on your time because you are using the same color for a number of different clothing items all at once, rather than going back and forth to the paint jar as needed.

Cossacks grouped by the color of their kaftan.
RSM Cossacks mounted on Minden horses - click picture to enlarge.

Step 2 - sort by horse color

Painting the horses different colors also adds to the variety of the unit. So the next step is to rearrange the Cossacks into groups of 3 or 4 figures and then paint each group's horses the same color. Again, this saves me a considerable amount of time.

Cossacks grouped by the color of their horses.

Step 3 - now mix all of them up
Now that I have finished the clothing and the horse colors on all figures, it is time to mix them up at random, as shown below. This also adds a look of variety to the Cossack hoard.

Now you can mix them up in any order to get the look of variety in the hoard.

A Connoisseur Cossack Find
I found a previous set of 14 Connoisseur Napoleonic Cossacks that I had painted years ago and it looks to me that they are somewhat compatible with the Minden figures, as shown below in the comparison of Cossacks to Minden dragoons.

Connoisseur on the left, Minden on the right.

This instantly gives me another 14 Cossacks to add to my army without having to paint them.

Dragoon Update
Last week I finished painting a 12-figure squadron of Russian dragoons. Since the uniforms of all dragoon regiments were the say, this unit could be any regiment in the Russian cavalry establishment. I plan on painting 12 more dragoons this coming week, to bring the regiment up to 24 riders.

A completed squadron of Russian dragoons, using Hanoverian Horse cavalry figures.

Russian Cavalry Organization in my Army

Might current thought is to have 24 figure units, one each, of horse grenadiers, dragoons, cuirassiers, and hussars, plus 30 to 40 Cossacks.

As of today, the horse grenadiers are completed, the dragoons and Cossacks are half-way done, and the cuirassiers and hussars are yet to be started.

I plan on painting the Horvath Hussars, who fought at Zorndorf, using the Austrian hussar figures. The Russian cuirassiers will be recruited from the Minden Austrian cuirassiers.

One of the nice things about 18th Century armies is that the uniforms are all very similar, in some fashion, so it is easy to "convert with paint" if you can not find the exact figures that you are looking for.


  1. So many splendid, and useful, cossacks...Impressive, congrats!

  2. They look great and I too try to use a few colours, but mix them up as you say, the create a varied yet unified look.

  3. I like painting Russians too! At least the uniforms are basically...uniform!
    Lovely figures painted beautifully!

  4. Your method of uniform variation is a good tip! The resulting Cossacks look suitably mixed. Nice!

    1. I forget to mention that I base the Cossacks in pairs, each with a different horse pose: one is galloping with its legged stretched out and the other with its legs bunched together. This also adds a look of variety to the unit.

  5. Like the cossacks, nice variation scheme

  6. AS I think I might have mentioned a few years back, you are a painting machine! In any case, wonderful brushwork (again)on all o the work you share in this post, but I am most taken by the cossacks, who appear almost charming (if that is the right word) in their newly painted kaftans and pants. Afor the dragoons, anything in a light(-er) blue coat gets my vote.

    Best REgards,


    1. Being retired and being an empty nester gives me a lot more free time for painting. 👍😉

  7. Delightful stuff. They look excellent. When will they be seeing the table in anger?

    1. I still need to build out my Russian army first, especially the cavalry. I have 4 btns of infantry but I can augment them with some of my 8 Hesse Seewald infantry, which also wear green coats.