Thursday, August 30, 2007

Artillery Accoutrements in the SYW

For SYW games using the Batatilles de l'Ancien Regime ("BAR") rules, we like to crew our artillery pieces in the following manner:

Heavy Guns = 6 crew
Medium Guns = 4 or 5 crew
Light Gund = 3 or 4 crew

As you can see from the picture above, the crew figures are individually mounted on 1" square terrained bases while the gun castings are free standing. This facilitates the hooking up of the gun trail onto the limber, which is posted to the rear of the battery. The limber teams depicted in the photograph are from RSM95 and are available from the Dayton Painting Consortium, the owners of the RSM range of figures. To the rear of the limber park, you may have noticed an artillery wagon (Hinchcliffe) with an RSM driver and RSM artillery horses.

The limbers and ammo wagons are a nice touch and they are what I like to call "the accoutrements" of the wargame tableau. Accoutrements are those little extra pieces that improve the visual appearance of the wargame. Other examples of artillery accoutrements might be things such as blown up gun models, disabled limbers, dead limber horses, etc. I know one gamer who makes little artillery vignettes wherein the artillery matrosses (the hired manual labor) have attached ropes to the guns and are dragging them forward. So every time he has the crew prolonging the artillery piece by hand, he substitutes the prolonging vignette for the actual gun model. What a clever idea. Alte Fritz may have to steal, er, borrow that idea. A tip of the tricorn to Mr. John Ray in the UK for that idea.

Other elements of our artillery battery include the mounted artillery officer (the Elite Miniatures SYW Prussian mounted officer), the gun models (Elite Miniatures SYW French 12 pounders painted as Prussian guns), and artillery crew courtesy of Wargames Foundry. In this instance, I went with the larger 28mm Foundry Prussian artillery crew instead of the 25mm RSM artillerist, which would have been dwarfed by the super-sized Elite gun models. The Foundry crew have nice animation and come in 6 different poses. Thus, on a "heavy" gun, I can have 6 different poses comprising the whole gun crew.

I must say that the whole tableau looks very nice once all of the elements are put together. The limbers give one a better sense of the depth of space required for an artillery battery, something that is sorely missing if one does not use limbers in the wargame. I also like the idea of being able to hook up the gun model to the limber to depict the gun section in limber mode. My inspiration for all of this comes from Charles Grant's book "The Wargame" and Peter Young's book "Charge".

Now some of you may think that it is a royal pain in the neck to spend all of that time and money acquiring the limber pieces and spending the time painting them. But let me assure you that it is time/money well spent. As a little added incentive, my colleague Bill Protz and I made an agreement that after a certain date, all artillery pieces had to have a limber team or else the gun model had to be prolonged manually at one or two inches per turn. Believe me, that gave us plenty of incentive to get the job done! So no more of this "turning the gun model in reverse" to indicate a limbered gun. No siree, Alte Fritz has horse power for all of his artillery pieces now. Going forward, I plan to always paint a limber team every time I add a new gun model. It's a good habit to get into.


  1. Hello again Jim,

    Another terrific photo of your troops. It's always fun to see lots of crew around a couple of cannon AND a mounted artillery officer. Neat to learn that Young, Lawford, and Grant were the inspiration behind your battery organization too. My batteries are similarly organized. Now, it looks like I've got to get painting on some limbers and ammo wagons to remain in good stead among all of the SYW afficienados using BAR rules!

    Best Regards,


  2. Great stuff AF, these pics will prove a great reference to me when I enter the period. Also it was nice to see some shots of the RSM line.

  3. Jim,

    Clicking on the artillery photo brings up a much more detailed photo. I was a bit disappointed that the previous photos (particularly of the Horse) only showed a photo of the same size.

    Thank you again for sharing your thoughts.

    -- Jeff of Saxe-Bearstein

  4. Jeff: wow, I hadn't realized that clicking on the picture would expand it to full size. Funny that the cavalry picture doesn't do the same. Both pictures were taken by me. The RSM pics were "borrowed" from Patrick Lewis so I have no control over those.

    I have sooooo much to learn about digital photography.


  5. Jim,

    You really need to add some artillery equipment from berliner zinnfiguren

    go on - you know you want them..

  6. "You really need to add some artillery equipment from berliner zinnfiguren"

    I just went there to look. How on earth do you find anything on that site?

  7. I actually placed an order for artillery equipment at Berlin Zinnfiguren yesterday. I intend to post a blog on this topic within the next couple of days. So stay tuned. I should probably post the product numbers to assist finding the items.

  8. Frank: the short answer is to type in the word "Metallmodell" into the search engine in the upper left hand corner of the Berlin Zinnfiguren web site. That should get you to the thumbnail pics of the artillery equipment.

    If that doesn't work, then type in the stock numbers 207/PR1 through 207/PR9 for the first 9 items, or type in 268/1 through 268/4 for the second batch of items.

    Let me know if that works or not.

  9. Found them!

    Oh dear, they are VERY nice indeed!
    Expensive though, but those guns are beautiful, as are the Elite French guns you spoke of before.

    I've checked them out too.I can see some expense ahead, on top of having my own ranges made.

    I think my wallet is going to need first aid in the not too distant future.