Monday, August 31, 2020

Scaling the Walls

Things look all quiet as morning dawns over the city of Khartoum in the Sudan

Well, maybe not so quiet after all. Here they come!


This week I will travel to Major General Pettygree's headquarters to play test the scaling of walls mechanism in his Colonial rules that we use for all of his battles. To that end, I made a few ladders that can accomodate the 1.5-inch round bases that I use for my Dervish soldiers.

Dervish riflemen rush forward to provide covering fire as the scaling parties run towards the walls.
The riflemen of the Red Banner fan out onto the plain.

Ladders are brought forward and the Dervish begin to scale the walls.

The Dervish find the vulnerable part of the walls, the artillery bastion.

"You there, pot that fellow"

One unfortunate crew man becomes the first Egyptian casualty as the Dervish crest the walls.

On another section of the walls, a desperate struggle begins.

Can the Egyptians fend off the attack?
Perhaps, as more Egyptian soldiers advance towards the walls to reinforce their comrades on the walls.
Major General Charles Gordon is on the rooftop of the Governor's Palace, looking in vain for the promised British gunboats that would help relieve Khartoum

Another view of the scaling of the walls provides a closer look at the ladders.

The ladder on the left was my first attempt, having a 2-inch wide rung
to accomodate the 1.5-inch round base of the Dervish figures. I have since reduced the
rung width to a more aesthetic looking 1.75-inches.

A view of two more wall sections that I constructed last evening.
They still need the floor decking to be glued and for the walls to be painted.

View of the new wall sections from the outside.
I have been gradually replacing the double decker walls with my own single deck walls.

The long view of Khartoum and the Dervish attack.

These pictures were staged to see how the Dervish would look whilst scaling the walls with ladders. The ladders accomodate up to three figures, which don't appear to be falling off the ladders. As I have stated in one of the picture captions, my goal is to replace all of the King & Country double decker walls with my own single deck walls, which I think look better and accomodate the use of scaling ladders in a game. Next on the list, another corner piece to place on the right hand side of the walls, as shown in the last picture above. I also want to make my own gateway and tower. The final building in the city will be the mosque, after which the building phase of the project will be finished.

Or will it?

I'm looking forward to hearing some of your comments, which is soothing to the soul of every blogger as opposed to the silent sound of crickets.

Wednesday evening is the official play test and will be my first war game since the pandemic started to grab hold in the United States. I will post a report of the test with some pictures, probably this coming Thursday.

Saturday, August 29, 2020

So Where Are We Going With This Project?

A view of the new walls (upper right corner) that I have incorporated
into my existing King & Country commercially available walls.

During today's session of the Virtual Wargames Club (or "VWC") on Zoom, someone asked me where I was headed with the 54mm Sudan Project, which is a good question to ask.

The project started with the idea of running a game at the Little Wars convention in April 2020, but we all know what happened to that (the convention, that is). Actually, in an odd way, it was kind of a good thing that the convention was cancelled because it afforded me the opportunity to take the game to a higher level than I had originally planned. One of the areas of upgrade turned out to be the terrain. I was going to go with some 54mm King & Country middle eastern buildings and a few cardboard boxes turned upside down and given a quick coat of paint, etc.

The Governor's Palace in Khartoum, where General Gordon made his last stand. The mosque is only roughed out in black foamcore board to serve as a placeholder for the eventual location of the mosque after I make it.

A close up view of the corner section that I made this week. It is large enough to accomodate
a crew of Egyptian artillery. The figures are Britian's "War Along the Nile " figure range.

The view of the three new wall sections from further out. 

The Dervish army masses in front of Khartoum as they get ready to launch their attack.

Given more time, I have been able to build my own buildings at a more measured pace and get exactly what I needed for the game that I had in mind. The term "measured pace" is a bit misleading because I have found that I am churning out buildings at a rate of one per week, which is really quite extraordinary for someone who has not made his own buildings since the late 1980s. Once I started making buildings, I picked up new techniques and short cuts that made the construction work easy, at least for me.

I have made six buildings so far plus three fortified wall sections so far and it seems as if the city of Khartoum is growing every week. So this leads me to the kernal of an idea for a Siege of Khartoum convention game in addition to the larger tactical game that I had first envisioned. Thus I can get two games out of the same bits of terrain and troops and perhaps stage both games at a future Little Wars or Historican convention.

Another participant in the VWC asked me how I intended to store all of these buildings. That is another good question and coincidentally I was asking myself the same question this morning. The short answer is "I don't know". The buildings are so large that I may only be able to fit one or two buildings into a storage box. The toy soldiers will fit into plastic boxes, the type that are designed to store under a bed - they have a pull-out drawer designed into the box. I will have to make a trip to Bed Bath & Beyond or The Container Store to scope out the types of plastic boxes that are available. Once I have the boxes I will probably store the buildings in a local storage locker that I am renting to hold lots of my other painted figures. It is an 8ft by 10ft locker and it is currently about half full at this point.

However, I think that I am kind of dodging the original question: where are you planning on taking your Sudan Project?

I know that I want to make more 54mm buildings so the city is likely to continue its growth and enlargement. I also want to make enough of my own walls to surround the town (6 feet wide and about 4 feet in depth). The walls could also be used to make stand alone desert forts. Each wall section is 12 inches long and the corner sections are about 8-inches square. I suppose that I will keep making buildings until I get tired of making buildings. LOL! I still have a lot of ideas for adding things like small shops (bakery, black smith, rug merchant, etc), alley ways covered with an arch, and of course, the town mosque. I could also add the two wings of the Governor's Palace and a riverfront wharf. The project goes as long as my imagination goes.

With respect to the number of troops that I plan to have, I want to have around a three to one ratio of Dervish to Imperial troops (British Empire troop types and Egyptians). This will work out to about one thousand Derivsh and three-hundred Imperials. The large size of the 54mm toy soldier figures requires a very very large game table. One of my warmer parts has a huge basement that holds three 6x36ft tables, parallel to each other. My grand Sudan game, in which the Imperial forces attempt to rescue General Gordon at Khartoum, will be played at both a convention and at my friend's huge basement tables. Major General Pettygree also has a substantial table set up, with a 6x24ft main table and back tables of the same length, but only 3 feet wide, on which we will play games slightly smaller.

Eventually I want to get back to some Seven Years War and American Revolution games on my table. However, this will entail packing away Khartoum and all of the Dervish, which is a big endeavor.

Major General Charles Gordon is still waiting for those tardy British gunboats to arrive and relieve the siege.
Gordon is a Tradition of London figure that I purchase as an unpainted casting. You may also purchase Gordon as a painted figure, but at a higher cost. The unpainted figure is economical and fun to paint.

Thursday, August 27, 2020

Khartoum Walls Pictures

Egyptian soldiers and artillery crew man the walls of Khartoum.

I have been working on the Khartoum town walls over the past several weeks, finishing the corner piece this afternoon. I built two 12-inch straight wall sections two weeks ago and worked on the corner segment this week.

I wanted to have an artillery platform somewhere along the city walls and the corner seemed to be the best location because the crew could turn the Krupp cannon in multiple directions. Cutting the small diagonal corner was the most difficult part of the modeling work. I was off by about 3/8ths of an inch, but I figured out a way to cover the error up. The piece is approximately 7-1/2 inches square. In the future I might just build. Square model and leave one of the corners sticking out or just simply slide the straight pieces backwards so that they are flush with the corner.

As with my other buildings I use half inch thick foam core board for the walls and balsa wood or basswood for the wall decking. The decks are finished off with coffee stir sticks from a prominent national coffee emporium. I used chalk paint on the walls and gave it a coating of brown wash, followed by dry brushing a linen white color over the surface.

General Gordon watches for the British gunboats that will never come.
Tradition of London 54mm figure painted by me.

I am really chuffed by how nice these walls look and they make me eager to make more wall pieces.

Wednesday, August 26, 2020

American Riflemen Painted Figures

I have finished painting the eight new American riflemen wearing hunting shirts and they comprise the product code CA-023 in the Fife and Drum Miniatures web store.

While we had the figures designed to use as Daniel Morgan’s corps of chosen riflemen at Saratoga, the figures can be used for all other AWI theaters of war. The variety of poses make them perfect for use in skirmish games as well as in a battalion of riflemen.

The figures are sold as Product Code CA-023 in the Fife and Drum Miniatures web store. Also, all AWI figures are available from Crann Tara Miniatures in the U.K. 


Sunday, August 23, 2020

New Products: Morgan’s Rifles Are In Stock

The shipment of the brand new American riflemen representing Daniel Morgan’s corps of chosen men, rifle armed, arrived two days ago. They are now available in the Fife and Drum Miniatures web store. The new product code for the riflemen is CA-023. Look for American Continentals in the American Revolution drop down menu. The are listed in the Continentals in Hunting Shirts section.
Web Store Link

The 8 different poses are packaged in one pack at a price of $16 per pack. They are now available at the introductory price of $15 per pack, through September 1, 2020.


Friday, August 21, 2020

Ed Phillips-Master Model Maker

Catherine the Great's Russian palace.
Ken Bunger sent me a link to a web page that featured an article about the historical models that Ed Phillips makes. Those readers who are members of the Seven Years War Association will know Ed very well and are already familiar with his talents as a diorama designer and maker of miniature models. Ed's work has been previously highlighted on this blog. I am fortunate to have a full set of Russian munitions wagons, a blacksmith vignette, a field bakery and supply depot, among others.

Ed Phillips Article

I had never seen the Russian Palace model before and I have to say that I am completely blown away by how wonderful the model looks. This may well be one of the best that Ed has ever made.

The Empress Catherine walking towards her coach, passing by her Guards.

Colonial village inspired by Trenton, NJ at the time of the AWI.

Click on the "subject" link at the bottom of this page to go to other pages on my blog that mention Ed and depict some of his models:

Here  (siege works and pontoon bridge) and Here (field bakery) and 2018 SYWA Convention Pictures

I have also included some of the vignettes that Ed has presented at the annual SYWA convention. Ed sometimes sells some of his models at the convention, while others are there for "show and tell" purposes. Ed's creativity is simply amazing as you can see from these pictures.

Maurice de Saxe vignette by Ed Phillips

French SYW era medical ambulance vignette by Ed.

Pontoon vignette made by Ed.

Minden Pioneer figures feature prominently in many of Ed's vignettes.
This model is now in my collection.

Russian artillery wagon, scratch built and very complicated.
Also in my collection, thankfully.

Ed is a real treasure to the hobby and one of the nicest people that you could ever hope to meet. I hope that we are able to have another SYWA convention next year so that we can see what he has been up to during the pandemic shut in period.

Congratulation Ed, your recognition is well deserved.

Wednesday, August 19, 2020

Governor’s Palace in Khartoum is Finished

Gordon’s palace in Khartoum. Sized for 54mm figures.

This evening I finished the construction and painting of Sudan Building Number 6, the Governor’s Palace in Khartoum. This building served as General Gordon’s residence and headquarters. It is where he made his final stand and met his demise. 

Contrary to popular myth, Gordon did not die passively on the steps to the palace. Quite rather, he fought the Dervish, room to room, along with one of his servants, Khaleel Orphali. Orphali survived and left us with a rather detailed account of Gordon’s demise.

A romanticized depiction of General Gordon’s death. It didn’t happen this way.
The reality was closer to this version.

The palace model had been sitting partially assembled for a couple of months and I decided to power through some of the drudgery bits ( the Windows in particular) and get the model completed. The walls are built with 1/2 inch thick black foam core board and the roof is made with bass wood. The decorative trim was purchased at Home Depot.

The palace. A number of European ex-pats watch General Gordon ride past on his camel.

I used chalk finish paint for the painting and used a lighter chalk paint to dry brush some texture onto the walls. The windows were a pain to make. The basic shape was made from balsa wood which is an easy material to work with. The hard part was making the door trim and the mullions on the windows. These were made from tiny wood craft sticks that I purchased from Michael’s Stores. Each little piece had to be measured and cut with a tiny Exacto saw and miter box set. Eventually I figured out that I could cut the match sticks with a pair of scissors.

I plan on building a balustrade For the balcony.

There is a lack of clarity with regard to the appearance of the Governor’s Palace. The original structure was destroyed by the Dervish after they captured Khartoum. A new palace was constructed on the same site using red brick and Georgian style windows on the upper floor. 

We do have a sketch of the building’s floor plan layout which provides clues to the palace’s Appearance. It was a two story building with two wings that were single story structures. This gave the palace a u-shape appearance with an iron fence across the open part of the U.

Floor plan of the Governor’s Palace in Khartoum.

A reasonably reliable drawing of the palace.
The new palace.

The rebuilt palace circa 1902, it is waterfront property on the White Nile.

For my own model, I decided to make just the central two-story structure in order to economize on its foot print on the game table. I might add the two wings at a later time.