Sunday, February 28, 2021

Fritz Expands His Artillery Park. Yikes!

Prussian artillery battery composed of seven cannon: two each of 12-pound Brummers,
and 10-pound howitzers, and three regular 12-pounder guns.

Click or Double Click on All Pictures to Expand the View

The past couple of weeks I have focused on building out my Austrian and Prussian artillery units so that each cannon model has its own munitions wagon and 4-horse limber team. I started with the additions to the Prussian artillery. Come on, did you really expect otherwise?

I confess that I borrowed this idea from Barry Hilton, as shown in his Revolution to Empire set of rules wherein he did the same for one of his Napoleonic artillery batteries. The idea is that there would have been a significant area behind the cannon that was filled with equipment such as munitions wagons, repair workers, limber teams, and a beehive of activity from all of the support crew carrying munitions from the wagons to the actual cannon. The laborers, who moved the guns so that they could be resited by the professional artillery crew, are also depicted immediately behind the cannon models.

Side view of the Prussian artillery battery gives one a sense of how deep
the area of an artillery deployment is what with all of the supporting equipment.

Another side view of the artillery battery.

My cannon models are not glued or otherwise attached to the bases, which allows me to pick and choose the types of cannon that I want to use in a particular game. For example, the giant 12-pound Brummer fortress guns were not used in very many battles (think Leuthen for a notable example of their use in a battle) so I might want to use the regular Prussian 12-pounders in my game, or some of the 6-pounders or 10-pound howitzers. Fredick seemed to especially like his howitzers so there should be a couple used in every game.

The artillery battery vignette shown in these pictures features Minden Miniatures Prussian artillerymen and the generic pioneers in waistcoats, used as the mattrosses, or laborers. The cannon models are all from the Fife and Drum Miniatures artillery selections in the catalog.

The limbers are a mix of Fife and Drum Y-shaped limbers as well as some of the more expensive limber models from Berliner Zinnfiguren. The limber horses are a mix of RSM standing limber horses and Minden walking horses. The munitions wagons are from Front Rank Miniatures and Fife and Drum Miniatures. The pictures give you a sense of how nicely everything fits together.

I like how this looks. What do you think?

Your comments and questions would be most welcomed in the comment section at the bottom of this blog thread.

I still need to paint three more munitions wagons to complete the Prussian artillery park and then I will start working on the Austrian equivalent.

Some war gamers will view the need for limbers and wagons as an uneccessary addition and expense, but the effort really pays off. One doesn't have to use 4-horse limber teams, two horses will look just as nice. In fact, I use 2-horse teams for the munitions wagons due largely to the fact that I can't fit the wagon and four horses onto the 60mm by 120mm bases that I use for ammo wagons. I also use the same size bases for my limbers and cannons. The laborers are mounted on a 60mm by 40mm base. You will note that all of my artillery/component bases are 60mm wide so that everything lines up neat and tidy when deployed or on the move.

When I limber up and move the guns, the gun is hooked onto the back of the limber, followed by the gun crew stand, followed by the laborer stand and the munitions wagon. When the gun is ready to unlimber and deploy, then the gun is placed back on its stand, backed up by the laborers, the munitions wagon, and finally the limber team.

I also have some extra repair vignettes such as a field forge, a gun with a broken wheel, and an artillery "gin" (a device with a pulley that is used to lift the heavy gun barrel off of the gun carriage in the event that the carriage needs to be replaced and repaired). 

The field forge would be used to repair iron work on the equipment or to reshoe horse shoes for the limber horses. These vignettes are not placed with the gun battery, but rather, further behind the lines back at the camp. They look particularly nice and add to the overall look of one's table top.

Wednesday, February 24, 2021

Richard Ansell


Minden Miniatures Seven Years War Hanoverian Musketeers

It is with deep regret and sorrow to hear that Richard Ansell passed away on February 11, 2021 due to complications with an old injury. On the way to having exploratory surgery to repair old wounds from his reenacting days, he suffered a heart attack from which he did not recover.

Those of you who are regular readers of my blog will know that Richard sculpted both the Fife and Drum Miniatures AWI and Minden Miniatures SYW figure ranges. Richard's talents also extended to such fine figure ranges as The Assault Group, Alban Miniatures, Crann Tara, Rif-Raf Miniatures, Hasselfree Miniatures and many others.

While Richard could sculpt in almost any style, his trademark style was a more anatomically correct and proportioned style, sculpted in the 1/56 scale (approximately 30mm high). Because his figures were done in a "scale" rather than a "size/height", they looked like real people rendered in miniature. At a time when the trend in figures was for "heroically proportioned" warriors with over sized heads, big hands and impossibly large weapons, Richard's anatomically correct style stood out from the rest of the crowd.

It was Richard's figure style that really caught my eye back in 2009 to 2010 when I stumbled upon the Minden Miniatures range, created by Frank Hammond and sculpted by Richard Ansell. The second I saw my first Minden figure, I knew that this was what I wanted to collect and paint. I bought lots and lots of Mindens from Frank, liking them so much that I bought the company when Frank offered it to me for sale.

Concurrently, I had started my own AWI figure range called Fife and Drum Miniatures in 2010. Richard was the sculptor for the range and I couldn't have made a better choice in sculptors. In addition to his exceptional sculpting talents, Richard was the nicest man that you could ever hope to know and he was a pleasure to work with. As noted above, he sculpted on commission for many other companies, so I had to wait in the revolving queue for my turn to have him sculpt figures. He worked at a pace of 8 figures per month, with 16 figures being the normal amount of figures that one could put into a standard master mould. So each commission was for 16 figures.

Every few months I would get an email from Richard saying "well Jim, what shall we do this month?" We would go over a few ideas with me giving Richard some broard perameters and ideas. Then I would sit back and wait, like a kid on Christmas Day, to see what wonderful goodies would appear two months hence. In some instances I would just give Richard some general ideas and tell him to just "go for it and stretch the bounderies of your  imagination". And the results always exceeded my expectations, particularly when it came to the personality figures, where he could really let his talent run free with creativity.

A great example of Richard's creativity in one of those "just go for it" moments, was when he made this sculpt of the Prussian hussar general von Zieten. This was sculpted as a special commission for one of our Minden Miniatures customers. The customer sent me a picture from a historical print and Richard rendered it  in green epoxy putty to perfection.

The inspiration for the von Zieten sculpt.

Von Zieten personality figure - a special commission for one of my Minden Miniatures customers.

It is very sad to see such great talent leave us, but even more so to lose a friend. I extend my condolences and best wishes to Richard's wife Coral. Richard, we are all better for having brushed up against you. Take care old friend.

Thursday, February 18, 2021

Painting Prussian Artillery Crews


Prussian artillery battery deploys in front of a popular drinking establishment.

This week's fox is the painting of several sets of SYW Prussian artillery crew and matrosses to fill in some holes in my Prussian artillery park. I often use the Minden Pioneers figures as either the fellows who push and pull the cannons into place or as actual artillery crewmen who have taken off their uniform coat to man the cannon in their waistcoats.

The Prussian artillery deploys in the village square as the locals look on in wonderment.

Take a look and judge for yourselves:

This week's painting production consists of all the crew shown above. The cannons were painted previously.

My new Prussian artillery battery (L to R): 12-pounder, 10-pound howitzer, and 3-pound battalion gun.

Another view of the same artillery battery, but with the addition of a munitions wagon in the background  and some civilians carrying crates of ammo to the cannons.

Both the artillery crew figures and the Pioneer figures come with open hands and an assortment of tools that allow one to customize each figure. In addition, I sometimes give some of the figures a drag rope to hold in their hands - the drag ropes would be attached to the cannon so that the men could pull the piece back in to its firing position.  I make the drag ropes from bits of florists wire that I twist together to make it look like they are holding cabled rope. Other figures get a piece of wire to hold, which represents a wood lever to use to pry the gun trail off of the ground, or to use as one of the poles that slide through a pair of rings on the gun trail, which are then used to left the trail to move it by hand.

Some of the Pioneers in waistcoats are holding artillery tools such as linstocks, rammers, water buckets and worms, etc. This makes them look like crew men who have removed their blue uniform coats so that they can get to work wearing waistcoats.

Each gun model is mounted, unattached, on an MDF base (60mm by 100mm). I glue four crew to all of my medium and heavy guns, but only three crew for light guns. I also place a smaller stand (60mm by 30mm) with two matrosses that is placed behind the gun model stand. This is done mostly for "looks" to indicate some of the depth of "stuff" that is found behind an artillery piece. I would typically include a limber and team of four horses behind each medium (5-8 pounds) and heavy ( > 9 pounds) cannon model. Light cannon (1 to 4 pounds) generally do not get a limber team because I usually attach the light guns to the infantry battalions and so the guns move with the stands of the infantry.

The 3-pound battalion gun is detached from the rest of the battery and
placed by itself on the righthand side of the picture. The Winterfeldt Regiment (IR1) is
 marching down the road to provide support to the artillery.

All of the pictures are set up on a game mat from Cigar Box Battle Mats, which have become one of my favorite mats to use on my game table.  Link to the web site: Cigar Box Battle Mats. This particular mat is the New Europe Plus (6ft by 4ft) and I use it with the New Europe Two mat that creates a table surface of approximately 10ft long by 6ft wide. The width of the mats are closer to 5ft rather than the 4ft Plus advertised. 

All of the buildings shown in my pictures were made by Herb Gundt, who also made the corn fields and trees that you can see in the background.

Nearly all of the miniatures are from the Fife and Drum and Minden Miniatures ranges of figures. There are also several civilians from Perry and Blue Moon.

Next UP:

Prussian Winterfeldt regiment IR1

Tuesday, February 16, 2021

Bella the Destroyer 1, Austrians Nil


An Esterhazy Hussar in Austrian service didn't stand much of 
a chance against a 30-pound Golden Retriever puppy.

Our six month old Golden Retriever puppy, Bella the Destroyer, has taken a shine to my collection of wargaming miniatures. The match was played on a fast pitch, which favored the fleet visiting team over the slower, aged home side. The match was scoreless over the first ten minutes, but soon the four legs of the faster hound employed her superior speed as she breezed by the defender and scored the goal. It was a very inept showing by the home team.

Here is a picture of her recent encounter with one of the Austrian Esterhazy Hussars. It did not turn out well for the Hussar:

A lovely looking Minden Miniatures Austrian Hussar after its encounter with Bella the Destroyer.

At least I can say that Bella the Destroyer is a pro-Prussian puppy, given her predilection for destroying Austrian soldiers. That is good news in Potsdam, but bad news in Vienna. There are enough surviving pieces  that might enable me to put the poor Hussar back together. I think that I would leave the damaged bits in their unpainted, chipped paint state and put the figure on display as a warning to any other wayward figures.

Yesterday, I was sitting at my painting table and I noticed that Bella the Destroyer was nosing around near a box of AWI skirmish game figures. After the Hussar Incident (it is now officially an incident) I could only deduce that she was up to no good. Sure enough, by the time I raced the 10 feet from my seat to where Bella stood, she was in the process of picking up a Continental soldier. Fortunately, I was able to wrest the soldier from Bella's maw (I like that word: maw) and return it to its box unharmed. The Continental fared much better than the Hussar.

I am now put on notice that my wargame figures are "fair game", so to speak, and that any future attacks on Vienna or other realms will be entirely my fault unless I keep the Little Men out of reach of the menacing hound.

Friday, February 12, 2021

Von Riedesel Grenadiers of Brunswick


General von Riedesel and the grenadier company of his regiment ask the local citizenry for directions.

Just for the fun of it I decided to do a minor conversion of some Fife and Drum Miniatures Hessian Grenadiers and turn them into Brunswick grenadiers for my Saratoga Campaign armies.

The conversion involves nothing more than filing down the top of the figure’s gaiters which turns the leg into a pair of one-piece overalls. I then painted the twelve figures as the von Riedesel grenadier company which was part of von Breyman’s converged grenadier battalion at Saratoga. The battalion was comprised of the four grenadier companies of the parent Brunswick musketeer regiments that were a part of Burgoyne’s army.

Here are a few more pictures of the unit:

Sunday, February 7, 2021

Farewell Old Nosey, Rest In Peace


Christopher Plummer as the Duke of Wellington in the movie "Waterloo"

The actor Christopher Plummer passed away on February 5, 2021. While most obituaries cite his role in The Sound of Music, and rightly so, his role as the Duke of Wellington in the film "Waterloo" is how I best remember him. The actor who played Wellington/Wellesley in the Sharpe series may have been more spot on, but Christopher Plummer will always be how I remember him.

Here is a synopsis of Plummer's acting career, from the Rotten Tomatoes site:

Christopher Plummer, who rose to international fame as Captain Von Trapp in The Sound of Music, began his screen career with an “and introducing” credit on Sidney Lumet’s 1958 Stage Struck. By 1965 he would be known everywhere as papa Trapp, but Sound of Music was lighter fare for Plummer, a movie that punctuated a career building around military epics and classic-style adventures like The Fall of the Roman EmpireBattle of BritainWaterloo, and The Man Who Would Be King.

The Silent PartnerMurder by DecreeStar Trek IV: The Undiscovered Country, and 12 Monkeys were among his movie highlights until a career resurgence with 1999’s The Insider, the Michael Mann big-tobacco expose with Al Pacino and Russell Crowe. This opened to a string of critical and commerical hits, including Best Picture-winner A Beautiful MindInside Man, and Up.

At 80, he recieved his first Oscar nomination for The Last Station. He won the Best Supporting Actor Oscar for Beginners, as a man finding a new lease on life in his later years, at age 82, becoming the oldest to ever win an acting Oscar. He also became the oldest to be nominated for an acting Oscar at age 88 for his last-minute casting to Ridley Scott’s All the Money in the World.

Among Plummer’s final roles were as Ebenezer Scrooge in The Man Who Invented Christmas, and as Harlan Thrombey in Rian Johnson’s whodunit Knives Out

Here are some of Plummer's lines from the film Waterloo. I am sure that everyone remembers them well.

(My favorite Plummer/Wellington line: "I like a man who can defend a hopeless position. Promote him to corporal!")