Sunday, May 8, 2022

My Minden Mojo Is Back!


My newly painted Prussian regiment IR18 Prinz von Preussen

Getting Back to the 18th Century

I am taking a break from painting 54mm Punic Wars figures and getting back to my touchstone, which is painting Minden Seven Years War figures. It's been awhile since I have painted any of the 1/56 scale Minden figures and I wasn't sure how long it would take me to adjust to painting smaller miniatures. It turns out that it did not take me much time at all. Once I applied my brushes to the smaller figures, the joy of painting my Minden Prussians took over and I am now cranking them off of the assembly line at a rapid clip.

Today's fox is a return to my War of Austrian Succession ("WAS") "three ranks" project. I paint a battalion of 32 figures and the bulk of the rank and file are glued to their bases in two ranks. However, I then place the "file closers" ( NCOs, officers and drummers) behind the two ranks of soldiers and this creates the illusion of a three rank formation.

IR18 Prinz von Preussen regiment of two battalions deploys in front of a village.

The two pictures below show how the file closers form a third rank of war game figures.

Side view shows the placement of the third rank of command figures.

Note the placement of the 3-pound battalion gun on the flank of the battalion.

My New 3-Rank basing system

This newly painted Prussian regiment is IR18 Prinz von Preussen modeled in a firing line formation. My regiments consist of two battalions, each of 32 figures plus a 3-pound battalion gun with three crewmen for each battalion.

I am using MDF bases measuring 60mm frontage by 80mm depth. The size of the base provides sufficient depth to deploy figures firing their muskets without the muskets/bayonets hanging over the edge of the base. This provides a little extra protection for the firing figures from any handling damage. Plus, the extra depth of the base allows me to place the file closers in a third rank of figures.

I  used Hessian musketeers from the Fife and Drum Miniatures AWI figure range because they look "close enough" to SYW Prussians and I do not have Prussian firing poses in the Minden range. I used product codes  HP-002 Hessian Musketeer Command - Firing Line and HP-004 Hessian Musketeer Firing Line. The firing line packs come with 8 figures, four each of leveled muskets firing and a second rank with their muskets in a "get ready for firing" pose.

I do have the ability to augment the Hessian figures with some individual Prussian figures from the Minden figure range, such as Zimmerman with axe, NCO with pole arm or with musket, standard bearers, and musicians. Since the Minden and Fife & Drum figure ranges are compatible in size, I can employ command figures from both figure ranges.

Battalion Gun Solution

I think that I have finally developed a solution to the problem of how to use battalion guns in war games. Rather than having the gun and artillery crew acting as a separate unit, they are incorporated into the battalion as the fifth stand and are kind of there "just for looks." They do serve a purpose though: in my rules a unit fires with a D10 for every four figures in the battalion. For example, if the battalion strength has fallen from 32 figures down to 24 figures, the number of dice has also fallen from 8 dice at full strength to 6 dice. Thus the more casualty attrition during the game, the fewer the dice that the battalion can use when it fires its muskets. 

Where the battalion gun comes in is that the cannon stand gets one D10 added to the total number of dice that are being used to fire. For example, a battalion has 28 figures, so it gets seven D10 plus one extra D10 for having a battalion gun attached to the unit. Once a complete stand of infantry figures has been put out of action, the battalion gun stand is removed so that the battalion no longer gets the benefit of the extra D10 in combat. In other words, the battalion gun firing has nothing to do with the regular artillery firing table.

Musket range is 8-inches in my rules and 3-pound light artillery has a range of 20-inches. I will allow the battalion to fire the 3-pounder using the artillery firing table provided that the battalion has not moved on that turn. So the gun is always moving with the battalion and does not stop to fire unless the battalion has not moved during the turn.

I never knew what to do with the battalion guns in the past, but I think that this solution works nicely while also enhancing the visual look of the battalion.

Next Up In the Painting Queue

I have a 42-figure battalion of the Prussian Garde IR15-III that have been sitting on my painting table, partially painted, for at least a year. I plan on finishing this unit next.

This will then give me six battalions of infantry for my Three Rank Army on the Prussian side. The Austrians currently have seven battalions of infantry in the Three Rank Army system.

Both armies will have 10 to 12 battalions of infantry at the completion of the project. I do not have to change the unit size or basing of light infantry battalions such as Croats and Jagers. The cavalry basing does not need any changing either, other than to increase the unit size from 24 riders to 32 riders (but these additions will be painted slowly over time).

This afternoon I primed 32 Hessian Grenadiers in firing line poses to join my Prussian army as the Bornstadt Grenadier Battalion (5/20). These will get painted shortly, perhaps slipping in ahead of the Prussian Guards.


  1. Lovely!- as always! I don't have that regiment in my Prussian army, now I wish I had!

  2. Great work! Your painting is an inspiration.

  3. Great idea for the battalion gun! A clever way to get it on the table top without a lot of rule changes.

  4. Excellent Jim. We use the same method for battalion guns in our WSS games and it works a treat. The only difference is that we add two dice when at close range to simulate the ability to fire cannister.

    1. That's a good idea about the extra dice. I will give it a try.


  5. Very nice brush work and I like both the battalion gun rule and the three rank formation.

  6. They look fantastic. I really like your thoughts on the battalion guns. It seems occasionally that the battalion guns were pulled together to form a battery of sorts. Based on the battle maps of Prestonpans, the guns were all placed on the Hanoverian right as opposed to being deployed with the individual battalions. This, of course, did not help the Hanoverian's that day. I am curious to know how common a practice it was to decouple the guns from a battalion. I was planning on assigning the battalion guns to a brigade, rather than to each individual battalion. You have me rethinking that plan.

    1. I think that the Forty Five was a different situation from conventional SYW warfare and armies in that there wasn’t as much artillery at first and what they had was largely light artillery. So it stands to reason that the 3 pounders would have been used as position guns. IMHO.


  7. That does make sense. Even during the '45 at Culloden, which was a more conventional battle, the Duke of Cumberland appears to have deployed his battalion guns in the expected manner, on the flanks of his battalions of Foot, at least in the first line. All this talk of battalion guns has me now wondering if they would be left behind during a major assault such as at Fontenoy by the British contingent, or brought along to add some extra firepower?

    1. Hi, I have read accounts of Fontenoy that specifically mention the use of battalion guns by both sides. The British are even mentioned as using 6 pound guns as well. The source may be Skrine but I am not sure.