Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Painting Challenge - Incorporated Militia Battalion of Upper Canada

It's been awhile since my last submission but I've had several units on the go.  These are a 24 man unit from the Incorporated Militia Battalion of Upper Canada.  However, only 8 count towards the challenge as I had painted the original 16 last year.   The  unit is mostly made up of Perry plastics with with a few exceptions as follows (all in the 8 new additions):

  • the two kneeling figures are Victrix plastics, but with Perry packs so as to have the same kit as the rest of the unit;
  • the officer with the round hat is from Brigade (ex Victrix) and comes in a pack with 3 metal command figures and 30 heads to turn Victrix British infantry into Royal Marines.  Apparently round hats were all the rage among the young Canadian officer corps during the war.

My old gaming buddy Ross had noted that my American infantry regiments gave the look of individual figures firing at will.  With this unit I tried to get the impression of platoon fire by completing the new 8 figures in firing poses and basing them together.  The remaining 4 bases hold figures in the process of reloading and readying to fire.

The Incorporated Militia Battalion was formed as a permanent standing force from men in the existing militia units of Upper Canada (now Ontario).  They were well trained and pretty much as good as regulars and fought well during the War of 1812.  Members of the unit served all along the frontier and fought in many of the battles.

The original plan was for red uniforms, but supply issues led to them getting green faced red for a time.  This makes a nice contrast in the thin red line.  Officers apparently got scarlet coats faced blue, and darned if I can find any reference to the musicians. In the end I decided that they got the regular green faced red with extra lace.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Go Chelsea

One of my students is going to Sochi (on the left below)

Pimping Loki's Giveaway

OK, my online buddy Andrew over at Loki's Great Hall is having a giveaway.  Because he's decent chap and an excellent painter (and ok because I want free swag) I am promoting his giveaway.

Please go check out his stuff.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Interesting Conversations With Shopkeepers

Yesterday my wife had to go to the fabric shop.  I go along because I am interested in her sewing/quilting hobbies and because can I use her discount card to buy useful stuff.  For instance, yesterday I got a small cutting mat for $3 (less than 2 quid for UK readers).  Plus she always knows the specials and when stuff is on a good sale, or if the "sale" is actually the normal price.  This was useful when I got the vinyl for my sea mat.

Any, I digress so back on track.  Yesterday, I popped across the street to the art & craft store to buy paints and look for X-acto blades.  I paint with mostly artist acrylics, plus some cheap craft acrylics and never touch the special "model" paints as I assume that they are the same stuff but cost more!  So I got my Liquitex flesh and iridescent bronze but struck out on Xacto blades.  The clerk looked at me and said "That's a very interesting combination of colours - what are you painting?".  She was good and said "OK that makes sense" with out looking too weirded out when I replied that I paint model soldiers.

It reminded me of a time early in my gaming career when I bought 3 metres of green felt for a gaming mat.  This was long before SWMBO so I paid full price, i.e. at a premium but I was young and uneducated in domestic and fabric matters.  This was in October, so close to Halloween. The clerk looked at my purchase and asked "Are you going as a frog?"

Monday, January 13, 2014

Painting Challenge - Entry Fee

Zeke was my entry fee for Curt's Painting Challenge.

I am not sure of Zeke's exact origins, but the smart money is that he is a Minifig Boer commando whom I inherited via RossMac's spare parts bin.  The old style true 25mm figures aren't much in fashion thee days but I think that they have a certain charm to them.  They paint up very nicely with the right approach.  

To the best of my memory (never the best), I've never seen a Peckinpah movie so I based him of Westerns that I have seen - True Grit (both of em), Butch Cassidy, Clint Eastwood etc.  I opted for a muted dusty appearance to suit the lone wolf who hasn't seen a bath or a laundry tub in a long time.

Painting Challenge - 9th US Infantry

Next up for me is the US 9th Infantry regiment, but once again only 8 of the 24 figures should count towards the Challenge.  I've been beefing up my 16 man units to 24 strong and the US 9th was next to get the upgrade.  These are a mix of 16 Perry figures and 8 Victrix.  The new additions are all Victrix and I partially rebased the unit to mix the two makes.  These were all painted up straight out of the box - ok, out of the box and then assembled as per the box as closely as I could get.

I've represented the 9th in the Official uniform - blue coat with red facings and white lace and the 1812 shako.  As with the 16th US,  the packs are a fudge as they regulation pack was shorter, softer sided and had black straps (not white).  More over there shouldn't be a blanket roll on top - I clearly painted these before I worked out that I should trim off the blanket roll like I did with the 16th.  I learn, but slowly, so the next US battalion will be the Perry figures with the shorter pack and the blanket roll trimmed off. 

I quite like how the unit paints up, but having looked at the photos I need to fix the flags a little.  RossMac noted that my 16th gave the impression of soldiers taking individual aimed shots rather than volleys, and I've aimed to get that appearance here as well.  I should really do a red coat unit that mimics the look of platoon volleys rippling up and down the line.

For the last two shots I have added the 2nd Light Dragoons.

That's 4 units of Americans.  Now I need to work on the good guys!

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Christmas Reading

Most years I tend to get some very good history books for Christmas, and 2013 was no exception.  Two are highly recommended. The third I haven't read yet, but based on my skim through and O'Hara's past work it'd bet my hat that it's a corker.

I am about halfway through this one.  The defenders have just pulled back from Maleme airport in fear of the seaborne invasion.  We'll see how that plays out for them…

Excellent work that gives the full story from before the Greco-Italian war in Albania through to resistance.  I find it very interesting how the SOE hired operatives for Greece - they looked at archeology and classics grads from Oxbridge.  The theory was that they would understand Greek!  It did also give them excellent cover.

On a personal note, it is kind of weird for me that two of the witnesses quoted also appeared in one of my favourite books from childhood - Gerald Durrell's My Family and Other Animals (Durrell's brother Lawrence and tutor Theo).

This is a book I've read before, but I am very happy to have my own copy instead of continually borrowing copies from local libraries.  I am sure the librarians are happy I have my own copy too!

Excellent book, and highly recommended - as are all of Graves work.  It covers both Crysler's Farm and Chateauguay, from the Americans two pronged assault on Montreal.

I haven't done more than skim through this yet, but his other books are excellent and this one looks great.  O'Hara covers the twin convoys Vigorous from Alexandria and Harpoon from Gibraltar in June 1942.  These actions are really the Italian Navy's best moments from WW2.

Vigorous turned home when the Italian heavy units closed and Harpoon resulted in the Battle of Panteleria.  Panteleria was the one occasion where the Italians won a surface engagement in WW2.

An Interesting New Range...

I got an e-newletter from the Perry twins this morning that directed me to their Metal Workbench.

There are many many possibilities for these…..

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Painting Challenge - US Second Light Dragoons War of !812

My next entry for the Painting Challenge are these 6 members of the US 2nd Light Dragoons.  They will serve as a small unit in my war of 1812 Black Powder based games.  The figures are Perry Miniatures plastic French Dragoons, from the same box that provided the light infantry unit the Trojan Greens.  Conversion work was minimal - I trimmed off the Plastron of the jacket otherwise everything else was paint work.

The French dragoon sword is really too heavy for light dragoons but it works.  I retained the dragoon muskets instead of rigging carbines, I also used an arm from the dismounted figures so that one trooper carries a firearm in hand.  I don't have a lot of info on the horse furniture (I love that term, it makes me think of equine recliners) but i think the French sheepskin and shabraque works OK.  I really enjoyed painting these figures, especially the horses.  However, my patience is not really up to the task of the assembly and gluing as I always rush things to get to the good stuff (the painting).

There were two regiments of US light dragoons and between the two of them detachments served at mos of the actions of the War of 1812.  likely their best moment was a Crysler's farm where the 2nd charged British regulars.  They were repulsed by fire but their action allowed most of the artillery to get away.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Painting Challenge Theme Round II - The Villain(s)

For my submission for the villains challenge, I present the Man Eating Lions of Tsavo.  The original lions were notorious for eating railway workers in British East Africa in the Late Victorian era.  They have been immortalized in books, films (The Ghost and the Darkness) and in stuffed form at the Field Museum in Chicago (I've included a shot of the real McCoy at the Field).  They decided that humans were more abundant, slower and tastier than regular Lion Chow.

More details can be found at the link

The figures are 28mm Ral Partha lionesses and were primed at least 10 years ago and possibly in the last millennium!  The original lions were males, but male Tsavo lions are maneless and a little sickly so it works as the other key differences between lions and lionesses are not visible on the figures.  I added a potential victim, gifted to me by Padre Mike in one of his visits last year.

The longest lived lion took numerous rifle hits and finally succumbed to 3 close range shots from a Martini-Henri.

Recent scientific research as reduced the number of kills accredited to these two puddy-tats.  Chemical analysis shows that one lion consumed 10.5 and 24.2 humans respectively.  Personally I think there are some questions that science doesn't need to answer.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Challenge Entry #2 - US 16th Infantry 1813

Eight of this 24 man unit make up my second submission.  These are the US 16th Infantry Regiment from the War of 1812 in 28mm.  The original 16 men I painted much earlier this year are Perry plastics and the 8 men I painted this week are Victrix plastics.  

These figures are based on a plate in the Osprey on the American War,  The US Army had difficulty obtaining blue cloth for its units, due in part to the trade embargoes that led to the war in the first place.  Many units made due with other colours, including the 16th who had black tunics with red facings and white lace.  Since officers bought their own uniforms they typically had the regulation blue faced red (although one expects as a premium price).  

My original plan was to put the Victrix figures on two separate bases and leave the 16 Perry-men as they were.  However, the two figure manufacturers have very different interpretations of the packs issued to British infantry.  The Perry figures have a shorter squatter pack while the Victrix packs are tall and skinnier.  Worse still, I took the blanket rolls off of my Perry figures (since the US didn't typically store their blankets on top) but left them on the Victrix figures.  I course noticed this right after I finished painting them in black tunics ….

I  decided that a miss-match of equipment was likely in 1813 and that using captured Brit kit to supplement was done as required.  But it looked better to blend the Victrix into the Perry masse rather than have them stand out on their own.  The two makes fit together well.  Once they were based I was telling them apart by their base shapes (Victrix's are square and Perry's round) or their packs.  

Given equipment and uniform issues, I gave the lot of them different coloured trousers.  My Trojan Green's faces didn't show the level of detail that I like so I gave these guys an extra wash of Raw Umber to bring the details out more (I hope).

Anyway the 16th fought in many of the key actions in the Niagara, Lake Ontario and Montreal campaigns.  Elements who present at York, Stoney Creek, Crysler's farm and Cook's Mills.

Inside the Polar Vortex

I'm staying inside with my cup of tea, my class prep (classes start Tuesday) and hopefully my paints.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

War of 1812 - Malicious Yanks and Malicious Canadians

OK now for the can of worms that is classifying Militia units for the war of 1812.  Once again I will use Black Powder as my starting point.

The big problem is that this is a wide catch-all phrase that covers units ranging from well-to-do new Englanders playing toy soldiers in fancy uniforms to farmers and shop keepers defending their homes to Kentucky backwoodsmen with rifles!   Variability also appears in results - as in some cases militia units fought very well and at others they melted away at the sight of the enemy.

I'm going to make things a little easier for myself to sticking to the campaign area that I am most interested in - the US/Canadian border along the Niagara, Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence.  Patriotism aside, this area saw 3 years of back and forth actions with lots of opportunities for "Table Top Teaser" actions as well as pitched battles.  The Western, Chesapeake and Louisiana fronts are all interesting but of more limited scope.

A few generalizations.

  • In general, the Canadian militia was more reliable than the US militia.  
  • Units who stayed in arms for entire campaigning seasons did better than part-timers who showed up when required.
  • Militia units did better on defence than on the attack.
  • Militia units often performed better when they were defending their own areas.  I'm not sure how to apply this one to the Canadian Volunteers in the US armies.  One could argue that having a bounty for treason on one's head would be a powerful incentive to fight to the end or alternately run away!

Rather than attempt to classify each type of militia unit separately, I am going to list potential BP "special rules" that can be applied to militia units.  Note that I am planning to treat the best Canadian militia units (the Incorporated and Select Militias and permanent light infantry units) as regulars.

  • Unreliable (no move on an Equal Command Roll).  This is pretty much a given for most militia units.  It simulates both unfamiliarity in drill and manoeuvre and also the animosity on the US side between militia and regular officers.
  • Freshly Raised (random effectiveness on first shot or melee).  This seems tailor made for the part timers.  Regular officers never quite knew the metal of their militiamen until the point of contact.
  • Untested (random stamina).  More variability, which represents that generals could never be sure how many militiamen answered the call, or their willingness to stay in the fight once they got there.
  • First Fire and Form Square- nope and nope.
  • Rifles:  some US militia companies carried rifles, notably New Yorkers playing dress up and Kentucky back woodsmen.  Some Canadian militia units also had rifle companies but these were much less prominent.
  • Sharp Shooters (reroll one miss)  it seems apropos to give a very select few of the Davey Crocket's of the backwoods this bonus.
  • Skirmishers militia seems to either fought in line (badly) or in skirmish (with mixed results but generally much better).   I would suggest that once a militia unit goes into skirmish order, it should not be able to form up again.  They can arrive on table in column or line and go into skirmish, the the reverse shouldn't be available.  Mixed Formation also seems too complex for militia, it's an all in skirmish or none thing.
  • Marauders would only apply to very high quality back woodsmen (Kentucky vets of Indian campaigns).
So in summary, I expect to field militia units which are Unreliable and often Freshly Raised.  In the case where militia are raised quickly following an alarm I would count them as Untested.  I will field them as small units to make them brittle and allow a proportion to skirmish.

Next time round - Cavalry and Native troops.