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Friday, December 31, 2010

The Black Brunswickers - A different painting challenge

In my opinion, the best historical figures being sculpted today in 28mm are done by Alan and Michael Perry of Perry Miniatures. Formerly with Wargames Foundry and still with Games Workshop, the Perry twins put out fantastic figures in metal and hard plastic. In the United States, Perry Miniatures are only 3 days away from

So, how hard is it to paint figures that are uniformed in black.? Well, I wouldn't say difficult, put it does require some different techniques.

The Brunswick miniatures from the Perrys are nicely detailed and I wanted that detail to show up. The figures I purchased are for the Lieb Battalion of the 1815 campaign that culminated in Waterloo.

The unit that I'm going to do for the Peninsular, is the Oels Jagers. Fortunately for me, the uniforms are extremely similar with only minor variations that would not be noticeable in the 28mm scale.

After priming the figures black, I lightly (and I do mean lightly!) drybrushed the figures with gray to bring out the highlights.

For the officer's lace, I also lightly drybrushed the lace with silver to bring out the finer materials that the officers would have.

After that, it was pretty simple knocking out the usual faces, muskets, etc. Again, it's easy painting quality figures.

The sharpshooter company of the Oels Jager had the same uniform but with dark green jackets and gray breeches. To make the rifle, I cut off the bayonet of one of the other figures and filed the end.

In Volley and Bayonet, "skirmishers" represent detachments of battalion sized units that might be sent to take an objective or occupy key terrain. Starting with the Napoleonic period, they can also be used to increase the fighting capability of brigades.

The infantry packs for Perry Miniatures come 6 to a pack; so with a command pack and a regular infantry pack I was able to use 8 figures for the brigade stand and 2 figures for the skirmish stand.

Now all I have to do is finish the bases this weekend and fix the chevrons (they should be white) on the NCO.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Hessians on the way to Spain and Portugal

The Gross und Erbprinz Regiment from Hesse-Darmstadt is all done and marching to the Iberian Peninsula.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Our Germans vs. Their Germans: The Black Brunswickers

I've been adding some of the German forces that fought with Napoleon in Spain; now it is time to add some of the Germans that fought with the British. First up will be the Black Brunswickers followed by the King's German Legion. Perry Miniatures' line of the forces of Brunswick are some of the finest miniatures I have ever painted.

The Black Brunswickers were a volunteer corps raised by German-born Frederick William, Duke of Brunswick-Wolfenbuttel (1771–1815) to fight in the Napoleonic Wars. The Duke was a harsh opponent of Napoloen's occupation of numerous German states. Formed in 1809 when war broke out between the French and Austria the corps initially comprised a mixed force, around 2300 strong, of infantry, cavalry and later supporting artillery.

Distinctively attired in black with a silvered death's head badge on their hats, the volunteers were nicknamed the Black Horde or the Black Legion; their more commonly-known title was the result of the Duke's temporary capture of the German city of Braunschweig (Brunswick) from the French in 1809. The Black Brunswickers earned themselves a fearsome reputation over the following decade, taking part in several significant battles including the pre-Waterloo engagement at Quatre Bras on 16 June 1815, where the Duke lost his life.

In 1806 the Duke's father, Charles Ferdinand, was fatally wounded during the Prussian defeat at the twin battles of Jena-Auerstadt. Following Prussia's defeat and the collapse of the Fourth Coalition against Napoleon, his duchy remained under French control. Rather than permit the Duke to succeed to his father's title, Napoleon seized the duchy and, in 1807, incorporated it into his newly-created model Kingdom of Westphalia ruled by his brother Jerome. Two years later in 1809 the Fifth Coalition against Napoleon was formed between the Austrian Empire and the United Kingdom. The dispossessed Frederick William, who had been a strenuous critic of French domination in Germany, seized this opportunity to seek Austrian help to raise an armed force. To finance this venture he mortgaged his principality in Oels. In its initial incarnation (dated to 25 July 1809), the 2300-strong 'free' corps consisted of two battalions of infantry, one Jager battalion, a company of sharpshooters, and a mixed cavalry contingent including Hussars and Uhlans (lancers).

Later that same year Frederick William led his "Schwarze Schar" (Black Horde) into Germany, and succeeded in briefly taking control of the city of Brunswick, earning his corps its epithet: the Black Brunswickers. He was soon driven out, but managed to flee with his troops to England where he joined his cousin and brother-in-law, the Prince-regent (later King George IV). During the next few years, the Brunswickers earned themselves a sound reputation through service with the British in the Peninsular War. However, steady attrition in battles and skirmishes through Portugal and Spain, combined with a lack of political support and financial difficulties, led to a situation where the unit's imminent disbandment looked likely.

Peninsular War

When organized for British service, the corps was renamed the Brunswick Oels Jägers and Brunswick Oels Hussar Regiments. Prussians represented a large part of the original officer corps, while the enlisted men were motivated by German patriotism. However, once the Oels entered English service, they were cut off from their natural recruiting grounds. Compelled to enlist men from the prisoner of war camps to fill up the ranks, the quality of soldiers in the Oels decreased. Worse, the King's German Legion obtained the best of the German recruits, leaving the Oels with the less desirable ones. In addition to Germans, the Oels recruited Poles, Swiss, Danes, Dutch, and Croats.

Nevertheless, the Brunswick Oels Jägers gave a good account of themselves during the war. The regiment—really a single battalion—arrived in Portugal in early 1811. The Duke of Wellington distributed one company to the 4th Division and two companies to the5th Division as skirmishers, while the remaining nine companies served in the newly-formed 7th Division. The Oels remained in this organization until the end of the war in April 1814. During this period, the Oels served in most of the major battles including Fuentes de Onoro, Salamanca, Vitoria, the Pyranees, Nivelle, the Nive and Othez.

Statue of the Duke of Brunswick in Braunschweig.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Hesse-Darmstadt WIP #5 and I guessed right on the drum

The figures for the Gross und Erbprinz Regiment are complete; but more importantly, I confirmed through additional research over the last few days that I guessed correctly on the drummer and the drum.

During my research I found a good, concise article for wargamers on the Army of Hesse-Darmstadt from 1806-1814 from the Napoleonic Association of the UK - a historical reenactment group. Interestingly, there is contradictory evidence as to the color of the turnbacks on the coat; some references have red and some have yellow. My guess is that the color of the turnbacks changed during the period. Since I already painted the turnbacks yellow - yellow it is!

Here is a link to The Hinton Hunter, a blog dedicated to classic 20mm Hinton figures. He has several entries and references for Hesse-Darmstadt.

After gluing on the base with white glue, I always let them dry overnight before finishing the base.

As you can see the Foundry figures are compatible in size with the Perry Plastics; not surprising since the Perry twins sculpted most of the Foundry figures.

Next project for VnB: Our Germans vs. Their Germans.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Merry Christmas and Hesse-Darmstadt WIP #4

Merry Christmas to all!

With Friday a day off from work, I took a little time to work some more on the Erbprinz Regiment for my French Napoleonic forces.

I love flags and there are some great, commercially produced flags for the wargamer. But for me (and my budget) a great resource is the website Warflag that has free flags available for use. All I do is copy the image and save it to my computer, open up a word document, insert the image and then adjust it to the size I want. Click print and presto - instant flag.

Above is the liebfahne (sovereign's flag) from the Warflag site for the Erbprinz Regiment; the standard bearer is a French officer from Wargames Foundry who has been painted for the Erbprinz regiment. The staff is a metal rod available from many hobby stores and manufacturers; I believe this one came with standard bearers I purchased from Front Rank miniatures (available in the United States from Triangle Miniatures). The finial on top is a spear point that came with a pack of thrusting spears from Old Glory Miniatures. The staff is painted with two coats of GW's Bubonic Brown and the finial was primed with black and then painted with Shiny Gold.

The drummer above is also a French Wargames Foundry figure converted for the Erbprinz Regiment. The uniform is conjectural; however, it is based on other drummers in German and French units of the period. I also used as a reference sketches copied during World War II by the German military artist Ludwig Scharf of soldiers from various contingents of the Confederation of the Rhine that served in the Peninsular War. Scharf had the opportunity in a chance meeting with a German military officer to copy from an old sketch book that was a family heirloom. The sketch book had old colored drawings of soldiers drawn from life while on campaign. Shcarf copied many, but not all, with numerous notes about colors of jackets, button loop details, etc. That night an allied bombing raid destroyed the hotel the German officer was staying in; neither he nor his sketchbook have been seen since.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Hesse-Darmstadt WIP #3

With the hustle and bustle of Christmas, I haven't worked much time to work on the Hessians. I did spend a little time on Saturday and last night - so slowly but surely the "mustering" is taking place.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Hesse-Darmstadt WIP #2

I finished the test figure for the Gross und Erbprinz Regiment for Hesse-Darmstadt; hopefully it won't take me long to paint 7 more figures to mount them for Volley and Bayonet.

All paints are from the Games Workshop Citadel Range:

1. Figure primed black.
2. Face and Hands: Base is Dark Flesh. Wet brush with Dwarf Flesh followed by a wash of Flesh wash. Next cover selected areas with Dwarf Flesh and then high points with Elf Flesh.
3. Coat: Royal Blue highlighted with Ultramarine Blue.
4. Facings: Bubonic Brown and then highlighted with Sunburst Yellow.
5. Musket: Wood is Bestial Brown, barrel is Boltgun metal with Shiny Gold for the other metal parts. Musket strap is Skull White. Bayonet is highlighted with Chainmail.

6. Straps: Skull White for the straps and the strap for the canteen is Scorched Brown.
7. Buttons: Skull White.
8. Coveralls: Adeptus Battlegrey highlighted with Codex Grey.
9. Shako Cover: Graveyard Earth.
10. Cartridge Box, bayonet scabbard and boots: Chaos Black.

11. Field Pack: Base is Scorched Brown and then a dry brush of Bestial Brown. Highlights are Snakebite Leather. Straps are Skull White. Rolled overcoat is Codex Grey.
12. Canteen: Snakebite Leather.
13. Pom Pom: Liche Purple.

Tah dah! A simple figure conversion with no real work to add some variety to the French Forces in the Peninsular. Now I need to paint the other 7 figures for the Volley and Bayonet base. After that I will either do the Black Brunswickers (to be with the British) or the Anhalt battalion from the 5th Confederation of the Rhine Regiment.


Almost finished with the test figure for the Hesse-Darmstadt Gross und Erbprinz Regiment. The figure is painted as a member of the 4th Company. Still fooling around with the camera; pictures aren't great but I think you can see enough detail. In my next post some history and painting guide.

The field packs come separately which makes it easier to paint the straps and collars on the figures. Note that some packs have the short swords, those are for the elite companies of grenadiers, chasseurs, etc. I won't be using them for this unit.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Perry Hard Plastic French Infantry and Germans in the Peninsular War

Well that's a great title!

I've recently purchased some more Perry Miniatures for the Peninsular War with some handy birthday money (thanks Mom and Dad!). I picked up the box of French Plastic Infantry and also some metal Brunswickers to fight along side of the British.

One of 3 sprues that come with the Perry Box; lots of options!

One of the nice things about many of the German French allies during the Napoleonic Wars for wargaming is that many adopted similarly styled uniforms as the French. For the Peninsular armies, I have decided to do General Leval's famous German division that served with the French. Level's division consisted of troops from the Duchy of Nassau, the Principality of Baden, Holland, Hesse-Darmstadt , various units from the Confederation of the Rhine and troops from Poland.

Based on unit returns, it looks like Leval's Division will have 4 Brigade stands. One brigade will be troops from the Duchy of Berg (not in the division historically, but hey, they are Germans and they are already painted!), the Gross und Erbprinz Regiment from Hesse-Darmstadt, the Anhalt battalion from the 5th Confederation of the Rhine Regiment and last but not least, the 4th Polish Infantry Regiment.

1st Regiment of the Grand Duchy of Berg

The first unit I'm going to paint will be the Gross and Erbprinz Regiment from Hesse-Darmstadt. Their uniform is close enough in this scale to the French infantry to use the Perry French plastics. The badge on the shakos (hats) are different so I'm using figures with covered shakos. Uniforms are dark blue with yellow facings. Since I've never painted this unit I'm doing a test figure first.

This is the test figure. For the yellow I'm using first a base of GW's Bubonic Brown (shown) and will then highlight it with Blazing Yellow. I hope to finish it this weekend.

Some more of the future Hessian troops. The Perry box comes with a large variety of head options so I added one with the garrison hat.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Red Star Rising

With the addition of the Naval Infantry, the Soviet Army for Flames of War under the command of Comrade Colonel Colinovksly (Honorable Son #3) is looking impressive now that there is basically a complete battalion of infantry. That's a lot of infantry across the table . . .

Hmmm . . . seems like Stalin has some reserves.

Battalion headquarters for Soviet Naval Rifles (Morskaya Strelcovy). Battalion Commander with Naval Flag, Second in command in Helmet and overcoat and the Battalion Kommisar.

Currently we have painted 2 - 3 companies of infantry (depending on the year of the war), 1 company of Sub-machineguns and one Heavy Machinegun company.

Found some great pictures on the internet showing a mixture of uniforms within units; Naval dress, Red Army issued uniforms, dark blue overcoats, helmets with Red Stars, etc. I decided to make the blue overcoats a bit lighter so they would show up better on the gaming table.

Regular soldiers of the Red Army.

Maxim Heavy Machineguns.

Soviet Scouts.

T-34 obr 42 and T-34/85 main battle tanks.

KV-1 Heavy Tanks

The famous pig sty objective maker.

Command Post objective marker.

Pin markers

Bailed out crew markers

Light mortars that we also use as proxies for medium mortars.

SMG Company


Commander of Rocket Battery and Forward Observer.

Eventually we will be adding to the forces: Anti-tank guns, medium mortars, some artillery, heavy assaults guns, etc. But right now, it is a potent force and I look forward to the game that will be played over the Christmas holidays against the 4th Company, 2nd Bn., 116th Grenadiers of the German Army.