A Very British Civil War in Pembrokeshire 1938: The Warfare That Dares Not Speak Its Name

Hello.  This is Huw Puw reporting from Christ Knows Where for The Fish Guardian.

As reported in my last dispatch, I find myself posted to the ramshackle hullabaloo that is the Army of the Republic of Cantref Cemaes, as they prepare for a fresh offensive.

However, things have taken an alarming turn for the surreal with the arrival of the regiment’s ‘Special Company’ – ‘Merched Beca’ or ‘Rebecca’s Daughters’.  The Colonel tells me that ‘Special’ in this instance means Special Duties such as reconnaissance, raiding, patrolling, assaulting, etc.  However, having seen them, I have to say that the expression “My Mam says I’m ‘Special'” springs immediately to mind.

As reported previously, the ‘Twm Carnabwth’ Regiment and the Republic of Cantref Cemaes generally, places great store in the history of the local people and these chapel-proud, salt-of-the-earth folk do like to carry forward the traditions and arbitrary grudges of their ancestors.  However, much as I like history, some things can be taken a little too far and in the case of Rebecca’s Daughters, I think they might be using ‘tradition’ as an excuse to express some personal issues…

To recap; it is now almost 100 years to the day when in 1839, the men of Cemaes took up Bibles, axes, cudgels and the contents of their Mam’s knicker-drawer and led by the semi-mythical ‘Rebecca’, marched to smash the toll-gates (and in some cases, the skulls) of the rich.

Insurrection is all very well, but why the transvestism?!  Once again, the excuse for all this cross-dressing lies in tradition.

The original ‘Rebecca’, Twm Carnabwth, was known to be a keen advocate of the tradition of ‘Y Ceffyl Pren’ or ‘The Wooden Horse’.  This was an ancient ritual of vigilante punishment and humiliation, exacted upon adulterers, wife-beaters, nagging wives, petty criminals, Cardis* who failed to buy their round and those who ‘looked at my sheep in a funny way’.  This tradition also has parallels across Britain, such as the ‘Rough Music’ of Western England.

Those carrying out Y Ceffyl Pren would always dress in women’s clothing and would blacken their faces as a means of concealing their identity. However, there are always those who carry things too far and Twm Carnabwth probably had a whole wardrobe of outfits for all occasions. It is rumoured that Twm Carnabwth was almost late for the first riot at Efailwen due to being unable to choose which handbag and shoes to wear.

Nevertheless, the ‘Rebecca Riots’ spread like wildfire across Wales and were only eventually stopped by the combined forces of the Yeomanry, regular Army and the newly-raised Fashion Police.

So here were are 99 years later, with the modern-day equivalent of Rebecca and her Daughters. Some of them have gone for the traditional look – Welsh ladies’ stovepipe-hats and bonnets with shawls, while others have simply raided their Mam’s wardrobe.  I don’t know what they do to the enemy, but by God they frighten me…  In fact, I CAN imagine what they do to the enemy and that frightens me even more!

Here are a few photos of them taken during training. I was told to photograph their good sides, or they’d scratch my eyes out…

Here are Rebecca and her Daughters in full battle-array.  The flag of the company is based on the famous London Illustrated News woodcut of the first Rebecca Riot:
(Right) The modern-day ‘Rebecca’ is well-known raconteur and descendant of Twm Carnabwth from Mynachlog-Ddu, otherwise known as Eurfryn Plasymeibion.  ‘Rebecca’ wears a very smart mink coat, as befitting of an officer:

 

 

 

 

(Left) The ‘Daughters’ all prefer to be known by noms de guerre. The unit standard-bearer goes by the name of ‘Blodwen’:

 

 

(Right) ‘Dilys’ Mam was kind enough to give ‘her’ a very fashionable (for the 1920s) lilac ‘flapper’ dress, cloche hat and string of pearls:

 

 

 

 

(Left) ‘Cicely’ has kept things traditional, with a grey flannel skirt and stovepipe hat:

 

 

 

(Right) ‘Eilir’, the company machine-gunner, has gone even more traditional with the full Welsh ladies’ outfit of stovepipe hat, bonnet, skirt and red flannel shawl:

 

 

 

(Left) ‘Elsie’ presents a terrifying spectacle in ‘her’ baby-blue Victorian bonnet:

 

 

 

 

(Right) ‘Megan’ again favours the stovepipe hat, topped off with ‘her’ Mam’s pink housecoat (just in case the camp needs dusting):

 

 

(Left) ‘Bronwen’ has opted for a simple ensemble of skirt and headscarf:

 

 

 

 

(Right) ‘Lilian’ has gone for a bonnet and headscarf:

 

 

(Left) Finally, ‘Gwenda’ has opted for the shawl-with-apron look:

Be Afraid.  Be Very Afraid.

This is Huw Puw signing off.

*  Readers from benighted lands might not be aware, but Cardis are gentlemen from Cardiganshire, who are renowned the length and breadth of Wales for being ‘careful’ with their money.  The expressions “Careful as a duck’s arse” and “Like Scotsmen with the generous streak removed” are commonly used in the same sentence as Cardi.

[Models are all Musketeer/Footsore Miniatures, designed by Paul Hicks, converted by the lunatic Martin Small and painted by me]

Posted in 28mm Figures, A Very British Civil War, Painted Units, VBCW Welsh Nationalist | 2 Comments

A Very British Civil War in Pembrokeshire 1938: A Dispatch From Somewhere Near The Back Of The Front

Hello. This is Huw Puw reporting from the front-line (wherever the hell it is – buggered if I know) for The Fish Guardian.

My editor last week asked me to ’embed’ myself with the ‘Twm Carnabwth’ Regiment of the Army of the Republic of Cantref Cemaes.  Needless to say, I was shocked at such a suggestion.  God knows I’ve prostituted myself for a story before, but never with an entire regiment!  In any case, my bara-brith isn’t buttered on that side (and for that matter, neither is that of the Cemaes soldiery, as many a jealous Preseli hill-farmer can attest)…

I suggested Lady Gladys-Emmanuel Picton, as she’s probably got through the Bishop of St David’s army by now and is probably looking for a fresh challenge…

“No, you pillock! ‘Embed’, not ‘Bed’!  You’re to attach yourself to the Army of Cemaes and report on their forthcoming campaign!  Rumour has it that they’re marching on Hereford in support of the Welsh Republican Army and the Anglican League.  I’ve taken the liberty of packing your case.  No need to thank me, Huw.  Think of this as an opportunity, not as certain horrible death in a far-flung Herefordshire field armed with nothing more than a camera and typewriter…  Bye!”

So without further ado, I was bundled into a waiting car and whisked away out of Fishguard, with the sound of my colleagues cheering me on my way.  At least I think they were cheering me on my way…

So now I find myself at a secret training camp in darkest Carmarthenshire.  The countryside, as yet untouched by war, is quiet.  Only the sound of banjos, the occasional, surprised “BaaaAAAAA!” and the shouting of angry farmers breaks the silence.

I’m not permitted to reveal identities, but I was permitted to take a few photographs of the Twm Carnabwth Regiment in training:

As can be seen, the regiment is a fairly ragged spectacle, though they like their flags.  The main flag seems to be the old arms of Cemaes (two red stripes on white), with a green stripe for a Free Wales.  The 1st Regiment (‘Catrawd 1af’) is named for ‘Twm Carnabwth’, properly known as Thomas Rees, who was ‘Rebecca’ at the very first ‘Rebecca Riot’ in the Cemaes village of Efailwen, almost 100 years ago in 1839. The ‘Spirit of 1839’ runs deep in the memory of these people and many see the present war as simply a renewal of old grudges. Indeed, the elite ‘Cwmni Merched Beca’ (‘Daughters of Rebecca Company’) is said to dress in women’s clothing, as Rebecca and her sisters did in 1839.

The motto of the Twm Carnabwth Regiment, ‘Ac Maent Yn Bendithio Beca’ means ‘And They Blessed Rebecca’; a biblical reference which again harks back to their cross-dressing glory days.

Aside from occasional cross-dressing lunatics, the officers, NCOs and better-equipped soldiery wear Army-surplus uniforms dyed the typical bottle-green of the Welsh Nationalists.  However, the majority wear civilian clothes or uniforms from a variety of sources – often with a green item such as a jacket, hat or scarf.  Armbands in the Cemaes colours are fairly universal and those lucky enough to have helmets often paint them with a green band to aid recognition in the field.

Here we see a medic (right).  Specialised medical services are almost non-existent in this partisan army, though the Cemaes is supplied with a surplus of Mams, who will mother the wounded back to good health with lashings of tea and cawl.

As with uniforms, modern weapons are also in short supply. However, farmers’ shotguns are plentiful and ammunition is easy to manufacture.

One of the great strengths of the Cemaes is its core of young countrymen. With skills honed by a lifetime of sneaking up on unsuspecting livestock, these men make superb guerrillas and snipers.

That’s all for now. Rumour has it that those terrifying transvestites, the Daughters of Rebecca, will be joining us in the camp later this week.  Hereford won’t have seen anything like it since Lord Byron’s visit of 1808!

Until then, this is Huw Puw, for ‘Look Out Wales’, signing off.

[All models by Musketeer Miniatures, except for the sniper, which is by Great War Models. All painted by me.]

 

 

Posted in 28mm Figures, A Very British Civil War, Painted Units, VBCW Welsh Nationalist | 2 Comments

A Very British Civil War in Pembrokeshire 1938: The Army of the Republic of Cantref Cemaes

With the Second British Civil War now 80 years in the past, its incredibly complicated history is rapidly being lost from our collective memory and many of the smaller factions of the war are largely forgotten.  One such faction was the heroic, but ultimately doomed tiny ‘Republic of Cantref Cemaes’, which grew out of the hills, valleys and chapels of the Pembrokeshire-Carmarthenshire borderlands.  Sir Richard Fenton, in his seminal work ‘With Thomson and Mills-Bomb to Little England Beyond Wales: The Civil War in Pembrokeshire’ had this to say:

The Republic of Cantref Cemaes – Y Gweriniaeth o Cantref Cemaes

Straddling the border of north-west Pembrokeshire and north-east Carmarthenshire, the Republic of Cantref Cemaes has grown out of a number of independent-leaning local defence associations north of the ‘Landsker’ (the border between the English-speaking south and the Welsh-speaking north of Pembrokeshire) that have banded together to form a joint front against the King.

Centred on the windswept Preseli market-town of Crymych, the Cantref Cemaes was originally a province of the pre-Norman Welsh Kingdom of Deheubarth (‘Cantref’ meaning ‘100 towns). Following the Norman Conquest, Cemaes became a Norman Barony and in the 17th Century became the birthplace of the non-conformist Welsh Baptist Movement.

Growing religious dissent, resentment of the land-owning classes, poverty and hunger during the late 18th and early 19th Centuries festered and came to a head in 1839, in the form of the ‘Rebecca Riots’. Led by the legendary ‘Rebecca’ (actually a man named Twm Carnabwth), bands of cross-dressing Welshmen rose up to smash the hated toll-gates. These riots started in the Cemaes village of Efailwen and quickly spread across Wales, requiring military intervention and the formation of a national civil police force.

With dissent in the blood, the people of Cemaes also hold little truck with the other Welsh Nationalist movements (particularly the more militaristic elements, such as the FWA and the Kingdom of Dyfed) and generally just want to be left alone. However, they do send non-voting representatives to the Senedd at Macynlleth.

The Republic is firmly based in the deeply-rooted Welsh non-conformist chapel tradition. Each chapel is therefore responsible for electing its own assembly representative and for forming its own militia, as well as raising funds for the Republic. Chapel militias from the same district are then banded together to form regiments (‘Catrawdau‘) which generally serve within, or close to, their home district. The Army of the Republic of Cantref Cemaes is therefore just a very large LDV force. This has its advantages in defence, as every soldier knows his own territory intimately and can function extremely well in the guerrilla role. However, this organisational structure does stymie offensive capability and to mitigate this, each chapel recruits a quota of ‘volunteers’ to serve in the standing ‘Hedfan Colofn’ (‘Flying Column’), which is a regimental-sized rapid-reaction force, being well-equipped by the standards of the Republic, with motor transport and a very small amount of captured and home-built armour, as well as artillery.

However, the Republic is presently land-locked and therefore has little access to modern weaponry, ammunition and supplies other than what it manages to capture or trade at extortionate prices with neighbouring Welsh Nationalist factions. The Republic is therefore involved in a three-way race (with the FWA north of the Preselis and the Welsh Republic north of the River Teifi) to take the Royalist enclave of Cardigan and thus have access to seaborne trade and foreign support. Thus far, the three sides have maintained a united (though disorganised) front against the Royalists at Cardigan, though the situation has the potential to lead to conflict between these three Welsh Nationalist factions.

Another potential flashpoint is along the River Cynin, which runs north from the town of St Clear’s and marks the Republic’s eastern border, which extends up as far as the market town of Newcastle Emlyn, on the River Teifi. There, Lord Rhys’ Army of the Kingdom of Dyfed has become increasingly belligerent in attempting to impose his authority on the Republic’s eastern communities.

Among all this are continual raids and skirmishes with Loyalist forces along the Landsker, combined with the continual problems caused by refugees trickling north to Crymych from that ravaged country.

The two advantages enjoyed by the Republic of Cemaes are the determined and belligerent people and the hilly terrain, broken by moors, woodland, rivers, deep valleys, narrow sunken roads and densely-hedged fields. As in Ireland, this creates a perfect environment in which to fight a guerrilla war and the Republic’s armed forces have performed superbly in that role. One outstanding guerrilla unit are the ‘Daughters of Rebecca’ (‘Merched Beca’), a terrifying regiment of fighters from the Landsker who blacken their faces and dress like old Welsh ladies, aping the legendary Rebecca rioters of a century earlier. This proud heritage of dissent is commemorated in other unit titles, such as the Gatrawd (Regiment) ‘Twm Carnabwth’, named for the local man who became the original ‘Rebecca’, and the Gatrawd ‘Twm Siôn Cati’, named after the legendary Welsh equivalent of ‘Robin Hood’. Other units have titles drawing from a rich local seam of Welsh legend.

Aside from some British Army surplus, uniforms and proper military equipment remain rare and those uniforms that do exist are frequently home-made. As in other Welsh Nationalist forces, green remains a popular colour for uniforms and civilian dress alike, though the Army of Cantref Cemaes presents a very ragged spectacle. Nevertheless, armbands are universally worn as a field-sign, being in the traditional colours of Cantref-Cemaes; two horizontal red stripes on white. Some armbands have also been seen with a green stripe inserted between the two red stripes, representing their Welsh Nationalist affiliation. Flags are in the same colours.

[Figures are by Musketeer Miniatures (now Footsore Miniatures), sculpted by Paul Hicks and painted by me, with superb conversions by Martin Small.]

Posted in 28mm Figures, A Very British Civil War, Painted Units, VBCW Welsh Nationalist | 5 Comments

A Very British Civil War in Pembrokeshire 1938: The Welsh Are Revolting!

Huw Puw interviewing a soldier on the Pembrokeshire front line

Hello.  This is Huw Puw reporting from front-line Fishguard, for The Fish Guardian.

Rumours have been spreading recently of an offensive by Welsh Nationalists belonging to the Republic of Cantref Cemaes.  Details are sketchy, but this photo was allegedly taken by a Preseli sheep-farmer shortly before his farm was overrun by a ravening chapel militia:

In other news, we have reports of ‘Something Happening’ in Lower Town Fishguard today. This is thought to be the first occurrence of ‘Something Happening’ in Lower Town since the French invasion of 1797.  Residents are advised to stay indoors and not to be alarmed, as it will surely not last long.  More news when we get it.

This is Huw Puw signing off.

Posted in 28mm Figures, A Very British Civil War, Painted Units, VBCW Welsh Nationalist | 2 Comments

Cold War Polish Infantry

As mentioned in my recent article on SKOT armoured personnel carriers, earlier this year I picked up a load of 15mm Polish Cold War infantry by a Polish company called Oddzial Osmy.  At the time, these were only available in the UK from Fighting 15s, though he was selling off his stock, so they are now available from Magister Millitum.

This small range includes six packs:

Pack 1 has six riflemen armed with AKM rifles.

Pack 2 has six men with mixed weapons: an RPG-7 gunner & associated ammo-carrier (armed with AKM), a PKM machine-gunner & ammo-carrier (AKM), a rifle-grenadier armed with an AKM with a Wz. 1974 Pallad under-barrel 40mm grenade-launcher and an NCO armed with AKM.

Pack 3 has two pistol-armed officers and a sniper armed with a Dragunov sniper rifle.

Pack 4 has six SA-7 ‘Grail’ MANPADS gunners in two poses.

Pack 5 has two AT-3 ‘Sagger’ ATGM teams, consisting of two missile units, two prone missile operators and two prone riflemen.

Pack 6 has three PKMS general purpose MG teams, each of two prone figures and a tripod-mounted PKMS.

So while this might only be a very small range of figures, everything you need to create a Cold War Polish infantry platoon or company is there and if you want to create a battalion, the only things missing are mortars (which in any case can be off-table in a game).    It might be nice to have some more packs to increase pose variation or expand options such as AT-4 ‘Spigot’, AT-7 ‘Saxhorn’, mortars and artillery forward observers, but beggars can’t be choosers and this is a hugely welcome range of models!

I should also add that the sculpting on these figures is truly superb!  The level of detail and accuracy simply cannot be faulted and in terms of size, they fit in perfectly with offerings by Team Yankee, QRF and the other main 15mm Cold War ranges.

One slightly surprising feature is that these models are cast in a strange, hard and very lightweight metal alloy and not the customary lead/tin alloy!  Aluminium or zinc, perhaps?  This does make them VERY difficult to clean up, as the metal is simply too hard for a scalpel to scrape off flash and mould-lines, so it was time for me to break out the snips and files!  Thankfully, the casting is very clean and mould-lines are blessedly rare.  The only other models I’ve encountered cast in such a hard metal were a long-forgotten range of fantasy figures called Thunderbolt Mountain Miniatures (anyone here remember those?  They did exquisite tournament knight sets… Anyway, I digress…).  This means that the weapons are tough and resistant to bending, but probably rather more brittle than with lead-based metals (I haven’t tested this theory yet).

Painting Your Poles

The Polish People’s Army wore a distinctly different uniform to that of their Soviet or East German neighbours and allies (which is what makes this range so useful!).  The field uniform was distinctly baggy, with large cargo pockets on the thighs – more Western in style than Soviet.  The uniform colour was a distinctly bluish grey-green, being considerably less khaki than Soviet uniforms, as can be clearly seen below in this photo of a tug-of-war match between Polish and Soviet soldiers:For the main Polish uniform colour, I use the same colour that I use for my Cold War West Germans and Canadians, namely Humbrol 116 (US Dark Green), highlighted with roughly a 2:1 mix of Humbrol 116 and white.  Humbrol 116 is the colour used for the dark green component of 1980s US MERDC vehicle camouflage.  A winter combat jacket in the same colour, with brown faux-fur collar (and a matching brown ushanka faux-fur hat with brass Polish eagle badge) was also issued.

Polish camouflage jacket issued to some units

During the 1980s a camouflage jacket was also issued to some units, starting with the 6th Airborne Division.  This was again a grey-green, with a very subtle dappled pattern (reminiscent of reptilian skin) in very dark green.  To be honest, the effect is so subtle that at this scale, it would just look the same!

Helmets were a very dark green, being painted on the front with the communist version of the traditional Polish eagle standing on a crescent-shaped shield (minus the royal trappings of pre-communist Poland).  While these were originally stencilled on with white paint, they quickly faded and got rubbed down to near-invisibility, so can be left off or painted in more muted tones.  However, I opted to paint the helmet-eagles in pure white in order to artificially ccentuate their ‘Polishness’.  It’s not accurate, but it does look rather good (see the officer here on the right)…  In any case, Polish helmets were normally covered in the field with scrim-netting and the modeller has done a superb job of modelling the scrim, which really pops out with a light khaki dry-brush.

Polish webbing equipment was normally olive drab, fading to light khaki.  I’ve used Humbrol 86 (Olive Green) with a Humbrol 83 (Ochre) highlight.

Lastly, while black boots were worn for barrack/parade dress, brown leather boots were worn in the field.

Polish Small Unit Organisation

At the higher levels, the Polish People’s Army was organised very much along standard Soviet lines, with Fronts, Armies, Divisions and Regiments.  However, at low-level the Poles ploughed their own tactical furrow and there were some distinct differences in organisation and equipment.

Polish mechanised infantry sections were initially 10-12 men strong (sources disagree) and were mounted either in a SKOT 8-wheeled APC or a TOPAS tracked APC.  When the distinctly more cramped BMP-1 infantry fighting vehicle (known to the Poles as the BWP-1) began replacing TOPAS during the 1970s, the section strength was reduced to seven men, though SKOT sections appear to have been unchanged.

There were three sections to a platoon and like the Soviets, the platoon commander and platoon sergeant would have no specific platoon HQ vehicle; they would ride with one of the sections.

The standard Polish infantry rifle was the 7.62mm AKM, which was an improved version of the legendary AK-47 and was manufactured locally in Poland.  However, unlike the Soviets and most Warsaw Pact armies, the Poles took the decision during the 1960s to stick with a belt-fed light machine gun (namely the Soviet 7.62mm PKM) as the core of section firepower.  The Soviets and most Warsaw Pact armies switched to the magazine-fed RPK light support weapon (a heavy-barrelled version of the AKM) at this time, though the Soviets did mass some PKMs together as a Machine Gun Platoon in each Motor Rifle Company.

In order to further increase platoon firepower, the third section in each Polish infantry platoon was issued with a Stepanov tripod mount for its PKM machine gun.  The combination of the PKM and tripod was designated as the PKMS.  The platoon’s single Dragunov sniper rifle would also issued to a rifleman of the platoon’s third section in lieu of his AKM and as such, the third section would become the platoon’s base of fire.

In order to increase the platoon’s firepower even further, every section had a single RPG-7 rocket-propelled grenade launcher.  They would also be well-stocked with a variety of Polish-designed rifle grenades for both high explosive and anti-tank work.  Some of these required a special carbine (based on the AKM) to launch them, though improved versions could simply be fired from a standard AKM.  The Pallad 40mm under-barrel grenade launcher was also coming into widespread service during the 1980s and at least one man in each section was normally equipped with one of these.  There was also a stand-alone 40mm grenade launcher called the Pallad-D which was light enough to be carried as a secondary weapon (one source describes Polish platoon commanders as having these and West German platoon commanders were frequently armed with a very similar weapon).

The rifle grenades partially made up for the lack of a suitable light anti-tank weapon (LAW) such as the Soviet RPG-18, which was widely used by the Soviets and by other Warsaw Pact allies such as East Germany.  Poland and Bulgaria collaborated on their own LAW design, with the intention of producing a weapon that minimised back-blast and could therefore be used from within buildings.  However, Bulgaria pulled out of the project and the resultant weapon, the RPG-76 Komar  proved to be distinctly underwhelming, seeing only very limited service with the Polish People’s Army.

A Polish Mechanised Company organised for ‘Battlefront: First Echelon’.

A Polish mechanised infantry company had three such platoons and a small company HQ, mounted in a single vehicle.  The company HQ also included three SA-7 ‘Grail’ (9K32 Strela-2) MANPADS.  The SA-7 was a somewhat decrepit and inadequate weapon, but the Polish Army didn’t manage to replace it before the end of the Cold War.  Some units also managed to acquire an AT-7 ‘Saxhorn’ (9K115 Metis) ATGM, though these remained very rare in Polish service.  Where units had them, there would typically be one per company HQ and they would not be issued to units equipped with BWP infantry fighting vehicles, as the BWP had its own integral ATGMs.

A Polish Mechanised Infantry Battalion organised for ‘Battlefront: First Echelon’ (minus mortar platoon) – 3x Companies, plus HQ and Anti-Tank Platoon.

A Polish Mechanised Infantry Battalion normally had three Mechanised Infantry Companies and a Mortar Platoon equipped with 6-8 82mm or 120mm mortars (or a mixture of both – sources vary).  SKOT and TOPAS-equipped battalions also had an anti-Tank Platoon equipped with 6x AT-3 ‘Sagger’ (9M14 Malyutka) or AT-4 ‘Spigot’ (9K111 Fagot) ATGMs.  Some units also had an Automatic Grenade Launcher Platoon, equipped with AGS-17 Plamya, though these remained rare in Polish service.

Each Mechanised Infantry Regiment had three such battalions, plus a Tank Company and other combat support elements.  However, some sources suggest that there was a move toward removing the Battalion layer of command and instead having large battalions designated as Regiments.  This certainly occurred in the 6th Airborne and 7th Marine Divisions, where Regiments were downsized during the late 1970s, with each being reorganised as 5x Infantry Companies reporting directly to Regimental HQ (plus an Amphibious Tank Company in the case of the Marine Regiments). It isn’t clear if the Polish Mechanised Infantry Regiments and Tank Regiments were also reorganised in this manner, so more research is required!

Now to get them into a game…

Posted in 15mm Figures, Battlefront: First Echelon, Cold War, Painted Units, Warsaw Pact Armies | 5 Comments

“Where is Grouchy?!” – Some French Units for Waterloo

And so to the French…

While I already had a pile of French troops for Waterloo, quite a few were looking very tired and in need of refurbishment or replacement (most notably my ancient 1980s-vintage Battle Honours artillery and Guard Lancers with barely a lance left intact, as well as my Young Guard, which I’d converted from line troops during the early 1990s).

Above: With an eye on the upcoming Waterloo Bicentennial, AB Figures had released a stunning Marshal Ney figure, which I HAD to get!  Combined with AB’s ‘Superior Officer of Hussars’ figure (based on an Edouard Detaille painting) and a Carabinier command pack, he looks very much like the famous painting of Ney leading the massed French cavalry in the Waterloo Panorama painting (above).

Above: A close-up of Ney in profile.  Tony Barton’s sculpting of Ney’s facial features is truly exquisite.

Above:  Ney’s escort is provided by this officer and trumpeter of Carabiniers.  The late-war Carabinier figures are among my favourite AB Napoleonics; the detail, from the rivets of the officer’s cuirass to the crowned ‘N’ on the front of the helmets, is truly astonishing.

Above: An anonymous cavalry corps commander (either Kellerman or Milhaud).

Above:  Général de Division Charles Lefebvre-Desnöuettes commanded the Guard Light Cavalry Division in 1815.  As former Commanding Officer of the Guard Chasseurs à Cheval, he is here depicted in that uniform.  He may well have been wearing a simpler version of the uniform or even the standard blue General’s uniform, but he looks pretty magnifique in full Chasseur rig!

Above:  Général de Division Jean-Jacques Desvaux de Saint-Maurice commanded the Artillery of the Imperial Guard at Waterloo.  He had previously commanded the Horse Artillery of the Imperial Guard and as such, I’ve used a figure of a Guard Horse Artillery officer in full dress to depict him.  In reality, he was probably wearing a regulation General officer’s uniform with aiguillette signifying his Guard status.

Above:  An anonymous Général de Division of the Imperial Guard.  His Guard status is indicated by the looped aiguillette on his right shoulder.

Above:  An anonymous Général de Division of heavy cavalry.

Above: The Empress’ Dragoons of the Imperial Guard were the largest Guard heavy cavalry regiment present at Waterloo, serving as part of Guyot’s Guard Heavy Cavalry Division, alongside the Grenadiers à Cheval and the Gendarmes d’Elite.

Above:  These beautiful new models have replaced a unique unit of Battle Honours Empress’ Dragoons that had never been released to the public.  Tony Barton sculpted them just before Battle Honours self-destructed and for some reason they never became part of the AB figures range.  As far as I’m aware, I have the only examples in existence, so I couldn’t throw them away and they now live in Martin Small’s collection.

Above:  Another view of the Empress’ Dragoons.  The flag is by Fighting 15s.  I used to paint such things, but now not so much…

Above:  The 2nd (‘Red’) Lancers of the Imperial Guard formed part of Lefebvre-Desnöuettes’ Guard Light Cavalry Division, alongside the Chasseurs à Cheval of the Guard and small remnants of the 1st (Polish) Lancers and Mamelukes of the Guard.

Above:  In full dress, this regiment would also have worn tall white plumes, yellow cap-lines and red overall trousers with blue stripes.  However, Tony Barton generally likes to sculpt Napoleonics in ‘field service’ dress – somewhere between full-dress grandeur and campaign dress scruffiness.  Consequently I’ve painted these in blue field service trousers.  That said, the trumpeter should really be wearing a sky blue coat for field service, but I do like the white…

Above:  A rear shot of the Guard Lancers to show the cap-tops and equipment.

Above:  The Horse Artillery of the Imperial Guard.  Again, Tony Barton has sculpted these in ‘field service’ dress, retaining some elements of full dress, but lacking the full plumes, cap-lines, etc.  In 1815 the Guard Horse Artillery were actually wearing their typical campaign rig, being a blue Chasseur-style coat with red distinctions, very much like that of the Horse Artillery of the Line, though with the unadorned fur colpack.  My old Battle Honours Guard Horse Artillery were dressed in that style and I understand that AB Figures will shortly be releasing such figures (along with Mamelukes of the Guard).

Above:  The 7th Cuirassiers, along with the 14th Cuirassiers, formed part of Travers’ Brigade, Wathier’s 13th Cavalry Division.

In my opinion, Cuirassiers are THE epitome of Napoleonic cavalry, but to be honest, they are something of a millstone as they hardly ever come out of the box!  99% of the time they were all massed in the main theatre of war as the Emperor’s main striking force.  This of course, also means that you need stacks of them for those occasions where they do turn up…  So even though I already had a reasonable number of Cuirassiers and Carabiniers (early and late!) in my collection, I still needed more…

Above:  The 10th Cuirassiers, resplendent in their pink facings… The 10th were grouped with the 5th Cuirassiers in Vial’s Brigade, which formed part of Delort’s 14th Cavalry Division.

Note that the flags for these two regiments are wrong for 1815, as they should be 1815 Pattern tricolour flags.  The majority of my collection is actually geared for the 1809 Campaign, so I’ve given them the 1804 Pattern ‘lozenge’ flags, in common with the rest of my collection.  In any case, the long coat-tails on the Cuirassiers are more suited to the pre-1812 period.

It’s just occurred to me that I don’t have any photos of my new line artillery, so I’ll keep those for another time.  In any case, I’m presently building my forces up for the 1809 Campaign, which has required even more stuff!  So more Imperial Guard, Cuirassiers, Generals and more coming soon… And a stack of Austrians…

Posted in 15mm Figures, Napoleon's Battles (Rules), Napoleonic French Army, Napoleonic Wars, Painted Units | 2 Comments

“Vorwärts!” – Some Prussian Units for Waterloo

As discussed here, we decided in 2015 to refight the Battle of Waterloo as part of the Bicentennial commemorations.  However, we still needed to paint ‘a few’ units (in reality a surprisingly large number of units…).  Thankfully, I already had a lot of Prussians painted, so really did only need to paint a few more…

Above:  My first priority was a new Marshal Blücher figure.

Above:  I was fairly well supplied with Prussian regular cavalry, but the 5th (Brandenburg) Dragoon Regiment was required.

Above:  In addition to the regular Dragoons, I needed some ‘Landwehr’ (i.e. Militia) cavalry and the 1st Kurmärk Landwehr Cavalry Regiment fitted the bill.  Most sources agree on the uniform coat being a typical blue Prussian ‘Litewka’ coat, with brass buttons, poppy-red collar and cuff-piping for the province of Brandenburg (Kurmärk is part of Brandenburg), plus white shoulder-straps indicating the 1st regiment from that province.  However, sources disagree on the style of headgear and colour of lance-pennant and I opted for one of the recorded desriptions, namely British-supplied stovepipe shakos with white lace and black plumes, with red-over-white lance-pennants.

Above: The 12th (2nd Brandenburg) Infantry Regiment (often referred to as simply the ‘Brandenburg Regiment’) was a regular (i.e. pre-1815) infantry regiment.  However, as the most junior regular infantry regiment, this regiment was frequently at the back of the queue when it came to uniform and equipment and looked more like a Reserve Infantry Regiment in terms of dress.

In theory, the regiment should have been dressed in standard Prussian blue coats, with collars and cuffs in poppy-red (the colour of Brandenburg) and red shoulders-straps (red being the strap-colour for the 2nd regiment of a province – white being 1st, red being 2nd, yellow being 3rd and light blue being 4th).  However, only the officers and ‘cadre’ of the regiment wore this regulation uniform (as shown on the officer and drummer above).  Evidence does suggest that the regiment’s 2nd Battalion had been fully issued with regulation uniform by Waterloo, though the majority of the men were still wearing dark grey ‘ersatz’ uniforms with poppy-red collar patches as the only regimental distinction.  Headgear was the standard Prussian shako, though not all men were issued the standard black oilskin waterproof shako-cover.

The 12th Infantry Regiment was not issued colours until after Waterloo.

Above:  The Prussian 10th Reserve Infantry Regiment was formed in 1813 from the Reserve Battalions of the 1st Silesian Infantry Regiment. While the regimental cadre wore the parent regiment’s regulation uniform (yellow facings, white shoulder-straps & silver buttons), the reservists wore ‘slop’ clothing with yellow collar-patches and yellow hat-bands. The regiment’s 1st battalion wore uniforms in the typical ‘slop’ light grey, though the 2nd battalion had uniforms dyed dark blue and the 3rd battalion had uniforms dyed a dark grey (‘almost black’). I’ve already got plenty of Prussian reservists in light grey, so I thought I’d opt for the blue 2nd battalion’s uniform to represent this regiment.

In 1815 the 10th Reserve Infantry Regiment became the 22nd (1st Rhenish) Infantry Regiment and in March of that year began receiving new regulation line infantry uniforms with crab red facings (being the provincial colour for Rhenish regiments) & white shoulder-straps (indicating the 1st regiment from that province). However, the issue of new uniforms was not complete before their departure to Belgium and it is recorded that the men in old uniforms stood on the flanks of each battalion.

 The regiment carried no flags until after Waterloo

Above:  The Elbe Infantry Regiment was originally raised in April 1813 by a certain Oberstleutnant Von Reuss, from defecting enemy units – primarily the Guards and Chevauxlegers of the Kingdom of Westphalia.  Initially known as the ‘Auslander-Bataillon Von Reuss’ it rapidly expanded during the summer Armistice of 1813 to three battalions and was re-titled in July 1813 as the ‘Elbe-Infanterie-Regiment’.  Although it was organised, equipped and regarded as a Line infantry regiment, it was curiously not given a number in the line infantry regiment sequence (possibly because of its ‘foreign’ origins?).

However, that changed in 1815 (probably due to the re-absorption of Westphalia into Prussia), when the remnants of the regiment formed the core of the new Royal Prussian 26th (1st Magdeburg) Infantry Regiment. The former regiment’s reserve battalion was incorporated into the new 27th Infantry Regiment.

Uniforms were of the same style as those of the regular line infantry, with poppy red collars and turnbacks, white shoulder-straps and bright blue cuffs with red piping and dark blue cuff-flaps. Buttons were brass/gold.  The regiment did not carry colours until after Waterloo.  They were apparently given ‘new style’ uniforms with crab red facings and white shoulder-straps in 1815, but it isn’t clear if anyone received them prior to Waterloo.

Note that I completely forgot to add the red cuff-piping and blue cuff-flaps and as with the Brandenburgers, I gave them white (instead of red leather) musket-slings. They must have been supplied from old Westphalian stocks… 😉

This unit takes the record for my longest start-to-finish project, as they were undercoated in July 1994 and were finished almost 21 years later… 🙂

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“Long Live The House of Orange!” – Netherlands Troops at Waterloo

In my last article, I showed off the British and KGL units I had to paint for our Waterloo Bicentennial game in 2015.  However, I had an even greater deficiency in Netherlands troops!  However, from my involvement in organising a Waterloo mega-game at the National Army Museum in 2000, I did have a pair of fairly ropey Netherlands Light Dragoon Regiments by Old Glory Miniatures, as well as the Orange-Nassau Regiment (converted from AB Figures Saxon infantry), a Dutch Militia Regiment (converted from AB Figures Portuguese infantry) and the 1st & 2nd Nassau Regiments (converted from AB Figures French Light Infantry).

When we started this project, AB Figures still did not produce any specific figures for the Army of the United Netherlands, so I was looking to convert some more units.  However, at that very moment, AB Figures produced a raft of new models, allowing us to complete the army!  🙂  Since 2015, AB have added even more units to the range, including the Nassau regiments and the Dutch and Belgian light cavalry, though sadly they weren’t available for our Bicentennial game.

Above: The Prince of Orange; commanding general of the Army of the United Netherlands and General Officer Commanding the Allied I Corps.

Above: I’ve rotated the model here to show the Prince’s Chief of Staff, General Constant Rebeque.

Above:  I’ve rotated the model again to highlight the staff officer passing a packet of orders to a galloper from the Corps of Guides.

Above:   The 2nd Netherlands Division, commanded by Lieutenant General Henri-Georges de Perponcher-Sedlnitzsky was spread across a very wide and precarious frontage in front of the Allied left flank at Waterloo. They have been unjustly maligned in virtually all subsequent British accounts of the battle, but recent research is thankfully restoring their reputation.  It should of course be remembered that this division performed superbly two days before Waterloo at Quatre-Bras, where it was instrumental in delaying Marshal Ney’s advance.

Bijlandt’s Brigade (pictured here on the left) has been especially singled out for criticism, as it was positioned in an extremely exposed position in front of the main line and came in for particular attention from the French artillery during the opening phases of the battle and being rapidly broken by the fire.  The Orange-Nassau Regiment (centre) and the 2nd Nassau Regiment (pictured on the right) together formed Prince Bernhard of Saxe-Weimar’s Brigade and were spread among the hedgerows, gullies and walled farms (Papelotte, La Haye, Smohain and Frichermont) on the Allied left flank.

Note that when I painted the Orange-Nassau Regiment in 2000, the ONLY source I had for the uniform was this 19th Century print (right), which shows orange facings and red turnbacks.  However, more modern research describes the facings as red (bah!).

Above: The 7th (Belgian) Line Infantry Regiment.  All Netherlands Line Infantry Regiments wore a standard uniform of dark blue with white facings.  The Belgians were distinguished by having the Portuguese/British-style false-fronted shako, with cords and plumes coloured by company – white for the Centre Companies, red for the Grenadier Company and green for the Light Company.  The Grenadier and Light Companies had blue & white striped ‘rolls’ on the shoulders.

I painted this unit to represent Bijlandt’s Brigade, which consisted of the 7th (Belgian) Line Infantry, 27th (Dutch) Light Infantry, 5th (Dutch) Militia and 7th (Dutch) Militia Regiments.

Note that the flag is anachronistic and although ‘1815 Pattern’ (by GMB Flags) was actually issued AFTER the Battle of Waterloo… These flags matched the facing colour – white for line infantry, yellow for light infantry and orange for militia.  At least some regiments did carry some sort of unofficial flag as a battlefield marker, but only one was recorded.

Above: The 3rd Netherlands Division, commanded by Lieutenant General David-Hendrik Chassé, was initially stationed on the extreme right-rear flank of the Allied Army, covering the river crossings at Braine l’Alleud.  With his centre in danger of collapse, Wellington brought this division in to reinforce the point at which the Imperial Guard were attacking and Chassé’s men were therefore instrumental (along with the British Guards and 52nd Light Infantry) in stopping and then pursuing the defeated Imperial Guard.

The division consisted of two brigades; Detmers’ and D’Aubremé’s.  However, there were considerable numbers of Dutch Militia present in both brigades, so I’ve separated these out as a separate ‘brigade’ in game terms.

Above: The 12th (Dutch) Line Infantry Regiment.  This unit represents D’Aubremé’s Brigade, which in full consisted of the 3rd (Belgian), 12th (Dutch) and 13th (Dutch) Line Infantry, the 36th (Belgian) Light Infantry and the 3rd & 10th (Dutch) Militia Regiments.

The uniform for the Dutch Line Infantry was exactly the same as that for the Belgian Line Infantry, except that they wore an Austrian-style shako, with front and rear peaks and no cords.  The short woollen hackles were white, tipped with red or green for the Grenadier and Light Companies respectively.

Above:  The 35th (Belgian) Light Infantry Regiment.  This regiment represents Detmers’ Brigade, which in full consisted of this regiment, plus the 2nd (Dutch) Line Infantry and the 4th, 6th, 17th and 19th (Dutch) Militia Regiments.

The uniforms of all Light Infantry Regiments were identical, whether Dutch or Belgian, being green with yellow facings and Austrian-style shakos with green hackles.  The two flank companies had green & yellow striped shoulder-rolls and yellow tips to their hackles.

Above: The Netherlands Cavalry Division, commanded by Lieutenant General Baron J A de Colläert, formed part of Lord Uxbridge’s Cavalry Reserve Corps.  Pictured on the left are the 5th (Belgian) Light Dragoons, resplendent in their yellow-faced green coats and distinctive green shakos.  This regiment represents Van Merlen’s 2nd Light Cavalry Brigade, which in reality also included the 6th (Dutch) Hussars.

Pictured on the right are the 4th (Dutch) Light Dragoons, representing Baron de Ghigny’s 1st Light Cavalry Brigade, which in reality also included the 8th (Belgian) Hussars.  When I painted this unit, there was simply no information whatsoever on what the front of the jacket looked like, so I painted them with lapels, in the same style as the 5th Light Dragoons.  However, modern research shows that these should actually be hussar-style dolmans… Bah… AB Figures now produce suitable models, so I will eventually replace both the light cavalry brigades with better figures.

In the centre is Trip’s Heavy Cavalry Brigade (detailed below).

Above: The 2nd (Belgian) Carabiniers formed part of Trip’s Heavy Cavalry Brigade, which also included the 1st (Dutch) & 3rd (Dutch) Carabiniers.

Above:  Only the 2nd (Belgian) Carabinier Regiment wore the magnificent crested helmets shown here; the two Dutch regiments wore the same style of uniform, but were still wearing old-fashioned cocked hats.

Above:  A rear view of the 2nd Carabiniers.  The similarity to French Cuirassiers is very apparent and many of the officers and men had indeed been ‘French’ Cuirassiers until the previous year!  However, they didn’t wear cuirasses and instead wore rolled cloaks en bandolier as protection against sword-cuts (indeed, at least one French Cuirassier Regiment was also dressed in this fashion in 1815, making the similarity even closer).

Above:  Instead of a specific general officer figure, I’ve used a Dutch Carabiner officer figure to represent General Trip.  He is dressed in the pink facings of the 3rd Carabiniers.  The 1st Carabiniers had yellow facings.  Both the 1st and 3rd Carabiniers wore white-plumed cocked hats.

Above:  Netherlands Horse Artillery open fire on the enemy.  There were two full horse batteries – Bijleveld’s Battery was assigned to 2nd Division, while Krahmer de Bichin’s Battery was assigned to 3rd Division.  The Cavalry Division has two half-batteries: Petter’s and Van Pitius’.  All were equipped with ex-French 6pdrs.

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“The Scum of the Earth”: Wellington’s Army at Waterloo in 15mm

As discussed here and here, in 2015 we decided to commemorate the 200th anniversary of Waterloo by refighting it in grand style.  Although I already had a lot of British, French and Prussians (mostly AB Figures), there were still ‘a few’ (actually rather a lot of!) units that needed painting for the game, as well as the famous walled farms that were characteristic of the battle.

So here’s a gallery of the British units that I painted for Waterloo (all AB Figures 15mm, with flags by Fighting 15s):

Above: The 3rd Battalion of the 1st Regiment of Foot Guards.  This unit represents Maitland’s 1st Infantry Brigade of Cooke’s 1st Division.  In full, the brigade consisted of the 2/1st Foot Guards and 3/1st Foot Guards.  Note that in the Foot Guards, the Regimental Colour was based on the Union Flag and was carried on the left.  The King’s Colour was the crimson flag and was carried on the right, as shown here.  Infantry Regiments of the Line had the Union Flag as the King’s Colour, so would carry the Union Flag on the right [I’ve edited this, as what I wrote earlier made no sense at all!].

Above and right: The 3/1st Foot Guards in close-up.  The Foot Guards’ uniform was very similar to that of the Regiments of the Line.  I.e. single-breasted red coats, with coloured facings at collar and cuffs and strips of lace edging the collar and buttonholes on the breast and cuffs.  The eight Centre Companies were identified by their white-over-red plumes and shoulder ‘tufts’, while the Grenadier (right flank) Company had white plumes and shoulder ‘wings’ and the Light (left flank) Company had green plumes and shoulder wings.  Headgear was the false-fronted, Portuguese-style shako that was introduced in 1812 (often mis-named as the ‘Waterloo’ or ‘Belgic’ shako).  Shako-cords were white, except for the Light Company, who had green cords.

All three Foot Guards regiments had dark blue facings and gold lace for officers and sergeants.  The grouping of buttons and buttonhole lace identified which regiment: equal spacing indicated the 1st, pairs indicated the 2nd and in threes for the 3rd.  The 1st Foot Guards actually had bastion-shaped lace loops, but my eyesight and hands these days can’t cope with doing those in 15mm and more… 🙁

Note that the chief difference between Foot Guards uniforms and those of the Line Infantry were that there was lace edging to the cuffs, plus a strip of lace down the front-seam of the coat.  The flank companies also had blue backing to the shoulder ‘wings’, whereas those of the Line had red backing.

Above: The 2nd Battalion of the 2nd (Coldstream) Regiment of Foot Guards.  This unit represents Byng’s 2nd Infantry Brigade of Cooke’s 1st Division.  In full, the brigade consisted of the 2/2nd and 2/3rd Foot Guards.  The uniform of the 2nd Foot Guards was almost identical to that of the 1st Foot Guards above, but note that the buttonhole lace on the breast is now arranged in pairs.

Note that many sources depict the 2nd Foot Guards as being dressed in white overall trousers at Waterloo.  However, research has shown this to be incorrect.  They were issued white overalls in Paris, during the occupation following Waterloo.  This uniform was painted by Dighton and was then accepted in subsequent works as being the uniform they wore at Waterloo.  However, they were still wearing the standard grey overall trousers at the battle.

Above: The 1st Battalion of the 23rd Regiment of Foot (Royal Welch Fusiliers).  This unit represents Mitchell’s 4th Infantry Brigade of Colville’s 4th Division.  This brigade was the only part of 4th Division to be present at Waterloo and in full consisted of the 3/14th (Buckinghamshire) Foot, 1/23rd Foot (Royal Welch Fusiliers) and 51st (2nd Yorks West Riding) Light Infantry.

The uniform of the Royal Welch Fusiliers was very similar to that of the 1st Foot Guards above, having dark blue facings and evenly-spaced, bastion-shaped lace loops, with gold officers’ lace.  However, note that there is no lace edging to the cuffs, the backing to the shoulder wings is red and the position of the Union Flag (which is the King’s Colour) is now on the right [edited].  Note also that all companies in the regiment wore shoulder wings; this was a feature of Fusilier and Light Infantry regiments.

Above: The 1st Battalion of the 27th (Inniskilling) Regiment of Foot.  This unit represents Lambert’s 10th Infantry Brigade of Cole’s 6th Division, which in full consisted of the 1/4th (King’s) Foot, 1/27th (Inniskilling) Foot and 1/40th (2nd Somersetshire) Foot.

Above: The 27th Foot in close-up.  The 27th had pale buff facings, evenly-spaced lace (square-ended bars, rather than the bastion-shaped loops of the 23rd) and gold officers’ lace.  Some questions remain over the colour of the regiment’s leatherwork; for most regiments this was simply pipe-clay white, but regiments with buff-coloured facings would traditionally have matching buff belts, as well as buff turnbacks on the coat (and buff breeches in full dress).  However, the vast majority of artistic depictions of the regiment show white belts and the modern-day re-enactment group have been able to produce evidence for belts being ‘pipe-clayed’.  Consequently, I have followed suit and opted for white belts (which is a shame, as I really like the look of buff belts…).

Above: The 27th Foot in action at Waterloo.

Above: Lord Somerset’s 1st (Household) Cavalry Brigade consisted of the Royal Regiment of Horse Guards (The Blues) and the 1st & 2nd Regiments of Lifeguards.  Ordinarily, I will pick a single regiment to be representative of the brigade, but in this instance I wanted to show both the Royal Horse Guards in blue and the Lifeguards in red.

Above: The 2nd (Royal North British) Regiment of Dragoons (‘The Scots Greys’).  This unit represents Lord Ponsonby’s 2nd (‘Union’) Cavalry Brigade, which consisted of the 1st (Royal) Dragoons, 2nd (Royal North British) Dragoons and 6th (Inniskilling) Dragoons, representing England, Scotland and Ireland respectively, hence ‘Union Brigade’.

 Above:  The Scots Greys were mounted exclusively on grey horses and uniquely for the British Army, wore bearskin caps, which makes them a very striking unit and a firm wargamers’ favourite (probably due in no small part to the incredible depiction of their doomed charge in Sergei Bondarchuk’s epic film ‘Waterloo’).  However, there are lots of different types of grey horses and my horse-loving wife Sue helped me research the differences when painting this beautiful unit.  I hope I’ve done them justice in trying to depict a range of greys.

 Above:  I make no apologies for showing three pictures of this unit! It’s worth mentioning at this point that the 1st and 6th Dragoons wore helmets and would have been more representative of the brigade and would have been a FAR more useful addition to my wargames army than this regiment (which only fought one battle – Waterloo – during Napoleon’s reign)… But they HAVE to be done…

Above:  the 15th (King’s) Regiment of Light Dragoons (Hussars).  This regiment formed part of Sir Colquhon Grant’s 5th Cavalry Brigade, along with the 7th (Queen’s Own) Hussars and the 2nd Hussars of the King’s German Legion.  Like most British Hussar regiments, this regiment had gone through an array of uniform changes over the preceding decade, but by Waterloo was wearing the uniform shown.

Above: The 10th (Princess of Wales’ Own) Light Dragoons (Hussars).  In 1815 this regiment, along with the 18th Hussars and the 1st Hussars of the King’s German Legion, formed part of Sir Hussey Vivian’s 6th Cavalry Brigade.  However, I must confess that this unit is WRONG for Waterloo, as it is painted in the uniform it wore in the very early stages of the Peninsular War, circa 1808.

The style of uniform shown here, with very tall busbies, was the standard dress for British Hussars for most of the Peninsular War, though by 1815 all British Hussar regiments were wearing either a shorter style of busby or shakos (as shown above).  I had a single unpainted regiment of these chaps languishing in my collection and they needed painting…

The 10th Hussars only wore the striking yellow-faced uniform shown here very briefly, only for the first few months of the Peninsular War.  They then went  through a number of uniform changes and by 1815 were wearing a very similar style to that worn by the 15th Hussars above, with red shakos trimmed in white lace.  However, their dolman jackets were plain blue with no contrasting facing colour.  Lace and braid was yellow.

Above:  The 2nd Light Infantry Battalion of the King’s German Legion (KGL).  This battalion, commanded by one Major Bäring, formed part of Colonel Christian von Ompteda’s 2nd KGL Infantry Brigade.  The brigade also included the similarly-dressed 1st Light Infantry Battalion and the red-coated 5th and 8th Line Infantry Battalions.  At Waterloo, Major Bäring’s battalion was tasked with holding the key walled farm of La Haye-Sainte, in the very centre of the battlefield and well forward of the rest of the brigade.

Dressed in British 95th Rifles style of dark green with black facings, the regiment had some subtle differences, in that they lacked the white piping worn on the facings of the 95th.  They also wore exclusively grey coverall trousers when the 95th wore green (admittedly with grey trousers also appearing on campaign).  Unlike the 95th Rifles, approximately two-thirds of the battalion was armed with smoothbore muskets, with rifles being issued to the remaining third.

 Above:  The 1st Regiment of Hussars of the King’s German Legion.  Along with the 10th (Princess of Wales’) Hussars and the 18th Hussars, the 1st KGL Hussars formed part of Sir Hussey Vivian’s 6th British Cavalry Brigade, initially being deployed on the extreme left flank of Wellington’s army.

The 1st KGL Hussars wore essentially the same uniform throughout the Napoleonic Wars, being dark blue with red facings and yellow lace, topped with a brown fur busby with yellow cords and a red bag.  The style was essentially British, though they had one unique quirk – their busbies had a black leather peak to keep the sun and rain out of their eyes.

Above:  Gunners of the Royal Horse Artillery and/or the Horse Artillery of the King’s German Legion (the uniform was identical) load 9-pounder field guns.  This uniform remained essentially unchanged throughout the Napoleonic Wars, being a dark blue Hussar-style dolman jacket faced red with yellow lace, grey overall trousers with a red stripe and a Tarleton helmet with black crest, white plume and blue turban.

Above:  Gunners of the Royal Horse Artillery and/or King’s German Legion firing 6-pounder field guns.

Above:  Gunners of the Royal Horse Artillery and/or King’s German Legion firing 6-pounder field guns (rear view).

That’s all for now!  More to follow soon…

[Edited to add] I’ve just seen the trailer on ITV for the forthcoming Waterloo episode of ‘Vanity Fair’ and it looks EPIC!  Hundreds of Cuirassiers charging in reasonably well-ordered lines against solid squares of Redcoats… I’ll no doubt be disappointed, but the trailer looks spectacular… I must also admit to enjoying the series thus far and especially the bold choice of 70s/80s rock music accompaniment… 🙂

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“Great SKOT!” Some Warsaw Pact APCs in 15mm…

1980s Polish infantry disembark from their SKOT-2A APC.

Those of us who like to wargame the ‘Cold War Gone Hot’ in 15mm (1/100th scale) are truly living in a Golden Age of model-availability…  It’s not so long ago that the choice was limited to QRFSkytrex and Peter Pig, or the increasingly-rare and long out of production range by Roskopf.  We well-remember the frustration of having armies of tanks and APCs with no infantry, or having to perform hefty conversion-jobs on models (thanks Martin! 🙂 ), or using models that were ‘similar-ish’ to what we wanted.

Now seemingly all of a sudden, we have Flames of War producing their Team Yankee range and an expansion of the offerings from the other existing companies, plus other new players such as Khurasan MiniaturesThe Plastic Soldier Company, Totentanz Miniatures Oddzial Osmy and Butler’s Printed Models.

Our Mug (Folding), Field Equipment, ’58 Pattern doth truly runneth over!

There is still the odd ‘capability-gap’ in available models, but those gaps are rapidly being filled.  One such gap was the USSR’s Warsaw Pact allies, but East German infantry are now available from two manufacturers and I recently picked up a load of Oddzial Osmy Polish infantry, as Fighting 15s were selling off their stock cheaply.  However, nobody produced the key Polish wheeled APC, the SKOT (Średni Kołowy Opancerzony Transporter – known in Czechoslovakia as the OT-64).  This made assembling a complete Polish (or Czechoslovak) army somewhat difficult, so the Poles have spent some months in the Painting Pile of Doom, waiting for the day when something SKOTish became available.

A Polish mechanised infantry platoon on the march during the 1980s. At the front and rear are SKOT-2As, with a Soviet-designed turret (as fitted to the BRDM-2 scout car). In the centre is a SKOT-2AP, with a Czech/Polish-designed turret, allowing high elevation of the 14.5mm gun for local air defence.

That day finally dawned recently, when I noticed that Butler’s Printed Models had added a range of SKOT variants to their catalogue! 🙂  Their initial listing showed a SKOT-1 (the original, basic flat-topped type), a SKOT-2 (with an octagonal ‘plinth’ and pintle HMG), a SKOT-2 with shielded gunner’s position, a SKOT-2A (with the Soviet BPU-1 turret) and a SKOT-2AP (with Polish/Czech-designed hi-elevation turret).

I must admit that I was a little bit wary, as I’d never seen a 3D-printed model ‘in the flesh’ and photos I’d seen of printed model vehicles hadn’t impressed me – mainly due to excessive ‘stepping’ on sloped or curved surfaces caused by the printing process.  However, the photos looked good and I really NEED those SKOTs!  They are also only £4 apiece (compared to £5-£8 for a typical model of the same size from other manufacturers), so I ordered a sample of three vehicles (a SKOT-2, a SKOT-2A and a SKOT-2AP).  They were delivered in only three days and I was very impressed!  So much so that I immediately ordered another nine models.

Having never seen a 3D-printed model before, I’m absolutely fascinated by the ‘supporting structure’ that underpins each model and even completely encases parts of it.

This supporting structure all needs to be cleaned away and BPM kindly provide at least one cleaned-up model with each order as a guide to what needs to be removed.

Some of the supporting structure snaps away very easily between finger and thumb.

The rest of it comes away easily enough with the aid of a small pair of snips or pliers.  I found that the join between the supporting structure and the model itself is always the weakest point and I haven’t yet managed to damage a model during clean-up.

The trickiest bit of the clean-up process for these models is the turrets.  The lower half of each is completely encased in a ‘tube’ of supporting structure and you do need a knife or snips to pierce it.  It then peels off easily enough, as shown above.

Here are my first twelve models cleaned and based, ready for painting.  The whole process took about an hour, so roughly five minutes per model.  This takes somewhat longer than the clean-up time for a metal or resin model, but there is no construction required aside from attaching the turrets or pintle-mounted MGs and it takes considerably less time than building a plastic kit!

The process to generate a lot of waste, however!  This is the rubbish left over from the first twelve models.

Having now got all the infantry-carriers I need, I started thinking about command vehicles, artillery OP vehicles and anti-tank vehicles.  I dropped a quick e-mail to BPM to ask if they had any plans to release the SKOT-R2 command vehicle or the SKOT-2AM anti-tank missile carrier and quick as a flash, they got back to me asking if I had any photos… Within four days they were available on their website and I had them within the week!  How’s that for superb customer service?! 🙂

The primary difference between a command SKOT and an ordinary SKOT is the addition of vision-blocks to the forward five sides of the octagonal ‘plinth’ on the superstructure, so the SKOT-R2 battalion/regimental command vehicle model is basically a SKOT-2 with those details added, while the SKOT-R2M company command vehicle is a similarly modified SKOT-2A.  The SKOT-2AM model includes a modified turret and a separate AT-3 ‘Sagger’ missile and blast-shield to attach to each side of the turret.  In the field, the SKOT command vehicles would normally also have an auxiliary generator box or two carried on top, as well as additional whip-antennae, antenna brackets and telescopic antennae, so I added these from spare parts.  The artillery observer’s SKOT-R2AM variant also has a folding frame aerial, so I added these simply with a bit of bent brass wire (see above).

I’ve now completed eighteen SKOTs; mostly SKOT-2A, but with a few SKOT-2AP, a pair of SKOT-2, a SKOT-R2, a SKOT-R2M, a SKOT-2AM and a pair of SKOT-R2AM.  I found that some models were slightly worse than others in terms of ‘stepping’, but none were in any way bad and mentioned earlier, the slight imperfections are invisible when viewed at normal tabletop distances.  Here are some close-ups of the various types:

Above:  The basic SKOT-2 APC, here fitted with a DShK 12.7mm HMG.  The original SKOT-1 lacked the octagonal ‘plinth’ on the top deck and had additional internal seating.  When the plinth was added it became the SKOT-1A and when armed it became the SKOT-2.  The Czechs simply called all of these the OT-64 and did not distinguish between the sub-types.  The Czechs also fitted some of their OT-64s with a small 7.62mm LMG turret.

The SKOT-2 was either armed with a 7.62mm LMG or a 12.7mm HMG and NATO referred to these types incorrectly as ‘OT-64A’ and ‘OT-64B’ respectively.  Many HMG-equipped SKOT-2s were fitted with all-round shields for the gunner.  By the 1980s the Polish People’s Army had largely relegated the remaining SKOT-1 and SKOT-2 to secondary roles such as internal security, heavy-weapons transport.  Most were converted to other types.

Note that Butler’s Printed Models produce both the SKOT-1 and the SKOT-2 with gun-shields, but I haven’t bought any yet.

Above: The SKOT-2A was the majority type in the Polish People’s Army of the 1980s.  It was fitted with the standard Soviet BPU-1 turret, as fitted to the BRDM-2 scout car and BTR-60PB APC.  The BPU-1 turret mounted a KPVT 14.5mm HMG, but had a severely limited range of elevation or depression.  The Czechs referred to this vehicle as the OT-64A, while NATO incorrectly referred to it as the ‘OT-64C’.

Above: The SKOT-2AP was a further development of the SKOT-2A, which replaced the BPU-1 turret with the locally-produced WAT turret.  This new turret retained the KPVT 14.5mm gun, but had much better elevation, enabling it to provide local air defence and making it much more useful in urban and mountain warfare situations.  Never as numerous as the SKOT-2A, the SKOT-2APs seem to have been mixed in with SKOT-2As, with perhaps one SKOT-2AP per platoon.  The Czechs also used a few of these, but only in small numbers and they didn’t give it a special designation, simply grouping it under the heading OT-64A.  NATO incorrectly referred to the SKOT-2AP as the ‘OT-64C(2)’.

The WAT turret was also fitted to Poland’s large fleet of TOPAS tracked APCs (their version of the Soviet BTR-50), creating the TOPAS-2AP.

On a critical note, I’m not keen on the gun.  I’m guessing that it’s a limitation of current 3D-printing technology, but the gun is rather over-sized and ‘rough’, when it should be exactly the same as the gun on the SKOT-2A.  I’d have preferred the model to have the gun pointing horizontally, as the AA role was only secondary to its primary infantry-carrying role.  even so, this is still an excellent model.

Above: The SKOT-2AM was a fairly rare conversion of the SKOT-2A, with a 9M14 Malyutka (AT-3 ‘Sagger’) anti-tank guided missile fitted to each side of the turret, behind an armoured blast-shield.  These vehicles were probably issued to regimental anti-tank companies in lieu of the 9P122 Malyutka anti-tank vehicle (BRDM-2 with AT-3 ‘Sagger’).    The Czechs also had a few of these vehicles, but again don’t appear to have given it a distinct designation other than OT-64A.  NATO incorrectly referred to this type as ‘OT-64C(1A)’.

There was an earlier anti-tank variant of the SKOT-1, which had a single large deck-hatch at the very rear of the vehicle, with two 9M14 Malyutka missiles mounted on the deck in front of the hatch.

Above: The SKOT-R2M was the battalion/regimental command post version of the SKOT-2.  The Czechs referred to this as the VSOT-64/R2.  Butler’s Printed Models provide it with a DShK HMG, but all the photos I’ve seen show it as unarmed, so I’ve left it off.

The main recognition features of the command variants of the SKOT are the vision-blocks placed in the forward five sides of the octagonal ‘plinth’.  However, I’ve also added some other common features such as the auxiliary power generator on the rear deck, the telescopic mast stowed on the right-hand side of the hull, an antenna bracket at the rear-left corner and some whip-antennae.

Above: The SKOT-R2AM was an artillery observation and command vehicle, which was externally much the same as the SKOT-R2, with the addition of a folding frame-antenna.  Higher-level command and signals vehicles such as the SKOT-R3 also looked much the same as this.

Above: The SKOT-R2M was a turreted version of the SKOT-R2 that seems to have been used primarily as a company commander’s vehicle.  In Czech service this was known as the VSOT-64/R2M.

Now to get the Polish infantry finished and get them into a game! 🙂

 

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