Sunday, September 4, 2016

What I did spy at the Bring-n-Buy

For my Army Men project.  The carrier becomes an
artillery tractor.

Every year at the local Bring-and-Buy down at the Woolston Club, I find something of interest. More, indeed, than I spend, but I find I am becoming accustomed to resisting some kinds of temptation. Last year, I spent just twenty-eight dollars, for which I came away with some Napoleonic French Horse grenadiers which were to become my representative unit for my Imperial Guard Heavy Cavalry; and eight palm trees suitable for my Army Men project.  That was enough to satisfy me then.

Lone star Armoured car.
This year I spent more, on a wide range of ... topics, shall we say?  In no particular order overall, we'll begin with these three items for my Army Men project.  The 'Lone Star' armoured car (obviously based on the WW2 'Humber' models) was a find.  Had there been more of those, I certainly would have snapped them up. The 'Lone star' bren carrier I bought specifically as a tractor for the Britains field piece.  These were a bit pricy at $10 the time, which is one of the reasons why I didn't buy more of the 'carriers' at least.  I certainly gave a bit of thought to that!
Britains field piece and Lone Star carrier.

37mm AA on a SdKfz7 half track.  Work needed doing to repair
the cab, and to remount the gun assembly.

Definitely a mixed bag at Tony's table: a couple of metal German 15cm howitzers, to be assembled, plus this interesting item.  It was somewhat damaged: the AA gun assembly had come adrift, and I had no idea what had happened to the cab.  The control panel that was in place I tore out and replaced, then fitted the cab seats.  Finally, over all went the cab tilt.  The end result isn't quite right, I suspect, but it is now a presentable enough piece.


The Leopard Company of the Tchagai Army has just had
an augmentation to its strength...
I think it was from here, too,  that I picked up my third Leopard tank for the Nabob of Tchagai.  The model was OK, but the tracks needed repairs and straightening, and one of the road wheels was threatening to go its own way.  Repairs completed. Fifteen dollars - and a wee bit of time later - spent at this table.

British 2-pr Anti-tank gun (Zvezda).  
The 'spare' travelling carriage for the 2pr gun.
The next fascinating item I have long felt was a serious deficiency in available plastic kits if you wanted to do the Western desert: the British 2pr anti-tank gun.  It took the Russians to come up with one, and a superb piece it is.  I've made it up here as an Art of Tactic game piece, but as I haven't glued it to the base, I can as easily detach it for other games.  That the thing pretty much fits together without glue, I find very impressive. Actually I did glue a couple of small bits, as being too fiddly otherwise for my clumsy fingers. I don't have a copy of the Art of Tactic, and would be interested to hear news and readers' opinions of that game system.
The wheels I shoved onto the spare trail.  I get the impression that as one need not for the most part use glue in assembling the model, you could uplift the gun from its deployed carriage, and place it upon this one for the gun in travel mode.  Wouldn't it be great if Zvezda (or someone else for that matter) produced a CMP or Bedford portee for the thing?
Tropical foliage.  I painted the grey leaves green and
applied a thin acrylic wash overall, then mounted them
upon more stable bases.

Impulse buy here, seeing this bunch of tropical ferns (?) going for $4 I think.  I've based them on more stable circular wooden bases I had spare, and re-glued some of the pieces that had come adrift.  I good deal of the stems and foliage was grey rather than green.  These I painted the upper surfaces and some of the undersides a brightish green a slightly darker shade than the already green ones, which (of course) I left.  Then over all I applied a very watery black acrylic wash.  The result is what you see here.  With the heaps of aquarium plastic greenery mosses and what have you, I reckon I can create a suitably wild, scrubby jungle, swamp or thick brushwood terrain...
A couple of logistic elements for my Napoleonic armies.
If these had been the only items I had bought all day,
I would have been well content.
Coming last in this article, but the first thing to catch my eye were these two interesting items. Always on the lookout for anything that can fulfil the role of logistics elements for my Napoleonic Big Battles project, I just had to snap these chappies up.  The long caisson could be French or possibly Russian; and the grey limber and ammo chest and gunners' carriage look to be Prussian. When a item leaps up, grabs you by the throat and says "Buy me!" - well, you gotta do what a man's gotta do, eh?  Altogether, a very satisfactory day's haul, having spent just over 70 bucks, even if several of the items required a little bit of work.  




The final items aren't from the B-and-B at all, but from Paul, a.k.a. 'Jacko' of the 'paintinglittlesoldiers' blog spot.   Having several Napoleonic cannon surplus to requirements, and knowing I was thinking of acquiring more, he left seven with me before giving me a lift to the Club. Thanks, Jacko, for a great day out!  

'Jacko' very generously left these cannon, from his own
collection, with me.  French and Prussian, by the look...


Monday, August 29, 2016

How many Guns?

In response to my previous blog, it has been pointed out that my proposed system will converge the entire artillery of an Army Corps into a single park.  Divisional or brigade artillery completely disappears.  It is subsumed, abstracted or ignored?

Totally unrelated to this article:  my Brunswick Corps:
Minifigs line infantry, Warrior Jager, Very early Minifigs
uhlans, Italeri plastic hussars, and gun scratchbuilt from
ESCI artillery wheels, homecast metal gun, and balsa trail.
Plastic Duke from an Italieri command set.

Actually the system I have in mind does offer the option of batteries down to single company level to be represented,  but only on an ad hoc basis.  The objection is, however, well made - or at least leads me to think about the matter, and reach a decision I can justify, at least to myself.


The problem I have with scaling in this way I propose (1 figure to 200 men; 1 gun representing multiples of 8 cannon depending on the number of crew figures) is that to  depict artillery down to company level requires a heck of a lot of cannon compared with your other figures.  I have noticed this with Fire and Fury/Age of Eagles, Paddy Griffith's Napoleonic Wargaming for Fun rules, if you're playing an army level game, and my own set. You could fudge it as I have done with the 'Cordery' system, where the 4 guns I have suggested represents 96 cannon.  But 4 cannon seems a lot against maybe 80 figures of the other arms.  Tending to conservatism on such matters, I regard a horse and foot figure to cannon ratio of somewhere between 50 and 80 to 1 as something to aim for. My French Army comprises 560 foot and 168 horse - a total of 728 figures.  So anywhere between 9 and 14 cannon seems about right.
Generals being worked on.  Davout, Bessieres, Gneisenau:
Some Russian and a French general, and Napoleon;
Another French general and a riderless horse.  Minifigs,
except for the Italieri Russian.  Lot of work needed to polish these fellows.

As it happens, the 'Cordery' system is attractive enough to cause me to reconsider.  After all, I am proposing to depict skirmishers as drawn from their parent formations, whereas Age of Eagles simply abstracts them by having 'skirmish-capable' brigades shooting at longer ranges (at a reduced effect for the extended range).  There are practical reasons for doing this (scaling, multiple-figure stands...).   As I have no formal organisation below Division level, and I don't have stands larger than 2-figures, it is feasible for me to depict skirmish screens of 'brigaded' light companies.

It might be argued, then, that single artillery companies ought to be feasible.  It is.  Sort of.  A cannon with a single crew figure would represent under my system a single company of 8 cannon.  But I don't really want to do this, except in some exceptional circumstances.  So, what other options are there?

One is, as I have said before, to allow 'detachments' on an ad hoc basis down to single batteries from the 'central pool' so to speak.  This isn't quite historical, since the odd company was organic to Divisions and/or Brigades, depending upon the army. But there will arise occasions in which a given Div artillery simply has to be placed separately from the rest.

Another idea - not one I like, actually, but let's shove it out there - is to subsume Brigade and Divisional artillery within their respective formations, the single piece allocated being representative of the Corps Reserve only.  Under my rule set, each French Division could be allowed one die shooting (representing a single company) at 'medium' artillery ranges ('heavy' 6pr through to 9pr), this even though no battery is depicted.  This is precisely similar to the building in of battalion guns in a Division or Brigade-level game, even though battalion guns aren't shown.  Incidentally, the idiosyncratic features of the rule set we used in the 1970s could just about have been justified on this ground.  Long 'musketry' range reached out to 12 inches - a whole foot! - for a 9-figure battalion, whole linear frontage was 2.5 inches.  For a long time I felt that this system was much too unrealistic.  Now... I'm not so certain about that.

The problem with this scheme of subsuming artillery companies at Divisional level and below, is that three artillery companies of an Austrian Division ( one for each Brigade plus the Divisional 'positional' battery) seems to me too many to subsume, so I would probably place one 6pr gun on table with 3 crew figures.  This would only very slightly over-represent the 22 cannon of a given Austrian Division.

But that seems to lead to an inconsistency, and I don't want to give my Austrians 25 guns (for an army of fewer than 600 figures) neither!
Artillery of Napoleon's Imperial Guard.  Experimenting with larger sabots.  These are
 trapezoids 7cm deep, long parallel 10cm, short parallel 3cm.  Instead of placing
 the crew off the sabot, I'm thinking of placing them on.
There are practical reasons for this.

At this point I'll diverge a little.  An idea I had associated with my BBforST project was that instead of full Divisions, my 24-figure units could represent Brigades - two Brigades to a Division.  The ground scale would then be 1:1800; the time scale 1 bound representing 40-45 minutes; one figure represents 100 men.  Cannon would represent multiples of 4 for each crew figure.

Under such a scheme, depicting Divisional artillery becomes much more feasible.  An Army Corps could be made up of 6 Infantry Brigades (3 Divisions), a light cavalry Brigade/Division (12 or 24 figures), 3 Divisional artillery companies (3 cannon each with 2 crew figures) and the Army Corps Park (one cannon with 4 crew figures or possibly two cannon with 3 each).

Even under this Slightly Smaller Big Battles for Small Tables I would require quite a lot of cannon for my French army, say.  The organisation would look something like this;

I Corps: 3 Infantry Divisions (144 figures) , 2 light cavalry Brigades (24 figures), 4 cannon (10 crew)
II Corps: 4 Infantry Divisions (8 brigades, 192 figures), 1 light cavalry Brigade (12 figures), 5 cannon (12 crew);
III Corps: 3 Infantry Divisions (144 figures), 2 light cavalry Brigades (24 figures), 4 cannon (10 crew)
Imperial Guard:  3 Infantry Brigades (72 figures), 2 horse Brigades (24 figures), 8 Sappers, 2 cannon (8 crew)
Cavalry Corps: 3 Cuirassier Brigades, 3 Dragoon Brigades, 1 light cavalry brigade, 1 horse gun (3 crew)

That is 560  foot, 168 horse, 43 gunners (16cannon) representing an army of
56,000 foot, 16,800 horse, 4300 gunners with 172 cannon.  I have to admit, from a representative point of view, this army would be by no means over-gunned.  At that, were II Corps to be split up into two Corps of two Divisions (four Brigades) each, then an extra Corps Reserve Park would have to be found, with 4 crew, and the Army numbers would reach 188 cannon.
Placing crew figures on the artillery sabot gives a better 'look',
and makes it clearer where the artillery stands. As each gunner
represents an 8-cannon company, the whole represents 80 cannon.
Probably my 4-man crews will be placed on 8.5/2.5 x 7cm
sabots, the current triangular ones being reserved for 3-figure crews.

That might be 'do-able'. And I'll someday revisit that.  For the time being I am thinking of ignoring the artillery at divisional level or below, and subsuming it into the Army Corps Reserve Park.  But to introduce a little bit of flexibility, and bump up the numbers a little, I'm considering placing 2 guns in at least some of Divisions, each with 3-man crews.  I probably have enough gunners for this, but I'll need to get more guns.

Of course, the artillery of my other armies will require a commensurate increase.

Oh, well...



Monday, August 1, 2016

Austrian Armeekorps, 1809


Austrian Reserve Corps: Heavy Cavalry and Grenadiers.
See below.

In a kind of blog conversation with Bob Cordery, I promised to look into what an Austrian Army Corps might look like using our respective game systems.  Both of us are exploring ideas for staging large-scale Napoleonic battles on small playing surfaces.

The notion is, of course, not new, as I have described in my posting immediately preceding this one. However, so far as I know, both Bob and I have developed features unique to our respective game systems.  In this posting I shall explore how an Austrian Armeekorps might look under our respective systems.

Austrian Armeekorps.  More anon...
To start with, let us look at the establishment of a couple of Austrian formations.  The first is an Army Corps that fought at the Battle of Abensburg, April, 1809.

VI Armeekorps: 

Feldmarschall-Leutnant (FML) Johann von Hiller

Reserve Artillery: FML Karl von Rouvroy:   3 x 12pr Position Bty (each 6 guns [cannon])
   1 x  6pr Position Bty (6 guns)

1st (Line) Division:

FML Friedrich Kottulinsky
 
 Brigade: General-Major (GM) Otto Hohenfeld)
      IR14 Klebek Infantry (3 Bns)
      IR59 Jordis Infantry (3Bns)
      1 x 6pr Brigade Bty (8 guns)
 
 Brigade: GM Nikolaus Weissenwolf
      IR4 Deutschmeister Infantry (3 Bns)
      IR49  Kerpen Infantry (3 Bns)
      1 x 6pr Brigade Bty (8 guns)
 
 Division Artillery:
      1 x 6pr Position Bty (6 guns)

2nd (Line) Division:

FML Franz Jellacic (Note: Jellacic detached to Munich)
   
Brigade: GM Josef Hoffmeister (Brigade attached to FML Vincent - see below)
      IR31 Benjavsky Infantry (3 Bns - Transylvanian/Hungarian)
      IR51 Splenyi Infantry (3 Bns - Transylvanian/Hungarian)

       1 x 6pr Brigade Bty (8 guns)
   
Brigade: GM Konstantin Ettingshausen (Bde detached at Munich)
      IR32 Esterhazy Infantry (3 Bns - Hungarian)
      IR45 De Vaux Infantry (3 Bns - Italian)

      1 x 6pr Brigade Bty (8 guns)
   
Division Artillery:
      1 x 6pr Position Bty (6 guns)

Light Division (a.k.a. 'Advanced Guard')

FML Karl von Vincent
   Brigade: GM Dollmayer von Provencheres (Bde detached at Munich)
      GzR5 Warasdin-Kreutzer Grenz (2 Bns)
      4th, 5th, 6th Vienna Freiwilliger (3 Bns)
      CLR3 O'Reilly Chevauleger (8 Sqns)
      1 x 3pr Grenzer Bty (8 guns)
      1 x 6pr Horse Bty (6 guns)
   Brigade: GM Arnaud von Nordmann
      GzR6 Warasdiner-St George Grenz (2 Bns)
      CLR6 Rosenberg Chevauleger (8 Sqns)
      HR7 Liechtenstein Hussars (8 sqns)
      1 x 3pr Grenz Bty (8 guns)
      1 x 6pr Horse Bty (6 guns).

Some notes:

1.  You can see that quite a bit of this Corps had been detached prior to the Abensburg action: a Brigade each from 2nd and Light Divisions detached (I suppose) under 2nd Div HQ (Jellacic); and the remaining 2nd Div Bde placed under von Vincent's command.

2.  I have mentioned the Transylvanian/Hungarian regiments specifically as they wore a uniform distinguished from other line infantry by their blue pants.

3. In general the Light Div cavalry were light - chevaulegers, hussars or uhlans - but occasionally a dragoon regiment might be attached.


4. In general grenadiers and cuirassiers were reserved for the aptly named 'Reserve Corps'.  See below.



5.Total establishment strength of VI Armeekorps was about 35,600, of which maybe 20,000 were engaged at Abensburg.

6.  It is probably worth mentioning that this design was Archduke Charles's own, and appears to have been a formal, possibly permanent, arrangement. The other Army Corps were very similarly - almost identically - organised. Despite his wishes, though, exigencies of the campaign led to detachments and attachments that made rather a mess of his tidy system.

Austrian I Reserve Corps under the 'Cordery' system.  The
II Reserve Corps list below would remove 2 Grenadier and
 2 Cuirassier units.  Note that this formation is not over-furnished
with artillery! 

II Reserve Armeekorps

FML Michael Kienmayer

1 Brigade: GM Konstantin Ghilian Karl d'Aspre

   - Puteani Grenadiers (2 coys each from IR14, 45, 59)
   - Brezinczinsky Grenadiers (2 coys each from IR20, 34, 41)
   - Scovand Grenadiers (2 coys each from IR4, 49. 63)
   - Kirchenbetter Grenadiers (2 coys each from IR34, 37, 48 - Hungarian)
   - Scharlach Grenadiers (2 coys each from IR31, 32, 51 - Hungarian)
   1 x 6pr Bde Bty (8 guns)

2 Brigade: GM Andras von Schneller

   - CR1 Kaiser (Franz) Cuirassiers (6 Sqns)
   - CR6 Gottesheim Cuirassiers (6 Sqns)
   1 x 6pr cavalry Bty (6 guns)

3. Brigade: GM Josef von Clary

   - DR4 Levenehr Dragoons (6 Sqns)
   - DR3 Wurttemburg Dragoons (6 Sqns)
   - 1 x 6pr Cavalry Bty (6 guns)

Notes:

1.Overall establishment strength of II Reserve Armeekorps, based on this list, was very close to 8000 all ranks.  However, instead of just the 5 grenadier battalions in II Reserve, I Reserve Corps had as many as 12 - a much more powerful outfit.  Possibly II Reserve had some battalions detached.

2. It appears that the reserve formations were named for the purpose: to reinforce success, or restore a crumbling line, or perhaps as a specially designated masse de rupture against a stretched enemy.

3.  Having discovered something of the real ability of the commander of this formation, one feels that he would have been rather wasted in the role.  Michael Kienmayer had a fine military record, notably as a cavalry commander, and was holder of the Military Order of Maria Theresa (not an easy award to achieve!).  Later in the 1809 campaign, he was appointed an independent command in Saxony/Northern Bohemia, where he organised an XI Armeekorps out of the troops already operating in that area.  Two days after Wagram, he beat General Androche Junot at the Battle of Gefrees, and, with 15,000 troops, by and large outmanoeuvred and forced back more than double his numbers of Saxons and Westphalians sent against him. 

Now, I have included these lists to show where the following come from.  We'll begin with the Bob Cordery system, which I think makes a very good 'fit' for the Austrian orders of battle.   Bob bases his system around a Division sized formation of all arms, infantry regiments comprising 6 figures, cavalry 4, and the Divisional Artillery. 1 cannon with a two-figure crew.  Divisional HQ comprises a mounted general figure.  For reference, here's a link to Bob's article in this topic.

Adapted to an Austrian Army Corps of the 5th Coalition, we might have something like this:

Austrian Army Corps:

   - 1 x Corps Command/HQ element (GoC plus ADC, say)Corps artillery reserve: 
   - 1 x 12pr artillery (2 figs, 1 gun)
1st Division:
   - Division GoC
  - 4 x  Infantry Regiment each with 6 figures (24 figs)
  - 1 x 6pr Brigade artillery (2 figs, 1 cannon)
2nd Division:
   - Div GoC
   - 4 x Infantry Rgt each with 6 figures (24 figs)
   - 1 x 6pr Bde Artillery (2 figs, 1 cannon)
Light Division/Advance guard:
An Austrian Army Corps under Bob Cordery's system:
 Advanced Guard leading two 'Line' Divisions. I see I have
 forgotten the freiwilliger.  No very serious an omission...
   - Div GoC
   - 2 x Grenz Infantry each with 6 figures (12 figs)
   - 1 x Freiwilliger Infantry with 6 figures
   - 2 x Light Cavalry Rgt each with 4 figures (8 figures)
   - 1 x 3pr Grenz OR 1 x 6pr Horse artillery (2 crew, 1 gun)


Notes:

1.  This formation comprises 5 command figures, 66 foot, 8 horse, 8 gunners and 4 cannon.  I admit that seems like a lot of cannon, but the original formation had 96 pieces - 18 x 12pr, 16 x 3pr, and 62 x 6pr. The single gun I currently use is a clear under-representation, even with 4 gunners.

2.  Rule sets like Shako recognise that, Austrian foot and horse unit establishments being quite large, an extra element was added to each in their TOandE.  Instead of 3 elements, Shako Austrian line infantry were given 4 and light cavalry in particular given 3 cavalry elements instead of two. Something similar would not be out of place in the Bob Cordery system.  An alternative organisation would then have 8-figure line infantry units, and 6-figure cavalry.  Irregular, semi-regular and light infantry remain at 6 figures per unit.

Austrian Reserve Corps:

Austrian Reserve Corps under Bob's system.
As I have just the one 12-figure Cuirassier unit, I have
had to eke them out with Dragoons to obtain 4 regiments.
   - Corps Command HQ
   - 4 x Grenadier Infantry each with 6 figures (12 figs)
   - 2-4 x Cuirassier Cavalry each with 4 figures (8 figs)
   - 2 x Dragoon Cavalry each with 4 figures (8 figs)
   - 1 x 6pr Bty (2 crew and 1 gun)

While I believe Bob Cordery's system is an excellent 'fit' for Austrian orders of battle, I am less sanguine about my own.  Ostensibly more flexible, I suddenly find myself with having to make some uncomfortable decisions.  The main reason for this is the eclectic sort of collection I have.  The majority of the army comprises Minifigs figures, but there are Warrior, possible Hinton Hunt (or maybe they are  Freikorps) knock-offs picked up at a bring-and-buy sale, other metal figures even more obscure provenance (though they look like originals) and a few plastics (hussars and grenz).  Wishing to mix types within each formation as little as possible, I have had to made some pretty tall compromises: 

Several years ago, I came up with this:

Austrian Army Napoleonic Wars:

I Corps
   - 3 x Infantry Divisions @ 24 figures;
   - 1 x Jager Brigade @ 12 figures; 
   - 1 x Uhlan Brigade @ 12 figures; 
   - 1 x 6pr gun. 
   (Total 100 figures) [All Minifigs]
II Corps:
   - 2 x Hungarian Infantry Divisions @ 24 figures; 
   - 1 x Hungarian Grenadier Division @ 24 figures; 
   - 1 x Freikorps Jager 'Division' @ 18 figures; 
   - 1 x Chasseur (Chevauleger) Brigade @ 8 figures; 
   - 1 x 12pr gun.  
(Total 102 figures) [Grenadiers possibly Hinchliffe. Freikorps are Minifigs; the others of unknown manufacture.  Artillery Minifigs crew, scratchbuilt piece]

III Corps:  
   - 3 x Infantry Divisions @ 24 Figures; 
   - 1 x Jager Brigade @ 12 figures; 
   - 1 x (Light?) Dragoon Brigade @ 12 figures; 
   - 1 x 6pr gun. 
(Total 100 figures) [All Minifigs]

IV Corps
   - 2 x Infantry Divisions @ 24 figures; 
   - 1 x Grenz 'Division' @ 24 figures,
   - 1 x  Hussar Brigade @ 16 figures; 

   - 1 x 6pr gun.
(Total 92 figures) [Line Infantry: Hinton-Hunt (?) knock-offs (?), Grenz  HaT plastics; Hussars Italieri plastics, artillery Minifigs]
...
IV Army Corps under my system.  Guns reduced from 4 to 1 is probably
too stringent, and the Advance Guard is over represented.  Points to Note:
1. The right hand Division in the picture represents the formation drawn
up in masse formation:
2.  The Grenz being specialist light infantry, half the formation may be
deployed in skirmish order.
3. The 16-figure hussar unit is a nod towards the 8-squadron light
cavalry regiments favoured by the Austrians. 

V Corps

   - 2 x Infantry Divisions @ 20 and 18 figures;
   - 1 x Grenadier Division @ 16 figures;
   - 1 x Grenze Division @ 24 figures;
   - 1 x Hussar Brigade @ 16 figures;
   - 1 x 6pr gun. 

(Total 98 figures) [Infantry Warrior; Grenz HaT plastics, Minifigs Hussars (yet to be acquired) and artillery]
I Reserve Corps:

I Reserve Corps under my system, minus
the light guns. That needs a rethink! The more
distant Grenadier Division is below Establishment
at just 20 figures.  
   
- 2 x Grenadier Divisions @ 24 and 16 or 20 figures; 
   - 1 x Cuirassier Brigade @ 12 figures; 
   - 1 x (Heavy) Dragoon Brigade @ 12 figures;
   - 1 x 12 pr heavy gun; 

   - 2 x 3pr light guns.
(
Total 76 figures). [Minifigs figures, 12pr gun scratchbuilt; 3pr guns Revell Plastic 7YW pieces, crews Minifigs]

Grand Total: 568 figures, not counting generals and their staffs.

You will see from this that I have had to play a little fast and loose with the historical precedents, but at least you can see some sort of connection with them.  The only actual Army Corps that had grenadiers attached was the IX, four battalions of which were attached for Archduke John's operations in Italy.   For his invasion of Poland, Archduke Ferdinand d'Este had a brigade of cuirassiers attached to his VII Corps.  He would have needed them against Poland's famed cavalry.  At any rate, the grenadiers in my army are so placed as in keeping with line infantry figures of the same, or similar, make or style.  


IV Armeekorps.  Metal line infantry, Minifigs command and
artillery; plastic grenz (HaT) and hussars (Italieri).  The
'logistics' element is actually a limber team bought
at a bring-and-buy many years ago.

I appreciate this is rather a long posting with a lot to chew on.  I hope the meal is tasty enough!




Friday, July 22, 2016

Convergence and Divergence



Reading Bob Cordery's blog recently - as I do regularly - my ears pricked up when I noticed that his attention had devolved upon Napoleonics.  What particularly piqued my interest was the sort of army organisation he was planning.  It bore a remarkable resemblance to my own, designed for my 'Big Battles for Small Tables' project (now somewhat stalled).  But there are differences.
A French infantry Division in line of battle.  More of this later...


Commenting on his blog, I seemed to be making a blog posting, but now that I am here, I find myself with all sorts of things I could talk about.  Rather than split them up into several postings, this will be a longish one.  I hope it is as interesting.

The motivation here is to play 'Army Level' games on a small table.  That means that your tactical units will be Divisions or Brigades, and/or your regiments and battalions will have a mere handful of figures.

The 'small battalion' notion has a long and respectable pedigree, beginning with R.L. Stevenson's 4-figure units in his games with his step-son.  My first introduction to wargames featured something similar.  I will mention here one Philip Allen, 1970s law student at Auckland University (where I was purportedly completing a degree in Mathematics), who had begun building his Napoleonic Armies whilst still at high school, and used a version of Young and Lawford's Charge! rules for his games. Unfortunately, I lost contact with Philip a long, long time ago.


III Corps again, this time in colour;  Four infantry Divisons
(Numbered 7th to 10th), a light cavalry Brigade (3rd,
represented by Chasseurs) and artillery park (1 model 8pr
cannon with 4 gunners). Minifigs.

Philip favoured 9-figure infantry regiments - one officer and 8 men - organised into Divisions of 4 regiments. Every regiment had its own number. Cavalry regiments were 5 figures strong, but not formally organised into higher formations.  The 36-figure Divisions were mounted, but not fixed - upon movement trays in a columnar formation, 4 ranks of 9 figures, the officers standing on the right of each successive rank.  Divisions rarely departed from this formation, even when defending.  That suggests, perhaps, that the 1813 campaign was pretty much the focus of Philip's battles and wars.

Three such Divisions formed an Army Corps, of which there were four (actually, I think I Corps had only 10 or 11 regiments, one or two Divisions being under establishment). The Imperial Guard was an independent 5-regiment Division.  The Army Corps did not include in any formal sense artillery or cavalry, which were attached on an ad hoc basis, depending on scenario or campaign.  In the great War of 1975/1812, my first Napoleonic 'Division', painted as Westphalians, added to the Strength of the French, also as an independent formation.  As Philip favoured the Continental wars, he had built up a huge allied force of Russians, Prussians and Austrians.  Even with my 'Westphalians' added, the French found the Allied numbers too great to overcome when combined.


III Corps on the road.  I wanted to see how much
 roadway would be taken up by the Corps to determine
how long it would take for it to deploy into battle formation.
It was partly in fond memory of those days that I sought to recover that sense of fighting wars rather than battles.  Some years ago. I had seen what Paul Leniston had been doing in this regard.  His Army organisations are elegantly simple:comprising 4 Corps, each with 4 infantry brigades of 8 figures, a 4-figure cavalry brigade, and a park of one model gun with four crew on a stand.  Including the Corps commander, that is an Army Corps of 41 figures.  Having played in one of his campaigns, I could appreciate the simplicity of Paul's approach, and the kind of command discipline it enforced, particularly in the field of logistics.  

The infantry (11th to 14th Divisions) of IV Corps.  Figures of
mixed provenance: early Minifigs plus figures from two or
three manufacturers I can't identify.
17th Light Infantry representing 15th Division
of V Corps.  Front Rank figures.

A 4-Corps army (166 figures including the army command) is a respectable number to field on a 6'x6' table, but for the strategic wastage built in by the need to establish and garrison supply depots and distribution points.  As there were no subdivisions below a whole brigade, if you wanted to advance any distance, you had to count on at least a quarter of your infantry to be detached upon garrison duty!  That made for some challenging decision making, and I don't think I ever did fully grasp Paul's campaign rules. At least it was the poorer quality units that were detailed for such onerous tasks!

Fortunately, my Prussian Army seized its objective early and held on (just!) against several strong French counter-offensives.  I declined to participate in further campaigns, despite temptation, as I found that being 'out of phase' with everyone else it wasn't always easy to keep up with what was going on.

The system adopted by Bob Cordery, and my own, lie somewhere between those used by Philip Allen and Paul Leniston.  Bob has gone for divisions comprising four  6-figure infantry regiments, a 4-figure cavalry regiments, a gun with 2 crew figures, and a commanding general.   Normally Napoleonic all-arms formations were at Army corps level, so the inclusion of cavalry at this level is a bit unusual.  The effect, though, of grouping two or three such Divisions together is to create Army Corps with a realistic ratio of all arms, depending on how one looks at the artillery.  In addition to the Divisional holding, does one add a Corps Reserve artillery park?  I suspect not.  But however you do these things, there has to be a compromise somewhere!  One of the problems I have with the otherwise fine rule set Age of Eagles, is the sheer number of model cannon you need.  I am quite content with ten model cannon for 720 figures of the other arms.

Where Bob has organised his army around Divisions, I have mine about the Army Corps.  The result is surprisingly similar.  The 24-figure infantry battalion/regiments and 12 figure cavalry regiments of my standard Corsican Ogre game become Infantry Divisions and Cavalry Brigades, without having to make any change to the way the figures are organised. 

Although I have no formal regimental 
15th Division in column with skirmishers brigaded together,
 and skirmishing in grande bandee.
organisation below these levels, yet their composition suggest they exist in potentia.  My 24-figure French units comprise 4 grenadier, 4 voltigeurs and 16 centre company figures that will include flag bearers, officers and musicians. In the pictures accompanying this part of the text one can see how a Division might be arranged internally in all sorts of ways.  I have long taken the view that it ought to be possible to depict this kind of activity, below the nominal 'tactical unit' level of the rule set in question.  I have always had a bit of a problem in this regard with rule sets like Volley and Bayonet, and even to some extent Age of Eagles, which fudges these, rather. 




15th Division with double the usual allocation of skirmishers
deployed in grande bandee.  Divisions represented by light infantry
figures are the only ones permitted this.  See text.
My French Army Corps comprise three (I, II, V, VI, Imperial Guard) or four (III, IV) infantry Divisions, one light cavalry brigade (represented variously by units of hussars, chasseurs-a-cheval or lancers), and - here's where Bob and I diverge - a single gun.  The Imperial Guard includes a heavy cavalry Brigade (represented by Horse grenadiers) as well as the light (Chasseurs-a-cheval).  It also holds two gun models each with 5 crew figures, a park overall of 80 cannon.

Division deployed in successive lines with skirmishers forward,
represented by voltigeurs and carabiniers-au-pied.
This single cannon in my line formations represents not only the Corps's reserve park, but the whole of the Corps artillery. The crews will normally vary from 3 to 5 figures, each crew figure representing, as it were, an 8-gun battery or company.  The 3-figure crew might equally well represent four 6-gun companies of, say, horse artillery.  The standard, however is (for the moment) a gun with four-figure crew, representing a park of 32 cannon.  This is probably a little on the light side for a French Army corps, and a 48-gun park might be a better number.  That could be depicted by two guns with 3 crew men apiece.  However, I did want to keep gun models down.  I would require at least fourteen cannon, and that not counting horse guns for my Cavalry Corps.

Built into this system is the flexibility to depict single gun companies if the need arises.  This is simply a gun with a single crew figure.  I am thinking of a situation in my Retreat from Smolensk narrative, in which a single Division flung out as a flank guard, is about to come under attack by a large body of Russian cossacks, foot and guns.  It seems reasonable to suppose this Division will have taken its artillery - a single company - with it, and with it awaits the storm, or relief from elements of Davout's Corps...  Of that, more another time.


I did ask Paul Leniston whether he had considered the idea of Cavalry Corps.  I had seen the notion in Paddy Griffith's Army Game from his Napoleonic Wargames for Fun book, and of course from my reading of history. I gather Paul was vaguely tempted by the idea, but decided it would over-complicate his game system. I think he's right that it would not be a good 'fit'.  My French Army has two Cavalry Corps, each comprising 3 Brigades. At present, I Cavalry Corps comprises three brigades of Cuirassiers (with the possible addition of an orphaned 'regiment' of 4 Hinchliffe figures), and II Cav Corps 3 brigades of Dragoons, with a light horse gun attached with 3 crew.  Of course, Marshal Murat commands the former.  I will probably attach a light gun to the Cuirassiers as well.

Division in ordre mixte, with skirmishers deployed.
So far I have omitted mention the fourth part of my Army Corps: the logistics element. Unfortunately I have also omitted them from my pictures.  This can be any kind of wagon, cart or caisson that must accompany the army corps into battle.  I would probably omit a logistic element for the Cavalry Corps as likely to have been left well behind, or else subsume the same into an Army HQ logistical element.  I'll have to think about that. 
Division in advancing  battalion or regimental columns
with skirmishers deployed forward.

Work in Progress:
Imperial Guard: Heavy and Light Brigades, Sapeurs of the Guard,
Old, Middle and Young Guard Divisions, Guard artillery.
Below are pictures of my Imperial Guard, all 115 figures, not counting the absent ADC to the Marshal commanding.  That personage is an early Minifigs model of Marshal Bessieres. When I got him, he was painted up as a French General (one Marcel Douchenois), but now there is good reason and motivation to repaint him as he should be, resplendent in his uniform of the Guides.  

The lone mounted general is in fact an early Minifigs
Marshal Bessieres, who has spent his life hitherto as one
General Douchenois.  He will be repainted in his proper dignity
as Marshal in the uniform of the Guides...


As you will see from the pictures, this is still very much a 'work in progress' with a few figures recently bought to beef up the Old Guard to 24 figures. They need to be painted, as do the bearskin hatted gun crew to the right of the pictures.  The plumed shakos of the other gun crew I have deemed worthy of Guard status. One has yet to acquire his plume.


As the 5-man crew of the near gun represents a park of 40 cannon,
a broader base seems to be indicated. 

To make a plume, I drill down the front of the shako at a slight angle, into which hole I shove in a length of wire.  Over this I slip a short length, 8cm, say, of the end of a cotton bud.  To get the effect and the shape that I want, I strip perhaps half the cotton from the bud.  Dobbing on the paint tends to give the thing the right sort of shape and feathery look.  I have an idea the trail-spike man at the rear of the left-hand gun (as you see it) has received that treatment.

In these pictures you will notice the guns placed, but not fixed, on triangular bases.  This is really part of my flexibility fetish.  The 'unequal'  side of the isosceles triangle is the battery frontage; the other two sides form an angle that define the battery's arc of fire.  The flocked base measures 7cm across the front and 7cm in depth.  On my ground scale of 1:3600, 7cm (about 252 meters) is a bit of a squeeze for 32 guns - not too bad for 24 - but there is a way around this.  One is as shown, placing a figure at either end of the front edge. As my figure bases are 15mm, that extends the frontage to 10cm - 360meters - which is much closer to the likely frontage required by a 32-gun park. Having said that, the arc of fire remains defined by the angles of the gun base.


The shape of the wider base is more apparent in this pic.
The angles from the front edge indicate arc of fire.
The base made from carpet tile has been fashioned into more of a pentagon.  The frontage of this one is 10cm.  Extended to 13cm by the bases of the gunners on either side, represents a frontage of 468 meters.  This is close enough to the required frontage of the 40-gun battery this represents.  The arc of fire is still defined by the angles of the sides contiguous to the front edge.  



I Corps d'Armee: 3 infantry Divisions, light cavalry Brigade
and an artillery park representing 32 cannon.
 I have omitted the logistics element, which can be any sort of
wagon, cart or caisson.

Finally, a look at my more 'standard' French army Corps.  The following is I Corps, comprising three infantry Divisions, one light cavalry Brigade, and the artillery park.  Absent its its logistics element.

You will note that the 10th Hussar regiment is standing in for the whole Brigade, and so the whole army is constituted in that way.  One could mix up the formations, but it seems to me tidier not to do so.  In a whole different game, this force represents a Brigade strength column of all arms, comprising 13th Light, 17 and 30th Line Infantry, 10th Hussars and a half-company of artillery.


Work in Progress:
Commander of I Corps, Marshal Davout - on a borrowed horse...
Have barely begun painting him.
The Corps Commander, Marshal Davout, is still a 'work in progress', requiring painting, and, for this picture, he is riding a borrowed horse.  The picture below shows my dual labelling for the figures: my initials, the regiment number and the Corps/Division identity for use depending upon the scale of the action I am fighting.
Marshal Davout's ADC is a spare Minifigs
elite hussar figure.


Flexibility.  How the units might be battalions or regiments
for one type of game, and a Division for another.



Pic taken indoors, without additional effects, of a sunny late July day
 in Christchurch, New Zealand.
Even in winter the light can be very strong in this part of the world!















I close with this picture, that was going to be  discarded.  I was struck by the strong light from our winter sun (it wasn't all that warm a day, neither) even through a double-glazed window.  This was taken and recorded with no additional effects other than a little cropping.  






In a future posting I will discuss how my other Napoleonic armies are organised.  

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Army Men Scratch Builds and Adaptations.

My previous posting being concerned with adaptations and scratch-building equipment for my WW2 armies, it seemed appropriate this this one focused upon my Army Men project.
Kiivar field howitzers.
At last I have assembled a 3-gun battery of Kiivar field howitzers.  The trails, breech blocks and such are made of balsa; lollipop sticks have gone into other parts of the construction.  The gun barrels are exhausted felt-tip pen barrels. I have yet to add tow loops to the ends of the trails.

Kiivar field howitzers in battery...
The wheels have been slowly collected from small spice and herb jars bought at the local supermarket.  Future collection might go into limbers.  The measuring/surveying staffs (?) I added for a bit of colour,  Only the centre piece has one on its left-hand side as well.
With tractors.  Limbers yet to be built.  That will probably
require collecting more road wheels...
The over-scale jeeps I acquired with some Army Men soldiery I bought a couple of years back have become the prime movers for these howitzers.  One is lacking a windscreen, and I'm thinking of placing a card or paper tilt on all of these.  Two used to be in Raesharn service,  but I figured that they were needed more to draw these.

Towards the end of 2014, Brian gave me the dark green vehicle below.

Comparison of sizes between the AA vehicle and the
Army Men tank.


Very soon I gave it the addition to the sides of the vehicle to disguise the
flush casting of the hull side and road wheels.
It was pretty battered, had no tracks, and the whole side skirt and road wheel assembly was one flush piece.  I began at once by cutting and pasting a length of card plastic along the bottom edge of the skirt to suggest that the road wheels were behind.  I also added a cardboard shield.  As the shield was a bit flimsy and flollopy, I recently added side pieces better to protect the crew and to make the shield firmer.

The vehicle has been painted in Raesharn's distinctive camouflage pattern.  Having been added later, the side pieces of the shield will need to be painted also.


How the finished tracks look on the AA vehicle.
The underside of the vehicle I made from lollipop stick braced to push the inward curving sides outwards.  The ends of the lollipop sticks I hoped would suggest drive sprockets and such.  I then enclosed all this with balsa to give the thing an overall solid look.  The tracks are made from non-slip matting - a different design from that which I used for the vehicles in my previous posting.  Blue again, I slolloped black paint over it and added a silver coating semi-drybrushed over it.  
Hasn't turned out too badly, methinks.  I may add a rust coloured wash over it all later.
That gun shield does need some tidying up...



At the moment, there is but one crew man visible.  This is from a NATO figure wearing a beret.  I decided that Raesharn tank men wear red berets (again, just to add a bit of colour).  I have yet to find another figure I am willing to sacrifice to place on the other side of the gun.  I'd like him to sport a beret as well..  These figures I cut with wire cutters at roughly the upper half or third of the torso, then jam them in beside the twin AA cannon.
AA vehicle traversing rough country...

HQ radio lorry.
This here is an HQ Staff Radio lorry in Kiivar service.  It started out in life as a 'Fort Knox' truck, complete with a combination lock rear door.  I have done nothing about that door - I find the feature attractive for no other reason than that it's there.
Div HQ:  Radio lorry and staff car.
The HQ lorry in the company of a General Officer's staff car.  Some touching up needs doing on the latter.