Wednesday, 31 May 2023

Mid War Spanish Additions (cont. 15) - Garrochistas and more commanders

First up, a few posts ago, I mentioned that I had two more command stands left in the lead pile but, looking into my bits and pieces box, I found two more figures that I could convert to make a third. 

I'm now down to a lead pile of just six Spanish units.

Command stand #6.

You have seen the bugler (he's the Russian figure with an added big feather plume) before. This is a changed / revamped cavalry command stand: I took the officer off and replaced him with this converted officer in a cuirass to make it even more flamboyant. The officer I removed found his way onto a new stand below.

Both of these figures are in made up uniforms - which would be nothing special in a Spanish army of which Surtees commented "It was really absurd and ludicrous to see the strange figures they generally made themselves. In one regiment alone you might observe more different uniforms than both we and the French have in all our armies....all the [styles and] colours of the the uniforms of one regiment's officers; and every one of them appeared to vie with the other who could make the greatest harlequin of himself...."

The newly converted figure was a French general of cuirassier in a helmet and distinctive laced, square tailed coat. I swapped his head (with a spare British officer's in bicorn), added a large Milliput neckerchief (the neck was a bit of a mess because of the cuirass's ruff), then reshaped the coat tails and added more traditional turnbacks to using Milliput.

Command stand #7
Command stand #8.

Note that the uniform of the ADC is not made up; it follows a portrait by Denis Deighton. Officially the uniform should have been blue faced red with a plume-less bicorn: it goes to show that Surtees wasn't wrong in his opinion.

Command stand #9.

The officer on the left is the second converted figure mentioned at the start of this post. He was a Nassau officer. His new head is that of a decapitated (Renegade Miniatures) Roman with a large (Front Rank) bicorn. I also added some lapels to make him look more like an ADC and a big moustache to make him look more Spanish, using Milliput.

A unit of Garrochistas. These are Spanish cowboys and their 'lance', when not skewering Frenchmen, is for prodding bulls into obedience.

I'm not sure if these figures aren't more early than mid war but, they are very evocative of Spain: They can be used as Guerrillas or light cavalry stand ins.
I tried to make the most of the variation in the multi-coloured striped blankets but I kept the rest of the pallet fairly simple to speed up the painting process.

The majority wear green jackets (the most common colour, apparently) with a few blue and brown ones; trousers are tan (majority), grey or dark brown. 

Most Garrochistas seem to have favoured red head scarves (hair in a black hairnet beneath) and red sashes. 

I did all their hats and gaiters the same colour to speed things up a bit.

At some point, I might change the colour of some hats. I'm not sure what other colours would be appropriate - Zorro black perhaps?

All figures are by Front Rank.

All were painted by yours truly using enamels.

Next up, a Spanish Vs French battle and not a Brit in sight! I got there, in the end....

Wednesday, 24 May 2023

Mid War Spanish Additions (cont. 14) - Regimiento de Burgos

In May 1811 2,525 light blue uniforms with yellow cuffs and collar were delivered and issued to units serving in eastern Spain. The uniform was issued without shakos so locally obtained round hats were probably worn with it. 

Caveat emptor - The three battalions of 1st Regimiento de Burgos were serving in eastern Spain in 1811 and in 1814 they wore a very similar uniform to this one (in 1814 it was piped white). Consequently, I think it's not to much of a leap to put them in this British produced uniform and round hats in 1811, though I don't have any direct evidence of Regimiento de Burgos actually wearing it.

Figures are by Front Rank.

The flag is by Adolfo Ramos.

Round MDF bases by Warbases, others are home cut from MDF sheet. 

The foam (grass texture) is Woodland Scenics coarse turf - a mix of yellow grass and burnt grass.

Note the officer on the skirmish base, more anon.

Yet again, I chose this uniform to add another colour combination to my eclectically uniformed Spanish army.

Please note that to the eye they are more blue, a brighter sky blue, than the camera and my lighting has made them look here.
In the last post I mentioned that I had saved a few pennies by converting the spare standard bearers in the Front Rank battalion packs. 

The conversion was done by simply adding a pouch (small balsa wood block) to the bottom of the figures 'flagpole strap'; removing the hilt of the sword from the top of the scabbard; adding a sword from my bits and pieces box. 

It's not a particularly realistic pose but, converting a dozen or so saved me about £20 and I didn't have to waste many figures.

Saturday, 13 May 2023

Mid War Spanish Additions (cont. 13) - Voluntarios de Vizcaya

This unit is actually the 2nd de Voluntarios de Vizcaya: They are cazadores.

The 1812 uniform description in Osprey's Spanish Army of the Napoleonic Wars (3) is "Brown coatee and pantaloons; scarlet collar, cuffs and lapels, white piping; pewter buttons." The details for 1st and 3rd Vizcaya are different.

Figures are by Front Rank.

Flag is by Adolfo Ramos. A great flag this one - totally different in design to any other I have seen.

There has been some minor conversion to these figures. The figures do not come with lapels so I had to remove the central row of buttons on their coatees. The lapels and lapel buttons have simply been painted on.

The officer (nearest stand, left) is a standard bearer with a sword added instead. The standard's shoulder strap now sports a 'square pouch' (at the back). I've done this simple conversion a lot to use up the spare standard bearer figure in each Front Rank 'battalion pack' (each pack of twenty four figures comes with two) to save a few pennies.

There is no detail on the headwear or accoutrements for the 1812 uniform but, Vizcaya units had previously worn a round hat with a white band and white equipment. I assume gaiters were black.

Thursday, 4 May 2023

Packing based 40mm figures for the post

Some time ago I finished a commission of 40mm figures for a client in New York, a client who does not do things by half.

In the past my client has told me that some of the 40mm stuff he gets back through the post, mostly from Europe, arrives damaged in transit. 

This is for two reasons. Firstly, 40mm figures are heavy with thin parts (muskets etc.) and can be easily bent or broken if they get shaken in the package, much more so than 28mm. Secondly, this client likes his stuff based on multi figure stands which means they can't be held flat between soft shock absorbing packaging. They need more, much more.

I've painted a lot of this stuff for this client over the years and over that time I've developed a packaging technique to cope with the weight and fragility of multiply based 40mm figures. You might think this packaging method is a lot of work. However, the contents of this parcel were worth an awful lot of money and they needed to get to their destination safely to prevent greater costs and my professional blushes.
First, each stand needs to be self enclosed so that even if the figures get bounced around they are self protecting. 

To this end I use thin card sleeves (old greetings cards), placed over the end files of figures so that any vertical pressures don't actually come down on the figures themselves - the pressure comes down on the top of the sleeve and the base. 

These sleeves are all cut to the same height so that they will fit snuggly into the package's compartments (see below).

These sleeves are held in place by a wrap around of bubble wrap.
Each stand is then placed into a box divided into made to measure compartments. These compartments are made with corrugated card glued together with PVA. They are just a tiny bit longer and wider than the figures' bases and as deep as the height of sleeve, base thickness and bubble wrap.

When the figures' base is wedged into a compartment there isn't any horizontal pressure on the figures. The stand can't tip because when a lid is put on top of the compartment the vertical pressure on the sleeve holds the base flat on the bottom of the box. Any pressure caused by horizontal movement against the sides of the compartment is taken on the edges of the base.

Each compartment is only as deep as the figures plus sleeve, plus a few millimetres for one or two layers of bubble wrap - this is very important, if the figures require too much padding at the top the lid will not hold the sleeve down firmly enough.

This box has two different heights of compartment. One for 'rank and file' stands, one for 'command' stands. It also has some spare room at one end, compartmentalised purely for strength.

Some stands, like this one, have figures that overlap each other (see the mounted officer's outstretched arm) and require the card sleeves to be slotted so that the sleeves don't squash any of the figures with sideways pressure. 

The trick is for the bottom of the sleeve (less slots) to wholly rest on the base.

You can probably just see the slit cut in the right hand sleeve (the officers arm is poking through it) to allow the card to slot over the figures cleanly. 
The height of standards also require additional packaging bits.

To stop tall sleeves being bent inwards onto standards and the like, some sleeves need to have card spacers placed between them - everything is simply held together with bits of tape. 
Once the figures are in the compartments, the compartments need to be sealed with an internal lid before the whole is sealed with the outer box lid. (Unless the box is the same depth as the compartments, which hasn't ever been the case in my experience).

Once sealed I usually wrap the whole thing with brown paper and packing tape. 

For packages to the US it's as cheap to use a courier as anything else. I think the post on this parcel was about £75.

You'll be pleased to hear that, according to my client, these figures arrived in Manhattan "without a so much as a bent musket."

I would like to thank CG for permission to photograph his commission for the purpose of this post. Safely packing 40mm for postage isn't as easy as packing 28mm, not by a long shot.

Mid War Spanish Additions (cont. 12) - More artillery

These pieces bring posts and painted units up to date: I have no more newly painted units on the shelf to show you. However, the 2nd de Voluntarios de Vizcaya are on my painting desk and they will be here sooner rather than later.

That was quite a productive spell: From four units of infantry, three guns, two limbers and a command stand, the Spanish force now has sixteen units of infantry (including two Guerrillas), three cavalry units, five guns, three limbers and six command stands (including a C-in-C stand). There are only nine units (including the Vizcaya) and two command stands left in the lead pile - I can see the pub from 'ere!

These are gun crews of the Royal Corps of Artillery c.1809-1811.

Figures are Front Rank, straight out of the box, painted by yours truly using enamels. 

Without the guns you can see that, when basing, I first do flat patches where the wheels and trail will rest with fine (sandpit) sand before I do the rest of the groundwork with sand and grit around them. 

These days, I always do my guns as separate removable pieces - for limbering.

The grey trousers follow the print after Goddard and Booth in Osprey's Spanish Army of the Napoleonic Wars (Vol. 2). Unusually, although the gunners have pewter buttons, the officer has gold buttons and epaulettes; he also sports white breeches. From another print after Goddard and Booth (same Osprey).

Confession: When I ordered my Spanish army I cocked up my artillery crew numbers and now have a gun without crew in my lead pile. I'm fairly sure that this happened because of the maximum order value Front Rank imposed during the second Covid lock down: I used artillery crew and guns to get my six orders as close to the £250 limit as I could and somewhere along the line I lost track. Not to worry, I'll probably buy a few more Spanish units at some point.

Spanish Gribeauval (French) limber by Front Rank.

The driver is French with a British HA head swap. 

This uniform is for 1813 and a bit later than I would have liked but, at least it's a nice one. I have no idea what they wore immediately prior to this uniform but suspect they wore the artillery uniform of the battery.
The Spanish licensed the Gribeauval gun system from the French prior to the war and used it throughout. 

Probably due to familiarity, the Spanish always preferred Gribeauval guns to British guns and guns seem to be the one commodity the British were not called upon to supply in great numbers. If I had known this at the time of ordering my collection I would probably have stuck to French guns only - Ho-Hum.

In 1811 the British did supply howitzers to some Spanish horse artillery and more guns to other [unspecified] Spanish artillery units in 1812 - they were definitely in the minority of pieces. 

Although I'll use previously painted Gribeauval guns for the newly painted crews of the RCA, this picture shows the two newly painted British guns with previously painted crew.

Note: The Spanish horse artillery in red trousers are heavily converted (trousers and Nassau grenadier head swaps) early war Spanish figures by Front Rank. They represent the gunners of an unidentified HA unit c.1812. From a print after Giscard in Osprey's Spanish Army of....Vol.3.

That's it, up to speed!

Tuesday, 2 May 2023

Mid War Spanish Additions (cont. 11) - Hibernia and the uniform that [probably] never was.

We are nearing the end of the current painting spree. The lead pile is now down to nine units and a couple of command stands. The Spanish have grown from a four unit contingent with artillery and a command stand to something approaching an army, and they are looking good (IMHO). 

However, as you will have noted the uniform fudges are piling up. This is because two things keep repeating time and time again: Firstly, uniform details for the mid war years are patchy at best; secondly,  Front Rank (and I'm only using FR for this collection) don't make every uniform style that is known and this requires me to convert figures as best I can. 

This particular unit addition illustrates these things reasonably well.

Regimiento de Hibernia.

The basics: 

The figures are by Front Rank with some minor conversions. 

The flag is by Adolfo Ramos. 

All were painted, as usual, by yours truly in Humbrol enamels.
Here's the intriguing bit for Regimiento de Hibernia. 

According to Rene Chartrand in Spanish Army of the Napoleonic Wars (2), in July 1809 William Parker Carroll (Hibernia's Irish colonel) asked Lord Liverpool for "scarlet jackets, green facings, yellow buttons' and 'regimental caps (shakos) with red plumes....There is no evidence that these uniforms were sent". 

However, other equipment specifically for Hibernia, presumably requested at the same time, was shipped in August 1810.

Here's the thing, although there is no evidence for the red uniform being shipped or worn, there is no evidence to say what uniform they were wearing instead! All we do know is that the traditional light blue uniform had completely worn out by 1809 and was. for some time, replaced by civilian dress. In 1812, presumably in a uniform of some form (unknown?), the unit became the garrison for Cuidad Rodrigo. Was the uniform red?

When it comes to the availability of figures, Front Rank fusiliers in bell topped shako do not have a plume / pompom: These pompoms were fashioned with Milliput. 

FR officers in bell topped shako come with a side mounted plume: These were removed and larger front mounted plumes (pinned and glued) were added.

A uniform that probably never was but, prove it!

Next up, more artillery. 

Saturday, 29 April 2023

Mid War Spanish Additions (cont. 10) - 1st and 2nd Regimiento de Asturias

These two units of line infantry were raised in the northern Spanish region of Asturias. At least one of these units, the 2nd Regimiento, fought alongside Wellington at Toulouse as part of the Spanish 4th Army.

Each unit is 28 figures strong, including the four skirmish figures to throw out front. Figures are Front Rank.

The flag is by Adolfo Ramos.

1st Regimiento de Asturias.

The uniform I have chosen for these units is speculative: It is based on three pieces of purely circumstantial evidence. 

In 1809, I believe that the 1st Asturias was issued with a brown uniform faced red and round hats but, these would be ready for replacement in 1812 (uniforms were supposed to last three years in Spanish service). 

Blue coats with sky blue collar and cuffs and blue pantaloons were supplied, via Portugal, to troops serving in northern Spain in May 1812. Some of the so called 'English' style uniforms started to arrive as early as 1811 but the detail of these (cap style, facing colours, etc.) is uncertain.

Sometime between 1813-1814, when uniforms again became centrally regulated, the coats for all three Asturias regiments (one was light infantry) were prescribed to be blue with light blue collars and cuffs (2nd red cuffs in 1811), and blue pantaloons. 

Same unit, different view. 

The plate for this uniform (Osprey, Spanish Army of the Napoleonic Wars vol.3 1812-1815) shows a fusilier with a red plume and white lace - so I copied it. 

Other sources suggest the plume and lace for fusiliers was white, red for the grenadier company and green for the light company. (Haythornethwaite, Uniforms of the Peninsular Wars 1807-1814) - I've followed this pattern for the flank companies.

2nd Regimiento de Asturias. 

Although all British supplied blue coats with light blue collars had matching light blue cuffs they might have been changed, to red, on arrival. The possibility for this is based on Rene Chartrand's statement that  "Naturally, many 'improvements' could be added by regimental tailors...." (Osprey, Spanish Army of the Napoleonic Wars vol.2 1808-1812

Same unit, different view. 

A lot of the British supplied backpacks were made of yellow canvas. It makes a nice contrast with the dark blue of the uniform.

Next up, Regimiento de Hibernia. The uniform for this unit is, to say the least, intriguing. 

Wednesday, 26 April 2023

Mid War Spanish Additions (cont. 9) - Guerrillas and another table

Okay, so first I must tell you that you are seeing these units out of painting sequence. I had painted 1st Asturias before these with plans for 2nd Asturias (which I will show you together) but, 1st Asturias brought me to twelve units of infantry and I wanted to skip the number between twelve and fourteen by painting two small units of Guerrillas together - this army will never have thirteen units of anything, and none of my previous armies have either. Actually, I'm not superstitious. I'll happily travel on a number thirteen bus or stay in a room thirteen (though there are very few of the latter as hoteliers know that some people will want to be moved: Hotels have a 12A or 14A, or more commonly skip 13 completely): For me, skipping thirteen is more of a quirky tradition than anything else, probably acquired whilst working in small hotels.

Anyway, hotel trivia done with, onward and upward. Two units of guerrillas and another command stand. No Spanish army is complete without a couple of guerrilla units, IMHO.

Guerrilla unit 1. 

All these figures are Front Rank straight out of the box, except I changed the arm position of one which I had intended to use on the command stand below, but didn't (see unit 2's leader in the green jacket).
After following my usual practice of painting the hands and faces first, I painted all the base colours for the clothes before moving onto the shading. Usually I do each colour with shading before moving onto the next colour.

This is the best way to achieve the balance of colours you want in irregular units because you can change the balance quickly, if you need to, before doing all the shading work.

Guerrillas 2.

The key colour for guerrillas is brown so I painted that colour first, making sure I painted a lot of it. Then I added the other colours. 

One decision I made early was that all shirts would be white: To my mind nothing, at distance, gives the look of 'in shirt sleeves' better. Coloured shirts can often look like jackets. 

Then I painted all the leather bits, muskets, sandals, etc. Finishing with metals.

My painting style is quite 'bright' so I had to make a real effort to tone these figures down a bit. Even 'toning down' I think these figures still 'pop' - apparently, I can't help myself.

I have based my guerrillas as small bands in extended line (as per units like the 95th) with two extra skirmish stands per unit. 

At the scale I usually play each unit would represent a large band of several hundred so I can't see them featuring in historic battles much but, they will be useful for smaller scenarios and to add flavour to larger fictitious battles. 

BAD JOKE ALERT! Is it possible to play a Spanish Napoleonic battle without a very big cannon and Frank Sinatra doing it Cary Grant's way? Sadly, Sophia doesn't feature in either of my guerrilla bands and, before you bring it up, I know there was a joke in there somewhere about having Sophia Loren on a table.

Divisional command stand number 5.

When I made up my C-in-C stand I had intended to use a much smaller, less complex, table set up and I even made a small trestle table out of birch wood (ice lolly stick) for it. It's simply a single 'plank' of birch bevelled on the underside edges, to make it look thinner, with a birch 'X' trestle leg arrangement. 

Top tip: Ice lolly sticks, most commonly made from birch wood, are great for making tables, five bar gates, etc. Much stronger than balsa wood, and free with ever lolly.

Well, that table had to go somewhere and here it is.  
Figures by Front Rank and feature the guerrilla leader without a modified arm: His extended arm serves to protect the (more fragile) table when the stand is being picked up. The table is actually pretty solid but, clumsy fingers, etc.
The table features a partly rolled up map and some sheets of paper (for orders to be written on). These are paper.

The rolled map is being held open with a book (a small block of wood painted to look like a closed book). 

The sheets of paper are 'paper-weighted' by a large silver, silver lidded inkpot with a quill in it (the pot and lid are a couple of pieces of white metal, cut from a very thick spear shaft casting, superglued together; the quill is a pin and cut down 'feather plume' from a Steel Fist Italian Wars head - pot and feather have been drilled and connected together by the pin which serves as the quill).

Next up, my 1st and 2nd Asturias.

Monday, 24 April 2023

Mid War Spanish Additions (cont. 8) - More Cavalry

 So, two more cavalry units. Half of the cavalry (3 of 6) are now done!

Numancia Dragoons with black facings.

The picture (of a trooper in bicorn) I used as a guide for this unit describes this uniform as that worn by the Numancia between 1808 - 1814. 

Note: During the war, many (all?) dragoon regiments replaced the long coat with a shorter coatee and some (most?) adopted a Tarleton style helmet.

Two notable things about Spanish dragoon regiments in yellow coats:

1. They all had red turnbacks regardless of facing colour. 

2. The uniform for musicians was invariably a red coat with yellow facings and turnbacks regardless of regimental facing colour; their shabraques were red rather than yellow.
These figures are Front Rank, straight out of the box. 

The flag is by Adolfo Ramos. This flag is not actually the one for this regiment (unavailable) but, the differences in the designs is very small and generally indistinguishable - I have both of his dragoon flags and I can hardly tell them apart even at reading distance.
Another cavalry unit. I have named it Regimiento de Alcantara. Note that Alcantara raised two regiments of line / heavy cavalry and I have no info on the second. I hope the French are wearing sun glasses when they come across these boys!

These figures are Front Rank with some conversion. They started life as Belgian light dragoons. 

The trooper's plumes have been replaced with Milliput pompoms. 

The Belgian officers both came wearing distinctly weird stovepipe shakos and required complete head swaps (the officer now sports bicorn; the standard bearer now sports a French officer's bell top shako).

Caveat emptor: This uniform is speculative at best or, at worst, completely made up: The descriptions I have of this unit say that the coat alternated, at various times, between white and blue. Invariably my descriptions say that the coat had green collar, cuffs and lapels; buttons were brass; waistcoats and pantaloons were buff. Early in the war they wore bicorns but many regiments of line cavalry changed over to shakos at some point. Shabraques were blue. 

The Perry version (on their website) does not have lapels, shows them wearing grey pants with a yellow stripe, and their shako has a yellow pompom.  

My figures are wearing overalls so I have gone with Perry and painted them grey with a yellow stripe. 

I followed the yellow theme through to the shako cords and top band but, fearing too much yellow went with a, more traditionally Spanish, red pompom. I might repaint the top band black at some point.
The cavalry flag is by Adolfo Ramos

I went with Adolfo Ramos for my flags because he does several cavalry flags (GMB Designs doesn't make any), and has a selection of less well known infantry flag designs. 

Note: AR shipping is very reasonable but, AR has a minimum order value requirement of around 10 euros - so don't get caught out at the end of your project (I changed my mind about the identity of a couple of units) facing that particular checkout pop-up! I had to bite my tongue, then the bullet.

Next up, two units of Guerrillas and another command stand - and still more (already painted) to come after that.

Thursday, 20 April 2023

Mid War Spanish Additions (cont. 7) - Olivenza Cazadores

I used the depiction of the 1812-13 uniform in Osprey's Spanish Army of the Napoleonic Wars (3) 1812-1815 (plate B) and the figures depicted on the Perry Miniatures site to do this unit .

The basic Front Rank figures I have used to represent this unit started life as early Portuguese cavalry in Tarleton style helmets / caskets. 

They required quite a lot of cutting and filing and there is a significant fudge.

The cavalry flag is by Adolfo Ramos

Note: You can buy Olivenza Cazadores from Perry Miniatures and very nice they look. But, this is a strictly Front Rank collection. 

There are twelve figures, pictured here in their uniform (kinda) of 1812-13. 

The first conversion job was to remove the brass scale shoulder wings. This was done with a scalpel followed by some careful filing. The separate positional sword arms were then glued and pinned: The separate arm made filing easier than it might have been with the alternative 'Trooper at rest' figure. 

A shot of the rear view. It's a very pretty unit.

This shot also shows the big fudge (note the waist belt straps). I'm pretty sure that the Olivenza Cazadores were not equipped with a sabretache - mine have them. It looked like too much work, and beyond my skill level, to remove them cleanly.

Note: Some Spanish hussar units did have a sabretache as part of their parade equipment but they weren't issued for use on campaign. Was it the same for Cazadores?
This shot clearly shows the other piece of 'metal removal'. 

These Front Rank Portuguese figures come wearing a short coatee with turnbacks. 

The Olivenza Cazadores seem to have worn waste length jackets without any form of turnbacks. So, I cut and filed them away. Although this was a bit fiddly, the result turned out better, and cleaner, than I thought it would.

Next up, my unit of the Numancia Dragoons.