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.