Sunday, 17 December 2017

French in Egypt Six-Horse Limber

I finished painting the French in Egypt 6-horse limber set, for use with the horse artillery set, earlier this week, but since it’s basing is quite involved I put that task off to the weekend. I have included the process of the basing in this post.
For this model (since it needs to be large to accommodate the gun, limber and six horses) the base is 250mm long and 50mm wide. This is a little too long for my usual cardboard bases which would warp and since many of the connecting “ropes” are quite fragile connections the model could damage easily. So instead of cardboard I chose to use a piece of 3mm hardboard that I had in the garage. I cut this to size by scoring both sides, then simply snapping the required piece off. I then rasped and sanded the edges.

The next step was to roughly position and mark location of the various pieces on the base.

The material I use on the surface of the French in Egypt bases is an artist’s moulding paste, usually used to build up texture on canvas, applied with a palette knife. You can buy this as a smooth or textured finish. 

I prefer the smooth type to which I add sand - in this way I can control the depth of texture by varying the coarseness or volume of sand. For this base I have used a very fine sand. My technique is to roughly apply the paste to the surface, then add a pinch of fine sand and mix it in. I keep adding pinches of sand until I get the texture I want. Then I spread it over the area of the base.

I started with area around the limber and as far forward as the middle pair of horses spreading the paste to a thickness of between 1 and 1.5mm and smoothing it off with a palette knife, wetting the blade of the knife as required to get a smooth finish.

I then pushed the horses bases into the surface of the pasre until they are hard against the base and with the pallet knife and a cocktail stick spread some of the paste over the top of the base. When the paste sets, it will hold the models to the base without the need for glue. I then carefully positioned the limber model, pressing the wheels slightly into the paste and gluing the ropes to the limber model. 

I then positioned the wheel horses and glued the ropes to the limber.

I then mixed up some more paste and applied it over the rest of the base. Before fitting the gun I used a cocktail stick to mark some wheel ruts for the limber in the paste.

I then placed the gun, again with the wheels slightly set in the paste, again etching some wheel ruts. I then added a few small stones to represent rocks, pressing them into the paste and adjusting with a cocktail stick as required. 

The next phase is pretty much like the first. Mix and spread the paste. Fix the horses and glue the ropes to the limber for the middle pair of horses. Then fix the lead horses 


Then to my horror I noted that the base had warped! I didn't think that the water soluable paste would penetrate the hardboard surface. I should have painted the surface first. Then I figured that the paste would contract as it set and should level out. So I set it down on a flat surface with  some weight in the edges to hold it flat and  left over night to fully set. To my relief the next day confirmed my belief and when I removed the weights the base sat flat on the table.
I then painted the whole surface with a sand colour from a local paint manufacturer.

When the base coat was dry I applied a wash of thinned down Games Workshop Seraphim Sepia to the whole surface and let it dry.

The ropes for the lead horses are not supplied with the kit so while the wash dried I made some by taking a strand of 22 gauge wire about 500mm in length and folding it in half. I put the folded end in the chuck of a battery drill, held the other end in a pair of pliers and pulled the trigger on the drill until the two strands of wire are wound tight. I then cut the “rope” to length. Because the horses are standing I want the ropes to be slack, so I bent them to sag appropriately, then painted them, before gluing them in place and touching up the paintwork where they glued on.
I then lightly dry-brushed the surface with an off-white shade to tone down the wash a little and to provide some highlights.

The final step was to add a few dry grass tufts from Gamer's Grass.

Thursday, 14 December 2017

An Egyptian Focus

After what some would call the “butterfly effect” that saw me flitting between projects last week, this is a more structured week focussing entirely on the French in Egypt.
First off the desk is the 1st Battalion, 22e Demi-Brigade Légere. I had started this a couple of weeks ago, but could not complete it until the pack of colonels arrived. 

One of the other colonels was used to complete the 1st Battalion, 88e Demi-Brigade while the third, more sedate figure (below), will find a place amongst the army’s command.

Next are two more completion items, and are the guns to go with the limber sets. Here are two 8lb guns in travel mode and a 4lb gun. I have another 8lb gun to be finished.

Finally the jewel of the week is the horse artillery set. For this I chose to use the “Running up 4lb gun in dolmans” set. I chose these because poses are so dramatic and seem to suit horse artillery. The uniform, with all that red, is striking. I really like this set.

The gun is accompanied by a six-horse limber set that is painted, but not yet based.

Sunday, 10 December 2017

A Smorgasbord of Items

A big post today because quite a bit has come off the painting table this week, some new and some just finishing off units. This is also my 300th post.

First up is regiment of French cuirassiers for 1812-1813, the First Regiment to be precise. this will be the first of four heavy cavalry regiments (two cuirassier and two carabinier). They are all Perry plastics.

Another Perry plastic unit that marched out of recruitment hall and into the barracks is this line infantry battalion for 1812-13.

The plastics were bought to fill in any space in the painting schedule for other this case the gap between shipments of the French in Egypt. That gap wasn't open for long...a mere four days between the completion of the dragoons and the arrival of the next batch - two orders actually in three parcels. And what a bunch it is too: 11 battalions of infantry, two cavalry units, another two guns, crew and limbers, some dismounted camel holders, some colonels and a few plastic command sprues.

A third Perry plastic item completed this week is the North American store. This is intended for the War of 1812 project, but has a broader application. Eventually there will be two more plastic buildings for this project, the farmhouse and the church.

Now the more astute readers amongst you will recognise the name of this particular retailer from the sign above the door: Piggot. This was the name of the retail outlet  that featured on these pages in February (see the construction of Piggot's African branchand subsequently appeared in the WWI East Africa game played in October. 


It is not commonly known, but the Piggot family is well known in the 19th and early 20th Century retail trade and it all started with this North American connection. Ebenezer Piggot emigrated  as a young man from Yorkshire in 1765 and established this trading post on the Niagara River 1789.
It seems that the Piggot family was destined to attract trouble and war surrounded their enterprises wherever they went. In the War of 1812 Ebenezer and his family was compelled to hide in the cellar while bullets riddled their store. His son, Nathaniel, had seen an opportunity in Texas in the 1830s and established his store near the Mexican border where it was at the centre of skirmishes in the early stages of the Mexican War. Nathaniel’s son, Horace, had established his own retail empire at Sharpsburg in Maryland only to have his premises used as a military hospital after the Battle of Sharpsburg in 1862.

Horace’s second son,  Ulysses, set up shop in Tombstone Arizona in the 1880’s, where his store was twice raided by the Apache. Ulysses’ son, Bob, tired of having the family dragged into all of these conflicts and quit the American continent in 1893 established a trading post in Zanzibar, but soon relocated to the town of Kisumu on the shores of Lake Victoria. There he lived prosperously and peacefully until one day in early 1915 when several hundred German Askari descended on the town and burned his store to the ground.

With that Bob turned his back on retailing, left Africa and established a highly successful publishing business in Philadelphia. For the next forty years he published “Piggot’s Almanac” until his death in 1957. With no male heirs the  Piggot family name died with Bob.
All of this is a complete fabrication of course. I was struck in a traffic for ages on the way home on Friday afternoon, thanks to a rail strike, on a hot day and I had left my iPod at home. So rather than listen to inane prattle of drive time radio I let my imagination run and this story is the result.

Next items off the painting table are two units from the French in Egypt project that were left incomplete a couple of weeks ago. These are the first and second battalions of the 88e Demi Brigade de Battaille. The former in the violet coats and the latter in crimson. The First battalion was completed by the addition of the mounted colonel, who I dressed in the correct crimson coat (my assumption being that the senior officer would have had access to the correct cloth early in the uniform manufacturing process), while the Second (crimson) battalion was completed with the addition of the command group and another two fusiliers.

Finally there are the camels for the dismounted dromedary troops, with their guards. Originally I was going to mount these as three separate stands, but in the end decided on a single base. I am pleased with that choice.

Sunday, 3 December 2017

French in Egypt - the Third Dragoons

The cavalry of the Army of the Orient comprised of five dragoon, one hussar and one chasseur á cheval regiments. My intention is to build two dragoon regiments plus the hussars and the chasseurs.

The Third Dragoons is the first of those regiments. The others are somewhere between Nottingham and their new home.

This will mark a brief break from the French in Egypt project, because I have painted all the figures I have on hand and the next batch - enough to finish the project - won't arrive until towards the end of the week. To fill in the time I will attack the plastic mountain.

Friday, 1 December 2017

French in Egypt - the first infantry, the generals and a bit of Project Management

Part of the appeal of the French in Egypt project is that this French Army is so un-French for a French Napoleonic army. A shortage of blue cloth in Egypt led to the Kleber ordnance that specified that the various demi brigades would be uniformed in coats of red, crimson, green, blue or brown that were faced with blues, reds, greens, yellows or brown. I chose the  88eme Demi Brigade de Ligne as my first unit for an interesting reason.
Originally assigned crimson coats, faced bright green with a blue collar, there was a shortage of crimson cloth and many of the uniforms were made using a violet cloth instead. It seems that there may have been a mix of colours within the Demi Brigade. So I have decided to do one battalion in violet coats, one in crimson coats and one in a mix of violet and red.

This first battalion is the all violet unit. It is not quite complete because I still need to add a mounted colonel. The mounted general in this image is just a stand in until the arrival of the colonel who is in transit and may not be here for another week. I have also included the first stand of the second (crimson coated) battalion with this image, just to highlight the difference.

Also completed are the two sets of generals. These, combined with the colonels, will provide the basis for the French command, supplemented by a model of Napoleon on a camel.

On the project management front, a kink has developed in the plan. After more than a year out of the market Markus at Tsuba miniatures has come back into the fray with a bunch of new Russo-Japanese War releases that I will just “have to have”. These will have to be squeezed into the project plan sometime next year. 

The positive news on the project management front is that the French in Egypt project is progressing at such a pace that it is likely to be completed at the end of January,  a full two months ahead of the original schedule.