A discursive look at Napoleonic & ECW wargaming, plus a load of old Hooptedoodle on this & that

Friday, 20 October 2017

Pilot Figures - pick up the brush...

Not much painting recently - I was doing quite well for a few weeks, but the Real Life situation took hold again; it's not so much that I have no time, it's just that there is a lot to think about and I find it hard to settle to get on with things.

My French general staff and ADCs will continue as a background project - no particular rush there. My new Bavarian project has stalled a bit - I need to order some more figures, and the batch in the strip-soak jar is taking longer than I expected, but I expect to make some serious progress with this over the winter.

Meanwhile I have come back around to an on-and-off idea that I've had for years. When I came up with a new vision for my Peninsular War armies, a good while ago now, I had enough spare figures to make up an extra division of the French army. They were mostly Kenningtons, but it seemed a good opportunity.

Didn't take it. I decided I had other things to do, and eventually sold off the Kenningtons, not least to encourage myself to get on with the ECW. So it goes. Anyway, as it happens I have now acquired some vintage figures which will make a rather more interesting addition to the French army. Since I am spending more time these days in the company of Baron Stryker's very fine Hinton Hunt armies, I am more inclined to think along similar lines. Well, the figures I have are not Hintons, but they are sort of similar - I have enough pre-owned Der Kriegsspieler and Alberken soldiers to make about 5 battalions, which is certainly a big dollop of the extra division.

Flattery by imitation? - not Hintons - the grenadier on the left is an Alberken product
(maybe a little disappointed to be converted to the Line?), and the fusilier is from
Der Kriegsspieler. I have tried to make them suitable for a variety of situations, so
they are sort-of-1809-ish - Danube or Spain. As a skill, I find retouching is a challenge
in its own right - you have to get consistent with how much imperfection you are comfortable
with, how much effort to put into the job. Diminishing returns set in very quickly if you are not
pragmatic about it. There will be a lot of these...
I always fancied adding Bonet's 8th Division of the Armée de Portugal, from the Salamanca period, but for some reason I find I already have a couple of units from Taupin's Division (the 6th) - I have a single battalion of the 17e Léger and the Regiment de Prusse - so if my newly-acquired chaps become the 22e and the 65e Ligne then I'm just about there for Taupin. The idea is that these new/old units should look sort of 1809-ish - that way they can fight the Austrians on the Danube, they can certainly fight the Spaniards early in the Peninsular War, and they can happily take their place in the later battles if I claim that they were a bit behind with their uniform supplies.

This is going to be a re-touch job, and a pretty big one, so realistic timescales are a good idea. This evening I got out the brushes, and had a test shot to see how they might come up - not bad at all. They are surely not going to win any prizes, but they will be most welcome in Marmont's army. I'm pleased with that - if I had merely managed to convince myself that this had to be a full strip-and-start-again job then I think I would just have shelved the idea.

OK - that didn't hurt very much. I'll try a bit more painting tomorrow night. Maybe the odd ADC? I'll get myself back into this - we've got a fresh load of logs for the stove, I've got some CDs I haven't had a chance to listen to yet, there's a box of French wine somewhere - what could go wrong?


  1. Sounds like a plan. I like the wine idea as well!

  2. Very crisply executed, Foy. I'm really looking forward to what you make of the rest of them.
    Best regards

  3. Very nice vintage stuff - the soldiers and hopefully the wine too!

  4. Thank you gentlemen. I'll claim the old objective of trying to make them "look good in the mass"!

    Dr De Vries emailed to say that the French 6th Divn at Salamanca was commanded by Brennier, and Taupin had only one of the brigades. That's unsettled me now! - Brennier was the senior officer, and Taupin was only appointed General de Division the following year, but I think that Brennier was absent on the day. I'll have to read the whole of Rory Muir's "Salamanca" to remind myself why - any excuse will do!

    In fact, the Prof has a good point - whoever was present on the day, this was Brennier's Division, so I should probably have him in charge - Taupin can have a brigade. I hope neither of them is holding his breath.

    There were a few deps on the gig on 22nd July 1812 - poor old Thomières, whose 7th Divn was the prime target of Pakenham's flank attack, was also a Gen de Brigade - standing in for Souham, who was away doing something else. If I remember correctly then Souham was by far the most senior of the generals in the Armée de Portugal - yes - I checked: dates of promotion to GdD are - Bonet Aug '03, Clauzel Dec '02, Souham Sept '93. Which means that if he had been present at Salamanca the command would have devolved to him when Marmont was wounded. This is consistent with the fact that he replaced Clauzel in command of the army as soon as he rejoined it in 1812.

    Of course, if Souham had been present then Thomières wouldn't have just kept marching out into space when Maucune stopped to have a scrap, and history might have been different. Then, of course, Marmont would not have sent for his horse, to go and stop Thomières' march, would not have been wounded by a shell, and the armies would probably have just marched around in a big circle until Wellington retreated into Portugal.

    What ifs, eh? Sorry about that - this is what I've been reading about this morning, so you just happened to be in the flight path.

  5. The Alberken Grenadiers were sone of the first metal figures I bought.

    Good to see them again.