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Tuesday 23 April 2024

Del Prado - Scale Issues

 In my previous post there was some discussion about the varying scales amongst Del Prado figures.  Here is an example.  Two figures from the same range, on the left Frederick Henry II of Orange and on the right a British Dragoon 1704.  It can be seen that the left hand figure is much larger in height and bulk:

If using these figures alongside conventional 54mm castings care is needed to determine their size before investing in them.

Monday 22 April 2024

Jacobite Rising 54mm Cavalry

 I have been after some cavalry for my Jacobite Rising scenarios for some time.  In 54mm scale, metal cavalry work out to be quite expensive, with a painted figure coming in at around £100.  I need four regiments of four figures each.

However, there is an inexpensive source in the shape of Del Prado figures.  In their 'Cavalry through the ages' range there are a few figures that would fit the late 1600 - mid 1700 period.  One such figure is the 'Blenheim Dragoon'. These were available in large numbers and can be picked up for £ 3-4 secondhand.  The paintwork is a little dull and scruffy in places, but with some touching up and new facings they look quite good.  

Here are the first three regiment:

I am looking at other figures in the range, especially to provide cavalry for my 1690 collection.  More on that to come.

Tuesday 16 April 2024

British Infantry 1690

 Last weekend I painted some more 54mm Williamite period troops.  This time it was some British infantry from Irregular Miniatures.  In fact they are from the Marlburian range but Ian Kay very kindly changed the heads to incorporate the broad brimmed hat that preceded the tricorne.

These troops are from Kirke's Irish Regiment that fought with King Billy in 1690.  They were a delight to paint, only taking a few hours using speed paints:

Friday 5 April 2024

Speed Painting

 On Wednesday I thought that I would experiment some more with my 'Army Painter Speedpaints' by painting a small unit of 54mm Scots.  In all I painted five figures to add to three previously painted. To begin, I sprayed the figures with rattle can white primer, which is the key to getting the right results with these paints.

I then painted the face and lighter areas, working up to the darker tones.  In all it took me about three to four hours over several sessions in the day to complete the figures.  Once dry, I took them into the garden and gave them a spray of matt varnish:

The figures are from Irregular Miniatures 54mm range, listed as ECW/Jacobite highlanders. I think that the result is quite acceptable for wargame figures, although I don't think they would pass muster in a figure painting competition. 

Sunday 31 March 2024

Jacobite Rising - Battle Report

Several days ago, Bob Black called by and we decided to give Jacobite Rising a go, but using my 54mm troops rather than the game counters. 

The game was based upon the idea that a strong Jacobite force had severed the Government road, cutting off supplies and support to units in the north.  The Jacobites had established themselves astride a river valley, largely holding a low ridge.  A Governemt force of mostly regular troops has been tasked to clear the route and destroy the Jacobite force.

With three foot guards battalions and another nine line units the Government forces confidently advanced towards the Jacobite lines.  However, they did not bargain on a full tilt highland charge, supported by Irish Piquets on their right flank.

The highlanders wild charge sends the Northumberland Regiment towards the rear:

The highlanders continue their headlong advance pushing everything out of their way, while Jacobite cavalry swing around the Government flank:

Having taken some casualties the highland charge begins to slow (under the rules they lose combat power once below full strength).

Meanwhile, over in the centre, the Government regiments are also pushing forwards, coming up against the lowland units and French Scots.
A Foot Guards regiment is attacked by cavalry and French infantry, but despite taking some hits they fight off these attacks.
After several rounds of fighting the Jacobite lowlanders are slowly pushed towards the rear and Jacobite casualties are mounting.
Over on the other side of the river a Highland and a French regiment await the advancing Government regiments, which are hemmed in by the river.
The Royal Ecossais are in disarray as their general rides up to give support
At the same time the Lowlanders begin to rally.
Once again, the Jacobite cavalry charge into the Foot Guards.  The guards hold and the cavalry are forced back to their own lines.
Having reorganised the Highlanders charge once more.  This time they are beaten and destroyed by the Guards musketry.

The highlanders are destroyed:

Over on the opposite flank, led by their general, the Royal Ecossais drive into the Government lines, while some highlanders attempt to force the ford:
And, as all of this is going on, the Lowlanders, with a French regular regiment push forward (the Jacobites had a lucky break with the cards, drawing a succession that allowed major advances in the centre).
Heavy fighting erupts in the centre, with both sides taking casualties.  The Jacobites, however, having been on the back foot are beginning to make gains.
The fighting turns into a bitter hand to hand struggle for the centre as the Government line slowly gives way:
As French infantry and lowlanders pour fire into their ranks, two Government regiments break:

The Government artillery is forced off the hill and the redcoats pull back again. The Government commander decides his troops have had enough and breaks off.  The score is a draw, but the Jacobites win the day by holding their blockade of the valley:

This was an enjoyable game and looked superb with all of the troops on the table.  It took a little while to master the rules and there are a couple of areas that need further reading but otherwise the mechanics worked well.  The highlanders were great, charging about the place.

Thursday 14 March 2024

54mm Jacobite Rebellion

 Next week Bob Black is visiting and we plan to play a game and generally catch up on all things wargaming.

I thought it would be fun to try out Jacobite Rising by Compass Games.  However, instead of using the little wooden blocks we could play on the table, using our combined 54mm metal figure collections.  The table has been set up, with the Jacobites sitting astride the main north road, cutting off Government resupply operations.  A government force has been despatched to remove the blockade:

The Jacobites holding the higher ground, with troops from Regiment Royal Ecossais and some lowland units, highlanders in the foreground:

Government forces arrive on the field with a mixture of Guards and line battalions, seen here working through the trees on the river bank:

And a general view of the field, with Government forces lined up on the left, Jacobites on the right:
We will probably play this next Tuesday, after which I will write up a report.

Tuesday 12 March 2024

6mm Jacobites

 Having arrived in the post, my Jacobite army is now based.  Once the glue has dried they will be ready for priming and painting later in the week.

In the picture, there are lowland regiments on the left, highlanders in the centre, with a few cavalry on the right too. At the front are two gun batteries.  The gunners will be added later.

Sunday 10 March 2024

Hearts of Oak 54mm Figures

 A while ago, a good friend gave me several boxes of 54mm figures from the Williamite period, covering the Battle of the Boyne, 1690. The collection was made up of several makes, all beautifully painted.

A number of the figures were cast in a particular style and with quite a lot of variation.  I was told that they were cast by a company called 'Hearts of Oak', which has ceased production.

Here are some samples:

I had not heard of Hearts of Oak and many internet searches have failed to unearth any information.  I was wondering if anyone else had heard of them, or seen further examples.

Tuesday 27 February 2024

Government Forces - Jacobite Rebellion

 As mentioned in my last post, it was my intention to have figures to replace the wooden blocks provided in the game Jacobite Rising.

I acquired some 6mm figures by Baccus and have painted half of them, giving me eight line battalions, one grenadier and three dragoon squadrons. Here they are - rather impressionist painting!

I hope to paint the remaining eight battalions and four cavalry squadrons, along with some generals by the weekend.  

I am expecting a box of Jacobites to turn up soon!

Friday 23 February 2024

Jacobite Rising

 I have been after this game for some time and when a copy came up for sale, I had to have it. The game is based upon Command & Colors Tricorne and is produced by compass games:

Inside the box is the usual 13 x 9 hex board, but in a pale green. Then there are the trillions of wooden blocks.  Each block has to have two stickers attached - a time consuming process sitting in front of the TV. There is a good selection of terrain tiles reflecting the hilly, damp moorlands, with farmsteads, rivers and roads.

I have set out one of the scenarios in the rule book; the battle of Glen Shiel 10 June 1719.  The Government forces are nearest the camera in red, with the Jacobites in blue:

The rules are very similar to other C&C games and anyone who has played C&C Napoleonic will easily pick up on the rules; however, there are some differences that reflect the nature of the terrain and the fighting qualities of the troops, especially the Jacobite highlanders when they launch a close combat charge. The Goverment forces might run away!

The cards used in the game are different.  The Command Cards are similar to others games, but the there are Tactic Command cards specific to each side:

I have yet to play a game and so I am not clear as to how the tactic cards will influence the outcome, but it looks like fun.

As always, in the longer term, I plan to substitute the wooden blocks with figures and that process is underway.  I have ordered some 6mm figures from Baccus.

Tuesday 13 February 2024

Jack Alexander


It was with great sadness that I learned today that Jack Alexander died peacefully in hospital last night.  He was 95.

Jack was a real character in the sphere of wargaming, most notable for designing and casting his range of 20mm figures that are now well known as Jacklex Miniatures.  His goal back in the 1960s was to produce figures to fill gaps in the then market that were compatible with the Airfix HO range of plastic figures.  The result was his extensive selection of mostly mid/late 19th century castings.  Jack's figures did not evolve in size over the decades, as those of other manufacturers have, through 25mm and lately 28mm, sticking resolutely to his original aim.  Today, Jacklex figures, which are still commercially available, have a charm and style of their own. The figures can still be seen battling away on many wargaming blogs

Jack was also a keen wargamer, drawing horns with the likes of Stuart Asquith and he was the third member of the well known ABC Wargamers. 

I chose the above picture to emphasise that Jack was more than a maker of figures but also a highly talented model maker.  He produced wonderful buildings, scenery and some exquisite warship models.

This is a sad day for wargaming as another member of the old guard departs.

An Experiment with Speed Painting

 My nephew Will has been impressing me with the number and quality of painted figures that he manages to turn out.  He can paint a battalion in a fraction of the time that I take.  His secret is speed painting.  He uses Contrast Paints upon a matt white undercoat.

Now, I have a heap of SYW figures to paint, consisting of many 24 figure battalions and I wondered if speed painting might be the solution.

I invested in a box of paints from Army Painter and set about experimenting:

Essentially, in a single coat they provide a dense wash over the matt white base coat.  It is a bit like watercolour painting in that you do the lighter bits first.  It took me about three hours to paint 24 figures.  The paint dries very quickly so as you come to the end of one colour the first figures are already dry. 

The only time consuming part was painting the white belts and lace - that took longer than painting the base coats. Here is the result:

In my view the quality is not as good as the traditional way of painting, but if you want to get battalions onto the table quickly this is a good way of doing it.

Thursday 8 February 2024

Another go at Rapid Fire

 Some may recall our early attempt at playing a WW2 battle using Rapid Fire rules.  In those battles the Germans in defence had a couple of Panther tanks, while the US forces had four Shermans.  It was a blood bath with all of the US tanks destroyed and most of the infantry downed.

For a second attempt, we decided that the German tanks would be less capable and they would be attacking. They had two Panzer IVs and two Stug IIIs, as well as two half-tracks. They also had two companies of infantry and a company of Panzer Grenadiers in the half-tracks.  The US had four Sherman tanks and a battalion of infantry.  Neither side had artillery, but both had mortars, machine gun teams and anti-tank weapons.

I am not going to give a full battle report, but merely a taste of how the battle unfolded. Will played the US forces and I the Germans.  The battlefield was typical Normandy highly vegetated farmland, with a pair of farms, which were the German objectives:

The German plan was to sweep around the US right flank with maximum force, while keeping some forces over on the US left to fix his troops and armour there. The bulk of the German infantry, the Panzer Grenadiers and two tanks rapidly move around the flank.
Not expecting the German move, the US deploy a company of infantry, supported by a machine gun and two Shermans forward.
The German advance forces the US to pull back and the armour begins to exchange shots
The Stug III is damaged while the Germans have no luck against the Shermans.
The Panzer Grenadiers dismount and attack the US infantry in the copse
The copse is heavily defended. One of the Shermans is damaged.
The damaged Sherman continues firing and destroys one of the half-tracks and the damaged Stug, but not before the US company in the copse is badly shot up and routs. Also one of the Shermans by the farm is destroyed, but a company of Germans in the centre are caught in the open by concealed machine guns and forced back.
On the opposite flank the Germans continue to fix the US troops around the farm.
Covering fire on the US left is provided by a German machine gun, but this is forced back by US mortar fire.
The Panzer Grenadiers make it to the copse, but a combination of mortar and tank fire reduces them to being non-operational. Hand held anti-tank weapons have no effect even in the close country around the farms. The Germans push their tanks forward and it looks as though the US defence is about to collapse.
The damaged Sherman by the copse takes out the second half-track, before being destroyed by a Panzer IV

But, how fortunes can change in a wargame. The two remaining Shermans move into position and with lucky shots destroy the two Panzer IVs. With just one Stug remaining and half of their infantry destroyed the Germans called it a day - a close run thing.  An exciting game.  The rules worked well.  Despite gaining local superiority the Germans did not have the strength to carry it through.