Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Spahi - French North African cavalry

Well, I've survived another Christmas excessive feasting and drinking with family and relatives and also finally managed to finish that regiment of North African (Algerian) French cavalry, the Spahis.  The Spahis gained fame in the second (Republican) phase of the Franco-Prussian War after the disasters of Sedan and Metz, in which most of the French cavalry were destroyed in fruitless suicidal charges trying to break the Prussian encirclement.  Apart from a few units who escaped (such as a regiment of the Chasseurs d'Afrique), the surviving French cavalry went into captivity.

North African Spahi trooper and French officer circa 1870.
Although the Spahi were colonial cavalry I read somewhere they not allowed by law to serve in France, but such was the desperation of the French Republican government that they were shipped over from French Algeria.  In the FPW they quickly gained a reputation for their fearlessness and although not exactly inconspicuous in their colourful Arab robe uniform, were superb horsemen (superbly mounted on Arabian horses), proving to be outstanding as light horse cavalry.   Together with the surviving Chasseurs d'Afrique, they were more than a match for the otherwise excellent Prussian light cavalry.  Finally used in a role more suited for modern warfare (ironically the traditional role of light cavalry) and rifle armed, they caused the Prussians a real headache, particularly marauding behind the lines and ambushing communications.  Superb swordsmen, man for man they were also a ready match in close combat.

I started things off as usual, mounting them up on Paddlepop sticks and base-coating before laying down the base colours.
Painting just about finished, based up and ready for a good flocking!
Spahi Command
I'm not sure what make the Spahi figures are (but the horses look very similar to Australian manufacturer Castaway Arts who also do native Arabs and FPW figures) but fortunately I had a spare Foundry mounted French officer to make up a full regiment.  I shaved the figure's thigh-high boots off and used filler to create the native baggy trousers favoured by the Spahi's French officers.  For the bugler it was just a simple hand transplant from sword to bugle (supplied by a Perry's French Hussar!) to finish the command stand.

The only other bit of remodeling was the substitute of a rifle for a sword for one of the Spahis (the one holding it aloft).  The biggest challenge was painting the Arabian horses - again perhaps licence but I've made them all grays as all the historical pics I've seen have the Spahis mounted on grays.

Spahi NCO

One of the things I liked about the uniform is the flowing robes and in particular the dark red hooded cape they wore over the burnoose.  It had a white lining and I have also seen it depicted as white or off-white.  This would have been particularly useful in winter as often mounted on Arabian grays, I'd imagine they would have been quite hard to spot.  No covering up those cornflower blue baggy pantaloons though!

They look just as colourful from the back!
The Spahis were formed in the early 1840s and the native-style uniform remained virtually unchanged from the 1860s until the 1st World War.  

Spahis En Avant!

Well, that's the last of the colourful French cavalry but I've still got some French line battalions to finish so I've got matched sides for wargaming (approx. a division of infantry each with attached cav brigade).  But I'm tiring of the FPW after painting some many of them over the last few months and apart from (hopefully) a game or two over the break, the next project I'm thinking of attempting is (1st Empire) French Eclaireurs of the Guard (Napoleon's answer to the cossacks!) from various Perry's figures.  It should be possible with all the various bits you get in their French cavalry boxes and I have some lances, so we'll see.

Merry Christmas to one and all as this will be my last post for 2011!  I'm taking a break down the coast for a week or so before coming back to resume some domestic duties (a list of 'to-dos' as long as your arm).  Click on the pics for enlargement and please feel free to leave a comment if you want.


Monday, December 12, 2011

Les Turkos Algeriens - fini!

After my little foray back into Napoleonics (my first love in collecting/gaming I admit) it was back to finishing the FPW French.  I have several battalions of infantry to do and a regiment of Spahi (Algerian native cavalry).  I'm itching to get at the latter but had to finish my second Turkos battalion.

All Askari figures save the Bearer - he's a Castaway Arts - and the Eagle Standard he's holding is a mish-mash of Foundry bits!

The Askari Miniatures Turkos are really nice figures, although the very long rifles and bayonets are rather thin - I've lost the odd bayonet or two along the way (before purchase).  The figures didn't come with a Standard Bearer so I borrowed one from my Castaway Arts FPW French, then chopped up some Foundry flags to create the Eagle without the full flag, just the ribbon which was frequently carried into action.  Maybe a bit of licence here but I think it looks OK for the command stand.

I particularly like the officer figure, who I have tried to paint as more Algerian than French

The officers were usually French but there were some native North Africans (Arab or mixed-race) officers so I've made our commander more of a native Algerian with one of those attractive Muslim beards sans moustache - what a look! [Note to self for next 'Movember': grow a mo or grow a beard WITH a mo but never, ever grow a beard without the mo!]

The other figure I particularly liked was the very beardy NCO (what a hairy lot they were in those days!).  Note also I've given them their full dress blue pantaloons - hey, they're the 1st battalion - they gotta look snappy!  The second battalion have the bleached linen baggy pants to differentiate between 'em.

!st & 2nd Battalions, 1st Regiment Turkos Algeriens (part of McMahon's 2nd Division)

Some of these guys carry those remarkable packs that seem to have everything but the kitchen sink in them.  I read somewhere they actually were given permission to take them off before attacking, which I'm sure would have been a bit of a relief for the Turko soldats.  You can see what they packed in the next photo - very tiring lugging that lot around I'm sure!

2nd Bttn command - probably miffed at one of those damned Arab types being given command of the 1st battalion, 
so I've given him a bit more braid on his uniform and cap to compensate. 

Well that completes my French 'exotics' - the infantry anyway - they were brigaded with a Zouave regiment and a line infantry regiment.  Just one battalion of line to finish the brigade.  Then I'll do the cavalry - even more colourful - but I haven't been in the rudest of health. A dreaded lurgy that keeps coming back, so between that and work going crazy, I'll have to leave off most of my painting until after Christmas.  

I'm unlikely to post again before Christmas so for those who regularly visit my little blog and particularly to those of you kind enough to take the time and leave a comment, thanks for taking an interest in Docs' 'Art of War' for another year.  

Season's greetings to all and best wishes for the New Year to you and yours from Doc. 

Sunday, November 20, 2011

French Napoleonic Artillery Limbers

I know many of you are Napoleonic enthusiasts - as am I - despite my eclectic postings on just about everything else lately!

I recently obtained a couple of beautiful Front Rank French artillery limbers  for a song (and a few more $!) from my mate Dean at Olympian (see also logo left side of this blog).  Quite a bargain considering how good they are.  They were a bit banged about and were just the limbers - no artillery pieces attached.  

After a few repairs and some minor repainting and a bit of touching up, I made up two 8 pdr artillery pieces to go with them and finished them off.  The following (below) is the Line Horse Artillery limber - my favourite of the two.

French Line Horse Artillery - after 1807? - the rider at the front has a new plume!

No, second thoughts the Guard (Foot) Artillery limber is my fave, no wait...  Actually they are both beautifully done.

French Guard Artillery limber

Don't know how I'll use them on the table in a Black Powder game but they'll make great eye-candy anyway.

While I'm at it I'd just like to say a big thank you to my Irish mate Angry Lurker for his generous donation to the Movember cause (my previous post) - the only one so far - so I'd like to again appeal to my fellow bloggers to donate to the very good cause of men's health.  The link takes you to the Movember site and my son's account on it.  Any donation (click under the Mo symbol, left hand side) will generate a receipt for tax purposes.  Last shameless plug - I promise!

Well, that's it for now - still sorting out computer problems with my old PC but have another battalion of FPW French line and Turkos about half done.  Also got a regiment of Spahi - French colonial cavalry used in the Republican phase of the conflict - that will make a very colourful addition when I paint them up.

And another thank you to BRB for pointing out my brain-fart calling them all caissons rather than limbers - now corrected - cheers mate - what can I say - its been a long day!!


Friday, November 18, 2011

'Movember' - a bloody good cause

As the many visitors to this blog may or may not know, I usually refrain from naked appeals for money, and particularly on behalf of others, but on this occasion I'll throw caution to the wind.

You see my eldest is on a quest.

Its a very noble quest.

Its a quest to grow a mo.

He's part of 'Movember' and is trying mightily to grow a mo like his old man once had - see the above pic (not really)

So, think of a skinny Lebanese version of Burt Reynolds with a Zapata and you'll get the picture.

He will definitely NOT look like this showoff.

So, like Kitchener says, your country needs YOU - not to grow a 'tache like him - but to donate to those who are trying to emulate famous mos through the ages.

You see its for a very good cause - research into men's prostate cancer - which kills far, far too many of us middle aged bewhiskered chaps every year.

The figures are as bad as those are for breast cancer in women or even worse because with us it frequently goes unreported and thus undiscovered until its too late (if you're aged 40 or over and haven't done so yet, go and have your prostate examination NOW!)

Follow the link below and donate (click on the 'Donate to me' button on the left hand side) to a very worthy cause for us blokes:

It would do a young lad's confidence no end of good if he could see that his scraggly rat-like whiskery sprouting will eventually flourish into a luxuriant mustache of the sort sported by famous generals and film stars, encouraged by generous (tax deductible) donations from bloggers all over the world!

Donate and no doubt he'll end up just like a chip off the old block!



Wednesday, November 2, 2011

More FPW French - Guard Bde and a unit of Turkos completed

I have been a very poor blogger of late - posts few and far between - but I have not been completely idle as I've managed to complete some more French FPW (2nd Empire) figures.

This time its infantry.  To finish my FPW project (if 'finish' is the appropriate term) I needed to complete the same number of French infantry units to match the Prussians - roughly three brigades of infantry, one of cavalry and two artillery batteries.  For the French I only had five battalions of infantry (give or take) completed.  With various swaps and deals I acquired nearly a full regiment's worth (enough for two battalions of 18 figures each) of Guard Grenadiers.  This is the second lot of Grenadiers I have acquired as in a moment of madness some years ago I sold the first lot - beautiful Foundry figures they were too (there are some pics in my earliest FPW posts).

Hairy men in bearskin 'ats - Les Grognards of the 2nd Empire

Dunno who made the current lot but they're not bad figures if a trifle lacking in variety for poses - all are marching with shouldered arms - just the heads differ.  Still, musn't grumble as these Grognards have come up a treat once painted and based.

Only one thing different with the painting of this lot - as my own eyesight is failing with age, I didn't do the eyeballs on 'em! Quel Horreur! What is the world coming too?  Standards are certainly slipping!

Nonetheless I'm quite happy with the command stand - even eyeball-less they still look OK.  In addition to the Grenadiers of course are the Guard Voltigeurs, with another two battalions of them completing the rather small Guard Brigade.  These are all Foundry figures I painted some time ago, when my eyeballs were good enough to enable me to paint eyeballs!

Some of the officer figures are Maximillian Adventure French (how they got around in the Mexican heat with that clobber on I'll never know!) - very nice Foundry range that gave a nice bit of variety to the FPW French whose uniform was almost identical.

Last but certainly not least are my sky-blue coated Turkos Algeriens - French North African colonial troops that won respect of the Germans in the war's early encounters.  McMahon had a regiment of them in his 2nd Division brigaded with Zouaves and a very colourful lot they were too!  For the moment I'm going to brigade them with the Guard to make up the numbers and give the brigade some enhanced skirmish capability.

I had to experiment a bit with the skin-tone for the Algerians which in real life can range from swarthy European to Negroid. A few brown washes over GW Dark Flesh got the result I was after. Followed with a weak black ink wash to pick out the details. Can't remember who made the figures but the officer is Foundry - and they all fit in nicely with the other odds 'n sods of the Guards Bde.

Finally, the Guard Brigade, with mounted commander in front - Avant mes Amis!

I have three 18-figure battalions of line to finish to complete the army - but not even half-way through them at the moment.  I'll post the results when I finish the French army - then perhaps a game or two!

Between the last post and this 'Doc's Art of War' has ticked over 60,000 hits which is a bit of a blogging milestone I'm led to believe.  Many thanks to all my fellow bloggers who take the time to visit my humble blog and particularly those who leave comment, its much appreciated.


Friday, October 14, 2011

More FPW painted - the French cavalry

While between Kokoda games I decided to get stuck into my Franco-Prussian Wars figures and now having finished the Prussians, paint up the French.  I'd done about half the cavalry but with various figure swaps and new acquisitions, had a small brigade's worth (and command) to do.

I used the Alphonse Neuville painting of a Dragoon of the period as a reference - great artwork I reckon!

The figures are mostly early Foundry and represent a Dragoon regiment, a small Cuirassier unit and a mounted command (general & escort).  Finished they represent two small cavalry brigades - one light, one heavy.

French Line Dragoons regt. - early Foundry figures - small but good!

The French trot out to meet the enemy in the afternoon light - en avant mes Amie!

Of the Dragoons the command figures are particularly well-sculpted. Dunno who did these for Foundry although the Perry's did do a lot of their FPW range I believe - the officer in particular is a classic if he's one of theirs or not.


 The trumpeter is not too shabby either, as French trumpeter's go!

The other mounted command is of mixed origin - the Dragoon escort is Foundry but the mounted general (who looks to be a mounted figure of French FPW General McMahon) isn't.  Slightly larger than the other Foundry figures at 28mm? - the early Foundry are closer to true 25mm.  Mightn't be appropriate but he'll do for my cav bde general.

Pardon Mon General - but you appear a little out of focus zis morning!

The others finished painting and basing are the Cuirassier of which I managed to obtain 8 figures (but alas, no command).  They are smallish (true 25s) early Foundry that come with separate sword arms in resting or charging poses.  Not the greatest figures in my opinion but hey, they're cuirassier - so what's not to like?

We are small but we are MIGHTY - chaaaarge!

Followers of this blog may have noticed a certain trend in the posts. I admit to a fairly eclectic mix of historical periods and even the very odd bit of fantasy BUT if there's one lot that are truly over-represented here it'd be French cavalry.  Well, they are pretty boys ain't they?  Second Empire nearly as nice to look at as the First. One'd be forgiven for thinking my Napoleonic armies consist mainly of French and mainly of cavalry. They aren't and they don't but somehow there are still heaps of cavalry to paint up - Perry plastics and metal - which I will have to have another serious go at soon.

One thing that happens when collecting so many figures is that there's always one or two left over that you don't know what to do with.  The FPW French cav are no exception as I ended up with a spare dismounted dragoon (could do with a few more of those - still on the hunt!) and a late (Republic period FPW) Chasseur d'Afrique - who was going to be my general's escort but is now officially the scout!  Nice looking figure so I felt obliged to paint 'im!

But my FPW French cavalry are finally finished - I now have all the cav, artillery and commands done and seven battalions of infantry also finished - with another seven to go!

The complete cav: Chasseurs d'Afrique in front with Guard Lancers behind, the Heavy's (Dragoon & Cuirassier) in back and cav command in between.

Just finishing a battalion of Turkos (Algeriens mon amie) to go with the Zouaves to make up one infantry brigade.  The plan is to have another line brigade (x 4 bttns @18 figs each) and one of Guard, of which half the figures are now done.  Once that is completed I will have finished the biggest wargaming projects I've ever taken on - two complete and complimentary FPW armies. Now just to find a decent rule set to game them with...