Tuesday 7 December 2021

Artillery Masters for Perry Miniatures

Hearing in July 2020 that Michael Perry was embarking on a project to produce figures for the Franco-Prussian War of 1870-71 I emailed straightaway offering to build artillery masters. In this case, I can't get much use out of the models for my own armies, because along with Garry Broom I had just completed large forces for the FPW using the old Perrys range from Foundry and they aren't at all compatible. Grrr! I suppose I thought I might be able to make something more historically accurate than is often the case with wargaming models, but my main motive was to be part of a project alongside the Perrys, which I regard as something of an honour.

Actually the other Perry was in more of a rush because Alan wanted guns that would go with his Paraguayan War range. Thus the first model you see here is a mountain gun of the French "La Hitte" 1859 system, as sold to Brazil, etc. It was used a little bit in 1871 too. The challenge with this model is it being so tiny: it's like a 15mm gun! All images here are from the Perrys website and Facebook page, by the way.

Then it was on to the main guns for the FPW, starting with the 4-pounder field piece of the La Hitte system. This was straightforward apart from the fiddly details, which you can't see too well on the photographs. What you are seeing by the way is "the resin". Master models built out of styrene cannot withstand the heat or pressure from the vulcanising process of production moulds for metal castings. So they have to be moulded in soft silicone, cast in resin and then the resin version moulded a second time for metal casting.

Next we have the mitrailleuse, the improbable early machine gun which didn't find its proper role in 1870, but which frightened the Prussians more than they liked to admit. This was a re-conversion of the 4-pounder master, which you can see gained a whole bunch of weird and wonderful fittings. Oddest of all was the "reloading table", over which a gunner is bent to refill an empty magazine. I loved delving into how the crew actually operated this thing: Victorian technology at its arcane finest. There is a wonderful animated graphic (with sound effect!) here, even though it slightly misunderstands how the magazines were filled: Mitrailleuse Home (victorianshipmodels.com)

Finally we have the Prussian Model 1867 4-pounder, the war-winning weapon alongside its big brother the 6-pounder. I modelled the complicated breech closure as a separate tiny part, but the model as sold comes with different barrels for open and closed breeches. The difficult parts on this are the backrests of the axle-seats. In real life they were just a frame of metal rods, covered in wire mesh, so representing that in a way that will cast whilst not being a great thick lump of a thing was challenging. It took several attempts to get right.

Very shortly I will be starting masters for the remaining two important guns of the war, the Prussian 6-pounder and the French 12-pounder. And that will be it for this project, unless Michael eventually gets as far as Bavarian artillery, because the Bright Blue Army had its very own gun designs.


  1. More fantastic work John. My mate Mark over at 1866 and all that blog us currently finishing off his Paraguayan War project, and also in the early stages of the FOW... Which is his favourite conflict of all, I believe, as he has researched and written a weighty tome on one of the major battles.

    1. I think you mean FPW Keith;)

    2. Yes, I've log had your mate's blog bookmarked. Didn't know he'd written a book about one of the battles though- has it been published?

  2. Great work once again John:). The 'La Hitte' looks more like a mountain gun or even a toy one, but certainly has a charm all of its own.

  3. Great stuff - interesting to hear about the process of these things.