Thursday 12 January 2023

Bohemian Chapels and Shrines

Today's post shows the various chapels and shrines I built for the Bohemia 1866 setup. The land was crammed with such Catholic symbols, in villages and by the roadside. In this post they are something of a prop for more of my heavily-converted 1866 figures.

We start with a chapel, made by the "cannibalise a plastic kit" method discussed last time. The gun is a 12-pounder smoothbore of the Saxon horse artillery. The Prussians and pretty much all the German states equipped their horse artillery with such guns, fancying they would mount "grapeshot charges", but the tactic was a non-starter in the face of Austrian rifled artillery.

Another chapel, made in the same sort of way. This gun is a Saxon 6-pound rifled breechloader. The foot artillery of all the German states comprised these pieces and smoothbore 12-pounders, in a 50:50 mix. The 6-pounder barrels were made by Krupp, but each state built its own carriages to mount them on.

Even a village might have a religious statue like this. The figure on top came from the Faller set of religious details. Austrian Jaegers pose by the statue. I converted them from Perry ACW firing line guys. There is a teeny bit of evidence that, unlike the line infantry, the Jaegers sometimes fought in their "proper" uniform rather than the drab greatcoat, so I needed no more excuse.

Here a Saxon general and a mounted colonel pass a little model of a cross and a "village bell". Bohemian villages, presumably the ones lacking a church, invariably had such a bell. I think its function was to summon the villagers in the event of a fire or whatever.

Saxon Jaegers fight there way into a Bohemian village, past one of the many varieties of shrine. You may just be able to make out a statue behind the grille. The figures started life as plastic French Napoleonic voltigeurs.

Another village, another shrine, another battalion of Saxon Jaegers. 

And another shrine, this one recognisably in the local version of Baroque style. Beside it stands the the commander of my 1866 Prussians, General von Steinmetz. He wears his famous oilcloth-covered field cap, which he'd worn in the Napoleonic wars as a young officer! Steinmetz was a dead loss in the Franco-Prussian War, but in 1866 he was the hero of the army. He led his V Corps to defeat three successive Austrian corps on three successive days, whilst uttering bon mots under the heaviest fire! Accompanying him are his chief of staff and a dismounted officer of the Guard Cuirassiers. The latter wears an odd but characteristic outfit: bronzed cuirass, field cap, high boots and a frock coat turned back in Seven Years War style! His horse is held by a trooper of the Feldgendarmerie.

The heroes of the Austrian army were the gunners. Here we have a the massed corps artillery: a 4-pounder battery, a double battery of 8-pounders, a double battery of horse 4-pounders, the rocketeers and the artillery commander. These two shrines are mounted on pins.

Sunday 1 January 2023

A Chateau in Bohemia

Happy New Year!

I hope you had a good Christmas. Happy New Year at any rate. I have been laid low by the virus that everyone around has been getting. Is it Covid, flu or some nameless monster bug? Doesn't seem to make much difference at this late stage of the pandemic. I've had worse flu in the past, so it's nothing like the lethal early variants of Covid, but you get a kalaidescope of symptoms from day to day, linked throughout only by low mood and zero energy. Anyway, I'm about as normal as I get now, so on we go with the next photos from 1866 Bohemia.

Review of 2022

First a bit of a review  of 2022's hobby activity might be in order. I am a big believer in working towards objectives, and I set myself three for the year: Franco-Prussian War rules, finishing the armies for that period and making a really good (teddy-bear fur) cloth to cover my table. And then two other priorities forced their way onto the list: Franco-Prussian buildings and two more artillery masters for Michael Perry. This last job was the only one of the five targets definitively ticked off, the masters being handed over six months ago now. The cloth project has got nowhere as yet, although I have the beginnings of a flexible system of hills to lay beneath it (which I'll talk about another time). So that leaves three goals on which there's been concrete progress, but there's some distance to go as yet. 

Firstly the FPW rules. This time last year only concepts existed and a fully playable set has seen action maybe a dozen times since then. It's fully typed up and copies have been sent to those of you who asked. Feedback was received and incorporated from Garry Broom, Adrian Hussey, Nathan Paxton, Jonathon Marcus and Martin Gane. I did approach Richard Clarke of Too Fat Lardies with a view to discussing publication. He said at the very least he'd read them and give me feedback, which I would very much have welcomed. Sadly he then decided it wasn't a commercially viable period for the investment required and never gave me any feedback. Which I thought was rather disappointing of him. I have faint ideas of  approaching maybe Helion or someone. I'm still slowly refining the rules, so we'll see. Actually, I should say, I am quite chuffed with getting these rules done, because I had wondered whether my ageing brain would be up to it. Well it is. So far. Touch wood!

The main job as regards finishing Franco-Prussian armies is to do the staff. Because of the army level at which the game is set, we need command groups for armies, corps, divisions and a few lesser folk. Although our forces for this war are made up from the old Foundry range, we thought that staff from the new Perrys range would be reasonably compatible. Sadly 2022 has seen only a single pack of Prussian "high command" released, half of which are completely inaccurate (sorry to moan). So we can't do anything for the French as yet, whilst German command groups will be "heavy" conversions. At least I've done the necessary figures for the Bavarian corps, which you've seen. The Prussians will be feasible, but any French will have to wait for some actual releases for that army.

Finally, as you have seen I've built a few earthworks and two chateaus for this period. There's another chateau planned, plus village buildings and some other bits and bobs such as railway lines and vineyards. 

Apart from these making and painting targets, I have kept this blog going, with some 40 posts in 2022. There's been some great feedback and comments from readers, and I've been able to provide advice to a number of people with scenery projects of their own. Some of this has been via email rather than comments on the blog, which is fine. I have now photographed almost all of my earlier projects and after about another four posts on Bohemia, it will be current work and the long-promised tutorials. 

The Bohemian Chateau

Right, back to the nitty-gritty. I built this chateau some ten years ago. Unlike the recent  French baroque effort which was a major scratch-build, this building was a sort of conversion, a "mash-up" perhaps, of a model railway kit. The original was Baden-Baden railway station, an HO (1:96) production from Vollmer, which you can easily find online if you're interested. I was lucky enough to find a half-made, grotty version of this kit being sold cheap at a model railway show some years earlier, and had thought it might be the makings of something grandiose one day. 

The technique of taking a model railway kit and using it to make a wargames model of a somewhat different scale was one of the useful things invented by the late Peter Gilder. These kits can provide a ton of useful detail such as windows and ornamentation. The two buildings in my last post both got their roofs from plastic kits. Mostly you have to buy these kits new and they aren't particularly cheap (though Ebay may help), but they save a lot of time and can provide something different, plus it's a good approach for the less confident modelmaker. Simon Chick ran with this approach, as you may see on his Je Lay Emprins blog (link in right-hand column). The key thing, which Peter Gilder noted, is to get at least the ground floor and any doors to a height that looks something like compatible with the figures you are going to use. The upper storeys aren't so noticeable. 

In this case, I made the basic walls from scratch, so basically the parts coloured ochre, cutting window openings to fit the kit part and cutting kit details to fit on top. The roof is made from cut-up roof sections of the kit. A few parts such as chimneys and stairs are scratch-built. 

The architectural style of Baden's railway station, and hence this chateau is what's called "rococo". This look was an ornamental development of the baroque style we have talked about before, starting in  France during the early eighteenth century. For some reason it lasted longest in Germany, and hence the Austrian Empire. Rococo style is fussy and flowery, cupids being the signature detail!

Here Austrian uhlans and hussars show off their own fussily-detailed style. Although to be fair there's no cupids.

An Austrian Grenz regiment, in this case Number 13 Roman-Banat. Grenz infantry had been classed as light troops right up to the war of 1859, but in 1866 were just seen as slightly unreliable line troops and mostly used for garrisons. The parade uniform had brown tunics, which you only see on the officer here.

The Austrian rocket launcher used in 1866. By this time they worked on the unspectacular Hales system, ie spin stabilised, no longer the "firework rocket" approach. Also by this time rifled artillery had made the rockets relatively short-ranged. They hoped for a certain morale effect, but this was lost on the stolid Prussians! The only remaining advantage from this weapon system was that it was transported by pack mules, so could go up mountains and through woods unlike conventional artillery.

Austrian gunners run up a 4-pounder. Conversions from Perrys ACW gunners. These pieces were the final and optimal development of bronze muzzle-loading artillery. All the barrel-bands, dolphins and the rest of it were stripped away, leaving a simple, accurate, long-ranged and very light artillery piece.