Monday, 27 December 2010

Some more British

I've managed to finish another half dozen British this month so I am progressing, albeit slowly and I have lost my fear of these figures.  Sometimes, when figures are very complex or detailed (as is the case, often, with Perry figures) I actually put off painting them.  Despite having finished a few of these I was starting to think about these like that.  The real issue is often between painting the initial "test" figure, on which I usually lavish a lot more time, and the rank and file.  However, in this case I am pretty happy with them and I think they look OK.  My main worry has been how to do the stained helmets but I have dealt with these by actually painting them white and...well...staining them, with a Citadel wash, Gryphonne sepia. 

I have another half dozen or so started now so will try to move these along a bit.  I have also now started the necessary Zulus to finish my second unit and will do those in tandem with the Darkest Africa askari, as they share a lot of colours.

I'm going to have to start thinking about how to organise the British and what units they will represent.

Sunday, 3 October 2010

First Unit Completed


It's a rather rare event for me to complete a unit of anything but here is my first unit of Zulus, for the 20 man The Sword and the Flame units. They are the iNdlondlo (the "adult crested mamba"), a married regiment made up of men in their mid to late thirties and originally formed in 1853. They were part of the amabandla emhlope "the white assembly" of married senior regiments who carried the white shield and formed part of the uThulwana (Cetshwayo's own regiment and, essentially, his guard unit). They were present at Isandlwana and also at Rorke's Drift, Ulundi and Khambula where they formed part of the chest of the army.

A few years before the Zulu War, in 1875, Cetshwayo gave the iNdlondlo permission to marry from the girls of the iNgcugce guild (Zulu girls were enrolled in their own amabutho from which permitted regiments could choose brides on the king's instruction). In this case, however, the girls didn't like the look of the iNdlondlo men and many ran off with their boyfriends from other regiments. Cetshawayo sent warriors to pursue the runaways and all those who were caught were killed. Estimates of the number killed run between a few dozen and hundreds. European reaction hardened against Cetshwayo as a result and as some had fled towards the Boer lands he became much tougher in his dealing with the Boers and more rigorous about enforcing his borders. All of which would contribute to the tensions in late 1878 and early 1879. Issues over women relating to these incidents also caused fighting between some regiments shortly before the war.

Zulu women cause fights

The figures are a mixture of Empress, Foundry and one Wargames Factory plastic. Despite slightly different sizes, grouped in a unit they all look fine, however. Usually when people paint white shields they give them black "stitching". Its not stitching at all of course but just the face of the shield cut to hold the pole (more on shields another time). I have seen some examples where these bits were scraped back to the skin giving a pale beige look (such as the re-creation in the National Army Museum) so for no other reason than variety I have painted the shields like this for this ibutho.

Friday, 10 September 2010

More Foundry Zulu Riflemen

I've got some more Zulus on the way but I finished these four Foundry musketmen today. I have to say that I think that they are anatomically superior to the Empress ones but then they are based on some of Mark Copplestone's Darkest Africa masters. Although they are somewhat larger than the Empress figures it isn't that noticeable and I am happy to put them in the same unit. The guns are much larger than the Empress ones, however.

I've also just picked up Ian Knight's latest thudding great tome on the Zulu Wars. Zulu Rising. which, at 600 pages, I haven't had time to even glance at but it should keep me moving the next batch along..

Friday, 30 April 2010

Royal Artillery Hale Rocket team

Amazingly it is over a year since I started my "small Zulu Wars project" to get me painting some of the Empress Miniautres British.  This is well overdue but here it is: a Royal Artillery bombardier and his assistant from the 24th Foot with their Machine Rocket, War (the trough) and a 9 pounder Hale rocket.

The British Army had first thought about developing military rockets when they had experienced them in Mysore India being fired by the army of Tipu Sultan. William Congreve (1772-1828) adopted from the Indians the metal casing for his rockets and used a stick for stability. By 1806 the British fired an amazing 25,000 rockets against Copenhagen. I was surprised, on my first visit to Copenhagen a few years ago, to discover that some of the residents still have quite a resentful attitude towards the British for this bombardment!

The Hale Rocket: showing details of the fins used to spin it in flight

Congreve's rockets were not very accurate but the accuracy was greatly improved in 1844 when Colchester-born William Hale (1797-1870) did away with the stick (which increased the range) and developed a vectored exhaust and fins which made the rocket spin in flight like a rifle bullet. Hale tried to sell his rocket to the British army but they clung to the old fashioned Congreve. Instead, he sold the rights to his rockets to the United States for the then enormous sum of $20,000. So it was the US expeditionary force to Veracruz in 1847, during the Mexican American War, who used Hale's rockets first. The Russian, Hungarian, Austrian and Italian armies all adopted the Hale rocket in the 1850s. The British army did experiment with Hale's rockets during the Crimean War but didn't officially adopt them until 1867, by which time they had seen much service in the American Civil War. Whilst other countries dropped black powder rockets by the early 1870s Britain, which was fighting a series of colonial wars, found that rockets were much more transportable than field artillery in the sort of wild places that they were fighting. The Hale rockets would remain in active service for another twenty years after the Zulu War and wouldn't officially be removed from the army's inventory until 1919.

Brevet-Major Russell

In the Zulu War each section of two field guns was allocated one rocket trough. At Isandlwana there were three rocket troughs under the command of Brevet-Major Russell of 11/7 battery. Under his command was a Royal Artillery bombardier, 2766 George Goff, 'N' Battery, 5th Brigade, and eight allocated soldiers from C company 1/24th foot.

A 24pdr Hale rocket showing the original colour

The black Royal Artillery rocket troughs fired 9 pounder rockets which were painted a dark red colour. The Navy used closed tubes for their larger 24 pounder rockets. At Isandlwana the rocket section only got off one rocket before they were overwhelmed by Zulus from the iNgobamakhosi regiment who formed the tip of the left hand horn. Major Russell was killed but bombardier Goff escaped on a mule with one of several of the rocket battery soldiers to survive.

On the whole, the Zulus treated the rockets with the contempt they deserved. It took some time in flight before the spinning effect stabilised the rocket and so a wayward initial part of the flight meant that the improved stability was largely worthless as regards overall accuracy.

9 pdr rocket trough and rocket, with a 24 pdr rocket below in the Natal Museum, Pietermaritzburg.

Wednesday, 31 March 2010

Assorted Zulus

Left to right: Empress Foundry, Empress, Foundry, Empress, Wargames Factory and Foundry

I've finished half a dozen Zulus today which have been lurking around my painting table. These are from Empress Miniatures and Foundry so I have put them with the Wargames Factory plastic I finished the other week. Now I am very fussy about different sized figures from different manufacturers but, even, though there are some size variations I'd happily put these in the same unit. Indeed the five married warriors will be joining the iNdlondlo which will mean that I have 15 out of the 20 figures I need for a TSATF unit. Five more are now on the way!
I have also changed the skin colour that I use for the Zulus and am much happier with this slightly redder shade which is closer to real Zulus skin shade. More on this another time.

Tuesday, 30 March 2010

Two Bromheads!

Michael Caine as Lt Bromhead

I don't know. You wait ages for one Zulu Lt. Bromhead to come along and then two come along one after another!

After Black Scorpion's version of Michael Caine, in the cape he wears at the beginning of the film, Empress Miniatures have announced an excellent set of Zulu characters based on the actors in the film. They will be doing historical versions as well!

Left to right we have Private Hook, Lt. Chard, Lt. Bromhead, and Colour-Sergeant Bourne. Its difficult to see how well their faces have been captured but the painted version of Hook on the Empress website looks just like the actor!

James Booth as Private Hook

Stanley Baker (Chard) and Nigel Greene (Colour-Sergeant Bourne)

The biq question is do I wait for Salute and risk them running out or do I go ahead and order now and pay the postage? I may just wait, in that perhaps they will have the historical set ready for Salute too. In the meantime I can paint my Black Scorpion Bromhead which I received today. I am painting him as an exercise as he is much too big to go with the Empress Figures.

Black Scorpion's Bromhead. Already under way!

Tuesday, 23 March 2010

First Wargames factory plastic Zulu

Someone reviewed the plastic Wargames Factory Zulus on The Miniatures Page and, like me, thought they were pretty good.

Interestingly, he had the same problem as I did in that he couldn't get the arms holding a musket in a shooting position to stay in place. Empress Miniatures don't do Zulus in a firing pose and the Wargames Factory ones don't work so I think I will have to buy the Foundry ones despite their overlarge muskets.

I finished my first Wargames Factory plastic today. I have a few Empress and Foundry figures nearly done too so hope to put a comparison shot up at the weekend.