Sunday, 30 August 2015

The Great War Germans by PSC

This weekend I painted the first sprue of Germans from The Great War board game by Plastic Soldier Company. Each sprue contains enough figures to make four units of infantry (there are three sprues in the basic game, I got another three due to the 'Epic' bundle on Kickstarter). I textured their bases with PVA and sand and used Sidney Roundwood's guide to painting late war Germans for the basic colours. One thing I changed though was to use Grey-Green Vallejo paint for the tunics, trousers and puttees.

The figures painted well, but on closer inspection I noticed that there is a lack of detail that you normally get with PSC figures. However, these are supposed to be for a board game so I am not so fussed about it. Also included on the sprue is a Maxim Machine Gun and four crew. This makes up a single unit:

More support is available from the trench mortar, again with four crew.

And finally the last figure on the sprue is the bomber, he can be added to any infantry unit to make it stronger in the attack.

On each sprue you get 25 figures, which makes a total of 75 Germans in the basic set (or 150 for me...), a hefty amount of figures. It will take a while for me to finish painting the original set, but keep checking back for updates as I do. I apologise again for the rubbish pictures, I am still using my phone!

Wednesday, 26 August 2015

Second Blucher Base

I am really getting into the swing of painting 6mm now. I finished off my second base for Blücher, being Byng's 2nd Guard Brigade. During Waterloo these chaps defended Hougoumont, and defended it well. Sorry for the crap pictures, but the camera gave up the ghost in France the other week and these were taken on my phone.

The base is laid out similarly to the 1st Guards Brigade; skirmishers out front and Byng on his horse in the centre. I was also informed that the Guards carried their Regimental and King's colours on opposite sides to the rest of the army, so this reflected here (I haven't got around to changing 1st Guard Brigade's flags yet...)

So my slow burning Blucher project is taking shape, I have completed less than 1% of the cards in the 100 Days Campaign card set and the way things are going I won't be finished for about four years... Never mind, the best things come to those that wait. Anyway, here is the 1st British Division (Foot Guard) without it's artillery support:

Thanks for looking!

Wednesday, 19 August 2015

Excavations in Mametz Wood

Last week I spent a week excavating trenches in Mametz Wood, the large wood that was attacked by the 38th Welsh Division in July 1916. The wood was captured after two days of heavy fighting on the 10/11th and I was involved in a forthcoming BBC program about this battle. The following are a selection of pictures from the excavations. I don't want to pre-empt the program, so they are fairly vanilla, but may give you an idea of what goes into such a project!

On the way to the woods we stopped off at a church, the location of which I forget, to see some of the graffiti left by soldiers of the Great War, carved into the chalk walls.

The first trench we opened was a junction of two trenches, one running north to west, known as 'Strip Trench' on British trench maps. The other was an unidentified trench running east to west, so it was hoped that we would be able to work out it's function through excavation.

Working alongside men from Operation Nightingale the first soil was removed.

Meanwhile, treks through the wood revealed ordnance still apparent, such as this shell stuck in a tree:

All is not as it seems though, this was probably placed in the tree several years ago by a farmer and the tree then grew around it.

As we were working for TV show, the cameras were ever present. As was Gareth Thomas, the rugby star, who was also working on the program.

As work continued the shape of the trenches began to take form:

It appears that the unidentified trench was a communication/electricity cable trench, which ran east to west. Possibly for a command centre or artillery position.

Several strands of cable were still in evidence:

Deep in the woods was a German defensive position, which also didn't appear on British trench maps.

The earthworks were massive, indicating a command position or entrances to dugouts.

So our final excavation was targeted to try to understand this enigmatic feature.

How did we get on? You'll have to watch the program to find out (I think it will be shown on the 100th anniversary of the battle)! It was a great honour to be able to get into the woods and work on First World War archaeology and it was also great to meet Gareth Thomas, who was a spot-on bloke.

However, the real honour came from working the ex and current servicemen from Operation Nightingale. They wouldn't say it of themselves, but they are proper heroes. 

Thankfully the weather stayed on our side until the very last moment when we were caught in a downpour. The summer weather belied the death and destruction that reigned during that attack in 1916.

But the remnants of the fighting were ever present:

During a two minute silence we held at the 38th Division memorial, I was able to snap this final picture.

Thanks for reading!

Sunday, 16 August 2015

Now Maitland, Now's Your Time!

After being satisfied with the results of my Blücher test base I began work on the 100 Days Campaign forces proper. The first unit is Major-General Peregrine Maitland's 1st Guards Brigade. It consists of two battalions each of 32 figures.

Out front is the skirmisher screen and Maitland himself is in the middle on his horse. You can also see the base label in this shot, which I based on the information given in the Blücher 100 Day Campaign Cards set. I printed the base labels and laminated them, this is so that we can cross off the 'attached artillery' section with a dry-wipe pen if the unit has no artillery.

I took the inspiration for Maitland's horse from this famous painting by Thomas Jones Barker showing the Guards at the climax of the Battle of Waterloo, just about to give the Old Guard a good drubbing:

The flags were printed from NapFlags, I resized them to the correct dimensions. The Baccus flagpoles are too long for the 6'6" size of the flags, so they had to be trimmed down as well.

You can also see my solution to the Elan track that is a feature of Blücher. I bought several 7mm red dice from Minibits along with a number of dice holders of the correct size. As the highest Elan is 7 a six sided is perfect for keeping track of the current level during a game.

That's it for now, I have a lot more work to do on this project, so I assume it will go on for a long time, but thanks for reading!

Saturday, 1 August 2015

The Great War Artillery

Another tester piece (all I seem to be painting at the moment is testers, I promise, I will start a new project properly soon!) I recently painted was one of the 18lbers for the new The Great War game by The Plastic Soldier Company. It's an easy to build kit of five pieces and comes with four crew all in 15mm.

The gun suffers slightly from a lack of detail, especially behind the shield and some of the brass winding wheels are not present, however at this scale, it's not really noticeable. This minor gripe aside, it fits together perfectly (I think it is snap together, but I glued mine) and took minutes to make.

The crew are already based, but I added some sand just to give the base some texture and added some static grass to break up the shape of the base.

I got five of these guns with The Great War Kickstarter deal (along with their German equivalents), they don't seem to have much use in the game but make for a nice decoration to denote artillery batteries and they could always be seconded to Square Bashing if I really needed more artillery units. The sculpts are nicely moulded with good clean lines and I like the fact that the crew are in their undershirts with their braces hanging down as though they are working hard. They really reminded me of the famous picture of the 18lber gun crew firing on the Carnoy Valley in 1916 during the Somme offensive: 

In a related note, I am soon heading out to France for a fortnight excavating a First World War battlefield for a BBC documentary on the Somme, so this blog will be quiet for a couple of weeks (again...), but thanks for reading!