Saturday, 3 October 2009

Canadian National War Memorial, Ottawa

The memorial in Confederation Square

I was in Ottawa last week and was very taken by their splendid National War Memorial, which is in Confederation Square, just in front of my hotel.

Confederation Square from my hotel room

Vernon March

A contest to design a memorial commemorating the dead of the Great War was announced in 1925. The winner, who was announced in January 1926, was Hull-born Vernon March (1891-1930) based in Farnborough in Surrey (not that far from where I live!) who beat off 126 other entries. His design showed the response of Canada to the war (hence the monument's alternative name: The Response). Work began in 1926 but March never lived to see its completion, dying of pneumonia in 1930. His six brothers and sister worked to complete the sculpture.

The unveiling of the monument by King George VI

The figures, which use 32 tons of bronze, were finished in 1932 and disolayed in Hyde Park for a while. They were shipped to Canada in 1937 where the granite arch was constructed and the whole monument was finally dedicated by King George VI and Queen Elizabeth on May 21 1939 in a visit which marked, surprisingly, the first time the reigning monarch had visited Canada.

The cenotaph itself is granite and contains 22 figures representing servicemen from all branches of the armed forces. On top of the monument stand two 17'6" figures representing freedom and peace.

HMCS Stadacona

The figures in the main part of the monument are 7'10" tall and represent infantry, a pilot, an air mechanic, a sailor (from the patrol ship HMCS Stadacona) and support services such as nurses, a stretcher bearer, a sapper and members of the Canadian Corps of Signals, The Forestry Corps and the Army Service Corps. The two mounted figures represent a mounted artilleryman and a cavalryman.

At the left a Lewis gunner and at the right a Highlander with a Vickers gun

A particularly splendid example of a war memorial and it gives me the urge to paint up some of my late war infantry as Canadians.

In 1982 inscriptions relating to World War 2 and the Korean War were added and in 2000 the tomb of the unknown soldier was placed in front of it.

At the rear of the statue you can see one of the nurses and an 18 pounder gun

Monday, 7 September 2009

Officers and Soldiers of the French Army 1914: Andre Joineau

I just picked up this superb visual reference (there isn't a lot of text) which has made me very keen to paint some French Infantry for the early war period. this surely must be the most spectacular army of the Great War and I just hope that Great War Miniatures will get around to some of the exotica like the Spahis and Algerian Tirailleurs.

I painted some of the Renegade figures a couple of years ago and really liked them. I find the Great War Miniatures figures a bit small in comaprison but this leaves me with a dilemma. GWM are much more likely to expand their range than Renegade but I have painted a dozen or so Renegade figures (although they will all need re-doing, I suspect). Any Renegade figures I have won't go with the GWM figures. I suppose it won't be too bad if I keep them in seperate units.

Here is one of my Renegade French Marines and the relevant illustration from the new book.

Monday, 8 June 2009

German Guards Company 1914

I have just finished re-painting the last platoon of my Guards company; so here they are: 36 figures with 3 command. I am still not sure whether to field a Guards Battalion or a normal Infantry Battalion. Guards are much more expensive so it may be better to have them be the divisional support of a normal infantry battalion. If I do this I will have to paint two companies of normal infantry to field them (then two more in order to be able to field a cavalry unit).

I also have a platoon of Jaegers finished so I think I better do some opponents. I was thinking of doing some Great War Miniatures British but as I don't think I will use my already painted Renegade figures I would have to start from scratch. Also I have some late war British under way so maybe I will repaint my French, as I have a dozen or so done but they are in too bright a blue. The Renegade French are really nice figures and I like them better than the Great War Miniatures which suffer from big head syndrome.

Friday, 24 April 2009

Problem mounting Artizan Camel Mounted Arab Irregulars

I had got some of the new Artizan Camel mounted figures delivered today and had terrible trouble mounting them on the camels. I really thought they were useless and put a note up on TMP about them. Both Brigade Games and Artizan (it's a joint range) came back straight away and said they would look into it.

..I mounted this one and couldn't lose this gaping space at the back

Mike Owen explained that he had sculpted them in one piece and then seperated them for casting, so that meant that particular riders only fitted on particular camels. I was trying to fit the figure on the wrong camel!

The figure with his rifle across his chest on the left only sits on the camel whose back legs are closer together.

Great responses from Artizan and Brigade on this.

That said, there are two different camels but in one pack I got two identical ones. Maybe it's only the one figure who needs the particular camel...

Monday, 2 February 2009

Renegade v Great War Miniatures Early War Germans

Renegade (left) GWM (right)

I'm going to look at the two main manufacturers of Early War Germans in the next post but in the interim here is a comparison picture.

Thursday, 29 January 2009

Third guards platoon

I have finished the third Prussian Guards platoon. I think I have now got the colours right. The first platoon I finished I did in too green a grey and I am currently repainting these figures. These two are right though.

Originally I had intended to do a Guards Battalion under the Great War rules but now I think that I will do the standard Infantry battalion but you can include a Guards company of 3 platoons. I can have a Jaeger company of three platoons and four companies of normal infantry. This would be 18 platoons altogether or 216 figures. It sounds like a lot but I really enjoy painting these figures.

Wednesday, 28 January 2009

East Africa: British Infantry

I've just finished these off as they have been waiting around for a long time. Brigade Games figures sculpted by Mike Owen. They could also be used in Palestine or on the Turkish front. I have some King's African Rifles askaris based and ready to go and they shouldn't take too long to do so maybe I will get those on the workbench and start undercoating them. Next for The Great War are late war Gordon Highlanders though.

The big advantage of East Africa over the European front is that you need a lot less scenery. No buildings or trenches just trees and brush.

Friday, 23 January 2009

Musketeer, Great War Miniatures and Renegade British

LtoR: Musketeer, GWM and Renegade

Here is a comparison picture of the Musketeer Miniatures, Great War Miniatures and Renegade WW1 early British. Both Musketeer and GWM have caught the hats perfectly whereas I am not so happy with the Renegade one.

The real issue for me is that the Musketeer figure is just too small to put with others whereas I would mix the GWM and Renegade figures (this will be especially useful to get varied officers).

28mm Bantam confronts 40mm policeman

Now, of course the British Army did recruit "Bantams" in the Great War, men between 5' and 5'3" tall (the previous lower height limit had been 5'4"), but not in the original Old Contemptibles period. The practice was started by the MP for Birkenhead Alfred Bigland (ironically) whose initial recruits in late 1914 formed the 1st and 2nd Battalions of the Cheshire Regiment. I once had a girlfriend from Cheshire who was 5'2" tall and she seemed tiny, I must say! The idea spread and other units were formed, such as the 20th Battalion of the Royal Lancashire Fusiliers, and eventually there was a whole Bantam division: the 35th. By the end of 1916 the standard of men volunteering for Bantam units had deteriorated as all the best men had already signed up. The Bantam units started to take taller men and they lost their Bantam status. Many bantams were miners and saw service in the underground war of mining and counter-mining along the Western Front.

It is easy to forget, however, that the men of this period were much smaller than today. Here is a picture of my little boy Guy, who is 11, in one of my pickelhauben (this one is a Bavarian officer's). The helmet is far too small for me but fits him perfectly!

So maybe my Musketeer figures may find themselves in a Bantam unit!

Wednesday, 21 January 2009

Early War British Infantry: Woodbine Design Company

These figures are sculpted by Soapy for this Gripping Beast offshoot. So far they have concentrated on ANZACS and turks for Gallipoli but have now done a pack of British which you can buy with different head variants. So far they just have:

Serge Uniform Section Pack (Service Cap)

They come in packs of 10 and there are at least 8 poses illustrated on the website. No command or support yet though. These look similar in bulk to the Renegade figures but with better hats. They have got the pack right at least. the hands look horribly big but it could just be the way the photo has come out.

If I ever do the Turkish front then the Woodbine figures would be worth looking at as their Turkish army figures are the most complete range out there but for the Western Front I will look elsewhere I think.

Early War British Infantry: Musketeer Miniatures

Musketeer Miniatures range originated last year as an Ireland 1916 range. They are sculpted by Paul Hicks. Recently they have said that they will be expanding the range into a full BEF range and doing Germans as well. So far they have the following available:

BEF 03 british Infantry advancing

BEF 04 British Infantry firing

BEF 02 British Command

So, eight poses of infantry and four of command but no machine guns or artillery.
I think that in many ways these are the nicest BEF figures out there and that is largely because they have more accurate anatomy and proportions than the others. I have a few minor quibbles about the backpacks but the real issue for me is that they are the smallest figures of the ones available. They really don't go together with Renegade or GWM. Also I am not sure that they would ever produce the range of figures you might need. The other ranges can be put together at a push but for me these would look wrong. A shame as I think the animation, character and detail are great.

Early War British Infantry: Great War Miniatures

Great War Miniatures is run by Aly Morrison and Dave Andrews. I think that they do ranges each as the styles of the figures can be quite different. Like Renegade, they do both late and early war figures. Unlike Renegade they continue to produce new figures at a reasonable rate. They started with the late war and are now moving on to early war. So far the range looks like this. (Why can't they get decent sized pictures on their website?)

B100 Officers and NCOs

B101 Infantry Advancing

B102 Infantry Skirmishing

B103 Vickers gun and three crew

B125 Leach catapult and 3 crew

Gun 1 13pdr Mark 1
B112 Artillery crew

Gun 2 18 pdr mark 1 Gun
Gun 3 British Ammunition Wagon

So altogether they offer 12 poses of infantry including firing and kneeling figures, six command, a Vickers gun with 3 (as opposed to Renegade's 2) crew (actually you needed 6-8 in a Vickers team) and both 13 and 18 pounder guns with ammunition wagon.

GWM have maintained that they want to produce the definitive range of Great War figures and I have to say that you can't fault these. They have addressed some of the problems I have with Renegade (the equipment, especially the pack, is spot on, the rifle more in scale and the hat looks right (the brim to hatband proportions are correct). It's not a perfect range: I'd like to see some prone figures and a maxim gun as well but I suspect these are the ones I will go with. At a push they are compatible with Renegade anyway as this picture shows.

Renegade on the left GWM on the right. Note the differences in hat proportions, the brim should be wider than the peak.

Early War British Infantry: Renegade Miniatures

Firstly, I am going to look at what figures are available for British Infantry of the BEF for the second half of 1914. There are four manufacturers with appropriate ranges: Renegade, Great War miniatures, Musketeer and Woodbine Design Company(Gripping Beast). The Foundry ones are really too old now; with gnomish proportions and hardly any variations in pose.


The first ones on the market were the Renegade figures and I already have a couple of dozen of these. They have the following appropriate figures:






So Renegade have 8 poses of infantry, 4 poses of command, 1 pose of Vickers Gun and an 18pdr and crew. the figures are pretty chunk (sculpted by Mike Owen) and are reasonably accurate. My main criticisms are that the detail of the packs isn't quite right (the distinctive cross straps on the back pack aren't there), the rifles are rather too large and there is something not quite right about the hats. Also there are a lack of firing and, particularly, kneeling firing figures. In fact they do make a firing figure (bringing the total pose to 9) in their WW1B13 pack but only one out of the four is suitable for the early war period becuase of the headgear. Positives are the characterful faces (they really look like WW1 people), the fact that you can buy them in discounted larger boxes and the command set which has some lovely figures in it.
Now I have actually painted 16 of these so going for another manufacturer would be a big jump but the range is quite restricted. Next time I will look at Great War Miniatures Range.

Tuesday, 20 January 2009

Which figures for The Great War?

It looks like The Great War is going to be one of my major projects this year so I had better start to find out which figures I will use for the various armies I will be building. I'll be looking at 28mm figures only which are reasonably recent (hence no Foundry) and offer a good range of poses and troop types.

Uniforms and (particularly) equipment changed a great deal during The Great War and added to this are the variations for different climates in theatres such as Africa and the Middle East.

For simplicity's sake I am going to divide the war into three periods based on uniforms:

First I am going to look at the Western Front.

BEF troops in 1914

Early War Western Front

The initial invasion by the Germans and the initial battles with the French, Belgians and British Expeditionary Force from August-November 1914. British in peaked caps (Scots in Glengarries), French in Blue and Red with kepis and the Germans in pickelhauben.

Early colour photograph of French Troops in Horizon Bleu

Mid War Western Front

This covers the period of the first trench lines going up December 1914 to January 1916. British wearing the softer cap with flaps, the French moving to Horizon Bleu and the Adrian Helmet. The Germans removing the spikes on their helmets. The need for gasmasks.

German soldier at Verdun 1916

Late War Western Front

February 1916 to the end of the War. British adopt the Mark I Brodie helmet (October 1915 but not generally available until early to mid 1916), and the Germans introduce the Stahlhelm (for Verdun in February 1916)

Sunday, 4 January 2009

Mark IV Tank 2

I've now spray undercoated the Mark IV. As I did it outside in the dark I need to touch up a few little bits which the paint missed in good light and then it will be ready for painting. I still have to undercoat the beam for the rear (stern? they are His Majesty's Land Ships after all!).

The tank now sits properly as I weighted the inside with a stack of steel washers.

Gamburd commented on my previous post that the battle around Fontaine during the Cambrai offensive in November 1917 would make a good scenario. This is very true. I am attracted to the Cambrai assault as the British troops were largely Highlanders and these would make interesting looking infantry (and no tartan to paint, thank goodness, as the kilts had a khaki cover). The only problem with depicting Fontaine is that many of the British tanks were destroyeded by lorry mounted German light anti-aircraft guns and I have no idea how I would model this accurately!

Thursday, 1 January 2009


My interest in World War 1 wargaming has always revolved around the early war period, partly because of the Airfix plastics I had when I was little. I wasn't interested in the trench war period, partly because of the requirements to acquire, or more likely, build trench systems. All this may be about to change as I bought this Great War Miniatures Mark IV tank at Warfare in November.

The reason I did this was becuase of a complete impulse buy. I was walking around our local Tesco's and my little boy pointed out a paperback with a World War 1 tank on the cover. I had a couple of business trips coming up so bought it as it was at a very good price. Disaster! Band of Brigands, by Christy Campbell, is a quite wonderful book, telling the story of the development of the first tank from its origins in agricultural caterpillar tractors which were later employed to pull artillery in the Great War. Impeccable research means that a lot of the story is told through the viewpoint of the men involved in this pioneering form of warfare as they struggled to persuade the generals of the worth of the tank whilst having no idea themselves as to how to use it.

There are some great pictures and they brought back the images of massed tank attacks from the Warhammer Great War book. Bad news as now I will have to start some late war armies!

Over Christmas I put the kit together. It consists of a (beutifully crisp) resin one-piece body with metal accesories (machine guns, 6 pdrs and the metal cage which supports the fascine (which isn't included and which I will have to make). There are no instructions and it took me a little time to work out what goes where (helped by some photographs). The metal bits were in a pretty poor state in the kit I bought. The metal girders were very bent out of shape and I never did get them straight and one was missing about 4mm which involved some gap-filling with metal flash and filler. There is one other problem with the model, and that is that it is front heavy so the tracks don't sit flat on the table. The underside is hollow so I will put some weight inside to counterbalance it.

Tomorrow I will spray undercoat it. I have never used a spray undercoat before but I bought a couple of cans of Citadel's black spray for my Battleboards which I got for Christmas. Just as an experiment I sprayed a trio of Norman knights with it and was very pleased with the results. I know that everyone else does this but it's a new thing for me! It should work well on the tank.