Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Thirty Years' War Musketeers

Mikes Models 15mm Thirty Years' War period musketeers. I really like these guys and seem to have enough to form a few regiments for my French army.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Heath's Armies of the Sixteenth Century (1)

As you can see from the title page, this is volume 2 of Ian Heath's excellent work. This volume deals with the armed forces present in the New World, both European and indigenous. I cannot think of any comparable work and recommend it for anyone interested in the topic. It was published in 1997 and has not been superseded to my knowledge.

The book is divided into five (geographic) sections, not including the Bibliography. This last, incidentally, is quite useful, despite its seeming brevity (It is just four pages long but is set in small type and is quite comprehensive.).

Of course, my interest is with La Florida, and this is covered in the section titled "North America 1497-1608," which provides most of what I'm looking for. Specifically, sub-sections for "Florida" (pp. 123-130) and "Virginia" (pp. 130-134) are useful. "Florida" is a typical treatment. It gives a historical overview of the Spanish and French expeditions (1513-1581) and the Indian cultures of the region. This is followed by a section on warfare, including weapons and forts. Finally, Heath presents his characteristic, detailed line drawings of warriors and soldiers.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Russian Line Infantry, Seven Years' War (3)

Here is some information on the organization of the musketeer regiments:

Regimental Staff
1 colonel
1 lieutenant colonel
1 first major
1 second major

The first three officers were battalion commanders.

Musketeer Company
The authorized strength of the musketeer company was 162 officers and enlisted personnel, as follows:
5 officers
7 NCOs
4 bandsmen
144 musketeers
2 non-combatants

Musketeer Battalion
The authorized strength of musketeer battalions was:
20 officers
628 musketeers
8 non-combatants

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Russian Line Infantry, Seven Years' War (2)

There were 46 musketeer regiments -- the number cited will vary, depending on source and year. Each of these consisted of three musketeer battalions and two grenadier companies. The musketeer regiments for the most part had territorial designations, such as the names of cities, towns, and provinces. When musketeer regiments were assigned to field armies, they generally sent two battalions, retaining the third as a depot battalion. The grenadier companies were told off to the grenadier regiments and served separately from their parent regiments. In the field armies, an infantry brigade typically consisted of four battalions, two each drawn from two musketeer regiments.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Russian Line Infantry, Seven Years' War (1)

These figures show the typical uniforms of the Russian line musketeers of the war. They are Minifigs 25mm, painted I suspect sometime in the 1980s. I have quite a large number of them (as befits a Russian army). My group at the time, in metro Washington, D.C., used homegrown SYW rules, and my recollection is that they gave a satisfactory game.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Modern Guerrilla Warfare

Having spent the better part of the last five years or so studying and analyzing the subject, it's a pleasure to catch up with some of the earlier literature which, while appealing, hadn't seemed directly (too) useful to the work at hand. In fact, Osanka's volume is useful as representative of the thinking in the West on guerrilla warfare as it confronted the Communist threat worldwide at the time. It consists of 37 essays and case studies by scholars, experts, and military men with practical experience in all aspects of guerrilla and counterguerrilla warfare, not only in World War II and the postwar world but also in previous history. Of course, as the title indicates, the emphasis is on tactics, techniques, procedures, and policies in Soviet Russia, Communist China, the Philippines, Indochina, Laos, Vietnam, Malaya, and Cuba. The work is supported by an extensive research bibliography.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Sumner's Corps at Antietam

This is a copiously-researched study of Maj. Gen. Edwin V. ("Bull") Sumner's Federal Second Corps in the Antietam (Sharpsburg) campaign of September 1862. In the climactic Battle of Antietam (Sept. 17), the corps' three divisions played a key role in the attack on the Confederate left (West Woods) and left-center (Bloody Lane). Besides the usual chronological narrative, the author has done a very commendable job explaining the organizational structure of the corps and its component units, plus its armament and other war materiel. In addition, the commanders are sketched. The many maps and diagrams complement the text.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Winter at Morristown, 1779-1780

This book provides a detailed description of the Morristown, N.J., encampment of the Continental Army during the winter of 1779-80, and the various operations and combats in northeastern New Jersey between the Americans and the British, Hessian, and Loyalist forces quartered chiefly on Staten Island. I have to say that I am a big fan of the publications of this small press, which set a standard for high scholarship and outstanding graphical representation of the locales and events described. The author theorizes that Arnold's treachery actually saved the Revolution.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

2,500th Anniversary of the Battle of Marathon

Above: Tymvos (burial mound) of the 192 Athenians who died in the battle.

"They took up their position, and when the sacrifices proved propitious the Athenians were given the signal and advanced on the barbarians at the run." -- Herodotus

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Second Battle of Manassas

This sketch shows the battle (Aug. 30, 1862) from the Henry House Hill behind the Union center, looking northwest toward the Union right and right center on the Dogan Ridge. The Stone House is in the foreground, and Reynolds' Division is marching to reinforce the Union left. Remarkably, today, you can stand in the spot from which the sketch was made and re-imagine the scene much as it was when the artist worked it. I would hope you have the opportunity. I've never been to Manassas Battlefield when the sky was not crystal clear and the view toward the Bull Run Mountains and Thoroughfare Gap was not as distinct as suggested here.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Queen of the Confederacy

"Submissiveness is not my role, but certain platitudes on certain occasions are among the innocent deceits of the sex." So spoke Lucy Petaway Holcombe Pickens (1832-1899). As you can see, she is the subject of a book by Elizabeth Wittenmyer Lewis titled Queen of the Confederacy (Denton, Tex.: University of North Texas Press, 2002).
I haven't seen the book, but the subject sounds interesting. She married Francis Wilkinson Pickens before the Civil War and accompanied him to the court of Tsar Alexander II, where he served as ambassador. Mary Chesnut described her as "young, lovely, clever -- and old Pick's third wife." Her husband was a Unionist who was South Carolina's secessionist governor. Go figure. The Holcombe Legion was named for her, and she was the only woman to appear on Confederate currency.

Monday, September 27, 2010

An Englishman with Mosby's Partisan Raiders

Capt. Bradford S. Hoskins, 44th Foot
(image courtesy of Bob Daly, via Stuart-Mosby Hist. Soc.)

Captain Hoskins was an English adventurer who was a veteran of the Crimean War and Garibaldi's Sicilian campaign. He enlisted with John S. Mosby's band of Confederate partisans and took part in the fight at Miskel's Farm in Loudoun County, Va. (Apr. 1, 1863), and the attack on a military train near Catlett's Station, Va., on May 30, 1863. In the Federal pursuit after this attack, Mosby's men were cornered at Grapewood Farm, near Greenwich, Va. After a sharp fight, they were defeated. Hoskins was mortally wounded in the fight and captured. He and Ranger Sam Chapman were cared for by a wealthy Englishman, Charles Green, whose home was in Greenwich. Hoskins died while under Green's care and is buried in the churchyard at Greenwich.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Le colonel Armand

Armand-Charles Tuffin, marquis de La Rouerie (1750-1793)

I haven't posted much recently, since I've been busy with my book, but I thought I'd mention this book, which I picked-up yesterday as a kind of divertissement (or busman's holiday) from my daily research. Armand has always interested me, although confessedly I knew little about him (by contrast to Lafayette, his comrade-in-arms, or even Lauzun). And, what I did know of him seems unfortunately to have been colored by some of the calumnies heaped on him by, among others, his rival Harry Lee in the wake of the American disaster at the Battle of Camden, S.C. (1780). What I've found after a brief scan of the book is the portrait of a gifted partisan leader who had the entire confidence of Washington and the respect of his enemies, including Tarleton. In the painting by Charles Willson Peale that graces the cover of the book, Armand is shown in the uniform of his famous unit, Armand's Legion: blue coat with buff facings, blue waiscoat, and "Tarleton" helmet.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Manassas Trails (5)

On the Confederate Line at First Manassas

This photo was taken from the Confederate line, looking west across the plateau of Henry Hill toward the Henry House. The house itself marks the position of the Federal line.

Manassas Trails (4)

Behind the Gun Line on Henry Hill

This area would have been crowded with caissons, limbers, and teams belonging to the artillery on the crest (just visible if you look closely). Infantry supports for the guns would be deployed here also.

Manassas Trails (3)

Line of Trees Just East of the Confederate Line on Henry Hill

Manassas Trails (2)

The Road is Less Steep and Less a "Sunken Road"

Closing on the eastern side of the Henry House plateau, the road is less steep. On the day of battle in 1861, it would no doubt have been crowded with soldiers going forward and wounded comng back. The shade was welcome as the heat, mixed with the smoke and dust, was oppressive.

Manassas Trails

Farm Road Ascending from the Valley of Holkum Branch

Yesterday I was at Manassas National Battlefield Park doing a terrain study for the cavalry battle on the Federal left and rear at Second Manassas. To get to that site from the Visitor Center, you have to hike from the Confederate line on Henry Hill (first battle) approximately southeast and then south to the site of Portici -- the manse that was Gen. Joseph E. Johnston's headquarters during the first battle and from which he directed reinforcements toward the fighting on Henry Hill. On the way back from Portici, I took a set of photographs to show the route followed by the Confederate reinforcements as it looks today. Actually, it's not much different from how it looked then (July 21, 1861). The old dirt farm road ascending toward the plateau where Jackson stood "like a stone wall" cannot be much changed.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

The Black Bands of Giovanni

Above: From the book's cover - "The Death of Giovanni de' Medici" (Hendrik Goltzius, Antwerp, 1583)

Arfaioli, Maurizio. The Black Bands of Giovanni: Infantry and Diplomacy during the Italian Wars (1526-1528). Pisa: Edizioni Plus-Pisa University Press, 2005.

I seem to have spent rather more time recently reading about the Great Italian Wars of the renaissance than I perhaps should have. In part, this is due to the happy discovery of Maurizio Arfaioli's book, which although I obtained it to learn something of the famous condottiere and his career, is actually more about (almost entirely) his famous Black Bands. You see, as the author notes, Giovanni as we have come to know him "probably never existed."

The true value of this work is its explication of the place and role of the native Italian infantry in the complex, ever-shifting tactical landscape of the Italian Wars. In that sense, it is a truly valuable (and I daresay remarkable) work. If the subject interests you, I urge you to buy it and read it. It may well change your views of warfare in the period.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Stradiots and Jinetes

The stradiots, shown by the five figures left above, were modeled on the drawing on p. 28 (b) of Renaissance Armies. Stradiots could be found principally in Venetian service during the Italian Wars. The right-hand figure depicts the famous Spanish light cavalry, known as jinetes or genitors. It is based on Heath's sketch of a jinete on p. 51 (n) of Renaissance Armies. These are 15mm Mikes Models or early Essex.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Indian (Moghul) Musketeers

This Mikes Models figure is based on the sketch in Gush's Renaissance Armies, p. 105 (a). It's interesting that so many of the figures in the Mikes Models range were based on Ian Heath's excellent drawings in Gush's book. Helpful too, since at a remove of decades, one can precisely identify half-forgotten figures fished from a cigar box.

Moorish Arquebusiers

More Mikes Models figures, these 16th century Moorish (Moroccan) arquebusiers seem to have been modeled on the sketch on p. 95 (g) in Gush's Renaissance Armies. Gush's brief description of the Moorish kingdom and its array of enemies, both European and African, indicates that it is a fascinating subject for a wargames army.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Ottoman Infantry: Yayas

Above: Mikes Models 15mm "Yayas"

The Yayas were an Ottoman peasant militia that were the predecessors of the Azabs. They were granted land in return for their military service and seem to have been mostly bow-armed irregulars. In my army, they are depicted by Mikes Models figures that appear to have been modeled on the Moorish bowman depicted in Gush's Renaissance Armies, p. 95 (e). Yayas and Azabs actually served together for a time, but it appears that the Yayas were relegated to rear-area services in the second half of the 15th century and thenceforward were no longer considered among the combat troops. Still, I haven't any problem using these figures to represent bow-armed skirmishers in any "Eastern" renaissance army.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Ottoman Infantry: Azabs

Above: Three views of 15mm Azabs

The photos show a ten-figure unit of Turkish infantry (probably Mikes Models) based for WRG rules and suitable for late 15th - mid-17th century Azabs. This figure appears to have been modeled after the arquebusier sketched on p. 78 (b) of George Gush's Renaissance Armies, 1480-1650.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

The Renaissance and the Crisis of the Italian Military

Pieri, Piero. Il Rinascimento e la crisi militare italiana. Biblioteca di cultura storica, 45. Torino: G. Einaudi, 1952.

This was, and I expect remains, the principal general source for the military history of the Italian states during the transition from medieval to modern warfare that took place (rather rudely for Italy) during 1494-1530. It is a truly magisterial work, encompassing 661 pages. While it is military history primarily, the author is careful to examine the economy, industrialization, agriculture, finance, and social classes in Part 1. Part 2 is given over entirely to military history. This is a superb source for the battles of the Italian Wars in the period.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

From Pavia to Rocroi

Albi de la Cuesta, Julio. De Pavía a Rocroi: los tercios de infantería española en los siglos XVI y XVII. [Madrid]: Balkan Ediciones, 1999.

A very interesting examination of the Spanish tercio from many different standpoints. I haven't had a chance to do more than skim it, but I've already found it quite useful in some respects. The table of contents is posted, so that you can get an idea of the author's coverage of the subject. The glossary particularly, though spare, is useful. There are no footnotes, and the bibliography is keyed to the chapters (not necessarily helpful, but it does at least give an idea of the foundation of the author's thoughts).

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Trust but Verify

Landsknecht (NYPL)

Or, the Perils of Renaissance Military History.

While plowing through the essays in Italy and the European Powers, I discovered in one that: “The Black Bands of Guelders, one of the most prestigious Landsknecht contingents, whch fought for the French at Marignano (1515), had 12,000 pikemen, 2,000 arquebusiers, 2,000 swordsmen and 1,000 halberdiers.” Well, says I, this is interesting. That’s a lot of soldiers (17,000) to be gathered together in a single formation or formation-like rubric. Moreover, the reference to “swordsmen” in such numbers attracted my attention, since as those who know my thoughts on swordsmen know, I’m a skeptic of the sword-and-bucklermen so beloved of renaissance military historians from the time of Giovio and Macchiavelli onwards.

So, naturally, I checked the author’s footnotes. As is the case with so much of this particular article, I was referred to another secondary source. In other words, the author, himself a distinguished scholar, was referring me to the work of another distinguished scholar. This is just sloppy scholarship, and I dare say would be unacceptable in a post-graduate paper.

Having the referenced source to hand, I found that aside from the minor corruption of details and a few of the numbers that comes with the territory, the facts were more or less as stated. But, when I looked for scholar no. 2’s source, I was referred to yet another secondary source! Fortunately, scholar no. 3 (also to hand), cited his primary sources, and, mirabile dictu, the 17,000 landsknecht of scholars 1 and 2 were not the Black Band after all. No, those were other landsknecht. The Black Band numbered about 6,000 in addition to the others, and the original source provided no breakdown by weapon type for them.

Now, it really didn’t take me too long to chase down the facts, but I wonder what all this says about serious scholarship on renaissance military matters.

Oh, those swordsmen. Turns out they weren’t the elusive sword-and-bucklermen after all. They were landsknecht armed with two-handed swords – rather a different type of swordsman than the sword-and-bucklerman.

Thursday, May 27, 2010


The Emperor Charles V at the Battle of  Mühlberg by Titian

This was a Spanish term for reiter-type heavy cavalry. Verdugo’s editor indicates that they were German cavalry, not necessarily Spanish (Verdugo, Francisco [1537-1595]. Commentario del coronel Verdugo de la guerra de Frisia, en XIII años que fue governador y capitan general de aquel estado y exercito por el rey D. Phelippe II, nuestro senor.)

The name probably came from the application of the Spanish term for a short coat with a collar but no cape (herreruélo or ferreruélo) to the armor worn by the reiters. This armor, according to Nuñez de Alba (Dialogos del soldado) first appeared in 1547 in the Schmalkaldic War. The Titian portrait of the Emperor Charles V in his “Mühlberg harness” is a good example of this armor (at least as worn by a wealthy warrior). The armor worn in the portrait consists of: back- and breastplates; taces; tassets; gorget; espaliers reaching to the elbow over mail sleeves; gauntlets; and morion. The emperor is armed with a javelin and a pistol.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Flags of the French Religious-Civil Wars (1)

Cornette of King Henry IV of France

There are many descriptions of this color, preserved in letters of the period. The field is striped (from the top) red, white, blue, red, white, blue. The devices are as follows: clubs (or maces) of Hercules – white; all other devices (including sword, crossed sceptres, and the cypher “H” surmounted by a crown) – yellow or gold. The motto is DVO PROTEGIT VNVS (DUO PROTEGIT UNUS = Two Protected One).

Commemoration of the Battle of Montcornet, 1940

A friend sent along this web page with YouTube vid and numerous pics showing reenactors and restored French (and Belgian) vehicles at the 70th anniversary commemoration of the Battle of Montcornet (May 14-16, 1940). Just outstanding!

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Mount Zion Church, July 6, 1864

Fieldstone Markers for Federal Cavalrymen Killed in the Action of
July 6, 1864

Major Mosby's partisan rangers destroyed the command of the "Fighting Major" William H. Forbes (2d Mass. Cav.) in a sharp fight along the Little River Turnpike near the Mount Zion Old School Baptist Church. Forbes had been hunting Mosby, but the "Gray Ghost" turned the tables on him in one of his most brilliant fights. No one knows exactly where the Union cavalrymen were buried in the church graveyard.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Aldie, June 17, 1863

Monument to the 1st Mass. Cav. west of Aldie, Va.

The monument marks the location of desperate fighting on the Snickersville Turnpike on June 17, 1863. The 1st Mass. was practically destroyed in close combat with the 2d and 3d Va. Cav. under the command of Col. Tom Munford, C.S.A.

We visited Aldie and Middleburg today and enjoyed the splendid, partly cloudy weather of the early afternoon. Beautiful Virginia horse country, not much changed in many respects from the days of Mosby and Stuart.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

French Renault R35 Light Tank

This is a 15mm (1:100 scale) Battlefront (Crusader) mini depicting the familiar French light tank that also saw service with several other armies in World War II (for example, Poland and Romania) and in the early post-World War II conflicts. The kit consists of seven parts. There are two resin castings – a hull and turret – and five cast metal pieces: gun (with cradle), running gear with tracks (2), tank commander, and rear hatch. The model can be built with or without the tank commander/rear hatch combination, and I chose to omit it, since it looks a bit fiddly, and it isn’t clear exactly how one is to fit it to the turret rear or rotate the turret if it simply rests on the rear deck abutting the turret.

The R35 was considered an infantry tank and was the successor to the venerable FT-17 of World War I. In many respects, it was unsuited to the modern battlefield, since it was slow, lightly armored, and possessed a weak main gun.

Some statistics:
Max. armor: 40mm
Max. speed: 20 km/hr road
Armament : 1 x 37mm cannon; 1 x 7.5mm MG
Crew: 2 – commander/gunner and driver

A typical R35 company (compagnie) was organized as follows:
company commander: 1 x R35
1st platoon (section): 3 x R35
2nd platoon (section): 3 x R35
3rd platoon (section): 3 x R35
4th platoon (section): 3 x R35
Total: 13 R35

Current Reading: Italy and the European Powers

Shaw, Christine (ed.). Italy and the European Powers: The Impact of War, 1500-1530. History of Warfare, v. 38. Leiden: Brill, 2006.

"Most of the essays in this volume were among those given at a conference sponsored by the AHRB Centre for the Study of Renaissance Elites and Court Cultures in the Centre for the Study of Renaissance in the University of Warwick."

Nothing to report as yet, since I've just picked it up.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Giorgio Basta

Basta, Giorgio (b. La Rocca, near Taranto, Jan. 30, 1550-d. Prague, Nov. 20, 1607). Basta was an Imperial (Holy Roman Empire) general and a military theorist. He served in the French-Spanish hostilities of 1589-1593 and the Ottoman-Hapsburg Long War (1593-1606).

Basta's family was of Albanian or Greek ancestry, like many of the refugee stradiotti (soldiers) who fled to Italy following the Turkish conquest of the Peloponnese (Byzantine Morea).

His earliest military experience was in the Spanish army, and he rose to prominence as a cavalry commander in Flanders and protégé of Alexander Farnese, Prince of Parma, Spanish commander in the Netherlands. At the siege of Antwerp (1584-1585) his light cavalry controlled the countryside and prevented the re-victualling of the city, which was decisive. In 1590, he was appointed commissary-general of Parma's cavalry. He campaigned in support of the Catholic League in northern France (1591-1592) and served under Charles von Mansfeld (1593). He fought against French King Henry IV in Guise (1593) and was promoted to lieutenant general. After the death of his patron, Parma, he entered the service of Hapsburg Emperor Rudolph II as general of cavalry (February 25, 1598).

In the emperor's service Basta won fame in the reconquest of Transylvania (1599-1605), leading the Imperial armies against Sigismund Bathory, Prince of Transylvania, and his allies. He contended also against Michael the Brave, voivode of Wallachia (executed by Basta on August 18, 1601), and against Stephen Bocskay and Bethlen Gabor. Appointed Imperial commander in chief (January 20, 1602), Basta took the fortress of Khust (1603), for which he was created a count. He retired in 1605, and devoted himself to writing military treatises based upon his experience.

His first book was Il maestro di campo generale (1606). According to González de León, Road to Rocroi, 136n, this was a plagiarism of Lechuga’s Discurso del cargo de maestre de campo general. (It probably should be pointed out that plagiarism then, especially of technical texts, was rather more common and unexceptional than it is today.) His most important work, Il governo della cavalleria leggera (1612), was an influential textbook on the organization, management, and employment of light cavalry; another work, Del governo dell'artiglieria, was published in 1610. His works were translated into other languages and widely read, and helped to inform European military practice and doctrine before, and during, the Thirty Years' War.

Giorgio Basta rose from obscure origins to high command in the Spanish and Imperial armies during a transitional period in the development of the military art. He was a resourceful general who, like Montecuccoli and Saxe, passed on in his writings lessons gleaned from decades of campaigning. He wrote a practical guide to the employment of light cavalry, an arm often encountered but little understood by western European generals of his day. He is justly renowned as one of the greatest generals of his time.

(c) Curt Johnson

Sources: Barbarich, E. "Un generale di cavaleria italo-albanese: Giorgio Basta." Nuova antologia, 63 (1928); Labarre de Raillicourt, Dominique. Basta: comte d'Hust et du Saint-Empire. Paris, 1968.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

The Road to Rocroi

González de León, Fernando. The Road to Rocroi: Class, Culture, and Command in the Spanish Army of Flanders, 1567-1659. Leiden: Brill, 2009.

This is a remarkable book which may be said to have advanced the several analyses of the myriad problems of the Spanish Army of Flanders that have marked the works of Parker and others.

Personally, I used the work to provide many biographical details on the officers associated with the army, as a primer on the professional military literature of the late 16th-early 17th centuries, and as yet another – in this case very full – narrative and analysis of the decisive Battle of Rocroi (1643), which of course is seen as marking the end of Spanish military ascendancy in Europe.

Sunday, May 9, 2010


Above: The English settlement at "Roanoac" (present-day Roanoke Island)

The brief existence and mysterious disappearance of Sir Walter Raleigh's colony continue to vex scholars. Roanoke was close to the northern margin of La Florida. A possible solution to the mystery of the "Lost Colony" is set forth in:

Horn, James. “Roanoke’s Lost Colony Found?” American Heritage, 60:1 (Spring 2010), 60-65.

Worth a read.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

La Florida: Corsairs as Actors

Above: Hawkins - the type of the corsair

I’ve begun to flesh-out LF, and looking at the array of Categorical Actors, I’ve come to the conclusion that I need another Categorical Actor – Corsairs. Sure, corsairs (or pirates, if you like) were more or less loyal to their national sponsors (England and Huguenot France), but they were also wily traders operating in the murky world of the Black Flag and “no peace beyond the line” who frequently acted at cross-purposes to what one would think were their notional national and religious identities. Of course, their sponsors could always fall back on what we today might label “plausible deniability” in the event a corsair did something embarrassing.

In the final analysis, many of these characters were quintessential “loose cannons” or “wild cards,” driven by avarice and in some instances bloodlust. Although the stuff of romance and even national pride today, few tears were shed on either side when any of them came to naught.

Suffice to say, corsairs were so unreliable that they deserve a category separate from those of their sponsors.


100 posts a/o April 18, 2010.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Grenadier Officer, 1st Foot Guards, Reign of James II

According to Evelyn, writing in June 1678, "Now were brought into service a new sort of soldiers called grenadiers who were dexterous in flinging hand grenades." This is one of Edward Suren's justly famous "Willie" figures. I had the pleasure of knowing Suren and his charming wife and as a young man, was a frequent visitor to his little shop just off Sloane Square in Chelsea, London, many years ago. His 30mm figures always seemed to me to capture exactly their subjects, and I recall marvelling at the small dioramas on display in the shop, especially the depiction of an ailing marechal de Saxe at the Battle of Fontenoy.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

French AMD Panhard 176 Armored Car

My next project is this classic French armored car of the 1940 campaign. There were 198 in service in September 1939, equipping some 11 reconnaissance squadrons of cavalry formations (AMD = Automitrailleuse de découverte = distant reconnaissance wheeled vehicle).

This is a BattleFront/Military Miniatures (Crusader) 15mm (1:100 scale) model that comes in seven clean-cast parts, metal and resin: vehicle body, four wheels, and turret (in resin), and mantlet with guns in soft metal.

German Panzerkampfwagen I Light Tank (3)

A few things I left out of yesterday's post ...

On May 10, 1940, 1st Panzer Division had 52 Panzer I (of 256 tanks total); 2d Panzer Division had 45 (of 266); 3d Panzer had 117 (of 341); 4th had 135 (of 314); 5th had 97 (of 327); 7th had 34 (of 225); 9th had 30 (of 153); and 10th had 44 (of 265). Altogether, there were 554 Panzer Is among the 2,582 German tanks that invaded France in May 1940 – or, 22% of the total.

The Wiki here has details of service, including Spain, Poland, Denmark, Norway, France, North Africa, and Russia.

Friday, April 16, 2010

German Panzerkampfwagen I Light Tank (2)

The photos show the finished model on a 1” x 1¾” base of architect’s board painted with Polly S mud, green, and flocked.

I gave this model a base coat of flat black. I followed this with panzer gray. As with the French Army green, there does not seem to be any definitive statement of what this color really was, although with a little searching on the web, you’ll find various pronouncements by experts. Having any number of gray paints in my workshop and noting the light gray appearance of the German vehicles depicted in the SteelMasters France ‛40 supplement, I settled on a couple shades of light gray to represent panzer gray. When I was finished with the basic painting, I used my weathering wash to finish the vehicle.

I picked up my weathering wash from an article on weathering tank tracks in an old issue of FineScale Modeler. Basically, it’s a mix of dark(est) blue, black, and red-brown acrylics diluted by isopropyl alcohol that is dry brushed on the tracks. Steel paint can be used later to pick out the high points where the steel would meet the road.

Some statistics:

Max. armor: 13mm

Min. armor: 7mm

Max. speed: 50 km/hr road; 37 km/hr cross-country

Armament : 2 x 7.92mm MG13 Dreyse MG

Friday, April 2, 2010

German Panzerkampfwagen I Light Tank

Next up in the workshop is this German light tank that was used primarily for training during the interwar years and saw combat in Spain and early in World War II. This is a Military Miniatures (Crusader) 15mm (1:100 scale) model that consists of five parts – resin hull and turret (the turret is tacked to the hull in the boxed model), metal left and right tracked running gear, and metal mantlet mounting the two 7.92mm MG13 Dreyse machine guns.

Weekend Reading

Verhoef, C. E. H. J. The Battle for Ginkel Heath near Ede: 17 & 18 September 1944. Soesterberg: Aspekt, 2003.

Table of Contents:

1. Allied Strategy after the Normandy Landings 9

Broad front - small front 9

Operation Market Garden 13

2. Sunday, 17 September 1944: D-Day 17

Preliminary bombardments 17

The take-off of the biggest air armada in history 19

The landings near Arnhem 24

The airlift of the 7th Battalion The King's Own Scottish

Borderers 27

The German defence 28

The positions of 7 KOSB at Ginkel Heath 38

Initial engagements at Ginkel Heath 44

3. Monday, 18 September 1944: D +1 52

The push towards Arnhem road bridge 52

The actions of the Westgruppe 52

The situation at Ginkel Heath prior to the arrival of 4th

Parachute Brigade 53

The second lift 65

The landing on Ginkel Heath 68

Marching off 87

4. Ginkel Heath, Tuesday, 19 September - Friday, 22 September

1944 91

5. The Significance of the Battle for Ginkel Heath 96