The Bird Catchers

The figures from the next regiment in my Nappy Cavalry Project are nearly finished, so I just thought I’d post a preview of them before the final touches and basing.

These are painted as the British 1st Dragoons of the Waterloo era. They were known as “The Royal Dragoons” and, after Waterloo, also by the nickname “The Bird Catchers”. This was a reference to the capture of the 105th French Line Infantry regiment’s eagle by the Royal Dragoons at the battle of Waterloo. This eagle was displayed alongside the other eagle captured at Waterloo (by the Scots Greys) recently, an event timed to coincide with the 200th anniversary.

Anyway, here they are, prior to a more formal unveiling soon:

British Heavy Dragoons (2)

British Heavy Dragoons (8)

British Heavy Dragoons (7)

British Heavy Dragoons (3)

British Heavy Dragoons (6)

British Heavy Dragoons (4)

Scarlet Fever

Having had some days off, I’ve been able to devote some time to tackling all those figures wearing scarlet that I mentioned in the previous post.

The Quiberon Expedition troops have progressed. I’ve realised that the Strelets figures don’t quite match the uniform that’s been depicted on the French royalist émigré regiments. I’m intending to carry on regardless and hope to slap on the paint in such a way that the difference will be less obvious. The regiments I’m hoping to depict are:

Emigre
The Loyal Emigrants Regiment.
The Royal Marine Regiment.
The Royal Marine Regiment.
Royal Louis
The Royal Louis Regiment.

I aim to paint the latter by using Strelets’ French Infantry in Egypt set when it comes through the post. With still plenty of paint to add, here’s how some of the figures are looking so far:

Loyal Emigrant Regiment
Loyal Emigrant Regiment troops
Loyal Emigrant Regt.
Loyal Emigrant Regt.
The Royal Marine Regt.
The Royal Marine Regt.
The Royal Marine Regt.
In progress: Men of the French Royal Marine Regt.

The 28mm Perry figures have taken a back step while I’ve concentrated instead on the British Heavy Dragoons set by Waterloo 1815. After their terrific Prussian Hussars that I painted earlier this year, this set, I must admit, has been a disappointment. Firstly, the detail on the figures is nowhere near as crisp and clear as previously. I’m not sure whether it is a problem in the sculpting or with the mold, but it’s simply not as beautifully detailed, instead being a little bit smooth and vague. This makes for greater difficulty (for me at least) to get a decent paint job out of it.

Trumpeter of the 1st Dragoons (The Royals)
Trumpeter of the 1st Dragoons (The Royals)

The horses are also poor, there being only a miserly two poses for the entire set! The detail is again less distinct and crisp than the wonderful figures of their previous sets. But my biggest bugbear is that the riders simply didn’t fit on the horses! Feedback from a friend on Benno’s Figures Forum suggests that this problem might simply be restricted to me, and I’ve unluckily received a bad kit! For other’s sake, I hope so. I wouldn’t wish on anybody the endless brutal hacking away with a craft knife that I had to employ! The horse figures are badly disfigured as a consequence of this, but at least they (more or less) fit the riders now.

British Heavy Dragoon by Waterloo 1815
British Heavy Dragoon by Waterloo 1815

I don’t want to trash the set completely as, despite my complaints, I think the figures are beginning to look okay with paint on them, especially when compared to work from certain other manufacturers. And I’m glad to see that the sculptor has depicted the docked tails that was a feature of British Dragoon horses. Furthermore, the hobby was crying out for another decent Napoleonic British Heavy Dragoons set to replace the now very rare and rather basic old HaT versions. And I think that the troopers can still be considered an improvement, but, given Waterloo 1815s previously high standards, for me this set has been something of a let down.

And the scarlet painting continues as my young daughter insists I spend time in her “nail bar”…

DSCF8028

Next post: Yet another Suburban Militarism day out!

17e Regiment De Dragons [France] (Nappy Cavalry Project Set #7)

Italeri’s French Dragoons set is quite probably the finest cavalry set they’ve ever produced. It’s quite a contrast to the severely problematic Prussian dragoon set that I tackled previously. Plastic Soldier Review gives the set a 10/10 for sculpting, losing a point only on historical accuracy due to the notable lack of muskets to some figures. Having a musket is particular important because traditionally dragoons were supposed to be a kind of ‘mounted infantry’ undertaking infantry as much as cavalry duties.

17th Regiment of Dragoons
17th Regiment of Dragoons

I chose to depict the 17th regiment as I couldn’t resist the temptation of using some pink paint for a change. How many armies go into battle in pink? Not many. I don’t have any complaints with this set, it was easy to paint and looks great. So without further ado, here’s some photos and the regimental biography.

French Dragoon (12)

French Dragoon (11)

French Dragoon (10)

French Dragoon (8)

French Dragoon (7)

French Dragoon (6)

French Dragoon (5)

French Dragoon (4)

French Dragoon (3)

French Dragoon (2)

French Dragoon (1)

Biography: 17e Regiment De Dragons [France]

This line of cavalry unit was involved in almost all the campaigns of Napoleon. Created in 1743 from a joint unit of German, Polish and Saxony volunteers. During the 18th century, the 17th Dragoons were involved in the War of the Austrian Succession as well as the Seven Years War. After the French revolution in 1791, it became formally known as the 17th Regiment of Dragoons. They were involved in the iconic Battle of Valmy and campaigns throughout the revolutionary wars.

In 1800, they took part in the battle of Hohenlinden against the Austrian and Bavarian armies, ending the second coalition against Napoleon. Following campaigns against the Prussians and Russians in 1806/07 saw the 17th Dragoons fight at both Eylau and Friedland.

The regiment was then sent to Spain in June 1808, helping to capture the capital Madrid. The following year, they distinguished themselves with a notable charge led by Major Haubbensart at Coruña. Involved in the brutal battle of Albuhera during 1811, the regiment ended its Spanish campaign in 1813 after the disastrous defeat at Vitoria. They were withdrawn to join the Grand Army in Germany, assisting in the fighting retreat back to France, fighting in the battles in Troyes, Arcis sur Aube, and then Paris itself.

After Napoleon’s abdication in 1814, only fifteen dragoon regiments were retained by France. The 17th briefly was renumbered the 12th until the Hundred Days campaign where each regiment resumed its old number. Over 300 strong and under their Colonel Louis Labiffe, the 17th took part in the victory over the Prussians at Ligny. As part of Exelmans 2nd Cavalry Corps, so far as I can tell, it appears they were with Grouchy’s forces pursuing the Prussian to Wavre. With Emperor Napoleon’s defeat at Waterloo taking place just a few miles away, the regiment was to be finally disbanded some time later.

Notable battles: Valmy, Austerlitz, Jena, Eylau, Moscow, Leipzig, Ligny.

French Dragoons

I’ve not been idle since those Prussian Dragoons were finished. I’ve been getting on with the next regiment in the Nappy Cavalry Project; Italeri’s by far superior set of French Dragoons. Yes, it might be another dragoon set from the same manufacturer, but the difference is astonishing. If the Prussian Dragoons were candidates for their worst Napoleonic set, these French ones are candidates for their very best. The detail in the sculpting is superb. If anything, the sculpting is almost a little too fine – I like a bit more stark detail for my paint to hang on!

As you may observe, they are sporting a fetching display of pink for their facings.  Not a colour commonly seen in my uniform painting, which is precisely the very reason why I choose to depict the 17th Regiment of Dragoons. I bought a whole new bottle of Vallejo pink paint for the purpose. I realise that, unless I embark on an extensive Gay Pride diorama, this probably leaves me with a whole bottle of paint I’ll never use again…

One word about the leg wear, I’ve painted them grey which I think is historically acceptable. Most images portray dragoons as wearing tan coloured breeches, or ‘parade ground’ white, which leaves me a little unsure.

Some photos – they are not finished as you can see, but are getting there.

French Dragoons in progress (1)

French Dragoons in progress (2)

French Dragoons in progress (7)

French Dragoons in progress (6)

Off on my holiday tomorrow, so there will be a hiatus and those dragoon horses will have to wait until I get back. There is a slight possibility that I may even be able to visit a military museum while away. If I do, expect another Suburban Militarism Day Trip post. If I don’t, well then maybe a holiday with my wife and daughter as a break from all things military-related is just what’s needed!

5th Prussian (Brandenburg) Dragoons (Nappy Cavalry Project Set #6)

Cyanometry – that’s a measure of the ‘blueness’ of the sky. At times, whilst painting this regiment, I wished I could have applied cyanometry’s ‘Linke Scale’ to those Prussian dragoon litewka coats. I’ve been agonising about getting the shade right ever since I started them. The staggering variety in shades of blue was complicated further by the sheer variety of blues depicted in other images. Research suggested that supply issues meant a considerable variation in the shade of blue actually used. My Greek friend Andreas reassuringly informs me that mine seem ‘about right’, aiming to be similar to Bavarian infantry blue. But, when I applied the varnish, my barely ‘about right’ shade maybe darkened a little…

Enough! I’m sticking with my blue now and that’s all there is to it! … To recap: the figures are Italeri’s apparently unloved “Prussian Light Cavalry” set. The horses that came with this set were so unlovable that I substituted them for Italeri’s Prussian Cuirassier horses instead. As a conversion, I added a few clay-modelled accoutrements to make them look a “bit” more like dragoon mounts.

Prussian Dragoons (1) The final result? I think the figures themselves, aside from some anatomical flaws, have real character and I’m quite pleased with them. They’re a nice contrast in both colour and style to the other regiments that have been tackled up to now.

The modest conversion process also provided a different challenge, especially my mounted jager figure:

Mounted Prussian Jager
Mounted Prussian Jager

And here’s the rest: Prussian Dragoons (14)

Prussian Dragoons (7)

Prussian Dragoons (12)

Prussian Dragoons (9)

Prussian Dragoons (6)

Prussian Dragoons (5)

Italeri Prussian Dragoons (8)

Italeri Prussian Dragoons (10)

Prussian Dragoons (4)

Prussian Dragoons (3)

Biography: Nr 5 Brandenburgisches Dragoner-Regiment (Prinz Wilhelm)

Italeri Prussian Dragoons (15)

The regiment was reformed after 1806 into the Brandenburg Dragoon Regiment Nr. 5 on the 16th of October, 1807. Comprising squadrons of the former 5th Cuirassiers and of the 1st Prince William Dragoons.

In 1812, they were sent to Russia as part of the Prussian contingent compelled by Napoleon to accompany the Grande Armee on his invasion of Russia. The regiment saw few major encounters during the 1812 campaign and losses amounted to 35.

The following year, as the Coalition embarked on the Leipzig campaign against France, the regiment saw much more fighting. As part of the 1st Brigade, III Corps Reserve Cavalry, it was part of Swedish King Bernadotte’s Army of the North, fighting at Gröss Gorschen, Borna and Bautzen. The regiment was heavily involved at Dennewitz where the French were defeated. It is credited with riding over numerous French and Württemberg squares, a French battery (capturing four guns), and routing a Polish Uhlan regiment, securing flags and wagons along the way. As Napoleon was eventually forced to retreat to Paris, the 5th Dragoons were present at Oudenarde, Antwerp, Soisson and Laon.

1815 saw the regiment in the 1st Cavalry Brigade of 1st Army Corps, fighting in Belgium and France. Having been involved in the Prussian defeat at Ligny, the brigade as a whole was only at 2/3rds strength. When 1st Brigade joined the fight at Waterloo late on in the day, only the 5th Dragoons charged, routing disorganised French battalions in the final minutes of the battle. In the aftermath of Waterloo, a final minor action at Villers-Cotterets saw the regiment catch the fleeing French and capture artillery and munitions.

Notable battles: Dennewitz, Laon, Villers-Cotterets, Waterloo

Either night or the Prussians will come…

…to quote the Duke of Wellington at Waterloo. But in my case it will have to be ‘night’! The figures are 99% done now but I will need to add a last touch or two before any final photos are taken. With the sun going down, it will just have to be another evening before I do it.

But I did take a few quick photos as they approached final completion stages.

Nearly there -  some of my Prussian dragoons.
Nearly there – some of my Prussian dragoons.

Each prussian dragoon regiment included some mounted jagers and I thought it would be nice to represent these in some way. My jager was originally the flag bearer figure until the guidon broke whilst still on the sprue. So I decided that it might make a decent jager and put a Zvezda french cuirassier carbine in his hand.

My conversion - a mounted jager attached to the 5th Regt of Dragoons. The carbine is courtesy of Zvezda French Cuirassiers.
As a reminder, this is an Italeri Prussian Light Cavalryman on a converted Italeri Prussian Cuirassier horse and painted up as a jager attached to the Prussian 5th Regt of dragoons.

Images of the final set to come very soon!

The Blue Dragoon

I thought I’d quickly post a few photos showing the development of my latest regiment, the Prussian 5th Dragoons. It’s great to be making swift progress after all those Red Lancers. Usual caveat applies: there are loads of details still to paint, varnish to add, etc, etc…

Italeri Prussian Light Cavalry
Italeri Prussian Light Cavalry
Seems like the chap on the right has taken a violent dislike to his comrade in arms!
Seems like the chap on the right has taken a violent dislike to his comrade in arms!

DSCF7754 (3)

For comparison, I found an image of a nice watercolour depicting a trooper from the same 5th Dragoon regiment. The colour is slightly different to mine but the exact shade of blue used by prussian dragoons is unspecified and supply issues meant a wide variation in colour anyway, so I’m perfectly happy with my blue:

Print showing a trooper of the 5th. He's wearing the cap, his discarded uncovered shako lies on the ground.
Print showing a trooper of the 5th. Cleaning his sabre, he’s wearing the cap whilst his discarded uncovered shako lies on the ground.

Each Prussian dragoon regiment included a small contingent of mounted jager also. Consequently, I’ve included a token figure of these with my own regiment, and here he is:

Mounted Jager in progress!
Mounted Jager in progress!

I may equip him with a carbine if I can find one suitable and attach it in some way. He’s not much of a jager without a gun! It’s not very clear in the photos when primed in black acrylic I’ll admit, but here’s a view of one of the horses with my conversion amendments applied. The original cuirassier horse did not feature the blanket or the feed bag. An insignia on the horse blanket has been removed also.

Was a cuirassier's charger - now a dragoon's mount.
Was a cuirassier’s charger – now a dragoon’s mount!

Dragoon Show

Now that those tricky Red Lancers have finally been completed, I fancied doing something a little easier. A simpler uniform would provide a breather from all that intricate lancer braid and detail. So I elected to do some (post-1806) Prussian Dragoons. Nice blue simple uniform featuring a long blue coat (a Litewka) and light grey trousers. Even the dragoon shako was covered in a plain black oilskin.

But there really aren’t that many good plastic, 1/72 scale Prussian Dragoon figures out there. Even Italeri’s otherwise high standards fell tragically down with their own Prussian Dragoon set.

Yet I was up for the challenge of making them look as good as I possibly could, so I bought the set anyway. But I do have some standards and the horses just weren’t acceptable! The sculpting isn’t terrible on the figures themselves, which have some character and merit – but the sculptor just doesn’t do limbs very well on either horses or humans. On the horses, they can look almost comical…

Check out my Waterloo mug! Italeri Prussian Light Cavalry horses. Like drunk Bambi's on roller skates...
Check out my Waterloo mug! Italeri Prussian Light Cavalry horses. Like drunk Bambi’s on roller skates…

See what I mean? Limbs all over the place, like an intoxicated Bambi on roller skates. So unless I was going to ditch the Prussian dragoons completely, I needed something else for them to ride. I was going to use some spare lancer horses of the type I’ve just finished. But their saddle cloths would have been totally wrong, and the carbines weren’t really a feature of most of these dragoons. They were also a little small for these larger Italeri dragoon figures. At the eleventh hour (i.e. today), I suddenly realised that I had lying around a unused box of Prussian Cuirassiers and a possible solution presented itself.

To the rescue - Italeri 1806 Prussian Cuirassier horse.
To the rescue – an Italeri 1806 Prussian Cuirassier horse.

Those saddle cloths are much more suitable but the horses are missing the pack on the back of the saddle and also have a couple of other features that I wanted to remove. And so it was that I started my first proper ‘conversion’ process.

Add a little modelling clay (I think it's what those in the hobby call 'a conversion')
Add a little modelling clay…

I’m no expert sculptor, for sure, but with a bit of paint I might be able to make the additions look acceptable. I’ve also taken a scalpel to a small feature of horse equipment that I didn’t want. Now that I have decent horses for the dragoons to ride, I’m well under way with what will be my 6th regiment in the Nappy Cavalry Project – namely the 5th Regiment of Prussian Dragoons circa 1815 (also known in German as the Brandenburgisches Dragoner-Regiment). Base coats and shading have already been applied to the figures, lots more to do though. Proper pics will follow as they develop further, until then I very coyly present a small and distant taster image of one of them below.

Quick preview of one of the dragoons with some paint already applied.
A distant little preview of one of my dragoons with some paint already applied.