Monday, 16 May 2016

From Gatling Gun to Mitrailleuse an S range conversion.

As readers will know I have been building a 'Prussian' Franco Prussian War (FPW) force to take on my French who are a combination of my Crimean War French plus a couple of distinctive FPW French units.

I have already added drummers and standard bearers and mounted officers to the Prussian/Bavarian/Wurtemburg forces as well as converting gunners for all three states but artillery has presented something of a problem for both sides.  Looking at the Lone S Ranger site, there is a picture of a French Mitrailleuse but it isn't are available.

I fancied the idea of some Mitrailleuse and thought maybe I could make something which would be in the S range spirit but not an exact match.  I have a couple of S range Gatling guns and thought the model could be converted. I contacted John Cunningham and he sent me some S range Gatling guns to experiment with.  I was after something which might give the feel of the one above.  What follows is not supposed to be the most beautiful conversion but my efforts to make something usable which matched the figures.

The original S Range Gatling Gun.  The 'barrel' is a separate piece.

First, using my trusty pliers I twisted the Gatling drum and off it came.  This left something which looks like a maxim gun. Three worked but one model did break but I rebuilt the broken bit with 'green stuff'. The break isn't clean so a little filing is needed and the barrel can bend but is easily bent back by hand if it bends.

 I then drilled a hole in the rear of the gun and bent a piece of brass rod at right angles using the pliers I left it longer than I needed as it is easier to work with and simple to trim down after.  I super glued the rod in place and I had the lever to the rear.  I then got confused looking at various picture about whether this should in fact have been a crank handle! 

Anyway I pushed on and drilled a hole in the side of the 'stock' bent another piece of brass rod - again using the pliers - and glued that in place.  I then trimmed both rods to the right size, a quick file and they were ready to go.

The next step was to mix a small amount of 'green stuff' to represent the ammunition block (on reflection this probably should be more square that 'crescent' shaped).  Whilst it is still 'soft' I used a needle to make some small indentations to represent the cartridge hole.  

What I was trying to get represent.

 Again looking at the various prints some seem to show small wheels - like the Gatling gun carriage - and others with larger more conventional artillery wheels.  I didn't have any metal wheels so fitted a pair of Airfix wagon wheels just to gauge the appearance.  I sort of like both.  Any thoughts?

Couldn't find any information on gun carriage colour - Museum pictures of guns show an apple green, but elsewhere I have seen them painted dark green.

I haven't made a shield, largely because I didn't have any plasticard and by the time it dawned on me that I could have easily used one of my out of date plastic membership cards, I had painted everything.

Having made a gun I thought there should be some gunners.  Again although Minifigs made the Mitrailleuse I couldn't find any reference to any firing figures, so set about making some simple conversions.  Contemporary pictures show 'gunners' in shakos with plumes, matching the French gunners in the Crimean War range. 

Note the larger wheels

 It was a simple job of cutting away the rammer, bending one of the arms and opening one of the hands to make it possible to look like he is pulling the lever.  The 'open hand' is made by drilling a hole and then cutting into the hand to remove the small amount of metal.

The same technique was used to create an open hand to take a small piece of 'green stuff' shaped to represent an ammunition cartridge.

A similar conversion of the FPW French gunners. This is a simple conversion, bending the 'firing' figures arm and drilling through the shell to make an open hand and then making an ammunition cartridge.

Just for the hell of it I tried to make a gunner sitting behind the gun.  This was more hard work than I thought.  I took my wire cutters and cut away the saddle cloth from around a French Chasseur D'Africa.  A lot of nibbling away, filling and cutting left me with a figure whose legs I could bend.  A large dob of green stuff gave him a padded seat (very comfortable given the size!).  I removed his sword and bent the arm so that it lined up with the crank handle on the side - a little unnatural!  Just goes to show that not all ideas about conversions work! 

I am pleased and a little flattered to say that John Cunningham has said he will be casting the gun and making it available as part of his Minifigs S Range Franco Prussian Recasts range, together with all the other conversions of Crimean War and Franco Prussian War figures shown elsewhere on my blog.

Thursday, 5 May 2016

28mm ACW Black Powder game

Bob picked up a copy of the Warlords 'Pike and Shot' rules and some figures as part of a recent deal which they offered.  We tried the rules out briefly at Bob's and felt that with a bit of practice they had something to offer.  We also thought that the Black Powder version would probably have many of the same game techniques and with my Franco Prussians, Crimean War and ACW figures they could prove useful.  

I don't consider myself mean but £30 for a set of rules is a lot.  Some scouring of ebay and I was able to pick up a second hand set for £20 plus p&p, still a lot of money but marginally more acceptable.  

We kept it simple by having all the Command, infantry and artillery using the same factors. The movement rates can be very significant so I decided to set the game up on the diagonal to help cope with this.

The confederates had large 2 brigades of 5 infantry regiments and 2 guns, whilst my union troops also consisted of 2 smaller brigades of 4 infantry regiments and 2 guns on an opposing rise.  The objective, and this was more a game to test the rules than 'have a winner', was for the confederate forces to leave, or reach the opposite diagonal on the table.

Confederate Virginian and Louisiana Brigades

Union forces on the opposing ridge

In these rules you can give commands to units or Brigades. You have to say what you want your troops to do before you roll to see if the order gets there.  Dependent upon your dice and the quality of your commander you can move 1,2, or 3 moves or fail to move at all.  Bob gave his orders to his Virginians to advance, rolled and managed one move.  The Louisianan Brigade also advanced.

The Confederate view of the Union lines


 The Union troops prepare for the approaching Confederates.

An artillery hit on one of the Virginian regiments resulted in a morale test which in turn resulted in them retiring for a move, causing some confusion in the brigade. 

The rest of the Virginians continued to advance

The 84th New York (Brooklyn Chasseurs) -  scalpel and a paint job - await the enemy.

 Meanwhile the Louisianans surged forward with '3 command ' moves and soon joined the fray.

In these rules you don't take of casualties as such, the units stamina being important. Morale is also important. Disaster befell two of my regiments in a confrontation with the Virginians and they left the field 'destroyed'. This left a 'little gap' in the front line!!

 After seeing off two regiments of one of my brigades, my second line of 'Black Hats' showed more stomach.  

 The Louisianans surge up the slope.

Having lost their supporting regiment, my last Black Hat regiment find themselves fighting on 2 fronts!

Meanwhile other New York regiments are engaged in desperate fights.

The landscape is broken up with snake rail fences which Jack made and they are causing some disruption to the Confederate advance.  The Confederates send in their Kitten Force engineer (Kingston) to break them down!!  Oddly, these rules fail to cover this sort of attack. Something to cover in any rewrite? After some debate, it is ruled that this is illegal and an exclusion order is issued on Kingston!

The game continues!

My remaining Black Hats managed to see of the Virginian regiment to their front but were forced to retire by the flanking regiment.  

Up until now the Brooklyn Chasseurs have had a quite time but regiments of Louisianans engage them.

 The artillery on both sides was relatively ineffective taking pot shots at long range to little effect.  As the Confederates closed the range I started to score hits, slowing some of their regiments.  These rules have 3 ranges  long, medium and short and you roll either 1,2,or 3 dice (die) dependent upon range.

Things are getting a little hot for my General and we call a halt to the game to consider the rules and the game play.  Although I have moaned about the costs of the rules they played quite well. We made mistakes interpreting them, but sorted it out as we went along and on the whole thought they were quite good.  Whilst they cover the Colonial period as well, we think we will stick to the Sword and the Flame for the time being.

The authors say you should use 'casualty markers' and make some comments about marking casualties in any other way.   Casualty figures are an expensive luxury, fortunately, I have some which are converted Napoleonic casualties left over from boxes of Napoleonic cavalry which Jack had bought.  A pity you can't buy these as separate sprues from Perry's.