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Monday, February 3, 2020

The British are Coming! 150 years of the British Army in One Post!

At long last the British are progressing toward the end goal of recreating the battle of Rolica from the Peninsula War in 1808.  This was one of the few battles in which the British outnumbered the French during the Napoleonic Wars.  The French, however, were well situated on a steep hillside, protected by steep gullies on either side and a road to their rear for a retreat if needed.  The British sent out flanking forces to cut this line of retreat and advanced up the steep slope...

First up is the 71st Highland Light Infantry.  These hardy fellows survived their journey across the Atlantic very well, greatly simplifying my job in terms of getting them ready for the wargames table.  A little shading and highlighting was all that was required.  Thank goodness for Mr. Tennant who was the original painter and took on the distinctive highland checkerboard pattern around the bottom of the shako.

They are ably led by Colonel Francis Dundas, who urges them forward.

Now he's just showing off his equestrian skills.

No Highland regiment would be complete without a piper!  If anyone has a highland drummer and two ensigns with standards I could get these gents ready for the parade ground - hint, hint...

I don't think I have ever posted a picture of the bottom of the stands, but all units are identified on the bottom to aid in keeping them together, and to remind me what they are!

This is a delightful little vignette that Dick Tennant put together of a Brigadier and an officer from the 60th American rifles.  The horse was a little worse for wear after his journey and was a bit wobbly legged and off kilter, but easy enough to straighten out and stand upright again.  Just a little shading and a few highlights to bring out the richness of the colors was all that was needed for the humans. 

The basing on these still needs its final coat of varnish, but I thought they were close enough to being done to stand for their picture.

The 60th emerges from the woods...

and then remembers they are skirmishers and ducks back under the trees for cover.

The two poses were clearly painted at different times and I had to do a bit of detail work to get them consistent, but I am very pleased with the end result.

The lace on the trousers is all Dick Tennant's work.  Really an amazing hand for detail he has.

And now much much later...

Fast forwarding 150 years, another famous British army, the 8th, claimed fame in the desserts of North Africa combating Germany's vaunted Afrika Corps under the Leadership of Erwin Rommel.  I came upon this diversion from my normal Napoleonic modeling when a colleague brought an ancient Airfix model of a Grant/Lee tank to one of our monthly game days.  I remembered trying to build this kit as a youth and the frustration it evoked.  I decided to try it again as an adult, and must say the frustration was still there.  This was not one of Airfix Model's better efforts; parts were malformed and/or ill-fitting, but epoxy putty can cover a myriad of sins. 

Does anyone else remember when they came in bags instead of boxes?

I couldn't model the Grant without some infantry support, so I attempted to paint some of the Airfix soft plastic figures from the same era.  I can't say this was fun, as removing the flash from these soft plastic figures is a chore, and I must admit I was not particularly good at it.  The final result was more than passable though.  
Enough stage setting.  Without further ado, I present the M3 Grant and an infantry squad.

The soft plastic of the infantry was primed with a fusion primer especially formulated to bond with plastics.  Once painted they were sealed with acrylic washes, and a spray of Dullcote.  Flexible parts such as rifles, bayonets and ankles were then coated with white glue.  When dry, one final spray of Dullcote was added.

The infantry are all mounted on metal washers that are then painted and dredged through some sand for texture.

I'm not entirely convinced that the tracks of an M3 were loose enough that they would have sagged between the rollers, but the provided rubber tracks of the model were far too long and this was how I was able to get them snug up against the driver wheels.


  1. I remember Airfix in bags... must have bought tens of them including the Lee/Grant... :o) Nice work on it by the way, a lovely quirky design..

    1. Thanks Steve. Hopefully the Airfix Matilda I got will be in better shape!

  2. I love the Tennant vignette, the way the mounted officer is looking down really brings the figures together as group. Please stop the teasing and give us Roliça soon.
    Also had Airfix tanks in my youth including the Lee/Grant although the turret on yours somehow doesn't ring true with my memory. I know it also comes with the Lee turret which was better for my boyish games as the extra machine gun counted for somethin whereas there was no advantage in having the radio! Somehow it just looks too low profile to me...

    1. You can blame the British for the low profile turret Rob. I used that option since also modelling the 8th army squad, but must admit the idea of a super high turret with an even higher machine gun mount is almost too good to pass up!

    2. David, the Grant is definitely the better tank - in real life the radio was worth giving up the machine gun. I googled some images and drawing of the M3 Grant and it's not me, it's Airfix, that turret should definitely be taller than modelled in the kit. Airfix knew it too as if you look at their later 1/32 Grant the turret is much bulkier and taller. It's crazy how your mind plays tricks on you - I recall my kit as correct but clearly I have projected my later understanding of the real tank onto my memory of my model...

    3. There does appear to be a collar under the British turret variant that is absent on the Airfix model. I have one more of these to do so I guess I'll be doing some creative modifications!

  3. These are really splendid, David. Once again, you've spruced up DT's beautifully. I'm particularly admiring of Dick's solution to the dicing around the 71st's shakos!

    I think you've done a stunning job on the 8th Army too. I can't comment on the accuracy of the tank - not my field at all. It looks great nonetheless.

  4. Thanks WM. I noticed the dicing as well and thought it was a great compromise between accuracy and driving yourself insane!
    As for the 8th, I have no idea what I will do with them, but they were a fun little sub-project. Unfortunately I have a number of not so little sub-projects that are starting to clamour for attention...

  5. The 71st look great and I love the command vignette!

  6. Thanks Ian. While sprucing up DT's figures is rewarding and I love the results, your post of the Pavlograd Hussars has really given me the itch to get back to the Russians. I was fortunate enough to meet a gentleman at my last convention in January who had several bags of DK Russian Infantry that I made a nice trade for. Looking forward to moving them onto the painting table! I have a few 28mm figures for DBN I need to get through first though.

  7. Very nice. I don’t think that HH did a Highland drummer; however, SHQ do a very nice Highland command pack with an officer, piper, drummer and ensign. The sizes fit very well with HH. I have a feeling that the 71st still wore kilts in 1809.

    The Airfix Grant turret is very poor but there are resin replacements from Butlers Printed Models or S&S Models.

  8. I have not been able to find SHQ figures readily available. Are they back in production? Those I have seen are beautiful. As for the kilts, the army is designed around the 1811-1812 period so that may be why they were in trousers.

    As for the Grant, it was mostly an exercise in nostalgia. Not too worried about accuracy for that one, but thanks for the info nonetheless.