Saturday, 19 January 2019


Hot on the heels of my La Belle Alliance post, I've been working on two further battalions, plus the building just to the south of the inn - Trimiotou which is, in turn, just north of Decoster's house.  One battalion is of Grenadiers, the other of Chasseurs.

This is very much 'in progress' and shows my way of working.  The figures are a mixture of Hat, Schilling and Rose, with a few others.  They are at various stages of completion so still look quite scruffy.  Their common feature is that they will all be in campaign order, summer dress.

They are presently advancing in battalion column of companies, but will be in column of route on the model, when built.

An Art Miniaturen officer

Unfinished pioneers, Hat and Schilling.

Strelets and Kennington band at the front

Franznap Drum Major

The two mounted officers are Franznap conversions.  The building is done in the same style as La Belle Alliance with the type of tiles commonly found in Belgium and shown on the Dighton picture of La Belle Alliance.  The tiles are made from a corrugated card used for packaging.  Trimiotou is, frustratingly, never shown close up and has to be imagined from the distant images that exist.

Trimiotou has a barn perpendicular to the house - under construction.  This will be shown with considerable damage and thatched.

Some 850 figures

Second band

I like this General, think he's Legio

The Esci casualty pair, converted to be a drummer

A Falcata conversion

Rear of the building, two officers use their telescopes.  The infantry officer is a conversion from the Esci Russian Crimean artillery officer.  The Dragoon is Italeri.  The buildings are made of card and painted with acrylics.

Sunday, 13 January 2019

A Question of Scale

To borrow someone else's phrase, the challenge of constructing a diorama of Waterloo is really a question of scale.  To keep to 20mm scale requires a model One Centimetre to the Metre, but unless one has a big enough space and enough figures for every soldier present on the battle (some 180,000), this is simply impractical.

However, to condense the model too much is to fail to convey the distances involved on a Napoleonic battlefield: even for one as compact as Waterloo, distance explains many otherwise illogical parts to the story - the neglect by Napoleon of Hougoumont, the hidden fight at Papelotte, the difficulty of knowing what was happening on Wellington's reverse slope position, the length of time it took to realise the mortal threat posed by the Prussians at Plancenoit.

For these reasons, I have always found the Winchester model unconvincing from a military perspective, even if it provides a splendid spectacle.  By contrast, the Siborne model in the National Army Museum is too square and has too much empty space in the corners - it fails to give visual impact even if it is a triumph of topographical exactitude.

So in order to strike a balance between accuracy and impact I have produced an hexagonal plan showing the battlefield without the empty corners:

Dark blue = 140m grid line; light blue, 130; green, 120; yellow, 110.  I have removed the four corners and will compromise with the positions of Papelotte and Plancenoit, pulling them slightly to the west to fit them in.  The plan is then gridded with each rectangle equal to one of my existing blocks.

Then, taking advantage of some winter sunshine, I  put my four existing models (Hougoumont, La Haie Sainte, Papelotte and La Belle Alliance out and then deployed my various squares.

The results are somewhat underwhelming and serve to show how much more has to be done, but what it does achieve is a sense of scale.

Hougoumont in the foreground

From roughly where Plancenoit will be


La Belle Alliance with Hougoumont at  ten o'clock and La Haie Sainte at two o' clock

La Haie Sainte looking west with squares behind

Looking east

La Haie Sainte towards Papelotte

La Haie Sainte south to La Belle Alliance

Papelotte towards La Haie Sainte

La Belle Alliance north to La Haie Sainte

La Belle Alliance towards Papelotte

La Belle Alliance towards Hougoumont
This has been a useful planning exercise for me, but I can't claim it will win many plaudits for excitement - the overriding impression is of a lot lawn in winter.  Fortunately it didn't rain, which looked a distinct possibility at one point!  As with any good Napoleonic commander, a telescope would have been handy.

Sunday, 6 January 2019

La Belle Alliance Part 2

This model of the inn is based on Denis Dighton's very careful drawing and subsequent painting
I posted a research piece on La Belle Alliance a year ago and am now following up with a model of the inn and its environs.  Almost every contemporary picture of the inn (and there are many) look at the building from the north-west towards the south-east, so one rarely sees what it looked like from the other side.  What is however clear is that behind the inn was a barn and a covered well.

Dighton's picture

The only interior view of La Belle Alliance that I know of.

Coal trucks went up the road from Charleroi to Brussels, leaving a trail of black soot along the pave.  This looks like it was drawn sometime after Waterloo.

A good impression of the distance to the barn and piggery to the east of the main inn, with the well in between.

This picture shows Decoster's house in the distance.  Decoster (some times Costa or La Costa) was the peasant farmer who was used by Napoleon to provide local knowledge.  Less is known about the other dwelling on the right side of the road which will be the subject of my next blog entry.

A nice impression of the well.

This view rather truncates distance but it gets in all the main buildings from Decoster's house in the far distance with the approach to La Haie Sainte in the foreground.

At the time of Waterloo there were no poplars and the barn was added in the late 19th Century

A rare view from the east looking west to Belle Alliance.  The house that isn't Decoster's can clearly be seen on the left of the picture.

Wounded Grenadier falls from the column of march.  The fallen soldier is from Napoleon Miniatures, a small French Company making a range of resin figures that has sadly ceased trading, but occasionally reinvents itself

Overview - 1/2 Chasseurs are on the right, 1/4 Grenadiers march up the road.  The Emperor and his staff are in the foreground.

1/4 Grenadiers - a newly formed unit in Greatcoats.  The figures are mostly Revell, Hat and some Art Miniaturen. 

The Emperor and his staff just to the north of La Belle Alliance astride the lane to Plancenoit.  Napoleon is S Range.  I have eight Napoleons, so I agonised about excluding some of them, notably the Hinton Hunt.  In the end I chose the S Range and put him on a Rose horse - a small best just like Marengo.  The Chasseur escort is mostly Qualicast with one Marc Claus and one Legio figure.

The staff are mostly Art Miniaturen with a Guard of 1/1 Grenadiers in the background, mostly Zvezda and Art Miniaturen.

Drums and pioneers to the front.  The Drum Major is Franznap.

The Mounted Chasseur officer is S Range.  The troopers are Art Miniaturen.

ADC reports to the Emperor.  I love doing leopard skin saddle cloths.

Behind the inn

A blank space for the rest of 1/1 Grenadiers

The scratch built inn has been carefully measured.

The nearest Chasseur is by Marc Claus figures, the one over his left shoulder is Legio.  

Mostly Revell figures.

Staff at work behind the inn.  Some Hagen, some AM.

2/1 Chasseurs.  The mounted senior officers are by Franznap and AM.  The dismounted officer is Qualicast.

Two of the Airfix drummers in the background stand next to an officer from the only set that HYTTY ever produced for the Napoleonic era.

Mostly Hagen, Italieri and Franznap.

I'm pleased with the grass effect - teddy bear fur with paint.

The well

The marching officer in a greatcoat is from Lancier Bleu.

ADCs from AM.

Wounded man over shoulder - from Esci ACW, see below.

Mostly Hinton Hunt

Zvezda ADC gallops south - where is Grouchy?

The officer is from Lancier Bleu

Tete de colonne

The wounded man is HYTTY

The Emperor's carriages are brought up from Le Caillou for the triumphal entry into Brussels and pull off the chaussee to allow 1/4 Grenadiers to pass.  They stop in the mud to the south of the inn, sheltered from the artillery fire.

First carriage
The second carriage

The first carriage is an OOP item from Germerhaus - a lovely model that I bought in 2003 in Germany, but sadly unavailable now.  The second is a Minifigs carriage with the wheels changed to something a little less heavy.  The horses are from the Imex wild west stagecoach set.  The riders have heads attached from two General Picton figures by Strelets.  The two figures on the carriage are again conversions, both from Imex.

Band of the 2/1 Chasseurs, by Minifigs S Range

Art Miniaturen.

On the other side of the road, the tracks go south east to Plancenoit and north east to Papelotte.  On this side of the road, the track goes to Hougoumont.


1/4 Grenadiers advance up the road with 2/1 Chasseurs on their left

Cantiniere in the doorway

Wounded traipse south past the imperial headquarters

Wounded Grenadier receives aid.  Conversion from Lucky Toys (see below)

Company commander

A rather haughty demeanour

Cantiniere views injured soldier without obvious signs of concern.

There are 400 figures in 1/4 Grenadiers

Officer takes a break.  Conversion from Strelets Napoleon (see below)

Four ADCs