Monday 26 June 2017


Aircrew finds a new career in the French Horse Artillery
The aim of my diorama is to have as much variety as possible.  Plastic conversions are therefore vital for two reasons: first, because it lets me create units that aren't easily available commercially (although nowadays there is practically nothing that someone, somewhere isn't making).  

I am conflicted on this subject: part of me looks forward to the next release as much as anyone else, but part of me quite enjoyed the pleasure of creating a unit that was otherwise unavailable.  All this choice has somehow diminished the sense of achievement!

The second reason is that conversions create variety: one can take a figure from one era in a certain pose and turn him to advantage in the Napoleonic context.  Particularly useful in this regard are American Civil War figures, and figures from the First World War.  Why not other eras you might ask?  While British and Russian Crimean/Franco-Prussian figures are very useful, French figures have baggy trousers that make them very hard to convert.  For the same reason, late 18th Century figures can be converted with relative ease, anything earlier in the century have full waistcoats and wide bottomed coats which make trimming down hard; this is even more the case with earlier centuries.  Second World War figures can be used, especially if they have long barrelled weapons (I find Japanese figures surprisingly useful), but anything with too much webbing or with a short barrelled weapon can't easily be converted.

To these two rules about plastic figures I would apply one caveat: any rule can be broken if one allows enough time.

Metal figures are harder to convert unless it is a straight head swap, but I do plenty of these when it suits.

My secret weapon in the game of conversions is my friend John Cunningham who has produced several thousand assorted heads for me to use, which allows for the mass conversion of figures at speed.  I also find that adding knapsacks to Civil War or Great War figures gives Napoleonic authenticity, so I have cut these off a pile of figures that have sacrificed their heads for other purposes.

Muskets are also an issue - too many plastic manufacturers supply figures without bayonets fixed - this seems wrong to me.  Les Higgins figures suffer from fragile bayonets as do Qualicast to some extent.  Fixing bayonets is therefore a boring but necessary task for me!

Rescuing the drummer - from the Lucky Toys Red Shirts set

Royal Artillery gunner - from the Imex AWI artillery set

Another gunner - from Hinton Hunt

Young Guard from the Airfix set 

Another Gunner - Airfix ACW

British sapper - Accurate ACW pioneer

French horse artillery carrying a plank

RHA trumpeter - from the Strelets Light Dragoon on a Newline horse

Italeri early war French Infantry with a Zvezda shako

A slight tweak to the bearskin gave this Grenadier a visor and made him Guard Foot Artillery

Not a conversion at all, just the excellent Franznap figures

Some converted Franznaps as 3rd Hussars

Some more conversions -on the right these were Kennington on Revell horses

Brunswick officer - ACW figures make great Brunswickers

The Zvezda set - again no conversions!

A head swap with an Austrian makes this fusilier.

Brunswick Colours

From the Revell ECW artillery set

A Franznap conversion makes this Prussian Dragoon

Brunswick horse artillery - from the Esci Zulu war set

Another Gunner

Guard Foot Artillery, from the Esci set.

Dutch militia

Prussian ADC, from the Strelets Crimean War set

More aircrew!

Slightly out of focus Guard Foot artillery from an AWI set.

Dutch militia - can't remember where from.

Brunswicker despatches Frenchman - from the Atlantic set

Thursday 22 June 2017

52nd Oxfordshire Light Infantry

At twice the size of the average British battalion at Waterloo, the 52nd Oxfordshire Light Infantry was always going to be a challenge.  And since I've spent much of the last few weeks travelling abroad, I haven't had much time for the Blog.

The 52nd was commanded by Sir John Colborne, later Lord Seaton.

Image result for sir john colborne waterloo
Sir John Colborne

Some sources show the 52nd with buff cross belts but I've decided to go with the more conventional white - don't know why, just a hunch that sometimes modern researchers hanker after the unusual, when convention usually prevailed.

Not only were the 52nd a large battalion, they were also one of the most respected units in the Army, with a long and distinguished record from the Peninsula.  Interestingly, while they had a reputation as a veteran battalion, the average term of service of their subalterns was at the lower end, with much less service than other veteran Peninsula battalions such as the 27th, 28th, 32nd, 42nd, 79th and 92nd. 

Officer of the 52nd

Officer and Other Rank
The 52nd was in Hill's II Corps, as part of the 2nd Division's 3rd Brigade under General Adam.

General Sir Frederick Adam
On 15 June, II Corps was posted west and southwest of Brussels.  The 52nd was unaffected by Quatre Bras and therefore reached Waterloo at full strength.  In response to the French cavalry attacks, Adam's brigade was brought up to reinforce the right.  In this position the 52nd endured a heavy bombardment, of which Ensign Leeke reported afterwards: "the old officers, who had served during the Peninsular War, stated that they were never exposed to such a cannonade as the 52nd squares had to undergo on this occasion for two and a half hours from French artillery half a mile to the front".  While the 52nd's squares stood waiting, the British artillery fired over their heads.
52nd assault on the Guard

As the battle drew to a close, the Guard launched its assault on the British line and were met by a number of regiments including the 1st Foot Guards.  The 52nd wheeled to their left and deployed in parallel to the French column, and fired volleys against their left flank, followed by a bayonet charge.    Of the 1,130 officers and men present, 168 were wounded and 38 killed.  

At last I have completed the Battalion.  The 52nd was so large that for much of the battle it deployed in two squares, but I've chosen to show it in reunited form towards the end of the Reserve Cavalry attacks.  There are 600 figures in this square, mostly the wonderful Hat set, but with plenty of other figures from Hinton Hunt, Italieri and with most the kneeling figures from Kennington and Newline.  Other brands are are also represented along with some conversions, but fewer than I normally do. 

I've been experimenting with ways of showing the tall rye.  This, bizarrely, is teddy bear fur available from any good haberdasher.  The trouble is that it dwarfs the average 20mm figure and needs to be cut down quite a lot, but I think it delivers a good effect, showing the golden colour of a mature crop, as would have been the case on 18th June.  I should explain that for photographic purposes, the square is resting on a piece of uncut teddy bear fur, so please ignore the crop outside of the immediate area of the square.

Of course, by the morning of the 18th, after a night of being trampled in heavy rain, one must imagine that the crop would have resembled Glastonbury after the final headline act, to the despair of the local farmers who would not have enjoyed the same remuneration received by Mr Eavis and his family, and whose only recompense would have come from plunder!

This end of the square is mostly metal figures: Kennington, NapoleoN, Falcata and some Lamming.

The Colour Party is Falcata.

Mostly Hat figures, the corner figure is a Japanese conversion.  An Esci figure can just be seen bringing forward ammunition.

This shows how the classic British square wasn't square at all, but a rectangle, presenting quite a narrow front to cavalry, but a tempting target to artillery, from which the 52nd suffered towards the end of the battle.

Corps of bugles - mostly Hat, with one Hagen figure holding his musket.

Casualty.  You can see the edge of the fur - please ignore!

A Falcata officer mounted on a W1815 horse.

Some Call to Arms figures among the rest

Adam's staff shelter in the square - Hinton Hunt and two Odemars.

Another shot of the bugles and Colours.

A Strelets officer


The whole square - a lot of work!

The group of mounted officers in the foreground includes one Hinton Hunt, one S Range and one Hat.

Two wounded figures retire to the centre of the square

More Call to Arms among the Kennington

Four ranks deep

The corner figure is another conversion, for the life of me I can't remember which set it came from.

Sir John Colborne on the grey with two staff officers from outside the Regiment.  Many people don't like mixing Hinton Hunt with S Range, let alone with plastics - I'm pretty relaxed about this and think at scale this doesn't matter,

This shows the actual facing colour of the 52nd which is off-white - I've shown it with a bit more yellow to achieve more contrast.

Officer's jackets

So in sum, here is my 52nd.  Hope you like them, they've taken a bit of time!