Friday, February 8, 2008

French Napoleonics, 28mm

This is an older project, one I worked on last summer. I've always enjoyed the bright colors of Napoleonic armies, so I decided to paint some in 28mm. I figured that the larger figures would allow for more detail than my 15mm armies, and I was right. Piquet's Field of Battle is a great rules set for solo gaming, so I based my figures for it. I decided to build French and Austrian armies for the 1809 campaign. My French force is based on Morand's III Corps division. My Austrian force is based on Nordmann's Vanguard.

I set myself a strict time limit. I started in mid-June, and I would have both armies finished by the end of September. This was ambitious, but I got it all done on time. My French army has 204 foot figures, 30 mounted figures, and eight guns. The Austrian army has 270 foot figures, 30 mounted figures, and ten guns.

With a grand total of 474 foot, 60 horse, and 18 guns, I decided to use Old Glory figures. Anything else would have bankrupted me. I had heard many negative things about Old Glory's Napoleonics line, but I was pleased with the sample pack I ordered.

French Line Infantry in Bicornes
(Click on any picture for a larger version)

I knew that I wanted a mix of bicornes and shakos in my army. I chose the defending pose for my bicorne troops. I painted six battalions of these guys, and they definitely look like solid troops. Some of the faces look a little . . . canine. Like they have snouts. That might just be the sculptor's idea of a Gallic nose. The elite companies look great, especially the grenadiers in their imposing bearskins. Some of the flag poles were too bendy, so I clipped them off and used Old Glory long spear shafts instead. This eagle bearer has one of my modified staffs.

French Line Infantry in Shakos

I chose the advancing pose for my shako infantry. This is the classic Napoleonic French infantry uniform, the image that most gamers associate with "Napoleonic French infantry." I like these poses the best of all the French infantry packs I bought. The command figures are especially good. The shako cords are well detailed, which makes them easy to paint. I have six battalions of these troops.

French Legere in Shako with Front Plume

I'm not sure just how good the French light infantry was by 1809. I class them as "regular" and don't give them any skirmishing advantages over the line regiments. But there's no denying that their uniforms look sharp. I was very happy with these figures in the bare metal and even happier with how they painted up. I used the same shades of blue on them as I used on the line infantry's jackets, since I'm not convinced that the legere worse a lighter blue. I painted three battalions of these light infantry.

French Foot Artillery

Those infantry brigades get their long-range punch from my three foot batteries. The crews are Old Glory, but I was very disappointed with the Old Glory guns. They're in true 25 scale, which doesn't work at all with Old Glory's gun crews. The shaft of the rammer, for example, has a larger diameter than the gun barrel. Not the bore: the barrel. Fortunately, Merrimack/Old Glory Shipyard also stocks the Sash and Saber line. I ended up using Sash and Saber for all my French guns and my Austrian foot guns. The Old Glory gunners are great, full of detail with a wide variety of poses.

French Hussars

My French cavalry brigade includes the 5th Hussars, and Old Glory's hussars are very nice. I got a little frustrated trying to find the correct colors for the shako cords and plume, the trim on the sheepskin, and the sabretaches. When I couldn't find definitive answers, I went with what made sense from what I did know about other regiments. All my cavalry units get horses of the same color, except the colonel and trumpeter. Most Napoleonic cavalry regulations called for similar horse colors within each squadron, and I wanted to capture that look with my wargame figures.

French Chasseurs a Cheval

My cavalry brigade has two chasseurs a cheval regiments, the 11th and 12th. After painting the hussars, these seemed to take no time at all. I made the hunter green uniforms quite a bit brighter than they would have been in real life, because I really wanted the colors to pop off the table. The Old Glory figures are outstanding. The hussars may be more flashy, but I like the look of these regiments better.

French Horse Artillery

The cavalry brigade gets a single battery of horse artillery to support it. Just as with the Old Glory foot gunners, the horse gunners are nice, active sculpts with good detail and variety. Again I used Sash and Saber guns. I made the woodwork fairly dark, at least compared with other wargaming figures I've seen. Most people do a greenish yellow, but almost all of my painting resources show a dark green, similar to Union guns in the Civil War.

French Generals

The Old Glory French generals pack is one of my favorites, mostly for its humor. The four figures on the right are the standard general poses: pointing, brandishing sword, reading a map, and peering through a telescope. It's the two figures on the left that make this pack so fun. One general is taking a swig from a flask, perhaps to steel his nerves before he goes into battle. Or maybe it's to drown his sorrows afterwards. The other pose has an anguished expression, with the general holding his bare head in disbelief. It looks like he just saw his aggressive assault smashed to pieces, the survivors limping back to their own lines.

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