Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Another Beja on a camel

I finished this yesterday, the first of my June figures. I probably won't get many finished for a while as I have about 30 figures underway and they will take time to reach completion. Next week I have to go to Copenhagen and Helsinki as well.

The Naval Brigade figures now have all the base colours done so I need to do the shading for which I need natural light.

I am painting the last three Beja with rifles and some casualty figures (you need wounded figures for TSATF-well you could knock the figures over but that doesn't look too good!).

I have also started work on the Nile Spearmen and the last four camel mounted Beja. I am really enjoying painting the camels but seem to do them as a whole figure one at a time rather than as units for some reason. I am sorely tempted to get a British Camel Corps set just to have a go but that would be my next army and would be cheating!

Scorched Grass

I am painting all my figures with a plain sandy base at present but Games Workshop have some scorched grass coming out next month and I was quite hopeful. I just want really pale yellowed grass for some bases but this looks like it has got red(?) in it. I'll have to see or try model railway suppliers.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Mounted Beja Emir

The Sword and the Flame rules require a mounted Emir figure to lead a tribe of three bands of 20 figures. The Beja hardly ever used horses so I have used a camel mounted figure for my first Emir.

Looking at this modern picture of a Beja boy the colours for the animal skin and the camel's harness are quite dark. Given that the sword hasn't changed I suspect nothing else has either!

I also managed to finish another three riflemen so that makes the rifle contingent for the third band complete. I just need some command figures and spearmen to finish it but I will try to paint some more figures before I order any others!

I based some Nile spearmen today so might do some of them next as a change from Beja.

Tomorrow I am going to have another go at the Naval Brigade figures.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Sudanese Skin

Giles Allison has just painted some Beja


and was wondering about skin tone and lip colour. Here is a current inhabitant of Suakin as a guide: more like the riverine Nile tribesmen. Definitely Humbrol 186!

Had lunch with some government officials from Egypt today. Their skin tone varied from Mediterranean to the sort of colour seen above. May have to go to Cairo again soon. I enjoy sending e-mails from Lord Kitchener's desk (now the British Ambassador's desk) and having breakfast in the room in which Kitchener used to plan his campaigns in what is now the Ambassador's residence (his staff do a fabulous breakfast!)

The Beja are still fighting in the Sudan. This recent picture could have been taken a hundred years ago except for the AK 47s. Note the sword, almost identical to those used in the 1880s and 1890s.

A contempory Beja warrior

The Beja still use their famous white camels.

Beja women are gorgeous!

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Vice-Admiral Sir William Nathan Wrighte Hewett 1834–88

Here is the commander of my nascent Naval Brigade. It has to be Admiral Billy Hewett VC. Admiral Hewett was Commander-in-Chief of the Royal Navy's East India Station and commanded the 150 seaman, 400 Royal Marines and six gardiner guns that comprised the Naval Brigade. He arrived at Suakin on 16thDecember 1883 in his flagship, Euryalus. Following Baker's disastrous engagement at First El Teb Hewitt was put in overall military charge and the 15o Seamen and marines he landed to preserve order were the first British forces officially deployed in the Sudan.

At Second El Teb he personally commanded the Naval Brigade from the Square and led a charge at swordpoint! No wonder he was known as "The Fighting Admiral"! He won his VC in the Crimea when, having been ordered to retire from a Naval Brigade Battery being threatened by Russians, he shouted: 'Retire? Retire and be damned! Fire!'

He died in 1888, in Haslar Naval Hospital, and is buried in Portsmouth where he has a suitably nautical headstone!

Beja Riflemen

Here are six Beja riflemen I painted this week on stage one of my new desert base. Four of these complete the second tribe of 20 Beja now that I am using five rifles per unit. This means I have done two units of 40 and eight of the third unit. This is roughly a sixth of the Mahdists I need. Could be worse. I will finish the next unit of Beja and then do one of Nile Arabs for a change.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Beja Swordsmen

These are the first Beja I have finished for six months. Pretty rapid paint job as I have hundreds to do! I can't understand why these swordsmen don't have scabbards!

Next I'll do some more riflemen. A couple of people on The Miniatures Page have said that rather than doing seperate units of riflemen as TSATF rules suggest, they just add 4 or 5 to each normal band of warriors. This sounds like a good idea and makes it easier to deal with the 1 in 4 riflemen to warrior ratio. So I will add 5 riflemen to every warrior unit. I reckon if I paint 4 more riflemen I will have 2 full units of Beja.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Royal Navy and Royal Marines badges of rank

I am about to start painting some officers so needed to find out about rank badges.

This is for the Royal Navy:


This is for the Royal Marines:


These are the modern ones but I don't expect they have changed that much!

Sunday, May 06, 2007

First Naval Brigade Sailor Completed

Here is the first sailor, looking very much like he has come off a Players cigarette tin. I am quite happy with him and will work on the rest of the unit now. I have decided to keep it at 14 men, and even that is a bit high proportion-wise, but much less and they won't be a viable unit I think. In the pictures below I hadn't painted the brass end of his scabbard yet. This is now done!

My order arrived from Perry Miniatures (with one wrong code-as usual. This is the second time it's happened). The Gatling gun is great and I will do that in combination with the rest of the sailors. I won't order the Royal Marines until after I have done the KRRC (and some more Beja!).
Here is the whole unit as it is now. In reality there were only 150 sailors in the Naval brigade which means I should only have about 6 figures. But I want 4 figures to guard each gun plus officers. I also need to be able to field a bigger unit for non-historical battles.
I probably won't get any more done on them this week as I have to finish the Greeks for Saturday.

Friday, May 04, 2007

Naval Brigade: Ships

The Naval contingent attached to the expeditionary force consisted of 150 seamen and 400 Royal Marines. They came from a number of ships lying off Suakin which joined others at Trinkitat to offload the Expeditionary force.

HMS Hecla
(lying off Suakin 1884)

HMS Dryad
(wooden screw sloop)

HMS Briton
(wooden screw corvette-this is her sister ship HMS Thetis)

HMS Carysfort
(steel corvette-this is her sister ship HMS Constance)

HMS Euryalus
(Flagship - iron screw corvette)

HMS Iris

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Naval Brigade: First coat, first figure

I put the base coat on the first figure to get a feeling for what colours I was going to use. The white stripes on the collars are a right fiddle. In the end I lost my light and had to stop so I will have to fill the gaps another day. A good start though.

The desert..

I am planning to build a small scenic base to photograph my completed figures on as I can't keep putting them on what looks like a field in Kent. Eventually I will need to make suitable scenery for a full size battle. Either by buying a mat or using foam squares. The price is about the same (£100) but one is obviously quicker!

I had a look for pictures of the desert in the Sudan to get an idea for colours and the appearance of rocks etc.

The colour of the sand looks not very different, not surprisingly, from the sand I saw in Egypt (as shown in my profile photograph). I am using Humbrol 121 for the bases (I can't deal with acrylics and I have been using Humbrol enamel since 1970) and this looks not far off.

I have not put any grass or foliage on my bases but it is clear that there is some scrubby grass and bushes in some places. I need to find something appropriately dried out looking.

Michael Asher, in his book Khartoum, mentions black outcrops of rock sticking up from the sand and this must be what he was talking about.

I remember a scene from The Four Feathers (The Alexander Korda one, which was filmed in the Sudan, not the recent Heath Ledger abomination which was filmed in Morocco and therefore looks wrong) set on rocks exactly like this. The sand in this shot is spot on for Humbrol 121!

Closer to the Nile there is more greenery, of course but it's still not exactly lush.

Acacia trees are mentioned a lot in my books and today, as the source of gum arabic, they are a great natural resource for the Sudan. Realistic Modelling Services make a few trees that would serve as acacias, primarily the African savannah and olive trees.
Fortunately, I have quite a few of their olive trees so I can use them for my base.

Naval Brigade: Full Steam Ahead!

Although I am still painting my last 18 Greeks progress is good and I won't have any trouble finishing them by next Saturday. So I took the opportunity to at least start on the Naval Brigade figures that I have. As usual with the Perry figures they are a bit "rough" in patches and the faces are a bit bland but the anatomy, animation and detail more than makes up for this.

I hope the rest arrive soon.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Unit sizes for a TSATF army

I have made an attempt to get the actual numbers in the units of the British Expeditionary Force down to a maneagable level for TSATF units. The basic British unit is supposed to be 20 figures for infantry and 12 for cavalry. The numbers engaged in early 1884 were quite small but, according to the TSATF weighting system, for every British figure you need about 2.25 natives. I have read that units as small as 10 are quite viable under the rules so I have decided on units that look like this:

1st Battalion 75th Regiment (Gordon Highlanders) 750 men 20 figures
3rd Battalion 60th Regiment (King's Royal Rifle Corps) 630 men 20 figures
2nd Battalion 89th Regiment (Royal Irish Fusiliers) 400 men 14 figures
1st Battalion 42nd Regiment (The Black Watch) 750 men 20 figures
1st Battalion 65th Regiment (Yorks and Lancs) 450 men 14 figures
Royal Marine Light Infantry 480 men 14 figures

10th Hussars 300 men 9 figures
19th Hussars 400 men 12 figures
Mounted Infantry 150 men 6 figures

Total 129 figures

This is about four to six months painting if I don't get distracted (ho, ho).

Guns I will deal with later.

Unit sizes are based on the number of figures in the Perry packs, as they come in sixes for infantry and threes for cavalry. So a 14 man unit is two regular packs and two officers. A 20 figure unit is 3 regular packs and two officers etc. I suspect I have ordered too many Naval Brigade figures and 12 would have been more than enough but I can always sell them on. Total cost is about £120 (without artillery), which is not too bad.

The only figures that the Perries don't make are mounted infantry on horses. They do them on foot. Hopefully, they will come out with them at some point. Otherwise it wouldn't be that hard to convert the six figures needed.

The only problem is that I need to paint 290 Mahdists to oppose them. Never mind I have already done 36!