Saturday, 11 July 2020

Ottoman Azab

I've never liked Tufecki infantry. Always thought they looked weird and not very Turkish. Every miniatures range seems to have them (Warfare, Old Glory, TAG...) but  I have never been able to find a reliable reference for them beyond the early 17th Century. I was interested then to see them illustrated in the Bruno Mugnai book (just published by Helion,) plate F, and labelled as a "European Azab". Azabs are described as being a well organised local militia who are able to take on garrison duties or fight in the field as a part of the regular army. It makes a lot of sense that their dress should look similar to Croats and other Balkans soldiers if this were the case.

In the same colour plate is an illustration of a European Azab from the end of the 17th Century.  This figure has done away with the shonky feathers in his hat, he has very voluminous trousers and a slightly longer kaftan. A rather more fine figure of a man to my eye!

So I decided to have a crack at converting one of my 28mm Warfare figures to match.  Here is the result.


I  much prefer the look of him now. I might try another with a longer coat next. I also gave this chap a yatagan style sword, made from a trimmed down Victrix Greek kopis. You can only see the hilt from this side. I decided that a militia man would be very unlikely to have a nice scimitar like the one that is supplied with the figure.

Sunday, 7 June 2020

Xebecs, Farsands of 'em!

Well two anyway... I finished up the second Brig conversion. Pretty much the same except I succeeded in giving the Mark 2 more of the tilted up prow and stern effect that I was aiming for. I also did the masts slightly longer  but the overall look does not change much. 


The sails are slightly different sizes and shapes just to avoid the two ships being too uniform. 


I am not messing about with rigging as the cost / benefit calculation doesn't work for me and there is always the chance I will make more of a mess than an improvement!


I now have the ships I need to play the scenario in Wordtwister Publishing's scenario package and the nucleus of a Barbary Corsair fleet to put the willies up the Europeans that I have!

Wednesday, 3 June 2020

Building Xebecs II

Not a sequel, this just carries on from the last post. I was at the stage of putting together the rigging for the Xebec, so I went back to the reference pictures I had scoured before starting the model. (More accurately I just jumped in and started making the sails and then went back and looked at how they should be!) There seemed to be some disagreement between paintings/ drawings / models as to whether the Xebec sails were attached at the top of the masts or only part way up. The latter allowed room for flags at the top of the mast (which is always good) but did mean my masts were perhaps a bit too short. 



I eventually realised that the reason is that the spar from which the sail hangs is raised and lowered, unlike those of a square rigged ship, so in fact both states are possibly correct. I decided that the Mark 2 Xebec  model would have taller masts to allow for either set of sails. It also occurred to me that is battle the Xebec possibly lowered their sail and mainly used oars for greater manoeuvrability. I like the look of the big lateen sails, so I was going to stick with them anyway. I glued the spars straight onto the plastic sails for simplicity and durability but I am aware that this was not how it would be done in real life...




I had seen quite a few models with vertically striped sails, which does look good and differentiates the Mediterranean corsairs from their boring European opponents. Painting neat stripes should not be too hard? The Airfix plastic sails I am using,luckily have the vertical stripes moulded in but after a large G&T even just following those lines was a horrible disaster! If I was using paper sails it couldn't be easier as I could print out the stripes and then cut out the right shape. Job done! I think a compromise of just the foresail stripy might be the best bet for me.

Remembering my keep it simple, it's a game piece mantra, from waaay back  in the last post, the paint job was a basic mid-brown for the ship's hull and a dark wash (Army Painter Strong tone) to bring out the detail. My instinct was to go colourful with the painting of the hull too but I restrained my self and just added a smart red stripe to the sides. The decks I did a pale colour but the same as the rest is just as plausible as I suspect that Corsairs do not holystone the decks to a perfect sheen every day! 





Flags were knocked together with inspiration from pictures on the Interwebs of Corsair ships in action. I made up some teeny triangles and rectangles on photoshop and added images of crescents and swords that looked sort of similar. Again simple designs suit the scale and the talent levels available!

So here is the A model quickly finished to get the general impression. I am pretty happy with that.  I will finish off the B model with different colours and flags, so that I will have the start of a  Corsair fleet. I am pleased that I was able to throw this together from the bits box (vindicated!) The priciest bit of my ones are probably the Fenris resin bases,which can obviously be replaced by all m,anner of choices (or non.) Next I will start to think about a galley to provide some more hitting power...




Saturday, 30 May 2020

Building Xebecs

After whinging in my last post (on the main blog) about the inclusion of Xebecs in the excellent scenario packs from Wordtwister Publishing, I had decided to build some of my own. As an Engineer I am used to  working on projects where there are a host of constraints, whether it is just time, or more often time, money, available materials, knowhow and customer expectation! In this project I would be faced with much the same and luckily I don't mind that at all. 

I was at least starting with a solid foundation with my donor vessel the freebie Black Seas Brig from Warlord.



This quite a short tubby vessel. Just 52mm/2" long and 16mm wide. In 1/450 scale that give me a 77 ft long vessel before I modify it which seems about right. The plastic components are very nicely modelled and the casting as good as some resin models. The only part that doesn't fit snugly is the prow but that is going to be covered by the bowsprit if built as intended.


As I can either fill that or cover it over as part of the adjustment of the pointy end of my Xebec that isn't a problem. Some depictions of Xebecs do show them with a bowsprit as well as the elongated  prow, in which case the bits from the sprue can be used.


I was trying to keep in mind my target for this project which was to end up with a usable gaming piece, not a beautiful accurate model, and this fed into my constraints (some self-imposed.) Chief amongst them was always going top be talent! I know I am not a gifted modeller, so I am going to have to keep the techniques simple and number of steps as few as possible. Materials is also a serious consideration, especially during these times of limited availability of shops. Luckily I am a bit of a hoarder for bits and pieces that might come in useful... (Another bit of luck was that I moved house less than 12 months ago, so I  know where most of my stocks are!)

Where practical I decided to use plastic bits for my conversion, mainly as I could be confident that they would glue nicely to the Warlord model. The boxes of various plastic 28mm figures  infesting my loft do come into their own here as a source of materials. Also I had plenty of scraps of plastic card, although my backup for this is raiding the recycling bag. (You do have to be slightly aware of the materials of plastic packaging, as some are quite resistant to gluing. You will quickly find out if you are using one of those.)

After a time grabbing some images off the Interwebs for reference. I started cutting out pieces of plastic card to try to get the long pointy prow and the overhanging stern piece.


 These are what I ended up with. The black prow extension is 17mm long (2/3") but a part of this length is behind the original prow to mesh with the front of the boat.  There is a choice here of whether to keep the original prow or replace it. I have seen both styles illustrated. Keeping the original means that you need to cut a slot underneath it.


The other two pieces (white and grey) are for the overhanging stern. These are shown in a huge variety of shapes and contours so I just chose one that 1. I liked the look of and 2. I could cut out of plastic with my knife. A real ship modeller would, I am sure, find plans and make clever templates to cut around accurately. My patience was not going to stand for that so I went for the "cut a piece, try it against the model, scrape or cut it a bit, try it again" method. When I have something that is close to  what I was aiming for I stop and move on.


The white piece is a slightly thicker piece of card to give some added depth to the overhang. Not absolutely necessary, as many of them look very shallow and the model will mainly be seen from above... This is also a perfectly sensible place to wrap up the hull remodelling. With these two parts glued into position, a coat of paint and the rigging will conceal the simplicity of the conversion and you will still have the impression of the Xebec shape, which is what we are aiming for. I decided that I would add a few splodges of epoxy putty to fill some gaps and help round out the shape. This was mainly as I wanted to fill in the original mast holes so I would need to have some putty on the go in any case. Re-using the same mast locations will not be the end of the world but the Xebec rigging is quite distinctive so I think it is worth the effort to move them.

I did try to get a bit of an upwards curve on the stern overhang, with limited success. Something to experiment with if I do a Mark 2. My next step was to add some epoxy putty as discussed, to fill in the mast holes, smooth out the prow gap and fill the gaps around the new stern. My new masts were made from chopped up Victrix hoplite spears. These were glued into the newly drilled holes.

The old bowsprit hole works fine for the foremast and that forward rake is apparently how they looked.


The masts are not very high. The main height was from the lateen yards(?) which support the big lateen sails. I would be attaching these after painting the main ship model so they are not in my way. I had some bits in my stocks that came in useful for these but cocktail sticks and paper for sails will give much of the same impression.


Next I will give these bits a  coat of paint, see what needs a bit more work and assemble the completed model. 

(And just when I am getting into this I have a call-out for Essex Search and Rescue - maybe not doing any more until tomorrow then...)



Friday, 22 May 2020

Reinforcements

A welcome resupply of bases from Fenris Games has got me back into the groove with the 17th Century naval projects.



I had already started assembling the Heller Phenix kit and chopped it down to the waterline. If I was going to use the clear acetate bases for my ship models that look so good, I would have to get the cut spot on and perfectly flat, which sounds like a nuisance. Painted bases can have some waves and spray added that will hide a lot of sins.

.The largest of my ships will need even larger bases than these 100mm long ones. Maybe I will need to get some MDF ones for the few that need them. As I mentioned before, the Heller Phenix kit has no gunports  modelled on the hull, so I set about adding some of the ones that are supplied in the Peter Pig packs of guns for their pirate ships. I decided that I would do one deck with open ports and paint on the lower deck with closed ports. From what I have read it wasn't unusual for the weather to be bad enough that a captain did not dare open the lowest gundeck ports for fear of being swamped.

Apart from these additions I am intending to make this one pretty much straight as it comes out of the box. I haven't definitely decided what to flag it as but it might have to be English as the Dutch have been getting all the reinforcements so far.

 The first two to benefit from the new batch of bases are a Dutch frigate and a Ketch(?) (or maybe a small Brig...) The two masted boat is one of Peter Pigs range of 1/450  pirate ships and the larger vessel is another conversion of the Airfix  Mayflower kit.  I messed about with the bow and bowsprit and added a stern gallery produce a 5th or 6th rate Man of war but ideal for tackling fast sailing pirates and commerce raiders. I am just finishing up another Peter Pig boat, a Brigantine. This is flagged for the English but it still leaves them well outgunned and outnumbered.  The next game might have to be them playing cat and mouse amongst my new islands and sandbanks.



Saturday, 4 April 2020

Isolation Motivation...

As I try to stay at home and help in a small way to slow down the spread of Covid-19, I have (like most of us I expect) been looking at which projects should benefit from the enforced indoor time...

When I am not being distracted by  model boats, I have been trying to get on with painting my Ottoman Turk army. This is a long term project (looooong term) that has taken on impetus by the arrival of the superb Warfare Miniatures range of figures (have a look here) that fit perfectly with what I am trying to do. The other kick was my finally grasping the nettle and casting up some of my own figures and components so that I could produce figures that are just what I want (click here.)

The two events have given me no more excuses but to get a viable force on the table. The latest step of which was finishing a unit of the Warfare Janissaries and the first command stand.



This unit is all Warfare (I do often mix and match ranges in a shameless way!) The flag is cobbled together by manipulating illustrations from the Internet. Information on specific standards/colours is incomplete so I am just choosing what looks pretty for the most part.


Another example here, printed out from a photo of an actual flag. Probably a bit too fussy to work well on the tabletop. I suspect the Aghas did not have a flag as well as the horsehair standard that declared their rank but I like the combination, so sue me. This base has a pair of Old Glory figures from their Ottoman (The Long Decline) range. The chap carrying the standard and the unit of Silhidar cavalry behind were an Ebay purchase where someone has spent a lot of time and skill making these figures look very special. The officer in the red turban is my efforts.



Getting a few units finished and based has had the usual motivational effect. I immediately started looking at what will be next up. More command stands are near the top of the queue as, otherwise I always end up rushing them the night before a first game, or worse, using proxies from another army. The other neglected unit is often artillery, so I have guns, artillerists and some officers on their way to the undercoating station in my garage.


Wednesday, 25 March 2020

Sovereign of the Sea

Continuing my efforts to derail my own project by acquiring unsuitable large ships, we come to the other Heller kit. This is another 1/600 plastic kit but this time of a real French warhip - La Couronne.



The ship was launched in 1636 and the box illustration confirms the model is very much an example of a ship of the early 17th Century. "Phew, I'm safe" was my thought but then in my reading about the Anglo Dutch wars (three of them,) I spotted the illustration below.



The English warship "Sovereign" or "Royal Sovereign"was launched in 1637 (as Sovereign of the Seas in fact) so unsurprisingly looks very similar to the Couronne. Whereas Couronne had a service life of barely twenty years, Sovereign fought in all three of the wars against the Dutch and was one of the most impressive vessels in the English fleet. Over the course of sixty years I expect the  ship had many refits, but I am happy for it to look like a ship of an earlier age to show off it's veteran status.




The kit is a very similar size to the Phenix, with very good moulded detail. The keel at just over 3 1/4 inches is the perfect size for Royal Sovereign (127 ft.) This kit does have the guns of the broadside showing along its flanks (although not the 100 guns reputedly carried) and has great detail of quarter galleries and turrets shown. The stern is disappointingly plain compared to Phenix with a decal supplied as the decoration, so I will have to paint on a bit more of the "gingerbread" that this ship was notorious for.


The sails of this kit are proper injection moulded sprues. They are much better detailed and more robust than the Phenix kit, and there are more of them.  The part that becomes the deck of the ship has some cannons moulded to it and also appears to have a cover over the lowest portion of the deck. I am not sure it this is a permanent structure or something like the nets rigged in later periods to protect the deck crew from falling debris in a battle?



I am very happy with this model. Due to the period look there will be little opportunity to kitbash multiples into a variety of ships (probably a good thing when I think about it!) but it will make a unique and interesting flagship for the English fleet.