Showing posts with label Austrian. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Austrian. Show all posts

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Napoleonic Austrian Hussars

I really should have waited before posting on the Perry's French wagon because I just finished my Perry's Austrian Hussars.  They are quite a nice figure and well animated, with a choice of sword arms to vary the action a bit.  If I have one criticism its that the horse's fetlocks and bases are way too thin and can bend or even break getting them off the painting stick I hot-glue them to.  I've used the hot-glue gun method for years and its mostly the new Perry's that have caused me grief - although I did also have problems for the same reason with my WWII RifRaf Greeks.  Its a production problem I've heard of from quite a few others so I know I'm not alone. Some of my wargaming colleagues refuse to buy any more Perry's, particularly cavalry, because of this problem.  Its a pity because they are, like most other Perry stuff, beautiful figures. I've not encountered the problem with their plastic cav figures either.

Every man and his dog when doing Austrian hussars seems to pick the more riotously coloured ones like #4 'Hessen-Homberg' with their bright blue shakos and parrot green pelisses but I decided on the more quality and somberly coloured Regt. #3 'Erzherzog (Crown Prince) Ferdinand Carl d'Este' - still colourful enough in my opinion!

Gradually re-building my Austrian army after selling off most of my old figures. Big job! But its good to take a break from WWII stuff for a bit and paint some Naps - always my first love when I started collecting!

They'll fit in nicely with the hordes of other Perrys I've bought.  Still got artillery limbers and several battalions of infantry (@ 48 figures each!) to paint up before I start the Russians. I haven't entirely abandoned WWII either as I have a Fairy Swordfish bomber to build - the old Airfix kit which should be a challenge - and an Italian army to put together.  I still want to have another go at Galatas Part 2 again.  Plenty of other ambitious projects in the wind too - Austrian 1859 army, WW1 Belgians & Germans, Italian Wars Landesknechts & Pike and finishing my TYW dragoons etc, ACW - it never ends really.

Lotsa of lead to paint - so little time to paint it! Still, more time now the AFL footy season draws to a close, my son's team out of their finals (no more goal umpiring duties for me) and my beloved Saints seemed destined for yet another wooden spoon. [sigh]
Think I might paint some more figures...

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Grenzers, a Minerva and my new portable hobby desk

Followers of my blog may have noticed that I haven't posted anything for a bit and I haven't visited them for a while either.  I apologise for my recalcitrance but in recent weeks I have returned to work.  I've had a nice  hiatus for nearly six months since retiring but decided in the interest of financial well-being (and the fact the pension was not quite enough to live on!) to return to work - for a few days a week anyway.  Its been quite a challenge but things appear to be progressing quite smoothly now and the time is right to post on my much neglected blog once more.

For starters I am going to give a shameless plug to my mate Dean who is my wargaming supply pimp, fellow Saints (AFL footy) tragic but otherwise the proprietor of Olympian Games.  The link to his very useful site can be found under the Olympian symbol on the left hand side of my blog, just a short scroll down from the blog banner.  Deano is not only a supplier of all manner of wargaming goodness, but a talented crafter of such things himself.  He has a huge range laser cut precision MDF bases and has recently been producing to exact scale large sections of paved road as befits any European town for 28mm (with Bolt Action gaming in mind). I'm sure a range of buildings will follow!

They are also of sturdy MDF in amazing detail BUT the thing I want to plug is his latest invention - the portable hobby desk.  At 58 cm long and 30 deep, it will sit perfectly on a worktable or your lap, coffee table etc etc.  It has a spacious tray rack over and made of sturdy MDF it is light and portable but strong.  At $AUS 48 its a tad pricey but it comes assembled and more than makes up for it in usefulness. (Dean may produce them in flat-packs for slightly less - but you'd have to ask). The only thing I've done to it was give it a coat of varnish to waterproof. It helped me get my hopelessly crowded work table sorted and provided me with a get-up-and-go option!  For harassed space-challenged Aussie gamers looking for somewhere - anywhere - to paint and assemble their armies and models, the Olympian portable hobby desk is the answer.

Check it out:

Now the shameless plug is out of the way, the first item on the blog menu is my Austrian Grenzer battalion. They sat there half finished for ages while I wrestled with finishing renos at home then getting back into the swing of things at work but I finally finished them - my first job on my new hobby desk/tray, desk tray,  hobby whatever!

They are of course part of my huge Perry's order which will take me until my age 65 retirement to work through!  Part of the Perry's new (metal) range of Napoleonic Austrians, they are finely crafted figures indeed.  Just be aware that they are fine - not chunky like FR or Foundry - and the slim bases will bend if hot-glued to the ice-cream stick for painting, so be careful getting them off!  They have a little flash here and there, as most Perry's do (I've spoken about this on previous posts) but nothing too bothersome.  

The unit I decided to depict is the redoubtable Warasdiner St George from the Balkan frontier of the Empire - a very fearsome lot that gave the French quite some bother (and a good flogging or two).  The facings are interesting as most have them in a shade of red ranging from dull brick to fire-engine.  All are wrong as it was Krabberot - crab red - which is a very dark orange rather than red.  Likewise their cloaks - also red - are actually a very dark shade, almost oxblood. With the sky-blue Hungarian trousers with yellow sword knot trim, they are a very colourful lot too.  I am confident the colours are correct as THE authority on all things Austrian Dave Hollins got together with my mate Dal's American partner in crime Mike McGilverey (the old Spanner and the Yank crew) and published an accurate list on the Deep Fried Mice site.  Worth a visit if, like me, you are a pedant on all things Awww-stri-an. 

The last item on the blog menu is a WWI Belgian Minerva armoured car.  I've been threatening to do one of these for years - ever since I acquired a couple in one of my interminable trades with my lead-pimp Doug.  Like the Grenzers, the Minerva sat around in various stages of construction for a very long time - even after I went to the trouble of transplanting some nice heads in tassled caps for the crew to make them early war (1914-15 to be exact).  It really is a beautiful model and very satisfying to make - my second completion on the new hobby table!

I have complete armies for 1914 Belgians and Germans with a skirmish game in mind but it would involve a huge amount of painting so they've been relegated to my list of 'to-dos' - right at the top mind you!

Well, thats the last of it for a bit - still got hordes of Napoleonics and ACW to finish, as well as a bit of gaming - hopefully have something to post on the latter soon.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Wargaming the 1809 Campaign: Retreat to Ebelsberg

We had our monthly wargaming meeting at the Lanyon club and as Doug and I hadn't been able to attend last month's we decided to have a blast from the past and try a Black Powder Napoleonic game again - our first for some time.  We decided to play-test a possible demo game scenario for a future con so I devised a game from something I put together years ago and published in the now sadly defunct 'Kriegspieler' magazine.  I chose the battle of Ebelsberg during the 1809 campaign, specifically the final scramble of the Austrian forces of the V & VI Corps under FML Hiller to cross the Traun river and march to join the rest of the Austrian army under Archduke Charles.  Hiller had been conducting a 'coat-trailing' operation to make Napoleon think the Austrian army was falling back to defend Vienna.  Ebelsberg was the last major town on the Traun river where Hiller could finally turn and march to join the main army assembling on the Marchfeld.

The Austrians' retreat had become more desperate as troops sought to find a way over the last major river before the Danube and avoid being cut off by the pursuing French. The bridge over the Traun at Ebelsberg was over 500 meters long and the storming of it by the French and the valiant defence of Ebelsberg by the Austrians is one of the epic but lesser known battles of the 1809 campaign.

The battle of Ebelsberg showing the French storming the bridge and the burning chateau on the other side.
Essentially, the better part of several divisions, mainly of Hiller's V Corps were scattered in and around the village of Klein Munchen, situated at a vital crossroads that led to the defile approach to the bridge, the only way across the river into Ebelsberg.  The main arm of this road ran north out of Klein Munchen to the hamlet of Scharlinz, itself situated at the end of another defile that ran through a large forest.  It was down this road that the main body of the French pursuit was coming, led by Marulaz' light cavalry brigade.  Historically, a battalion of Grenzers formed a line across the mouth of the narrow defile.  They drove off the initial charge of Marulaz' Chasseurs and even attempted to ambush French cavalry passing through the narrow road from the forest.  They withdrew to Scharlinz village where they held out briefly before being overwhelmed, the rearguard survivor's eventually joining the increasingly chaotic throng making for the bridge over the Traun.

To make this more interesting and adapt it for the wargaming table I simplified it with three Austrian infantry brigades and one cavalry brigade which composed both a rearguard and units withdrawing through the crossroad of Klein Munchen. Their objective was to hold off the French and prevent them from seizing the crossroads while at the same time getting one or more brigades across the bridge (i.e. off the table) by Turn 6.  The French objective was to seize the crossroads and prevent as many Austrians as possible from getting away by Turn 6.  To do this the French have two cavalry brigades and three infantry brigades converging from three directions. All Austrians start on the table and to speed things up we decided all French forces on the table by Turn 2.

With Doug as the pursuing French, the game started with a predictable traffic jam at the crossroads as Austrian brigades from the left and right flanks tried to negotiate the narrow road through and out of the town to the bridge.  Getting Austrian commanders to direct their troops proved to be as difficult as ever with one managing to get all his brigade on the road heading in the right direction and the other getting half marching and the other half, well, going nowhere or milling about aimlessly outside the town.  Fortunately for the rearguard I put a useful general in charge (Radetzsky - who was actually there historically), leaving his cav bde commander to cover the western road while he directed the rest of the rearguard units (battalions of Warasdiner Grenzer, Hungarian IR 51 Splenyi & 2nd Jaeger with the Erherzog Karl Uhlanen and Lichtenstein Hussars attached) who barred the main road to the north and formed an arc to protect the withdrawing troops on the roads.  The French have initiative so go first in this scenario and Doug immediately launched his veteran Chasseurs-a-Cheval at the Grenzer barring their path, with his hussars behind in close support.

Marulaz' Chasseurs start the game facing the Grenzer at the end of the forest defile
The action was fast and furious with the Grenzer unable to get enough shooting on the French cav before they hit (the Grenzer's little battalion pop-gun proved to be pretty useless and 'died' in the ensuing melee).  Nonetheless the Grenzer managed to hold on.

Troops jam the road into the town as the hussars provide a covering screen
On the eastern approach to Klein Munchen the Lichtenstein Hussars provided a cavalry screen for the retreating Vienna Volunteers of the 2nd Brigade, who had a great deal of trouble actually getting going as their commander in true Austrian tradition repeatedly failed his command rolls! The eagle-eyed amongst you may notice that the hussars are actually Russian - recruited for the purpose as my Austrians are not yet painted!  Similarly I used my Bavarians for the Baden Brigade as unfortunately I sold off all my old Foundry Badeners years ago! (Time to collect another army of them I think!)

Hungarian rearguard bar the road north to allow the retreating units time to negotiate the narrow streets of the town
The main part of the Austrian cavalry with mobile artillery, cover the western approaches.  The French allied Baden cavalry has made an appearance opposite.
French cavalry smash into the redoubtable Austrian Grenzers
The last of the 3rd Bde - its artillery train - clear the town and make it to the bridge.  In the distance opposite the hapless Austrian cav, the entire Baden brigade has deployed!
With the help of the Austrian Uhlans, two French cavalry regiments are destroyed/driven off the field. Result!
Meanwhile confusion reigns on the road into town with  one unit blundering off left (to nowhere) and another unable to even get on the road
Over on the western road the Baden Light Dragoons came up against the famous O'Reilly Chevau-Legers and were destroyed but by then the Baden infantry had come on and the artillery battery deployed.  An interesting discussion ensued about break-through charges and catching infantry units in field column before they form square - which they do automatically in BP.  They would have formed square but not been able to give closing fire but it didn't matter as cavalry will not contact infantry in square when charging (they pull up 3" short I believe). It didn't matter as we agreed (reluctantly) that on this occasion the Chevau-Legers didn't have quite enough movement to do it (they have to be within half their movement i.e. 9") so they retired to their start point where they were promptly hammered by Baden artillery, broke and fled the field!  It was a comedy of errors on this side as both repeatedly failed their command rolls so everyone basically stood there in a sort of Mexican stand-off.  Most painfully my Austrian cavalry battery (the Perry's one in their first game) failed to move, unlimber and shoot for most of the game - then got one hit with a howitzer on a column which Doug managed to save - so effectively useless.  But they looked nice.

The Baden brigade menaces the thin screen of the diminished Austrian cavalry brigade - note the limber finally moving to deploy on the hill.  Yeh, yeh I know - they all LOOK just like Bavarians!
One of the few successes on that side of town - the Baden Jaeger certainly copped a pasting - shaken and disordered but still stayed in the field.  At least it gave me an excuse to use one the the Perry's Austrian 'running man' casualty markers!
On the north road the Uhlans were busy charging into the last regiment of French dragoons.  Although outnumbered they also managed to vanquish the dragoons after a fierce melee.

The plucky Uhlans about to get rid of the last of the French cavalry - and yes, that is Murat posing as the French cav commander Marulaz!
Despite my success against his cavalry, the Austrians were about to get their comeuppance as Doug's vaunted crack light infantry brigade of Tirailleurs Corse, Po and 17th Legere came on to the north and another four battalions appeared on the eastern road opposite the Lichenstein Hussar picquets.

The crack French light infantry come on - the Jaeger skirmishers wisely withdraw but remain within rifle range
The French come on in force faced by a thin screen of Austrian cavalry
Despite the shooting hits I got on the Tirailleurs, it wasn't quite enough to disorder and they charged home into contact with the Jaegers who courageously decided to stand and protect the flank of the Grenzers rather than evade and save themselves.  The resulting hand-to-hand was bloody but even with their wicked sword bayonets (surely worth another pip on the dice!) French numbers finally prevailed.

Courageous Jaegers meet the French onslaught
The French (in column) actually charged the hussars - who counter-charged of course - then won the combat!
The Vienna Volunteers about to die horribly!
On the Austrian right French numbers were starting to make an impact on the confused Austrians.  The hapless battalion of Vienna Freiwillinger copped it in the flank and were promptly destroyed.  At this point (Turn 4?) all remaining Austrians who hadn't made the road to the bridge were ordered to join the rearguard and keep the crossroads and thus the bridge approach out of French hands.  The last retreating battalion about faced,  marched out of town and formed line just in the nick of time as the French came on, smashing into the remaining battalion of Vienna Volunteers.

The final French assault
At the same time Doug's crack Legere & Tirailleurs smacked into the tired Grenzer.  Despite plenty of shooting hits and Doug's uncanny ability to save his hits time and again - it wasn't enough and although the Corsicans bounced back, the Italians pressed home and eventually prevailed.  The Legere  and a Line battalion simultaneously hit the last battalion of the Viennese boys.  They fought off the infantry but as the Grenzer had found, the light infantry veterans were a tough crowd and they finally destroyed the Freiwillinger. 

Brigade commander Coehorn urges his boys for the the final push into the town
Despite heavy casualties their numbers eventually prevailed - the Grenzer , now unsupported, are about to die!
The Italian Tirailleurs de Po break into the town and take the crossroad, effectively cutting off the hard pressed Austrians on either side of town 
The French line battalion was destroyed, the Legere and Corsican Tirailleurs thrown back but both the Grenzer and the Vienna Volunteers were also destroyed, enabling the Italian Tirailleurs de Po to break into the town and take the crossroads, effectively cutting off the hard pressed Austrians on either side of the town. Had the game gone another Turn the French would have controlled the town and the approach to the bridge, cutting off all the remaining Austrian units and forcing them to surrender, pretty much paralleling what happened in the first phase of the Battle of Ebelsberg.

The situation at close of business - a pretty convincing victory to the French
On the western side of town IR 51 Splenyi and the remnants of the cavalry brigade (and their useless commander who has been immediately placed on the retirement list!) were faced with a virtually unscathed Baden brigade and would have been certain to have been hit in the rear or flank by the Tirailleurs in the next move.  As the French were now in the town the Austrians are effectively cut off.  Likewise the Uhlans were isolated to the north, having failed their command.  There was no way the Austrians could have even fought this to a draw in this situation, so I'm happy to give this one to Doug.

It was a lot of fun and with a few tweaks, the scenario could be a good one for the next demo game.  Until I paint some more, it uses up just about my entire collection of Napoleonic armies (minus the Russians and a few Italians & Poles) so it was a worthwhile exercise but I'd better get some more lead painted up!

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Very tardy but some more Napoleonics painted

Gearing up to start work again (part-time) and trying to get all the domestic projects completed or well on the way before I start has meant that posting on the blog and gaming have taken a bit of a backseat in the last few weeks.  Nonetheless I have managed to get some of the small mountain of Perry's lead I have purchased painted.  In fact I have managed to paint and base (making my own bases) over 140 Austrian foot and two mounted officers in the last month or so in addition to close to a hundred casualty markers including the latest set of Perry's Russian casualties, my favorite of which is the two fusiliers carrying a wounded officer on a musket. Because they are so unique I decided to lavish a bit more time and detail on them.

Like the other casualty markers I have mounted them on a numbered card base so that each can represent up to four casualties per marker - not quite as many as a D6 dice but aesthetically much more pleasing on the game table. If I have a criticism of the Perry's it is in the quality of the finishing of their metal figures.  They are a bit rough with quite a bit of casting flash on all the figures which can be quite hard to detect and clean off before painting. Fine tendrils of metal fold back on the figure and are difficult to discern. I presume this is the result of high volume casting due to the demand for them but at the end of the day it is a quality control issue that most other figure manufacturers manage to avoid.  That said, they are beautiful figures and with the high level of fine detail, thoroughly enjoyable to paint.  I note also that the quality of their plastic figures continues to improve - I have encountered few such problems with of the recent Perry's boxes of plastics.

In addition to finishing the 36-figure battalion of Austrian 'German' line in helmets, I also did a second battalion of Landwehr (so two full units of 32 with their mounted Oberst). I have a second battalion of helmeted German line in metal but I may take my time painting them up as there are plenty of others I have prepped and ready to go. The latest lot of metals finished are the Hungarian Grenadiers.  Again, the same high quality of figure and the results you get more than makes up for the annoying casting flash and the occasional bent base (which can make an alarming crackling sound when straightened out!)

If you guessed the mounted officer in the middle doesn't look like a Perry's you'd be right.  He's a conversion with an old Essex Grenadier head on a plastic Victrix mounted officer - having two mounted figures in the box of Landwehr turned out quite handy - I think he fits in quite well.

The Austrian army didn't have a dedicated elite such as guard units but they combined the grenadier companies of various regiments into battalions that formed grenadier brigades.  Each regiment had two companies forming the grenadier division, three of these regimental divisions formed a grenadier battalion,  named after a regimental Inhaber (literally the owner) or the colonel who led them. These units were the Austrian's shock troops and considered the elite of the army.  I've painted the battalion to represent the Hungarian Grenadier Battalion Scharlach considered one of the better battalions (the elite of the elite as it were) as they were drawn from some of the best Hungarian regiments in the Austrian army - IR's 31 (Benjowski) 32 (Gyulai) & 51 (Splenyi). Others included Puteani (I bet the Italians had a laugh at that one), Scovaud - the latter drawn from from IR 4 (Hoch & Deutschmeister), IR 49 (Kerpen) and IR 63 (Bianchi).

Hungarian companies were 200-240 men (German 160-80) on average, with six companies per battalion roughly 1000-1400 men which I've represented by a 24 figure unit (or 20 figures for a German battalion).  Brigade sizes varied enormously so that in 1809 Kienmeyer's Reserve Division was 5 battalions strong whereas Lichtenstein's (involved in the assault on the granary at Aspen) was a huge 12 battalions. Being a heretic I have made a 32 figure battalion so they keep in roughly with the rest of my Austrian units (bugger history - its all dodgy anyway!)  Actually, for Black Powder you can use battalions ranging from 24 to a massive 48 figures per unit and you'll still be historically accurate.  I now have a total of 64 grenadiers with a mounted officer that I can divide into either two or three units, whichever best fits any particular wargaming scenario.

The grenadier division from IR 51 Splenyi in Grenadier Bttn Scharlach
Like I said, I have a mountain of stuff still to paint and my next major will likely be the new Austrian Wurst limber and gun, followed by the rest of the battery - Austria's unusual version of horse artillery.  But before I embark on this I will make a minor diversion and finish my Egyptian campaign French Camel Corps figures.  I'd love to collect the entire French army from this period - its the great 'what-if' of Napoleonic wargaming and one mostly overlooked.  I can't remember how I acquired these but a Revolutionary French in Egypt unit was one of the first I ever painted when I started to get back into Napoleonic wargaming about 15 years ago and I've been fascinated by the period ever since.

Nearly done - I'll finish and base them and post the results hopefully next week.  I don't know what make they are (Essex maybe?) with a plastic converted figure seated behind the camel trooper second from left. Well, that's enough for now.  I apologise for not looking in on many of my blogging mate's blogs over the last few weeks but I hope to make amends before the end of the month when I'm likely starting back at the daily grind again!