Wargaming the Exploration and Colonisation of Tropical Africa by European powers from 1850 until 1918.

Sunday, 16 January 2011

Zambezi Campaign 5: Starting the Naval Brigade

The Naval Brigade under way as of this morning.  I have shaded their uniforms and blocked in the coloured collars, gaiters and rifles today.

I managed to do a few hours on my next unit, the Royal Baval Brigade, today.  Amazingly I have managed to stay focussed on this project for several weeks now!  I think the good thing is that the units are quite small and there is enough variety in troop types that if I get bored with one I can do a bit on another.

A Royal Navy silor in tropical uniform.  White tops were more common in Southern Africa

Naval troops were fairly active in Africa (outside of the main areas of action such as Egypt and the Sudan) towards the end of the nineteenth century particularly against the Somalis and Swahili towns in the eighteen nineties.  Troops involved were a mixture of armed ratings and Royal Marines but for this force I will be just using the sailors. 

A turn of the century Naval sennet hat.  The black trim seems not to have been worn in the earlier period.

As I start to paint the sailors I realise that these figures come from Copplestone Castings "big" period when some of his figures got really huge (something to do with the prescription for his glasses, apparently).  I'm usually bothered about this sort of thing but as they are in the same style, naturally, as the Foundry figures it doesn't look so bad and, after all, the Arabs and natives probably weren't so well fed!

Royal Navy sailors in Egypt in 1882

Uniforms of sailors at this time were blue but those in tropical climes also wore white with blue collars and black neckerchiefs.  I have already painted a Naval Brigade unit with the blue uniforms and round hats for the Sudan so wanted a different look for these. I am contemplating painting some of the officers with blue coats just for a bit of variety.

My Sudan Naval Brigade figures

Leather equipment was black, with khaki gaiters.  Sailors did wear the round hat in Africa but the broad brimmed sennet hat, known as a benjy, was far more common and was, looking at contemporary illustrations, worn with the brim turned up, exactly as Mr Copplestone has sculpted them.

Royal Navy sailors having a spot of bother in Africa in 1894

He has included the distinctive sword bayonets in their scabbards but I would probably have preferred the figures to have fixed bayonets.  Also, for some strange reason, he does not include water bottles; something of a neccessity in Africa, I would have thought.

Both types of uniforms as demonstrated on some Britains figures

I have quite a busy week this week but hope to get them finished next weekend.  Then its on to the Sikhs, who arrived from Foundry this week and who I have just filed and based.

1 comment:

A J said...

I always consider the Naval Brigades epitomise Britain's reach in the 19th century. They're such versatile troops it must surely be compulsory to field at least a few in a campaign. Yours are shaping up nicely.