Here is the standard bearer for the Arab force, carrying the red flag of Zanzibar. Zanzibar was part of the Sultanate of Oman which had flown the red flag since 1698. When the independent Sultanate of Zanzibar was declared in 1856 the red flag was retained and remained the flag of the island state until November 1963.
Tuesday, 5 June 2012
Today I finished my second unit of Wangwana for the Arab forces. I now have one more unit of fourteen of these to paint. I'm not sure if I actually have the figures available for this. I found some today but need to have a look in some of my other file boxes. Frankly, my unpainted figures are in a total mess at present so I need to have a sort out and a bit of an inventory. I also need to paint a unit of 12 heavily armed askaris and am not sure if I have these either.
Baluchis ready for undercoating
One thing I do have is the 14 Baluchi swordsmen that are needed for one of the other Arab units. Gary Chalk's scenario is set in 1882 and mine probably ten years later than that. Baluchi swordsmen like this would probably have disappeared from Africa decades before this but perhaps our Arab warlord has held on to his in his isolated inland enclave. One thing is for sure they are not going to be as quick to paint as the Wangwana! I plan to paint them in brighter colours than the Wangwana to reflect their higher status and the saffron coloured clothes that many of them wore.
Tuesday, 17 April 2012
This is another figure that I have had sat on the workbench for ages. I had painted her (not very well) years ago but decided to freshen her up to depict her appearance on arrival at the Zambezi headquarters of the British force; ready to show her press credentials to Commissioner Sanders.
I am moving along with my second and final Arab cannon and the second unit of wangwana freedmen askaris as well. I hope to have both these units finished by the end of April which will give me enough figures for an opening skirmish in the campaign.
Tuesday, 27 March 2012
So here is the last fighting unit of the British force: the Naval Brigade Gun and Crew. It's taken me some time to work out how to handle this and it is something of a compromise solution but I must be getting old as I don't care about total historical accuracy so much, now. After all, this campaign will have some definitely non-historical elements!
The crew are Mutineer Miniatures Indian Mutiny figures so they are from around forty years too early. The basic uniform didn't change that much, other than the fact that the later troops would have worn gaiters but as the trousers are the same bell-bottoms maybe they just left their gaiters on board! These chaps also have a collar, rather than the round collared shirt, but you can barely see that. The main thing for me was that the size and bulk of the figures are very close to the Copplestone Naval Brigade infantry. Foundry, for example, had a Zulu Wars period gun crew but they would have been very small in comparison, so I am happier with these.
The gun is also a compromise as it is a French 80mm De Bange (yes, really!) mountain gun, first produced in 1885, so fine for the period. Our argument here is that either the Royal Navy won it in a game of cards from sailors from a visiting French warship or captured it off a group of slavers. Whatever, this Askari Miniatures model comes in a pack of two, enabling me to set one up on a mule train, as they were carried in real life.
Colonel Charles Ragon de Bange
The De Bange 80mm mountain gun was one of a series of French artillery pieces designed by Charles Ragon de Bange (1833-1914). De Bange's claim to fame is that he invented the first effective breech obturator which provided an absolute seal for artillery breech mechanisms for the first time: a system still in use today. The only disadvantage with his guns, as with previous artillery, was that the recoil meant that they had to be re-aimed after every shot, something that wasn't solved until the French 75 in 1898. Still, this breach loading piece of ordnance, which could fire six kilo explosive shells or shrapnel, would be very effective against slaver compounds. Firing shells it had a maximum range of 4,300 metres. It was manufactured by the Societé anonyme des anciens établissements Cail, originally set up by the French engineer Jean-François Cail in 1836.
All the examples I have seen pictures of have an all-over paint finish so I have done mine the same way using a British artillery grey.
Tuesday, 28 February 2012
Naval Brigade Gun crew under way
I only need to paint a Naval Brigade gun and crew to finish my British force but have been held up due to problems in how to do this. What I need is a Royal Navy gun crew and gun for the paddle boat. The only suitable Foundry figures came from their old Zulu Wars range and were rather small compared with the Copplestone Darkest Africa ones. Then I saw the new Mutineer Miniatures Naval Gun crew and they seemed just the right size. Although they come from 1856 not the 1890's there doesn't seem to be much difference in the uniform other than the shirt collar; the later uniform had a collarless shirt. I did think about trying to carve this off then decided that no-one will notice by the time they are on deck and around the gun. Anyway maybe they find a shirt with a collar wards off bugs better!
I was then wondering about a gun for them. An old style naval smoothbore cannon on small wheels wouldn't be right as I wanted to be able to take it off the boat and up country. Something like the mountain gun fielded by the Arabs and my Force Publique force would be just the job. It would mean buying a gun with a redundant crew however.
Meanwhile, I also needed a second gun for my Arab force. The first one I bought from Foundry was missing the gun barrel and although they replaced the pack very quickly this left me with a crew but no cannon. I didn't want to have to buy another pack just for the gun barrel.
I thought that both these problems had been solved in one go by looking through the catalogue of a firm I hadn't really looked at before, Askari Miniatures. They have a pack of two French mountain guns which would give one to the British and one to the Arabs. However they also have a nice pack of four mules designed to carry one of the guns. I couldn't resist this so have ordered the guns and the mules although this now leaves the Arabs without their second gun. Maybe I can make a gun barrel! I probably need another mule now but may have one somewhere.
I don't know how long the models will take to arrive from the US but at the rate I'm painting they will probably be here before I finish the crew, although I did get started on them today.