Friday 29 March 2013

The Verdun Project: Les Crapouillots!

Well, it’s been quite a while since I last posted! I’ve very much got out of the habit, for which please accept my apologies!

As I mentioned in one of my last comments on the previous posts, I’ve been very busy at work. It happens from time to time and there’s no rhyme or reason to it. Just one of those things I guess, but it certainly plays havoc with life in general and with hobby things in particular.

When I last posted, in February, I was in the midst of painting French Poilu for Curt’s Analogue Hobbies Annual Challenge. Everything was kind of going according to plan. Then the hobby tasks and plans took a long back seat while I worked my way through a mound of real work. By the time I’d finished, the hobby challenge was over and spring had, sort of, arrived.

So first, a huge thank you to Curt for staging a terrific Challenge. It was a huge privilege to take part, and see the work of so many wonderful hobbyists and wargamers. I’m deeply embarrassed I didn’t manage to get more done, but no harm done I guess – “worse things happen at sea” as my Grandmother always used to say.  Thank you again, Curt, for letting me take part and for bearing with me right up to the end!

In the end I brought up the rearguard with a couple of small items I managed to get finished towards the end of the Challenge. The first was a German 77mm feldkanone from Great War Miniatures. This was the third 77mm feldkanone I’d painted and I felt that I’d finally got the hang of the model this time. It took a bit of patience to put together and in the end I resorted to pinning the seated gunners, but it was still fun to paint. The artillery officer is from Renegade Miniatures.

The second item was not even finished in time for the Analogue Hobbies rearguard. Think of them as stragglers from the Challenge! They’re a pair of French trench mortars from Old Glory, also known as crapouillots, or “little toads”. Les crapouillots were pretty straightforward to put together. The figures need a bit of gentle bending and filing along the base, but they’re pretty clean figures with very little flash, if just slightly on the small side compared with the Brigade Games Poilu and other Old Glory late war French infantry. I doubt the size will matter much as these trench mortars would be left on the French baseline in any game.

I wanted to add something to the bases for added colour and ended up trying to build replica mortar shells. The very distinctive curved tail-fin shape of the mortar rounds proved to be too much for me to carve in plasticard, and I ended up on this first attempt with a much more angular mortar round which I’m not really happy with. I’ve one last crapouillot from Brigade Games to build, so I can have another go at a more convincing model trench mortar round next time.

As for painting, I modified the colour scheme for the trench mortar crew slightly from January and Febraury.  I went with a 50/50 base of Vallejo Dark Blue Grey and Vallejo French Mirage Blue. The mid-shade was another 50/50 mix, this time of Vallejo French Mirage Blue and Vallejo Grey Blue. The highlight simply added white to the mid-shade. If you think this looks familiar, it was suggested by Ben Fiene, Ansbachdragoner, blogger, world-traveller and all-round top bloke in one of the previous post comments. Thanks again Ben – the formula looks a lot more “horizon bleu” than my first attempt. I’ll keep experimenting, but I think I’m getting there - albeit it slowly.

And finally, again, many apologies for the slow posting.  Hopefully over the Easter weekend I can post a couple more times, but if service is slightly interrupted after that on this Blog....well, you'll know its not for want of being here, mes braves!
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