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Husaria – Building a Polish army for the 1620s

Husaria – Building a Polish army for the 1620s

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About the Project

This project describes my efforts to build a 1620s Polish and Lithuanian Commonwealth army, including the famous Polish ‘Winged’ Hussars. I will cover the historical research, choosing the miniatures, build and painting the miniatures, and finally hopefully playing with the army.

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Avanpost Miniatures - a mini review (part 1)

Tutoring 8
Skill 8
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This entry covers my experience with the Thirty Years Wars (TYW) figures from Avanpost Historical Miniatures.

I first became aware of this company a couple of years ago from posts on the Lead Adventure Forum, and I was instantly blown away by the quality of their figures. They are superbly detailed and lifelike. I immediately ordered a few figures to see what they were like in the hand, and I wasn’t disappointed.

Avanpost are a Russian manufacturer and don’t have a traditional website/shop. They use a Facebook group to advertise their ranges (link). You can also buy them through Mezzer’s Miniatures (link), a UK distributor. They have two main 28mm ranges; Napoleonic (French & Russian) and Thirty Years War (TYW). They also produce a range of really lovely 75mm models for collectors and painters. Their full ranges are available in cast resin, and most of the 28mm ranges are also available in metal. They are on the small side of 28mm and fit perfectly with Perry Miniatures ECW range. I have mixed them in happily with TAG and Warlord as well. However they might seem a bit incongruous in the same unit with Bicorne or Renegade which are at the bigger end of 28mm.

Most of the figures require some assembly, such as adding arms and sword scabbards. I assume they are designed like this to make the casting process easier. The figures I received have needed little cleanup and fitted together very easily, whether metal or resin, with small dabs of super-glue.

I have only purchased figures from their TYW range so far. Unusually nowadays, the figures are sold individually which is a real boon when you are trying to find that extra drummer figure, or officer, for example. They cover pike and musket armed troops in a wide variety of classic poses. They also cover artillery (guns and crew), dragoons, harquebusiers, and cuirassiers, with command figures for all types. The TYW range is pitched at the first half of the 17th century and would work equally well for the Wars of the Three Kingdoms (ECW).

 

Avanpost figures straight form the packet - resin on the left and metal on the right.Avanpost figures straight form the packet - resin on the left and metal on the right.

Here are a couple of figures as they arrived from Mezzer’s Minis. On the left is a resin wounded horse and dismounted cavalryman (an unusual and perhaps unique to Avanpost set!), and on the right a metal sergeant with halberd. The separate pieces were easy to snip from the sprues, and to tidy up with craft knife and file before assembling with superglue.

Avanpost wounded horse on a Charlie Foxtrot - dial / counter baseAvanpost wounded horse on a Charlie Foxtrot - dial / counter base

Here is the wounded horse after construction. This is on a Charlie Foxtrot ‘dial counter’ base and will be used. as stamina / wound counter in Pike & Shotte games.

Avanpost sergeant in metalAvanpost sergeant in metal

Here are a group of resin and metal foot figures after construction. Hopefully the picture shows the fabulous level of detail in these figures, both resin and metal.

Here is a completed command base using figures from the previous picture. The figures were a joy to paint. (One caution would be that the figures, both metal and resin, could do with a quick wash in warm soapy water before priming. )

The flags are from another supplier new to me, Adolfo Ramos (link), who is based in Spain. These are really nice flags, and there is a lot of flexibility available when ordering to choose the size of flag you want, and also to have them mounted with cords etc. I chose this ‘full service’ option for these two and was very pleased with the result.

In the next post I’ll finish off my review.

Until next time!

Commanding Bases

Tutoring 8
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In this project entry I’m going to cover basing the command groups for the infantry in my army.

Background

Up to now my foot units have typically had one base within the unit that includes the ensigns or standard bearers. In a period with either no uniforms, or what uniforms there were being vaguely understood now, it is often the unit’s flags that gives the strongest indication of what the unit is trying to represent. Also, I think flags look really good and so try to have two of them in most units. Along with the two standard bearers I typically include an officer and musician (most often a drummer) on the base. The officer’s sash can also suggest a particular historical force (although not as often as we’d hope). Therefore you can see that by changing this single command base you can swap the unit for use in a different army.

A regular Pike and Shot unit. Note the command base in the middle.A regular Pike and Shot unit. Note the command base in the middle.

My basing system for foot figures is to use four 28mm figures on a 40mm square base. This system, with my approach to command bases, means that three bases makes a nice central pike block; two bases of pikemen either side of a central command base. The full regiment or battalion therefore looks like this.

New Requirements

More recently I have been looking at representing formations that don’t fit this approach, such as the Swedish brigade formation that Gustav Adolph used for his Swedish infantry. I’ve also been looking to experiment with other rule systems, some of which use the whole unit frontage as a measure in the game, that means this 360mm (9 bases each of 40mm width) wide formation isn’t very convenient. If I was able to have the command base outside the regular rank and file bases then it would make it easier to change units about.

Half-hex, 2mm thick, MDF from Warbases.Half-hex, 2mm thick, MDF from Warbases.

A solution to this was suggested when I looked at some of Barry Hilton’s units on the League of Augsburg site (link). Barry sometimes uses a base that sits in front of the rank and file bases. I have seen he has used half hex shaped bases in some cases, and I think this looks quite neat. So, a brief email exchange with the ever helpful Warbases resulted in me receiving some half-hex 2mm thick MDF bases. These are 80mm point to point.

Here is my first new style command base. These figures are from 1898 Miniatures ‘Tercio’ range. The flags are slightly modified from Flags of War.

Command base - 28mm from 1898 Miniatures, ‘Tercio’ range.Command base - 28mm from 1898 Miniatures, ‘Tercio’ range.

This base can be placed at the front of a unit. The idea is that it doesn’t count as part of the actual unit for the purposes of the game – it is just there for show.

 

The pictures show some different formations demonstrating how the new command base will fit in. I think it provides a flexible way having different formations and still have the command base ‘look right’. It can even be placed behind units to allow for the unit to be in combat.

I am pleased that this experiment seems to have worked out. I will build my command bases like this going forward. I want to try it in some games (when we can do those again!) and if it still seems like a good idea then I will consider going back and rebasing some of my old units.

Until next time!

Painting the Foreign Infantry

Tutoring 8
Skill 8
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The metal figures were fairly straightforward to prep. One slight pain was having to glue on the troops sidearms, a sword hung on the left hip from a baldric or belt. These look really nice on the figure, but I’m a bit worried about robustness in the long term as the swords are very thin and stick out in a realistic, but easy to bend way. If you expect to be heavy handed with your figure then you should consider leaving the swords off.

I gave the figures my normal, black spray primer undercoat. I then painted up a test figure to try out how I wanted to paint the figures. I combined a couple of approaches to try and speed up my normal snail’s pace painting speed.

Undercoated figure with a heavy dry brush of Flat Brown.Undercoated figure with a heavy dry brush of Flat Brown.

After the primer was cured I gave the figures a very heavy dry brush in Vallejo Flat Brown (70.984). This helps show up the details on a matt black figure, and, as so much of a 17th century soldier ends up brown, this can provide a base coat for things like shoes, belts, bandolier, scabbard, musket, etc.

BAse coats slapped on, waiting for the ‘magic’ to happen.BAse coats slapped on, waiting for the ‘magic’ to happen.

I painted up a base coat across the other, non-brown items, not being too precious about neatness as minor errors would be corrected by the next stage. Next I gave the figure a generous wash of GW’s Agrax Earthshade (the ‘magic part’).  This provides a shade and also neatens up the figure overall. When this wash was dry I highlighted the original base coats again.

This gave a nice impression of what I think a 17th century soldier on campaign might have looked like. (This approach combines techniques I’ve learnt from Matt at Glenbrook Games and also Sonic Sledgehammer.)

With the test figure done, I moved on to the rest of the unit. I used a fairly muted set of natural colours for the rest of the unit. Here they are, all based up. Front rank giving fire, and rear rank loading. A sergeant, with halberd, commands the unit.

I really enjoyed painting these 1898 figures, and I’m pleased with how they came out.  I have another 2 x 12 figures to do, before moving back to the mounted part of the force.  I am also working on some command stands for the Foreign Infantry, and should have some figures from another smaller manufacturer to show.

Foreign Infantry

Tutoring 10
Skill 9
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In this entry I’m going to cover a new part of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth army; the Foreign Infantry.  Although cavalry were the most important part of the Commonwealth armies in this period there was an increasing focus on infantry. Any campaign involving sieges, as well as the need to hold settlements and river crossings, needed foot troops. In the campaigns against the Swedes in the 1620s, Polish forces found that they were involved in many sieges, as the Swedes would often avoid pitch battles in the open where the Polish cavalry could dominate.

A contemporary picture of infantry fighting in the first part of the 17th century.A contemporary picture of infantry fighting in the first part of the 17th century.

The native Polish infantry, drawn from the peasant population, were effective but few in numbers, and the Polish nobility were reluctant to further reduce their work force by allowing more recruitment from the peasants in to the army. The Commonwealth therefore turned to hiring infantry from other sources, typically abroad. This ‘Foreign Infantry’ was recruited from across Europe but mainly from the German states to the West of the Commonwealth borders, and also from German speaking parts of the Commonwealth. (For this reason they were sometimes referred to as ‘German Infantry’.)

Recruitment of the Foreign Infantry worked in a similar way to the rest of Europe at this time. A colonel was commissioned to raise a certain number of troops and it was then the colonel’s responsibility to find suitable candidates. There were no uniforms as such, and so the recruits would be dressed in their regular ‘western’ clothes looking very much like the typical foot troops in the rest of Europe.

One difference may well have been the composition of the troops recruited. It was typical in this period to recruit infantry as one third pike armed troops, and two thirds shot, armed with a musket. One of the primary roles of pikemen was to protect the shot from cavalry. In the Commonwealth forces, with their superior cavalry, pikes were considered less necessary. In the 1620s campaign there is no evidence that the Foreign Infantry were armed with pikes, so it is possible that they were just musket armed troops.

Foreign Infantry
A detail from a contemporary picture showing the typical rag-tag appearance of troops in the TYWA detail from a contemporary picture showing the typical rag-tag appearance of troops in the TYW

For my Commonwealth army, based on the force at the Battle of Dirschau in 1627, I need some units of Foreign Infantry. I could just re-use some of my existing Thirty Years War Imperial foot to represent the foreign infantry, but I have plenty of potential candidates in the lead pile. I decided to paint up some figures from the 1898 Miniatures ‘Tercio range’ that have been accumulating in my lead pile since their release in 2019. These figures are a great representation of the typical foot from across Europe in the 1620s, 30s and 40s.

Here is link to the 1898 Miniatures site link, and also to a review of the figures I wrote for Wargames Illustrated link. In summary, I really like them! They are really characterful figures, and give a great impression of the typical non-uniformed troops from the TYW, wearing a mixture of styles and types of clothing. If you are interested in getting some of the 1898 figures then you can buy directly from them in Spain, or go to Empress Miniatures who are a UK stockist (here).

Next time I will cover painting the figures.

High Command

Tutoring 11
Skill 11
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This time I’ve been working on another command base for my Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth.  This will be the overall commander for the battle of Dirschau, 1627, Stanisław Koniecpolski.

At this time the Commonwealth had two overall army commanders, appointed by the Sejm (the Commomnwealth parliament of nobles). The most senior was the Crown Grand Hetman, and the junior post was the Field Hetman. In 1627 the Crown Grand Hetman position was vacant, and Stanisław Koniecpolski was the Field Hetman (he was promoted to Crown Grand Hetman in 1632). He had risen quickly to this exalted rank and was also a very experienced general.

TAG produce a great looking Hetman figure, holding a ceremonial mace or ‘bulawa’, that was a symbol of a Hetman’s position. I used this figure to represent Koniecpolski. I painted him to mainly match the outfit in this portrait, although I jazzed up his zupan (long, top coat) a bit.

Contemporary portrait of Stanisław KoniecpolskiContemporary portrait of Stanisław Koniecpolski

To accompany Stanisław Koniecpolski I thought of including a standard bearer on the command base. I have done this on other command bases before, especially when the historical general I’m representing has a known personal standard. I hadn’t seen this mentioned for Polish generals but was lucky enough to get a question answered by the super helpful, Michał Paradowski, the author of the recently released Despite Destruction, Misery and Privations. Michał explained that Polish generals in this period did not use flags, but the Hetman in command of the army would have a ‘Hetman’s Sign’ or ‘znak hetmański’ (see Wikipedia description here link.) This was only used by the overall, senior Hetman commanding in a campaign.

Above are a a couple of exerts from 19th century paintings that suggest what the Hetman’s sign might have looked like. These are the best I had to go on as I haven’t been able to find any more details of what exactly made up the Hetman’s sign. The sign is shown as a long spear or lance, featuring a small ‘wing’ of feathers, and a small disc below this. There may be streamers attached to the disc. Some pictures show a small sphere on the lance point, similar to what is used for some flags’ staves. (It seems that later on in this period the feathered wing was replaced with a horse-hair tail.)

I’ve not seen a Hetman’s Sign produced by a figure manufacturer yet. Based on the limited information the sign seemed fairly straightforward to scratch build. I decided to use a hussar lance as the basis for my Hetman’s sign. To make the disc I used a small piece of green stuff and moulded this on to the lance. For the feathers I used an off-cut from a hussar wing that seemed to match the illustrations above. This was filed to fit, and then super glued to the lance between the disc and the point. I then used some paper to make the streamers and glued these on to the lance just above the disc. Finally I glued a small bead to the lance point. I then painted up the model sign, with plenty of gold adornments.

The finished Hetman’s Sign will make a nice distinctive addition to Koniecpolski’s base.

To accompany Koniecpolski, and a mounted figure carrying his Hetman’s sign, I have included another mounted kettle-drummer, this time from TAG. I went for very dark coats for Koniecpolski’s followers to match his cloak colour, and this hopefully helps the great man stand out more in his bright red zupan. With items of debris to add to this base in a similar way to the previous base I was done.

 

With two command bases done I can be sure that I’ll have generals ready to lead my Polish-Lithuanian forces to battle. I’ll need at least one more command base at some point, so I will need to think of some more ideas for suitable figures.

The next items on the painting table for the Poles are a step down in the hierarchy from the mighty Husaria and noble commanders. Next up is some Foreign Infantry, and I’ll be using figures from a manufacturer that is completely new to me.

Command

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Skill 10
Idea 10
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When building previous armies I have often fallen in to the trap of getting all of the troops ready and then finding I have no generals to command them when I come to play the first game with the army. To prevent this I decided to jump in early this time with some command bases. There are plenty of images available to provide ideas and inspiration for Polish-Lithuanian leaders, and I’ve included some in this post.

 

To provide figures for my command bases both Foundry and The Assault Group (TAG) have some nice Polish command packs. I have used some of these figures in my hussar units, but have also kept one or two for the generals and their followers. I typically build my command bases with a small vignette of figures on a round base; three figures on a larger base for the overall general, and two figures on a smaller base for subordinate commanders. I’m following this approach again for my Polish-Lithuanian army, that is recreating the army that fought in the battle of Dirschau in 1627. The following describes the first command bases I’ve constructed.

The first base is for one of the subordinate commanders at Dirschau, Marcin Kazanowski. He was a very experienced soldier and leader, and was in his mid sixties by the time of the battle of Dirschau in 1627. In a long military career he had fought against all of the Commonwealth’s enemies; Ottomans, Cossacks, Tartars, Muscovites and of course the Swedes. I thought that the old Hussar commander that I converted slightly to match the WRG cover (see my first Hussar post) would be ideal to represent him. I also found a picture of a hussar officer that looks like he may have been the inspiration for the WRG cover.

Command
Command

The illustration above is taken from a very useful source for dress and equipment in this period. It is from a 16 metre long picture which shows the parade that took place to celebrate the marriage of King Sigismund III Vasa in 1605. (Link.) This contemporary picture (painted sometime in the early 1600s) is very useful as it shows Polish hussar and foot units marching in the parade, as well as all sorts of nobles, therefore giving some ideas for military attire, and what my generals might look like. A degree of caution is needed as the picture shows a parade and might not 100% represent what was worn on a battlefield, but it is a starting point.

Next I needed a second figure for Kazanowski‘s base. Figure manufacturers seem to be very keen on producing mounted kettle-drummers for the Poles, and these do often feature on contemporary paintings, including the Stockholm Roll. I thought these would look a bit odd in the front rank of my charging hussar units, but would be a nice bit of ‘character’ to add to a command base.

Command

My Foundry Kettledrummer, despite not having the drum banners (perhaps taken off prior to battle?),  would fit perfectly for the this command base.  To finish off the command base I had a rummage in my bits box for some ‘battlefield debris’. I think the challenge with this is to be subtle without any detail becoming totally lost. I’m never sure if I’ve got this right or not.

Here is the finished command base for Kazanowski.

More Husaria!

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With the transfer, from the last project entry, done then it was then time to glue riders on to the horses and get on with the basing.  Once again, I used 50mm wide by 60mm deep and 2mm thick MDF bases from Warbases.  (Each base takes two horses.)  The basing technique was the same as on the previous unit; filler/spackle to hide the figures’ bases, brown paint and pva over that, with sharp sand sprinkled on to the wet pva.  Once the pva was dry, a dry-brush of beige on the sand, and static grass / tufts to taste.

So, here is the second unit finished.  (The eagle eyed will have spotted that there is a base of two figures missing due to a miscalculation in figure purchases. This has been rectified!)

With two units done I have had to restock my lead mountain with more hussars.  Next on the painting bench will be some command bases (and the missing base of two for this unit).

Yellow and Transfers

Tutoring 14
Skill 13
Idea 12
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I’ve not really found a yellow, to use over a black undercoat, that I’m super happy with in the Vallejo or Army Painter ranges. I’ve tried using Vallejo Ochre Brown, as a base for yellow, and built up from that. This is ok, but I wondered if I should look at some other ranges. I have been slowly getting more into the GW Citadel range of paints. I already really like the various shades such as Agrax Earthshade, and have been really pleased with some of the red base + layer combinations. They is a handy app called ‘Citadel Colour’ which helps translate from actual colours to sets of base, layers and shades from the (strangely named!) Citadel range. From the app I found Averland Sunset as a base, with Cassandra Yellow as a shade, and then Yriel Yellow as a layer. I bought this set of paints and I have found they work really well. I also tried some of the Citadel metallics. I must say that, despite the bottle’s pot design (rather than being in dropper bottles), the paints that I’ve tried so far have been really nice to use and I’ve become a bit of a convert!

Flags and lance pennons for the unit from Battle FlagFlags and lance pennons for the unit from Battle Flag

After painting the figures I brushed on a gloss varnish as a protective layer for the riders, horses, and the lances. As mentioned the lances were getting a set of Battle Flag pennons. The main unit standard is blue and yellow, split horizontally, with a white eagle in the centre. I decided to repeat this on the trumpeter’s trumpet banner, that is cast on the figure. The two colours was fairly straightforward, but the white eagle would be tricky. A Google search threw up some potential transfers that looked like they could work from Vene Vidi Veci. VVV do sets of 15mm and 28mm ‘medieval’ heraldry symbols that can be ordered in a variety of colours. I ordered sets of 15mm and 28mm from Magister Militum (link) in white, black and red. I ordered both sizes as I wasn’t sure how big they would be and wanted to make sure that they would fit on the trumpet banner.

Trumpeter varnished and ready for transfers.Trumpeter varnished and ready for transfers.

Once I had the transfers I decided that the 15mm size transfer would work best on the trumpet banner. I haven’t used transfers for a long time and decided to give this fancy Micro SEL and Micro SOL stuff, made by Microscale, a try. The figure was already gloss varnished, which is apparently the best base to start transfers from. I cut out a small, white, single-headed eagle transfer from the VVV set and, using a pair of tweezers, dipped it in water for a few seconds. While the water was soaking in to the transfer, I painted a small amount of Micro SEL (from the blue bottle) on to the trumpet flag where I wanted the transfer. The transfer was now loose after its short soaking and so I slid the transfer off its backing and positioned it on the banner with the same brush I used for the Micro SEL. The Micro SEL allowed me to move adjust the position of the transfer with the brush tip. When it was in the right spot I smoothed it down with a small amount more of Micro SEL. After repeating this for the back of the trumpet banner, I set the the figure aside to dry.

Equipment for applying the transfers to the trumpet banner.Equipment for applying the transfers to the trumpet banner.

Once the transfer was dry I painted a small amount of Micro SOL on top.  As the banner was a fairly flat surface this last stage, meant to mould the transfer on to curved / uneven surfaces, was perhaps not necessary, but I wanted to try out the full process.  I left the figure to dry once again.  The flag design that I was copying for the trumpet banner has a small red shield over the eagle’s breast, and a yellow crown on the eagle.  At this scale, two blobs of colour, were good enough approximation of this design for me!  I‘m sure many people would have managed with some white paint to approximate the eagle, but the transfer was a neat way of getting a consistent result on both sides.

Trumpet transfer applied and dots of paint added.Trumpet transfer applied and dots of paint added.

Hussar blues

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Trying to keep up momentum I’ve moved on to another unit of Hussars. This unit is made up of a mixture of The Assault Group (TAG) and Foundry riders, as before, but this time on TAG horses.  The TAG horses are nice clean sculpts and most have some fancy feathers etc. which are very suitable for the noble Hussars, who liked an ostentatious display. They also have a single pistol holstered on the right side of the saddle.  This is a nice touch as firearms were becoming popular with the Hussars in this period.  I’m not so sure about carrying only one pistol, but I expect someone out there knows if this is right?

Riderless horses ready for varnishingRiderless horses ready for varnishing

I’ve added wings in twos, or singles, to most of the figures, but left some without.  In this unit the wings are attached directly to the horse, rather to the equivalent position on the rider figure.  As covered in the previous posts, I have decided to have wings ‘saddle mounted’ (rather than fixed on the rider’ backs) in ones or twos as limited to the richer / more showy individuals in the unit. The wings are a mixture of the TAG wings and the Foundry wings modified to be the straighter, earlier type.  The TAG horses have a slot modelled at the back of the saddle to take wings.  The Foundry riders needed some chipping and filing to make them fit in the TAG saddles and I had to keep riders and horses matched during the painting process so I could be sure of them fitting together at the end.

Although not always strictly historical, I like to have a colour theme for my units.  For this unit I had chosen a blue and yellow flag, with matched pennons, from Battle Flag.  I therefore decided to carry on this blue and yellow theme to the horse trappings, and also the Hussars’ cloaks and helmet feathers.  I chose to use a few different hues of blue to add some variety while keeping within the overall theme.  I used Vallejo’s Prussian Blue, Ultramarine, and Pale Dark Blue, and then shaded / highlighted each of these.  I also wanted to include red on the hussars as this was a popular colour with wealthy Polish nobles in this period.

Riders ready for varnishingRiders ready for varnishing

Fanfare!

Tutoring 13
Skill 13
Idea 13
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To complete the unit I followed my normal basing approach. The figures were glued, two figures to each 50mm wide and 60mm deep, 2mm thick, MDF base, from Warbases. The bases were then covered in an earth coloured paint and PVA glue mix, and sharp sand sprinkled on to the mixture while it was still wet. Once the paint-PVA mix was dry it was dry brushed with a beige colour, and then static grass and tufts were glued on with more PVA.

Hussars glued to MDF bases from Warbases.Hussars glued to MDF bases from Warbases.

With a final fanfare of trumpets my first unit of Hussars was completed!

The finished unit charging in to action!The finished unit charging in to action!

It feels pretty good to have the first unit done. I realise that I have made a bit of a ‘song and dance’ over one unit of cavalry, but I really enjoyed putting it together, and trying out some new techniques. I’m also pleased that the unit looks like I’d hoped it would, and should give a good impression of a 1620s Hussar formation.

Next in the painting queue is another unit of Hussars. I look forward to pushing through a bit faster on this one, using all of the lessons learnt on this first unit.

Sticks and Flags

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Skill 14
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Lances made using 80mm brass spears (from Warlord) and with a small bead added to each. Undercoated with black spray primer. Lances made using 80mm brass spears (from Warlord) and with a small bead added to each. Undercoated with black spray primer.

With the horse and riders just about ready it was time to move on to the Hussars’ primary weapon, the lance, or “kopi”.  These are typically shown as painted red, often with patterns. I decided to keep the lances red, but fairly plain, with just a small detail on the hand guard. (I will try to work up to stripes etc. for future units.) I painted and varnished the lances separately before attaching them to the figures. One of the striking features of the hussars are the brightly coloured, swallow tailed lance pennons. I bought some sets of these from Battle Flag (link). I cut these out with a modelling blade and then glued them on to the lances.  I use good ol’ Pritt for my flags.

To cut out paper flags I find a sharp blade and a metal ruler are the easiest things to use.To cut out paper flags I find a sharp blade and a metal ruler are the easiest things to use.
Once the glue has dried then painting the edges is very important!Once the glue has dried then painting the edges is very important!

With all of the components ready it was time for the final steps. Glue the riders on to the mounts, matt varnish over the complete model, and then gluing the lances on to the riders. It was great to finally add the lances; the figures seemed to come to life with the lances in their hand

Ready for basing - a hussar mounted on his horse with lanceReady for basing - a hussar mounted on his horse with lance

Animal Print

Tutoring 14
Skill 15
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One item on the figures that was a ‘first’ for me was the animal pelts. These were very popular for the wealthier Hussars, and leopard skins seem to have been most popular. It was not unusual to make fake leopard skins by adding spots to pelts from other animals. I had never painted leopard skins before and so I resorted to searching YouTube for a suitable tutorial. I found one (https://youtu.be/NjcvsaKIhWU) which was nice and straight forward, and I was quite pleased with the result. Here are the steps I used. (All colours are from Vallejo Model Color range.)

First 131 Orange Brown as a base, leaving a gap at the edge.First 131 Orange Brown as a base, leaving a gap at the edge.
Random ‘splodges’ added in 169 Black.Random ‘splodges’ added in 169 Black.
Base coat highlighted with 121 Yellow Ochre.Base coat highlighted with 121 Yellow Ochre.
Splodges highlighted with 140 Flat Brown.Splodges highlighted with 140 Flat Brown.
Splodges further highlighted with 121 Yellow OchreSplodges further highlighted with 121 Yellow Ochre
Edges painted with 124 Iraqi Sand.Edges painted with 124 Iraqi Sand.
Edges highlighted with 5 Ivory and 4 Off White.Edges highlighted with 5 Ivory and 4 Off White.

I was quite pleased with the result. At a wargaming, arm’s length, distance it looks like a good approximation of a leopard skin, although I don’t think it would fool a real leopard. On the basis that many of the cloaks worn by the Hussars were ‘fake’, this might actually be a point in my favour!

Any colour as long as it’s black

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Skill 15
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I also like to use a black undercoat on 17th century cavalrymen as I find it a good base for armour, and it also helps hide mistakes / missed bits! In my previous TYW armies I kept armour very dark as it was typical in the West to blacken armour to protect it from rust. I made the Hussars armour brighter as this seems to have been more typical for them to not blacken armour (I guess they had more people available to shine their armour!). For my first unit I chose several different shades of red for the Hussars’ clothing and cloaks, to make them look part of the same unit, without giving them a uniform. Red was considered a higher status colour, and so popular with the noble Hussar companions. Yellow boots or shoes were also a must-have fashion accessory and so I used a Yellow Ochre for these on the figures which was a good match for the pictures in the Osprey books.

Foundry and TAG riders with armour and flesh colours done. Numbering is to match riders to mounts.Foundry and TAG riders with armour and flesh colours done. Numbering is to match riders to mounts.

A lick of paint

Tutoring 12
Skill 14
Idea 14
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I am by no means an expert painter, and so will not go in to too much detail, but will instead talk through some of the processes I used, and any tips I picked up along the way.

The horses were black undercoated, as already described earlier, and painted separately from the riders. Not much to report. I used triads of browns for most of the horses, with a grey added in for good measure. I went for bright saddle cloths but resisted the temptation to try and spruce these up with any free hand detail. I reckoned on neat stripes looking better than poorly executed detailing. After the paint was throughly dried I brushed on gloss varnish as a protective layer.

“Empty horses” ready for varnishing.“Empty horses” ready for varnishing.

A homage to Wargames Research Group

Tutoring 12
Skill 14
Idea 15
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As well as building Hussars to form the units in my Polish army, I also had a crack at making a figure from my wargaming history. Anyone familiar with the Wargames Research Group (WRG) Renaissance wargames rules will recognise the illustration below. This picture graced the front cover of the second version of the WRG army list book that came out in 1984 (no fancy full colour covers back in the 80s!). I spent many, many hours perusing the lists in this book, and have a always liked this picture. I made the figure on the right by making a slight change to a Foundry Polish commander. I added the horse crest (an off cut from an altered Hussar wing), changed the position of the horse wing, and cut down the wing.

WRG Renaissance Army List cover - from the olden days!WRG Renaissance Army List cover - from the olden days!
My version in 28mm metal.My version in 28mm metal.
This is how the army lists described the front cover illustration.This is how the army lists described the front cover illustration.

Sticks, no stones

Tutoring 13
Skill 11
Idea 12
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I also decided to leave the lances separate to the figures during painting. This would make handling the figures easier, as the lances are a really long 80mm, and it will also make it easier to attach the pennons while the lances are separate. The Foundry and TAG figures come with white metal lances. As mentioned above, I’m not a fan of these as they are very easy to bend during games, and then very difficult to great straight again. Warlord use brass rods with shaped points for their lances and so I copied this for the figures from TAG and Foundry. (Warlord also sell these brass lances separately as “Metal Pikes”.) Warlord have some really nice white metal, shaped ‘balls’ to place on the lances as the hand guards in their box set. For the other manufacturers’ figures I used some tiny beads I found at home. I primed the lances, all stuck in to a piece of cardboard, at the same time as the figures.

Warlord 80mm ‘Pikes’ converted to Polish Lances.Warlord 80mm ‘Pikes’ converted to Polish Lances.

It’s all about preparation

Tutoring 14
Skill 14
Idea 13
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The TAG and Foundry Hussars fitted this 1620s feel perfectly. The TAG and Foundry riders can also be mixed in the same units. Their horses however don’t mix in the same unit so well, in my view. On this basis I have decided to form my Hussars units in three ways:

  • Foundry horses, with a mix of Foundry and TAG riders.
  • TAG horses, with a mix of Foundry and TAG riders.
  • Warlord horse and riders. (The Warlord units will be slightly anachronistic, but they are just too nice to leave out!)

With the research and planning done I got to work on the ‘filing and chipping’ of the metal figures. I also needed to carry out some minor conversion to the figures to have the wings saddled mounted, rather then mounted on the riders’ backs. Some green stuff modelling putty was used to make any repairs required to cloaks and animal skins.

Some simple conversion work to move the wings to be saddle mounted rather than than on the riders’ backs.Some simple conversion work to move the wings to be saddle mounted rather than than on the riders’ backs.

I have typically glued horse and rider together at this point, after cleanup. I decided to paint the Hussars separately from their horses, and glue together after painting. I primed / undercoated the figures with Halfords (a cheap UK car and bike parts supplier) black spray primer. I then realised that I didn’t have a method to hold the horseless riders for painting. I came up with a perhaps slightly over-fiddly method. I drilled a small hole with a pin vice in the groin of each rider (ouch!). I then put some 0.5mm metal rod in to some corks I had lying around, and then PVA glued the riders on to the rods. These were a bit wobbly and unsteady. I therefore glued UK 2 pence pieces under the corks and found some magnetic sheeting strips (UK 2p are magnetic) to put on my painting tray. This works ok so far – but seems a right faff! I had to number the riders and horses so that I could remember which rider was fitted to sit on which horse (they were not interchangeable after the chipping and conversion stage).

Rider ‘mounted’ for painting (ouch!)Rider ‘mounted’ for painting (ouch!)
Unit ready for paintingUnit ready for painting

Warlord, Foundry and TAG, oh my!

Tutoring 12
Skill 15
Idea 13
2 Comments

The Warlord Hussars  are in very dynamic poses. There are available in boxes of eight figures, or packs of three random models. The horses and riders are quite distinctive, and I don’t think they will mix in the same unit with the other ranges. Their equipment makes them look better suited to the later 17th century, such as for the famous 1683 defence of Vienna against the Ottoman Turks. The shapes of the wings (bending forward) are also perhaps better suited to the late 17th century. (The wings would be fairly easy to prune back to a shape more suitable for the earlier 17th century.)

Polish Hussars from Warlord Games. Brass lances much appreciated!Polish Hussars from Warlord Games. Brass lances much appreciated!

The Assault Group  are very nice models and have three different packs, each of three figures, available; command, levelled lance and upright lance. The armour and equipment looks fine for the 1620s (lots of chainmail for the arms etc.) and the wings are also perfect for the early 17th century. The packs I received seemed to have been a bit mean with them wings, but TAG do sell the wings in separate packs if you need more. The lances seem a bit short, and I’m not keen on this bendy metal type.

Polish Hussars from The Assault Group.Polish Hussars from The Assault Group.

The Foundry models are certainly the oldest sculpts of the three companies, as they look like the work of the fabulous Perry twins from when they sculpted Foundry figures. There are three Hussar packs, each of three figures; command, upright lance and levelled lance, and also a ‘general’ command pack of three figures. The figures look fine for the 1620s with plenty of chainmail in evidence. The wings are of the bent forward type and so I will be pruning these back to match the TAG wings. You do get plenty of wings though. The lances are, like TAG, of the bendy metal variety and so I will replace these. Being quite old sculpts these are perhaps large 25mm rather than small 28mm.

Foundry Polish Hussars and cavalry command.Foundry Polish Hussars and cavalry command.

Warlord, Foundry and TAG, oh my!

Tutoring 2
Skill 2
Idea 2
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Diving In!

Tutoring 11
Skill 10
Idea 11
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While searching for a particular campaign and battle, I had already (perhaps impetuously!) ordered some figures. I started with figures from Warlord (link), The Assault Group (link) and Foundry (link). All of these are metals. I already have lots of figures from their 17th century ranges in my TYW armies, and so I was hopeful that their Polish ranges would also mix together ok.

My first excited purchases of Polish Winged Hussars - Warlord, TAG  and Foundry.My first excited purchases of Polish Winged Hussars - Warlord, TAG and Foundry.

From reading the books in the previous project post, my idea of what would look right for 1620s hussar units began to form:

  • Exact equipment would have varied to some degree in each company, or ‘banner’ of Hussars. A Rotmistrz was responsible for the recruitment of each Hussar banner. The nobles recruited in to the Hussars were known as ‘companions’. Each companion brought a retinue of followers, who would have formed the rear ranks of the banner in battle. The companions lavished their wealth on luxurious equipment and also equipped their retainers. So, some variety in the figures used to represent my miniature banners, would feel right.
  • The best equipped Hussars had back and breast plate armour (often with strips of plates), a helmet with nose guard and ‘lobster’ style neck guard, and chain mail sleeves with chain mail thigh protection.
  • The Hussars would wear cloaks, with the best equipped having animal pelts such as leopard, wolf, or even tiger.
  • The Hussars’ most striking piece of equipment was the ‘wings’ of vulture or eagle feathers. However there is a lot of uncertainty about how these were shaped and worn, how they evolved over time, and whether they were worn in particular battles at all. I have chosen to represent wings as attached to the rear of the saddles, and being worn singularly, sometimes in pairs, or not at all by the poorer Hussars.
  • The Hussars iconic weapon was the long lance. This was longer than the typical lance used in the west, and had a distinctive ball shaped guard above the grip. The painted lances, with their long colourful pennons, were probably distinct for each banner of Hussars.

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