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A change of plan: Napoleon's beautiful daughters


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The battery of fearless men

A young officer, of questionable popularity, established his military reputation at the siege of Toulon (1793).


Background
French royalist counter-revolutionaries had handed the major French naval base of Toulon, together with its arsenal, to an Anglo-Spanish fleet under the command of Vice Admiral Lord Hood* and Admiral Juan de Lángara in August 1793. The British fleet also seized more than 70 French ships, almost half the French Navy. Both the strategic importance of the naval base and the prestige of the Revolution demanded that the French recapture Toulon.

Although a series of French generals were nominally in command of the siege operation, the man responsible for its success was a little known artillery officer.
When that officer was eventually given command, the Republicans first seized the outer forts overlooking the port, before preparing for the main attack on a fort ('Little Gibraltar') that dominated Toulon’s two harbours, followed by a general assault that took the town.

 

 

Batterie des hommes sans peur
In preparation or his attack, a series of artillery batteries had been placed to bombard the town.

The most elevated battery, with the best firing position, was also the most vulnerable; indeed, it was considered a suicide posting.
Ordering men to serve those guns would lead to a severe loss of morale and, likely, desertions.

 

The officer spotted a printer in the French camp, which gave him an idea. He created a placard in order to name the battery.
The following morning, the men saw the placard naming the suicidal battery: Batterie des hommes sans peur (battery of fearless men)
The men thought about that name, and soon they were fighting each other to sign up to man it. They all wanted to be members of the band of men lucky enough to earn the honour of operating that cannon: it was manned day and night.

 

 

The officer?  His career took him from revolutionary to emperor of France: Napoleon Bonaparte


References: https://www.britannica.com/event/Siege-of-Toulon

https://medium.com/@kirkjbarbera/the-battery-of-the-men-without-fear-5e4c505a28f6

 



The kit for this build is in the post as I write, and should arrive tomorrow or Thursday.
It is by Historex, and consists of a Gribeauval 8-pounder cannon together with five artillery crewmen.

 

 

* Vice Admiral Lord Hood: Two of the three ships of the Royal Navy named HMS Hood were named after him (source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Samuel_Hood,_1st_Viscount_Hood )

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A bit quicker than I expected, a parcel arrived from Historex Agents this afternoon.

It contained two kits ... or seven, depending on how you count.

Kit 1 (or kits 1 to 6) consist of an 18 century cannon together with five crew.
NCO Hitorex have new (to me) packaging, and now use blister boxes in place of the old plastic bags sealed with a  white and orange card.

ff_artillery_000.jpg

 

The blister pack contains five zip lock bags (and some instructions)
ff_artillery_001.jpg

 

 

Five of those bags contain figures, each in a different pose:
ff_artillery_002.jpg

 

This had just one pair of legs, some have two pairs of legs.


The remaining pack contains a cannon
ff_artillery_003.jpg

 

For some reason, this contained a lot of stretched sprue - that isn't a problem, just an oddity.

 

 

Instructions are classic Historex:

ff_artillery_004.jpg


I'm pretty sure that the modelling tips appeared in one of their catalouges.

Most of the figures have bicorne hats, figure one has a police bonnet.
Figure 2 should have had a bicorne, but came with a shako:

ff_artillery_005.jpg

 

Personally, I prefer the shako to the bicornes, but it is too modern for the scene; I'll have a think about how I deal with that.
BTW that flash will be easy to cure, if I decide to use the shako.

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Ditto re preferring the shako to the bicorne!

A lot of work in the offing...

 

JR

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This was more than I was expecting, excellent!

 

Good luck and welcome to the GB

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5 minutes ago, Robert Stuart said:

Thanks again JR and Wez

 

Just hope I can deliver 🤞

 

I'm sure you will

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Started working on the cannon as. perhaps, the easiest component in this build.

The carriage and wheels were scraped with a scalpel to remove flash:

ff_artillery_006.jpg

 

And I've made a start glueing the carriage:

ff_artillery_007.jpg

 

The rear most strap wants attention - if I remember, I'll use heat to soften the plastic on the other side ... clearly, I'm due for a lot of fun with filler ...

 

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Had a chance to do a bit more work on the cannon today ...
The wheels now have tyres - iron tyres, and the barrel is (pretty well) ready for painting.

 

ff_artillery_008.jpg

 

That N will have to go - the Napoleon wouldn't be emperor for another ten years.

A quick dry fit ...

ff_artillery_009.jpg

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Well done so far Rob. A few years back I posted up my progress with the Historex Friedland set over on the Diarama secrion here on BM. The normal Historex figures are quite stiff in their poses, do you have any plans to loosen them up?
 

Regards Toby

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Thanks Toby - I tried  looking for your Friedland build, but couldn't find it.

 

From memory, the Friedland set has figures in stiff, drill-book type, poses.
The figures in this kit have a bit more animation, but lack buttons on the lapels of their jackets - I'll have to take photos when I get to that stage.

 


As to how I'll handle them, and the Historex stiffness, I've yet to make a decision - I've just realized, none of the figures in this set have bases, so I have to make a vignette if I'm to complete the build 🤔


 

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Thanks Toby
Link to Planebuilder's Friedland build:

Historex must have changed the spec for this kit at some point - the figures with red/brown buttons use animated torsos that were not available when the Friedland set was first released.

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Hi Rob

The torso’s with the brown buttons were from a converters set and you are right, they were not int the original kit. The brown buttons were scratch made by melting the end of some small diameter plastic rod. The lapels also needed to be carved out and holes for the buttons drilled. Hmm, must post some pictures of the conpleted build.

Regards Toby

 

 

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I spoke to Historex Agents yesterday afternoon about my issues with figure 2 - the one with the wrong shako.  Further inspection had shown that he was a figure for a different kit altogether.

In today's post, they have sent me the parts needed to correct this - a bicorne hat, together with correct coat tails, epaulettes and the correct sword & bayonet together with a few other bits and pieces.

 

Excellent service from Historex Agents - a very quick response, so thank-you to them.

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53 minutes ago, Robert Stuart said:

Further inspection had shown that he was a figure for a different kit altogether.

No totally surprising given the sheer amount of Historex kit and bits.... 

 

Been doing a bit of digging about on Napoleonic figures, I did a fair few Airfix ones 40 years ago, but only ever had one Historex figure, a British Dragoon officer, which I still have part done, though on recent inspection the saddle cloth is missing...  though more inspection shows that a plain saddlecloth and some tweaks might get me a Dragoon trooper.    Or I ask Historex nicely 

 

It was an exotic and expensive item,  other Airfix kits in the box have 65p to 75p price stickers, the Dragoon is whopping £2.75!  This is circa 1980/81 mind,  it came from a shop in Spring Street in Brighton, John Taylor IIRC,  which was a small place and not frequented by schoolboys a great deal. 

 

Co-incidentally, I got this in the post today, a secondhand cheap one

9780706363395-uk.jpg

 

 

with a small paint stain on one page, and Historex colour plate from a Garde Imperial set which made me chuckle, so I have some idea of this ones previous history.

 

Look forward to seeing this one progress, as we don't see may Historex builds on here.

 

Cheers

T

 

 

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@Planebuilder62, Toby, I'd love to see your Friedland set completed - plese feel free include a link here when it is ready.

 

@Troy Smith, sorry to hear that you've missed the saddle cloth.

It might be easier to replace the cloth than to adapt to a trooper - are you aware that Historex Agents sell spare parts for Historex kits - or conversions.

Take a look at their website, go to brands, then Historex Spare Parts.  I'd then do a browser search for British and go forward to Saddlecloths - Saddle with cloth, British style.

The Funken Napoleonic Uniforms books are excellent. My copies are of an earlier edition with white covers (and pretty battered) - excellent reference material.  IIRC, volume 1 includes British uniforms along-side the French.

Has anybody mentioned "Napoleon's Army: As Depicted in the Prints of Aaron Martinet"
51zaajtb46L._SX373_BO1,204,203,200_.jpg

 

As I understand it, the plates in the book were drawn from life; the target customers were soldiers based in Paris, so very accurate in detail.
Some plates were reused, but that only serves to high-light regimental differences.

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On 7/15/2021 at 9:47 PM, Robert Stuart said:

Thanks Toby - I tried  looking for your Friedland build, but couldn't find it.

 

From memory, the Friedland set has figures in stiff, drill-book type, poses.
The figures in this kit have a bit more animation, but lack buttons on the lapels of their jackets - I'll have to take photos when I get to that stage.

 


As to how I'll handle them, and the Historex stiffness, I've yet to make a decision - I've just realized, none of the figures in this set have bases, so I have to make a vignette if I'm to complete the build 🤔


 

The Historex figure I am finally trying to finish is missing pockets on the back of the jacket... a real pain to correct.

So despite their precision, they seem to all still have shortcomings...

 

But I guess that perfection would be a bore. Or would it?

 

Have fun!

JR

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50 minutes ago, Robert Stuart said:

@Planebuilder62, Toby, I'd love to see your Friedland set completed - plese feel free include a link here when it is ready.

 

@Troy Smith, sorry to hear that you've missed the saddle cloth.

It might be easier to replace the cloth than to adapt to a trooper - are you aware that Historex Agents sell spare parts for Historex kits - or conversions.

Take a look at their website, go to brands, then Historex Spare Parts.  I'd then do a browser search for British and go forward to Saddlecloths - Saddle with cloth, British style.

The Funken Napoleonic Uniforms books are excellent. My copies are of an earlier edition with white covers (and pretty battered) - excellent reference material.  IIRC, volume 1 includes British uniforms along-side the French.

Has anybody mentioned "Napoleon's Army: As Depicted in the Prints of Aaron Martinet"
51zaajtb46L._SX373_BO1,204,203,200_.jpg

 

As I understand it, the plates in the book were drawn from life; the target customers were soldiers based in Paris, so very accurate in detail.
Some plates were reused, but that only serves to high-light regimental differences.

 

I referenced it in reply to Troy Smith's thread on Napoleonic reference material.

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55 minutes ago, Robert Stuart said:

are you aware that Historex Agents sell spare parts for Historex kits - or conversions.

Thanks, I am, I had a long browse through all the bits,  though I have not tried to pin down the specific parts.   I presume there is a minimum postage charge, I've not gone through all the details of ordering.   I'm in no desperate rush,  and it maybe worth putting together a minimum order from some of the multitude of spares available. 

 

Looking at the colour plate in the Dragoon kit, 

QdgwpgKsvaejaV8xuI70KVe7n93YVV6zKQFjYjyN

http://www.histomin.com/linehis/hisnap/hisnap british/Historex Card 755 - 756 British Heavy Dragoons 1812-15.jpg

 

from

http://www.histomin.com/linehis/hisnap/hisnap british/hisnapbr cavalry.htm

"756.2 will make a dragoon on foot standing with his horse.   The title of the kit is "6th Inniskilling Dragoons" but it actually applies to all Dragoon Guard and Dragoon regiments except the Scots Greys."

 

may make more sense why I though i could do a plain trooper,  the missing bit is the yellow saddle cloth,  and the trooper's horse saddle etc looks makeable.

I'll need to look further, I may even have the bits in another box,  being used to Airfix kits, i found the Historex instructions rather vague! 

 

the main site

http://www.histomin.com/linehis/linehismp.htm

which looks to be a bit of a rabbit hole.   

 

the thread @dromia is referring to is this one

https://www.britmodeller.com/forums/index.php?/topic/235096380-napoleonic-uniform-reference-guides/

I'll have a search for the book mentioned.   

 

Anyway, thanks for letting me witter,   I'm looking forward to seeing how this progresses, look to be great project. 

On 15/07/2021 at 20:47, Robert Stuart said:

I've just realized, none of the figures in this set have bases, so I have to make a vignette if I'm to complete the build

If you have not done so, have a browse of the work of @Badder who has posted lots  of information on diorama bases, etc, as you may find some useful info or suggestions in those. 

Apologies if stating the obvious,  if you work out how big an area you need, and then looking out in charity shops or markets for an appropriately sized picture frame that you find pleasing,  this is an easy way to make frame for your vignette base.

 

cheers

T

 

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27 minutes ago, Planebuilder62 said:

I have uploaded some pictures of my Freidland build over on the Figures RFI section. Sorry, not good at pasting links on my ipad yet here on BM.

here for ease of reference.

 

21 hours ago, Robert Stuart said:

sorry to hear that you've missed the saddle cloth.

closer inspection of the kit after this discussion, and those 'helpful' instructions showed that the figure 'halt in the field' and a smaller drawing showed the marching order to have no saddle cloth, while the colour image shows the full  dress.....  so not a problem. 

 

Seems to be all there, but no buckle parts parts for the main over the shoulder belt.    If nothing else, a parts list would have been handy.   

Anyway,  closer examination showed set maybe salvageable, and not I know that the parts don't really 'fit'  I can see with some 'modelling skill' they will.

Make sense why it baffled me 40 years ago,  except I don't recall in my reading of Military Modelling etc back then the level of required input for Historex.     Maybe a good candidate for the still running 'under a tenner build' ....  I'll play some more and see how confident I feel, at least these days I have a stash on bottle top lead foil.   

 

I have, worryingly, bought a few old Airfix Napoleonic infantry figures as well,  i have some part done ones, but I'd quite like to not have to undo old work on the ones that I still have.    

I'll @Alex Gordon as he' s doing an Airfix Scots Grey at the mo and I think will find this of interest.

Look forward to your progress on this one.   

Cheers

T

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@Troy Smith, thank-you for sharing the link to your Friedland build, that looks good.

 

I've started thinking about displaying this cannon.
The backstory is the siege of Toulon, so the gun would be emplaced in siege works.  A common feature in illustrations of the battery is a wall of gabions - baskets filled with earth or stone, often used in the same way as sandbags*.


Unsurprisingly, I cannot find any photos of Napoleonic gabions - but did find an interesting reference for gabion used in an American Civil War siege: Civil War Field Fortifications Website: Fortification Images: Fort Sedgwick including the size and use of these baskets.

 

As an experiment, I tried making a gabion - or, at least, a start at making one.

 

ff_artillery_014.jpg

 

 

ff_artillery_012.jpg

 

 

 

*Sandbags would be an option too, they were use during the American Revolution.

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  • 4 weeks later...

I've been very quiet recently; dealing with RL, and not modelling.
Hope that can change for a bit.

A change of plan
The cannon I have been modelling is a Gribeauval 8 pounder, the heaviest cannon that the original Historex offered.
It is, in my view, a bit light for siege work, so, I'm moving to a heavier gun, one of Napoleon's belles filles (beautiful daughters).

Over time, Nemrod, one of the companies that owned the Historex moulds produced a 12 pound canon (Canon de 12 Gribeauval).
This uses the original Historex axel and wheels, but replaces the barrel and carriage with heavier items in resin.

ff_artillery_016.jpg
Nemrod 12 pounder parts, with 8 pounder barrel and carriage cheeks (arrowed).

 

The most noticeable omissions from the new kit are a screw for elevating the gun, and some chains.
 

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  • Robert Stuart changed the title to A change of plan: Napoleon's beautiful daughters
  • 5 weeks later...

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