Monday, 30 January 2017

Flames of War: The Polish 10TP Cruiser Tank.

OK so I managed to finish off my Polish 10TP Cruiser Tank a little faster than expected... and I have to say, Im spitting out canary feathers with this one. If I can get my head around how to cast vehicles properly I believe I may have a winner here.

Now, being a lazy inveterate, and the fact that my skills and understanding of how to do sculpting do not yet advance to the point where I can do tracks and wheels I have of course nabbed a few pieces from another manufacturer to see this over the line BUT it is my intention to one day backtrack and sculpt my own track sections for this sleek beast of a Polish war machine!

The History

The 10TP was a prewar Polish cruiser tank that never left the prototype stage. It immediately led to the development of the 14TP tank design although neither made it to full production due to the Nazi invasion of 1939.

At the end of the '20's the Polish Armed Forces declared that they needed a new tank design so they sent Captain Rucinski to the USA to try to buy a license for the Walter Christie M28 tank blueprints and production license. He was unsuccessful!

Owing to the failure of this attempt the Military Institute of Research Engineering (WIBI) Tank Design Bureau was set to design their own project based on the Christie model. The project was based on available data, leaflets and pamphlets, notes secured by Rucinski when he visited Christie as well as sketches that he had made. The project was all but ready by the end of 1932 but then work slowed to a crawl as the Tank Design Bureau became mired with upgrading the imported British Vickers E tank into the Polish 7TP design.

At the end of 1935 WIBI was liquidated and most of the records of the work done on the 10TP project was destroyed with only a few notes and sketches remaining. The remit for this work was taken over by the newly established Design and Testing Centre of Armoured Forces which reported directly to Armoured Forces Command. 

On 10th March 1935 design work was once again began on the 10TP tank. Major Rudolf Gundlach (famous for his reversible armoured vehicle periscopes) headed a design team consisting, amongst others engineers such as Jan Lapuszewski, Stefan Oldakowski, Mieczyslaw Staszewski, Kazimierz Hejnowicz and a Process Engineer called Jerzy Napiorkowski.

Although the tank prototype was still incomplete in 1936 it was included in the upgrade programme of Armoured Forces projected for 1936-1942. This programme was approved and supported by the Armaments and Equipmente Committee in January 1936. The 10TP was scheduled to provide the armoured battalions for four projected Motorised Brigades.

Supervised by Captain Kazimierz Gruner the first prototype was assembled in the Experimental Workshop of the State Engineering Plant in Ursus, Warsaw. Concurrently two Motorised Brigades were established with the intention of ultimately equipping them with the 10TP.

Assembly was complete by July 1938, delays having occurred due to the necessity of importing elements that were required in the construction, like the engine for example. It rolled out of the Experimental Workshop on 16th August 1938 to begin its road trials.

Driven by an experienced military specialist; Sergeant Polinarek, under the personal supervision of the Chief of the Trial and Experiment Department in the Bureau of Technical Studies of Armoured Weapons; Captain Leon Czekalski. The initial trials were kept secret because of the activities of the German Abwehr and Fifth Columnists which were just starting to ramp up their activities before the breakout of war.

Other than stoppages due to minor faults the trials continued until 30th September 1938 when the tank was returned to the Experimental Workshop for its final adjustments. On 16th January 1939 the tank was tested again completing a short distance trip to Lowicz and then between 22nd and 25th April travelling past Grodno to a distance of just under 400 miles. Once a total of nearly 1300 miles travelling had been logged the tank was completely stripped down to check the wear on particular elements of the vehicle.

In May 1939 the tank was refurbished and presented to the military hierarchy.

The military loved it and approved it to enter production but before the tank could enter mass production Germany invaded Poland in September 1939, ending the independence of the Second Polish Republic.

The Construction:

The tank had a classic rear drive layout. In the front, the drivers compartment was not separated from the combat compartment which contained the turret. An engine compartment was at the rear with a longitudinal engine. The 10TP had a complement of 4, with the driver sitting front left and machine gunners post on the right. A commander and gunner had their stations in the turret on seats that turned with the turret.

A forward hull plate was sloped, broken by the sloped machine gun casement and two side casemates which may have been there to provide a measure of protection from sideways fire and incidental projectiles such as shrapnel.

The water cooled heavy machine gun in the casemate was mounted in a big housing with an armoured mantlet and armoured water radiator.

A two part drivers hatch was in the remaining slope area of the front upper glacis plate. Hull sides were vertical and the rear plate above the engine was heavily sloped.

The turret had a one part hatch in the roof and a rear niche for a radio or extra ammunition. There were vision slots in the turret sides that could also facilitate pistol shots and the commander had a reversible observation periscope wz.34 in the turrets roof.

The tank was also armed with a Bofors wz.37 37mm anti tank gun that was proof against all known armoured vehicles at this time and was mounted alongside another 7.92mm wz.30 coaxial heavy machine gun. The turret had a 360deg arc of fire and the gun elevation was from -10deg and +20deg whilst the 10TP was stocked with 80 rounds for the main gun (APHE and HE) and 4500 hmg rounds. Both weapons were equipped with telescopic and periscopic sites.

Armour was provided by riveted and welded rolled plates with thicknesses between 20mm and 8mm.

The Sculpting

So, when I decided to start this one I was, to say the least, intimidated! This is a complex beast with all manner of different surface details. I suppose the one thing that was really in my favour was the lack of curved surfaces which, without computer algorithm controlled casting processes is very VERY difficult for an amateur to pull off!

Half way through collecting my early war Soviet army I just happened to ponder how close the BT-5's wheel and track assemblies were to the 10TP and I was delighted to find that apart from the details on the wheels themselves there was an almost identical correlation between the two... which meant I could appropriate one for the other, thus overcoming the only real deal breaker in the project.

I happened to have a spare Battlefront 7TP laying around and as I couldn't really be bothered to sculpt another sloped turret (after my Vickers E experience!) I though I may as well use that as well, as I intend using its track sections for my C7P (more on that later) so that was the second short cut taken care of!

All I really had to do was sculpt the hull... I set to work about a week ago, and you will have seen the basic shape on my previous post.

I have now found myself using a range of different materials in my sculpting with styrene and brass being used alongside each other all the time, although I think my favourite material is the Magic Sculpt two part epoxy resin that I use to square in disturbed edges, provide transitions between rough areas and to regulate surfaces. 

I freely admit I'm not great at this yet but practise makes perfect right?

The wheels needed very little adjustments to them other than the rear drive sprocket having a considerably different design to that of the BT-5. There is a welded hexagonal plate that sits over the hub which still needs to be done... but one thing at a time. The most prominent difference is the layout of bolts on the main wheels. The BT-5 doesn't have may bolts on them whilst the Polish ones have got SO MANY BOLTS PER WHEEL that its hard to imagine that these wheels would shatter explosively hit with anything larger than a toffee hammer! Anyway, it took me a whole night to punch out all of the rivets that I needed and glue them to the wheel and track assemblies.

So in reality the majority of styrene modelling is all about accurate measurements and being able to glue tiny pieces in tiny places and being able to clean up your mess before the glue dries but for me perhaps the most awkward pieces was the engine mesh covers. I decided to use brass textured mesh packed out with resin and then sanded back so the texture and shape was preserved whilst leaving no edges that mould silicon can get trapped behind.

... and in case anybody is interested, this particular model measures 6cm by 2.5cm. Pretty small huh?

Use in Flames of War

Organisation of platoons and companys should be just as listed in Alex's Poland in Flames for the motorised brigades with the following statistics:

Mobility                                Fast Tank
Range                                    24"/60cm
ROF                                      2
Anti Tank                              6
Firepower                             4+
Front Armour                       2
Side Armour                         1
Top Armour                          1
Equipment and Notes           Hull mounted MG, CoAx Mg

... and there you have it guys... onto the C7P!

Fix Bayonets!

Saturday, 28 January 2017

Sculpting the Black Brigade vehicles (that nobody else makes)... and a few 'what ifs'

So its now almost 1/12 of the way through 2017 and it occurred to me that I haven't so far posted any updates about what I've been doing since publishing my post about my targets for this year ahead.

Fear not though; I have been BUSY!

If you cast your eye back, I said that this year I was not going to let a lack of decent Polish 10th Motorised Brigade vehicles being manufactured hold me back!

A Black Brigade TK3 with a Polski Fiat 508 staff car in the background

I have been sculpting a range of Polish vehicles from 1939 that nobody else makes in 15mm scale for Flames of War. I was SO disappointed with the vehicles that were available for use with the Black Brigade that I just put off modelling the project in its entirety. In fact I found that the only vehicles I could find that I would be happy to use were Battlefronts TKS tankettes and True North Productions Polski Fiat 621 Truck (although even that  has its problems!) so after reading Mikes efforts on his Miniature Ordnance Review blog where he shows how he sculpts some Black Brigade vehicles I was inspired to take the plunge myself and start sculpting my own in order to cast them up and pack out my 10th Motorised and Warsaw Armoured Motorised Brigades with nice vehicles that barely exist anywhere else on the planet.

I also decided that it would be nice to have a few 'what if' Polish vehicles for those vehicles that very nearly made it into production but weren't able to because of the German invasion...

The problem is that before last year I had never sculpted anything before and there are quite a few vehicles that the Poles did have in 1939 that need to be done, and here is the complete list of what I have decided to do (bearing in mind that all I have done before now is one crappy Vickers E tank)

i) 11x 4TP tanks (a nice 'what if' light tank that was designed to take the place of the TKS
ii) 11x 10TP tanks (a nice 'what if' Polish Cruiser tank that was due to go into production)
iii) 2x C7P Armoured Vehicle Recovery Tractors
iv) 4x Vickers E (type A) Light Tanks (2 machine gun turrets)
v) 6x Vickers E (type B) Light Tanks (47mm armed single turret)
vi) 6x Polski Fiat 508 Lazik staff cars
vii) 4x Polski Fiat 508 Motorised Tazcankas (open backed light truck mounting an HMG)
viii) 4x Polski Fiat 508 Furgons (light pick up truck)
ix) 6x Polski Fiat 508/518 light artillery tractors
x) 10x Polski Fiat 621 truck canvas backs
xi) 4x Praga RV truck canvas backs
xii) 4x C4P Short wheel base half track artillery tractors (Polski Fiat 621 truck conversions)
xiii) 4x C4P Long wheel base half track artillery tractors (Polski Fiat 621 truck conversions)
xiv) 6 x C4P Terrain Transport Halftracks (Polski Fiat 621 truck conversions)

Those of you that have been following me for a while may remember the Vickers  E tank that I did in 2016.

An original Polish Vickers E tank... what its supposed to look like!
I was pleased enough with the results of this tank that I felt I had enough confidence to go and do all of the other vehicles that the Polish Black Brigade (the hallowed 10th Motorised Cavalry Brigade) and the Warsaw Armoured Motorised Brigade were using in 1939.

The Vickers E sculpt that I did back in February 2016

If I have learnt one lesson whilst doing this, it is that I am SLOW when it comes to sculpting. Im no expert at sculpting so I'm naturally going to be a bit slower than the average Norman...

Other than the lack of accurate tanks being produced by anybody for the Black Brigade there is a universal lack of the small softskins that they used.  The only manufacturers doing the Polski Fiat 508 Staff Car is True North Miniatures and the model is, frankly, underwhelming.

The Black Brigade also used Polski Fiat 508's and 518 parts for small cargo trucks, and light artillery tractors... as well as motorised Tczankas. It was these that I decided that I would attempt first.

The first to be addressed was the Polski Fiat 508 Lazik staff car. These were handed out to officers by the bucket load, and here is one of the examples in a photo taken just before the war:

off road tyres fitted and troops showing off their leather coats and Austrian helmets from 1916
In the interests of scale each of the squares on the green cutting mat is 1cm by 1cm by the way.

I decided that the model that was available was very typical of the True North vehicle casts and was undersculpted and poorly proportioned so I decided to have a stab at this one first:

This is the one that I came up with. The wheels are all being done separately as there are different types of tyres for different types of vehicles so I collected all of the tyres together and started doing a set of conversions. The additional bits and pieces such as windscreen frames and bracket clipped rifles and such like will all be an additional cast to be glued onto the model after casting.

The next one to be done was, to my mind, probably one of the most important and that was the Polski Fiat 508/518 light artillery tractor because it is these that were used to haul all of the anti tank guns of the motorised brigades.

It looked like this:

Polski Fiat 508/518 Light Artillery Tractor
I always thought that these were quite attractive little vehicles and the Germans half inched loads of them after 1939 to use for themselves so they were obviously good at what they did!

Here is what I came up with:

The heavy machine gun company of the two motorised brigades that Poland had were also each equipped with a platoon of motorised taczankas, which were light trucks with flat backs upon which was mounted a heavy machine gun and its operator.

A Polski Fiat 508 Taczanka in the 1937 Warsaw military parade
There are hardly any photographs of these vehicles in existence anywhere... so with my Mark I eyeball deployed this is what I was able to cobble together:

I don't know why but I really like these little Taczankas and I can see me getting plenty of mileage out of them when I use my 10Bk in Flames of War...

Anyway, I'm sure you will all notice that there are no wheels on any of these light trucks and cars so far:

My selection of wheel conversions for the Polish light trucks

On the top left you will see the original wheels as received. The top right are the weird rear wheels on the Artillery Tractors and the Tazcankas with the drums over the hubcaps. The four wheels below this have different sculpted hub caps which are covered in radial indents whilst the two on the bottom left have the quarter fenders over them which are mounted on the sides of the trucks. I still need to do two more of these quarter fender wheels but with the radial indents.

The next big issue that I had was with the True North Productions Polski Fiat 621 trucks. They are sculpted with an open back, which is a bit of a bummer as nobody manufactures Polish troops seated in trucks... or even truck cargo back benches. 

Because of this I decided that it would be prudent to sculpt a canvas back that could be inserted into the open cargo bed.

This is what one of the trucks looked like with its canvas back deployed:

Polski Fiat 621 truck
This was one of the first things I did as I figured it would be a relatively simple reintroduction to sculpting but... oh my God! What a ball ache! Some very frustrating times whilst doing this. I started off with a Styrene box which I then put brass wires to represent the ribs which I then finally sculpted over the top with Magic Sculpt...

These canvas backs come right out and should be the easiest thing I have made so far for the casting process!

Anyway apart from the three softskins and the canvas backs for the Polski Fiat 621 truck I also decided to nail the tanks.

The 4TP and 10TP prototype tanks that Poland had  never entered mass production due to the fact that the 4TP, despite being an intended replacement for the TK3's and TKS' that the motorised brigades used, it was determined that the design would be obsolete by the time full supply to the army and cavalry was reached whilst the 10TP was actually ready to go into production... just as the Nazi's invaded BUT wouldn't a few 'what if' games be cool to play with these tanks?

The 4TP was a light tank armed with a heavy machine gun and a 20mm autocannon and looked like this:

A 4TP being given the once over by Polish mechanics. Note that no weapons are mounted.
This one was a massive MASSIVE learning curve for me, and I had to use a range of different materials and techniques to get this thing made. You will notice from the photos that I am still waiting for some suitable brass rod to arrive before I can sculpt and attack the 20mm Autocannon and the bogie assemblies still need some fine detail applied to them...

...and finally the vehicle that I am currently working on is the Polish 10TP Cruiser Tank.

A prototype Polish 10TP tank photographed in early 1939
This tank was a beauty and possibly one of the most beautiful armoured vehicles of any nation in 1939. It was designed using as many components already in existence to facilitate easier battlefield repairs and cannibalisation, including using the turret of the 7TP tank witih its excellent Bofors 37mm Anti Tank gun and coaxial heavy machine gun. Following a failure to secure a license the Polish Military Engineering design bureau designed its own version of the Christie suspension system and put it all together into this tank. Following intensive testing, including a road test of about 600km without breaking down the tank was approved by army high command and was put forwards for manufacture... just before the Nazi's invaded and scuppered it!

I have a long way to go with this bad ass so far but here is where I am with it so far:

It doesn't look like much at the moment but once all of the epoxy resin has regulated the sides and hull superstructure it will look a lot better. I'm really excited about this one!

So there you go, as I said; I have been busy but oh my God I am sooooooooooo slow! Still nothing good comes easily!

Ill keep you guys in the loop as I produce more of these vehicles. Now...

Fix Bayonets!

Tuesday, 3 January 2017

Your Mission.... should you choose to accept it!

So 2016, the year of celebrity mortality is dead and buried. Who of the following list has done more for social justice in the world than Mohammed Ali? (oh yeah, he did  some boxing as well). We lost David Bowie, George Michael and Prince, Pete Burns who spins us right round baby! Gene Wilder (sob), Richard Adams (of Watership Down (loved Captain Campion) and The Plague Dogs (loved Snitter) fame), Rick Parfitt kicked it, Zsa Zsa Gabor finally gave up the ghost, Peter Vaughan (and if you dont recognise this bad ass, look up the name and you will recognise him from everywhere!), Ronnie Corbett finally joined Ronnie Barker, Andrew Sachs (Fawlty Towers), Kenny Baker (R2D2). Alan Rickman, what a loss to the British acting pantheon... and perhaps most crushing of all to any of us who were growing boys (oooh errr) in 1983 we waved good bye at the last gasp to Princess Leia, and then to add icing to this bitter cake her mother Debbie Reynolds within a day of her passing, followed her. A very very sad year.

Me in Krakow, drinking in what can only be described as a Communist Fan Club!

Its OK though guys, I made it! I'm still here...although Im sure there are a few of you who will be cursing 2016 for not finishing the job! :D

However, in this year my painting went into overdrive and I managed to knock out quite a bit of stuff that I am quite chuffed with. I think that 2016 was my most productive artistic year of my whole life to date (turns out that loathing some of the people you are forced to spend your time with in the day is one of the best incentives to use painting and modelling as a destress agent!)... however it isn't a cross I think I want to carry any longer. I don't think my significant other would survive it :D So with this thought at the forefront of my mind I think its best that I pick a limited number of projects and concentrate on them.

With 2017 promising to be a most excellent of years (I wonder how much of that is because I am now surrounded by stand up people who don't have an inbuilt need to turn a daily routine into a circus sideshow? Hmmm may have to think more on that one) I said to myself 'Self, we need to set some targets!'

So here is what I am going to aim to do (modelling and painting wise) in 2017... and this is obviously in no particular order.

i) The Polish 10th Motorised Brigade (i.e the Black Brigade) for Flames of War. I have been itching to do these bad-asses for ages but a lack of appropriate miniatures has held me back. This year Im going to make sure that a lack of vehicles will no longer be a problem

Colonel Stanislaw Maczek (wearing beret on right), commander of the 10th Bk accompanied by his chief of staff (Beret on left) Major Skibinski. There are mountains of misconceptions surrounding the 10Bk... but studying military records and photographic evidence is half the fun of modelling military projects right?

ii) Finish off a sizeable proportion of my PHR for Dropzone Commander... just because I love looking at my Tron-esque miniatures and my UCM need an opponent.

Some 10mm PHR goodness! 

... and of course some more 10mm PHR goodness... more where these came from!

iii) Start turning out scenery for my Dropzone Commander games.  Being more of an aesthete gamer, bad scenery REALLY turns me off playing a game and the cardboard box buildings that are provided with Dropzone Commander has done just that. (I know JD! Don't shoot me yet!). I have decided that 2017 is the year where I start churning out scenery which will demonstrate why I want to game on attractive tables.

A Dropzone Commander table... NO!!!!

Another Dropzone Commander table... YES!

iv) Gruntz! I have two armies for Gruntz. One straight out of a Khurasan Miniatures box set which should be relatively quick and easy to paint, I just have to settle on a scheme and another which is a project I have wanted to attack for at least a couple of years; a 15mm Genestealer Cult Army! The cult army requires a lot of sculpting and casting BUT this is the year to start it. I wont finish it this year BUT I will make some attractive progress I think.

Has there ever been a better picture showing just what a Genestealer Cult actually is?

v) Another Corp for Archduke Charles Austrians... I just need to keep chipping away at this behemoth of an army or I will never see the end of it... and they are just SOOOOOOOOO pretty when they are done! I think I was a Magpie in a former life! :D

Loads of bayonets here! 

vi) A Napoleonic French Naval Squadron. My Napoleonic ships created a stir when they were revealed at my local club BUT all of the ships were painted between 10 and 22 years ago. I want to take a stab at another squadron for the Warhammer Historical game 'Trafalgar' just so I can see where my skills lay currently when compared with Ye Olde Dayes

Turns out 'England expects... quite a bit!'

vii) A Zulu War army in 10mm. These guys have been pulling at the back of my mind for years, and I do mean YEARS! It was the very first period of history I chose to wargame myself back at the dawn of time (which contrary to popular belief was actually after 1879) when I was 13 and after leaving them behind so many years ago I have finally decided to do this period in 10mm. I can get large armies and store then in relatively small spaces. I'm going to start with the Zulus who it turns out, were a hell of a lot more organised than a pack of natives charging with spears. Small wonder they whooped the redcoats THREE times in as many months!

Shit is about to get real. Not a single redcoated soldier escaped the field of Isandlwana in 1879. Underestimate the Zulu war machine at your peril!

viii) Learn how to become more refined in my sculpting techniques. My Black Brigade, which will be my signal project in 2017 has an abject lack of vehicles produced for it by anybody, and those that are, are deplorable. I find myself needing to produce these vehicles myself... and with that in mind I will need to sculpt them. You will already have seen the Vickers E tank that I have done. Not so bad if I dont say so myself, but there are a LOT of softskins that need to be done as well... I aim to complete them ALL by years end!

Yup... this one!

ix) Learn how to cast miniatures. I already own a brand spanking new vacuum pump and I know the theories and (I hope) most of the pitfalls of casting but there is no teacher like failure and experience. This year Im going to nail casting to the point that I will feel comfortable selling the casts that I make! These will cover mainly Polish vehicles, Armoured Trains and Riverine Monitors that were used by Poland initially and then by Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union... really, I just want to stack out my own collection with weird and wonderful stuff!

The Polish Riverine Monitor 'Horodyszcze' in 1939

x) Learn how to Photo Etch Brass. The more detailed my modelling becomes the more I am finding the need to provide myself with custom made elements to bring my pieces to life... and one of the things that I have seen somewhere is small ships of the Napoleonic era (1/1200 scale) with CREW on the decks. Yes ladies and gentlemen; CREW! The most tiny of tiny people populating the decks of these wooden walled monstrosities, each one only 1.5mm tall... I just cannot sleep knowing that I didn't bother trying this out... that and of course my scenery kick this year for Dropzone Commander will need to have details added. After all the devil is in the detail and I love the idea of producing my own ornate iron fencing for buildings and such like :D

This... but much MUCH smaller! Oh yeah baby!!!!

So there you have it. That is my whole year laid out! I think one day somebody is going to have to sit me down and explain just exactly what a lighter workload actually is! :D

Fix Bayonets!

Me looking all debonair and shit in Istanbul

Monday, 2 January 2017

Black Powder: Anglo Zulu War

Way back in the misty, dusty (somewhat decrepit) and entirely inappropriate corners of my life when I 'were a wee nipper' who had just found his way to the world of wargaming it occurred to me that the very first period in history that I chose, myself to wargame was the Anglo-Zulu War of 1879.

Isandlwana - 22nd January 1879. The greatest defeat of a developed nation by a spear armed native army in history

Now, I don't mind admitting that way back in the day I was totally enamoured of the Michael Caine film 'Zulu' and was of the rather naive belief that it was the jolly old redcoats out there saving the world from the barbarian hordes who sought to put them to the rather short spear. To me, the film was quintessentially British and represented our brave boys just as God intended; conquering all who stood in our way, no matter the odds, and bringing civilisation to the savages whether they wanted it or not!

Over time I drifted away from the Zulu war and into periods (and genres) that those around me had an interest in gaming... I still loved the Zulu war and its associated media but it just couldn't hold a candle to a Genestealer Cult army for Warhammer 40K.

Well I went the way all Games Workshop gamers with limited budgets and limitless imagination go, I became disillusioned with the pandering to the childrens market that their rule systems took and the pandering to the parents bank balances that their miniatures went. I ditched workshop and headed back to the real world.

My first (and predominant stop) was World War 2 at various scales along with the Macedonian and Napoleonic wars. These kept me ticking over for years. Relatively cheap and OH... SO... MUCH going on!

In the background there was always the Zulu War though. Over time, as is natural I started to pick up extra bits and pieces of information that was inexorably leading me to the conclusion that it wasn't quite the war of civilising the natives that I had first believed. A tipping point was reached a short time ago and I bought a trio of books to do with the war.

The Washing of the Spears - Donald R. Morris
Zulu - Saul David
Forgotten Battles of the Zulu War - Adrian Greaves

shortly followed by:

The Anatomy of the Zulu Army: From Shaka to Cetshwayo - Ian Knight

and of course the ubiquitous Osprey books:

Men at Arms 37 - The Zulu War
Men at Arms 388 - Zulu War: Volunteers, Irregulars & Auxiliaries
Elite 21 - The Zulus
Elite 32 - British Forces in Zululand 1879
Essential Histories 56 - The Zulu War 1879
Fortress 35 - British Fortifications in Zululand 1879
Campaign Series 14 - Zulu War 1879
Campaign Series 111 - Isandlwana 1879
Warrior Series 14 - Zulu 1816-1906

Having digested swathes of information I came to the following conclusions:

The Zulu War was an absolute unmitigated national disgrace. It was a war that was enforced upon a indigenous people who had been friendly to the British Empire living side by side with us for over 50 years and wanted no war. It was prosecuted through Boer land grabbing, disinformation and misinforming Westminster about the situation in South African, who were explicit about not wanting a war. War was waged for the personal interest of two individuals approaching the ends of their careers; Sir Henry Bartle-Frere and Lord Frederic Thesiger, 2nd Baron Chelmsford, neither of whom held the Zulu nation in the regard that events would prove was their due.

The Victoria Cross was handed out like confetti to people who probably didn't deserve them (although such a statement is obviously contentious, although very much common currency amongst the military hierarchy and politicians of the day), whilst completely bypassing some of those that did and all to cover up not one military ass whooping that the Zulus dished out to us but three! THREE!!!! Isandlwana, the greatest defeat ever inflicted on a developed nation from a spear armed native force, 2nd Hlobane and Intombe River. The Zulus derailed Lord Chelmsford's invasion plan so severely that a 3 month pause was forced on Imperial forces before the country was flooded with reinforcements from the UK and a second invasion was able to begin.

They viewed the Zulu army as nothing better than the factional tribal groupings that surrounded Natal and the Cape Province and despite having plenty of contact and plenty of information being passed to and fro completely disregarded the Zulu history of empire building, the extremely high trained nature of its troops and the discipline under which their every day lives existed.

That screaming rabble you see charging in films like Zulu Dawn and Zulu? Nope! Never existed. The Zulus formed by regiment, manoeuvred and skirmished at the same level as professional troops and charged in lines! These 'savages' made quite an impression on the redcoats that they were facing, so much so that many of them wrote how impressed they were with their battlefield manoeuvres and perhaps most telling of all, that they believed that the Zulu skirmished at the same level as their European adversaries.

There are interesting things to be gamed here I believe!

I decided that I am going to do this in 10mm. Why? Well, I like doing the smaller scales because I can knock out large numbers of presentably painted troops in a decent amount of time... and IF you want to field a Zulu army, what else is there other than numbers? I want the pleasure of seeing a Zulu army deployed en masse. 10mm it has to be, as at any other scale I doubted as to whether or not I would ever see the end of them!

There are five manufacturers that do the Anglo-Zulu War in 10mm

Pendraken Miniatures:
Old Glory UK:
Magister Militum:
Steve Barber Models:

I decided that I was going to buy packs off of each of the manufacturers and do a review of them to determine which of the manufacturers provided the best sculpted Zulus, for both quality and accuracy, what the turnaround time of the order was and which company provided the best value for money.

Here is what I determined.

Pendraken Miniatures (

Zulus without headdress (ZC5) 30 for £4.95 (16.5p per miniature in 4 varieties)

Probably the best overall miniatures from all of the providers. Sadly however there are a couple of issues and the biggest of which is the fact that there are only 4 poses. This wouldn't really be such an issue with the British automatons in their nice and orderly firing lines  BUT when you want to field an entire army of Zulu tribesmen then four poses just don't cut it! The problem increases when you realise that this limited variety has to include a division made between married and unmarried figures and only one of the figures is carrying a firearm. This is an extremely prohibitive lack of choice. However the Zulu carrying the firearm is also carrying his Izihlangu war shield.... which means he will fit nicely into the bases of your ibutho instead of only being suitable for the skirmishing bases.

Initially I had an issue with the fact that two of the infantry were also sporting the isicoco, denoting them as being a part of a married regiment. However the isicoco is so heavily cast here that it looks more like the leopard and/or otter skin headband so many of the unmarried regiments wore. IF this is indeed what it is meant to represent then it turns out that if you collected only Pendraken then you would never be able to paint up any married regiments... which almost totally rules out white shields!

Anatomically speaking the figures are heavy limbed although in 10mm scale I dont see this as a problem as it allows the sculptor to provide more muscle definition and makes the figures sturdier.

The assegai's (more specifically termed an Iklwa in Bantu as an onomatopoeic of the sound it makes when pulling it out of a body) are very over sculpted looking as if the Zulu is carrying a small tree trunk (I wonder if this would qualify as a Zulu heavy weapon?)

As you can see from the scale, these figures are true 10mm with the 10mm mark, when adjustment for the base is taken into consideration, coming up to the miniatures eye level.

Zulu Command (ZC8) (Indunas) 10 for £1.65 (16.5p per miniature in 1 variety)

You get 10 of these in a pack from Pendraken but the problem is, once again a lack of variety in poses with only one pose being supplied.

However, the miniature itself is a beauty. Its well proportioned (given my preference for the heavy set individual), with great definition, being able to clearly see the monkey tail skirt, the feather gaiters and Crane feather coming out of the Lourie feather bundle head dress and sporting a well defined Umbumbulozo war shield (By 1879 the full body war shield, or Izihlangu had been all but surrendered as the Zulu military realised that speed was more important than full body protection on the contemporary battlefield decided on due to their previous experiences of firearm based warfare against the Boers over the previous 50 years).

The one issue that I could name here is with the sculpting of the Knobkerrie (War Club), as with the sculping on the Knobkerrie wielder from pack ZC5 the representation of the club is very heavy. However when all is said and done if we are willing to accept the misproportion of the Ikwla then why not with the Knobkerrie as well?

At a pinch you could lop off the crane feather and include some of these miniatures in any amabutho (regiment) that you have sporting full war dress, although by 1879 this was very much the exception.

Zulu Chieftain (ZC13) 1 for £0.50 (50p per miniature)

You buy this individual as an individual because he's the dude that is supposed to be in charge of the whole Impi! At 50p a miniature though, he is weighing in at the same cost as well sculpted miniatures twice his size.

The details are, as expected from Pendraken quite good although anatomically speaking his legs are far too short, even if he nets out at 10mm (or thereabouts) and his bronze war axe is far too abstract to really make out what it is, if you didn't know what you were looking at. His headdress is somewhat underwhelming with the Induna above displaying somewhat more ostentation. I felt that a little more could have been done with this miniature, given its importance... and its cost!

However, when all is said and done it is still a miniature to represent a General, and there are precious few of those out there for the Zulu's in 10mm so maybe we should just suck it up and get on with it!

I placed my order on 4th November. Received it on 18th November (14 day turnaround and it could be argued that they are advertised as something a little different from what they are. Half of the Zulus in the pack have the isicoco headrings (or Otter/ Leopard head rings) meaning, no matter what you say they ARE sporting a headress)

Old Glory UK (

Unmarried Warriors (10Zul - 101) 100 for £13.00 (13p per miniature in 6 varieties)

Looking at the big picture, I have to say that I think the Old Glory Grand Scale miniatures are the best bang for buck you are going to get. There is plenty of variety and the range is clearly divided between married and unmarried.

The miniatures are very well animated with a lot of dynamism in the poses. The physiques are heavy again with the poses contributing to the overall strength of the casting. The faces are well defined as well.

One thing I particularly like is the raised straps on the Izihlangu which will facilitate easy painting.

The only drawbacks that I can see with these are the Ikwla's and Knobkerries being oversculpted again but I have a feeling that this will be a continuing theme. I also think that maybe some sort of headwear would have been appropriate, even if of a limited nature, just for aesthetic purposes.

Married Warriors (10Zul-100) 100 for £13.00 (13p per miniature in 5 varieties)

Unfortunately the married packs use the same poses as with the unmarried warriors however they have very well sculpted isicoco headrings which clearly flag them  as married.

Nothing more to say on these badasses that I didn't already say on the above pack.

Zulus Skirmishing with Rifles (10Zul-102) 50 for £7.00 (14p per miniature in 3 varieties)

A smaller pack, only 50 miniatures as opposed to the standard 100 of the other packs, and only three variants this time as well.

Relatively well sculpted with well defined features, with the miniature size and physical build there is nonetheless one issue with these miniatures, which however is an issue with all the manufacturers with the exception of Magister Militum; Zulu's did not separate firearmed troops from spear armed troops, and all firearm wielding Zulu's also went to war with their Ikwla, throwing spears and shield. They were a constituent part of the amabutho and when not called on to troop forwards and skirmish would fire their single volleys as they charged before resorting once more to their Ikwla and Izihlangu. Almost all manufacturers only sculpt their Zulu's with firearms only carrying their firearms and nothing else... which of course pretty much relegates them to skirmishing bases and nothing else!

I placed this order on 4th November. Received it on 9th November (5 day turnaround). No dramas!

Magister Militum

Mixed Warriors Spears and Knobkerrie (Zip1) 30 for £5.80 (19p per miniature in 6 varieties)

Anatomically speaking these are the most true to life representation of a typical Zulu physique of any of the manufacturers. The poses and the sculpting arent too bad but there are some significant issues with these figures. Every one of them is sculpted with an isicoco and these ones are definitely too thin to be able to pass them off as anything else. This limits the range to only representing the married regiments... and the married regiments were definitely in the minority by a factor of 3:1 in all battles... hmmmm

A more technical problem is indicated by the black wash that I have put over the miniatures. They look like the guys over at MM use way WAY too much mould release when casting. This could cause problems with the painting of these miniatures unless you want to go through the rigmarole of scrubbing and cleaning hundreds of tiny men! Not for me I'm afraid! These go straight to the bottom of the list!

Mixed Warriors with Rifles (Zip 2) 30 for £5.80 (19p per miniature in 3 varieties)

These guys are Magister Militums possible saving grace however. These Zulu's sporting firearms are also carrying their Umbumbulozo and these are the only ones out there that do! Vital to any Zulu regiment you are considering building! Well proportioned and well sculpted they do however look a lot skinnier than the ranges from other companies and there are unfortunately only three poses, compounded by the fact that the war shield on the second pose is almost universally half cast!

Still... some is better than none right?

Placed order on 10th November. Received it on 21st November (7 working day turnaround and incorrectly advertised. Nothing mixed about these. ALL have the isicoco)

Steve Barber Models 

Zulu Warriors (ZW1) 20 for £3.50 (17.5p per miniature in 5 varieties)

Perhaps the most 3D of any of the miniature sculpts for 10mm Zulu's these ones unfortunately come with some pretty sizeable problems.

Anatomically these are far and away the worst of any of the ranges with legs that are far out of proportion with some of the bodies and weapons that even an Ogre would struggle to lift. The heads are undersculpted with facial features only really being flirted with and unfortunately many of the other features like physique and clothing is poorly defined.

Ironically they are also sold at the most expensive price of any of the manufacturers which would largely rule them out of most peoples lists. However I do feel that a smattering of them through your army would add to the overall effect rather than diminish it solely through the variety that these would provide. When all is said and done, the miniatures are not a disaster, I just feel that they could have been better with a little more time spent on them but this isnt enough for me to rule them out of inclusion in my own amabutho.

Zulus with captured equipment and rifles (ZW2) 20 for £3.50 (17.5p per miniature in 4 varieties)

The ubiquitous firearm Zulus have the same problem that other ranges have in that they carry no shields making them suitable for little more than skirmish bases and also suffer from the Steve Barber anatomy problems  with leg extensions and weaponry that your average construction crew would struggle to move from A to B.

However, these do have some curios that make them interesting. Between the variety of all four choices they are sporting redcoat jackets and helmets which could provide some interesting colour variation on the bases... although for the purists out there this does limit the miniatures to any battles after Isandlwana and in the first part of the campaign to only those battles that Column No 3 took part in.

Again the most expensive option, once again I do think that these miniatures would add more to the bases they occupy than what they would take away so long as they are mixed in with other manufacturers offerings.

Zulu Command (ZW3) 20 for £3.50 (17.5p per miniature in 5 varieties)

No matter what else I say about Steve Barbers miniatures, no matter how much I say they may have got wrong THIS pack they most definitely got absolutely right... and to such a degree that it more than makes up for any and every deficiency in any of their other miniatures.

Zulu command is thin on the ground from all other manufacturers with only a smattering of individuals being provided by Pendraken, and those with only individual poses that are limited to battlefield commanders.

The miniatures of this pack are all well proportioned with no elongated limbs and no weapons that would crush the average Swarzenegger amongst us. Here you will find the only miniature of a Zulu Inkosi (King) both on horseback and on foot with staff. At a push you could do a bit of body swapping and have the Inkosi on horseback repurposed to Indunas on horseback. There were a lot more Zulu's mounted on horseback than pop culture gives them credit for.

The third figure could represent either an Isangoma, which is a person in touch with the spirit world, an intermediary able to divine the future and detect withcraft (which ironically was one of the British reasons for going to war with the Zulus) or an Inyanga which is the Zulu version of a doctor who would purge the amabutho before battle is joined by providing them with Intelezi (protective medicines). The sculpting on this one starts to get a little busy BUT the sculptor has held back enough to leave everything relatively well defined. Perhaps no place on an actual battlefield but it can nonetheless provide some interesting variety on the overall aesthetic of the army.

Figure 4 represents an Isikhulu, or a great man of the nation. Essentially one of the hereditary chieftains of the kingdom. Any bases that require you to have generals on, this would take pride of place, and sports enough paraphernalia to make a convincing centrepiece for an army, and when combined with Pendrakens chieftain will, I believe,look great. Unfortunately, other than looking a little flat the one other issue with the miniature is once again the representation of the bronze war axe which Izikhulu carried. It is so poorly cast that it almost looks like a half carved knobkerrie.... still; ho hum!

Finally we come to the Induna. Another choice for command of an ibutho, this miniature suffers from a somewhat flat sculpt however with a little care the arms can be bent to provide a little motion in the miniature. The miniature sports the ubiquitous Crane feather and has enough ostentation to draw attention. Not too bad... but nothing to write home about here.

Zulu uDloko Regiment (ZW5) 20 for £3.50 (17.5p per miniature in 1 variety)

This is a curious one. This is a miniature that is supposed to represent the uDloko ibutho and is sculpted in full regalia. This is a curious option because full regalia was almost unheard of on the Zulu battlefields for almost 40 years before the Anglo Zulu war in 1879 with most warriors opting to wear little other than their loincloths and protective charm necklaces. The uDloko (The Young Crested Mamba) regiment was an old married regiment formed in 1855 from people born around 1835 so would have been about 45 at the time of the Anglo Zulu War. In 1855 they sported a row of black and white Ostrich feathers with their red leather shields whilst by the time of Isandlwana they sported only a single Crane feather in an otter skin headband with their plain white or red and white blotched shields.

This figure, because of these facts is suitable for the Zulu succession conflict between Ceteswayo and his brother of 1855 but doesn't seem to have a place in 1879

It could however possibly be used as a representation of the uThulwana regiment which was the ibutho that the Zulu king Ceteswayo was indoctrinated into along with a number of other Zulu princes. In 1879 these had a ceremonial uniform that included an otterskin headband with Sakabuli feathers on either side of the head, white Ostrich feathers on top of the head surmounted with a single Crane feather... these is no anecdotal evidence or otherwise of the uThulwana wearing full regalia onto the field however. These should only be looked at as a curio piece.

However the most significant drawback is that there is only one pose of these, meaning that so far it is the only miniature pose in full regalia... this would make for an overwhelmingly boring ibutho in my opinion! That said however there is plenty about the miniature that makes it worth painting covered as it is in feathers, monkey tails and decorations! Unfortunately these plus points are robbed again by the all too flat sculpting that is symptomatic of Steve Barber Miniatures.

I placed this order on 10th November and received it on 23rd November (13 day turnaround) and it came with a personally written 'Thankyou' for the order. Gotta count for something right?

Passable sculpts (6/10) but not up to the quality of the ones above, however does provide some more variety.

Newline Designs 

Zulus in Wardress 30 for £3.00 (10p per miniature in 5 varieties)

Not much to be said about Newlines range other than the figures are deceptively well proportioned with a surprising clarity of detail. When you first open the pack the figures do not look that great, although maybe I was getting a miniature version of snow blindness. Essentially there was just nothing that really made the miniatures stand out.

However, my own optical decrepitude aside I can say that they are well proportioned, and dovetail in with almost all of the other ranges, the minimal amount of embellishment on the miniatures, being totally in line with their Indunas instructions allows them to fit in. There is a reasonable amount of movement in the figures and enough head detail to draw the eyes attention with enough variation to make them an attractive option in your buying list.

Zulus in Full Dress 30 for £3.00 (10p per miniature in 3 varieties)

These guys, and the last in the line of miniatures that we will look at, also provide a much needed option for variety in your Zulu regiments. Other than Steve Barbers uDloko Regiment miniature(s) these are the only ones that you will find touted as being in 'Full Regalia' . Because of this they can be used alongside the uDloko miniatures to contribute to a full regalia ibutho.

The downside here is that there are only three variations of the miniature, meaning that on each base there are only a maximum of 5 variations (with the induna inclusion), two of the three options are sculpted with knobkerrie instead of ikwla and perhaps the biggest issue is that the majority of the figure 2's that were supplied were all miscast with only half shields... but then when you pay peanuts...

The order was placed on 11th November. Received it on 6th December. That's a shocking 25 day turnaround for a small order of two packs and on top of that this is a total reduction in the time taken because of the first packs supposedly going missing in the post!

Order times

I have some opinions on the time it takes to receive things in the UK:

Just to put these turnaround times into some clarity, in the month of December I made four further orders, two from America, one from Poland and one from Australia. All but the Polish order were from small companies, the Polish one being a big book supplier and ALL of them arrived within 10 days!

Andy at Old Glory UK and Magister Militum were the performers here but Steve Barber and Pendraken with a 13 and 14 day turnaround I can choke down without complaint but it could be better BUT Newline Designs turnaround time was shocking. The fact that their miniature are the cheapest can only infer so much patience but in my opinion... not nearly enough!

The Big Picture

The one thing that it seems most sculptors of Zulu ranges (in 10mm) seem to be unaware of, or at the very least unappreciative of, is the fact that Zulu attire was extremely regimented with absolutely everybody in an ibutho wearing the same dress.

This isn't such a bad thing with the amabutho that sported wardress that were dressed in little more than a loincloth but when it comes to the more extravagantly attired ibutho you are either very VERY limited in your options or else you just suck it up and mix outfits... just as I will do with my uThulwana ibutho.

The main dividing line between the miniatures are the married and unmarried figures with the married amabutho taking a far numerically inferior part of a Zulu army. The married figures are limited to Old Glory UK and a smattering from Steve Barber Miniatures but the unmarried figures, or else those that are suitable for unmarried troops are prolific.

Fortunately the majority of the miniatures place well together and so can be mixed freely creating a great variety within each ibutho.

The Magister Militum miniatures are a noticeable difference from all of the others and therefore I believe only really suitable for a really young ibutho... except for the fact that all of them are sculpted with an isicoco leaving your with two options. Either you trim away the isicoco and use them for a young ibutho such as the uVe (The Flycatcher Bird) amabutho formed between 1875 and 1878. On the eve of the Anglo Zulu war they were incorporated alongside the iNgobamakhosi (The Humbler of Kings) ibutho in the Undi corp. This was such a big corp however that I would be inclined to choose another. During the war Ceteswayo had a cadet ibutho called the uFalaza (The Clouds of Heaven), only being incorporated after his return from exile. Essentially their role would have been more symbolic than practical.

Of course you could also take the line that there are a vast variety of physiques in the human race and just put them into any of your amabutho.

Where your firearm armed Zulu's are concerned you have little option but to include them wherever you can. It is important to realise that a lot of Zulu's carried firearms along with their other equipment. The Zulu Inkosi and Izikhulu had understood, from the time of Shaka that firearms were changing the face of warfare and made it policy to provide Zulu manpower for the colonial mining operations and taking firearms as payment. Zululand was flooded with firearms, the downside being that they were, until Isandlwana low quality muskets and such like with a lack of powder and shot to provide resources for intensive training.

There were Zulu's who were crack shots, Ceteswayo and Dabulamanzi amongst them, but just not enough to make a difference... which the defenders of Rorkes Drift can thank their lucky stars for.

The final word though is that there is enough variety out there to create one hell of an army!

Fix Bayonets!