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Napoleonic British Artillery - 1/72 Scale (Hobby Post)

RUPERT MITCHELL 1/72 Napoleonic Hobby Blog

Napoleonic British Artillery - 1/72 Scale

Most of my 1/72 scale Napoleonic British Army is painted - it just needs basing. The artillery limbers and cannons however do need painting. Here you can follow my progress with these as I edge towards completing my army.

The above photo shows you the artillery chassis & limbers after they have been sprayed with Army Painter Grey Primer as pictured below. The chassis with only one wheel are for use as damaged battery markers in case you were wondering. I use Revell for the Foot Artillery and Airfix for the Horse Artillery.

I don't have the patience or talent to do accurate brush work on these pieces. A quick tip that may help those of a similar disposition is to do the iron work with a chisel tip permanent marker pen like the one shown below. The before and after shot of a Revell limber's wheel rims above shows that this can look pretty decent. It is also very quick. Marker pens come in silver and gold as well so you are not limited to black. I use the metallic coloured pens for edging shields when doing ancients for example.

So pretty quickly I have applied the gray paint and penned on the black iron work leaving the pieces ready for basing. I use fairly thin (Javis Code 60B) plastic building card for my artillery bases in 40mm x 60mm sizes. These are marked up, scribed and snapped out from larger sheets using the simple technique shown in my YouTube video on the subject.


The next stage is to paint the plastic card bases. For most projects I use Vallejo Game Color #72043 Beasty Brown for this.

Things are starting to come together now. Below I have Super Glued my cannons and limbers onto their painted plastic card bases. I have used Plastercine to keep the limber arms up whilst the glue on the wheels dries and they await their horses.

Taking a tip from the ACW Fire & Fury rules I only use two horses per limber. This is why the limber bases are only 6cm long and the same size as those for the cannons.

I know many more horses were used in reality but it's one of those gaming compromises I am happy with. Plus there would not be a lot of table room left if every cannon had a six or eight horse limber team.


Damaged battery markers based on 4cm diameter metal washers.

Ok so now below the foot artillery crew and horses have been added. Most of the foot artillery crew and some of the horses I had painted for me (by Simon Bennison of Painted Napoleonic Armies). The rest were painted by me.

The Royal Horse Artillery come next - below. Mostly painted by me with some of the horses done for me. Note the white residue on some bases. This is one of the drawbacks of using SuperGlue in my experience. Not too much of a problem on these bases which will be covered over with sand and flock but if it get's onto your figure paintwork it does become a real pain. Trouble is the other glues I have tried using to stick plastic figures to plastic bases have their own problems such as warping and weak bonding (ie Bostik and Revell Contacta respectively).

A few more things to point out below - Firstly I have had a go at custom building two ammo wagons which are at the top of the pic. I mainly used cannon and limber bits from Airfix for these (plus some paper clip handles). I'll use these as markers in my games to denote when ammo can be replenished etc...Secondly I never much liked the Airfix British Artillery barrels so have replaced three of them with ones from the A Call to Arms Foot Artillery set which to my eye look better. Lastly I have used a spare Howitzer barrel to add a bit of variety - this is the gun on the middle row left .

The damaged battery markers have had a few more barrels added plus a couple of casualties. Artillery commander stand is at top of picture. 

Next stage: Application of watered down PVA glue > Sand. 

Here's pics of how the pieces look after the watered down PVA and sand have been applied:

Black Wash - Below is my "Devil's Brew" black wash made from water, black paint and black ink. Needs to be thrown away from time to time as pongs if kept too long. Also takes some experimentation to get it right. Too little black paint / ink and makes little difference. Too much and your paint work is ruined.

I use it on most of my projects as it usually improves my paint jobs, brings out the details, adds a level of battle grime and also turns the basing sand from the natural colour to a more muddy earth tone that I want.

Like many of my hobby things I store it an old ice cream tub which is wide and deep enough to allow me to quickly dip whole bases in comfortably.

We actually had a decent weather day today (somewhat of a rarity here in the UK!) so I was able to dry my washed artillery bases outside which is great as they dry faster.

I accumulated quite a few small tupperware type hobby storage trays with lids which I at one time used for sorting Games Workshop figures and other bits & pieces. By removing the lids (which I use for other purposes now) I had ready made drying "racks" which you can see in the three pics above.

These are very useful to use after dipping pieces in the black wash as they allow the undersides to dry properly. If put just on flat trays the undersides don't get a chance to dry out very well.

Javis Autumn Tufts and SuperGlue

Having let the black wash finish drying completely indoors overnight the penultimate stage is to apply summer static "hairy" grass and some grass tufts - both from Javis. Using two different types of grass adds a bit of height and colour variety. I use PVA white glue for applying the former and SuperGlue for the latter - both again from Javis.

Above Pic - Tufts applied and awaiting static grass.

The application of the greenery really brings pieces to life. A few tips with static grass:

1.) It tends to settle and clump together a bit when stored for any length of time so just ensure you break it up with your fingers etc... and loosen all the individual pieces before using.

2.) In a draft free room sprinkle it over your base from a bit of a height to get a good coating and maximise the chances of your static appearing as realistic as possible.

3.) Place it to cover up the bases of your figures so that the difference in height between your stand base and figures is not so obvious.

4.) Tap the bottom of your base over your static container to remove any excess. You may also find it useful to go outside and blow off any remaining loose bits. If you don't you may find static strands have got where you don't want them - onto faces for example - and may end up being varnished into position!

How much or how little greenery you use on your bases is like everything else in this hobby - entirely up to you. Many fields in dry conditions have a pretty uniform look to them so leaving lots of patches of brown earth can be a bit unrealistic but does add an appealing colour contrast. Of course if the field was muddy such as at Waterloo more brown patches would be expected.

When your tufts and static grass are dry all that remains is to apply a coat of Matt spray clear varnish. Army Painter is my current favourite for this. Aside from the usual ventilation caution also take care to shake the can well, not apply too much in any one coat and to watch for the temperature - both where you are spraying and of the can itself. If it is too hot or too cold a nasty white bloom can appear on your hard produced work.

(Tip - If this does happen all may not be lost as I have found spraying gloss varnish, allowing to dry and then reapplying the matt spray coat can sometimes redeem matters.)

Of course some folk may wish to only apply spray gloss varnish as they prefer that look or maybe spray it gloss first to get an additional layer of protection on their paint work before finishing with matt for a more realistic look.

Below Pics - Completed Royal Horse Artillery en masse having had static grass applied and then matt varnished - followed by some close up photos. I am never that keen on close ups of my 1/72 scale efforts as it magnifies my mistakes and general inadequacies as a painter - and it's only going to get worse as my eyes deteriorate as I age!

Below: Completed damaged battery markers.

Below: Completed Foot Artillery.

Below: Putting the completed pieces away in the storage trays I use.

Below: One of two storage boxes I use for my Napoleonic British 1/72 scale Army. Each holds six of the trays shown above. Fortunately the tray sizes and my views on what base sizes to use match quite nicely allowing 4 artillery pieces to fit per tray. (Or 2 x 6 stand infantry / cavalry units).

That's it - thanks for looking.



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  • Rupert Mitchell on

    Thanks Alan.

  • Alan Woods on

    Superb. Simple but effective.

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