OK, it should really be rocket, although some of you may be more used to rokkit (a much more appropriate spelling in my mind)! With the end of the year fast approaching I didn’t think I’d get another post in, since I thought eating and drinking were going to feature more prominently than painting figures, but here we are!
Having got all the figures finished that I needed for my Paraguayan War game, I hadn’t really thought about what to paint for the rest of the year (choosing, at my peril, to ignore my wife’s suggestion of skirting boards and door frames). I’d also failed to paint anything that qualified for the Diabolical December community painting challenge. And then I had a brief flash of inspiration (no, I’m fine thanks, it won’t happen again) and decided I’d make and paint some Paraguayan War rocket launcher teams – I’m afraid that’s as diabolical as I can get for a historical 19th Century army!
From what I’ve read, both the Paraguayan and Brazilian armies used rocket launchers in the war. These appear to have fired late versions of the British Congreve rocket which were stabilised in flight by a long stick tail, very much like a large firework. I didn’t have details of the launchers, but opted for a simple trough mounted on a tripod, since I’d previously scratchbuilt this type of launcher for my 1866 Austrians (the latter used both Hale and Congreve rockets I think, but I couldn’t find details of the launchers they used either).
Because I’ve started using unit bases for my 19th Century armies, I needed to re-base my Austrian launcher on a UK 1p coin. Expecting that removing it from its 2p coin base might not go well, I decided I might just as well build a new one while I was making the Paraguayan and Brazilian ones. The launcher troughs were made from plasticard fitted to tripods made from plastic rod. To make sure everything lined up, I stuck plasticard discs on to the 1p coins, the discs having holes in them to let me position the legs. The photo below shows this stage for the three new launchers, along with the original Austrian launcher and two of its crew.
I stuck a central rod to the base and then stuck the legs in place around it and let them dry. The picture below shows the legs in place along with all the other launcher bits.
I then just cut the central rod away and replaced it with the launcher trough on its small post (shown below).
In all cases, I used plastic glue for the launchers – this leaves enough time to reposition the parts and saves the embarrassment of having bits of white plastic super-glued to my hands (and face)!
I used Newline Design 20mm American Civil War gun crew to man the launchers, adding rocket heads to the ramrods and hand-spikes where appropriate. Plasticard discs were added to the Paraguayans’ heads to convert the kepis into taller shakos. Some of the crew figures were stripped down to shirts, which made them look less formal, so I mainly opted for white fatigues. I added rockets to the launchers from plastic rod, deliberately shortening the tails to make them (hopefully) less susceptible to damage when handled.
Since I’d originally aimed to paint 170 figures for this project by the year end, the rocket launcher teams left me short of this target, so I also painted five Brazilian infantry. This lets me now field two 10-man battalions in place of the single 15-man unit I already had. To keep the balance about right between black and white troops, the five latest figures were black and included a unit flag bearer – having learnt the hard way with Imperial Brazilian flags, this flag was printed from a PowerPoint version I made and then painted in and highlighted.
So, finishing these figures has taken me to a total of 172 figures, guns and launchers for this project so far. Just for completeness though, I thought I’d include pictures of my other 19th Century rocket launchers (shown below).
These are for my Boxer Rebellion Chinese and are again scratchbuilt from plasticard. The two smaller ones are based on pictures of launchers for Hale rockets, whilst the larger one is based on a late-16th Century Korean launcher, albeit with only nine rockets instead of lots (it’s maybe more of a model I thought I’d like, rather than a strictly historical piece). All of these were built about 20 years ago, with fingers that were a lot more nimble than they are today!
And since this WILL be the last post of the year, it only remains for me to wish everyone a Happy New Year and best wishes for the future. I’m led to believe I won’t be allowed to paint any wargames stuff on New Year’s Eve but I’m sure I can eat and drink enough to compensate for that!