At the moment I think I’m managing to exert quite a bit of willpower as far as painting stuff is concerned. I’ve managed to completely ignore the half dozen half-finished tanks on my desk and I’ve managed to get a Franco-Prussian War unit painted instead!
The ten figures are French Chasseurs à Pied in 1:72 scale, seven of them in metal from Hagen Miniatures, and the remaining three in plastic from Strelets. If I’ve got my facts straight, Chasseurs originally fought as light infantry in a skirmishing role, but by 1870 they were equipped and fought as regular line infantry (although tending to regard themselves as a cut above the rest).
I bought them as a unit pack of 10 metal Hagen Miniatures figures, but having recently adopted movement bases for my units, I replaced three of the metal figures lying down firing with three kneeling figures from a box of Strelets figures I had (the Strelets figures are the three at the back in the picture below).
Some of the Hagen figures have separate arms, weapons and packs and were a bit fiddly to put together, but the poses are very good, particularly the officer resting one hand on his knee (watching his men fire and correcting their aim) and the Chasseur running with his rifle in one hand.
I have gone for a very simple painting approach on these. Undercoated black overall, with light grey for the gaiters and haversack and saddle brown for faces and hands. Then highlighted dark blue for kepis and tunics (I find Prussian Blue works best – sacrilege), blue-grey for trousers (to add insult to injury, Luftwaffe Blue Grey), white for gaiters and haversacks and black-grey for leather equipment. I’ve long abandoned painting piping on uniforms in this scale (the very fine coloured edging used to identify unit or arm of service), since it’s so fine that it’s not visible at any reasonable distance, but I did paint the green epaulettes with their distinctive yellow “crescents”. One peculiar feature of the Hagen figures was that the kepis (caps) seemed very tall, as if the crowns had been pulled right up. I’ve never seen kepis worn in this fashion by the French before, but left them as they were and trimmed and green-stuffed the Strelets shakos to match.
Surprisingly, this is the first French infantry unit I’ve painted specifically for the Franco-Prussian War – it took a lot of hunting around to find Chasseurs and I’m really pleased with them (I could have used French line infantry at a pinch, but they wore greatcoats in action and Chasseurs didn’t usually). I’ve got other French troops I can use for this war, but they’ve been painted for contemporary conflicts and just happen to also be useful for FPW units. Given that the 150th anniversary of the start of the war is next year, I need to get a move on if I want to be able to field a decent French army. Those tanks are maybe going to have to look at me from from my desktop for a bit longer!