Fire Support!

For a change, a relatively short post this time!  Continuing with my 20mm Franco-Prussian War troops, the next unit to get finished is a Prussian field gun, along with crew and limber.  This lot comfortably meet the criterion for Ann’s “Paint The Crap You Already Own” monthly challenge, although I think I only bought them last year!


The models represent a gun battery and took as much painting as one of my 10-man infantry battalions, since the gun needs not only a crew but also a horse-drawn limber to move it about on the battlefield (although I opt for a nominal two-horse team to represent it – let’s not get carried away with painting horses)!  All of the figures are from the B&B Miniatures 20mm FPW range and I like them for their more solid, chunky, styling.  For some reason, and I didn’t notice it until I came to paint it, the limber crewman riding the horse has a spike on his helmet instead of the more usual ball, so I’m not sure if he’s meant to be a gunner from one of the smaller German states who ended up in the wrong pack of figures at some point!


Since I now use unit movement bases for 19th Century units, I’ve also had to paint up another one of these, although this should hopefully be the last one I need.  When the gun’s being moved during a game I just remove the crew and place it on the lengthened base behind its limber.  Whereas in 2015 I painted my Prussians in block colours and put a black wash on them for quick shading, this time I resorted to my more usual dark-base-coat-plus-single-layer-highlight method since I had plenty of time to do them.  Significantly for me, I finally identified and bought (fortunately, just before lock-down in the UK) a colour that looked right for brown horses (Vallejo Flat Brown surprisingly enough) without any mixing being required!

I didn’t think I’d be adding any more units to my FPW Prussian army, but having re-read accounts of the war since then made me think I needed more artillery.  Whereas French infantry used their excellent Chassepot rifle to good effect against Prussian infantry assaults, it was frequently Prussian artillery support that enabled them to carry the day.  This artillery unit now gives me three batteries with which the Prussians can hopefully batter the French into submission from a distance, but we’ll see!


  1. I love your painting style, John, and these look great.
    Odd that spiked helmet, usually worn by infantry weren’t they? Didn’t the minor nations also wear the ball on top, either that or a cloth hat?
    I like the chap sitting in the limber – he only needs a blanket across his legs and he’d look like he’s enjoying a lovely day out at the seaside!

    Liked by 4 people

    • Thanks Justin! 🙂 The uniforms situation is slightly more complicated than you might think because of all the German states allied with Prussia. The majority of infantry wore the spiked helmet, and artillery the helmet with the ball on top, but there are some notable exceptions in uniforms, most noticeably Bavaria, Wurttemberg and Brunswick. Troops sometimes wore a cloth cap instead of the spiked helmet as well. Interestingly, since some of these nations were allied with Austria against Prussia in 1866, their troops tended to wear peaked caps instead (probably to avoid being mistaken for Prussians)!

      Liked by 4 people

      • Uniformity has always been a difficult one, especialy as wars progressed and troops took to wearing whatever they could get their hands on.
        I imagine that he had his helmet blown off and grabbed the nearest available, it just happened to belong to an infantryman, let’s hope he cleaned it out first!

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    • Thanks Pete! 🙂 For a small army, my Prussians are quite well equipped with artillery – my seven (soon to be eight, hopefully) infantry units now have three artillery units/batteries to support them! Only one cavalry unit so far, but have another planned!

      Liked by 3 people

      • I like the blue as well. I also like how one of the wheels, on the carriage being pulled by horses, looks like it is sinking down into the mud a bit.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Thanks Ann! 🙂 The wheel sinking in the rutted track is partly planned, so I’m glad you like it! I cover the base in milliput and use the blunt end of a scalpel handle to mark in all the wheel ruts. The horses have already been stuck to the base, so I blend and work the ruts around them. Since it’s easier to hold and paint the limber on its own, I push it into the milliput a bit to represent it sinking in, but I then remove it, leaving two shallow depressions for the wheels. After I’ve painted the limber I stick it in place with Gorilla glue and paint in the surrounding area (I leave the ruts and lower part of the wheels paint free to get the best bond for the glue) and drybrush the base. This makes it all a bit easier to manage during painting.

          Liked by 1 person

  2. what a cracking bit of kit John, and beautifully painted too. Love the vibrancy of the prussian blue, i must try a few more of the vallejo colours as i am stuggling to get a decent british Napoleonic red.

    Liked by 4 people

    • Thanks Steve! 🙂 My dad used to lecture me about British Napoleonic uniforms, saying that whereas officers wore a scarlet shade, the uniforms of the rank and file was more of a brick red colour, but most people seem to go with scarlet. Where I need red, I just use straight Vallejo Flat Red and have long since stopped worrying about how wrong it might be.

      You might have noticed I’ve removed the pole on the limber that would extend forwards and sit between the horses. This is because with nothing to fix it to at the forward end, in years to come it may bend down and look stupid (found this out the hard way with a limber I painted about 25 years ago) so as a rule I usually remove the pole!

      Liked by 4 people

      • i was talking recently about the drawbar on my limber and how to base it with a very clever diorama builder we both know and he suggested incorporating some sort of shrubbery under it for it to rest on as the limber parks/goes over it, great idea but not done it yet. I like Vallejo flat red as a colour, i am going to buy the british uniform paaint set shortly.

        Liked by 4 people

  3. Nice work again John, that’s interesting what your dad said about the different colours of red the British wore in the Napoleonic period Ive always assumed scarlet was red was red ill have to remember that when I get around to painting some British lads!

    Liked by 3 people

  4. Great looking Prussian blue uniforms. Only you would notice the spiked helmet errata, but that attention to detail of yours, among other things, makes your posts must reads.

    Prussian artillery was so far advanced over the French at this time that the chassepot advantage was nullified. First guns that could be quickly relaid and accurately return fire, at long ranges. French arty was counter batteried into oblivion.

    Great post and hope you are well too!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thanks Mark. glad you like them! 🙂 In the initial stages of the war the French were hampered by only having time fuzes that functioned at specific ranges, something they did later address. But you’re right, the Prussians learned their lessons of the 1866 war well and Prussian artillery was a battle winner for them in 1870!

      Liked by 2 people

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