One of the attractions for creating my Victorian Science Fiction/steampunk armies is that I can just add figures, vehicles or units to my historical forces as I feel like it, and I have plenty of the latter to add to! I’ve also decided to concentrate on adding small units or individual vehicles or items of equipment to give more of a technology-evolving-through-the-building-of-prototypes feel to the project (bit like the French Navy at the end of the 19th Century).
Although I’m intending to try and make a lot of the new stuff generic enough to be used by just about any nation, I will be making some troops and equipment specific to certain armies and this applies to my latest unit (shown above). This unit of six figures represents the French Foreign Legion’s Airborne Auto-Rifle Battalion, an elite unit armed with light automatic rifles and deployed in gliders launched from large airships. It is commanded by Commandant Jean Danjou, decorated hero and sole survivor of the action at Camerone (see here for more about the Legion at Camerone in a historical setting).
I’ve sort of cheated a bit here! I’d normally represent 19th Century infantry battalions as 10-man units, but reckoned I could get away with fewer if they’re equipped with automatic weapons. Since I already had two WW1 French Chauchat light machine gun teams in horizon blue uniforms (the left- and right-hand bases of figures in the above photo) all I needed to do was add a third base to get a six-man unit. I used two plastic 1:72 scale Strelets WW1 French infantry in gas masks (the centre base in the picture) and painted their trousers white to represent these two wearing Legion summer fatigue trousers. The gas masks seem appropriate for their role and make them seem more suited to operations undertaken by Earth forces on Mars. Commandant Danjou still has his artificial hand in its white glove, but the technology now exists for him to use this to carry a weapon. Flying in the face of regulations, he’s also elected to wear a white kepi cover to better fit in with his men. The trooper accompanying him also wears white fatigue trousers (not visible here) and has an unpainted bronze helmet.
I thought that the horizon blue uniforms would be ideal for an elite airborne force and it lets me use my two WW1 French infantry battalions in a VSF setting. Since French colonial infantry at the end of the 19th Century also wore light blue uniforms, the new figures also fit in well with them (they’re the figures on the right in the picture below, from my Boxer Rebellion Allied forces).
Using these colonial figures gives me another two infantry battalions, so I’ve got a decent French force without using any Metropolitan or African Army units. I need to have a think about what I’m going to provide my French with as far as support weapons and artillery are concerned, so if anyone’s got any ideas please let me know!