Above is a pic of Lt. Colonel James Galbraith, Regimental Colour in hand, alongside Bobbie the regimental dog and some of the other "Last Eleven" survivors of the 66th (Berkshire) Regiment, making their last stand in one of the walled gardens just South of Khig village, a few miles West of the Afghan town of Maiwand.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

FULL UNIT CONVERSION #3: RHA limbers w/crew

A day before the 131st anniversary of the original Maiwand Day, I am putting up my last "full unit conversion" for the British side of the battle -- 3 limbers and their crews from E/B Battery of the Royal Horse Artillery.

I already had a beautiful set of 3 British colonial limbers, all from Wargames Foundry's 2nd Boer War range (when last I checked their site the figures could be found under the heading "British in Africa"). Those limbers are some of my favorite Foundry colonials, definitely my favorite of their Boer War minis, but... I didn't want to raise a second exactly matching set of 3 more limbers for Maiwand.

At the battle there were 2 British Artillery batteries. E/B RHA and the "smooth bore" battery, made up of infantrymen seconded from the 66th Regiment (who had luckily had some relatively recent artillery training), under the command of RHA officers and NCOs. A year ago when we refought the battle, the second set of limbers were graciously provided by Nick Stern, who brought them from San Francisco down to Los Angeles. But I can't expect him to always do that, every time I want to refight the battle -- or use 2 batteries worth of British field guns as part of any 2nd Afghan War scenario -- so I had to raise a second set of 3 limbers myself.

Having 2 sets of exactly identical limbers wasn't for me, especially not when there were only 2 artillery batteries present in the entire British order of battle. So... I needed to find an alternate set of 28mm scale limbers that would fit well with the Foundry sets I already had.

I searched far and wide, without too much success. Finally I decided to use 3 limbers and their crews from the Foundry Indian Mutiny range. Their RHA limber set contains 6 horses, 2 seated crewmen and 3 riding crewmen. The crewmen wear loose trousers, braided shell jackets, minimal equipment and pillbox caps, as seen here:


*CLICK HERE FOR LINK to Foundry catalogue page where this set is for sale.

PLEASE NOTE: I bought my 3 limber sets during the Foundry Christmas sale, when everything was 20% off.

Unfortunately, when the limbers arrived, they had forgotten to include the ammunition boxes/seats, without which there was nothing for the 2 seated crewmen to sit on. I could have just built replacements from scratch, but the time I was already spending on the crew figures, plus the principle of the thing, led me to seek satisfaction from Foundry. I took a pic (see below) and included it in an email to Foundry, and I'm happy to report they sent me the 3 missing pieces without much delay.

To convert the 15 crewmen, I needed to remove the braid from their jackets (turning them into decent facsimiles of the short tunics worn by E/B battery in 1880) and swap their pillbox caps for foreign service helmets, with or without the heads beneath the headgear.

This was a somewhat grueling process and it took some time, but I was pretty happy with the end results. I ended up leaving the braid on one riding crewman's jacket, and had him painted wearing his home service dress jacket, in place the standard khaki worn by everyone else. With a few of the crewmen I simply removed their hats and replaced them with spare foreign service helmets from the Empress Miniatures accessories range, but for the majority of them I removed their entire head and replaced it with one of the Empress heads wearing matching helmets. I also used some spare Wargames Foundry British colonial heads wearing foreign service helmets which I had left over from previous conversions. For me, the more variety the better -- so long as the styles all fit together -- since it makes the crewmen within the battery at least slightly different from each other, even if it's just the direction a figure's head is pointing, the angle at which they wear their helmet, or whether or not they wear a mustache or beard.

When I was done converting the crews, I shipped them off to Igor Olshansky in Brooklyn, New York, and he did a fine job painting, basing and terraining them. Unfortunately they suffered some damage between the East and West coasts but with some time and attention I was able to repair it all.

Here's some pics of the conversion process and the final painted figures...


  1. What a wonderful post demonstrating your considerable research and skill. My hat is doffed Sir.

  2. Comprehensive 'how to' on the head swaps etc, excellent work and a fantastic paint job to show off your handiwork to it's best. Congratulations on a job well done. Not sure I would have the same faith in my own skills to attempt the surgery you performed.

  3. Thanks very much, Michael, Troop, and Volley!

    I still have one daunting conversion left to do -- turning 4 batteries worth of Franco-Prussian War Prussian limber crews (60 figs in all) into Afghan regular artillerymen. It will take... awhile!