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.

Monday, April 25, 2016

Kabul Cantonment c.1840 completed - FINALLY!!!

I think I started building this model in very late January or early February, and I put up my previous blog post -- detailing construction of the first 3 pieces -- on March 11th, about a month-and-a-half ago.  In a way this terrain piece feels like it has taken me forever to build, but I've been pretty busy with work, and my family took a brief vacation over Spring Break, so maybe it didn't take all that long after all.  The nature of the detailing of the "duckboard" walkways and support planks lining the interior of the earthworks made this a rather time-consuming project, but when I look back on what it took to build my "garden wood-chip" rocky hills, this was not really too bad.  I think the difference is that those hills are all pretty big, and cut a somewhat impressive and imposing figure, while these entrenchments are much slighter in appearance.  Still, even if they're relatively small, I'm happy to say I think they turned out rather nicely.  They could easily have been built in much less time, using a less detailed approach, and still have looked nice, but needless to say, for better and worse, that's just not really my style.

I've had some computer and iPhone photo issues, which helped keep me from posting more timely "WIP" updates as I was making progress.  For this post I am just showing pics of the finished product, but some day soon I will return with one of my over-wrought step-by-step posts, showing way too much of the building process!  The working hinged gates were a challenge, but I think they turned out pretty well in the end, and at least so far are standing up well to use.  I hit some other bumps in the road as well, but I'll save those for the illustrated "How To" post in the future.

Now I'm really itching to get some c.1840s British troops, whether converted or factory-made, painted up, so I can see what this thing looks like occupied by historically appropriate figures.  Towards that end I made a purchase on TMP of a collection of 48 unpainted Perry French "Retreat From Moscow" Infantry and dismounted Cavalry, which I plan to convert and paint up as British Infantry and dismounted Bengal Horse Artillery for the, "Retreat From Kabul" -- only in this scenario, rather than retreat, they will be attempting to fight their way to the Bala Hissar.  The Perry figures are quite splended, and I think by making a few head-swap conversions using Carlist BAL heads, they will turn out really great.

All of which will still leave me struggling with the last big challenge for this project: WINTER!

Will I permanently Winterize... or just sprinkle model snow over everything?  At the very least I'm certain I will use snow effects when I base those British figures.  Since they are all wearing greatcoats and wrapped up in blankets, it would be pointless not to.  But beyond that I still don't know.

Anyway, that's more than enough meandering, so without further ado, on to some pics of the completed British Kabul Cantonments, c.1840-1842...

View of the completed entrenched encampment, seen from the East...

(NOTE: the road to Kohistan was in reality on the opposite, Western, side of the Cantonments, but it worked better on this side for the layout.  There was however a second Gate on the Eastern side of the Camp -- same as in the model above -- which is the gate the British exited from en route to their doomed march South.)

Reverse view, from the West...

(I may build another 2 round corner Bastions, another pair of short straight pieces and another gate, so I'll have a truly "complete" Cantonment to use for various other scenarios.  I've been encouraged to do so by a close gaming friend, and I agree it would make a lot of sense, but... it's a lot of work!)

I made a point of making the gate high enough for camels and elephants, both of which were present with the Anglo-Indian army stationed outside Kabul during the First Afghan War... 

(NOTE: As I said above, I'll post again with all the details
on the build, but in case anyone is dying to know, I used
dollhouse hinges, bought at my local hobby shop)

A Union Jack and c.1840 version of the HEIC flag, courtesy of Rick O'Brien, aka: "FLAG DUDE"...

The Cantonments were really filled with barracks buildings constructed by the British, not tents, but I don't have any "Indian Bungalow" style buildings to use for that purpose.  I may buy or attempt to build a few.  It is howver possible, maybe even probable, that when the walls were first completed, but before the barracks were built, tents were used to house the troops.  Anyway, as temporary model housing goes, they pass muster in my book...

Flanking the guard posts on both sides of the gate are lined with mud-brick walls...

(NOTE: I may paint over the hinges with BLACK
and then GUNMETAL or STEEL or even BRASS.)

North-East corner Bastion...

South-East corner Bastion...

A benefit of designing and building this project in component parts rather than one big permanently modelled piece is that in the future it will be possible to rearrange the pieces in different ways for other scenarios, a sloppy version of which can be glimpsed here...

Back to the front gate...

And one last view rearranged for the scenario...

Last thing to say is that these past few months I've mentioned to my gaming friends several times that when I was done building this things, we'd get together again to refight the "Bala Hissar or Bust!" game -- which makes me even happier for having finished it!


  1. Outstanding piece of terrain and essential as well fro this period....very very nice indeed

  2. A very well modelled piece of work. Really nicely done.

  3. Worth the wait says I, tremendous terrain building Sir.

  4. A delightfully rendered model with very nice gates.
    Best Iain

  5. Bravo! I admire your commitment even as I am unable to emulate it.

  6. For better or for worse, don't change your style, as your terrain building is superb.

    Look forward to seeing your conversion work with the Perry 'Retreat from Moscow' and 'Carlist' figures.

  7. Looks great Ethan really looking forward to seeing your figures on it Perry's are doing some figures in the cape war range which they say are suitable for first afghan war not in winter clothing though but maybe worth a look.

  8. Once again I've been unable to reply to comments on my own blog, which is a bit frustrating! But seem to be pulling it off today -- albeit perhaps in a different FONT, for what reason I do not know, but better to leave a comment no matter what style the letters are!

    Thanks everyone who generously took some time to leave a message for me here, I truly appreciate it!

    Last but not least, to Willie Anderson, who just left a message earlier today... GREAT TO SEE YOU out and about, my friend! Have missed seeing new posts on your wonderful blog for some time, really happy to read your comment! Yesterday -- May 11th -- was my birthday, and though it may sound overwrought, discovering your comment here was a happy birthday surprise!

    1. Hi Ethan belated birthday wishes I'm over in LA in June for a few days if your free it would be great to see your collection in the flesh.

    2. Willie, that's FANTASTIC news!!! I'd love to host you at my place, and hopefully take you to lunch or dinner as well! We should get in direct email contact... actually just thought of a possible way to do that, and I think it may work...

  9. Mad Guru, excellent work my friend!!!! Your tables are glorious and your games epic. I hope to be lucky enough to get into this game as well. Will this game go on the road?????


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  11. Jeff!!! Thanks for the comment my friend! Yes, at some point I certainly hope to take "Bala Hissar or Bust" on the road, as you say, though don't know when. But first I need to winterize the layout, not to mention raise an army of appropriately uniformed British and Indian First Afghan War troops.