Thursday, February 14, 2019

Painting Challenge Submission 11 - Tirailleurs Algerien for the Franco-Prussian War of 1870

Turcos ready to defend the Second Empire.
My 11th submission to Curt's Analogue Hobbies Painting Challenge veers once again back to the Franco-Prussian War of 1870. Here is a unit of Tirailleurs Algeriens, the "turcos", colonial soldiers in service of the French Second Empire, ready to stand their ground in some Franco-Prussian War gaming. The figures are all 28mm metal castings from Wargames Foundry's Franco-Prussian War range - with the exception of the standard bearer, who is actually from Foundry's US Civil War range. For whatever reason, the Perry's never sculpted a standard bearer for the Zouaves/Turcos in the Foundry Franco-Prussian War collection, but thankfully the US Civil War Zouaves look nearly identical, so I swapped a figure in from that set and all was good to go!    

1e Tirailleurs Algerien

28mm figures from Wargames Foundry
The French army of the Second Empire featured many units raised from their colonial possessions in North Africa/Algeria - Zouaves, Tirailleurs Algerien and the Chasseurs D'Afrique (cavalry).  These units fought in the Crimea and Italy and built excellent reputations.  While the Franco-Prussian War of 1870 went super-very-bad for the French, these units were present at a number of the major engagements and fought bravely, among the toughest troops the French could call on.

Get your fez!
They also look cool. SUPER COOL. I love the cut of these uniforms, certainly a very unique sight on a European battlefield. 

I get a bit confused by it all, but by 1870 I believe the "Zouaves" were basically "Europeanized" units that retained the super-cool North African-style uniforms.  The Tirailleurs Algerien, however, remained as North African troops.  Naturally, they also had the super cool North African uniforms, but there were variations on the colours - the Zouaves had darker blue jackets and red pants, while these "turcos" had sky blue jackets and white/canvas coloured pants - although, confusingly, I have also seen them with sky blue pants as well...I opted for a white/canvas legging look.

As always, the packs feature plenty pans & stowage :)
The 1e Tirailleurs Algerien regiment was present at the Battle of Wissembourg, holding the town and train station against a number of Prussian attacks.  You may have noticed that I often refer to this battle in my posts - that is because the first game I hope to play will be loosely based on that battle.

I messed up when mounting the flag - it is too rolled it just looks folded in half. Oh well.
I was so very excited to get painting this unit. Really, really pumped. But there were a number of small setbacks and frustrations along the way with this group... 

The standard bearer is a US civil war Zouave casting...he fits right in!
The flashing and mold lines were a real issue, and you can still see some nasty mold lines on several of the figures, mold lines I just couldn't eliminate even with hobby knife/file etc. The packing & shipping process was poorly executed, so every single figure had a badly bent rifle and bayonet, an issue I could not 100% correct, even with hours of careful bending/straightening. I wasn't sure about the sky blue on the coats (and I'm still disappointed - I don't think I found the right contrast). I tried to use colours to represent the right North African skin tone...and it didn't work, but I just coudn't find the right ones. The flag did not go on properly, and so when I folded it over, it glued dry in a folded-in-half position, so you can't read it or really get a good look on it. It looks more like the folded piece of paper that it is, rather than a nice flowing flag I meant to give an impression of...

Bring on the Prussians!
Basing the unit was a challenge too...the selection of poses for the FPW Zouave figures from Foundry is...annoying. I was able to use different types of figures in my other French regular infantry units to have a front rank firing and a rear rank that is advancing/supporting, but I can't for the the Zouave/Turcos - the figure selection doesn't work out.  It would have to be both ranks firing (or running, or attacking or whatever).

I had wanted firing poses, so went with all-firing poses without thinking it through...once they were all painted and I started to line them up for basing, it was a drag - very hard to get them to line up well. I experimented with different approaches...and in the end it still doesn't look great.

But for all these woes, well, I'm thrilled to have them finished.  While all of the little issues listed above were a pain, now that they are firmly in the rear-view mirror, who cares?! It is very exciting to have an iconic and colourful sort of unit such as this one completed and ready for a "Black Powder" game.

In terms of overall progress on my 28mm formed units for the Franco-Prussian War, things are (knock on wood) starting to come together. For the Prussians I have six units of infantry, one unit of cavalry and three batteries of artillery. This is my fourth infantry unit for the French - they also have an artillery battery and mitrailleuse battery to support them.  Just need to work on some cavalry for them, I think, and we should be nearly-all-set for a game of some sort...stay tuned for more!


Ray Rousell said...

Beautiful brushwork Greg.

Codsticker said...

I like the colour selection- I think the blue jackets worked out perfectly fine as do the skin tones.

Dallas said...

Excellent looking models! Well worth working through the difficulties to get these guys on the table!

Jason said...

These are so inspiring. I am going to use your idea of using the ACW standard bearer for my units. I left a blank space on the stand of my Turcos in the hope of a solution. I think you found that solution for me! Thank you!
Best wishes,