Saturday, 9 March 2013

1st (2nd West Prussian) Dragoons (von Ziethen's Own)

Actually I don't know for sure that the 1st (2nd West Prussian) Dragoons retained the honorific 'von Ziethen's Own', and one runs into all sorts of difficulties when officiously anglicising a  German regimental title, but it has a bit of a ring to it. (When a youngster serving in 'A' Company 2 Wessex, we were pretty sniffy towards non 'A' Coy. types because A Coy was 'The Duke of Connaught's Own', so where's the harm, Eh?) Suffice it to say that the 1807 No. 6 Regt Ziethen Dragoons became the 1st West Prussian Dragoons in 1808, and then in turn were renumbered as the 2nd (1st West Prussian) Dragoon Regiment...Alles Klar?

The Regiment rehearsing charges, Lunenberger Heide, March 1813
 Anyhow these 28mm Prussian Dragoon figures are from the delectable range of Prussians produced by Calpe Minatures, which in my opinion produces absolutely the finest range of 28mm figures around, and certainly boasts the most comprehensive range of Napoleonic 'Late War' Befreiungskriege Prussians.

 They come out of the pack needing a minimum of de flashing, but of course benefit from a good brass brushing as much as any miniature.

These will be  used primarily for Black Powder rules, so I want to base the regiment of 18 in 2 ranks of 9, and so chose to use the charging figures for the front rank and 'at rest' figures for the rear rank. The charging figures come with seperate sword arms, which allows a great deal of flexibility in posing, although purists would no doubt have them all giving point....

I am wedded to using a black undercoat, and despite always being informed by those whose painting I admire that its because they undercoat in white, I simply cannot get away from it. I am however undecided whether to use a flat black primer out of a spray can, or paint on matt black gesso. These were sprayed and the undercoats covered with black cheapo craft acylic...

Now the Peter F who pretty much is Calpe Miniature has provided ample painting and uniform notes on his site for all of his Prussians, and the Dragoons are no exception: and if I may quote the great man:

The dragoon's coat was of a distinctive mid blue shade sometimes described as light blue. In my opinion it was of a stronger hue than that. Vallejo's range of Model Colour paints make a medium blue that is perfect for the Job (no.963).

Now Peter's meticulous attention to detail throughout his ranges suggest that he is a man not to be taken lightly when painting his figures, so I duly invested in a bottle of said paint.

Frankly, whilst I completely accept that the hue is accurate, I really couldn't live with the sheer glossiness of the end result, no matter how long and hard I shook the bottle and thinned it down with Vallejo 540 matt medium! Must have got a duff bottle!

So after a few attempts, and after deciding to leave the Trumpeter in the Vallejo coat of shining cloth, I hit upon using one of my cheapo craft paints,  Copenhagen Blue', which though very thin, does have the advantage of drying to a lovely flat matt shade. Now I understand from Peter Hofschroer's informative MAA172 Prussian Cavalry of the Napoleonic Wars that this regiment had white facings, and Peter's notes referred to above not only confirms this but suggests that all bright work should be in white metal. For some reason I prefer yellow metal, as I think it shows up better, particularly for chin scales and webbing reinforcements, so whilst I have painted some figures authentically, I have take liberties with others, which if challenged I shall ascribe to the exigencies of campaigning... 

The flag finials are by Front Rank, and the Flag itself is an old REVO stick 25mm scale Infantry Colour, so may be inauthentic, but so far as my limited research has discovered, this regiments Colour would have been predominantly white, so close enough for government work...

Once again, its not clear if this Regiment's ranks were padded out with a detachment of Volunteer Yeomen, or 'Freiwilligen Jager', middle class youths whose means matched their nationalistic ardour to the point where they could afford to provide their own arms and accoutrements and horseflesh. If they did it seems reasonable to assume they would have ordered uniforms of holly green, as their better documented comrades in other Regiments wore, but faced with the Regimental white facing. I have added one of these young gentlemen just to raise the class of the outfit, after all, what is the use of Cavalry if not to add a little tone to what might otherwise be a vulgar brawl...

So a second Prussian mounted regiment is added to my collection, I shall have to extract the old digit if I am to provide the Allies with sufficient horseflesh to historically outnumber the French cavalry for our Bicenntennial refights of 1813 and 1814...unfortunately all my friends have large and well painted collections of French cavalry, so I have my work cut out. Oh well:

Immer Vorwarts!


  1. Very nice looking regiment, the blue charges are coming!

    1. Yes they are, and I hope they will go in hard!

  2. Spot on with the blue sparker, 10/10. Prussian dragoon blue is very distinctive. Next time you have trouble with a colour being too shinny give Tamiya X21 flat base a go...... only need a brush full works a treat for me. Here's a link that you might find helpful if you haven't tried it out already.

    : )

    1. Thanks Tarty, will certainly give it a try out!

  3. The dragoons look super Ralph and I especially like your low angle shot at the top of the posting - very atmospheric.

    I see that Tarty's beaten me to mentioning Tamiya X21 Flat Base. You probably remember the video review of it I did on my blog here (I see Tarty's already linked directly to it on YouTube):

    I started using it because not all my Vallejos dry properly matt. I doubt it's to do with a dodgy batch of paint - more likely that I've been too lazy or impatient to really really thoroughly shake the paint before using it. Some colours seem to be more prone to this than others. You only need a small amount of X-21 mixed into your water/paint to get the desired result. Don't over-do it otherwise you'll get a chalky residue when the paint dries.

    I also wanted to follow up on your mention of black priming. I primed with black for many years and I was happy that way until last year. Like you, I can't bring myself to go to the opposite end of the spectrum with white but I have moved to grey. I spend a lot of time admiring the work of larger scale figure painters (like Danilo Cartacci) and they all seem to use grey. Vallejo now makes a nice range of acrylic primers that are suitable for both airbrush and brush-on techniques so I moved over to the grey shade of that last year. I'm extremely happy with the results so far and I'm aiming to do a video review of it when I get some free time.

    1. Thanks Martin! Yes I have also seen some great results with grey, and so far have used it to undercoat artillery pieces quite successfully. Maybe I'll wait for you vid to come out!

    2. Yes that little clip was a big help for me, thanks for doing it. It's also fantastic for knocking back troublesome varnish that can leave a slight shine also.....handy stuff. ( big fan of befreiungskriege by the way Martin.....and yes also an obsessed mad Prussian gamer )

  4. Very nice figures. I have always white primed, but I am a speed painter who uses AP. Recently for my Brunswicker's I have been airbrushing with black ink (after a white prime, the car primer I use has excellent bite), and have found that when painting it is very forgiving. One does not have to worry about getting paint into creases etc. Of course you have to layer or dry brush to add relief to the figure. With white I can easily skip that step if I use very thin layers of colour.


  5. They are fine figures that have really come to 'life' with your great painting Sparker. It's always interesting to read how others approach this part of the hobby, so thanks for that.

    I wouldn't stop undercoating in black if I were you; the figures look great. I may be just a tiny bit biased though as I too undercoat in black. Well it's actually Payne's grey now. Have you tried that? It is a great colour.

    1. Thanks James! Yes grey certainly seems to be the undercoat of choice these days...and I find it certainly works well with guns, and other finer structures...and yet, and yet!

  6. I'm late to the party having been away on a work conference. A unit to be proud of Mr Sparkles. They look all set to kick Francophile butt. Excellent. A second unit would be fantastic. 8O)

    I'm a (mostly) black undercoater as well. The son & heir is a little more advanced as he often undercoats with grey these days. Ah, the rashness of youth!! 8O))

    von Peter himself

    1. Thanks Peter, very generous as always.

      Yes for 1 Corps' 2nd Cavalry Bde (von Lutzow) I will also have to do the 5th Brandenburg Dragoons (Prince William's Own), and the 4th (1st Silesian) Hussars. You may recall I have already painted the 3rd Brandenburg Uhlans...Hopefully all will be done in time for June 2015!

  7. They must've been an impressive sight bein mounted on tall horses and wearing the medium blue Litewka. Calpe as always does them great justice.