On the Painting Table

I’ve made good progress with the Union cavalry and have now painted 24 mounted troopers and about 20 dismounted. However, I recently got distracted by something else: I read a fascinating book about small-scale amphibious operations by the Union navy which inspired me to make a Naval Landing Force for Sharp Practice.

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A Dog Before a Soldier was written by Chuck Veit, president of the U.S. Naval Landing Party, a living history group depicting Union Sailors and naval officers during the Civil War. The book, which is very well written and meticulously researched, describes a couple of obscure operations of the Union navy, among them such jewels as the ‘Great Naval Cattle Drive’. This is not only entertaining, it also sheds light on the important day-to-day contribution of the navy to the Union war effort. Furthermore, it offers plenty of inspiration for Sharp Practice scenarios. Of course I now need a landing party, a boat and a herd of cattle!

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The boat will be a Unadilla-Class gunboat, also called 90-day-gunboat as they were rapidly produced at the beginning of the war. I went for a laminated hull, made up of several layers of balsa wood. The scale is slightly reduced to about 1/160.

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The landing force will consist of sailors and marines. I’ve already painted a couple of sailors and two groups of marines some time ago, so they just needed reinforcements. My first batch was from Freikorp15, while those are from Minifigs. I actually prefer the Minifigs figures, they are nicer sculpts and the poses are a bit more varied. The marines are just normal Union infantry painted with white trousers and crossbelts. Unfortunately, Peter Pig doesn’t offer armed sailors, but they make a very nice naval artillery crew.

Union landing parties often had the support of a Dahlgren light boat howitzer, a very versatile gun which had a special carriage so it could be manhandled up a beach. As no one offers such a gun in 15mm (or 28mm for that matter), I decided to build one from scratch using spare wheels, a paper clip, parts from a plastic model kit and a broken knitting needle. I’m quite chuffed with the result, if I do say so myself.

Finally, the boat needs a crew. I’ll use the Peter Pig naval artillery crew for this, supplemented by a couple of figures from the Colonial range, where they offer a nice ship’s crew. The uniforms are not perfect matches, but they’ll be close enough.

As I didn’t like the look of my normal ‘earth’ bases on the boat’s planks, I decided to make my own bases using wood veneer. I glued strips of veneer to a piece of papers and then glued washers on the paper. As the veneer is very thin, the washers can easily be cut out with scissors. I’ve already cut the figures from their original bases with the hobby knife, so the next step will be to glue them unto their new bases.

This is a fun little project and I’m already thinking about how to design the landing force for Sharp Practice.

The Raft will make a short break and will be back on 7 January. I wish all of you happy holidays!
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