Monday, April 12, 2010

Russian VIII Corps in 6mm, Part 1

...In which our protagonist, for reasons of throroughness rather than necessity, shows off some more old stuff, in this case the Russian 2nd Grenadier Division.

Colonel Shatilov's 1st Brigade, comprising the Kiev Grenadiers to the fore, followed by the Moscow Grenadiers.

Most of my Borodino-in-6mm efforts so far have centred around the French/Allied army. There are a couple of reasons for this; for one thing I've simply painted a lot more of the Allies, but for another, the Allies are simply so much more photogenic.

The problem is (and yes, once again I'm going to rant about the so-called problems I have with this project, despite the fact that I've done so many times already, and despite the fact that I have no one to blame for starting it but myself. But anyway), the Russians are saddled with the twin disadvantages of 1) having very dark uniforms, and 2) not having much by way of differences in uniforms.

A ground-level view of the 1st Brigade. I've compained before how the Russian NCOs that come with the infantry command strips are generally in pretty boring poses, but I should mention that the mounted officers, by contrast, allow for some interesting possibilities.

I'll admit dark green isn't a terrible colour in of itself. Heck, it's probably my favourite colour, and maybe what drew me to the Russians in the first place. But paint the coat on a 6mm figure dark green, and hold it at arm's length, and you begin to see... well, not a lot, admittedly. Dark green makes for pretty good camouflage at life-sized, let alone in 6mm. I've even had people browsing through the uniform plates in my copy of F.G. Hourtoulle's Borodino: The Moskova (a book that's forever underfoot hereabouts) comment on how the Russian uniforms "make more sense". Now, I've tried explaining how this viewpoint is largely anachronistic; at a time when most soldiers were armed with smoothbore muskets and generally closed to 50m or so before shooting (when they even bothered to shoot, instead of going straight to the bayonet), the camouflage value of one's coat was not such an issue. Well it was, but looking good was more of an issue.

Colonel Buxhöwden's 2nd Brigade. Alex Mikaberidze, in his The Battle of Borodino: Napoleon Against Kutuzov, spells Buxhöwden with an "ö"; consequently, I have no idea how to pronounce it. Pronunciation notwithstanding, the group with the orange flags is the Astrakhan Grenadier Regiment, followed by the Fanagoria Grenadiers with their pink-and-green.

Anyways, there's not much you can do about dark green. If you try brightening it up, it looks "wrong" for Russians; if you leave it dark, the damn Russkies start to disappear.

As for the complementary problem, namely the Russians' identical uniforms, there are steps that can be taken. I mean, no one wants their grenadier regiments to be confused with mere line, after all. But what's that, you say? You can tell which are grenadiers because they have big tall plumes on their shakos? And those plumes are... oh, yes, that's right, they're black. Just the hue to stand out against a background of dark green coats.

The 2nd Brigade, showing some experimentation with the rear formation. Mixing poses, I tried to make it look like the Fanagoria grenadiers are breaking from march-attack into a bayonet charge. I might try this again some time with the French, where the greater variety of poses would allow for more intermediate steps between muskets carried horizontally and vertically.

I opted for a different approach. I've complained before (can you believe it?) about how Adler's Russian infantry command strips only come with one standard bearer, whereas they should have two. This oversight, combined with my general cheapness-and-laziness, led me to build all my line infantry regiments with only one flag apiece. This of course left me with a golden opportunity: I could give my grenadier regiments two flags each!

Colonel Levin's 3rd Brigade, with the Siberia and Malorossiiskii (or Little Russia) Grenadier Regiments.

Doubling the flag count for the grenadiers meant making an exception to my usual cheapness-and-laziness, and furthermore led to an unfortunate surplus of already-underutilized drummers and NCOs. But who am I kidding? It was worth it-- after all, in a very drab-looking army, these brigades have twice as many colours as the rest! (Ba-dum ching: Napoleonic joke in poor taste.)

The 3rd Brigade from the anterior side (honestly, who says 'anterior'?). Astute readers might recognize this base from my basing by numbers post from way back in November!

So that's Major General Karl von Mecklenburg-Schwerin's 2nd Grenadier Division, as well as my quota of whining for... well, probably that's enough whining for this year. I'm still going to whine in my next post though. Also all the ones after that.

Next time: more Russians. Or not. We'll see.


  1. They look lovely. I'm going to be doing my 1806 Prussians soon so will face the two flag dilemma as well. At least in 6mm the surplus figures aren't to costly a right off!

    Look forward to more.


  2. Thanks Andy. Notwithstanding my poor attempt at a joke in the post above, adding the second flag is definitely worth it. The Prussians uniforms are as dark as the Russian, and that extra bit of colour really helps bring some colour to the unit.

    Peter at Baccus is also pretty good about tweaking pack compositions and whatnot so people can get the number of command they want.

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