Monday, May 5, 2014

As the Great War Centennial Approaches...

I thought it would be a good time to break out my Great War collection/Perpetual Work In Progress for everyone's consideration, starting with my German stosstruppen and supporting elements including a former British Mark IV "Male" tank "under new management:"

The infantry are all an assortment of HaT Industrie 1/72 scale plastics, IT Figures, and Tumbling Dice. The Tank is an Emhar 1/72 scale Mark IV "Male" tank, the Erhardt armored car is from Reviresco as are the Daimler-Marienfeldt lorries and the field guns and their limbers.

Close up of IT Figures stosstruppen…

Next up, some HaT Industrie stosstruppen with flammenwerfer and MP18 submachine gun...

IT Figures Spandau machine gun teams...

HaT Industrie 13mm panzergewehr (anti tank rifles)… the bases are precut steel figure bases, the groundwork built up with Das air hardening clay then painted with water based acrylic craft paints...

The stosstruppen on the assault!

Stosstruppen Lewis machine gun teams, stosstruppen company command element, and flammenwerfer team all from HaT Industrie...

And now for their courageous enemies the French, a mix of metropolitan French regulars in their characteristic horizon blue uniforms, an colonial soldiers from le Armee de Afrique, a mix of Algerians in their trademark fezzes, and Senegalese Tirailleurs all wearing the "mustard" khaki uniforms unique to the French colonial forces during The Great War. The force includes a three gun section of the famous French M1897 75mm light field gun, and enough tanks to overrun the Hindenberg Line twice over:

Senegalese Tirailleur Chauchat automatic rifle teams. The figures are Tumbling Dice WW1 French infantry, superbly detailed down to the spare ammunition satchel bags and wonky CSRG 15, the infamous Chauchat much loathed and despised by the doughboys of the AEF after some logistical genius took this mediocre weapons and rechambered it for the more powerful U.S. .30-06 rifle bullet, thus over stressing the already poorly designed weapon…

Algerian Tirailleurs in their characteristic fezzes with the khaki cover issued soon after hostilities commenced in 1914. In fact, by 1915 all soldiers in the French Army serving on the Western Front received the new Adrian steel helmets, including the colonial soldiers who would have worn them into action rather than their softer fabric headgear. These are also Tumbling Dice figures…

Senegalese Hotchkiss heavy machine gun sections. Tumbling Dice figures again, both firing position and on the move…

Algerian heavy machine gun section on the move, again Tumbling Dice figures...

More shots of my Senegalese Tirailleurs...

Algerian riflemen firing prone supported by a Senegalese light Hotchkiss machine gun team. I ran out of Chauchats to fill out my chosen squad organization for "The Devil is Here!" so I converted a pair of prone Tumbling Dice riflemen into this handy Hotchkiss light machine gun team with a Reviresco Hotchkiss light machine gun I just happened to have in my spares box…

Les poilus en avant! Metropolitan French infantry in their distinctive Horizon Blue uniforms. Again Tumbling Dice French infantry, with the detailing of kit clearly on display. The flamethrower wielding poilu in the foreground of the photo is in fact a WW2 Early War French infantry figure from FAA, but painted as a Great War French soldiers, as to date I haven't found any figures for this specific French weapon system first introduced into combat by the French Army after their first encounters with German flammenwerfer during the Battle of Verdun in 1916…

A French 37mm 18SA trench gun team. I modified a Tumbling Dice 37mm trench gun into the definitive (and lighter) tripod mounted version of this handy French machine gun nest cleaner by cutting up a paper clip to produce the lighter tripod. The base is a steel knockout from a metal electrical juncture box, the groundwork her as on all my figures is Das air hardening clay painted over once dry with water based acrylic craft paints, mainly DecoArt and Americana brands readily available at Michael's. I used those same brands of paint on the figures and models, as they come in an ever growing variety of colors and shades, and many a suitable military color has fund their way into these economical and effective lines of hobby paints, so I cannot recommend them enough, especially to those of us on a budget...

Bigger guns of the French Army of the Great War, in this case the ubiquitous and equally famous M1897 75mm light field gun. Thiese guns and their limbers are 1/72 scale Reviresco kits, complete with highly detailed ammunition limbers that can be built either in the towing configuration as seen in the gun and limber on the right of the trio, or in the firing position as seen in the center and leftmost models in the group. The gun crews are Tumbling Dice, and they have all been painted with water based acrylic craft paints…

The hammer of the Army of the French Republic, the Artillerie d'Assault:

"An elephant with the legs of a gazelle!" The Char d'Assault St. Chamond, in this case an early production model with the full sized M1897 75mm gun. The model is a 1/72 scale white metal kit from Reviresco, and is a nice rendering indeed of this eccentric early French heavy tank...

The first French tank was the Char d'Assault Schneider CA1, which was basically a Holt tractor with an armored box bolted over it. These are all Reviresco kits of the Schneider, specifically the later sur blindee variant with added appliqué armor plates to counter the German deployment of armor piercing K bullets after the British had used tanks during the failed Somme Offensive of 1916...

A closeup of a pair of Reviresco Renault  FT-17 light tanks. The FT-17 is the granddaddy of all modern battle tanks, being the first designed with the vehicle's armament contained in a revolving turret, the crew located at the front of the chassis, and the engine in the rear. This set the standard for all of the tanks that came afterwards, making the little Renault FT-17 the lineal descendant of the modern M1A1 Abrams main battle tank of the 21st century.

The tow chains are from Michael's craft store, being meant for making jewelry. FT-17s were frequently shown with lengths of towing chain looped around their characteristic unhitching tails, and those same tails proved handy for securing additional equipment as the French and American tankers very quickly discovered...

By war's end the French Army was the most technically-minded of the major combatants of the Great War, operating an unprecedented level of mechanization, from hundreds of tanks to tractor pull artillery and entire infantry divisions being moved by trucks rather than on foot or in horse wagons. The unprecedented mass adoption of trucks by the French Army relatively early in the war contributed to the Allied victory, and saved France from defeat at the hands of Kaiser Wilhelm II's Imperial German Army. 

After the war the French government sought to sell tanks to foreign countries, and supplied a number of the handy FT-17 to the anti-Bolshevik White forces during the Russian Civil War, and to the resurgent Polish Army in their war of independence 1919-22. During the 1920s and 30s the FT-17 turned up in the armies of many nations, including an American licensed built version known as the 6-ton Tank that had been retooled to Standard measurement from the original Metric design specifications to make the tank compatible with American manufacturing technology. 

A number of the FT-17s found their way into the army of the Manchurian warlord Chiang Tso-lin during the 1920s, as China was in the midst of a civil war, and the Chinese warlords like all warlords throughout history are always eager to acquire the best hardware for their private armies. It was also rumored that a Schneider CA1 was sold to a Chinese warlord, although there is no photograph known to show this machine in Chinese service. A St. Chamond was offered to Finland during the 1920s, but the ever practical Finns rejected this ungainly and underpowered monster as unsuitable for Finland's rough terrain in favor of the little Renaults. 

Spain also used the Schneider CA1 and the FT-17 during the Rif War of the 1920s in Morocco, and a few of the old tanks were reused in battle during Spain's civil war a decade later, with at leafs one or two Schneider CA1s being used by Republican forces during the street fighting in Barcelona.

While I have previously seen photos of a superb 28mm Schneider CA1 done for the Chinese Civil War in speculative finish for Northern China, and as I'm a big fan of wargaming the Chinese Civil War of the 1920s, I decided not to be outdone, and painted up a speculative St. Chamond in Chinese warlord service, a fitting prestige weapon for a petty warlord to try and overawe his neighboring rivals with. The model is a Reviresco late production St, Chamond, and the Chinese officer figure is an old 20mm Wargames Foundry WW2 Chinese officer figure, one of only three poses made in this scale of WW2 Chinese figures for WW2 by anyone back in the 1990s, and with which I was forced to rely to build up my Chinese Civil War forces with until a greater variety of figures came into production years later:


  1. HI my name is chae, and and a few freinds from our churcch, Clay Community Church in Possilpark, GLASGOW, SCOTLAND, have started a wee modelling club and our first project as it is the CENTENURY of ww1, is to build a mock up battle of the somme, we are using scale 1/72 MODELS etc, the terrain etc we are doing ourselves, we are also researching people from our area that was at a battle of some sort, any info or ideas on how we can do this would be well appreciated, we are all beginners, well we have been building models since knee high...but any feedback from you on world war 1, somme battles, figures, etc would be well appreciated, thankyou

    1. Chae,

      I'll begin by pointing you to some of the best online resources I know covering The Great War 1914-18. These are sites both aimed at those of us who appreciate history in general and the history of the Great War specifically, as well as a site or two aimed at those of us who are model building and/or wargaming enthusiasts who like to try and get things as accurate as possible!

      Historical sites:

      Great War Historical Society:

      The Western Front Association:

      First World War .com:

      World War One in Color Photos:


      The Great War Association:


      The Trench Line:

      Model builders sites:

      Miniature sites and manufacturers:

      TMP The Miniatures Page:

      Note: TMP has a directory of over 1,000 manufacturers of figures, models, and terrain.

      Tumbling Dice Miniatures:

      It Miniatures:

      For books, there is of course the handy and affordable series of monographs from Osprey Publishing, including Stephen Bull's British Infantryman vs German Infantryman: Somme 1916.

      Hope this all helps you with your project! By all means feel free to ask me any questions, and i will try my best to be of assistance.


  2. Hi Black Widow Pilot, because I like your blog, by the power invested in me by the Internet, I have awarded you a Liebster award. The Liebster will not make you rich or powerful or irresistible to clients or members of the opposite sex, but it is a little bit of fun, and a way to highlight blogs you like. Details here

    1. Why, thank you kind sir! I will have a look and see upon whom I can nominate for the same honor, as there's a couple of sites that I follow now and again, and they make my poor efforts look downright dowdy... >;)