Sunday, 24 July 2011

Anglo-Egyptian Army in Sudan

My Anglo-Egyptian army for Sudan is pretty close to completion, and could certainly be fielded as it is.

I've considered using a number of different rule sets. Top of the list for now is 'Sword and the Flame', an older ruleset but with a lot of character. This requires figures to be based individually, and I've used 1p coins for the purpose and cardboard or thin MDF for mounted troops. I've just seen you can get special laser cut movement trays for 1p coins, which I'll probably get. This will also make them easier to use with 'Black Powder' which covers this period and is designed for larger battles than 'Sword & the Flame'.

The 'Sword and the Flame' rules specify ratios for different armies relative to the British. From memory the ratio for Sudan is 2.5 to one. So the main constraint on how many British that you put on the table is not the number of Colonial troops painted up, but the number of Dervishes, because you need a lot more of them!

The first picture is the latest addition to the force, a unit of British Camel Corp, mounted and dismounted. The figures are mainly Hat, with the dismounted force filled out with some extra Waterloo 1815 and Esci figures.

Next up is a couple of units that I completed just before that. These are the excellent Hat Colonial Highlanders. I've split the box to paint them two different ways: in red coats and in khaki.

The red coats could be used as Black Watch in a Tel El Kebir fight against the regular Egyptian army, when Wolseley led the British invasion of Egypt to secure the country for its creditors after it defaulted on debts incurred to build the Suez canal. My British Army for the Zulu wars would provide plenty of other 'redcoats', but I just don't have enough Egyptians at the moment. I also thought the Highlanders could be used for Majuba Hill, if I ever got around to buying and painting up some Boers. As my Confederate Cavalry and Imex Confederate Infantry which I have based up individually can be used as Boers, I probably should say 'more Boers'. Unfortunately, although there were 'redcoats' at Majuba Hill, I recently read it didn't include the Highlanders (Gordon's I think), who shipped in to the Cape from India, clad in Khaki.

So khaki it is for Majuba Hill, as well as the NW Frontier...but the Sudan? On recently buying the 'Black Powder' book, I saw Highlanders deployed for battle against a horde of Fuzzy Wuzzies in 'grey'. Arrgh!!! On reading the Osprey book it was fairly clear accounts were sketchy of that particular campaign and mention is made of some uniforms being khaki and some grey, so unless I stumble on a more definitive source (and I'm not going to look too hard!), khaki is probably fine.

Next up is the Egyptians, what I have nicknamed the '21st Tommy Coopers'! The Egyptians apparently had three uniforms throughout this period. These were a white (summer) uniform and a blue (winter) uniform in the 1880s and a khaki one in the 1890s. I've gone for the early summer one. It ties in with pictures I've seen of the Egyptian army at Tel El Kebir, if I ever look to expand it for a match up against the British, and I'm sure distant garrisons might have been slow to be re-equipped in the later period! The picture is one of two units, and figures are from Waterloo 1815.

The Waterloo 1815 sets also provided some more figures I planned to paint as Sudanese. I had intended to use these for the later period and started painting them with brown tunics and khaki trousers. The sources I have for uniforms in this period, however, seem to conflict, and as I'm not that happy with the look, I may re-paint the jackets in blue.

For now that just leaves three more units. These are two of them:

These are the first two units that I painted up for the British, and truth be told I'm now a bit dissatisfied with them. The figures look fine when inspected in the hand, but not very impressive and 'a bit dull' on the tabletop, being rather over-shadowed by the Hat Highlanders. The figures, British and Sikhs, come from Esci's NW Frontier pack (British being the same as their Zulu Wars British). Maybe its because I've painted them in a darker khaki than the Highlanders (I notice time and again how, when you have the choice, using lighter colours generally looks so much better on the tabletop. Maybe its because I've gone for (a realistic) khaki turban, rather than something less realistic for campaign but more spectacular. Maybe its because I based the Sikhs when I lived in Spain, and use 5 peseta coins which are smaller than a 1p and seem to 'diminish the figure'. Either way they are serviceable, but not great, and the Sikhs are likely to be 'retired' (or just sent for WW2 duties!) once I have painted the new Hat Sikhs that I have bought, which are larger and 'chunkier' like the Highlanders.

That just leaves the unit of British lancers that I have converted with head swaps, some mounted officers from the Waterloo 1815 set not yet painted, and the Gatling guns still on their sprues. You might see the lancers in the background in some shots, but as I still have some painted to do on them I haven't taken any pictures.

Apart from that I still have a fair number of spare Esci British figures, and I might try painting some in grey, as I did to add some more dismounted camel corp figures, which ended up indistinguishable from Hat's dismounted figures, but might leave it until hat brings out its Zulu war British before adding any more khaki clad British.

Not included are my Zulu war British. Early in the conflict some British regiments wore redcoats, so they could be added.

Future additions could be the Hat Gardiner gun, which includes a Naval Landing party, Egyptian Army Camel corp and Colonial Artillery, but none are essential. As mentioned a possible extension is to paint up a lot more Egyptians, to match against the British at Tel El Kebir.

Obviously, this also gives me a solid core of a NW Frontier force, for which I can use the British in khaki (and grey if I paint some that way), the Sikhs, the Highlanders and the lancers. I'm just waiting for Hat to bring out some Bengal Lancers to complete that force. All of the aforementioned could also be deployed in the Boer Wars, too. Although I'm planning a force for Chris Peer's 'Darkest Africa' rules in 28mm not 20mm, a lot of these figures including Sikhs and Sudanese could be used in African wars, and I painted up some of the Esci Muslim Warriors (now re-issued by Italeri) within my Dervish force, with a view to be being used as Zanzabari Arabs as well.

This is the whole force so far arrayed together:

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