Wednesday, July 29, 2020

Turks, Indians, Spaniards, and a Flight around the World

Not much painting these past several weeks as I've been completing my presentation for the Mississippi Department of Archives and History streaming "History Is Lunch" program.  The department has been doing these programs for about ten years or so.  I finally let the program manager talk me into preparing one.

Here's the introduction he prepared:

Jim Pitts will present “Turks, Indians, Spaniards, and a Flight around the World: The Lives and Military Careers of Four Mississippians.”

In the course of his work with the Mississippi Department of Archives and History, Pitts became intrigued by the distinguished military service of Captain Henry Metcalfe, Major James Watson, Lieutenant Reuben Turman, and Lieutenant Henry Ogden. Between them they had been awarded three Silver Stars for heroic actions in the Spanish American War, one Distinguished Service Medal for a 1924 “Around the World Flight,” and the Turkish Order of Osmani for service to the Turkish Army by a foreign national.

“Their stories are as diverse as the four soldiers,” said Pitts. “Two were graduates of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, one had attended West Point and later received his commission through a competitive examination, and the fourth was directly commissioned as a result of his service.”

The impacts they made on the U.S. Army were also varied. “Two were awarded their medals posthumously, one of them from wounds received in battle,” said Pitts. “They were inventors and innovators—one is remembered as an expert in cost accounting, one was an aviation pioneer, another is memorialized with a sea coast defense battery.”

Jackson native Jim Pitts earned his BA in history from Mississippi State University. He was commissioned as a lieutenant in the U.S. Army and served for twenty years. After retiring as a major, Pitts worked with MDAH for twenty-two years, first as a librarian and then as government records archivist.

I presented the program at noon, CDT, on Wednesday, July 29.  I thought it went rather well.  At least I didn't embarrass myself too much.  😉

It has been uploaded on the Department's YouTube channel and you can watch it if you desire.  I hope that you enjoy it and, as I say in the conclusion, learn a little about these four less well known Mississippians.

Saturday, July 4, 2020

British Forces, Part 2

Now the rest of my currently on-hand WW2 British forces are complete.  These will get me started although I'm planning on getting at least another two sections of riflemen and some PIAT teams soon.

Please click on picture for a larger image.

First my rifle platoon commander and his senior sergeant.  I'd prefer to have the subaltern armed with a rifle, bu that will have to happen later.  As you can see, these two leaders are on round bases.  I've decided to remount all my leaders from section/squad sergeants and up like this.  It will make them stand out better in the "chaos" of the table top game.  These are Warlord figures that came with separate heads.  I had to scrounge additional helmeted heads since I have a "thing" about front-line combat troops wearing helmets (unless of course the figure has the head already cast on the body).

Each British platoon has a 2-inch mortar team to provide close range fire support.  Of course the 2-inch explosive shell was just a big rifle grenade so the British commonly used it for smoke missions.  I purposefully cut the angled base so the loader would be dropping the shell into the muzzle.  I'll eventually add a third mortar man as each team had a lance-corporal and two privates.

Additional heavy fire support is being provided by a .303 Vickers medium machine gun team.  Again the base has been purposefully cut so the loader's belt matches with the side chamber.  This team comes from the divisional machine gun battalion.

And to call in the really heavy fire support is a forward observer team of a subaltern and his radioman who can call in fires from the divisional artillery.

A look at all of the final additions.

Up next will be a fourth German infantry gruppe (squad), a few additional kampfgruppe headquarters figures, a MG 42 "heavy" machine gun team, and a 81mm mortar team, plus (I hope) a reconnaissance motorcycle with sidecar armed with a MG 42.  Stay tuned!

Tuesday, June 30, 2020

British Forces, Part 1

I've completed the second British rifle section.  It joins some earlier painted British.

Please click on the pictures for a larger image.

Warlord Figures
This section consists of a sergeant (left center of picture), a corporal and four privates in a maneuver element (right side of picture), and a corporal and three-man Bren gun team in a fire support element (left side of picture).

The other British that I have completed are a few senior command figures, a rifle section, and a heavy mortar section.

The senior command figures are Captain Campbell (center) armed with a Sten gun, Color Sergeant Gilmore (right), and an aidman (left) from the battalion support group.

The First Section is similar in composition to the Second, with a sergeant (center), a five man maneuver section (right), and a four-man fire support element (left).

Immediate fire support is provided by a ML 3-inch mortar with its three-man crew.  The mortar was actually 3.209-inch (81mm) and by 1943 was comparable to the German 81mm mortar.

I'm still working on a platoon commander and his sergeant, a 2" mortar team (2 figures), a .303 Vickers machinegun team (3 figures), and a spotter.  After I get them completed, I'll go back to the Germans to complete their heavy MG 42 machinegun team and 81mm mortar team.

Wednesday, June 24, 2020

Kampfgruppe Command and an Ersatz Gruppe Completed

These guys were easy and quick to paint.  Joining my WW2 German forces are the commander and senior sergeant of the kampfgruppe headquarters and a gruppe (squad) of troops drawn from ersatz (replacement) depots.

Please click on the photographs for larger images.

Hauptmann (Captain) von Pitzfeld and Oberfeldwebel (Senior Sergeant) Bergmann
These two figures are Warlord Games Germans that I got at a convention several years ago.

Gruppe (squad) of erstaz (replacement) troops.
As you may be able to tell from closer examination this gruppe has been drawn together from three different depots.  The four in the center are from one depot while the three on either flank are from different depots.  The camouflage schemes of their helmets are the "give-away."  Many German helmets were painted by the individual soldiers using commonly supplied paint and a rough scheme.  That's how I've done these.  The three NCOs -- one feldwebel (sergeant) and two obergefreiter (corporals) -- are armed with older Bergmann MP-18 submachineguns while the soldiers (gefreiter) are all armed with the Kar98K rifle.  These figures are from Pulp Miniatures, PGS08 & PGS10.  Their uniforms are rather dated but I am using them to represent the deterioration in the German Army supply system in late 1944 and early 1945.

Although I have more Germans to paint (rest of kampfgruppe command and heavy support weapons), I've switched to some British -- a rifle section, platoon command group and heavy weapons support.

Sunday, June 21, 2020

Luftwaffe Feldtruppen - Completed

Well several days ago I completed the painting of my gruppe (squad) of Luftwaffe feldtruppen.  But first, let's take a look at their progress from the first report.

Please click on the photographs for a larger image.

The first three photographs show my initial try at the German splinter pattern camouflage.  Now I didn't try to duplicate the exact pattern, just went for an impression.

But the brown seemed to dominate so I added some more layering to the green as shown in the next two photographs.

I still wasn't pleased but I didn't want to get a brighter green as that would tend to counteract the muted approach camouflage takes, in my opinion having worn the Army's woodland pattern battledress uniform in the 1980s and early 1990s.  So I decided that this was 'good enough for government work' and completed the rest of the painting.

And here we have the finished product, a 10-man gruppe of Luftwaffe feldtruppen led by a grizzled veteran of the Russian Front.

My gruppe feldwebel is on the camera left while his companion is watching out for Amis panzers with his panzerfaust.
Hope you like these.  Now on to another German gruppe, this time a gruppe scrounged from ersatz (replacement) depots.

Tuesday, June 16, 2020

Luftwaffe Feldtruppen - First Report

As I began my reinforcement painting for my WW2 'skirmish' forces, I decided to start with a gruppe (squad) of Luftwaffe ground combat troops.  I had picked up a box of the metal Warlord Luftwaffe troops at a local convention a couple of years ago and now was the time to get them kitted out.

As many of you know, the Luftwaffe contributed some 21 division of non-flying ground personnel to the German war effort.  Originally assigned to the Russian front, they eventually fought in all theaters against the advancing Allied armies.

This gruppe will be assigned to Kampfgruppe Pitzfeld, a conglomeration of whatever troops were available to stem the incoming tide of the Allied forces in northwest Europe.

Please click on the photographs for a larger image.

 These are the first four figures that I've completed.  They wear the standard Luftwaffe blue field uniform and were the easiest to paint.  They are (from left) armed with a Gewehr43 and a panzerfaust, a standard Kar98K, an older MG15, and a submachinegun.

The other six figures are going to be more difficult to paint as they are all wearing either the Luftwaffe or the Heere (Army) splinter camouflage jacket or shelter.  This will be my first try at something as complicated as a camouflage outfit.  I'll post more pictures as the painting progresses.

This is the Luftwaffe pattern jacket.

And this is the Heere pattern.

So we'll see how close I can come.  Wish me luck and a steady hand.

French 1870-1871 Zouave Regiment Completed

This past weekend I completed the 3rd and last battalion for my French 1870-1871 Zouave Regiment de Marche for the 15th Corps of the Army of the Loire.  After the fall of Sedan and Metz with the loss of the last original field armies, the French were forced to raise troops as quickly as they could.  Part of this reestablishment of the French field armies was combining depot units into 'ad hoc' regiments known as "regiments de marche" or march regiments.  These 'ad hoc' regiments did much of the heavy fighting against the various German forces covering the siege of Paris.

With the loss of the four regular Zouave regiments, their depots were combed and new recruits added to form one regiment de marche which was assigned to the Army of the Loire.  In my French force, it is part of the 2nd Brigade, 1st Division, 15th Corps.  It, as are all my Franco-German War forces, organized in accordance with Larry Brom's "Chassepot and Needlegun" rules.

Please click on the photographs for larger images.

 And here is the 3rd Battalion, Zouave Regiment de March deployed in battle formation.
The figures are all Askari Miniatures French Zouaves from the French Army of Africa range.

 Here is the battalion "command" stand that shows the battalion sergeant carrying a tri-color field guidon.  The three blue dots on the rear of the stand designate that this is the third battalion of the Zouave regiment.  All of my French and German are distinctively marked so the players will know which unit is in which command.

And the entire regiment with the 1st Battalion in the center, the 2nd Battalion to camera right, and the 3rd Battalion to camera left.  The mounted colonel is between the 1st and 3rd Battalions.  All figures are Askari Miniatures except the colonel, which is a Falcon mounted officer.

And here is the entire 1st Division in their storage boxes.

 The 1st Brigade with the Regiment Legion Entrangere to camera right, the Tirailleur Algerien Regiment de Marche to camera left, and the combined chasseur battalion and one of the light artillery batteries at camera top.  The two regimental colonels are in the center.

The 2nd Brigade with the Toulon Regiment des Marins to camera right, the Zouave Regiment de Marche to camera left, and the other light artillery battery, the two brigade command groups, and the Mitrailleuse battery at camera top.  The two regimental colonels are in the center.

Because of the size of the base, the division command group is in a different box with the corps command group, the 2nd Division command group, and other corps level troops.

Now that the 1st Division is complete I can move on to my next project -- more WW2 German  and British infantry to battle in northwest Europe.

Tuesday, June 2, 2020

Help Identifying a Manufacturer

Last week I posted a picture of the command group for my 1870-1871 25th Hessian Division, commanded by Prinz Louis of Hesse.  The figure I used for the prince was labeled on the bag in which I got him as "EXT-15 Baron von Gruber." 

But I have no indication of a manufacturer.  He is definitely a latter 19th Century mid-European mounted officer of distinction.

Does anyone have an idea of who manufactured him?

Thanks, Jim

More Franco-German War Units plus British Marines

As May 2020 drew to a close, I hastened to complete several more Franco-German War units and a command group.

First up is the command group for the French 2nd Loire Division.

Composed of two mounted Castaway Arts French officers, one portraying General de Division (Admiral) Bernard Jaureguiberry.  Although an admiral in command of the French naval forces at Toulon, he was appointed as an auxiliary General de Division in the French Republican forces.

  The foot officer is, I believe, a Frontier figure.

This command stand also flies a standard French division commander's guidon to help the troops recognize him in the thick of the fighting.  Of course it might also be a "bullet magnet" for the Germans.

And the Zouave Regiment de Marche has added the 2nd Battalion to its strength.  Composed of 18 Askari Miniatures colonial Zouaves, they fit the bill rather nicely.

This is the "Zouaves advancing unit pack" offered by Askari in the French Army of Africa line.

To supplement the French 15th Loire Corps artillery, I've added another heavy battery, the 8th Battery.

It has three Falcon French guns (E-9005) [OOP] and six Castaway Arts French gunners.  I think that I will need to repaint the battery commander's kepi as blue with gold embroidery rather than red.  Oops!

And while I was getting the gunners ready for attaching to the bases, I had the loaders all lined up on my auxiliary painting table.  I then noticed that they seemed to form a "chorus line."

So I present the "Dancing French Gunners" straight from a stint at the Follies Bergère.  😁

As I got all these French ready, including attaching the command guidon, I realized that I had forgotten to put one on the Hessian 25th Division command group.  So here is Prinz Louis von Hesse with his command flag.

The colored dots on the back of the stand will help players determine which units fall under his command as they will have a corresponding colored dot as well.

And the very last unit I painted in May is a battalion of British Royal Marines for my 1813 "British Expeditionary Force - North Germany" (BEF-NG).

Composed of Miniature Figurines figures, this battalion (designated the 2nd) will join the 1st Royal Marine Battalion and other British and North German units in the fight against the Corsican Ogre.

And now back to the painting desk to finish the 1871 French Zouave Regiment de Marche's 3rd Battalion before flitting off to 1944 North Europe to paint some British and German troops from WW2.

Tuesday, May 26, 2020

Hessian Commander and Artillery

The command group for the 25th Infantry Division (Grand Ducal Hessian) of the IX Korps has joined the German forces in France.  Commanded by Prince Louis von Hesse, the heir to the Grand Ducal throne, it consisted of two infantry brigades (49th and 50th), a cavalry brigade, and an artillery force of six batteries, divided into two abteilungen (or battalions).

Click on the images for a larger view.

Organized for Larry Brom's "Chassepot and Needlegun" rules, a division command group has three figures.  The two foot figures are Foundry Miniatures but I'm not sure which manufacturer made the impressive mounted officer.  He was a single figure labeled "EXT-15 Baron von Gruber."  Any assistance in identifying the manufacturer would be appreciated.

And the Hessian artillery force received the 2nd Light Battery as a reinforcement.  It consists of three light 4-lb guns, each with two gunners, per Brom's organization.

The guns are substitutes using Ral Partha Colonial Krupp guns.  They are close enough to what the Prussian guns looked like.  The gunners are from Castaway Arts run by my friend from Down-Under Gerry Webb.

I'm now working on the command group from the French 2nd Loire Division and the 8th Heavy Artillery Battery.  I'm hoping to get them completed before the end of the month.

Monday, May 25, 2020

Memorial Day, 2020

On this Memorial Day during the 75th anniversary year of the ending of WW2, I'd like memorialize two WW2 veterans who are dear to my heart -- my father and my father-in-law.

My father, Leslie Pelham Pitts (1922-1976), served in the US Army Air Corps/Force as a top turret gunner and flight engineer of a B-17 heavy bomber in the 731st Bomb Squadron, 452nd Bomb Group, 8th Air Force, based at Deopham Green, England.  You've read about his exploits in previous blog posts ("What Did You Do in the War, Daddy?").  This picture was taken in the fall of 1945 at Deming Air Base, New Mexico as he was being demobilized.  He's wearing his self-decorated leather flight jacket.

My father-in-law, James Curtis Triplett (1918-2003), served in the US Army Air Corps/Force in a medium bomber squadron assigned to the China-Burma-India Theater.  I don't know which one, but I do know that they transited across North Africa after the German/Italian surrender in Tunisia because he found an M1911A1 pistol in the desert outside the air field which my wife and I still have.  Once he got to India, his primary task was training Chinese aerial gunners for the Chinese Air Force.

And although not a WW2 veteran, I would be remiss if I didn't memorialize my brother, Patrick Arthur Pelham Pitts (1952-2010), who served in the US Army during the early 1970s as a personnel clerk with the US Army Security Agency in Augsburg, Germany and at Goodfellow Air Force Base, San Angelo, Texas.

You are all missed dearly!  Requiesce in pace, comrades.

Friday, May 8, 2020

Victory in Europe (VE) Day 75th Anniversary

On this, the 75th anniversary of the Allied victory in Europe, I was going to fly the flag in front of my house.  But due to inclement weather, primarily strong winds, I could not.  So I'll do it virtually.

US Flag flying at our embassy in Warsaw Poland, Sep. 1939, during a German air raid.

Buzz Aldrin saluting the US Flag on the Moon, July 1969

US Flag flying at my house, Nov. 11, 2014
To all our veterans, past, present, and future, may this day be remembered in honor for the sacrifice we have made.

Jim Pitts, US Army, retired

Monday, April 27, 2020

Turcos Are Completed!!

Finally this past weekend I completed my Regiment Tirailleurs Algerien (or Turcos) for my 1870-1871 Republican French army.  The Turcos were North African native troops (primarily Algerian) recruited into the French Army of Africa during the middle part of the 19th century.  They were very tough fighters.

There were three regiments in the Imperial French Army during the early part of the war but most of them were killed or captured at either Sedan or Metz.  During the Republican phase a 'regiment de marche' of Turcos was established from the various depot companies and survivors of the earlier fighting.  This regiment is what I'm representing.  The figures are Askari Miniatures from Al's 'French Army of Africa' line.  They are very well sculpted figures and were fairly easy to paint.  They are based for Larry Brom's "Chassepot and Needlegun" Franco-German War rules.

The 3rd Battalion, Tirailleurs Algerien (minus a battalion guidon)
They joined their previously painted 1st and 2nd Battalions to form the complete regiment.

From left - 2nd Battalion, regimental commander, 1st Battalion, and 3rd Battalion
The regiment forms the 1st Brigade, 1st Division, 15th Corps, Army of the Loire (my Republican French corps) along with the Regiment Legion Entrangere (French Foreign legion) and a composite chasseur battalion.

As a note, the French African forces also included Tirailleurs Senegalais but they weren't involved in the Franco-German War, staying in west Africa.

Sunday, April 26, 2020

"Angels' Wings" on a Southern Sunday Afternoon

I took this picture while driving back from Kroger in Byram (and yes, I stopped in a parking lot first).  When I showed these mare's wings (as this type of cloud formation is called) to my wife, she said they looked like angels' wings, which I guess in appropriate for a Sunday during the times in which we are now living.

I hope that everyone is staying safe!


Monday, April 20, 2020

6mm Franco-German War Figures - 1st Try

Some time ago, I purchased a sample pack of Baccus 6mm Franco-German War figures when I bought the "Bloody Big Battles" rules.  I painted up the infantry and artillery but not the cavalry.  Finally during this "stay at home" period, I completed the cavalry.

The painting job is very basic which is about as good as I can get with 6mm figures at my age.  So here they are.  They are temporarily based on thin cardboard (pasteboard) stands and are without flags for the infantry.  Please click on the pictures for a larger image.

First, the French - from left:  cavalry (dragoons and hussars), chasseurs a pied, Turcos, line infantry, and artillery.

Then the Prussians - from left: uhlans, dragoons and hussars, line infantry with jager skirmishers, line infantry, line infantry skirmishers, and artillery.

I was (and still am) hoping to put together forces for the Franco-German War but will have to wait until Baccus resumes taking orders.  I may also expand into other 19th Century periods, but will have to wait and see on that.  I'm also waiting on Litko to reopen so I can order bases from them.  Ah, the times in which we're currently living.

Stay safe, comrades!

Thursday, April 2, 2020

Wings of War/Glory Storage (continued)

Last night I completed all of the lattices for the five boxes in which I will be storing almost all of my WW1 biplanes.  If you'll recall, I reported on the start of this project several days ago.

Here are the five boxes:

Box 1 -- Fifteen Allied Powers single-seat fighters

Box 2 -- Fifteen Central Powers single-seat fighters

Box 3 -- Mixed Allied and Central Power single- and two-seat fighters and bomber/recce planes

Box 4 -- Eight Allied Powers two-seat bomber/recce planes

And Box 5 -- One Allied two-seat fighter and four Central Powers two-seat bomber/recce planes

The planes that are not in these boxes are my four heavy bombers (two Gothas and two Capronis, still in their original boxes) and the four single-seat fighters (two Allied and two German) in the Revised Deluxe Set box, as well as my Snoopy in his trusted Camel doghouse, although he will probably ed up in Box 5.

These will fit in two one-cubic foot cardboard storage boxes with room left over for a box holding the control panels and rule books.

Now all I have to do is get busy printing and folding the maneuver deck and damage deck boxes.