Sunday 13 December 2009

Irregular Balkan War 15mm Figures

I have now had a chance to have a closer look at these figures and am thus in a better position to comment on them. I have not bothered to photograph the figures as there are some very nice pictures on the Irregular Miniatures website: so reference should be made to them for closer examination if need be.

These are very nice and certainly look the part - I was particularly taken with the Bulgarian Infantryman advancing as he has a variant with a blanket roll over his shoulder as well as one with the large furry sheepskin hat that certain formations used due to shortages of uniform items. They also feature the leather leggings that were a civilian item of clothing but again, pressed into service due to equipment shortages. The challenge I will have though will be locating details of what Bulgarian infantry flags looked like as standards were still carried (as they were for the Turks as well) in action. There are 3 infantry poses - the two advancing mentioned and a figure kneeling firing. With the revolver wielding officer and the standard bearer there is sufficient variety to be able to mix up the bases pretty well. The final infantry type is the HMG and crew of two - the firer is cast on the weapon whilst the number two is separate. There is a slight variation in these figures in that one of the number twos has a blanket roll whilst the other does not. The cavalry contains a mix of figures with sabres drawn at rest on the shoulder with carbines slung or with the carbine held upright and resting with the butt on the riders thigh. The horses are mostly standing or pawing the ground so the whole unit (8 figures) will look as though it is at rest which I prefer for my cavalry units. The field artillery is from the Really Useful Gun range and consists of a pair of Krupp 75mm field guns and Schneider 12cm howitzer. The gunners are in standard 'serving' poses so need little comment from me. I am not convinced that the guns are correct though - the Bulgarians did capture rather a lot of Turkish artillery (the Krupp 75mm variety) and made use of the same but their main pre war outfit was the the French Schneider QF 75mm which looks very different to the German piece. I will take this up with Irregular and see what they have to say. Finally, the Bulgarian staff officer (which I am using as the overall C in C) is a delight - fully bearded (considered the height of fashion and virility in certain Bulgarian quarters!) and wielding a sword as he no doubt urges his countrymen on to tackle the hated Turk!

On the subject of the Turks, they are even nicer and most of the comments applicable to the Bulgarians are equally usable for the army of the Porte. No blanket rolls or woolly hats but fezzes that are nicely defined. The Cavalry are lance armed types which are very nice and well suited to overawing the locals! Once again I will need to check the artillery as the field gun is the 77mm gun which was in use by the Germans during the First World War. The version that should be use is the 75mm Krupp 1904 variant of the 1896 gun - how similar that is to the 77mm I will need to check with Irregular. Finally, mention must be made of the Turkish General figure - he is absolutely glorious; overweight, wearing a full length greatcoat and looking not unlike Nazim Pasha so I am very much looking forward to painting him.

Aside from the artillery issues mentioned I will only need to order a few additional pieces from Irregular to round off the collection. I will need some more gunners and perhaps some extra advancing figures just to give a little extra variety to both forces. I need to consider supply wagons as well - mainly ox-driven. In any event, I am really looking forward to tackling these figures - the only issue I have is to find two differing shades of khaki to paint the armies with. The Bulgarian khaki is 'browner' whilst the Turkish is 'greener'. Oh, and the flags!


Unknown said...

Hi! I ran into your blog and seeing the Balkan Wars mentioned read the postings. You are correct: the Bulgarian Army of the Balkan Wars was almost entirely armed with the Crusotte- Schneider field gun. The Krupp weapon was better, but generally Bulgarian artillery was better and more aggressively served. Bulgarian Siege artillery, I believe, contained also German artillery pieces - I can easily check this, if you need it.

The sheepskin "kalpak" was usually worn by the units of the Second Call and the general Militia, not the regular army. It was also worn by the "Macedono-Thracian" volunteers - Bulgarians from these two geographical regions.

The leggings are not leather, at all. They were made of heavy-duty, home-made wool cloth and were not dyed.

I have most of the volumes of the Bulgarian General Staff history of the war, including the first volume, which contains the organization, armament, deployment etc. of the armies. If I can be of use, I shall be happy to help!


David Crook said...

Hello Krum,

That is fantastic news and I shall really appreciate any help you are able to give me with this project. I will need to change the Bulgarian guns as although I am sure that captured Krupp guns were in use (certainly the Turks lost plenty of them!)at some point I would prefer to use the Schneider. Thanks for the info re the woolly hats and the leggings. I own a copy of Vachkov's The Balkan Wars 1912-13 and also Defeat in Detail - The Ottoman Army in the Balkans 1912 - 13 and these are my only references so anything from the Official History would be really appreciated. Do you have any details on Bulgarian Flags as I have some standard bearers and want to make use of them? I will also be gaimg the naval side and have already assembled the fleets in 1/3000th.

I suspect then Krum, that you are a Bulgarian national so your help is doubly valuable and very much appreciated!


Unknown said...

Yes, I am a Bulgarian national:)!

Until at least March I am working in Sweden, so I shall have no access to my library, but shall be happy to try to answer any questions that you may have - to the limit of my abilities (and frail memory...).

Defeat in Detail is very well written and the author has done his best to be just. His maps and statements on the ethnic background of Macedonia is particularly valuable. Too bad he has not used any other sources, but Turkish.

What I like about the Bulgarian General Staff history is that it stays clear of "patriotic" exageration and beatification of the officers. Criticism is heaped on Bulgarian officers' heads genearously, without stinting. There is absolutely no bad-mouthing of the Turkish forces or commanders. Bulgarian losses are based on unit returns, for the Turks it is always stated whether they are estimates, based on body count or based on Turkish sources.

Krupp guns did exist in the Bulgarian Army, but the Schneider ones were more numerous in 1912. After that Krupp became the dominant weapon.

On the Naval side: in the Black Sea I am aware of only one real action. Between Bulgaria's four torpedo boats (1898 Creusot-Schneider) and a Turkish force of an armoured cruiser, Hamidiyeh and a light cruiser. Because Bulgarian Parliamentarians were afraid that the Bulgarian Navy is spending too much money, the purchases were made by a Parliamentarian delegation that did not contain naval officers. As result, it was decided that the navy does not need sights for the torpedo tubes. Thus, at the battle of the 8 torpedoes fired, only one hit the target - fired from the last boat in the line, Druzki, from about 100 meters and hit Hamidiyeh. Druzki still survives and is on display at the Naval Museum in Varna. Somewhere at home I have some photos of her...

Of the General Staff History volumes, probably at this point of most use to you would be the first volume, which goes through all the reorganizations of the Army, the Order of Battle, equipment, training, uniform changes, etc. It has parts on the other participants in the war - Turkey, Greece, Serbia, but they are less detailed, though probably reliable enough.

Best of luck with the Project!

David Crook said...

Hi Krum,

many thanks for the offer of help with my Balkan wars project it is much appreciated. There is very little available in English and I am relying on Defeat in Detail, Hall and Vachov and various other titles for the naval side. I am happy at the moment with the figures I am using (Irregular Miniatures)but am a little wary of the uniform colours depicted in Vachov. I also have little or no information on flags and will probably have to use national flags rather than regimental. I knew about the preserved Druzhki and would love to see some pictures so thank you for that. If I can help you in any way with any projects you may have on the go I would be more than happy to oblige!
Many thanks once again,


Unknown said...

After the above exchange between us I lost your blog and only just ran into it again. Hence the silence. Sorry about it!

On Bulgarian flags. There was a beautiful colour book on Bulgarian Battle flags published in Bulgaria (the book was in English, if I recall correctly) some few years ago. Alas, I did not have the $75 that it cost on me and left the country without being able to go back and buy it.

I am back in the States now and do have all my General Staff volumes easily accessible, should you need any information.

Best regards,

David Crook said...

Hi Krum,

Welcome back! I am still 'into' the Balkans although am not painting anything at the moment and am using blocks for the games. I will certainly be picking your brains re the Bulgarian forces in due course as I have a number of unanswered questions that may well be resolved using your General Staff history!

I am really pleased you have found me again and that the offer of help is still open!

All the best,