Wednesday, 23 May 2012

Two For One

While I was away last weekend, I managed to pop into WH Smiths and had a look at what wargaming magazines they had in. They only had a couple in but the Miniature Wargames magazine June issue number 350 was on the shelf.
I can remember long ago, reading MW when it first came out and in fact brought the mag every month, until a few years down the line I stopped buying it. The reason was that they started to do a lot of fantasy stuff which seemed to spoil the magazine for me. Still I do have a little flick through the mag when I see it in Smiths now and then. This issue is a special issue in that you get a FREE copy of Henry Hyde’s magazine Battlegame, which Atlantic Publishing took over a couple of months ago. Now I have brought a couple of Battlegames at SELWG show’s a couple of years ago and found them quite interesting. I even brought the Table Top Teasers Vol 1 at the show.
Both of these magazines for this month do have some articles in them that are both worth reading.

In Miniature Wargames, it has lovely coloured pictures throughout and a couple of good articles to read. First up was the Combat at Garica Hernandez from the Peninsular War 1812. Everything you need to know about playing this battle.
Then we came across the Arnhem game from WWII. Although I don’t play this period now, it was still a good read and with some rules for you to use.

In Battlegames Issue 29, we start with Going Coastal, how to make coastal terrain. I have always wanted to make my own terrain but time always gets in the way. But one day I shall sit down and make some. Then we came too, Simplify your painting. 24 tips to help you complete your tabletop armies faster and more easily.
Some of this article I must agree on as when you paint your figures, paint what you can see at the three foot distance. It seems to me that there are a lot of people out there that paint everything on their figures, right down to their eyes. The look in their eyes don’t look right but I think the wargamers that do are very brave. I have not gone down this road and have just recently started to paint their buttons and I am still thinking about NCO’s ranking. Still everyone has their skill and time which is what this article is all about.
There is plenty more in these mags and I shall get down and do some reading on these over the next weekend. It has also made me think about buying wargaming magazines again.

Friday, 4 May 2012

The British Browning Bess

This flintlock musket was used in the British Army from 1722-1838 and was used in all theatres of war throughout the British Empire. There were many versions of the Bess, as it was known, including the Long land Pattern, Short Land Pattern, India Pattern, New Land Pattern Musket, Sea Service Musket and many others.

The Long Land Pattern musket, a .75 caliber flintlock musket was the standard fire arms of the British Empire’s land forces from 1722-1838 before they were superseded by a percussion cap smoothbore musket.

Officially termed King’s Arm or Land Pattern musket, the origins of the nickname Brown Bess is not clear but it first showed up in 1785.

The earliest models had all iron fittings but these were replaced by brass in models built after 1736. The ramrods were first made of wood but were then replaced with iron ones, although guns with wooden ramrods were still issued to troops on American service until 1765 and later on to the loyalist units in the American Revolution.
Stress-bearing parts of the Brown Bess, such as the barrel, lockwork and sling-swivels, were customarily made of iron, while other furniture pieces such as the butt plate, trigger guard and ramrod pipe were found in both iron and brass. The stock was made out of Walnut. The musket weighed about 10 pounds (4.5 kg) and it could be fitted with a 17 inches (430 mm) triangular cross-section bayonet. The weapon had no sights, although the bayonet lug on the barrel may have been used as one. The Infantrymen would point the musket in the direction of the enemy and fire.

The accuracy of the Brown Bess was not too bad, as with most muskets. The range was about 175 yards (160 m) but it was really often fired on mass at 50 yards (46 m) to inflict the greatest damage upon the enemy. The combination of large calibre of the lead ball and the heavy weight of its iron construction contributed to its low effective range. Military tactics of this time stressed mass volleys and massed bayonet charges, instead of individual marksmanship. The lead ball could inflict a great deal of damage when it hit and the great length of the weapon allowed longer reach in hand to hand combat.

Of all the versions made, the India pattern was supposed to be the most accurate with an effective range of 175 yards and with a 75-95% accuracy. As used by the British regiments of the Napoleonic Era, the weapons were quite reliable. A trained solider would take about 43 seconds to fire off three shots but in battle they were expected to fire 3-4 shots a minute. An inexperienced recruit perhaps two shots a minute. The weapon also had a thicker barrel than most contemporary firearms which reduced its chances of blowing up due to powder overload.   

The standard military loading procedure for a Brown Bess from a paper cartridge, which included lead ball and gun powder is as follows.

  1. Tear cartridge with teeth and prime the pan directly from the cartridge.
  2. Stand the musket and pour the rest of the powder down the barrel.
  3. Reverse the cartridge and use the ramrod to seat ball and paper cartridge into the barrel.
  4. Cock the musket, present and fire.