Plug pulled on New Zealand’s massive Chunuk Bair diorama


Back in 2015 about 100 New Zealand wargamers volunteered to take part in the nation’s official World War One centennial commemoration by participating in a crowd project to paint over 5000 specially sculpted 54mm figures for a massive diorama of the Battle of Chunuk Bair.

The diorama was to be part of Sir Peter Jackson’s The Great War Exhibition in Wellington’s former Dominion Museum. The building was leased until November 2018 from its current owners, Massey University.


Now the time has come for the lease to conclude. Massey University will return to the Dominion Museum building in 2019, so The Great War Exhibition will close shortly after after Armistice Day in November 2018.

I haven’t yet heard what will happen to the diorama or its 5000 painstakingly painted figures. I just hope it will remain intact, and can be housed in a new location. Maybe the National Army Museum at Waiouru might take it?


But if the worst were to happen, and the diorama is broken up (oh, that’s so painful to even contemplate) we must lobby that the 5000 figures themselves are preserved for posterity. You can read all about the sobering experience of painting these figures in this article from Wargames Illustrated.

I’ve got a personal stake, too, in hoping to preserve the special figure that the Perry twins sculpted of me, pointing the way in the below pic!


Anyway, let’s keep our fingers crossed that a new home will be found for the diorama. In the meantime, you’ve got till 2 December to see it in its present location.

If you can’t make it to Wellington before The Great War Exhibition closes, take a look at these amazing photos by Andy Palmer on the Mustering The Troops blog to see what you’ve missed. These are the very best photos that you’ll find anywhere of this diorama, professionally taken just before it was enclosed in glass.


Here are just a few sample pics from the above blog. Click each picture for the full effect, and be prepared to be especially shocked by the last one. Please do go to Dressing The Lines for plenty more of these pictures, along with detailed captions.











Filed under WW1

A quirky Netflix doco on Napoleonic reenacting


On the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Waterloo, thousands of enthusiasts reenact the epic clash. But there can only be one Napoleon.

I’ve just finished watching a quirky documentary on Netflix. Being Napoleon is a feature length documentary that follows the stories of several historical war reenactors as they prepare for Waterloo 2015.

Over 6,000 reenactors gather for the 200th anniversary of the epic Battle of Waterloo, from humble foot-soldiers through to officers and even the great Marshal Ney (who is unfortunately less adept at horsemanship than the original).

But the real battle is taking place elsewhere, as two contenders vie for the vital role of being Napoleon. Frenchman Frank Samson, uniform-maker extraordinaire, takes on American Mark Schneider as to who will be Emperor on the day. By the way, my son and I saw the latter in action ten years earlier when we took part in the 2005 Waterloo!


There was only one Napoleon in 1815, so there can be only one Napoleon in 2015. But the Belgians are in charge, and unrest is growing in the ranks.

There’s also an outstanding prison sentence to be served, an unpaid bill for parking to which Empress Josephine has something to say, and a motley group of elderly Grenadier reenactors gamely trekking Napoleon’s route from where he landed after his escape from Elba in 1815.

The movie concludes with some amazing footage of the Waterloo event, especially the last stand of the Guard.

As to which of the two contenders ends up being Napoleon, you’ll just have to watch.


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Filed under Movies, Napoleonics, Uncategorized

Dressing The Lines’ top ten posts of all time

Today I’m taking a trip down memory lane, looking back at the most visited postings since I began this Dressing The Lines blog back in February 2010.

Here is the eclectic list of the top ten postings to date (ignoring the home page with 225,287 views), featuring everything from Western towns to pirates, samurai and the 18th century, not to mention famous paintings and even Sir Peter Jackson. Enjoy!

1. One of the nicest wargames terrains I’ve ever seen (13,433 views)


My most popular posting actually depicted someone else’s modelling skills! One of my friends had hand-built this gorgeous Western town on a 4’x4′ board. I felt this was one of the nicest terrain pieces I’d ever seen. Despite this posting dating back to 2011, it regularly appears in my list of recently visited postings, as it is still linked from many external sites and blogs.

2. My ‘Barry Lyndon’ armies (10,146 views)


When I began collecting 18th century Minden Miniatures figures, instead of replicating any real armies or making up a completely imaginary country (aka ‘imagi-nations’),  I chose to recreate the regiments featured in my all-time favourite war film, Barry Lyndon. So I painted British, French and Prussian units from the movie, complete with the costume-designer’s inaccuracies! This 2010 posting tells the back-story of how I began this project.

3. Sir Peter Jackson needs Kiwi wargamers (9,116 views)


This was the posting that launched one of my most memorable experiences in the hobby of wargaming. In 2015 Sir Peter Jackson was in the process of developing a museum for the centenary of World War One. One of the planned displays was a massive diorama of the Battle of Chunuk Bair on the Gallipoli Peninsula. He commissioned the Perry twins to create five thousand 54mm Turkish and New Zealand soldiers. I was part of the project to find one hundred Kiwi wargamers to paint all these figures in a very short time-frame, and this posting was my first call for volunteers.

4. Fontenoy – my favourite battle painting (7,634 views)


I first saw this 1873 painting by Henri Félix Emmanuel Philippoteaux on the cover of Charles Grant’s 1975 book The Battle of Fontenoy. In this posting from 2010 I took a look at the many stories and details included in this, my favourite painting. To me this painting instantly reflected the feel of 18th century warfare, with its glorious colour and pageantry, its mannered politeness, and also its timeless horror.

5. A pirate’s life for me  (6,707 views)


In 2010 Games Workshop Historical came out with a new set of pirate rules, Legends of the High Seas. This fired the imaginations of several of my gaming group. Here was a new period we could get into with minimal cost and painting required, and which could use a lot of our existing scenery. So we quickly ordered some sets of the rules, and a collection of 28mm pirates. This posting showed off some of my first painting efforts.

6. Fabulous cutting-out expedition diorama (6,636 views)


During a holiday to the UK in 2013 I stumbled across this amazing diorama at the Historic Dockyard in Portsmouth. It depicts a fictional cutting-out expedition by British sailors and marines somewhere in Spain during the Napoleonic Wars. This had to be one of the nicest dioramas I’d ever seen, especially for the water effect and the captured movement of the figures and boats. Though I must say the diorama outshines my own modelling and painting skills!

7. My stereotypical Japanese terrain for ‘Ronin’ (6,629 views)


If you’re going to do samurai skirmish gaming, you might as well go the whole hog so far as stereotypical Japanese terrain is concerned. In this posting from 2013, I think I pushed all the buttons: cherry blossoms, humpbacked red footbridges, sturdy torii ornamental gates, and a pointy-roofed shrine.

8. A fantastic landscape diorama – and I do mean fantastic (5,936 views)


In 2011 I posted about an enchanting exhibit at De Efteling, a theme-park in the Netherlands. This was ‘The Diorama’, a 60 metre long showcase containing a fantastically rugged landscape with towns, villages, castles and churches, moving trains and automobiles and flowing water, based on the work of the famous Dutch artist Anton Pieck.

9. Musing and enthusing on samurai (5,319 views)


In 2013 I’d been experiencing a lack of motivation for painting or gaming. But my imagination was eventually stirred by a potential new period to game – samurai! In this posting I was still in that euphoric state whenever you start a new period, when you haven’t yet purchased anything, but are happily day-dreaming about which figures and terrain to buy.

10. Amazing medieval figures: Bruegelburg (5,083 views)


Back in 2011 this range of figures caught my eye. Whilst I’m not into wargaming the medieval period at all, the 16th century Flemish painter Pieter Bruegel is one of my favourite artists. I loved the way these miniatures were so much like Bruegel’s ‘earthy, unsentimental but vivid depiction of the rituals of village life—unique windows on a vanished folk culture …’







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So this is what paper soldiers look like en masse?


I’ve finally finished enough of the Paperboys figures to set up both sides to recreate a battle of the Jacobite Rebellion of 1745/6 – often simply referred to as ‘The 45’. Today I took advantage of the nice weather to set them up outside for a photo-shoot.

I’ve reviewed these 28mm Paperboys figures previously. As units, they certainly look good. But I couldn’t wait to see how they would appear en masse on the table.


Here’s the battle-field from the Jacobite side (click on these pics to see them full-size). I have seven units of infantry so far for the Jacobite army, plus some cavalry and artillery. From this angle, you’d be hard-put to tell that these figures (apart from a couple of exceptions) are all flats!


And here we see how the table looks from the Government side. I’ve got six infantry battalions, a large unit of dragoons, and accompanying artillery.


The commander of the Government troops is Prince William Augustus, Duke of Cumberland. He is best remembered for his role in putting down the Jacobite Rebellion at the Battle of Culloden in April 1746.

Behind him are Loudon’s Highlanders – the Jacobite Rebellion had Scots on both sides. John Campbell, 4th Earl of Loudoun raised this regiment in Inverness and Perth in August 1745.


Here’s the first paper battalion I had ever tried making. The beauty of paper figures is that, with careful cutting, even your very first attempt comes out looking perfect! The blue breeches, instead of red, indicate that this unit is from a Royal regiment.

Behind them is a provincial unit. Most of the provincial corps, such as the Yorkshire Blues, appear to have been dressed in blue rather than red coats.

In the background is one of the few 3D models in the army – a small horse-drawn wagon.  Well, the cart is 3D – the horse is still a flat!


Here’s a unit in yellow facings. The only thing I’ve done to my paper figures that goes beyond what they’re supplied with is to add static grass to the bases.


I’m really pleased how the unit of Government dragoons came out. They’re in an almost three-quarter view, which means you get to see more of the equipment and the horses.

The Paperboys range includes cannons in both flat and 3D versions. I preferred the latter. Whilst fiddly to make, they look pretty good, considering they are cut out of paper! The gunners are still flats.


Another view of everything we’ve seen so far – cavalry, artillery, regulars, provincials, generals, even transport.


The artillery also have a couple of small Coehorn mortars. Once again, the mortar is 3D, whilst the gunners are flats.


Now to the Jacobites, charging forward waving claymores and other pointy weapons, and carrying small targes (shields). The assorted weaponry made these figures somewhat trickier to cut out than the muskets of the more regular units. But they certainly give a great impression of motion.

The blue flag with a yellow saltire in the background indicates Stewart of Appin’s regiment, the colours coming from the family arms

Between the two units you can see Charles Edward Louis John Casimir Sylvester Severino Maria Stuart, more commonly known as ‘Bonnie Prince Charlie’, commander of the Jacobites.


The red and yellow stripes of their flag indicates that this is a Clan Cameron regiment. On the left, you can also see a skirmisher base.


Another shot of wildly charging highlanders, these from Lord Ogilvy’s Forfarshire Regiment.

Behind them you see another unit of highlanders who are carrying muskets. Highlanders generally discharged and then discarded their muskets, before charging forward with their traditional weaponry.


The Jacobites also had artillery. This gun is served by several Jacobite gunners assisted by French artillerymen.


I’ve got one French regiment in my Jacobite army – the famous Royal Ecossais. Louis XV sent a small expeditionary force of about a 1,000 men to Scotland to help Charles Edward Stuart to try and recover his throne. This force was made up of the regiment Royal Ecossais, as well as a number of men from each of France’s Irish regiments, and the Fitzjames regiment of horse.

By the way, did you notice the mistake in this photo?


We’ve seen the front and back views, but what does a side view of flats look like? Well, despite the illusion of realism being broken, they still don’t look too bad in a symbolic sort of way. Better than wooden blocks or cardboard tokens, anyway!


One of the beauties of paper soldiers is that they are remarkably robust. Here is my storage system! There’s certainly no risk of paint chipping. All that will be required before play is a little grooming with my fingers to straighten any bent muskets.


Could this be an unintentional symbol of the outcomes of the Jacobite Rebellion?! Bonnie Prince Charlie stands atop a higgledy-piggledy pile of his troops!


Filed under Eighteenth century, Paperboys, Uncategorized

28mm WW2 Dutch army completed at last!

t_supports armour_aw

I’ve finally completed sufficient models to field a WW2 Dutch force for wargaming. The models depict a small mixed force of the Dutch army as it was when the Germans invaded the Netherlands in  May 1940.


All but one of the figures and models are made by the Dutch company May ’40 Miniatures. The exception is the little Carden-Loyd carrier, which is by Reiver Castings. The figures are all 28 millimetres tall.

The buildings in the background of all these pictures, by the way, are cardboard models by Dutch gamer ‘Gungnir’ that I had bought from WargameDownloads. I’ve added home-made detailing of windows and doors.


In my force I have three infantry squads like this one, plus one squad of Marines.

The Dutch infantry in 1940 consisted mainly of conscripts, with only a small number of career officers and NCOs. Infantry companies were commanded by a Captain, and made up of rifle or light machine-gun sections. A section was commanded by a Lieutenant, candidate officer or senior NCO, and had three or four squads. Squads were commanded by sergeants, and had 9-12 men armed with Steyr rifles.

On the left is a machine gun team. The light machine-gun squads had a M.20 Lewis light machine-gun operated by a gunner and assistant gunner. But the Lewis gun left much to be desired. In a fixed position it had a fairly acceptable level of reliability, but in more dynamic situations it often malfunctioned.


Here’s a rear-view of one of the infantry squads. They wear green M.1927 steel helmets, and the grey uniform that had changed little over the previous twenty years. The NCO wears a yellow stripe on the lower left arm to denote his rank.


The Korps Mariner were the only all-professional branch in the Dutch armed forces, and without any doubt the best the Dutch could field. Marines wore a distinctive dark blue (blackish) uniform tunic or great coat, rather than the grey of the regular army.  They were armed like regular army soldiers, but were additionally equipped with a so-called ‘storm-dagger’.

There were about 450 Marines in Rotterdam, the home town of the Korps Mariniers, when the German invasion occurred on 10 May 1940. They defended the bridges across the River Maas for four days. The story goes that when the surrender was declared and the Marines came out of their positions, the German commander was expecting a full battalion of men, but was stunned to see only a few Marines emerge in their dark uniforms. He ordered his men to salute them out of respect for their bravery and determination, and labeled them the ‘Black Devils’.


An army of course needs supporting weaponry, so I’ve assembled a number of machine guns, anti-tank capability, artillery and armour for my Dutch force. We’ll explore each of these in more detail below.


On the left is a three-man Schwarzlose M.08 machine gun team. The gun is complete with its hose and drain bucket. The Schwarzlose was produced in the Netherlands under licence from Austria. In May 1940 the Schwarzlose machine gun was quite outdated. Still, they proved to be highly reliable and robust, and the number of break-downs was extremely low.

On the right is a Solothurn S18-1000 20mm anti-tank rifle. It was a variant of the Solothurn S-18/100, featuring a larger cartridge and higher muzzle velocity for better armour penetration. When it was first introduced its firepower was adequate against light tanks and other soft-skinned vehicles, but by 1940 it was insufficient to deal with newer and heavier tanks.


On the left is a Böhler 47mm anti-tank gun. These guns would prove effective during the intensive fighting in 1940. It could easily penetrate the armour of all German tanks of that time, it had a low profile and it was easy to handle. The 9th Panzer Division lost about 25 tanks, including Pz.III and Pz.IV medium tanks, due to Dutch anti-tank guns at Rotterdam and Dordrecht.

On the right is an 81mm mortar. Like many armies, the Dutch introduced mortars based on the Stokes-Brandt principle. My force is actually quite lucky to have one, as the Dutch army were under-equipped with mortars, and had only two per battalion.


On the left is a Carden-Loyd tankette. The Dutch army  had five Mark VI versions of these little British pre-war tankettes named after big  cats: Lynx, Poema, Jaguar, Panter and Luipaard. The crew comprised a driver and a machine-gunner, which allowed each to fully concentrate on his own task. Two small domes protected the crew’s heads.

The Carden Loyd tankette was powered by a Model T Ford engine (true!) and had a road speed of 25 mph (40 km/h). The engine was mounted backwards between the two crew. The small bulge at the front of the vehicle housed the Model T’s transmission, which drove the front sprockets.

The Landsverk M.36 armoured car on the right was quite modern for its time. The 37mm gun was relatively heavy for an armoured car, and was better than that of a German Pz.III tank. Their only significant weakness was their poor armour. The Dutch armoured cars that served in the May war (about 35 were operational) would excel in the fighting.

Note the blue overalls worn by the crewmen over their grey shirts. The chap in black standing drinking a cup of coffee is a hussar in leather tunic and trousers. Hopefully sometime in the future May ’40 Miniatures might produce a motorcycle for him!


Tanks? Well, the Dutch army had none! Before the German invasion, the Dutch considered the introduction of powerful anti-tank guns as marking the end of the tank era. As the website War Over Holland says, this belief was “amazing for an army that had not seen anything of modern warfare and that got all of its ‘knowledge’ from papers or magazines.” Of course, they couldn’t have been more wrong, resulting in the Dutch being the only belligerent to have no tanks!


Here’s my headquarters section – an officer with two escorting soldiers. Dutch officers wore an impressive shako for their walking-out uniforms, but in combat they wore the  standard green helmet (nevertheless, I’d still like to add a shako-wearing officer to my force one day!)

Like the French, the Dutch had a strict chain of command, and were expected to operate ‘according to order’. This contrasted unfavourably with the Germans’ much more liberal command structure. The War Over Holland site gives an example of the difference between these two philosophies of command:

If a Dutch officer was instructed to take a certain position, he would be instructed to take that position, following a premeditated route, get a time to gain his objective and be sure about it not to go off-track. If the Dutch officer would establish that the instructed route to his objective was blocked, he would return to his senior command with the simple message that his order could not be executed.

His German equivalent would have been informed of the tactical reason why he was given a certain objective, he was given the time when to have reached his objective, possibly some relevant other information and off he went. Any obstruction on the way would be dealt with. He would adapt, he would improvise and he would overcome – anything to fulfill his objective.


OK, so why build an army that survived only five days?

Many dismiss the Dutch because they capitulated so quickly. But War Over Holland posits that there are two factors that should be considered when explaining the quick Dutch defeat:

  • the first-ever use by the Germans of massive air-landing tactics
  • the sudden occurrence of an instant war on five fronts from all directions.

Both of the above were unprecedented in May 1940.


But there’s another more personal reason why I have built a Dutch army. In September 1939 my father was conscripted into the Depot Battalion of the Medical Troops in Amsterdam (see my previous posting on this subject). In 1940 he was promoted to sergeant, a rank he had held for only one month when the Germans invaded on 10 May.

What Dad experienced over those five days, we don’t know. He never told us anything about the events of 1940. My mother believes he was in Rotterdam, which was badly bombed, though as a conscript from the southern province of Limburg, it was also possible he was stationed there.

So my Dutch army includes a team of medics, in Dad’s honour.



Filed under May 40, Reiver Castings, Uncategorized, WW2

WW2 Dutch and 1745 Jacobites


It might have been quiet here on the blog for the last week or so, but I have actually been  progressing with all sorts of stuff. My wargaming table is groaning under the weight of several projects on the go!


My WW2 Dutch army is coming along.  I am in the throes of assembling and painting some anti-tank artillery. These intricate little models were released recently by May ’40 Miniatures. Along with the Landsverk armoured car, my Dutch army will soon pack at least a wee bit of punch.


I’ve also been busy with my scissors cutting out paper soldiers for my ‘45 Jacobite Rebellion project. I’ve now got enough units on each side to play a game. The Paperboys figures even come with a set of simple rules, so it’ll be interesting to try them out.


This British cavalry regiment looks pretty impressive, even though it just made out of paper.


The armies even include paper artillery. The guns themselves are 3D models, and are a bit fiddly to make. The gunners and their tools are all flats. This close-up view perhaps doesn’t do these paper soldiers justice – but they do look simply splendid when looking at them from a little more of a distance.


The book of Paperboys figures also includes 3D terrain, so I’ve built a typical Scottish ‘big house’. You can build this in any sort of configuration you want, so I chose to do a main building with a wing on the back, and a circular staircase turret.



Filed under Eighteenth century, May 40, Paperboys, Uncategorized, WW2

Review: WW2 Dutch Landsverk armoured car in 1/56 (28mm)


“Verdorie! Those are German paratroopers!” shouts the shocked commander of a Dutch Landsverk M36 armoured car as the Germans begin to invade the Netherlands on 10 May 1940.

I’ve just completed this 1/56 scale Landsverk model produced by May ’40 Miniatures, which at last gives my 28mm WW2 Dutch army some reasonable armour to face early-war Germans.


Including a Landsverk in May ’40 Miniatures’ growing Dutch range for WW2 wargamers has long been a dream of owner Sander van der Star. The model’s development has been lengthy and torturous, as Sander is a stickler for getting everything right. But his dedication has paid off, with the recent launch of this impressive model in resin and white metal.


The model comes well-packaged in a colourful box. It consists of two resin parts, and a number of smaller white metal components such as the wheels and guns. It is accompanied by a fully-illustrated instruction sheet and a set of decals with Dutch and German markings. If you want a commander and crew, these need to be ordered separately.

I should point out here that I bought this model when it was still Version 1.0. Sander was not in fact completely satisfied with his first version, and is now onto Version 2.0, which he says is a much higher quality model. But to my eyes, Version 1.0 still looks pretty good!

Assembly was simple and straightforward. I did decide to pin the machine guns to the body for added strength, and aligning the commander to hold the open hatch was slightly fiddly. But all in all, assembly took only about half an hour.


Painting was also easy, as the Dutch Landsverks were simply painted green. I started with a black undercoat (which I did before attaching the wheels), and then dry-brushed the model with grey to bring out the detail.

I then painted the whole vehicle green, followed by a black wash over all details such as door frames and hinges, grilles, filler cap etc. To blend the black wash in, I then dry-brushed the model with the same green I had used previously.

Finally, the magic step – the absolute driest of dry-brushing with white to highlight all the edges, which makes the whole model pop.


The decals are incredibly fine and thin, so care must be taken applying them. It is fair to say I found this the most difficult step in making my model.

Make sure you trim right to the edge of the marking before dipping it in water, and be patient for the decal to slide off the backing paper. When the decals were dry, I protected them with a coat of matt varnish. The end result is so fine that you can hardly tell they are decals.


I did chicken out and decided to hand-paint the triangle on the front grille, rather than trying to mold the slippery decal over the lines of louvres. Luckily triangles aren’t too difficult to paint!


So there we a have it – a Dutch armoured car to strike fear into my German wargaming opponents!


The Landsverk is available from May ’40 Miniatures at the cost of €27.50, plus shipping from the Netherlands.


History of the Landsverk


In 1934 the Netherlands ordered twelve Landsverk L181 armoured cars and one spare chassis from the Swedish company AB Landsverk. These so-called M36 vehicles had a Daimler-Benz chassis with a Swedish body and turret. The Dutch changed the 20mm cannon to a 3.7 cm gun and fitted an extra machine-gun to the rear.

In 1937 another twelve were ordered, this time of the type L180 on a Büssing-NAG chassis, to be known as the M38. Two command variants were also ordered.


The Landsverk was quite a modern armoured car for its time. The 37mm gun was relatively heavy for an armoured car. However, the chassis was quite rigid and proved unsuitable for rough terrain. Tracks could be fitted to the rear wheels, but this was impractical under fire.

The M36 served with the 1e Eskadron Pantserwagens and the M38 with the 2e Eskadron (1st and 2nd armoured car squadrons). The squadrons were divided between Vesting Holland and the Grebbelinie. Two platoons were stationed at Ypenburg Airport, and the other two on the Grebbelinie.


The Landsverks performed well during the five-day war in May 1940.  They were quite capable of handling themselves in modern conflict. Not one Landsverk was taken out of action due to direct enemy fire. The cars that were disabled  had engine trouble or were damaged due to the bombing of Ypenburg.

Landsverk armoured cars took part in combat with the SS Leibstandarte Adolf Hitler and the 227 Infantry Division, as well as the defence of Ypenburg against German paratroopers.

After the capitulation, the Landsverks were used by the Germans under the name Panzerspähwagen L202 beute (‘prize’). May ’40 Miniatures includes decals for the captured version with their model.



  • Armament: one 37mm Bofors semi-automatic gun, three M20 (7.9 mm) machine guns.
  • Ammunition: high-explosive and high-explosive armour piercing.
  • Crew: Five (two drivers, two gunners, one commander).
  • Maximum speed: 60 km/h forwards, 40 km/h backwards.
  • Armour: turret 9mm, rest 5mm.


Filed under May 40, Uncategorized, WW2