Sunday, 2 December 2018

Tudor culverin

Another little project come to fruition.

I've been slowly working on this as a break from the demilancers (see previous post) so I guess it's been a couple of months in production, albeit for 4 figures but you know me by now !

Aside from a couple of organ guns my Tudor army has been bereft of artillery support which is something I've been wanting to put right for a while. It comes into sharp contrast when I game with the collection then gets forgotten as soon as I get distracted by something else soon after !

With a game looming I thought I'd get this finished and ready for action.

For Henry's 1513 campaign the organisation of the ordnance for each ward was headed by a master of ordnance who supervised a team of master gunners responsible for larger siege pieces and lastly there were the individual gunners who assisted the master gunners and at times were in command of smaller pieces..

The masters of ordnance were English but the main source of master gunners, gunners and indeed artillery pieces at this time was the Low Countries.

In a document detailing the wages of the rearward two gunners were assigned to each piece and paid depending on the size of gun. The assumption is that this was a gunner and a trainee, the rest of the crew was made up of artificers, (engineers) labourers, pioneers and soldiers to guard the guns.

The gunner or 'cannoneer' was to;

'be skilfull in the height and weight of his powder and shotte' and was to 'diligentlie serche and trye that she be clene from honie combes righte boredd and … her toche hole clere'

In addition he was to be proficient in maintaining, aiming and firing the piece in the field, know how much powder should be used, how many times it could be fired each day* and how many horses or oxen were needed to pull. He would be able to make saltpetre, know the ballistic qualities of dry and moist powder and skilled in mathematics and geometry. He was therefore in every sense a highly skilled battlefield combatant. In fact in lieu of any significant encounters it could be said that Henry's artillery train did most of the work in subduing the enemy.

* For example, apostle (large field piece) 30 times a day, a curtow 40, culverin 36, bombard 5.

I have tried to use the unit as a snapshot of a typical gun and crew from this campaign. The culverin is newly cast in the Low countries and crewed by two Dutch gunners assisted by an English labourer and artificer. I've tried to represent the difference in roles, nationality and clothing whilst maintaining some cohesion in the base.

Here the piece has just been fired, the crew standing to the rear getting ready for the next shot, the enemy must be close as one of the assistants is holding a bag of grapeshot. The Dutch gunner is shouting possibly pleased with a hit whilst the rest of the crew prepare for the next shot. The assistant is opening the powder keg to get a measure of powder whilst the remainder of the English crew stand ready to reload.

On to the figures;

Aside from the gunner with the match all of the crew were converted to varying degrees.

Right to left the main gunner is from the Wargames Foundry Landsknecht range, I've had the figure possibly for 20 years and never got round to painting it so I was pleased to put it to good use. Fashion in the Low Countries at this time was essentially similar to the Landsknecht dress though somewhat more sombre and less flamboyant so I've avoided using stripes and an abundance of colours for the mercenary crewmen.

Each of the mercenaries have an English field sign, the main gunner on his hat and the assistant on his shoulder.

The assistant gunner was the most challenging and enjoyable to convert. I saw a kneeling figure on one of the frames in the Perry plastic Zulu set and knew as with other figures on that frame, that I could put it to good use. It took a while to get the folds right and to find some arms that look like they're opening something but I'm pretty happy with it. The head is from the WOTR set with a hat removed from a head in the Warlord Landsknecht box. The whole thing took a while to do with a few re-runs but I think it's as good as it's going to be.

The chap with the scoop is a metal Perry standing billman from the WOTR range with the addition of a base coat. 

Lastly, the final assistant is holding a case of grapeshot, the arms are from the Perry ACW plastic artillery set which with a couple of exceptions has some really useful arms. 

Hailshot in the early 16c (see below) was a bit more primitive to what would become canister shot in the ACW but the size of the item in the hand still looked reasonably convincing to use. At this time it could be pre-prepared in wooden or sack projectiles or in times of haste nails, rocks and shot put down the barrel and fired.

The Gun is from the excellent TAG range of renaissance ordnance, this piece appears to be based upon this 1518 woodcut;

This looks to be a mercenary gunner next to Hungarian or Albanian soldiers, a similar scene can be found in a painting of the 1514 battle of Orsha where the mercenary stands out from the local labourers and soldiers - note also the very similar cannon;

I'm not sure what will be next, I've cleared the backlog on my desk so we'll have to see. I've got a game coming up so hopefully I'll get the chance to take some in game photographs of the gun in action.

All the best



  1. Marvelous resulting gun and crew, Stuart! Your conversion is clever and well executed. Always a pleasure to see what you have coming off your workbench. Great job!

  2. Inspired job, love these wonderful gunners!

  3. A lovey bit of work Stuart...
    You can’t be far off sculpting a whole figure now...

    I really like the way you have shown difference between the moderate English and the conservative Dutch...

    All the best. Aly

  4. That is georgeous! Top rate conversions and painting and basing

  5. A nice piece of history to go alongside some wonderful painting and conversions:)

  6. Great work Stuart, I look forward to either a misfire or a similarly dismal performance from the gun on the battlefield!

    I love the accompanying research, the combination of the Dutch artillerymen and English crew works really well and the inclusion of the foreign specialists is spot on for the 16th century.

  7. Great looking cannon and crew, Stuart. I love the period artwork of the mercs manhandling the gun over the rickety bridge.

  8. Lovely looking conversion work and the crew split into two distinct groups are excellent!
    Best iain