Siege Mortars

Well we all knew that it wouldn't last. 'Finished'? You were right to scoff regular readers - and as an aside, it appears that the regular readership has advanced to the dizzying heights of nine! So, hello all nine of you.

As so much conflict during the Civil Wars was siege or siege related, I thought it was only right and proper that I had a mortar. Which wasn't quite so straightforward as you would imagine. 

I decided that I should have two siege mortars, one 'deployed' and another 'in transit'. The 'in transit' version being a useful scenario goal - stop the mortar being deployed!

But first the tricky issue of sourcing all the parts. Blue Moon make an ECW siege mortar - but alas their figures are 18mm, and the mortar was just too big. Freikorps 15 are in hiatus whilst they relocate, plus their Civil War/30YW ranges have disappeared from their online catalogue. 

Magister Militum have a couple of offerings, but their figures are a little small in comparison to PP and I wanted my mortars to have some heft. It looked like I was drawing a blank, I even looked for American Civil War 25mm coehorn mortars (which are very small, but could be just the right size for 15mm) - alas the only ones I could find were on the wrong side of the Atlantic. Magister Militum it would have to be.

I went for pack AE5 12" mortars, as they looked more like the contemporary illustrations that I have seen of siege mortars. There are two in the pack, and they have a wooden platform sculpted underneath. This would have to be cut away for the 'in transit' mortar. Mortar barrels were drilled - something I often think that I should do, but invariably forget about.

The 'in transit' mortar on its wagon.

Magister Militum also produce a wagon chassis which would be ideal for transporting the 'in transit' mortar. My experience of limbers and wagons has, so far, not really been through Magister Militum - the cart comes with the option of thrills or a pole. The pole was very tricky to fit into the front axle, I also simplified the pole, cutting away many of the unwanted extra bits.

I wanted some draught oxen to pull the mortar cart, and decided to go with Museum Miniatures oxen pack. But the question arose what colour to paint them. Firstly I must confess that I thought oxen  were a separate bovine species. I must point out that I was born and bred in sheep country, and know little about cattle. Oxen are merely castrated bulls who have been trained to be draught animals. Everyday is a school day! So in other words they could be any cow colour I wanted. The image I have of the completed thing is something a bit like English long horn cattle... wish me luck painting them!

English longhorn - they have characteristic white line along their spine, and white bellies
(and yes, I know it is a lady cow, not an incomplete male)

The oxen come four to a pack, with separate yokes, clean crisp sculpts - I really am very pleased with them. 

They were given a base coat of white, then stippled Cd'A chestnut brown using an Army Painter stippling brush. They were then stippled them again with a very watery white - any heavy 'new' white bits were wiped with a finger which gave a very pleasing effect. Noses and ears were painted neat chestnut brown, and I ensured that they had clean uninterrupted white stripes on their backs. Finished off with a light coat of Nuln Oil.

My baggage train have become little dioramas with marching drummers and musketeers, I thought my mortar should have some too. A marching musketeer from Naismith fitted the bill, and then I decided I should have a marching artilleryman. But nobody makes them; so a marching musketeer from PP was pressed into service. 

Original donor pose for comparison

His bandolier, powder flasks, sword, bags and straps were all removed; his musket snipped off and his hands/arm drilled to take a length of pinning rod. Greenstuff provided a new bag and strap to hide the blankness of his coat, and the pinning rod became the artilleryman's sponge. In bare metal the sponge looks very oversized, but it is in fact exactly the same size as the sponges held by the PP artillery crews. 

Painted and based - don't think he is too shoddy

The deployed mortar has four crew from my spares box (PP), and a Steel Fist posh person no doubt telling the better qualified how to do their job. A pile of ammunition from Donnington Miniatures rounding off the base (these used to be on my original demi-culverins, but I didn't think that they were quite right there).

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  1. Your oxen turned out beautifully; great colour choice and perfectly executed.

  2. Lovely looking set of models. And the oxen look ace. Well worth the effort.
    I never knew that about oxen either. But then I come from fish country ;-)

    1. Thank you nundanket - good to hear that I was not alone in my lack of oxen knowledge.

  3. A great addition to any siege train. No castle will stand (for long!) against you now. I think you did a great job on the oxen - I thought of Longhorns as soon as I saw your picture. Very nice conversion for the ‘in transit’ version as well.

    1. Thanks FoGH. If you thought longhorns I'll notch that up as a 'win'.


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