Sunday, August 3, 2008

15mm Russo-Japanese early estimates

Over the north country whose seas are frozen
Spring wind blows across
It is time to beat Russia
Rampant for three hundred years.
-- Mora Orgai, 1904.

Not the most popular land wargaming period, I have been collecting and slowly painting a 15mm pair of armies for the Russo-Japanese war of 1904-05.

With Naval Wargamers this is a fairly popular topic, for a couple of reasons. It is a mark of the ascendancy of Japan's Imperial Navy. It is the epitome of Pre-Dreadnought naval development. And the battles are fun. And who doesn't like to poo-poo the Imperial Russian fleet (especially with such fun histories available such as this). I believe that Big Mike (of ODMS and the Hangar) will be completing some pre-dreadnought fleets including the Japanese and Russians, at which time I would be glad to defend the Tsar's tarnished honor.

Once all painted, I should have about 60-70 stands of Russian infantry, and about 50 stands of Japanese infantry. I will have around 10-20 stands of Japanese Imperial cavalry, and about the same of Russian Imperial cavalry. Probably another 30-40 stands of Russian Cossacks. Add to all that some field guns (about a dozen per side), and the same number of machine guns.

Currently I have the first 25 or so stands of infantry for each side close to being completed. It is taking me about 3-4 nights to complete 25 stands of infantry, as an estimate to completion (of course, I don't, or can't, paint every night - meaning about a week for 25 stands, or 100 infantry figures).

This will give me armies big enough to play any of the rule sets I am interested in, and I hope to play several and compare them. I am basing the infantry on 4 man square bases (1" x 1") and the cavalry in 3 man linear bases (1.5" x 1"). One of the reasons for the lag in cavalry is that I am using Gale Force 9 bases for this project, and I have to order (or buy at Fall In) the stands. Curse me for not realizing this at Historicon, I could have easily picked them up then.

The stands form different sized units in different games, but almost always a Battalion. In "Square Bashing" a battalion is 4 stands. In "Barrage", probably 5 stands. In a mod of "Chassepot and Needlegun", a battalion varies between 4 and 6 stands.

With 3-4 battalions to a regiment in Manchuria (for both sides), and 2-3 regiments to a division, this means that I should be able to do maybe two infantry divisions (48 stands) per side, with additional cavalry and divisional asset artillery. That is MUCH too big for Barrage, and even for Square Bashing. But it is the right size for C&N, if I want each player on a side to control a division.

Ideally a C&N game would be 3 on 2 (with 3 russian players, and 2 japanese players) each controlling a division. The Japanese troops would almost universally have better morale, and the Russians would outnumber them in a field battle. In an Attack-Defense game, with the Japanese on the attack (as the many scenarios taking the fortifications around Port Arthur would call for), the Russians might fare as well as 1-1, but the Japanese would have much better troops and better machine guns.

I am still a few weeks away from a critical mass of painted stands, but perhaps by Fall In the first clash of sabres and bayonets in Manchuria will hit the table.

Japanese Painting Decisions: I am doing the Japanese half in the early Blue winter uniform, and half in the later Khaki uniform. This is because of other uses I have in mind for the figures. The Blue figures will do very nicely for the Sino-Japanese war (which I plan on using 15mm Boxer Rebellion chinese for), and also for the Boxer Rebellion. The Khaki figures will do very nicely (with one eye closed) for some RCW interventionist forces.

Russian Painting Decisions: I will be doing some of the units in the white gymnasterka top, with the Russian green trousers that the legation troops wore in Peking and on Seymour's column in the Boxer Rebellion. The remainder of the troops will be getting an all-green (1881 uniform) treatment. I am prepping two units of Frontier Guards. I would like to find fur-cap russians in the 1881 uniform that I could use as Siberian Guards. A few of these troops may see double duty in the RCW, not too many. The cossacks, on the other hand, will be usable up until WWII.

Some Russo-Japanese Links:
Wikipedia Entry
Russo-Japanese War Research Society
Russo-Japanese War Armed Conflict Event Data
Good overall article on the Zhukov Russian Military History Site
Encyclopedia Britannica article with good links
Osprey book on the Conflict

Some Sino-Japanese War Links:
Wikipedia Article
Excellent article from the Russo-Japanese Research Society
Excellent Excerpt from Sara Paine's Book
Concise Overview of the Conflict

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