Aug 25, 2014

The Vladislaus V Penal Battalion

In the early 19th century, a group of Austro-Hungairan (then Austrian and Hungarian) explorers found a large island west of the African coast that they named Nova Hungaria. The few settlements have, however, soon been abandoned and the scientists and adventurers never stayed long enough to find any natural resources or inhabitants. When, after the union of 1867, a group of military men on board the SMS Archangelus landed on the north-eastern shore of Nova Hungaria, on the White Island, it was already too late - an independent and mostly roguish Russian group had already settled in some ten years before.
But, as it turned out, there was a lot of coal and even some gemstone quarries inside Nova Hungaria... Maintaining a colony seemed a waste of human and military resources. And, the Hofkriegsrat thought, why not send the human waste to the human waste? Thus was born the Vladislaus V Penal Battalion.
'Recruiting' began in the early 1870s - unruly elements or officers with a failed career were cast into a provisional unit then sent to Nova Hungaria. The Battalion itself was built around this platoon-sized unit: first artillery support in the form of experimental Gardner guns just some time after its invention, then three full-size companies of infantry, of which roughly half made it to Nova Hungaria, decimated by storms and fever, and also iron discipline. The KuK government wanted an actual fighting force, so the battalion soon reached regimental size with independent cavalry, artillery and naval support  - the latter in the form of two old steamers, one converted to a gunboat.

The history of the Battalion will be told with 1/72 figures of course - this one above is the first set completed, the 'Subpoena' Platoon of the Logistics Branch (Revell remake of the Accurate Pioneers set). They will shape the land, drain swamps, build railroads, bring some old forts back to shape and build new ones. I am mostly going to use ACW sets - instead of a Steampunk quasi-ACW ImagiNation, it will be late 19th century colonial adventures in the jungles and deserts of Nova Hungaria. As this is the 135th side-project and is mostly just in a crazy idea-state, there won't be much happening for a while now.

I have used my last supplies of black wash and glaze plus VGC Stonewall Grey. A huge replacement will be bought at the beginning of September.

The platoon commander holding a map.

This is a useful duo too, the horses are representative.

 Digging unit

Things-carrying unit

What is certain that Sharp Practice will be used with some modifications, especially on unit size as usually more than two or three high-ranking field officers (Majors and Captains) will be present during an action. What I like about this rule set is character (Big Man) generation - lots of useful attributes for the sort of gaming I would like. It also has rules for less sophisticated enemies that will be useful when the Battalion fights jungle tribes. I might just take the MG rules for Gardner guns (maybe less dice) from Through the Mud and the Blood.

As with most projects, this will kick in the middle of September - stay tuned until then - next up is the Gardner guns, the first Foot companies and the steamer SMS Maria Theresa. Unless the Ancients come about!


  1. very good job and interesting story!

  2. Wow, you've been busy! What an interesting unit.

  3. Interesting unit indeed and excellent painted!


  4. Excellent work done on this set ! I think that it's the first time that I see those figures painted ....

  5. Very clever idea for the backstory for that unit. I have the Revell Whermacht Pioneers/Engineers set, and some of the poses are identical to your figures, it's just that the uniforms are different. I had to do a double take when I looked at your photos.
    I hope to see more of your project.

    1. It is true, some are very similar. The adventures will continue soon.