Monday, August 5, 2019

Two-wheeled French supply wagons

My two new scratch-built wagons with Italeri wagon in background.
I was inspired to tackle this two-wheeled wagon build last week. I had two extra draft horses from the Italeri Supply Convoy set that I had built last year along with a couple of seated figures in greatcoats left over from the same set, and had wanted to take a shot at scratch-building some more wagons for my French.
Full disclosure here - I honestly have no evidence wagons like these were ever used by the French in the Napoleonic Wars! These two are roughly fashioned on the four-wheeled Italeri wagon. Certainly two-wheeled wagons existed at the time and were used extensively by the Portuguese and Spanish (a while ago I took a crack at the primitive Portuguese carts which you can see here). Mostly my build was motivated by the fact that I only had large wheels in the extras box and imagined that a wagon with four large wheels would look rather awkward! And in my defence I can only imagine that if two-wheeled carts existed and, as indeed they did, negotiated the rough roads of the Peninsula better than a four-wheeled wagon, then surely they would have been employed. Sadly, convoy wagons aren't all that sexy a thing and don't figure too heavily in the visual or written historical record.
So, having said that, the build was still a lot of fun. I enjoyed the problem-solving as I went along and am pleased with the results. I've included a step by step of the build below if anyone is interested. These, along with my Portuguese ox carts and Italeri wagon now give me a nice bit of Peninsular transport and, with removable drivers, will doubtlessly see service in the Spanish and British armies as well.

Front view. The driver on the left took a bit of slicing to reposition the arm and leg.
Rear view.
Wagon 1 left side view.
Wagon 2 left side view. Foraging party?

And the build...

Bases were made from balsa and styrene and the armature for the canvas a sturdy bent wire. Wheels were from a Hat Prussian cannon.

Under assembly.

Four wires were bent to serve as the shaft armatures.

Shaft armatures attached.

Under view, shaft armatures attached.

For the canvas I used a thinnish handmade paper with lots of weave, soaked in white glue and draped over the wire hoops. The front was cut out and attached separately.

Rear view of canvas in place.

I gooped modelling paste onto the wire armatures and also applied it to the canvas for texture. The modelling paste was also used to smooth over the gaps in the styrene and balsa from my rough build and to texture the bench top. The shafts were a new experiment - once dry I hoped I would then be able to carve them down to the right shape and size without it flaking off - and I could!

Ready to prime.

Primed and ready to paint.


After sharing this on Benno's forum, I received an avalanche of support for the existence of carts similar to these. Here is a bit of what came in...

I had seen the French ambulances previously...

And I think this was identified as Austrian.

But then one forum member identified it as possibly a vivindere's cart (right background), carts used by women who sold food and drink to the French army.

And then - ta da! - this beautiful Franznap model was offered.

And finally another scratchbuilt model from the forum member who first ID'd it, one that he had to dig out of the box.
Less helpfully but certainly relevant, someone contributed this Youtube video...