I’ve been meaning to produce a painting guide for our Great War Belgian figures for a rather long time. Since I’m currently working on a project that involves painting a large number of them now seemed a good time to actually do it. This first instalment will cover the different types of infantry. Subsequent posts will cover the other models in the range.
As I have got a lot of them to paint I was aiming for the fewest steps possible, ideally a base coat and single highlight on each area. That didn’t always work out since some parts ended up having four different layers of paint. All of the colours used were either from Wargames Foundry (WF) or Games Workshop (GW).
All three figures were sprayed white. The flesh was given a basecoat of WF Flesh (5B), a drybrush of WF Flesh (5C) a wash of GW Seraphim Sepia and a second (lighter) drybrush of WF Flesh (5C).
Infantry wore a dark blue greatcoat and blue grey trousers. The piping on the trousers was changed from red to blue in 1911 but the older colour had not been phased out by 1914. In fact many soldiers wore no piping on the their trousers. The Shako was dark blue but normally worn with a black cover. Many of the infantry discarded the shako in favour of a circular forage cap which was dark blue with red piping. The regiment number was displayed on the front of the shako and forage cap.
The greatcoat was given a base coat of WF Storm Blue (39A) and dry-brushed with WF Storm Blue (39C). The result was a little too bright so a couple of coats of GW Badab Black wash was added to darken the final colour. The shako was GW Abaddon Black with a light dry-brush of GW Administratum Grey with a red pom-pom. The regimental number was (badly) painted in white in a red shield design on the front of the shako. The trousers were a base of GW The Fang and a dry-brush of GW Administratum Grey.
Carabiniers wore a dark green greatcoat and “Belgian grey” trousers. The piping on the trousers was changed from yellow to dark green in 1911 but as with the infantry both or none could be seen in use by 1914. In practice the greatcoats were so dark that they appeared black. Their Tyrolean style hats were made of black felt.
The Carabiniers are the easiest to paint since pretty much everything is black. You could even get away with doing the trousers in black as well on some figures since the grey cloth could tend to be very dark. The greatcoat was given a base of GW Abaddon Black with a dry-brush of GW Stormvermin Fur. A second highlight of GW Administratum Grey was added to bring out a few more of the details.
Grenadiers wore a similar uniform to the infantry. According to the Handbook of the Belgian army the greatcoat was the same colour. Looking at surviving examples of both however show that the Grenadiers coats were more blue than the infantry ones. Their trousers were dark blue with broad scarlet piping. In the field they wore the same style forage cap as the infantry.
The greatcoat was painted the same colours as the for the line infantry. However to give it a slightly more blue colour only one coat of the black wash was applied. Collar patches were added in red.
The trousers were given a basecoat of GW Kantor Blue and a dry-brush of GW The Fang.
The equipment was painted the same for all three figures.
The backpacks were given a base coat of Foundry Rawhide (11A) and a couple of coats of GW Devlan mud. The water bottles had a basecoat of Foundry Light Drab (12C) and the haversack Foundry Rawhide (11B). Both were given a wash of GW Devlan mud.
All of the black items (the mess tins, ammunition pouches and belts, boots, bayonet scabbards and spades) were GW Abbadon Black with a dry-brush of GW Administratum Grey. The handles of the spades and the rifles were painted in WF Rawhide (11A) and highlighted with GW Ushabti Bone. The gun barrels were silver with a black wash. The hilt of the bayonet was highlighted with GW Administratun Grey.
The Handbook of the Belgian army 1914 (The Imperial War Museum ISBN 1-901623-07-6) is a reprint of war office manuals, one from 1906 and one from 1914. It contains a wealth of information concerning pretty much every aspect of the Belgian military. No illustrations but a lot of detail.
Armes Militaria magazine is a French language publication with several issues containing articles on the Belgian army. Back issues are available from their website. In particular issue 66 has an article on line infantry and issue 71 has one on Carabiniers and Chasseurs a pied both with good colour photos of the uniforms.