Thursday, January 14, 2016

Wars of the Roses: Tudor Bombard (Perry Bros, putty, matchsticks, and coffee stirrers)

On the wrong end of a Tudor siege.
 What do you do when you've run out of crossbows and pikes in a Perry European Mercenaries Set and don't desire any more handgunners?  Make a bigger gun.  I started with four Perry Plastics match sticks, coffee stirrers and a section of a paintbrush handle I was going to trash.  I added modeling putty to the paintbrush to make the barrel of the bombard.  The design for the barrier was taken from the Henry V and the Conquest of France from Osprey Books.  I also used putty to make the bombard stones, sponge and rammer.

On the Bench:  Figures to left, artillery tools center, and bombard
 position to right.  The cradle for the bombard was build from matchsticks
and the fence and curtain from birch coffee stirrers.  Later I would
add some linen thread as rope for my crew to raise and lower the curtain.
I have made a change of direction with my late 15th c army (formerly Burgundian) and decided to start painting in an early Tudor theme so Jasper, Henry, the Staffords, Oxford, etc could take on the Ricardians and the many pretender uprisings that sprouted after Bosworth (not to mention the French and Burgundian Navies).  Hence the green and white livery with red rose.  This was adopted as the Tudor Livery (different than Owen Tudor's white helms and chevron on a field of red) and worn by the Yeomen of the Guard.  I wonder if Jasper paid to have them outfitted thusly prior to Bosworth?  I don't know, but it looks nice to me. 

I also added the padded sleeves onto the lefthand crewman
 manipulating the mantle.  I only had plain sleeves remaining on the
 sprues and they looked odd with the padded jack. Similar jacks with padded
sleeves seemed to come into fashion in the last quarter of the 15th c.

This sort of gun position with a mantle, would have been utilized for a siege rather than in the field.  The bombard itself would have been transported on a carriage  and hoisted off into place on its cradle or sled by a block and tackle system.  Certainly not mobile and requiring a train of artificers to emplace and maintain.  Guns of this size (8000 lbs) would fire about a 20 lb stone.

From Lasuar’s account of the Siege of Dax (1450), “The watch ordered and set, our prince sent forth a force of pioneers and miners, who, all night long, he had make broad approaches and deep ditches and trenches ,set up his artillery, and put the protective mantles there; and he was so diligent that the prepared artillery was ready to fire at dawn.  And in the same way my lord the prince made huts by filling the wickerworks and faggots with earth, in the manner of a broad mound, to shelter the watch from the artillery in the town; and the trenches were so advanced the next day that one could go safely under cover from one quarter of the siege to another…a great part of the forward walls were thrown to the ground; and our said artillery made large and wide breaches there, over which watch was held; and we fired our large culverines at these so that, when the enemy wished to make shelters or otherwise repair them, our culverines often killed or wounded their men…”
This was fun piece to plan and build.  I decided to have a magnet underneath the gunner and Captain.  They are based on steel washers and this will allow me to switch them out with alternate figures in different livery (should the Tudors become invested).


  1. Excellent scratch-built vignette!

  2. Creative AND effective! Great photo caption.
    Nice work!

    1. Thank you. Looking at some of the bombards on the market, I figured I'd give it a try to give those four leftover fellows something meaningful to do in their next table-top foray.

  3. I'm going to steal this idea as well. I have some of the old GW/Foundry bombards that would look terrific on.

    1. Have at it! Post photos when you do so!