WR is thinking of using his French Aerostiers unit in another French republican tabletop battle soon. Been several years since this unit has seen action and spied the Die Kaiserliks battle dispositions.
Before the intrepid Captain Coutelle flies again, some details on WR’s model. The aerostiers unit consists of two parts; the flying balloon model and a weighted French semaphore station base. Normally, the French aerostiers “marched” their airborne inflated balloon to the battlefield with tethered ropes held by soldiers. But WR couldn’t devise a model base, of marching miniature soldiers, with sufficient weight to hold the model balloon above the tabletop. Hence, the thought of a weighted semaphore station to “receive” Captain Coutelle’s messages became a fun project.
Modelling notes: The balloon, WR thinks, was a railroad Faller kit (HO scale) plastic kit. Built per instructions then some ribbon from local fabric store finished the tricolour. The tricolour ribbon historically wasn’t on the balloon but the effect to tease the Die Kaiserliks couldn’t be passed up. Captain Coutelle is a 25mm Dixon republican artillery officer with his legs trimmed to fit basket. The semaphore station is scratched built from a heavy plumbing flange* fitting (the weight) and old spray can top. The flange fitting was covered with some brickwork, a doorway and heavy window created. The “white” top half is the spray can top cut out with a circular hole then glued to the flange. The semaphore central post is a “square” brass section from the base to 4″ above the “white” upper section of the station, well anchored into the plumbing flange with resin. This square post holds the vertical steel rod for the balloon above. Cross rods sections glued to the square brass section to create the step ladder on the central vertical post. Semaphore arms are balsa wood and wire finished with some rope and pulley work.
Looking at the components, the semaphore base is placed on the tabletop where the model wouldn’t be “bumped” by waving arms. Next the steel rod is inserted into the “square” vertical post. The balloon has the bent hanger placed in the small hole atop the balloon finishing with the balloon model is hung from the black steel rod (see picture).
The entire model is just representative that the French republican army has the aerostiers deployed for action. Our tabletop rules provide increased and distant reconnaissance reports of enemy forces and dispositions to French commanders (players).
Additional information on the French Compagnie d’Aeronautiers and the French semaphore system, it’s codes and signals linked below.
Seems the Austrians had the last laugh…..they still have the French balloon. WR now needs to work on the Austrian ABB 3-pounder (anti-balloon battery). Ha ha..:-).
In closing, the intrepid Captain Coutelle….
Information on the first Englishman to fly (1784) one year later after the first Frenchmen can be read on this link. John Sadler: The Oxford balloon man history forgot.
Cheers from the airborne warren.
* Note: The heavy plumbing flange is a fixture to mount threaded piping to a wall, stud or similar wall surface. WR has another flange unused someplace in the garage and will take a picture to include in blog post soon.