Saturday, July 28, 2007
At the turn of the century, a North African sheik kidnaps an American widow and her children in Tangiers, setting off a chain of international incidents. But while she's being held for ransom, the widow finds herself increasingly attracted to her captor. Then, Theodore Roosevelt--with thoughts of re-election on his mind--sends the Marines to rescue them, and becomes entangled in both European and Berber political intrigues.
'The Wind and the Lion' is, simply put, one of the greatest adventure films ever made, a classic that helped break the 'James Bond' stereotype for Sean Connery, solidified Brian Keith's reputation as one of America's finest character actors, and gave action-oriented director John Milius his most 'audience-friendly' success. It is a sweeping epic in the tradition of 'Lawrence of Arabia', without the earlier film's subtexts of megalomania and sexual ambiguity. Here, the personalities are clearly defined; they start off on opposing sides, but through the nobility of their characters, their unspoken codes of honor, and a sense of old-fashioned chivalry in a modern world of betrayal and greed, by the film's climax, they become allies against a greater evil.
Some critics attempted to link Theodore Roosevelt's world view in the film to the eventual U.S. debacle in Vietnam. That is unfair to both the film, and to Milius, who, if anything, admires and respects the 'big stick' idealism and machismo of our only true 'cowboy' President. (This respect led the director to film the excellent 'The Rough Riders', twenty-four years later, for TNT). Rest assured, 'The Wind and the Lion' is NOT a boring political treatise!
The setting is Morocco in 1904, where an American woman (Candice Bergen, in perhaps her best screen performance), and her two children are kidnapped by 'the last of the Barbary Pirates' Sean Connery and his large band of followers, who are seeking restitution for a long political imprisonment by his family. In Washington, dynamic young President Teddy Roosevelt (brilliantly portrayed by Brian Keith) uses the incident to send in American marines, both to rescue the family, and influence the country's politics (much to the chagrin of Secretary of State John Huston!) Privately, Roosevelt admires the Arab's courage and honor, and wishes the two could face off in a duel to resolve matters.
As her captivity continues, Bergen learns that the real villain is not Connery, who is truly the 'Chosen' leader of his people, but those who imprisoned him. The Americans discover this, too, as they see alliances being forged between the usurpers and greedy European powers, particularly Germany. Ultimately, this leads to a rip-roaring battle between the two forces, full of unforgettable images (Connery on horseback, at full gallop, snatching up a rifle offered by Bergen's son, is one of the great moments in film history!), as the film reaches a VERY satisfying conclusion.
There are many wonderful aspects to this film, and Jerry Goldsmith's rousing score must be singled out; it is one of the finest of his long career, ranking with his soundtracks for 'Star Trek: The Motion Picture', and 'Patton'.
'The Wind and the Lion' is the kind of epic adventure "they don't make anymore". Happily, John Milius has proven that cliche wrong. This film is ABSOLUTELY essential in any Connery or action film collection. I HIGHLY recommend it!
A Wargamers complete guide to the Armed Opposition to Frances
Expansion Across the Algerian-Moroccan Frontier at the Turn of the Century
By Ian Croxall
Native Firepower in the Desert
The firearms traditionally in use by the Arab and Berber tribes of Southeastern Morocco were flintlock muskets if the style that had been in use since the 17th century. Mostly Jewish gunsmiths who resided in the kasars of the Tafilalt and Figuig regions in South Eastern Morocco manufactured them. They were made of good quality iron transported from the north along the caravan routes and were often highly ornate and of good quality.
These locally manufactured weapons supplemented the considerable numbers of European muskets imported to Morocco throughout the 18th and 19th centuries. This influx of flintlock firearms increased rapidly in the mid nineteenth century as huge numbers of surplus military flintlocks became available when European armies made the transition to percussion rifles.
Percussion rifles never gained the respect of the Arabs due to the difficulty of obtaining percussion caps, which they were unable to manufacture locally.
Issued with the Chassepot rifle in 1866,the French had their first breech-loading rifle. It was particularly notable for its consumable cartridge. This was an odd choice considering the availability of several metallic cartridges. It was, however considerably superior to its main contemporary counterpart, the Prussian needle gun. There was a shortage of available Chassepots for the French army and they were supplemented with 1866 Remington rolling block breech loading rifles purchased from the United States.
Thousands of these Remington rifles found themselves in Africa in the 1860's and 70's. As was the case throughout Africa, the introduction of new weaponry led to a flood of replaced obsolescent weapons appearing in the hands of the indigenous populations. The introduction of the French Gras rifle and carbine in 1874 and the British Martini Henry in 1871 resulted in large numbers of their predecessors, the Remington (and to a lesser extent, the Chassepot) and the British Snider Rifle being issued to trained native armies in Africa.
The new rifles differed in that they were dedicated purpose built metallic cartridge breech-loaders as opposed to conversions of earlier muzzleloaders. Although a few numbers of Snider, and eventually Martini Henry Rifles made their way to the Arab tribes of Morocco, it was the Remington that showed up in the largest numbers.
The Sultan of Morocco, Mawlay Hassan, along with his successors purchased thousands of these rifles from the Europeans. These eventually filtered across the Atlas Mountains to the Desert fringe tribes, many of which were armed by the Sultan as auxiliaries to the Makhzan (Moroccan government). These auxiliaries usually kept the rifles with which they were issued or sold them to neighboring tribes. This natural supply was significantly augmented by Spanish and British gun runners against whom the Makhzan were notably ineffectual.
The Gras stayed in service with the French until 1885 when the Lebel replaced it, and the British similarly progressed from the Martini Henry in 1888. The magazine fed 9 shot Lebel rifle was a significant change for the French. It was built around the French invention of the new smokeless powder and contained a tubular magazine running below and along the length of the barrel. The smokeless powder had the obvious advantages in that clouds of thick white smoke during combat did not obscure the enemy. The other notable and often overlooked advantage of this smaller caliber is the hugely greater grazing zone. It did not take the military powers throughout Europe to realize the advantages of this. With its flatter trajectory, the path at which the bullet travels at the height of a man is much greater that with the more pronounced parabolic trajectory of the slower larger caliber bullets of the preceding rifles. This meant that at greater ranges, the bullet did not rise above head height reducing the element of error previously encountered with inaccurate estimating of ranges.
The Lebel was only used by the Arabs in limited numbers and the only way they usually fell into their hands was through successful ambushes and the raiding of supply trains. The other problem was that the Arabs had no way to reload the cartridges as smokeless powder was beyond their manufacturing capabilities.
Black powder was imported, but the Arabs also had the ability to manufacture it locally. They reloaded the empty cases, with locally made bullets and made percussive primers out of smuggled gasoline and powdered match heads. These were undoubtedly inferior to European factory ammunition but sufficed when it was not available.
By the 1880's there was no real reason for a warrior to continue to carry a flintlock riffle unless he wanted to. At the turn of the century the Remingtons and other breach loading rifles and a few repeaters were available in huge numbers despite the fact that selling anything to the Arabs other than flintlocks was forbidden by the French in Algeria. A magazine fed rifle that did make its way to Morocco in notable numbers was the Winchester repeating rifle. This American firearm was easy for the Arabs to reload for.
A French study of firearms in the frontier region produced the following results in 1894 concluding that the Remington model rifle was the most available rifle in the region.
|Figuig, which consisted of five kasars was surveyed again in 1900 and in just one of the kasars examined counted 800 Remingtons, 35 Martini Henry's, 18 Chassepots, 47 Lebels and 75 other repeating models of various manufactures. Also found in the region were Mausers, Spensers, Lefaucheux and Kropatschek rifles. |
The Kropatschek was a temporary diversion in French firearm development and was used almost exclusively by the French Marines in Africa. It was a tubular magazine repeater that was very similar in feed mechanism to the Lebel but it used the larger caliber black powder round. It was in fairly limited used by 1878 but was soon to be replaced by the Lebel.
In conclusion the firearms trade in the late nineteenth century was sufficient to supply any warrior with a breech loading rifle and some with repeating rifles. The predominant weapon was the rolling block Remington Rifle.
Large numbers of pistols and revolvers were also in large circulation. A French study in 1905 stated that the nomadic tribes of the Tafilalt region were well armed with modern weapons but that flintlock muskets were still to be found in the kasars.
When the opposition to the French invasion was at its height between 1900 and 1912 the arms trade flourished throughout Morocco. The raiding of the French controlled zones produced more and more rifles for the tribes, as did the transferring of Makhzan garrison troops in Tafilalt and Figuig.
Despite the ubiquitous breech loading rifles, the technology gap between the Moroccan tribes and the French invaders was never narrowed. They still had relatively few repeaters and apart from the odd captured trophy, no machine guns and portable artillery pieces. These were to prove to be the decisive battle winner for every major conflict of the French invasion.
Sunday, July 22, 2007
gamed colonial battles that I hope you find interesting
The New Zealand Wars were generally fought in New Zealand
between 1843 and 1872, though opinion on this time frame
does vary.The 1860s, disputes over questionable land
purchases and the attempts of Marori in the Waikato to
establish what some perceived as a rival British-style
system of royalty led to the New Zealand land wars.
Although these resulted in relatively few deaths, the
colonial government confiscated large tracts of tribal
land as punishment for what they termed as rebellion
(although the Crown had initiated the military action
against its own citizens), in some cases without reference
to whether the tribe involved actually participated in
the warfare. Some tribes actively fought against the Crown,
while others (known as kupapa) fought in support of the
Crown. The British Army pursuit of Hone Heke and Kawati
of Nga Puhi, following their sacking of Kororareka in March,
North Taranaki War 1860-61:
War broke out in North Taranaki in March 1860. The issue over
which the war commenced was a block of land, called the Pekapeka
Block, now for the most part covered by the township of Waitara
in North Taranaki.
Theopening battle then was fought at Te Kohia, said by James
Belich to be place where New Zealand's `great civil wars of
the 1860s' began.
Further important engagements were fought at Puketekauere,
Mahoetahi, No 3 Redoubt and Te Arei. In the course of this
war, the British Army suffered some setbacks but ultimately
prevailed over Maori. A truce was signed at Te Arei Pa in
Invasion of the Waikato 1863-64:
The defining war of the New Zealand Wars. Massive British
Army invasion in July 1863 of the Maori King's avowed home
area, the Waikato. Skirmishing at Koheroa and Meremere
followed by a major engagement at Rangiriri. With Rangiriri
taken, the British Army pushed south, ultimately defeating
Waikato and allies at Orakau in 1864. Maori King Tawhiao
fled west, and took refuge amongst Ngati Maniapoto in dense
bush country later known as the `King Country'.
Two of the best manufactures for 15mm Maori warriors are:
The Wildly Inspired Miniatures range includes:
NZ02 Maori with Hatchet
NZ15 Maori with Tupara
NZ16 Maori with Carbine
NZ17 Sub Chief with Mere
NZ18 Sub Chief with Hatchet
NZ21 Maori with Mere
NZ22 Maori with two handed Axe
NZ23 Maori with Musket
NZ24 "Friendly" Maori with Musket (he has a European style
jacket and a bayonet fixed to his musket)
NZ26 Rangatira with Spear
NZ29 Rangitira in European Clothes
NZ41 Hone Heke 1845
NZ43 Maori with with hatchet and Shotgun
The Wildly Inspired Miniatures are similar to the old Minfigs
in both size and animation. They are also quite similar in
detail, while not as high as some of the newer lines out there,
they are serviceable and in good variety.
M.Y. Miniatures former Table Top figures
Maori Native New Zealanders.
M03 Shotguns and muskets
M04 Later Command
The M.Y. Miniatures Maori are sold in packs of 8 foot for
£1.75p per pack. These are quite nicely detailed and very
clean castings. The animation on this line is also quite
good and paint up well with little preparation.
Irregular Miniatures also has a small 15mm Maori collection.
As is customary with Irregular they have several variations of
each figure listed that are supplied randomly.
FZ73 Maori Infantry charging with hand weapon
FZ74 Maori Infantry standing or kneeling with rifle
FZ75 Maori Chief
Again Irregular Miniatures seems (to me at least) to harkens
back to the old Minifigs or Laming style of sculpting its
miniatures, where they were considered innovative was in
offering the variations. The quality control in their
manufacture is not top notch by any means, you may get
deformities in your order so be warned. With that said, they
do mix in with Wildly Inspired Miniatures quite well.
Other Useful Items:
Stronghold Miniatures sells by Village Green in their 15mm
Ships/Boats line ( D9 )Kymer/cham./fantasy boat and (D10)
Kymer cham. Admirals/Chieftains warboat. Both are excellent
little craft and give your Maori something to raid in.
Wildly Inspired Miniatures
*Web Page Down*
Friday, July 20, 2007
Research Publications on the
These publications are excellent sources for researching
the Disney style Nautilus. Starting from 1954 until present -
all the major articles featuring the Nautilus are listed here.
Many of the magazines are on-line. Click the book icon and
read them on your screen.
Tuesday, July 17, 2007
The Admiralty from Naval Headquarters in Osaka
announced the laying down the keel of a new
class of Steel Ram/Gunboat entitled the Shu-Swee
with the first of the class being scheduled for
completion within a month.Equipped with a ram,
3.5 inch gun, torpedoes and two machine-guns.
the IJNS Shu-Swee (lead ship in class) will be
deployed in the Formosa Strait.
I found in the junk /bits box the underside of a
Submarine hull that is the perfect shape for a
waterline Iron ram model. Just had to add a deck
gun and pilot house along with two torpedoes and
to the Spanish colonies various Islamic tribes are raiding into
the settled colonial areas. These attacks do not appear to
be random, and seem to be supported by some outside agency.
Saturday, July 14, 2007
Libyan guerrilla leader Omar Mukhtar,
who struggled to stop Benito Mussolini's
invading army from seizing control of his
country. Mussolini ordered General Rodolfo
Graziani and his troops to destroy the
Bedouin's rebellion but the Fascists weren't
counting on the determination and skill of
the Arab fighters. The Libyans engaged in
a long and deadly war, which lasted from
1911 to 1931.
15mm Old Glory Italian Bersaglieri from their Boxer rebellion line.
Painted by Tim at (minipaintr) ebay
Italian Askari, actually 15mm late Colonial Egyptians of various
manufactures. Painted by Mike at (krieg572 ) ebay
I'm having some Colonial British done up by Haley at (Turbil
Miniatures) like the regulars by Cannon Fodder Miniatures
Thursday, July 12, 2007
While the series is placed in today's world The
Torchwood Institute was formed by her majesty,
And should therefore be explored!
The Torchwood Institute is a fictional organisation from the British
science fiction television series Doctor Who and its spin-off series,
Torchwood.It was founded by Queen Victoria to research and combat
alien threats to Great Britain, and use their findings to make the British
Empire great again. To those ends, it acquires and reverse engineers
alien technology by any means deemed necessary. According to its
director Yvonne Hartman, its nationalist attitude extends to refusing to
use metric units.
While described as "beyond the United Nations", they are known to
cooperate with UNIT to some extent. There appears at present to be
some sort of rapport with the PrimeMinister although historically this
may not always have been the case. To those that have come in contact
with Torchwood, they are primarily believed to be a special forces team.
They appear to maintain this illusion by using false witnesses or by
sectioning any journalists who threaten to expose the truth, and via the
use of memory altering drugs.Following a major incident involving the
Institute, the stance of the organisation becomes much less
confrontational and secretive.
Wednesday, July 11, 2007
An incredible website, selling all manner of revolutionary equipment including the latest in steam powered rayguns, including the MANMELTER 3600ZX Sub-Atomic Disintegrator Pistol and the GOLIATHON 83 Infinity Beam Projector.
Even if you arent in the market for the latest in death ray
breaththroughs, you must check this site out!
Also includes a "Bestiary of the Cosmos" section with the latest
zoological discoveries, including the Vesuian Double Backed Shrovel
and the Mountain Meat Beetle.
Tuesday, July 3, 2007
Monday, July 2, 2007
The fortress in the Malakand Pass
has come under attack! A relief
column with five squads of infantry,
a Gardner Machinegun with crew towed by a steam lorry laden with
supplies, and a procession of pack animals with handlers rushes forth
to aid them! Their commander Major Stokes is determined to battle
enemy and win!