Sunday, March 3, 2013

First Chariots (finally!)

Well it took longer than expected but I finished my first batch of chariots. I know I said they would be done last monday, and in fact they were! It's just that they are a submission for the Analogue contest and as per the rules I had to wait for Curt to show them first on his blog before I could do the same. Unfortunately Curt was super busy this week so while I sent the pics last monday he put them up on his blog yesterday.

The primary striking arm of the Canaanite armies,  the elite chariot corps was manned by the social elite of feudal nobles called Maryanna (chariot warriors). Each Maryannu was a professionnal warrior who maintained his chariot, horses, grooms, driver and equipment at his own expense. The Maryannu's wealth was derived from his holding of a fief granted by his king. The Canaanite chariot was heavily influenced by its Mitannian counterpart, and was heavier than the Egyptian vehicle but lighter than the Hittite machine. 

The Canaanite chariot warrior was heavily protected by a mail coat of scale armour. His horse, too, wore a bronze scale coat. This armour consisted of a mail coat with sleeves and a long skirt covered with individual bronze scale plates. The scaled coat and skirt required almost a thousand scales to fabricate, with the sleeves another 200 scales! These devices were designed to protect the horse and crew from the enemies' arrows as they closed to engage. The most common helmet of the era was the bronze helmet. The charioteer neck was often protected by a high, thick bronze collar, typical of the armours of the period. In contrast with the Egyptians and Hittites, the chariot driver was often also well equipped with scale armour and helmet. The driver also carried a small shield (aritu) made of beaten bronze covered wood.

The primary weapons of the Maryannu were the composite bow (plus two quivers of arrows attached to the chariot), a heavy spear and a club, the latter to be used only in the direst emergency should the warrior find himself afoot. These weapons suggest that the tactical role of the chariot was not to fight in close quarters as the Hittites, but rather to either fire or as passing engagement. Both the bow and lance were to be either used from afar or en passant if closely engaged. These chariots could be equally efficient against the heavy chariots of the Hittites or the lighter Egyptian chariots. When fighting Egyptian chariots, the Canaanite machine gave it's charioteer an equal capability of firepower since both the Egyptians and Canaanites were armed with the same composite bow. While the Egyptian chariot held advantage in both speed and maneuverability, the Canaan plains did not offer many opportunities for battle on flat, even plains. The heavier Canaanite vehicle, with it's far better protected charioteer, offered greater advantages in delivering shock and increasing the archer's survivability both when engaged at close range en passant and when employed on uneven terrain, which itself could neutralize the Egyptians' advantage in speed and mobility.

Chariot horses were prized and expensive military assets, and there was an organized system for acquiring, breeding and training horses. Horses began training with the chariots when they were a year old and began pulling chariots by their 3rd year. By their 4th year they became proper chariot horses until their retirement at age 9 or 10.

(source : Richard A. Gabriel, Thutmose III)

Other than one Warhammer Chaos chariot painted well over a decade ago, this was my first time painting chariots. As such I decided to settle on a manageable 3 chariots at a time. After painting 3 chariots, I'm pretty sure this will be my magic number from now on. Chariots do take a lot of time to paint, what with the chariot body, wheels, 2 horses and 2 crews. 

I wanted a colour scheme to set the chariots apart from the rest of the army, which is mostly in red and pale blue, to convey their elite status. I chose purple because the region was known for its purple dye, which was laboriously produced from murex shells. The purple cloth was well known far and wide and later was associated by the Romans with nobility and royalty. Fitting, I thought. Having said that I will probably vary the colour scheme between Chariot units. These 3 chariots will be part of a bigger chariot unit, probably made-up of 6 vehicles.
Although I'm still wondering if I should go instead with smaller 4 chariots units. Food for thought.

I had a few problems along the way, most notably my Army painter drying unexpectedly just when I was about to AP the finished models. Not a big problem just an annoying one. Also yours truly in a stupid clumsy move dropped a wheel on the garage floor when varnishing the models, doh! The wheel ended up below the car, in the winter slush! Panicked, I removed the car and started looking for the wheel, which I found in good shape in the middle of small rocks and salt after a few minutes of  cursing. That was close, as I bloody hate painting wheels! 

I also expect the assembly will go smoother next time. Just little things you learn as you go.

So here are the first 3 chariots of my Canaanite army; the chariots are Cutting Edge and the crew are a mix of Cutting Edge and Foundry. I'll post a review and comparisons of Foundry and Cutting Edge chariots this week to explain why you'd be certifiably insane to pick Foundry chariots over Cutting Edge's. In the end I went with 50x80mm bases, the 50x100mm didn't look right.

So these are my 4th submission of the contest and give me 105 pts.
On the workbench : Bedouin skirmishers and more Canaan Militia Spearmen.


  1. Well worth waiting to see. Chariots and bases look great. Not seen a uniform colour chariot unit before.
    Nice bright looking unit. Love the bronze.

    1. Thanks! They will probably end up representing my elite chariot unit, hence the uniformed look. I wanted them to look the part.

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