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Building a samurai battery part 1: Cannons

I wanted some cannons for my 28mm samurai army, but I was not quite satisfied with what was available out there. Instead I converted a mortar and a cannon out of the Games Workshop Empire Cannon set together with the cannon set from Perry Miniatures. Here are brief tutorials on how I did it, and ideas for how to bling out your samurai batteries.

Cannon tutorial

Cannons were rare in samurai battles, but they did increase in numbers at the end of the Sengoku period, more so at sieges than at set battles. Initially the samurai used what they could buy from the Portugese or the Dutch, which often meant whatever naval cannons the merchant ships could spare for extra profit. However, the Japanese also developed bigger cannons themselves once they fully understood the technology.

Japanese-made artillery ranged from what was basically larger arquebuses that were still portable by one or two foot soldiers to large siege mortars. I wanted to add cannons to my army. Perry Miniatures have a saker naval gun with crew, but frankly it looked quite puny next to the rest of the army. Rather, I wanted something like this:

For this bulkier type of cannon I would have to get another base for my conversion, so I bought the plastic Games Workshop Empire Cannon set.

Step 1

First I built the cannon, pretty much straight out of the box. Most of the decoration on the barrel was scraped off, and I added a band around the cannon with green stuff. These bands were used on early cannons to keep them from expanding from breaking under the stress of the rapidly burning gunpowder.

The base was made out of a thick greeting card style cardboard bought in Japan. Any thick cardboard or thin MDF board that is resilent to warping should do. The bottom layer is slightly bigger than the upper layer. I put three square slottabases on top of the upper layer and marked with a pen along the edges. Then I cut with a box knife a hole that is slightly bigger than the base, so that the miniatures can be easily put in place. Then the two layers were glued together, and the edges filled in with green stuff. Bits and pieces of the Perry set and the GW set were put on the base, and some imprints from the wheels were made with green stuff.

Step 2

I painted the base with wood glue (PVA) mixed with water, and then sprinkled it with fine grained sand. After that everything was primed black. The cannon was simple to paint, drybrush it brown and then pick out the metal details. The barrel was painted black, but Japanese cannons also had a brass finish if you prefer that colour. The mantlet was painted white.

Step 3

Finally I added details. The mantlet was covered with a transfer, from a now sadly defunct Australian company. I put watered down wood glue on the base and sprinkleed on static grass, and finally I put on some late autumn tufts from Silflor. All in all a very simple conversion, but one that gives your artillery pieces a lot of character.

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Did you know...

The reason why the samurai class shaved their the top of their heads is for helmet to fit more easily when they go into battle.
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