Culverin






    The medieval artillery is completely and unfairly neglected by manufacturers of 1/72 scale model kits (though it is almost true for all medieval weapons connected with powder). Of course, guns were not the key factor of the victory in Medieval Ages as they were during Napoleonic wars, but we must confess that in some battles, such as Formigny and Castillon they played a decisive part. And we should remember how useful guns were in the Hussite army making their vagenburg almost unassailable. That's why in the last quarter of the 15 c. some European rulers began to understand that field artillery can be a useful weapon and hence they did a lot to improve their artillery trains. Charles the Bold of Burgundy, Maximilian I of the Holy Roman Empire and Charles VIII of France were the most successful ones. So it's impossible to reconstruct any army of late Medieval Ages and early Renaissance without field guns.
    This conversion isn't the one you should immediately make, because ZVEZDA is going to produce the kit with medieval field guns this year. But we all know how "fast" is ZVEZDA making its kits, so if you don't want to wait let's start with our work.
    It will be a breech-loading culverin to be made now. This gun was a working horse of medieval field artillery in the late 15 c. Such weapon was quite accurate due to its long barrel and had a good rate of fire due its separate chambers. The main parts of this gun were known and produced earlier: separate chambers appeared in the end of 14 c. [1, p.22], long barrels - in the beginning of the 15 c. [2, p.311], wheeled carriages - in the 1450s [3, pp.46, 51]. For our conversions I took two survived guns as an example [4, p.12, 5, p.37].
    It's a pity there is no suitable parts from 1/72 kits to be used in our work so we have to make the culverin from other details. It's won't be too difficult though.
    First of all we'll gather all necessary parts. We need two toothpicks (one for a barrel and the other for an axle), a piece of thick plastic (the future carriage), two wheels (I took them from the kit "Pz.kpw I" by ITALERI/ZVEZDA in 1/35 scale), a small sheet of paper and a metal paper clip.
    We'll begin our conversion with making a gun's barrel. You should work carefully on this stage because the barrel is the part of a gun that more then others attracts attention. Take a toothpick and cut down its pointed ends. Then take a sheet of paper and cut a piece of 3 centimeters in width and as long as a toothpick without pointed ends. After that you should wrap the toothpick in the piece of paper and fix the paper with glue. Before glue dries take the piece of paper (it looks like a tube now) from the toothpick and let glue dry completely.
    The next stage is about making a running gear. Take the second toothpick and cut its ends so that it will have 3 centimeters in length. Then give both ends a more pointed form using a knife, put on them the wheels and fix them with glue.
    I suppose the paper tube has been dried already. Take it and put it on the toothpick. Then using a very sharp knife cut the tube into small (1-2 millimeters) slices. These slices will imitate iron hoops that secured iron bars. We'll need to have 6 or 7 hoops. After that put the hoops on the barrel with equal intervals between them and fix them with glue. Remember that the hoop closest to the barrel's muzzle must slightly step forth of it.
    The next stage will take some time and physical efforts. We are going to make the gun's carriage. Take a piece of plastic and using a file give it a rectangular shape. Then take a small round file and make a gutter in the centre of the upper side of a piece. Don't forget to compare a barrel's thickness and a gutter's depth while you are making it. The barrel should be slightly buried in the gutter. Finished? Turn the piece of plastic over and in the same way make a gutter for an axle. It's up to you whether you place it directly near the edge of the carriage or some millimeters further. After that you only have to make all sharp edges of the carriage smoother and the carriage's tail narrower.
    While we were busy with the carriage the barrel had dried already. Take it and fix with glue a small piece (3-4 millimeters) of a toothpick to the back side of the barrel (it will be the chamber). Then cut a very thin piece of paper and fix it with glue round the chamber (it will be the wedge). All we have to do now is to make a handle of the wedge. Take a paper clip, cut a piece of 4 millimeters in length from it and drive it into the chamber.
    Now we've got all necessary parts of our culverin. The final stage is approaching. Take the barrel and fix it to the carriage with glue. Then take 3 strips of paper and fix them on the barrel so that the strips' ends were on the carriage's sides. After that you only have to put the carriage on the wheels.
    With some practice you'll spend no more than an hour and a half on this conversion. And an interesting and useful gun is worth doing it. But any piece of artillery will look somehow lonely without its crew. It means that we have to make a crew for our culverin.
    This part of our conversion will be the easiest one. All we need is to take two soldiers from the kit "French foot soldiers with rams" by MINIART. The halberdier holding a ladder (the one in salet helmet) and the halberdier with his primary weapon pointed up (the one in kettle hat) are suitable enough.
    The halberdier in the salet will be a loader. Cut his hands so that they will look like they are holding something with a handle. Then take a toothpick and cut two small pieces of 4 millimeters in length - chambers. After that put them into soldier's hands and fix them with glue.
    The halberdier in the kettle hat will be a gunner. We need to equip him with an iron rod. But his left hand is looking up while holding a halberd. So you should cut the weapon and after that cut the hand itself. Turn the hand upside-down and fix it with glue. Now it's looking down. The iron rod can be made from any small round thing, from a paper clip, for example. So cut the left hand's palm and give the rod to the soldier.
    That's all. The gun is on the table and it's crew is ready for a battle.

1. Y.Shokarev "The weapon's history. Artillery" (in Russian only)
2. W.Boeheim "Handbuch der Waffenkunde" (Russian edition)
3. D.Nicolle, A.McBride "French armies of the Hundred Years war" (Russian edition)
4. D.Miller, G.Embleton "The Swiss at war 1300-1500"
5. T.Wise, G.Embleton "Medieval European armies"