Sunday, August 17, 2008

One hephalump coming up!

I hoped by now to be able to post about a completed Carthaginian elephant. I started it some weeks back, but progress slowed. I'm no further now than I was a week ago. The heat and a few days' illness stopped me from finishing. So, rather than finish it now, I'll post on how I haven't finished it.

It's a Crusader Miniatures model. Overall, it's OK, but I have a few nits to pick. I'm no expert, but I'm pretty sure it's not an African elephant, as I believe it should be for Carthaginians. Of course they may have imported Asian elephants from the Greek East, but Ptolomey IV's army at Raphia notably used the smaller African elephants against Antiochus III's larger Asians. I get the impression that when in Africa, use African elephants. The model looks quite big compared to the infantry manning the howdah, so my guess is that it's either modeled as an Asian elephant or an indiscriminate large pachyderm. As the following picture shows, it's definitely not an African.

Also, it has a howdah. As far as I know, no known image of a Carthaginian war elephant with a howdah exists and no description of them mentions whether the crew was mounted astride the back or in a howdah. The assumption, I think, has always been that the crew were more likely to have ridden astride--again assuming that the elephants are African and too small for a howdah. But who knows.

The model fit together mostly OK. Just a few points of disjoint. On Kevin Smyth's recommendation, I used two-part epoxy modeling compound to fill in the seams. This was especially important around the neck. Once primed and painted, the seams disappear.

I have just a bit more to do. By now, the elephant itself is painted and the howdah is mounted on top. I'm finishing the crew. After that I will apply the base coat of clear polyurethane, let that dry for a few days, dullcote it, and complete the last steps: flock the base and mount the crew in the howdah. I haven't tried yet, but I think it will be a tight fit (another of my nits). Also, the mahout looks like he'd fit better on a horse than an elephant. He won't seat properly, so I'll have to fudge it some way.

I hope to have the elephant completed this week and pictures of it posted. After that I need to complete a second one to finish the unit for my nascent Field of Glory Carthaginian army.

1 comment:

  1. I have studied ancient warfare (and war elephants) and I've read that Carthaginians used African forest elephants (Loxodonta atlantica), which were smaller than African savannah elephants (Loxodonta africana) and smaller than Indian elephants (Elephas maximus) too.
    Ancient sources always said that Indian elephants were bigger than African ones and the Africans elephants feared the Indians ones. And African savannah elephants (which are known today, are bigger than any other elephants) don't live in Northern Africa where Carthage lies. the smaller African bush elephants lived in Northern Africa at ancient times (but not anymore, because they were hunted too greatly for war purposed) and Carthaginians used them as war animals. Larger African savannah elephants were unknown to ancient people of Europe (and maybe Carthage).
    And now the thing which most of ancient miniature war games got wrong:
    African bush elephants are not big and strong enough to carry a tower of soldiers in their backs, so Carthaginians used just a crew of "mahout" and one soldier with long pike sitting on elephants back. Larger Indian elephants could carry a wooden tower with two or three soldiers, but Carthaginians didn't have a connection to India which would provide them Indian elephants.