top of page
  • Writer's pictureMatt

Warhammer Armies - The (British) Empire

Updated: Jan 9, 2022

So many years ago I started work on what I hoped to be a Napoleonic themed Empire army. It must have been during my time working for Games Workshop as I've got a plethora of random white metal parts which could only have come from the fabled weight-discount-mail-order that staff had access to. That's something I really miss, even without the weight discount.

Now for the history buffs out there, especially those with an interest in all things Napoleonic (hello Dad), this might make your eye twitch a little. I am pushing poetic licence to it's limits here.

The overall plan back in the day was to build an Empire army solely reliant on black powder weapons. Even picked up a couple of metal Steam Tanks. I had started the conversion work but in fairness, I'm redoing all of it.

I'll aim to record the conversion process for each unit and link the relevant parts and where you can find them.

Line Infantry

The standard British Redcoats are built from the Empire hand gunners. The newer ones without all the frilly sleeves that is. Each one has had a tailcoat, collar, cross belts, cuffs and epaulettes sculpted on to them. Due to the number of figures here the sculpting isn't my best work, but it should certainly have the desired effect on the table top.

As for the Shakos (heads), they come from the Les Grognards Death Fields kit. Linked here.

I have it on good authority (Dads), that these Shakos are styled like French 1808-12 Napoleonic infantry shakos. I dropped my Dad an email asking what they looked like, hoping he'd say British. He did not.

My follow up question was "Maybe I can just about get away with the Shakos being British as the rest of the uniform is going to be inaccurate. It's set in a fantasy setting after all."

Luckily he offered me a lifeline. "I suppose the shakos could be British Victorian shakos as by then the British Infantry wore shakos closely resembling the French style.

Instead of being the Napoleonic British shape of either stove pipe or the Belgic type (False higher front than the rear), the Victorian shakos were more tapered to the top and slightly bigger around the top than the bottom of the shako where it would fit a mans head."

They'll have to do, not like there is much options when it comes to Napoleonic head swaps for Warhammer models anyway.

Here's the work I've replicated so far across the first 22 hand gunners. The drummer boy uses a few parts from my bitz box, hence some of him being undercoated already.

And a few weeks later, two units are painted. Well I need to paint a couple more hand gunners for the unit flying the regimental colours. After I finished sculpting the 22 figures like those pictured above, I decided to create units of 12, or two rows of 6 for in game shooting purposes.

As for the standard bearers, I've keep them in line with period flags for the British during the Napoleonic wars. However I've based it on an earlier version of the Union Flag as I'm not saying these guys are the British in the Warhammer World, just themed around them. I've also swapped out the crown on the flags with a suitable Warhammer.

Up next for the line infantry was a detachment of Empire Spearman. Taking a lot of inspiration from Sergeant Obadiah Hakeswill from the Sharpe series and I suppose, from actual historical sergeants who carried a Spontoon.

These types of spearheads are not easy to come by and so far most of them are from a very old Skeleton sprue. As for Sergeant Hakeswill, he was modelled speaking into his Shako. Anyone who knows the character will remember him speaking to a stolen picture of a woman he placed in his Shako, referring to her as Mother.

I hope to increase this unit beyond a simple detachment, so will need to be on the hunt for suitable weapons.

And for now, the 20th Devonshire have enough models to form square;

The Royal Artillery

I haven't completely decided on what weapon options the army will take. I mean technically we're waiting for Games Workshop to release more information on the new Old World game.

For now I'm defiantly converting up a Great Cannon, Rocket Battery and two Steam Tanks.

The models are made from various bits -box finds and the standard cannon crew. Similar sculpting additions have been made like the line infantry but this time the Shakos (or head swaps) come from Anvil Industry.

Artillery crew, even for the British wore dark blue with red trimming. So I wanted their uniform to look a little different as well. These Shakos are far more in line with what I needed and after consulting the experts, Dad said; "These look like British Napoleonic Infantry Belgic shakos which our troops wore at Waterloo 1815. The British Foot artillery wore the same Belgic shakos as the Line Infantry (our light infantry still wore the stove pipes in 1815)".

Well that settles it, they'll work. Although I probably should have ordered enough heads from Anvil Industry for the whole army. Oh well, what's done is done.

As for the cannon, the actual gun comes from a steam tank (old metal version) and the slightly larger wheels come from Zinge Industries.

Life Guards

An army needs some cavalry and for this one, they are loosely based on the British Life Guards, just with a lance, maybe a shield. Possibly with a barded warhorse too...

The unit Champion or Officer is from the Dogs of War unit, Bronzino's Galloper Guns. He has the right sort of helmet but crossed cannons on his breastplate. I have a second model in the bitz box which might be used for Horse Artillery at some point.

The rest of the unit is built from mounted Von Carstein vampire models. So long as this link works, they're MOUNTED VON CARSTEIN 1 BODY. Couldn't tell you where the lances are from. The heads however are converted Outrider helmets.

As it stands I have a unit of 9 cavalry. I would like to increase this to a full unit of 10 so will need to keep looking on ebay for this type of old vampire body.

Here are some pre (final) paint job photos of the Life Guards. The musician was a completely new model this year. If I recall I didn't feel I could convert a bugle when I first started this army so never bothered adding a musician to the unit. Years on, I created the brass instrument you see below from various bitz box finds. It's a little oversized but it'll do.

... and here they are all painted. I have to say that I'm glad these are done, mainly due to how much I dislike painting horses. Not sure if it's the reins or the various shades of dull but it's always my least favourite unit in an army to tackle.

Lots of poetic licence here as aside from the already mentioned lances, the units flag suggests the Life Guard were involved in the charge of the light brigade. They weren't but I like the idea of adding an Eddie Iron Maiden to the army one day in full Trooper gear.

Officers. Look out Sir!

Currently I'm using a 40k Officio Prefectus Commissar as one of my junior officers. He'll probably count as a Witch Hunter in game.

The replacement sword is actually the end of a Clan Rats spear (Thin enough for a sabre). The head is from a Cadian set and the pistol from the plastic Empire outriders. Most of the green stuff was simple enough. However getting the bicorne hat the way I wanted it wasn't easy. I do hope I find a set of premade bicornes at some point as I don't fancy sculpting another one.

And here he is all painted;

The Royal Artillery - Tank Corp

As I said towards the beginning of this blog, I must have ordered these two Steam Tanks back when I worked for Games Workshop. I haven't actually assembled one of these old white metal models in years and my word, I had forgotten how much of a pain they are!

I had stuck them together back then but over the years, kicking around in the bottom of an old figure case they had come a little unstuck. Pin vices were turned, super glue spilt, Milliput cements them together and words were bleeped. But they are once again in one piece.

Before I get round to showing the paint jobs on them, I do want to cover what I did with their bases. Now I assume the newer plastic kits fit on the standard 50x100mm chariot base. These metal ones however do not, their rear axel is about 55mm wide. After asking a facebook group for solutions, I was told Games Workshop used to produce a 60x100mm base but they seem difficult to locate (official ones that is). Instead I found two regimental bases (25x100mm) and glued them to the sides of the chariot base. Well I actually cut plastic out of an ice cream tub and glued that to the tops and used milliput to hide the joins. This might give me a disadvantage on the table top, what with the bigger base but honestly, I've not played a game (40k or WFB) in years so I'm not to concerned.

And here's the first tank painted. Not a huge amount of conversion work aside from the head swap on the Master Engineer. Instead I opted for a suitably British paint job to tie it with the rest of the army.

Up next on the painting table is the 78th Highlanders...


15th of November, 2021 - Highlanders

So like many of the upcoming models added to this collection, the conversion work was done around the time the Lifeguards were being painted. I thought about providing shots of the pre paint pictures as and when the units were converted, but decided to add sections to this blog once the whole unit is table top ready. If you do want to see WIP shots, then my Instagram page is probably worth checking out.

For now at least, I'm happy the 78th Highlanders are ready.

The leg (kilts) and most of the heads are the Highlander range from Kromlech.

The Kromlech heads are the traditional Scottish tam o shanter (pictured to the right). The Highlanders of the Napoleonic era didn't wear these as part of their battle dress, but I chose to use them predominately as they are a lot easier than the alternative. The other hats in the unit are the Scottish bearskin and the 3 in the unit so far are green stuff over an existing GW head.

All the bodies in the unit are Imperial Guard tank crew torsos. Many came from the parts in which the tank commander is sat within the cupola. As a result there is a lot of green stuff work on these models.

The unit champion is wielding a Hochland long rifle (even sounds Scottish). I've extended his base so it's not too crowded and given him a little Scottie dog as a companion.

The other notable conversion I think is the Bagpiper. The main parts used is an Empire flute and 3 Skink blowpipes. Green stuff and other spare bits join it all together.

Up next on the painting table is the Royal Artillery rocket corps. With that said I've started the conversion work on a melee unit too, more on that later.


28th of November, 2021 - Rocket Troop

Just a little update today for the HellStorm Rocket Battery. No conversion on the artillery piece but the crew have had the same additions the cannon crew have.

I've started painting my Grenadier Guards so they'll be the next addition


21st of December, 2021 - Grenadier Guards

These guys took me a while to finish, mainly due to the fact I got distracted by other projects. The conversion work was a little more involved than the regular infantry as I turned up their coat tails. On the table top, they count as hand gunners like the rest of the troops so far but I wanted a unit that looked a little more elite.

As they're Grenadiers, I gave the Sergeant an Empire Grenade launcher despite hand gunners not being able to field one. I'll figure out what it counts as later.

I also used some Imperial Guard bodies to make some greatcoats as I felt it complimented the Grenadier theme.

I've got a handful of models left to paint now in the queue. Some Tri corner redcoats, The General and some test models for a melee unit. That isn't to say I'm almost done, but I am almost out of spare parts needed. So more ebay hunting is in order.


9th of January, 2022 - A couple of test units and the General

To kick off the new year, I've finished the last of the converted models I have ready for the army. Both units are test models for potentially more of the same in the future.

First up is a continuation of the Grenadier theme.

The line infantry already have a melee option of their uniform. The Spearmen (with Spontoons) and I wanted to do something similar for the Grenadiers. However melee weapons had been largely dropped from the battlefield by the time of the Napoleonic wars. This leaves the question, what would a melee troop choice look like from that period of time? Well Grenadiers tended to be bigger men than the rest, so maybe better suited to the hard close quarter combat of a shield wall. They could carry a sword and shield and wield them with force. I didn't want to arm them with typical medieval looking shields that tapper off at the bottom, so instead looked to the statue of Britannia for inspiration. Armed with bearskin hats and rounded Union Flag shields, this might be what Wellingtons troops would have looked link in an alternative history?

I think they look the part.

Next up is the Old Timers. I personally couldn't help but include Tricorne hat redcoats. So these 6 are men who have done their time in the army but answered the call to war anyway. Dusting off their old uniforms, checking what still fits and picking up their trusty musket hung up over the fire place, they'll show the youngsters how it's done.

In game I first thought about using them as a detachment of Hand Gunners but think they would be better included within a unit of Empire Militia.

Their heads came from Anvil Industry and I sculpted their tailcoats in a slightly different fashion. Facial hair was all painted grey and they don't have the same style of epaulette as the rest of the army.

Lastly is the Army's General. He started off as the Rouge Trader model from the Blackstone Fortress boxed set. The only change was the removal of his bionics and replacing it with a left ear and a green stuff Bicorne hat. Something I really hate sculpting.

And there we have it. The army isn't finished but there is nothing left unpainted in the queue for these guys. Looking forward to finding more bitz!


603 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page