Supply and Baggage Wagons of the Seven Years’ War, 1756–1763

Scratchbuilding Wargame Vehicles

Scratchbuilt Prussian baggage wagon in 1:43 scale.

The expierence of the Thirty Years’ War showed that armies need to be properly supplied in the field to prevent soldiers from pillaging and completely devastating the countryside. In time of war, many civilian transport vehicles are employed for this purpose, because army logistics troops are notoriously short of transport to supply the army with provisions and munitions. Farm Wagons, Opel Blitz 3-ton trucks, and partially militarized MAN 10-ton trucks of the German Bundeswehr have significant advantages over purpose-built military vehicles, they cost less, are cheaper to operate, and easier to maintain. Economies of scale come in to play, because popular civilian vehicles are produced in larger numbers than similar military types.

During the Horse&Musket period of warfare, the typical supply and baggage wagon was similar to the four-wheeled farm cart used throughout Europe in a standardized design. The undercarriage consisted of a forward train with plug-in shaft, connected to the rear axle by a round wood – known as Langwied in German. The Langwied was secured to the forward train by a swivel-pin. The standard forward train was used as an artillery limber by replacing the swivel-pin with a limber-spike. The covered wagon shown here consists of an artillery limber and a scratchbuilt trailer body. This semi-articulated construction is not strictly correct, but it has the advantage that the forward train can be used as a limber when the wagon is not needed.

Scratchbuilt Prussian baggage wagon in 1:43 scale.

Of the rear train, only the rear axle, and two supports were modelled, because the other parts will not be visible once the wagon model is mounted on its base. That part of the Langwied extending through the rear axle assembly need only be modelled if there is no spare wheel hiding it. The rear wheels were cast from a 1:43 scale Prince August field gun mould. The smaller spare wheel at the rear of the wagon is an artillery limber wheel cast from a Nürnberger Meisterzinn mould. The wagon body and the rear axle assembly were constructed from balsa. The wagon body supports and axles are flat and round toothpicks. The wagon was undercoated and painted with a mixture of indigo and white artist oil colours to represent a Prussian military vehicle. Wargamers are well advised to paint supply vehicles a stained brown or weathered grey wood colour, indicating that they are requisitioned civilian vehicles suitable for any army, and mix in a few yellow, red, blue, grey, or green military wagons which clearly belong to one of the warring nations.

Scratchbuilt Prussian baggage wageon in 1:43 scale.

The farm wagon may be built with or without tilt. The hood sticks are lengths of wire formed around a pen or dowel of the correct diameter, and pushed into the balsa sides of the wagon body. The tarp is an oversized piece of tissue paper, to allow for shrinkage, draped over the supports and painted with thinned white glue. Once dry, the tarp can be trimmed with a scalpel knife. Paint, wash, and drybrush the tarp to give it a nicely textured and weathered look.

Munitions wagons of the period had a sloped roof made of hinged wooden planks which covered the ammunition compartments. The wagon sides and roof planks were strengthened with metal bands, which may be recreated in miniature using aluminium foil.

Available Scale Model Kits

  • Baggage Wagon Conversion, 1:43 Prince August
  • Baggage Wagon, 1:72 Fine Scale Factory SP06

Historical Employment

  • Farm Wagon
  • Baggage Wagon
  • Supply Wagon

Horse-drawn supply wagons for wargames and dioramas are easy to scratchbuild. Wheels and wheel rims are the only complicated parts and they can be scrounged from artillery pieces and limbers. The construction is very simple if an artillery limber is used as the forward train of the wagon.

18th Century Miniatures