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"system XI guns " Topic

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LouisNapFan29 Dec 2013 11:58 p.m. PST

The system XI guns seem to be hard to find in 15mm scale. I have found the 6 pdr gun in one place, and no sign of the 24 pdr howitzer. This is surprising considering the widespread use of both guns, especially the howitzer. Any sources for these and other system XI items in 15mm scale?

Littlearmies30 Dec 2013 5:14 a.m. PST

Hi LouisNapFan
Blue Moon do the An XI 6lber (but their other guns have Gribeauval carriages) I suppose you could substitute bigger barrels on the same carriage for 12lb guns, and simply declare the 6lb gun to be an 8lb weapon for the purposes of your scenarios if you aren't too anal about it.

Was the 24lb howitzer widely used in the field? I don't recall mention of it in any scenario books and I'm at work so don't have access to my reference books right now.


matthewgreen30 Dec 2013 12:03 p.m. PST

For a subject you might think was clean and factual, I find artillery representations in 15mm a nightmare, especially for the French.

According to my Dawson, Dawson & Summerfield there were two main carriages used for the 6pdr. The original An XI M1803 and the M1808 carriage, which had entirely replaced it by 1812. The latter more closely resembled the Gribeauval 8 pdr carriage. There was also an M1814 system, though I'm not clear if that differed all that much from M1808. The 24pdr/6.4 in howitzer was also replaced over the same period by a new, Gribeauval influenced design.

To judge from the accompanying pictures, the later carriages are bigger, especially the wheels (which are the same as 8 pdr).

For my 15mm armies, I have given up getting absolutely accurate models of the artillery, but I'm trying to get the general proportions right. For the 6prds though, I draw the line at the double trunnions of the 8pdr, which is what Fantassin (as was) gave me. I am about to take on the difficult question of equipping my French with adequate representations of later war 6pdrs and howitzers.

My initial research suggests that the AB French 6pdr is not far off, though the wheels are too far apart, and the barrel looks a tad small. It will not do for the M1803 carriage, though, if that's what you are after.

If you are not fussy about absolute accuracy, it might be worth looking at Prussian 6pdrs too. The AB Prussian 6pdr could pass for the later French one at a distance. The much smaller Battle Honours version is the closest I've seen to the French M1803.

Haven't researched the howitzers yet, but I the Battle Honours, AB and old Minifigs models I have bear no real resemblance to each other, so this is going to be fun.

Good luck!

matthewgreen30 Dec 2013 12:48 p.m. PST

I can't tell for sure, but the Blue Moon picture of the 6pdr looks like the later 6pdr – and quite a decent representation too. Would like to know the dimensions for sure though, before splashing out on £12.00 GBP for 6! Wheel diameter should be about 15mm.

summerfield30 Dec 2013 1:06 p.m. PST

Just a clarification. The M1808 carriage was the AnXI woodwork and the metalwork, wheels and axles from the Gribeauval 8-pdr. Most of the original AnXI guns were lost in Russia. Hence the use of the ersatz carriage.

The main difference is having handles half way up the carriage. Remember only the AnXI 12-pdr had two sets of trunnion positions.

Littlearmies30 Dec 2013 2:55 p.m. PST

@Matthewgreen – "I can't tell for sure, but the Blue Moon picture of the 6pdr looks like the later 6pdr and quite a decent representation too. Would like to know the dimensions for sure though, before splashing out on £12.00 GBP GBP for 6! Wheel diameter should be about 15mm."

I'll be posting an entry on just that subject on my blog ( ) in the next couple of days – along with their 4lb, 8lb and 12lb Gribeauvals. And the the AB & Xan Miniatures guns too. I just need to assemble the guns and photograph them – most of the text is done.

LouisNapFan30 Dec 2013 9:07 p.m. PST

The system XI carriages should have amore upturned, rounded trail end that was designed to be easier to drag. The Blue Moon 6lb looks like a fair attempt as the trail end is turned up. The gun barrels should also be very plain and smooth, an effort to reduce weight. It's hard to see the barrel in the Blue Moon photo on the Old Glory website, so how accurate the gun barrel is I am not sure. I guess I could buy them and then take the barrels to a lathe (IE my hand file ) to smooth them out. The System XI 6lb should also have just one trunnion position, not two like the 8 lb, which was designed to get it into action quicker.

LouisNapFan30 Dec 2013 9:15 p.m. PST

The 24lb howitzer was used in many formations. It appears to have been the one item from the System XI that everyone agreed was useful, even those who disliked the changes and wanted to revert to the Gribeauval system. Osprey's New Vanguard series book Napoleons Guns has a nice drawing of both the 6lb gun and the 5.6 (24lb ) howitzer. They appear to have been widely used in Spain ( there is a captured one in a museum there ) and the Dutch still had several dozen on hand in 1815.

LouisNapFan30 Dec 2013 9:41 p.m. PST

Looking through a book on the 1809 campaign the 24lb howitzer pops up in several TOE's. The French Guard horse artillery used 2 in each of the six batteries. Also they appear in the TOE for the 1st, 3rd and 7th foot artillery regiments at Aspern and Wagram. Still, none to be found in 15mm. In a scale and period so widely gamed it is surprising no one makes it.

matthewgreen31 Dec 2013 8:12 a.m. PST

Thanks Littlearmies – I will keep a lookout for this. My French artillery need an overhaul.

Thanks for the clarification Stephen. Is my reading of the diagrams correct, and the M1803 6 pdr has smaller wheels? (about 124cm)

matthewgreen31 Dec 2013 8:47 a.m. PST

I've just got my Osprey Vanguard out on Napoleon's guns. The picture of 6pdr looks to be the M1808 version – it has the handles. I can't see a diagram of the 24pdr howitzer though – there is one of "Gribeauval 6in")

There is a picture of a 24pdr howitzer – one captured at Vitoria and now in Lisbon. I wonder whether in The Times report of captured artillery it was classed as 6in (like most of the captured pieces) or 5in. Spain seems to have been an outpost of Gribeauval guns, though I don't know specifically about howitzers.

It does look as if the AnXI howitzers superseded the Gribeauval ones pretty quickly. Incidentally I misread DDS in suggesting the carriage was modified like that of the 6 pdr.

None of my current French howitzer models looks like the AnXI, though their resemblance to the Gribeauval guns doesn't look much better. The Blue Moon version may be worth a closer look: it has the cross bar, and the barrel looks smallish – but I can't see if it has the elevating plate.


LouisNapFan31 Dec 2013 10:47 a.m. PST

You are correct Matthew, it is in Portugal, not Spain. My err. I considered several options for a conversion, none of them I look forward to. I need 5 of the 24lb howitzers to fill out my Dutch artillery circa 1807. The best option may be to take the Blue Moon carriage and add a modified 6 inch howitzer tube with a barrel extension and modified bore. The 95cm tube would have to be brought up to scale of about 110 cm, and the tube casting cleaned up. The trunnions would still be in the correct position. It's not a perfect solution but might work until a better casting comes along. A good winter project. Looks like we are working on very similar projects. Thanks for posting.

LouisNapFan31 Dec 2013 11:10 a.m. PST

Thank you Littlearmies, I look forward to reading your blog.

summerfield31 Dec 2013 12:29 p.m. PST

The AnXI 6-pdr had 152cm wheels so were slightly larger than the Gribeauval 8-pdr of 148cm.

matthewgreen31 Dec 2013 12:54 p.m. PST

Thanks for the clarification Stephen. The scale in the book diagram is evidently awry, and my postings above erroneous.

summerfield31 Dec 2013 1:12 p.m. PST

My apologees for that. Alas these were caused by the publisher. Annoying.

Brechtel198 Supporting Member of TMP31 Dec 2013 9:10 p.m. PST

'According to my Dawson, Dawson & Summerfield there were two main carriages used for the 6pdr. The original An XI M1803 and the M1808 carriage, which had entirely replaced it by 1812. The latter more closely resembled the Gribeauval 8 pdr carriage. There was also an M1814 system, though I'm not clear if that differed all that much from M1808. The 24pdr/6.4 in howitzer was also replaced over the same period by a new, Gribeauval influenced design.'

There were only two French artillery systems during the period 1792-1815: the Gribeauval System and the Systeme AN XI. There was no M1803, M1808, or M1814 systems. The French did not use that nomenclature and it is both historically and technically incorrect.

There were changes to both systems, as improvements were made (and it should be noted that the Systeme AN XI was never fully implemented and did not replace the Gribeauval System, but supplemented it-the only two pieces that were produced in any numbers were the 6-pounder and the 5.5-inch (24-pounder) howitzer), but the two systems were not renamed or given 'modern' nomenclature designations.


matthewgreen01 Jan 2014 5:56 a.m. PST

Yes my early intervention in this thread was pretty muddled, and it has been an education for me!

Brechtel198, thank you for pointing out that the designations used by the DDS are their own notation, used to help describe the evolution of the AnXI 6 pdr. For my purposes I find it quite helpful, even if it implies a structure and order that wasn't there historically. But I do understand why you take issue with it, especially when this isn't made clear.

Oh dear. Let's hope this doesn't explode into another game of tennis, when all the OP wanted was a bit of help in finding reasonably accurate 15mm models for the tabletop – something which I want to achieve too.

Littlearmies01 Jan 2014 2:11 p.m. PST

Hello all,
I've posted thoughts, photos and measurements on the BM French guns, Xan Miniatures 6/8lb gun and the AB 6lb Gribeauval here: link

As I say if anyone wants to point out my errors, omissions and ignorance on the subject of French field artillery feel free.


LouisNapFan01 Jan 2014 7:57 p.m. PST

Thank you Littlearmies. I like your blog. The evolutions of French artillery during the Napoleonic wars are confusing. There may have been two official systems but there were many changes to these systems as the years went along, including some retrofitting of carriages I believe. I have always considered the early and late system XI as separate systems simply as a means of organizing the changes. The small variety of 15mm scale artillery items on the market forces many of us who desire an accurate piece to search for scale drawings and break out the conversion tools. I have searched for the 24lb howitzer for several years but no luck. Perhaps I should start a new thread on converting cannons! Happy new year all. Now go roll some dice. :}

Littlearmies02 Jan 2014 5:00 p.m. PST

I've updated the blog entry to include Battle Honours, Old Glory and Warmodelling (Fantassin).

Direct Link: link

matthewgreen04 Jan 2014 9:20 a.m. PST

Many thanks for this labour of love littlearmies. It's going to be a big help as I sort out my French artillery. I have a whole heap of BH guns and crew, which now look too small next to everything else I've got (though the "light" piece still serves as my stock 4pdr). I have AB 12 and 6 pdrs, and they both look wrong (though that's partly because I tried pairing them with BH undersized crew!), plus some OG 8 pdrs that look fine to my untutored eye, but I think are in fact wrong. And some unpainted Fantassin.

Plus all sorts of other accumulated bits, I will probably try to cobble together conversions. A project for later in 2014!

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