British Infantry Sappers


All of these field defences and gun emplacements covered in my last post needed men to construct them.  In the 18th Century the British Royal Engineers were all officers and they relied on infantry or civilians for their labour force.

1 - Infantry Sappers


I had already made two Infantry Sappers when I made my Siege Works, but now I thought I would make some more.  These were originally on mud coloured bases, but I decided to change them to green.

The figures were converted from IMEX AWI British and American artillerymen.  I used ones in shirt sleeves and kneeling, but modified them to remove their ramrods, replace them with picks or shovels and change their pose to crouching.

2 - Infantry Sapper Figures

3 - Infantry Sapper Conversion - a


The pose was changed by cutting the rear leg free from the base, bending the front leg to raise the figure up, then bending the rear leg down and welding it onto the base.  This IMEX plastic bends reasonably easily, and stays bent, although you have to do it gently so as not to snap it.  It does not weld very well.






I needed both hands, and more, to hold the picks and shovels into place while I welded them onto the figure.  I therefore used a clamp to hold the figure whilst doing it.  I used a small piece of softer sprue as the hands since that welded better to the figure and the tools.

4 - Infantry Sapper Conversion - b


The pickaxe heads were made from the sprue “hinges” between the two sections of sprue which some figures come with.  These trim quite nicely to make pickaxe heads.

5 - Sprue for Picks

6 - Infantry Sappers completed


Here are the completed figures.  I made six more and painted two of them with blue breeches to represent infantry from Royal Regiments.  The shovel is a piece of melted sprue.


7 - Rngineer Tool Cart


I thought I would also make an Engineer Tool Cart.  Here it is before painting.  It is made the same way as all my small carts and has a selection of boxes, barrels and tools in it.



8 - Engineer Tool Cart completed


Here is the completed model.  The boxes, barrels and tools are glued into place.




9 - RE Officer


I had earlier made a Royal Engineer Officer and here he is again.  I am assuming he is David Watson, who was at Dettingen, Fontenoy, Falkirk and Culloden.  His actual rank was Engineer in Ordinary (equivalent to Captain) since the Royal Engineers had their own unusual rank nomenclature until 1757, when they adopted normal army ranks.




For those who are interested. the rank equivalents were:

Chief Engineer – Colonel

Director – Lieutenant Colonel

Sub-Director – Major

Engineer in Ordinary – Captain

Engineer Extraordinary – Captain-Lieutenant

Sub Engineer – Lieutenant

Practitioner Engineer – Ensign

Here are all of my Infantry Sappers working on some mortar emplacements, supervised by their Royal Engineer officer, with the Engineer Tool Cart in the background.

10 - Infantry Sappers working




10 thoughts on “British Infantry Sappers

  1. simonsmrt March 23, 2019 / 11:27 am

    Particularly liking the loaded wagon. Good show


    • rodwargaming March 23, 2019 / 2:53 pm

      Hi Simon,

      I suppose that having spent 30 years in the Royal Engineers, I like modelling such things. In a wargame scenario where engineers are doing something you could require them to have such a cart in order to perform their task.

      I have a similar one for my Napoleonic British Royal Sappers & Miners which can be seen here (scroll down towards end of page.

      It is based on a model of one in the Royal Engineers Museum at Chatham.

      Best wishes



  2. Paul March 24, 2019 / 11:57 am

    Excellent conversions, very inspiring


  3. Marvin March 24, 2019 / 12:31 pm

    Very impressive work as always.


    • rodwargaming March 24, 2019 / 1:29 pm

      Hi Marvin,

      I enjoy modelling them. I seem to have got back into making and painting wargame figues after not doing much for a few months.


      Liked by 1 person

  4. Martin April 8, 2020 / 6:46 pm

    That’s the first time I have seen Sappers in that scale, and especially in that tricorne hat period.
    I am more into the 1800’s and I’ve always wondered why Sappers during the Napoleonic period (or any other period) have not been represented by any manufacturers in that scale?
    Wellington used them extensively when they were formulated into the ‘Sappers and Miners’ the officers then remaining as ‘Royal Engineers.’ And much later all came under the Royal Engineers. I served in both the Coldstream Guards and the Royal Engineers Military Survey Branch.


    • rodwargaming April 8, 2020 / 7:37 pm

      Hi Martin,

      As you might be aware from my site, I spent 30 years in the Royal Engineers. In my day all young officers did 6 weeks at Newbury to get a flavour of Survey.

      Best wishes


      Liked by 1 person

    • rodwargaming July 21, 2020 / 12:50 pm

      Hi Damnitz,

      Glad you liked it. Having spent 30 years in the Royal Emgineers, I always make engineers for my Wargame armies.

      Best wishes



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