LEGO Equipment for Little Wars

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Little Wars was a war game developed by H. G. Wells. Wells described the rules of his game in his book, Little Wars, first published in 1910 and reprinted by Dover in 1970. (The book also includes an apologia by Wells in which he tries to reconcile the nature of the game with his well-known pacifism.)

For a while in the 1970s I had a large Little Wars set made from LEGO, mostly using ordinary bricks. At one point the set consisted of 48 cavalry (24 red, 24 blue), 80 infantry (40 red, 40 blue), and 4 field guns.

Some time ago, I described these materials on the newsgroup,, and promised at least one person that I would draw up instructions for the cannon. I still haven't finished the instructions, mainly because I'm still waiting for one CAD tool to have everything I want for free on a convenient platform. But I now have an image of a cannon, loaded and ready to fire (22K JPEG image). I also have a close up (32K JPEG image) of the action. Notice that the plunger (to which the rubber band is attached at the lower right) and the projectile (a white 2-by-4 brick) are ``upside down,'' that is, I placed them with the studs on the bottom to prevent them sticking to the barrel.

This is another model that sat around assembled for between 15 and 20 years before I recently retrieved it. Push the lever on the right side of the cannon, and the yellow 2x4 will sail across the room. The range of this cannon is about 4 meters, depending on the rubber bands. (Put too much tension on the mechanism, and it will tear itself apart when it fires.) I had to replace the rubber bands after 15 years, of course--they don't have the longevity of LEGO. The bricks themselves seem fine, albeit a bit darkened from age, after a thorough cleaning.

Conceivably, I might use tiles rather than turning pieces upside down if I were to redesign this model today, but back then there were no tiles.

Last updated Mon Sep 29 00:57:17 EDT 2003 .

From David A. Karr's LEGO Collection, by David A. Karr