The conditions in much of the American colonies made moving artillery difficult, so many British guns were in relatively static positions. Particularly in the south, British forces usually carried lighter calibres, but nonetheless the artillery found a role in many actions, particularly the larger set-piece battles, and as usual it performed well.
This set is an exact scaled down copy of the IMEX 1/32 American Artillery set, and includes four howitzers and a crew of six for each. The poses are quite nice but we felt there were some omissions, so for example we would have preferred to see a man handling the gun with a handspike rather than the kneeling figure apparently sighting the gun. However figures from the sister set of American Artillery could be drafted in to beef up the number of poses.
Overall the men are fairly accurately done. They wear the classic coat, waistcoat, breeches and stockings with ‘half-splatterdashes’, but note that the coats were blue (the usual colour in nearly all European artillery) and never red as shown on the box (presumably done to make the box easier to distinguish from that of the Americans). Artillerymen had standard infantry equipment, so we were surprised to see several men with full swords (and none with the usual bayonet), which is an error. Also at least some gunners had tools on their crossbelt (a small hammer and two pins for clearing touchholes) but none are in evidence here. Finally the men with the telescope wears a strange garment that has turnbacks and a full skirt, making it look like he is wearing two coats.
If the crew are less than perfect then the gun is worse yet. Unlike what the box art promises it is actually a howitzer, and a really tiny one at that. The barrel is 8mm (58cms) long, which suggests it is the uncommon 4.4 inch calibre (‘Coehorn’) type. It sits on a carriage where the tops of the wheels are no taller than the thigh of a man (15mm (1.08 metres) in diameter), which explains the ramrod man being on his knees as this would be the most comfortable way of getting down to reach the barrel. This is the size of a mountain gun, exaggerated by the (correctly for a howitzer) shortened carriage, but was such a gun ever used during the war? We could find no evidence that it was, although that is not to say that it was not. What we can say is this is at best a very unusual gun, and the reason why IMEX did not provide a standard 3- or 6-pounder gun and carriage we cannot guess. British guns usually had axletree ammunition boxes, but not here, perhaps because they would be too small to make any difference!
The quality of the sculpting is excellent, with plenty of detail although this is quite shallow. Even the gun, small as it is, is nicely done and includes the feature of having the iron bands as part of the barrel trunnions, making a better model. None of the men require any assembly, but the gun comes in the traditional four pieces. The wheels are a nice tight fit but the barrel is inevitably quite lose and should be glued. However the set is made in a hard plastic that takes ordinary polystyrene glue very securely so this is very easy. The plastic also takes paint well and can be bent without returning to its former shape, which should make the poses changeable although those in this set do not lend themselves to that.
So an excellent sculpting job and tight engineering but some simple mistakes in terms of historical accuracy and a completely bizarre choice of gun make this a set of contrasts. Replacing the gun with one from a Seven Years War or Napoleonic artillery set would certainly help, but for the most part these figures make better Americans than they do British.