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Esci

Set 233

British Artillery

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All figures are supplied unpainted    (Numbers of each pose in brackets)
Stats
Date Released 1986
Contents 16 figures and 4 guns
Poses 4 poses
Material Plastic (Medium Consistency)
Colours Light Pink, Brown
Average Height 24 mm (= 1.73 m)

Review

Some time after Esci produced set 219 (British and French Artillery), they saw sense and decided to reissue the British and French in separate boxes. Alternatively, they may have simply seen a cheap way of adding two new sets to their range by splitting an existing one. Whatever is the case, this set is the British half of that set, with two sprues included to bring it up to strength. Whatever the motivation, it was a good move. Producing sets of one troop type (and nationality) must be better than mixing them. However in this case it means there is no room for a team, limber or caisson. What you get is four guns and four figures for each, which has become fairly standard for many artillery sets in more recent times, although it still represents something of a minimum and there are many sets that far exceed it (not least the much older Airfix set on the same subject).

The figures come in four poses, with one of each pose intended to form a gun crew. In practice two or three times this number would normally serve a gun in battle, but the poses chosen are OK if not exceptional. The officer holding a telescope would be having difficulties holding such a long specimen steady - using two hands would be normal, but very difficult to mould. The rest are fairly standard, or at least would become so as this was one of the early artillery sets to be made. The first man holds the sponge, but this is a bit short and is missing the wooden block on the opposite end to the sponge (used to ram the ammunition home). The third man carries a round, with ball and sabot joined, but with no charge. The final man holds the match, ready to fire the piece.

The figures are very well detailed and have virtually no flash. Esci always made their figures very neat and clean, and have continued that tradition here, making a good job of the many details required here such as the jacket lace and the headdress. The faces are well done but fairly expressionless - perhaps not inappropriate for artillerymen.

The uniforms are those of the Royal Horse Artillery (RHA), which was always the most glamorous of the British artillery regiments since their formation in the last decade of the 18th century. The costume varied little during the whole Napoleonic Wars, and was very much based on that of the light cavalry of the day, with the braided jacket and the Tarleton helmet. By 1815 the light dragoons no longer wore this type of helmet, but the RHA did, giving them a unique appearance for that battle, which is mentioned in the set title. The uniform was been quite faithfully reproduced on these men, with certain allowable differences such as the fewer lines of lace on the jacket (there is a limit to what can be achieved on figures this size after all). The one glaring error is that all the men have been given short coat tails when in fact the jacket reached only to the waist, which is unfortunate as it is a very difficult error to resolve. Otherwise everything looks fine, including the overalls being worn by both officer and men.

Two different calibre gun barrels are provided. The smaller of the two measures 22mm long (on a strict 1:72 ratio that gives a barrel length of 1.584 metres), which in the British Horse Artillery would mean the gun was a 6 pounder. The larger is 26mm long, which works out to a 9 pounder. Both were in common use. The guns are mounted on the normal Congreve block trail carriage, with separate axle boxes, although these are without any detail at all so are very basic indeed. Worthy of praise are the wheels, which are elegantly done and even 'dish' to provide the correct angle against the ground. However the carriages have some surprising features, even allowing for the understandable liberties that have had to be taken with both the barrels and the carriages in terms of losing chains and other small items. Firstly, there is a very large lump underneath the block trail, which serves no purpose at all that we can identify. Also, the lifting handles at the bottom of the trail have been greatly exaggerated here, and given an odd design we have not seen on any real example of such guns. That apart the detail is as good as could reasonably be expected, and are pretty nice models all told.

The small number of poses and lack of any horse teams are quite serious drawbacks to this set, especially when compared to that from Airfix. However what is here is very nicely presented, and has been popular over the years. The coat tails is a real shame as it badly mars the otherwise very attractive and accurate figures, but the guns are pretty good and not excessively simplified, so what there is here is mostly well executed.


Ratings

Historical Accuracy 8
Pose Quality 5
Pose Number 4
Sculpting 9
Mould 10

Further Reading
Books
"1815 The Armies at Waterloo" - Seeley, Service & Company - Ugo Pericoli - 9780854220724
"Artillery Equipments of the Napoleonic Wars" - Osprey (Men-at-Arms Series No.96) - Terence Wise - 9780850453362
"Artillery of the Napoleonic Wars" - Greenhill - Kevin Kiley - 9781853675836
"British Napoleonic Artillery 1793-1815 (1) Field Artillery" - Osprey (New Vanguard Series No.60) - Chris Henry - 9781841764764
"British Napoleonic Field Artillery" - Spellmount - Carl Franklin - 9780752476520
"Napoleonic Artillery" - Crowood - Anthony Dawson - 9781861269232
"Soldiers of the Napoleonic Wars - The Royal Artillery" - Almark - Alan Kemp
"Uniforms of Waterloo" - Blandford - Philip Haythornthwaite - 9781854093943
"Wellington's Specialist Troops" - Osprey (Men-at-Arms Series No.204) - Philip Haythornthwaite - 9780850458626

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