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Set 72031

Swedish Army with Culverin

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All figures are supplied unpainted    (Numbers of each pose in brackets)
Stats
Date Released 2009
Contents 19 figures, 9 horses and 1 gun
Poses 12 poses, 3 horse poses
Material Plastic (Medium Consistency)
Colours Pink
Average Height 24 mm (= 1.73 m)

Review

Artillery at the time of the Thirty Years War was a confusing mixture of calibres and names, which made life difficult both for gunners of the day and later historians. In the Swedish Army Gustavus developed the lighter and more manoeuvrable 3-pounder gun for supporting infantry, and limited the rest of the field artillery to 12 and 24-pounders. The word 'culverin' was used both to describe a particular type of gun and the wider range of field guns in general, but for the purposes of this set it seems the name is intended to refer to the 12-pounder gun, also known as the quarter-cannon.

The single gun in this set is particularly large, having a barrel of 47mm (3.4 metres) in length and wheels that are almost as tall as the figures. At first sight we felt the barrel was too long, but a number of English writers in the 1640s quoted the barrel length of a culverin as over 4 metres, so clearly the length is fine. However the barrel is perfectly straight, rather than tapering towards the muzzle. Such a taper provides a thicker, stronger barrel at the point of maximum pressure (the breech), and all examples of field artillery that we could find of this calibre conform to this shape, so the shape of the barrel in this set must be open to question. As for the carriage, well it is particularly thick and sturdy in appearance, and long too, but of an appropriate length for this calibre of gun. Like the gun itself the carriage is highly detailed with all the ironwork and fixtures that you would expect, and certainly gives a good impression of great weight. The barrel fits on top of the carriage and includes the plates over the trunnions, but it is a really poor fit and some effort is required to carve the pieces to fit properly.

Part of the team to move this enormous gun are also included in the set. We say part because, as can be seen above, the team consists of the limber, six horses and the necessary three whippletrees, but nothing else. This means there is no way to connect the horses to the limber or each other - in short there are no traces. The picture on the box shows thread serving this purpose but there is none supplied. You even have to drill your own holes to take the thread or attach to the limber, so this is very much a half-finished job. A team of six seems like the bare minimum for a gun of this weight, and certainly many more would often have been necessary when the going was anything less than ideal. The team is made up of two horse poses, both of which are fully equipped in what looks like authentic harness. However the animals themselves look very weird, not so much from the side but from the front, as both appear to be walking on a tightrope as they have their legs almost in line astern. In addition the leg arrangement of the unsaddled horse is particularly unnatural. The driver for the team (of which there is correctly only one) looks good and sits on his mount easily.

The figures themselves are all in perfectly typical clothing of the time, with essentially civilian costume sometimes enhanced with a sword. The poses are a variety of working and resting types, and again everything looks good here. Some of the figures have vertical cupped hands into which the separate tools can be placed, although gluing is necessary for this. Some have the tools of their trade already in their hands, and these too look fine.

The set includes three mounted figures and their mounts (third row). These are presumably officers, and it is nice to see such figures included here. As gentlemen all senior officers would normally be mounted when in battle, yet few non-cavalry sets reflect this properly, so these two are welcome. They are dressed appropriately for their station, but we were surprised at the single figure apparently holding a pistol in the air, which is not a particularly obvious choice for an officer and would work better as ordinary cavalry. The other officer holds something in his right hand which cannot be made out. Both men fit their horses fairly well.

Although there is fairly good detail all the figures are rather rough in appearance, without any of the properly thin limbs and other elements that you would find in the corresponding and generally well-produced Revell set. Faces are in some cases particularly good, but the poses are pretty flat, although this is not as much of a problem for gunners as it would be for infantry. There is some flash, but not a lot, and the choice of poses, with few carrying anything, means there is no extra plastic in areas the mould cannot reach.

It would be hard to recommend this set against those listed below, which are undoubtedly of higher quality. The large gun is a first in this hobby for this era, but to make proper use of the limber and team you will need to spend a lot of time in filing, drilling and generally adding to the basic elements this box includes. The figures themselves are not works of art, but will do the job and are at least accurately dressed and in reasonable poses.


Ratings

Historical Accuracy 9
Pose Quality 7
Pose Number 9
Sculpting 6
Mould 9

Further Reading
Books
"English Civil War Artillery 1642-51" - Osprey (New Vanguard Series No.108) - Chris Henry - 9781841767666
"European Weapons and Warfare 1618-1648" - Octopus - Eduard Wagner - 9780706410723
"The Army of Gustavus Adolphus (2) Cavalry" - Osprey (Men-at-Arms Series No.262) - Richard Brzezinski - 9781855323506

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