Napoleon was a trained gunner, and he always paid special attention to his artillery in his battles. With several French Artillery sets already available, Italeri produced a set of horse artillery with their flamboyant hussar-style uniforms.
Unlike most artillery sets that seem to try and deliver as many guns as possible, this one concentrates on better depicting the whole team and support for a gun. However there are only five crew serving the gun, all in fairly standard poses and with all the major items of equipment except the handspike. As in many other sets, the officer is using a telescope, but unlike the rest, he is holding it with both hands and is therefore far more believable.
A full six-horse team is also included - an all too rare event in artillery sets. Better still, the harness is realistically done, though still a little simplified, and is a lot better than the 'pole-in-the-side' affair that some sets have. Here the front two horses are attached to an extension of the central pole, though our sources suggest they should be tied directly to the harness of the horse immediately behind. Also the team are pulling a limber on which two gunners are seated, a type of limber that was not commonly used by the French during the Napoleonic Wars, although some appear to have been employed by the Horse Artillery. There are two drivers, though all three left horses are saddled for drivers, so we would normally have expected three drivers. Two mounted officers are also included, and of course there are the guns - two in this case. They are of the standard Gribeauval design with a barrel length that suggests an 8-pounder calibre. They have a choice of barrel positioning, a feature which meant the barrel of the gun could be moved to the rear position when it was in transit, which improved the balance of the piece and made it easier to transport.
The packaging does not identify this as horse artillery, though that is what it is, but it does claim that it is suitable for both Line and Guard units. The uniform of these two was quite similar, though inevitably the Guard wore the more splendid costume, but the overall appearance makes these figures more appropriate for the Guard (though some of these men are without the obligatory moustache). In any event, though the packaging claims the figures are for the period 1805-1815, problems with issuing the hussar-type clothing after the Moscow campaign mean these figures are mostly useful for the years before then. Having said all that, the uniforms are accurately sculpted, though the amount of cord on the front of the dolman is much less than in reality due to the difficulty of accurately modelling the correct number in such a small scale. Nonetheless the overall effect is very pleasing.
The two artillery drivers are also mostly correctly attired, although they have long tails on their coats when these should be short, and the style of coat makes them suitable only for the period 1807-1813. Also they wear what are effectively full dress shakos, with plumes and cords, when they would normally be covered in a protective cloth. The mounted officer is resplendent in his pelisse and with his sword drawn, making him a suitable candidate for a number of conversions to various hussars.
We need hardly add that the figures are very realistically sculpted with natural poses and good proportions. The good Italeri standard has certainly been maintained here and this is an attractive set that compares very well with most artillery sets that have gone before.