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Airfix

Set 01712

Union Infantry

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All figures are supplied unpainted    (Numbers of each pose in brackets)
Stats
Date Released 1962
Contents 48 figures
Poses 12 poses
Material Plastic (Medium Consistency)
Colours Blue
Average Height 23 mm (= 1.66 m)

Review

This set provides a dozen poses to depict the armies of the North in the American Civil War. All the men wear short sack coats and fatigue caps, and have varying amounts of equipment. The uniform is reasonably well done, and typical of the Union infantryman for most of the war. The officer wears a full-length frock coat, but has no sash. He also sports what could be either a regulation hat or a slouch hat.

The poses include all the usual ones, but some seem awkward and unnatural. For example, the man running with his left hand in the air seems odd, and it is difficult to see what the man pointing his musket down to his side is meant to be doing. Possibly this is an attempt to depict bayoneting, but there is no bayonet on his musket or rifle. The bugler is unarmed, which does not seem very likely during battle. The officer holds a sword in his right hand, and a pistol in his left, which would be clumsy and pretty unusual in reality, even if he was happy using the pistol with his left hand. Also nearly all the men seem to have beards, though it is difficult to tell on some. It is unknown why Airfix felt that most Civil War troops had beards, but while beards were certainly allowed and worn (provided they were 'neat'), they were not as common as suggested here.

The diversity of regulation and privately purchased equipment allows a manufacturer considerable licence when modelling these troops, but the equipment on these seems reasonable. Some men are wearing packs with greatcoats/blankets rolled over the top and sides in the style common in French and German armies of later years, but this is not appropriate for the Civil War, when blankets were strapped on top of the pack or, more often, simply rolled up and worn around the body. One very strange feature - again reminiscent of later European armies - is that all the men have two small pouches on the front of their waist belts. Arguably one could be the cap pouch, which is otherwise missing, but this looks more like the ammo pouches worn in the next century and certainly wrong for the Civil War. Also most are missing the scabbard for their bayonet, which perhaps is fitting since none have a bayonet fixed anyway.

Of course the most important thing to remember about this set is that, as one of the early sets from Airfix, it suffers from poorly defined detail. They were intended as toys after all, and since Airfix never saw fit to resculpt their American Civil War figures, this set compares unfavourably with its many rivals. Detail is unclear, with for example the hands being just lumps of plastic and the muskets being featureless strips. In general the figures have a clumsy look about them, and are not appealing.

So this is a set that shows its age. It has a lot of nostalgic value for many older collectors, but there are many much better products than this for building Civil War armies.


Ratings

Historical Accuracy 7
Pose Quality 6
Pose Number 8
Sculpting 3
Mould 4

Further Reading
Books
"American Civil War 1: Infantry" - Histoire & Collections (Officers & Soldiers Series No.1) - André Jouineau - 9782908182859
"American Civil War Armies (2) Union Troops" - Osprey (Men-at-Arms Series No.177) - Philip Katcher - 9780850456905
"American Civil War Union Army" - Brasseys (History of Uniforms Series) - Robin Smith - 9781857531749
"Billy Yank" - Greenhill (GI Series No.4) - Michael McAfee - 9781853672385
"The United States Infantry 1775-1918" - Blandford - Gregory Urwin - 9780713717570
"Uniforms of the American Civil War" - Blandford (Blandford Colour Series) - Philip Haythornthwaite - 9780713707571
"Union Infantryman 1861-65" - Osprey (Warrior Series No.31) - John Langellier - 9781841761763
"Union Troops of the American Civil War" - Crowood (Europa Militaria Special Series No.17) - Jonathan Sutherland - 9781861267696

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