World War II is not usually seen as a cavalry war, yet many cavalry saw service before its conclusion. The dramatic build-up of the German armed forces in the 1930s had outstripped the country's ability to make it entirely motorised, and in August 1939 the Wehrmacht had 15 predominantly horse-mounted cavalry regiments. German cavalry saw action in most theatres, but was particularly successful in the difficult conditions of the eastern front, where the horse had many advantages over wheeled vehicles.
This is one of those HaT sets where the contents are representative of the type rather than a group that might stand together. The first pose is for the early war period, with standard tunic and helmet, while the second wears the Zeltbahn 31. Next to him is a figure with a field cap and smock, and at the end we find a late war trooper with camouflage on his helmet and ankle boots. All are very lightly equipped, with nothing more than gas mask case along with their slung weapon on their back, and ammunition pouches on the waist belt. During the early war the Germans carried their carbines in a holster on the saddle rather than on the back, although that is not to say no individual ever slung his across his back in this way.
Apart from our comments the figures are reasonably accurate, but the two horses have an unusual feature - neither has a saddle. The Germans did not ride bareback, but the sculptor did not include the saddle as it would be largely obscured by the rider's legs and the saddle equipment. In fact the sides of a saddle are noticeably wider than a human leg, and are apparent even when the rider is on board, but it is true that the saddle is mostly hidden although we would still have preferred some evidence of it, at least round the knee area (rather than having to paint it on). The sculptor has included a girth round the belly, and also the blanket (Woilach) that was underneath the saddle, but he has given this blanket a strap running round the chest of the animal, which is wrong. In terms of kit both horses have what look like M1934 saddle bags, which were seen throughout the war despite being officially replaced in 1940. Behind the blanket there is a rolled item, which is presumably one of the items (forage bag, rolled greatcoat or tent square) that are supposed to be there. There is no evidence of a carbine holster, as we have said, nor of a sabre, which was carried with decreasing regularity until 1941, and all other items that would normally be expected such as mess tins and entrenching tools are also missing. The horses themselves are quite nicely done, but don't expect much detail - for example there is no evidence of the 'S' shaped bit.
Detail is far from great on the men too. While it might be described as adequate we felt the simplified items such as weapons were not good. All the faces are particularly vague and don't look good, although all the parts are at least free from flash, and the men fit their rides well.
In the past HaT have provided extra heads with some sets to allow some conversion, and we welcome the return of this feature here. However the heads are very poorly shaped, with the helmet-wearer in particular being semi-flat.
Naturally the Germans didn’t normally use mounted troops in battle, so the single relaxed pose in this set is perfectly good for their usual reconnaissance role. This is not an attractive set, although it certainly provides something World War II enthusiasts have not had before.