'An army marches on its stomach' Napoleon is quoted as saying, and of course all armies have had to reply on supply to remain in the field. Those of Napoleon were encouraged to live off the land they were currently conquering, but that did not mean they had no supply convoys - local peasants cannot provide fresh ammunition. For a very long time the only wagon on the market was the Airfix Wagon Train, but with the IMEX wagons and this set from Italeri a decent supply column can now be built.
The focus of this set, which is subtitled 'French Army Support Convoy', is naturally enough the wagon. It is a fairly simple affair with wooden sides and a canvas covering, although the high canvas is not particularly typical of the Napoleonic era. Since this is a kit the covering can be removed to reveal an open wagon. The front wheels pivot to allow steering, and the two horse team is harnessed up in a simplified but still reasonable manner. Indeed this is far better than the Airfix/IMEX approach of thrusting poles into the sides of the animals, and though it requires a little more effort to construct the result is very pleasing to the eye. A centre pole is also included which would be chained to the front of the horses' harness, though no such connection is provided in this kit. Everything about the wagon is very nice and the parts fit together well.
To go with the wagon there are two drivers, both sculpted to sit on the vehicle itself (wagons did not have outriders). They are correctly uniformed for the period 1807 to 1812. Before 1807 supply was contracted out to civilian organisations with only a vague sense of uniform, and after 1812 the style of coat changed to the double-breasted type along with much of the rest of the army. Thus the claim that the set is appropriate for the 1805 - 15 period does not apply to the drivers. They were armed with a carbine and sword, the latter probably being the infantry type briquet. Both these figures have the cross belts for the sword and cartridge pouch, but both are missing the sword itself.
To complete the 'scene' the set includes a number of individuals in foul weather gear, sitting around apparently relaxing. All wear covers on their shakos, greatcoats and overalls over their gaiters. In fact this was the most common appearance of the infantry in almost all weathers, but manufacturers prefer to produce sets in the smart blue coat because it looks much better. Two of these men are sitting and one is standing. This last has no base, but instead has a small pile of logs which give just enough stability for him to stand. However he is still unstable, and we cannot understand the manufacturer's desire to avoid bases if at all possible. Surely they should be standard so the figures remain upright, and the customer can always remove them if they wish.
Finally, two more horses are included, harnessed up like those pulling the cart but without the holes with which to attach a harness, and without any particular reason for their presence except as spares. Again they are without bases, though they do stand by themselves.
This is a very nice set that will find many uses for all kinds of enthusiasts - the wagon by itself could be used in many other campaigns. Included in the set are a number of boxes and barrels, partly to provide something for the men to sit on, but overall the sprue has large empty areas and certainly much more could comfortably have been added. Still what there is conforms to the high Italeri sculpting standards, and as ever detail is very good and clear. An interesting subject for a high-volume producer like Italeri, but one that has been well received.