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Set 72064

Landsknechts Artillery

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All figures are supplied unpainted    (Numbers of each pose in brackets)
Date Released 2015
Contents 16 figures, 1 cannon and 1 mortar
Poses 8 poses
Material Plastic (Medium Consistency)
Colours Grey
Average Height 24 mm (= 1.73 m)


The Landsknechts are known as mercenary infantry wielding pike and halberd and, later on, increasing numbers of the arquebus, but their emergence more or less coincided with another major new feature on the European battlefield - mobile powder artillery. Since gunpowder had first been introduced into Western Europe, artillery had been mostly made up of large guns (bombards) that were very heavy and required a great deal of effort to move and assemble, making them ideal for a siege, but very difficult to use in a pitched battle. By the later 15th century however, barrels were getting lighter and truly mobile carriages were being introduced, leading to the form of gun which would be relatively little changed for the next four centuries. The French are often credited with the first large-scale deployment of such field guns - during the invasion of Italy in 1494 - but soon enough they were more widely adopted, and any army of the 16th century would expect to be able to call upon at least some field guns.

Guns were expensive, and so were master gunners, so they were generally in the service of a king, prince or even a town, from where they could be hired out as needed for the right price. Thus the artillery of a given army could include many nationalities, and the costume of the men was a matter of personal preference; basically civilian but undoubtedly influenced by the martial fashions of the day, which in the early part of the 16th century was the extravagant style of the Landsknecht. The eight poses to be found in this set reflect this pretty well, with a mix of the extravagant Landsknecht clothing and more conservative coats. Sleeves are very full in all cases, as was the style at the time, and there is an assortment of caps, some very large and decorated with plumes. It has been suggested that artillerymen wore muted colours since they needed to stay with their guns and so could be a conspicuous target, but presumably there were many who choose display over concealment for reasons of vanity despite any increased risk.

For operating the cannon the poses seem to hit the right note too, with a quite generous eight poses including those holding many of the usual tools. The most obvious omission is anyone holding the scoop by which the powder was introduced into the barrel, which is a pity as this pose is also missing from the corresponding Swiss set. The first pose in the second row is interesting because he holds nothing, but his left hand is at the height of the top of the wheel or the breech of the barrel, so he could be guiding the carriage as it is moved or perhaps adjusting the angle of the barrel. However by their costume and demeanour it is the last two figures that look to be in charge. One man, with cap in hand and arm raised, looks to be ready to issue the fire order, while the other, standing passively to one side, looks like a master gunner, holding as he does a quadrant by which such guns were often aligned with their target.

While the poses are pretty good for the gun, there are virtually none for the mortar. The mortar itself is very small - reaching no higher than a man’s waist, but there are no figures at all are could be described as attending to it. Even the man carrying ammunition is clearly not carrying anything that would work for the mortar, so effectively we have two decent gun crews but only one gun, plus a mortar that is being ignored.

The single gun in this set has a barrel length of 30mm (2.16 metres) and wheels of 18mm (1.3 metres) in diameter, so would today be described as a type of culverin. The carriage has the twin cheek pieces that would be so widely used for such a long period, and the barrel rests on this thanks to its trunnions - an important innovation that was still fairly new in the early 16th century. Although a single piece the carriage is better detailed than some in the hobby, and while still somewhat simplified it is a reasonable design. There is some flash and an obvious seam where the moulds meet, but worse than that is the barrel, which does not really sit on the carriage properly as the barrel is too fat. Partly this is thanks to the spiral design on the forward part, which is perfectly authentic but helps to make sure the trunnions cannot reach their beds in the iron reinforcement, meaning the capsquares could not be placed. On the subject of the spiral decoration, while this and many other forms of often elaborate decoration were not uncommon on gun barrels of the time, here the spiral is very haphazard and looks like it was done freehand by someone without a steady hand. It looks OK in our picture, but in fact it weaves around and is uneven, although admittedly much of this is on the underside.

That just leaves the uncrewed mortar. There are many pictures and extant examples of late medieval and early modern mortars, but most don’t look like this. This has a frame of two curved runners which support lugs extending from the barrel roughly half way along its length, while its trunnions are at the base. Such a device has been illustrated, for example in Funcken, but we could only find one contemporary illustration of this, and that always worries us. The fear is this one source has been used repeatedly by more modern illustrators, making it seem like a normal design, yet the evidence is extremely flimsy. One contemporary woodcut no more proves such a mortar existed than others prove that griffins existed, and with a wealth of pictures showing what is obviously the standard design we were left wondering why RedBox went with this one, even if it turns out to be genuine. It has a calibre of about 3 mm (210 mm) and a barrel length of 13mm (930cm).

The gun fits together well enough, except for the fat barrel, and the mortar is similarly adequate. The figures are quite nicely done, with a good job made of the very complex clothing of the day. The faces are not always particularly good however, and the hands are sometimes extremely vague. There is a little bit of flash in many places, but nothing too terrible. The proportions are good, and no real feeling of flatness either.

If you want a good sized field gun for your 16th century army, with or without a Landsknecht element, then this set delivers one that could be useful along with some very acceptable crew figures to serve it. If you want a mortar then what you have here is a highly suspect type with no one serving it, so it is hard not to dismiss this particular piece entirely. This is a set where most of it is useful, and that is enough to make it worthwhile overall and even quite appealing in places.


Historical Accuracy 9
Pose Quality 9
Pose Number 7
Sculpting 8
Mould 8

Further Reading
"Armies of the German Peasants' War 1524-26" - Osprey (Men-at-Arms Series No.384) - Douglas Miller - 9781841765075
"Armies of the Sixteenth Century (1)" - Foundry - Ian Heath - 9781901543001
"Artillery: A History" - Sutton - John Norris - 9780750921855
"Pavia 1525" - Osprey (Campaign Series No.44) - Angus Konstam - 9781855325043
"Renaissance Armies 1480-1650" - Patrick Stephens - George Gush - 9780850596045
"The Age of Chivalry Part 3" - Ward Lock (Arms and Uniforms) - Liliane and Fred Funcken - 9780706359374
"The Landsknechts" - Osprey (Men-at-Arms Series No.58) - Douglas Miller - 9780850452587

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