The early part of the 18th century had been a largely successful one for Austrian armies, with success during the War of the Spanish Succession and war with the Ottoman Empire. However without the inspired leadership of Prince Eugene of Savoy the following years were ones of decline, losing territory to the Ottomans in 1739 and the province of Silesia to the Prussians during two wars in the 1740s. Following these setbacks, the Habsburg Austrian Army underwent a major reorganisation, improving pay and training for the men and raising standards for the officers, so by the start of the Seven Years War in 1756 the Army had regained much of its confidence. It performed well, although the Prussian Army under Frederick the Great would test it greatly over the next few years.
The figures in this set are divided into two types of infantry - those in our top row are the ordinary line infantry, the fusiliers, and those in the second row are the grenadiers. All are ‘German’, which is to say any nationality except Hungarian, and all wear fairly standard uniform of the day. In 1756 this meant a coat with the skirts turned back, and lapels left open to reveal the quite long waistcoat underneath. Most coats had no collar, so the shirt was also visible at the neck, under a stock. On campaign long gaiters that reached to well above the knee were worn. The fusiliers wore an ordinary three-cornered hat with a cockade attached by a loop and button, all on the left side, and the grenadiers wore a fur cap with tall front and a bag hanging down the back, ending in a tassel. Every aspect of this uniform is correctly modelled in these figures. Some grenadiers had a badge on the cap, but these do not, which is also accurate.
The men have all been given a knapsack hanging behind the left hip from a belt over the right shoulder, and a cartridge pouch hanging from a similar belt over the left shoulder. In addition each man has a water bottle beside the knapsack, and a waist belt which supports a bayonet scabbard. For the grenadiers this also supported a sabre scabbard, which like the rest of the kit is faithfully reproduced here. The musket each man carries looks typical for the time, and many have been given a sling, something not all figure sets offer.
The standard of sculpting is very good, although the off-white plastic makes it difficult to make out, despite the colour being otherwise very appropriate for the subject. We had to give the figures a wash of dark paint to see the detail, but it was worth it and is very good. The third figure in the top row has lost definition round his cartridge pouch, but otherwise everything looks good, and there isn’t much flash to complain about either.
As with the excellent Revell set, this one suffers to begin with by covering both fusiliers and grenadiers, thus limiting the number of poses of each. Although this is one of a series of sets from HaT on the subject, and only handles the 'action' poses, it just offers firing, loading and advancing poses, which are certainly the best choices but leaves no room for anything else. Some wargamers will say that these are all that are necessary, but others will probably miss the more interesting poses often found in larger, more general sets. Generally these poses are reasonable - basic but certainly appropriate, if not at all exciting, which is likely to have been the intention all along.
There are certainly some poses we would have liked to have seen, such as someone in the firing line and kneeling, but in providing the basics this set offers good accuracy and sculpting, which is perhaps the most important thing. We were surprised that none of the men have the common field sign attached to their hat, but these figures do the job, and should work quite well with the Revell ones too in terms of size and style.