With the fame of the charge of the Union Brigade at Waterloo, it seems strange that Airfix should choose the hussars as the subject of their only British Waterloo cavalry set. Hussar dress had come fairly late to the British army, with the first regiments being so designated and uniformed in 1806, but several hussar regiments served during the Waterloo campaign, though they could not be described as a decisive element of the Allied army.
This set is a mixture of very good and very bad. Right from the start Airfix established a standard of 12 unique poses in a cavalry set, which is of little use when trying to model formed up units that are standing still, but create a good impression when displayed at the culmination of a full charge. Many of these figures are waving their swords in the air and looking very dashing, and one man carries a carbine. However light cavalry was usually employed in reconnaissance and picket roles rather than full blown charges. Having said that, at Waterloo the British hussars did charge, so the poses are mostly OK, except for those on the third row above. The trumpeter is holding his instrument by the mouthpiece, which means he would have virtually no control over it and would quickly tire. The second man carries some sort of pennant - nothing like the guidon that such regiments would have had, and in any case no hussars carried any sort of guidon when on campaign by the time of Waterloo. The drummer belongs in the band, and would never be seen in the midst of battle, so even if such a musician existed his inclusion here is a complete waste.
Airfix never got to grips with horses. The same few poses were trotted out in every set (forgive the pun), and they were always separate from the base. The base was too thin to properly take the peg, and the horses legs tended to be too thin to support the body of the horse, so it often leaned or simply fell out of the base. As well as all these faults, the horses in this set are not particularly accurate. The sheepskin covering the saddle is correct, though not well sculpted, but the shabraque has a plain border when it should have the zigzag pattern known as Vandyke, and more to the point they were not worn on campaign anyway so should not be here. Also there is no sign of the pistols at the front of the saddle. The bridle too is much simplified and missing several key elements, in particular the crossed face straps that all British light cavalry had.
The lack of accuracy extends to the men's uniform. While the main elements of the hussar costume - fur cap, jacket with slung pelisse, breeches and hussar boots - are all present, much of the detail is wrong. The fur busby is virtually square in section when it should be taller than it is wide, though not as much so as the earlier pattern worn in the Peninsula. The bag is also too large, and hangs down the left of the cap when it should be on the right. Finally there are none of the cords that held the cap on when in action. The jacket has a simplified form of braiding, with three rows of buttons rather than five, though this is understandable, but none of the men are wearing the two shoulder belts that held the carbine and cartridge pouch. Indeed none have been provided with this weapon except the man carrying his, which is not correct. The sabretache on these men is much too small, and is square, and the fine breeches and boots should be covered by overalls as they are in action. Most of the men carry a curved sabre, though this has been given a hilt that is slightly incorrect for the proper 1796 model. However this at least can be cured with suitable knife-work.
Since the figures have been in and out of production for so long, levels of flash can vary considerably, although the horses have mould marks which are unsightly. The general standard of sculpting is pretty reasonable, with the swords and scabbards being nice and slender. The inclusion of a downed horse is another Airfix feature, and serves to remind us that cavalry suffer casualties too - a fact usually overlooked by manufacturers. In general these are nice figures, but the many accuracy problems mean they are difficult to use in Napoleonic scenarios, though ironically they are more useful for earlier periods in other armies. Esci created a much more accurate set some years after this, but we have yet to see a definitive set of British Napoleonic Hussars.