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Set 2018

Russian Artillery 1500-1700

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All figures are supplied unpainted    (Numbers of each pose in brackets)
Date Released 2008
Contents 30 figures and 3 guns
Poses 10 poses
Material Plastic (Medium Consistency)
Colours Light Tan


Many monarchs in history had a particular interest in artillery, including several from Russia. Ivan IV ('the Terrible') was certainly one such, and indeed throughout the period covered by this set foreign observers particularly noted that Russia had many guns. Ivan is thought to have had 150 medium or heavy guns at the siege of Kazan (1552), where they had a major impact on the outcome of the action.

The uniform, such as it was, of Russian gunners at this time was little different from that of the streltsi infantry, but this hardly matters here as the first task is to find any real gunners in this set. As can be seen above this is no easy task. The first few poses are clearly infantry, with one man loading a musket while the others are using the bardiche axe/rest and sword. The last pose in this row and the first two in the second row are clearly officers, who could be officers, or indeed gentry, from any walk of life including artillery. The next item is particularly noteworthy as it is a couple of men clearly enjoying a drink and perhaps a good song. Doubtless Russian artillerymen were as fond of drink as any other, but again there is nothing here that actually identifies them as gunners. The very last figure, finally, has some signs of being a gunner. He holds nothing, but has circular discs on his chest and back which were called alam and were worn by artillerymen only on parade. All the figures wear the kaftan and other typical clothing of the time, although the armour that both infantry and artillery would have worn early in the period is absent here.

The poses are a real mix. The infantry poses are flat but reasonable apart from the second figure, who appears to be merely standing and resting his chin on his bardiche. Why he would want to do this is far from clear, although clearly he is relaxed and perhaps is on boring guard duty. His right hand is holding the axe in some ill-defined way, but his left has been lost completely. This is a strange pose, and while we have no objection to poses of troops looking bored while standing guard this is not well done here. The three officer poses are much better. None are doing much, although one is apparently drawing his sword. They wear suitable clothing for their station in life and could just as easily be in their own home or at court. The drinking pair is a real beauty of a pose, with the figures looking very realistic in their happy state. Nothing to do with artillery of course (although it was not unknown for gunners the worse for drink to serve the guns), but a really excellent figure pair nonetheless. The single artilleryman is posed as if he is holding something horizontally, although he has nothing in his hands. This is a perfectly good artillery pose as he could be holding a sponge, ramrod, worm or various other tools. However the fact that he is actually holding nothing, and no such tools are provided in the set, is certainly a letdown.

If the figures are not what you would expect then the gun is certainly worse. The barrel is enormously long at 48 mm, which equates to about three and a half metres at this scale. This implies the gun is a culverin, although the very slender diameter of the barrel would give this gun a particularly high calibre. Culverins could certainly be of this length or more, but would have had a larger bore. Worse yet are the trunnions, which are the projections each side of the barrel used to rest it on the carriage and also to pivot it so as to aim. These must be on or forward of the point of balance so the back of the barrel rests on the carriage and the whole can be adjusted as desired using wedges, a screw etc. Here the trunnions are well back from the point of balance, so the barrel always falls forward into the ground. The only way to raise the mouth of the barrel is to support it on props or lash the breech down with ropes, which is a nonsense. On this model the only way to keep the barrel off the ground is to glue it to the carriage.

If that were the only problem with the gun then it would still be a useless model, but things get even worse. The carriage, which is remarkable chunky, is about the same length as the barrel when carriages were generally about 20% to 30% longer. More importantly it has absolutely tiny wheels with a diameter that means they do no more than reach the waist of the gunners (if there had been any). As a result they barely lift the axle off the ground and the whole assembly is almost horizontal. This means that when the barrel is mounted it has a maximum elevation of at least -10 degrees - that is to say it points down to the ground even if the breech is resting directly on the carriage. Unless the piece is intended for firing down from a fortification this is completely useless; a phrase that readily springs to mind when considering the gun as a whole.

LW sculpting is never amongst the best and this set is no different. However it is a set of contrasts in that while in general the detail is vague and no more than adequate in places it is very nice indeed. The officer drawing his sword is very nicely done, and the drinking pair is good too, yet elsewhere hands largely disappear and at least one face would defy anyone to recognise it as such. Some of the poses, particularly the infantry, are very flat and with poor levels of realism, although it is nice to report that there is no flash and only a modest ridge where the moulds meet.

So let us recap. We have an artillery set with only one artilleryman, and even he is holding nothing and wearing parade clothing which would not have appeared in a real battle. Also we have a gun that is unusable in so many ways that it may as well not have been included at all. Other than that we have some fairly poor infantry poses, some quite nice officers and a really excellent drinking pair. Not exactly what you might reasonably expect from a set entitled 'artillery' is it? As an extension to the sets of streltsi from Strelets and Zvezda this set has some merit, but as artillery this set is completely useless, hence our scores.


Historical Accuracy 3
Pose Quality 2
Pose Number 1
Sculpting 6
Mould 9

Further Reading
"Armies of Ivan the Terrible" - Osprey (Men-at-Arms Series No.427) - V Shpakovsky & D Nicolle - 9781841769257
"Artillery: A History" - Sutton - John Norris - 9780750921855
"European Weapons and Warfare 1618-1648" - Octopus - Eduard Wagner - 9780706410723
"Muscovy's Soldiers" - Helion & Company (Century of the Soldier No.28) - Michael Fredholm von Essen - 9781912390106

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