Although artillery had been around for centuries it reached a destructive peak during World War I, when its fire caused more casualties than rifle and machine gun bullets combined. Most combatant nations were taken by surprise when the sheer quantity of guns required became apparent, and suffered acute shortages of shells until their domestic industries could increase output to meet the demand. As the number of guns increased, so too did the numbers of men needed to fire them, yet with ever more accurate counter-battery fire they were in as much danger as the infantryman in the trenches.
Working guns of any size is heavy and exhausting work, and it was perfectly common for such crews to remove their tunics or even strip to the waist as they worked. All the men working their gun in this set are in shirtsleeves, which makes a refreshing change from the smart regulation uniform so many sets offer. Their uniform was the same service dress as the infantry, with puttees on the lower legs, and this is how the two mounted figures are dressed. All the men have steel helmets and the mounted men have the small box respirator in the alert position, so it was a surprise that the working crew do not also have this particular item, but we can be sure they are close at hand. The officer is dressed in fairly typical uniform, although unusually he has a waist belt with no supporting braces, and has no sidearm either. He retains his peaked cap, although of course he too would have a steel helmet nearby. HaT have very thoughtfully provided a number of extra heads, half of which wear the usual peaked cap and half the Foreign Service or Wolseley helmet, which means there is much greater flexibility in the time period and location of these men.
The poses include the usual but perfectly necessary ammunition-passing examples, plus a number engaged in various generic handling activities, which is fine. The sculpting is pretty good too, although there is little need for detail on such practically-dressed figures. There is no flash and no assembly, and the array of extra boxes and shells are a welcome addition to help fill the sprue.
There have already been several sets of Great War British artillery, all of which have been worthwhile. We thought this set from HaT were more realistically depicted than the rather neat Emhar figures, and better produced than those from Airfix, but all the sets are usable and in our view work together very well. This is a really nice little set which is accurate and does a good job, and the extra heads really expand the possibilities for the more adventurous.