While the causes of World War I can and often do fill entire volumes, there is no argument over where and when it started. The first act of war was on 28th July 1914 when the Habsburg Empire of Austria-Hungary declared war on Serbia. As Austrian forces attacked Serbia however, they were not the force they had once been, in part reflecting the fragile nature of the Empire itself, with its many nationalities increasingly wanting independence. Austria took great pride in her artillery, which had long been a model for others, but as in other armies the arm was not as prepared for the long drawn-out war that followed as it would have wished. Nevertheless matters improved as the war progressed, with more and better guns reaching the fronts, but while Austria’s artillery performed well during those years it could not save the Empire from defeat and destruction.
This set is one of a series released by HaT to complement their range of Great War guns and caissons, all of which follow the same basic pattern. It contains a number of crewmen working a gun plus figures suitable for positioning on a caisson or team. The working crew are all in fairly generic poses, with two handling ammunition plus one moving the gun and two others in non-specific positions. Since the crew is not necessarily limited to one sort of gun these poses are perfectly reasonable if not very exciting, as are the two intended for a caisson. The set is completed by a number of shells and other accessories that might easily be found in the vicinity of a gun and are nicely done.
The sculpting of the figures is reasonable but not quite as sharp or well-proportioned as they might be. However they are perfectly good enough for most people and there is no flash in need of removal, nor excess plastic, which is due to the choice of poses that do not challenge the mould. The first kneeling figure in the top row is particularly flat, with a rather odd arrangement of trunk and arms which makes it easy to sculpt but quite an awkward shape for a human being.
As was usually the case with artillery crews, uniform is kept to the basics and these men wear just their standard jacket and trousers with ankle boots and puttees. The jacket has a stand-and-fall collar, which means it is either the summer weight version for the early part of the war or the standard all-season version from 1915. On their heads all wear the usual peaked field cap, which on these figures has been given an odd point at the upper front of the crown - perhaps an exaggerated button or cockade? However this is a minor point easily remedied, and the uniform is otherwise correctly rendered. No one has any kit, which is fine, and the officer has long boots rather than puttees, which was quite normal (the caisson outrider may also have such boots, or else leather leggings, which are also correct).
This simple and unfussy set does the job, and with no accuracy problems it should be a long-awaited boost for many a miniature Great War Habsburg army, which has received little attention in this hobby compared to the likes of Germany and France.