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Strelets

Set 112

Russian Field Artillery (Summer Uniform)

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All figures are supplied unpainted    (Numbers of each pose in brackets)
Stats
Date Released 2011
Contents 14 figures and 2 guns
Poses 14 poses
Material Plastic (Medium Consistency)
Colours Green
Average Height 23.5 mm (= 1.7 m)

Review

After the disasters of the Crimean War the Russian Army underwent a number of much-needed reforms, which included the artillery. This was a period in which rifled breech-loaded artillery was becoming widely adopted, with the Krupp company at the forefront, and the Tsar was one of their better customers. For the war against the Ottoman Empire in 1877, Russia had an arsenal of breech-loading guns based on the Krupp design (the '1867' type), but for reasons of economy the barrels were made of bronze, which quickly wore away the rifling, thus reducing the effectiveness of the gun. The decision to move to new steel guns, like those of the Ottomans, was taken during the war, but these were not delivered before its end, so it was with bronze guns that the conflict was fought.

Each Russian infantry division was supported by (i.e. incorporated) one brigade of foot artillery, which was made up of six batteries - three of 4-pounders and three of 9-pounders. From the dimensions of the gun in this set it is clearly intended to be the smaller 4-pounder, although with a barrel length of 22mm (1584mm) it is still shorter than the 1727mm length of the real thing. It is also a really poor model, even considering some simplification was inevitable. The basic shape of the barrel is a simple tube, ignoring the slight tapering and the thicker breech, so it does not look anything like the real thing. The carriage is wildly simplified, has massively thick cheek pieces which are completely wrong and has an entirely fanciful curved end to the trail.

Russian gunners wore a uniform much like that of the infantry. The single-breasted tunic, long boots and kepi/cap in the French style are all faithfully and correctly repeated on these figures, who as might be expected wear little in the way of equipment. Some carry shells which look OK, but two carry miniature sponges which could not even reach down the full length of the truncated model in this set, much less the true length of such a gun barrel. There are plenty of photographs showing the sponge as being noticeably taller than a man (in fact it was 2.2 metres in length), which makes this writer wonder whether these are based on items used in a re-enactment, where downsized guns (and therefore downsized tools) are often used. Whatever the reason, this is another disappointment.

This is a generous number of figures per gun, which is nice to see, although most of them are extremely flat. The idea behind many is good but the execution is not, although the senior officer is particularly nice. The sculpting is not good anatomically, mainly thanks to the flatness, with the usual lack of finesse we get from this manufacturer. Still the variety of poses allows the gun to be displayed at various moments in its loading and firing cycle, which is an option many artillery sets lack.

While the men are historically accurate the gun is not, which is a real problem for those that want authenticity as this leaves the men with nothing to serve. Disappointing sculpting is one thing but this set is largely let down by the crude gun, which harks back to the early Airfix output, but sadly at the time of writing has no suitable alternative.

Ratings

Historical Accuracy 6
Pose Quality 9
Pose Number 10
Sculpting 6
Mould 9

Further Reading
Books
"Russian Field Artillery 1382-1917" - - Sergey Voytsekhovich
"The Russian Army and its Campaigns in Turkey in 1877-1878" - Swedenborg Press - F V Greene - 9781443785310
"The Russo-Turkish War 1877" - Osprey (Men-at-Arms Series No.277) - Ian Drury - 9781855323711
"Uniforms of the Imperial Russian Army" - Blandford (Colour Series) - Boris Mollo - 9780713709209

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