While the Western Front highlighted the growing irrelevance of soldiers mounted on horses in battle, for some of the Ottoman Empire’s campaigns cavalry remained a useful tool. Approximately 15% of Ottoman manpower was in the cavalry, although much of this was made up of irregular units that often wore traditional dress rather than any Ottoman uniform. They mostly performed the usual light cavalry tasks of reconnaissance, guarding lines of communication, harassing the enemy when in the open and sometimes plugging gaps in the line as an emergency.
This set includes four trooper poses and one officer pose. All the troopers are armed with a rifle or carbine and a sword, and three also hold a lance. The lance of the first pictured figure looks rather too short to us, but the other two are good. The two men with the longer lances have their right arms as separate pieces (see sprue image) which certainly helps to make them more natural than the first pose. A peg on the shoulder fits quite well into a hole in the upper arm, although you will notice that the upper arm is noticeably more chunky in order to accommodate this arrangement, giving the figure a somewhat unbalanced impression when it comes to shoulders. The fourth figure has no lance, and instead holds his rifle resting on his upper leg, which is a nice pose, although his firearm is quite long and we would rather he had been given the M1905 carbine often carried by such men.
The officer wears a similar uniform to his men of tunic, trousers and long boots, though the quality of his would have been better. He wears the kabalak headdress worn by many in the Ottoman army, which is normal, although he could also have been given the kalpak lambskin cap. Like the two lancers his right arm is separate, so there is some flexibility in its angle, but there are no other optional arms, so this man has to be holding his sword. This is fine although unfortunately he has also been provided with another sword still in the scabbard! A pistol and a pair of binoculars represent the rest of this man’s kit, and further distinguish him from his men.
The sculpting of the figures is pretty good. The hands seem a bit exaggerated in size, but generally the proportions are OK and the detail reasonable. As we have said the separate parts fit together reasonably well and there is no flash.
We felt the horses were not up to the standard of the men in terms of basic anatomy. They are not bad, but not quite as natural as some both in general appearance and in pose (particularly the second animal in the second row). They are provided with good-looking saddles etc., plus rolls for front and back which are separate and attach with a passable but not brilliant fit, although by being separate they are at least optional. Missing however are the leather saddle bags usually seen on such animals. The fit of man onto horse is very good, but as you may have noticed there are fewer horses than there are riders. This is presumably so the officer comes as an optional bonus figure, since the set only claims 12 mounted figures. This makes sense as you can have 11 troopers with one officer, or no officer at all if you wish, so we liked this extra flexibility.
This represents something of an upgrade on the traditional HaT cavalry set of four trooper poses by offering an optional officer, as well as some flexibility in saddle furniture and more horse poses. Also provided are a full set of bandoliers, which presumably could be worn by either man or horse, although we found no particularly evidence that either would, so these could be something for the spares box. By varying the angle of the separate right arms on three of the poses you can have a range of poses, so we thought the poses were well done too. The only accuracy concern is with the ammunition pouches each of the troopers have - they have the two triple sets (90 rounds) issued to infantry, but some sources suggest they were instead issued with a single pair, worn on the left of the belt, to carry the issued 30 rounds for light cavalry. Otherwise accuracy is good and with decent sculpting this is a good set for one of the less well-known elements of the Great War armies.