Warfare in the Middle Ages was often about capturing major towns and cities rather than fighting pitched battles in open fields. As a result, considerable thought went into the technology required to penetrate the formidable walls and castles scattered throughout Europe. Recently there has been an abundance of models of castles from several manufacturers in 1/72 scale, so it is fitting that more models such as this should appear, seemingly echoing the technology race between attacker and defender so many years ago.
This is the first of two sets produced simultaneously by Orion depicting several forms of siege machine. This one contains a ram and 2 einarms. The covered part of the ram (the penthouse) is 60mm (4.3 metres) long, about 42mm (3 metres) wide and 60mm (4.3 metres) high at the apex. This is a similar length to the models made by Zvezda and MiniArt, although the Zvezda ram itself is much longer. These dimensions make the Orion machine a fairly small example - some machines were reputed to need 60 men to swing them. On this model you could comfortably get four men on each side of the ram. It is of a basic A-framed construction, which limits the room for movement for those inside but is simple to manufacture and means there is no roof to catch flammable or heavy objects thrown by the defenders, so protection is good. The sides are bare planking, but this would normally be covered in hides or anything to prevent the defenders setting it on fire. The model also comes with wheels, but when in action these would be choked or removed for obvious reasons. However in this case the wheels are all separate so can be omitted entirely if desired.
The einarm (literally 'one-arm' in German) was a catapult that was designed fairly late in the medieval period in Germany. It relied on two steel springs for its power and with the addition of a sling it could shoot a second missile at the same time as the main missile in its 'bucket'. This was an extremely rare device, and given the wealth of catapults used at the time we would have liked to have seen one of the much more common machines modelled here. The model is a little simplified, lacking the winch for example, but is otherwise okay.
The kits come in hard plastic which takes glue well, and we found fairly little need for trimming flash. However in many cases the holes were a little too small for the pegs, so a needle file is an essential tool here. The parts are not numbered and the assembly instructions are limited to a diagram on the rear of the box, but assembly is not particularly complex and this level of instruction is adequate. The box suggests using thread for the einarms, which is not provided. The general fit of the parts was pretty reasonable, and since there are not too many parts to put together it is not long before the construction is complete.
The ram is much the more useful component in this set, being a more common design than the elaborate Zvezda model but better than the MiniArt one in that it has cladding and is a good deal taller and therefore easier to use. The einarms are a real surprise and will be of limited value since they were such a rare item in their day.