At the outbreak of the Peninsular War the Portuguese armed forces were in a sorry state, but the tireless efforts of Marshal Beresford in particular forged a much more impressive military machine that worked well with the British army, and the artillery was no exception. With many of the guns, uniforms and officers supplied by Great Britain, the Portuguese provided a very large proportion of Wellington's artillery and made an important contribution to the final victory.
Regulations in 1806 laid down what was by the standards of the day quite a simple uniform, and this was to apply throughout the period with the exception of the shako, which changed in 1810 from the Berretina type to a 'stovepipe' much like that of the British. The figures in this set are labelled as 1809-1814, and they wear the correct uniform with what appears to be the stovepipe shako, although they have a small plume (or none at all) in many cases. All wear a sword from a belt slung over the right shoulder - a device not always shown in the sources, but this could simply be because it had been laid aside before the action. In general the uniform is accurate for the period.
The poses are quite a surprising bunch. Eight poses is a good number for artillery, but there are a startling number of casualties, with a dead man, another falling wounded and an officer with an arm in a sling. While we are all in favour of such figures (it wasn't only infantry that died in battle), these seem excessive to us. Also we have two very similar figures carrying different types of ammunition, and a man on the march with his musket. None of these are wrong, but we would have preferred more poses actively serving the gun, for example someone with a handspike.
The sculpting of the figures is much like previous releases from LW. They are by no means attractive or elegant, with quite basic animation and low levels of detail. There are a number of curiosities, like the shakos, which have tops that slope up so as to make the front much taller than the back, which is wrong but not consistently done on all figures. However in their defence we must admit that there is no flash here, a considerable improvement on some earlier sets.
The gun has a single-trail along the British lines, which is perfectly correct. This is not too bad a model, and fairly accurate, but there are problems when it comes to putting it all together. The wheels are of course separate, but their hole is much too small to accommodate the fat end of the axle. The hole would need to be dramatically enlarged to allow the wheel to fit, but we found splitting the centre of the wheel (nave) worked well as once the axle was fitted the split closed up and was unobtrusive. The carriage comes complete with ammunition boxes on the axle, which is good, but the gun barrel does not sit comfortably on it because it is a little too wide, and the barrel also has strange depressions on both sides next to the trunnions.
The Portuguese artillery was an important part of the Anglo-Portuguese army, and its inclusion in this hobby is long overdue, but the fairly low LW quality will not endear it to its customers. Still the figures are serviceable and they just about do the job.