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Set 8103

French Light Ambulance

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All figures are supplied unpainted    (Numbers of each pose in brackets)
Date Released 2009
Contents 3 vehicles with 3 figures and 6 horses
Poses 1 pose, 2 horse poses
Material Plastic (Fairly Soft)
Colours Grey
Average Height 24 mm (= 1.73 m)


A brief summary of Larrey’s innovations in the field of military medical services has already been included in our review of HaT’s French Heavy Ambulance, and this set contains the light version of his voitures d’ambulance. This lighter two-wheeled version was intended for flat ground where the going was easier, and it could accommodate two stretcher cases. At a time when most armies merely piled wounded into ordinary wagons this radical design was a huge step forward and would be the prototype for all such vehicles for many years.

More than one design of this vehicle seems to have been used during the wars of Napoleon, but the version modelled here is the most commonly illustrated, although whether it was the most commonly used we cannot say. Nonetheless this model is fine in terms of appearance and a good choice. There is no internal detail, and the rear doors are moulded together so anyone wishing to display the model open will have some work to do, not least because there is no floor to the cabin, although of course this is not apparent unless viewed from underneath. The model includes the rear ladder, but this is illustrated as down on the box because it has no means of being fixed upright as it would need to be when on the move. Since the two horses are clearly very much on the move this leaves the model somewhat undecided as to whether it is moving or not, and since there is not much that can be done with the horses (apart from substituting them of course), the rear ladder will have to be glued up in some fashion to match this.

Different illustrations of this type of vehicle show two horse teams, but sometimes they are side-by-side and sometimes in line. Presumably both were employed at various times, but as can be seen here this model has them in line astern. One problem however is the frame of the vehicle connects directly to the harness of the trailing horse, which being noticeably higher than the axle causes the vehicle to tilt back, which would be a major problem for the stretcher cases inside. This is partly due to the horse being on a base, which could be removed to help matters (as would putting the vehicle itself on a base), but the box art shows a better and more accurate arrangement. As already mentioned both horses are clearly moving, so for static scenes horses will need to be brought in from elsewhere.

The set comes with no medical personnel but does include a driver, who is correctly uniformed as a member of the artillery train. This is the same figure as is found in various other HaT Napoleonic French wagon sets, and is appropriate for the middle part of the imperial Napoleonic period.

The model is made in the usual softish plastic HaT commonly use at the moment, which in our view is not ideal for construction kits. The various parts (see image of sprue) are pretty well cut and join together well enough although gluing is advisable. Detail is reasonable although such things as the planking suggested by the box illustration have not been sculpted.

This makes an obvious partner for the heavier ambulance vehicle and a fair model although the tilt is a problem that will require some ingenuity to resolve and lets down an otherwise good effort.

Further Reading
"Battlefield Medicine" - Southern Illinois University Press - John Haller - 9780809330409
"Combat Surgeons" - Sutton - John Laffin - 9780750921732
"French Napoleonic Artillery" - Almark - Michael Head - 9780855240110
"Napoleon's Specialist Troops" - Osprey (Men-at-Arms Series No.199) - Philip Haythornthwaite - 9780850458411
"Soldiers and Uniforms of the Napoleonic Wars" - Histoire & Collections - François-Guy Hourtoulle - 9782913903555
"The French Imperial Guard 5" - Histoire & Collections (Officers and Soldiers Series No.10) - Andre Jouineau - 9782352500506
"The Napoleonic Wars Part 1" - Ward Lock (Arms and Uniforms) - Liliane and Fred Funcken - 9780706314069
"The Waterloo Companion" - Aurum - Mark Adkin - 9781854107640
"Uniformes (French Language)" - No.41

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