Throughout ancient history the siege was frequently a very important part of many campaigns, and for large parts of the Middle Ages siege warfare was a far more common way of waging war than full-scale battles in a field. A great deal of technology was developed both to enhance a siege and to defend against it, and some of that technology is represented in this, the second set of siege equipment from Zvezda.
Centrepiece of the set is the battering ram. The kit includes four walls, the roof, the wheels and of course the battering ram itself. The housing is wooden, with skins covering the roof as a defence against fire. The ram has a carved ram's head on the front, which was a frivolous decoration that was not commonly seen, but was by no means unknown. When in action the wheels would have been chocked or even removed to avoid unwanted movement. The ram measures a whooping 12 cm (over 8.5 metres) in length, and the housing is 6 cm (4 metres) long and 2.5 cm (1.8 metres) wide. This is a good size and allows for the men inside to work the ram. Rams came in many forms, and this is a perfectly authentic-looking model of a particularly expensive and high status example.
A much simpler part of the set is the wooden shield, which is wheeled. It would have been moved forward with assaulting troops to help protect miners, archers or indeed any part of the attacking forces. Such simple devices were again to be found in many designs, but this one is as good as any.
The final major piece of the set is the cauldron on a frame, intended to be placed on the walls to facilitate the pouring of burning oil, pitch, resin or any other substance and might repel an attack. This stands at 3.5 cm high (2.5 metres), and once again it is a good model of a rather sophisticated and well-built example of this sort of device.
The set is produced in a hard plastic, which means that it takes glue very well, and the components are finely engineered and fit together perfectly. We found no need to trim anything, and the instructions on how to make the models were clear and easy to follow. The only difficulty was with the ram itself, which is suspended from two loops under the roof of the housing. The instructions recommended using thread, but we found this to be a very fiddly operation. Still the result was that the ram actually rocks back and forth, which is a nice touch. In addition the wheels on all the devices can be left unglued to allow them to rotate freely, a feature that many enthusiasts will find of little worth but one that improves the play value. The very neat appearance of the pieces makes us think they are more appropriate for medieval actions, and we did wonder if the design of the shield was not a bit too sophisticated for a simple and perhaps disposable device. The two scaling ladders are a good length at 10 cm (over 7 metres), and are the finishing touch to a very fine and well designed set of military models.