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Set 72016

Medieval Siege Engines Part 2

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All figures are supplied unpainted    (Numbers of each pose in brackets)
Date Released 2004
Contents 1 crane, 1 drill and 4 shields
Material Plastic (Very Hard)
Colours White


The second of two sets of medieval siege engines from Orion, this one includes a drill or bore, a crane and two types of mantlet or shield.

Taking the bore first, this is essentially a length of wood with a sharpened metal tip that is brought up against some masonry and twisted to bore a hole. The design is reasonable and matches contemporary illustrations, and also includes a bow by which the drill could be twisted (as somewhat incorrectly shown on the box picture). However it should be noted that the men would have been under cover, such as a penthouse or mobile shed, as they would otherwise have been far too exposed to enemy fire.

The other large item is the crane. This is a device with a central pole 65mm (4.7 metres) tall on which is pivoted an arm 160mm (11.5 metres) long. A hook on the end supports a bucket by four ropes (you would have to use thread for this but no material for the ropes is provided with the kit). In theory one man (or at a squeeze two - there is not room for more) stands in the bucket and is hoisted onto the battlements by men pulling on the other end. In practice this would mean a lot of effort to get just one or two men onto the wall. Such a machine would be very vulnerable to attack, and would telegraph what was to happen very clearly. Since two men could hardly expect to achieve much (or live long) by themselves, we fail to see how such a device could have been practical. We could find no contemporary illustrations of such a machine, and this model seems to be based on a drawing by Roberto Valturio (1405 - 1475). While perfectly likely as a civilian tool for construction etc., the consensus seems to be this is an imaginary and impractical weapon of war.

To complete the set we have four mantlets or wooden shields in two styles. These were used to shield the attackers, particularly bowmen, from the defenders, and came in many forms. Both of those here are reasonable and likely to be common.

The set is made in a hard plastic so it takes glue very well. The parts are quite well defined with little trimming, although we found several holes needed enlarging with a needle file, and in some cases they needed to be drilled from scratch. The instructions are on the back of the box, and while brief they are adequate for these relatively simple kits. The fit of the parts is OK but not great.

When the bucket is attached to the crane the model is unbalanced and will not stand by itself. However as we have said this is not a viable siege machine anyway. The drill and mantlets are fine, but instead of the useless crane Orion should have provided some form of shelter for the crew of the bore.

Further Reading
"Ancient and Medieval Siege Weapons" - The Lyons Press - Konstantin Nossov - 9781592287109
"Fighting Techniques Of The Medieval World" - Amber - Matthew Bennett - 9781906626624
"Medieval Siege Warfare" - Osprey (Elite Series No.28) - Christopher Gravett - 9780850459470
"Medieval Siege Weapons (1) Western Europe AD 585-1385" - Osprey (New Vanguard Series No.58) - David Nicolle - 9781841762357

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