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Set 009s

Roman Artillery Set 3 - Scorpio

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All figures are supplied unpainted    (Numbers of each pose in brackets)
Date Released 2023
Contents 6 figures and 2 weapons
Poses 3 poses
Material Plastic (Medium Consistency)
Colours Brown
Average Height 24 mm (= 1.73 m)


It seems that the Romans gained much of their knowledge of catapult artillery from the Greek world, especially after conquests in Sicily in the 3rd and 2nd centuries BCE, and captured many machines in their wars with Carthage. These came in various sizes, but the smaller ones were often termed ‘scorpions’, and while they were often used to defend fortifications or camps, they were small enough to be taken into the field on campaign, where their range and relative accuracy could come in useful. Vegetius stated that ideally each legion should have 55 catapulti, although how often if ever this target was achieved remains unknown. Many accounts of Roman battles make no mention of them, but whether this is because they were not present, or merely not a significant component of the fight, is impossible to know today, though they are an intriguing element in a Roman army for modern gamers.

This mini set from Linear-A contains two of these machines, each with a crew of three. The scorpion itself is of typical dimensions, being about the height of a man at its highest point, and 42mm (just over 3 metres) in length (excluding the levers). The stock, on which the bolt is placed, sits about 15mm above the ground, so is a comfortable height for reloading. The design is fairly standard, although many reconstructions show a tripod arrangement for the stand rather than the 4-legged arrangement on this model, which seems like a perfectly possible alternative. The model itself is just four pieces – the stock, levers and stand, the spring frame, and the two extra legs to complete the stand. This fits together quite well, although we found some flash in the gap between the springs, which had to be removed, and the gap slightly widened, before the stock could be fitted through it. However everything was a good fit and no glue was required, unless it is likely to be treated roughly. The detail of the catapult is very nice, including decoration on the front of the spring frame that is reminiscent of the example found in Cremona. The bowstring is of course not included, but more importantly the single piece frame means the elevation of the stock cannot be altered, and this is moulded as horizontal, so if you want to change the elevation, and therefore the range, then some work will be required. However overall it is a very nice model.

Catapults of this design were in use until towards the end of the first century CE, when a lighter metal design with separately housed springs came into use (as seen on Trajan’s column, for example), which gives us some dating evidence for this set, but the crew figures complete that picture. Two of the men wear the lorica segmentata, the form of armour most widely associated with Rome’s soldiers, and one which is thought to have first appeared around the start of the first century CE. The third man (carrying the ammunition) wears the mail lorica hamata, which would also be appropriate for the first century, as is the fact that all the men have their gladius sword on the right and their pugio dagger on the left. They wear the ‘classic’ Roman helmet, sometimes called Imperial-Gallic, although two have none of the large protruding neck protector that such helmets always had. We could find no evidence for such a feature, nor could we think of any reason why a special design would be worn by men serving a catapult, so this seems like a mistake. Other than that these are accurate models, with the usual ‘apron’ and sandals.

The sculpting is the usual Linear-A standard, being well-detailed and with good proportions. We particularly liked the poses, since all are well-chosen. The first man is clearly operating the levers to retract the slider, and his hands fit well with the catapult itself. The second looks ready to place a new bolt as soon as the slider is cocked, and the third performs the oft overlooked but vital role of keeping the weapon supplied with ammunition. His pose causes a little excess plastic between his hands and the basket, but it is a pose that in our view makes this worthwhile.

Like the weapon, the figures are largely free of flash apart from a small number of places, and are not at all flat despite having no assembly required. Their good interaction with the catapult is particular pleasing since this is fairly unusual with artillery sets, as is the fact that there are an adequate number of figures to properly serve the weapon. Our concern about the helmet is the only niggle, unless you want a more sophisticated model that can be adjusted (which seems unreasonable), so this is a very nice product that compares well with the Punic Wars set from HaT, and is certainly far better than the equivalent set from LW.


Historical Accuracy 9
Pose Quality 10
Pose Number 8
Sculpting 9
Mould 9

Further Reading
"Armies of the Macedonian and Punic Wars" - Wargames Research Group - Duncan Head - 9780950029948
"Greek and Roman Artillery 399BC - AD363" - Osprey (New Vanguard Series No.89) - Duncan Campbell - 9781841766348
"Roman Military Equipment" - Oxbow - M C Bishop & J C Coulston - 9781842171592
"The Armies and Enemies of Imperial Rome" - Wargames Research Group - Phil Barker - 9780904417173
"The Complete Roman Army" - Thames & Hudson - Adrian Goldsworthy - 9780500051245

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