The American Militia set designed by Accurate Figures has a nice figure of a firing rifleman wearing a hunting shirt. Unfortunately, he seems to be firing into the trees, perhaps shooting at squirrel! This simple conversion returns the rifle to a level firing position normally required on the battlefield.
The mythology of the American Revolution has a nation of sharpshooting riflemen, hiding in cover, defeating the staid and formal British. This is far from the truth. Riflemen played little part in most battles, and the British troops were more adept at combat than we are led to believe.
One problem was the rifle itself which, although having a longer range than the musket, took longer to load and could not be fitted with a bayonet. Riflemen in the open could easily be driven off by determined bayonet charges. Riflemen usually came from the frontier regions, they were few in number, and they proved difficult to discipline. Nevertheless, American Riflemen served with distinction at Saratoga, Cowpens, Kings Mountain and a number of other engagments.
The Pennsylvania Rifle of the Revolutionary War was developed by skilled German and Swiss gunsmiths in Pennsylvania and Maryland. It was an intermediary step on the way to the famous Kentucky rifle of the 19th century. Marksmen fired this weapon accurately to ranges of 300 yards, although 150 yards was its effective range.
The hunting shirt, as represented on the figure, was a common form of dress among all American soldiers. At one stage of the war, George Washington even proposed that it become the national uniform. The shirt was made from linen, linsey-wool or "tow cloth". It could be left its natural colour or dyed.
- American Militia (2), 1:32 Accurate 3209
- American Militia, 1:72 Accurate Figures 7201, also distributed as Revell 02604
Boiling the Figure
I do this conversion in the kitchen, with a saucepan of boiling water bubbling on the stove, and a bowl of cold water nearby. Warning: Boiling water is dangerous, you must take extreme care not to come in contact with it. The figure itself does not conduct much heat, but any water drops adhering to the figure will burn you when the figure is handled carelessly.
The figure is placed into the boiling water for a few seconds. This should be done by holding the figure with tongs. The figure quickly becomes pliable from the heat. Remove the figure from the saucepan, and shake off any excess water. Pull down on the figure’s arm to straighten the rifle. Immediately plunge the figure into the cold water where it will set into its new shape.
If you make a mistake, simply put the figure back into the boiling water and repeat the process. The technique is versatile. It can be used to change the position of limbs and heads on polyethylene figures, either to introduce a variety of positions to the same figure or to reposition limbs for further conversion work.
Additional conversion work can now be done. A simple head-swap with another figure in the American Militia set will give each rifleman a choice of headgear such as a tricorn, round hat or Liberty cap.
Anthony De Lyall