French Napoleonic Foot Artillery of the Imperial Guard, 1808–1815

ESCI 1:72 Scale Figure Review

French line artillery

French heavy and medium foot artillery of the line. The 12-pdr guns and their gunners are conversions of ESCI foot artillery of the guard. The 6-pdr guns in the foreground are Austrian pieces of the Seven Years' War (Revell), and the gunners are Airfix French artillery, painted straight from the box. Each gun is mounted on a 1.5″ by 3″ artillery battalion stand compatible with Volley & Bayonet wargame rules. Large figure stands like these become mini dioramas on the wargame table.

Contents

  • 16 Gunners in 4 Poses
  • 24 mm equal 173 cm Height
  • 2 Heavy Guns (12-pdr)
  • 2 Howitzers (6-inch)
  • Ammunition
  • No. 1 (NCO with Telescope)
  • No. 2 (spongeman)
  • No. 3 (loader)
  • No. 5 (firer)

Evaluation

Excellent choice of subject. These artillery figures may be easily converted to represent foot artillery of the same period, including guard and foot artillery of many nations allied to France. Only the selection of heavy artillery pieces limits the versatility of this set.

Nice Detail. Buttons, trim and facial features are clearly visible, and easy to paint. Some extra equipment would have been a nice addition to this set. The gunners must have dropped their knapsacks near the gun, and placed the muskets on them. This kind of detail belongs in a diorama of the battery.

Useful historic poses. The crew may be shown in firing pose, in which case No. 2 would be standing at attention.

Good casting quality. No flash, and minimal mould lines.

The ratio of guns to howitzers is disappointing. French batteries typically had six guns and only two howitzers, but the box includes two of each. There is so much room on a sprue, why can't manufacturers add a few spare barrels and give modellers more choice in such matters!? French line artillery was equipped with 8-pdr guns or captured 6-pdrs. To raise medium artillery batteries, use guns from other figure sets, particularly the 6-pdr guns from Revell's Austrian artillery of the Seven Years' War.

Gunner No. 4, the ventsman, is not included in the set. This man had the important job of stopping the vent while No. 2 rammed the charge home. If the vent was not closed during ramming, air being forced through the barrel might fan a piece of smouldering residue into an open fire, and ignite the charge prematurely. Once the charge has home, No. 4 pricked it open and primed the vent, ready to be fired.

Guard artillery bearskin caps did not have a metal front plate. These need to be filled with putty, or painted over.

The box cover, and the painting instructions show the proper uniform with cuff-flaps, but the miniatures are sculpted with plain round cuffs.

Long gaiters would have been more appropriate for these figures, particularly for the earlier period.

The NCO is in a ridiculous pose, holding the long and heavy telescope to his eye with only one hand. Don't try this at home, you may severely injure your eye!

Incorrect painting instructions: Guard artillery had blue waistcoats, and blue lapels with red trim. The left-hand figure on the back of the box is actually wearing the coat of a guard grenadier. Infantrymen were often attached to artillery batteries to serve as ammunition carriers.

Historical Employment

  • French Foot Artillery of the Guard 1808–1815

Possible Conversion

  • Italian Foot Artillery of the Guard 1806–1815. Replace the bearskin cap with a black fur colpack.
  • Neapolitan Foot Artillery of the Guard 1808–1815. Shako with plume, pompom and cords.
  • French and Allied Foot Artillery 1804–1812. Shako or Raupenhelm replacing the bearskin cap. Some contingents did not wear epaulettes, but these will be easy to remove with a scalpel. In 1810, the coat tails were shortened, and the false turnbacks now extended to the edge of the tails. Again, a simple conversion. In 1812, the artillery gradually adopted the new habit-veste of the line infantry.

Bibliography

These guns and gunners are an important part of the growing range of Napoleonic figures in 1:72 scale. ESCI/ERTL still listed them in their recent catalogs, and the set should be available at toy stores.

ESCI Miniatures

Frequently Asked Questions

For further information and updates, please join us on facebook or in the Miniatures Forum.

French Napoleonic Miniatures