French Infantry of World War One

HaT Industrie 1:72 Scale Figure Review

French Infantry of World War One, 1915–1918, 1:76 Miniatures HaT Industrie 7003

French infantry wearing the horizon blue uniform with brown leather equipment introduced in 1915. Most officers continued to wear the distinctive pre-war kepi, made from red cloth with a dark blue band, instead of the less conspicuous horizon blue kepi. Adrian helmets were painted horizon blue, with the flaming grenade badge of the infantry or the bugle horn badge of the Chasseurs à Pied at the front. French colonial troops wore khaki uniforms of the same cut, with a fouled anchor badge on the khaki coloured Adrian helmet. The French Foreign Legion adopted the khaki uniform in August of 1915, they wore flaming grenade badges on the helmet.

French uniform style and equipment remained virtually unchanged until World War Two, except that the collar was reduced in size. It is entirely feasible to paint these troops as French infantry of the 1940 campaign, without actually converting the miniatures.

Contents

  • 48 Figures in 20 Poses – 22.5 mm equal 162 Height
    • Officer with Pistol (2)
    • Standardbearer & Trumpeter
    • Observer, prone, with Telescope
    • Signalman with Carrier Pigeon
    • Wounded (3)
    • Dead (2)
    • Supply Carrier (2)
    • Sapper (2)
    • Grenadier (2)
    • Rifleman on Bicycle (2)
    • 29 Riflemen in 9 Poses

Evaluation

Excellent choice of subject. These troops may be used to represent French troops of two wars, and the helmeted heads will be needed for a number of interesting conversions.

Amazing variety of poses, exceeding the industry standard of 15 poses per box by 30%. A real treasure chest of poses for dioramas and wargames, except that machine guns, and trench mortars are missing.

Nicely sculpted figures. The poses look natural, and anatomically correct. The box claims that these are 1:72 scale figures, although Airfix sold them as 1:76 scale figures originally. The rifles seem to be too long compared to figure height, even if the re-classification from 1:76 to 1:72 scale shortens the weapons a little.

Crisp detail in the uniforms, weapons, and equipment. The figures are easier, and faster to paint than Revell's French infantry, and they look much better. The most striking difference between the two brands is the superior sculpting of the Adrian helmet and the facial features of the old Airfix soldiers. One wonders why Revell did not commission a sculptor capable of matching the superb Airfix style. As it is, these HäT re-releases of the Airfix French infantry are the better choice. An excellent track record for a box of figures as old as these are. The box says Made in France, virtually insuring better quality castings than Airfix re-makes produced elsewhere.

Interesting facial features, the figures are very much in period character.

Good casting quality. Mould lines are easy to remove, and there is little flash.

Cast in an almost horizon blue plastic which lends itself to speedpainting.

No support weapons. It is surprising, that so many poses were included in the set, but the mitrailleuse Hotchkiss machine gun, and the fusil mitrailleur Chauchat light machine gun are missing. Both of these weapons, and their gunners, may be scrounged from Revell's French infantry. If both brands are mixed in the same unit, it is well worth the trouble to upgrade the Revell figures by adding better heads and helmets from the Airfix set.

Incorrect painting instructions. The back of the box shows an infantryman in a medium blue uniform, but the horizon blue is actually much closer to the light blue plastic the figures are cast in. Puttees should be horizon blue, not black, and leather equipment would be a natural brown instead of the khaki green shown on the box. The picture of a painted soldier is not very useful when Humbrol, Tamiya, or Pactra colour reference numbers are omitted.

Déploiement Historique

  • Horizon Blue Uniform
    • French Infantry, 1915-1918
    • French Foreign Legion, 1915
  • Khaki Uniform
    • Zouaves and Turcos (Tirailleurs Algèriens), 1915-1918
    • Tirailleurs Sénégalais, 1915-1918
    • French Foreign Legion, August 1915-1918
    • Czech Volunteers of the French Foreign Legion, 1915-1918
    • 369th - 372nd US Infantry ("Black Watch"), Verdun 1918
    • French Infantry, 1940 (Vichy French and North African units until 1942)
    • Belgian Infantry, 1940

Possible Conversions

  • Polish volunteers in French service, 1915-1918. French horizon blue uniform with a distinctive Polish cap made from horizon blue cloth.
  • Fusiliers Marin, 1914. Naval beret instead of the steel helmet. Berets may be scrounged from ESCI French infantry of World War Two.
  • Tirailleurs Sénégalais with Fez, 1915-1918.
  • Belgian Infantry, 1915-1918. Khaki uniforms of British cut, but with stand-up collars. French Adrian helmet.
  • French infantry and colonial troops, Tunisia and Italy 1943. British uniforms, and French Adrian helmets.
  • French soldiers of #10 (Inter Allied) Commando, 1940-1945. British uniforms, French insignia and some Adrian helmets.
  • French firefighters continued to wear a cromed version of the steel helmet after the war.

HaT Industrie deserves much praise for re-releasing the old Airfix French infantry. The figures may be painted to represent French infantry of World War One and World War Two, and they are desperately needed. The choice of light blue plastic is better than the original Airfix grey, and the material is of the same high quality we have come to expect from the French manufacturers. The troops are compatible with Revell infantry of the same period, they add many attractive poses. This set is a classic, a must-have for wargamers and diorama builders. Anyone interested in the period is well advised to reserve a supply of these figures while they are available again.

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World War One Miniatures