French Line Infantry (Fusiliers) of the Napoleonic Wars, 1806–1812

Italeri 1:72 Scale Figure Review

Kingdom of Italy, 1st Infantry Regiment

The miniatures pictured here are from the 1st Infantry Regiment, Kingdom of Italy ca. 1812. The fusiliers are Italeri figures, the line infantry grenadier is a former ESCI guard grenadier with his trousers painted over, to resemble the long gaiters worn by the other figures. The fusiliers have been painted straight from the box, without conversion.

Second Coming

The soldiers are very similar to the popular ESCI French Infantry figures which are no longer available now that the company is defunct. Many of the poses are similar, but they have been resculpted to make them look even more realistic and historically appropriate. These figures show a lot more raised detail than their predecessors, and they are cast in the same high quality process.

The box cover dates the figures for the "Napoleonic Wars 1815" period, but the soldiers are actually in the older 1806–1812 uniform, with pointed lapels revealing the vest underneath, and long gaiters worn over the trousers. In 1812, this uniform is quickly replaced by the habit veste, a double-breasted spencer jacket with rectangular lapels, closed to the waist. The long gaiters are cut down to below the knee, and they may now be worn over or under the loose fitting trousers. This is the uniform worn at Borodino, Leipzig, Hanau, Craonne, Quatre Bras, Ligny, Waterloo and many of the lesser known battles of the 1813–1815 period. Line infantry in the older style dress would be historically out of place at these engagements.

Contents

50 Figures in 15 Poses - 23 mm equal 166 cm Height

  • French Officer with Sword, pointing (2)
  • French Officer with Sword, advancing (2)
  • French Eaglebearer (2)
  • French Fusilier Drummer (2)
  • French Fusilier Sergeant, march attack (5)
  • French Fusilier, pointing (2)
  • French Fusilier, charging (5)
  • French Fusilier, receiving (5)
  • French Fusilier, standing firing (5)
  • French Fusilier, kneeling firing (5)
  • French Fusilier, high porte (3)
  • French Fusilier, advancing (3)
  • French Fusilier, ramming charge (3)
  • French Fusilier, biting cartridge (3)
  • French Fusilier, kneeling, fixing bayonet (3)

Evaluation

Excellent detail. Lapels, turnbacks, straps, weapons, equipment and metal fittings are nicely sculpted and easy to paint.

Striking faces, each figure is a character. This is very nice, because we will be using heads with the French shako for many conversion projects, turning guard into line units.

Useful historic poses. The figures are in advancing or firing poses, which are very compatible with eachother.

Two eaglebearers! This box of figures is a valuable source of eagles which may be used for conversion projects, particularly because so many of the Napoleonic cavalry packs come without eaglebearers.

Excellent casting quality, very little flash.

Grenadiers and voltigeurs are missing! French battalions consisted of nine, later six companies of infantry, with one each of grenadiers and voltigeurs, the others of fusiliers. Accordingly, about 16 of the 50 figures in this box should be wearing the fringed epaulettes which distinguished the line grenadiers and voltigeurs. Unfortunately, the soldiers are all fusiliers. In order to create historically accurate infantry units, line grenadiers and voltigeurs need to be converted from guard grenadiers produced by Airfix and ESCI.

The fusiliers are armed incorrectly, they should be carrying a musket with bayonet, but not the sabre which was given to grenadiers and voltigeurs only.

In combat, infantry would be ordered to drop the knapsack and fight in light gear consisting of the ammo pouch and weapons only. Some men from the regiment would be left behind to guard the knapsacks, which might make an interesting diorama in itself. It would have been more appropriate, if Italeri had cast only the marching figures with full equipment, and the remainder in light gear.

The kneeling fusilier has not draw his musket into the shoulder correctly, he will bruise himself very badly upon firing the weapon.

The drum is too short.

Incorrect painting instructions on the back and front cover of the box. The figures are fusiliers and their shakos should have pompoms in fusilier company colour, 1st company green, 2nd light blue, 3rd orange-yellow, 4th violet. The red pompom shown on the figure box is a grenadier company distinction, but the figures are not grenadiers unless they also wear red fringed epaulettes on both shoulders.

Historical Employment

  • French fusiliers 1806–1812
  • French fusiliers in white uniforms 1807-1809
  • Italian fusiliers 1807–1814. The new 1812 pattern French uniform was not introduced in the Italian army until 1813, and then only in small numbers. Italian troops marched into Russia in 1812, wearing the older uniform and the long gaiters. In the course of the Russian campaign, the gaiters were made more comfortable by cutting them down to below the knee. They were worn above or below loose fitting trousers, then a popular fashion in most armies.
  • Swiss Valaison Battalion in French service 1805-1811
  • With shortened gaiters, these figures are suitable as fusiliers from French allied contingents of the Confederation of the Rhine and the Kingdom of Westphalia.

Bibliography

Italeri has significantly improved the popular ESCI French Infantry. Since line infantry is the most frequently employed troop type in any historic period, collectors and wargamers will require dozens of these useful figure packs.

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French Napoleonic Miniatures