|KIT:||MiniArt 1/16 French Cuirassier: Napoleonic Wars|
|REVIEWER:||Scott Van Aken|
Cuirassiers were mounted cavalry soldiers equipped with armour and firearms, first appearing in late 15th-century Europe. They were the successors of the medieval armoured knights. The term is derived from cuirass, the breastplate armour which they wore.
The first cuirassiers did not appear very different from the medieval knights; they wore full-body armour, and the only items of equipment which differentiated them from knights were leather riding boots and the use of wheel-lock pistols, in addition to lances and swords.
Cuirassiers wore armour long after it had become superfluous in the face of the ever-increasing use of firearms. However, the extent of the armour worn was gradually decreased so that, by the end of the 17th century, it was comprised only of a breastplate (the cuirass or plastron), the backplate (carapace), and the helmet.
The first recorded cuirassiers were formed as 100-strong regiments of Austrian kyrissers recruited from Croatia in 1484 to serve the future Holy Roman Emperor Maximilian. They fought the Swedes and their allies in 1632 in Lützen and killed the Swedish king Gustavus Adolphus. The French introduced their own cuirassiers in 1666. By 1705, the Holy Roman Emperor's personal forces in Austria included twenty cuirassier regiments. Imperial Russia formed its own cuirassier regiments in 1732, including a Leib Guards regiment. The Russian cuirassier units took part in the Russo-Turkish War.
Cuirassiers played a prominent role in the armies of Frederick the Great of Prussia and of Napoleon I of France. The latter increased the number of French cuirassier regiments to fourteen by the end of his reign.
Cuirassiers were generally the senior branch of the mounted arm, retaining their status as heavy cavalry - "Big men on big horses". While their value as a heavy striking force in Napoleon's campaigns ensured the continued use of a number of cuirassier regiments in the French and Prussian armies during the nineteenth century, the expense and inflexibility of this arm limited their existence in other countries to Guard units.
A few present-day mounted cavalry units continue to use cuirasses as part of their parade equipment on formal occasions. Most however have not retained the actual title of "cuirassiers", if indeed they bore it in the first place. These are the Life Guards and Blues and Royals of the British Household Cavalry; the Coraceros de la Guardia Real of the Spanish Royal Guard (created in 1875); and the Italian Corazzieri, the honour guard of the President of the Italian Republic.
MiniArt from Ukraine has been producing models for a few years and has concentrated on doing 1/35 diorama structures, 1/35 military figures and weapons, 1/72 military figures and weapons and a line of 1/16th historical figures.
This kit falls into the latter category and portrays a French Cuirassier of the Napoleonic Wars. The kit is superbly molded and comes on three sprues, over half of which is dedicated to the horse on which the figure is mounted. I found no molding flaws at all aside from a teeny amount of flash on a few bits. The horse is molded with the legs as a single piece so there is no worries about having to deal with a seam line on this most difficult portion of the figure.
As is the norm with most figure kits, the instructions consist of a parts diagram, paint chart (in this case offering Model Master, Tamiya, Humbrol and Revell options) and two full color images of the figure showing what parts go where and the colors used. These images are front quarter and rear quarter so that you can see just exactly what goes where. Assembly should be relatively quick wit the majority of the time spent painting and detailing the figure.
Overall, this looks to be a super kit and one that will make into a most impressive model when it is completed and painted.
My thanks to www.dragonmodelsusa.com for providing the review kit. Check their website or ask for these kits at your local hobby shop.
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