ModelArt 1/16 French Dragoon

KIT: ModelArt 1/16 French Dragoon
KIT #: 16016
DECALS: None needed
REVIEWER: Scott Van Aken


The name derives probably from the dragoon's primary weapon, a carbine or short musket called the dragon.Dragon carbines are said to have been named because, like the creature of myth, they "breathed fire" — a reference to the flames carbines emitted when fired. According to another theory, the name originated from the title of Dragon given to Guillaume de Gomiécourt, an 11th century French lord, by King Henry I of France, and from his son Raoul Dragon de Gomiécourt, who trained a group of soldiers to fight both from horse and foot.

The creation of dragoons, although still not bearing that name, is now generally credited to Piero Strozzi, an Italian condottiero who fought for the King of France in the early 16th century.

Dragoons were organized not in squadrons or troops like the cavalry, but in companies like the foot soldier, and their officers and non-commissioned officers bore infantry ranks. The flexibility of mounted infantry made dragoons a useful arm, especially when employed for what would now be termed "internal security work" against smugglers or civil unrest. The dragoon regiments were also cheaper to recruit and maintain than the notoriously expensive regiments of cavalry. When in the 17th century Gustav II Adolf introduced dragoons into the Swedish Army, he provided them with a sabre, an axe and a matchlock musket: many of the European armies henceforth imitated this all-purpose set of weaponry.

However, dragoons were at a disadvantage when engaged against true cavalry, and constantly sought to raise their horsemanship, armament and social status to the levels of the latter. In most European armies "Dragoon" came to refer to medium cavalry by the time of the early wars of Frederick the Great, in the 1740s. Exceptionally the 30 regiments of Russian dragoons in existence by the Seven Years' War were still trained to fight as both dismounted musketeers and cavalry capable of engaging a mounted enemy in a melee. They also retained responsibilities for scouting and piquet duty which in the Prussian, French and other armies was passing to hussars and other light corps.

The term "to dragoon" dates from the earlier mounted infantry period. Dragoons were the most efficient and economical form of cavalry for police work and counter guerrilla warfare.

During the Napoleonic Wars, dragoons became a sort of medium cavalry, lighter than armored cuirassiers and heavier than light horse such as chasseurs or hussars. Dragoons rode larger horses than the light cavalry and wielded straight, rather than curved swords. These units were part of almost every European army, including France, Britain, Austria, Russia and Prussia. Emperor Napoleon often formed complete divisions out of his 20 to 30 dragoon regiments and used them as battle cavalry, to break the enemy's main resistance. In 1809, French dragoons scored notable successes against Spanish armies at the Battle of Ocana and the Battle of Alba de Tormes. British heavy dragoons made devastating charges against French infantry at the Battle of Salamanca in 1812 and at the Battle of Waterloo in 1815.

Even today there are still units designated as dragoons. Some are honorary guards, while others are part and parcel of the country's modern military force.


MiniArt has come a long way in a very short time with its various military kits. This is the second horse-bound kit of which I'm aware and it is very nicely molded. The horse's legs are each part of a body half and have but a small mold seam to remove. Same goes for the horse's tail. There are two heads in with the kit; one of them more reared back and with an open mouth. However, this is shown as one of many parts not used, though I don't know why you couldn't use it anyway.

The rest of the parts for the rider are just as nicely formed as those of the horse. It is obvious that sections of this kit are the same as the earlier Cuirassier kit that was previewed as yet again, there are 'people parts' that are not used for this particular kit. There is no harness included with the kit. This will need to be made from strips of paper, brass or even leather, though most of the hardware is there.

Instructions are basically a parts layout and two quarter view painting guides with various parts identified within. A number of different paint brands is provided in the painting guide.


This is one of those kits that has a smallish parts count, but appears to be such that it will not be an overnight build. The amount of molded detail and the difficulty some newer modelers may have painting the horse are enough to take this one out of the beginner's class. One thing for sure, it will make a most impressive completed model when one is finished.


April 2008

My thanks go to for the review kit. Get this one at your local shop and if they don't have it, ask them to order it for you.

If you would like your product reviewed fairly and fairly quickly, please contact the editor or see other details in the Note to Contributors.

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