Thursday, 3 November 2016

Wagons - Part One

Wagons were the most important item for an 18th Century army. Without these no supplies could be sent to the front or to keep the army on the march. The wagons would carry all sort of equipment that any army might need on campaign such as ammunition, pontoon & bridging equipment, wheelwrights, blacksmiths or even ambulances. The cargo would also be musket cartage's, power, flints, dry food, water, fodder for the horses and much more. The logistics for any Napoleonic army must have been immense with the number of men and even camp followers that went on campaign.
In the Peninsula War the Royal Horse Artillery ‘A Troop’ which was called the chestnut troop due to the colour of the horses, contained five guns and a 5-5 Howitzer with 162 men. Each of the guns needed one Ammunition wagon. Also there were another three wagons for the troop which was for ammunition, baggage and forage for the horses.

So why do we not see many wargamers using them on their battlefield tables? The answer could be one of two things the lack of space with a small wargaming table would defiantly be the biggest answer. The second answer is that there are not many of the plastic companies out there that make them for us till now. There are many metal companies that make wagons but not many for 20mm fans.

When I started wargaming back in the early 70’s the only plastic company around then was Airfix. They brought out the very first plastic wagon set which were in fact the ‘Wagon Train’ set number 01715 for the cowboys and Indian figures that they had put into production back in 1962. The set made in brown plastic contained just one covered wagon pulled by four horses which was very basic and under scale for 1/76. 

Picture from Plastic Soldier Review Site
Atlantic then brought out a ‘Pioniers Wagons’ set number 1052 sometime in the late 70’s.  This set is very hard to find as the company went out of business in 1984. So I am glad that I brought a set back then as they were my main wagon supplies for my army back then. The set contained four covered wagons made in brown plastic each pulled by two oxen. This then was a great set to have which also included barrels shovels and pick-axes and a little lantern which could be attached to the back end of the wagons which I think was a nice touch.

Imex was the next plastic company to produce wagons back in 1997 all made in light brown plastic. They produced two sets the first being a ‘Chuck Wagon and Prairie Schooner’ one wagon of each was covered and pulled by two horses and then in the same year ‘Munitions and Ambulance Wagon’ set number 514. The munitions wagon had an open top with two horses and the ambulance had a covered top again with two horses with two stretchers as accessories. Although this set was for the American Civil War. Another nice set which again I have in my collection and in the painting queue. Imex also produced to more wagon set in 2004 which was a box containing two ‘Conestoga Wagons’  and a ‘Wagon Train’ set 610 which contained 8 Conestoga wagons, one chuck wagon and one Prairie Schooner. All of the above was produced as an American History Series. These can still be brought in model shops and on the Internet.

We had to wait for Italeri in 2000 to produce the very first Napoleonic wagons with a box called ‘Napoleonic Wars Accessories’ set number 6017. This was for the French army. It’s just a shame that it only had one wagon which can be covered or uncovered. The wagon is pulled by two horses and with a driver in blue plastic. The accessories included infantry sitting around ready to move off or resting after a long march.

Picture from Plastic Soldier Review Site

HaT then in 2006 produced the best Napoleonic wagon set to date for the French. Box number 8106 ‘French Baggage Wagons’ in light grey plastic contains three wagons which again can be covered or uncovered pulled by two horses each with driver. At the same time they have produced ‘Ammunition Caisson’ box number 8101, ‘Wurst Wagon’ 8102, ‘Light and Heavy Ambulance’ numbers 8103/8104, ‘Field Forge’ 8107 and ‘Pontoon Wagons’ 8108. All of these sets have three of each.

HaT on their web page have in the pipeline sets for the Prussians including Ammunition Caisson, Baggage and Limbers for the artillery. These have been in production for a long while now but hope that these will be produced in the near future.

Picture from Plastic Soldier Review Site