French Foreign Legion, 1855–1886

Airfix 1:76 Scale Figure Review

French Foreign Legion in campaign dress, 1:76 Miniatures Airfix 01710

French Foreign Legion infantry based for simulations games using Fire and Fury, or Complete Brigadier rules. The standard-bearer is a conversion of one of the officers included in this set. These are the oldest figures in the editors collection, and they had seen many years of active service in sand boxes before they were painted and graduated to the wargaming table. These Airfix legionnaires are not strictly compatible with ESCI Foreign Legion figures, because they wear a hybrid uniform combining elements of uniform style and equipment which make these figures difficult to place in an historical time frame. Wargamers may use these Airfix figures to represent French Infantry of the early campaigns of World War One, simply be replacing the covered kepi with a kepi taken from Union or Confederate infantry of the American Civil War.

Contents

  • 46 Figures in 16 Poses – 24 mm height equals 173 cm
    • Mounted officer with sword
    • Officer with sword and pistol
    • NCO pointing
    • Bugler
    • Legionnaire waving rifle
    • Legionnaire signalling with rifle
    • Legionnaire falling
    • Legionnaire casualty
    • Legionnaire marching with shouldered rifle
    • Legionnaire advancing
    • Legionnaire advancing with levelled rifle
    • Legionnaire standing, firing
    • Legionnaire kneeling, firing
    • Legionnaire receiving enemy
    • Legionnaire in melee
    • Legionnaire prone, observing
  • Officer's horse

Evaluation

Excellent choice of subject, the Airfix legionnaires have always been popular with kids and adults inspired by romantic novels and films about the Foreign Legion.

Good detail, buttons, straps, equipment, metal parts, and folds in
clothing are clearly visible and easy to paint.

Superb marching and fighting poses of men braving the desert and meeting overwhelming odds in combat. Released in 1961, these Airfix Foreign Legion figures set an industry standard.

Good casting quality, minimal flash. Mould lines are cleverly disguised, they follow the forward edge of the kepi.

Compatible with ESCI, Revell, and Reviresco.

The greatcoat (capote) is the 1855 model with rise and fall collar, which was replaced by a capote with standup collar in 1858. A similar, but noticeably larger collar was again introduced with the horizon blue uniform in 1915.

The infantry equipment appears to be the 1845 model with one cartridge pouch, which was replaced by the 1886 equipment with three pouches. These legionnaires wear their cartridge pouch incorrectly to the left of the belt buckle. A single ammunition pouch would normally be worn near the right hip, because a soldier reloads with his right hand while he holds the rifle in his left hand. It's interesting to note that plastic figure designers and manufacturers often place vital equipment like ammunition pouches, canteens, haversacks, and bayonet scabbards incorrectly on a soldier's body. To complete the 1845 equipment, there should be a bayonet scabbard to the left of the sword.

The cylindrical bayonet carried by these legionnaires belongs to the M.1886 Lebel rifle. Since none of the bayonets are actually fixed, the bayonet scabbard and hilt may be painted to resemble the earlier swordbayonet.

A haversack was normally carried on their left hip, but the Airfix legionnaires are sculpted without it.

The large round waterbottle on the right hip should be replaced with a long and semi-round metal flask.

A mess kit should be strapped to the pack.

Mould ejection marks on the pack flap need to be filled prior to painting.

The junior officer does not have a scabbard for his sword, but he's a nice figure otherwise, and he may be converted to a standard-bearer very easily.

The legionnaire receiving enemy chargers is an excellent figure, except that he does not have his bayonet fixed. The man does not seem to be firing from the hip, because his hand is away from the trigger.

Historical Employment

  • French Foreign Legion Infantry, 1855–1886
    • Algerian Revolt, 1851–1860
    • The French Mexican Expedition and Empire, 1861–1867
    • Algerian Ouled Sidi-Cheikh Revolt, 1864–1884
    • Algerian Kabyle Revolt, 1871–1872
    • Algerian Touareg Revolt, 1877–1912
    • French Invasion of Tunisia, 1881
    • French Madagascar Expedition, 1883–1885
  • French Line Infantry in Summer Campaign Dress, 1855–1858

Possible Conversions

  • French Foreign Legion Infantry, 1886–1927
    Replace the single ammunition pouch with two pouches of the 1886 pattern.
  • French Line Infantry, 1855–1858
    The figures are fitted with new heads wearing the line infantry kepi without cover.

These Foreign Legion figures are a must-have despite their age and the fact that several uniform and equipment items are mismatched. The Airfix figures capture the flavor of the period very well. Airfix re-releases the French Foreign Legion periodically, sometimes in a boxed set with Airfix Arabs (Beduins) and the Foreign Legion Fort.

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