British Light Dragoons
American Revolutionary War, 1775–1783

Conversions in 1:76 Scale

British 17th Light Dragoons, 1:76 Scale Airfix Conversions

This conversion idea sounds more difficult than it is. The original figure is a mounted British Grenadier available from Airfix. Using a sharp knife, the bearskin cap is carved into a light dragoon helmet. The troopers shown here are painted in the uniform of the 17th Light Dragoons (Death or Glory Boys). The regimental emblem on the helmet is a large skull and crossbones.

Parts Required

  • Mounted British Officers, Airfix 01740

Carving Instructions

The distinctive shape of the Light Dragoon helmet can be carved out of the grenadier bearskin. The instructions will be very easy to follow, particularly if a picture of the Light Dragoon helmet is available for reference.

  1. The metal plate of the grenadier bearskin cap becomes the front plate of the light dragoon helmet. Cut along the shape of the front plate, removing plastic from the front to the back of the cap.
  2. Using the knife, trim the top, sides, and rear of the helmet into its round shape.
  3. Cut a v-shaped groove immediately behind the front plate, separating the front plate from the dome shaped rear of the helmet.
  4. Cut a notch fore and aft through the rounded part of helmet, and insert a sliver of metal to simulate the crest. The author used a pin, hammered flat, cut to size, and glued in place.
  5. Paint white glue over the metal, and the rounded part of the helmet to smooth out nicks, and to further secure the metal sliver.

The work should be done with a new scalpel blade, to ensure clean cuts. To avoid injury, place the figure on a cutting board, and always cut away from your body.

Light Dragoons

The British army had 14 regiments of dragoons, and an additional nine regiments of Light Dragoons, numbered 15th to 23rd, of which only the 16th (Queen's) and 17th Light Dragoons fought the Rebellion in the American Colonies. When the 16th was withdrawn from America, effective men and horses joined the 17th Light Dragoons. Light Dragoons preferred black horses, or very dark brown ones, if the former were not available. Trumpeters generally rode grey horses. The Regiments serving in America were uniformed as follows:

16th (Queen's) Light Dragoons

  • Red coat
  • Blue cuffs, collar, and lapels, trimmed with white lace
  • White buttons, and white buttonhole lace.
  • Officers had a gold or silver embroidered or laced epaulette with fringe, on each shoulder.
  • Private men of the Light Dragoons had a cloth epaulette in the facing colour,
    with a narrow yellow or white tape round it, and worsted fringe, on each shoulder.
  • White waistcoat, breeches, and turnbacks
  • White shabraque and pistol housing, edged yellow with a blue stripe
  • Regimental badge on the shabraque and housings: "Queen's Cypher within the Garter"
    • Blue disk with yellow lettering, and a large central red patch with
      the yellow C of Queen Sophia Charlotte von Mecklenburg-Strelitz
    • Yellow scroll with the regimental designation below the disk.
    • Yellow scroll behind the top of the disk,
      with ends extending either side of the disk.
    • Royal crown above the disk, backed with red cloth
  • Pistol holsters covered with black fur.
  • Black leather helmet, with blue turban, black shield with white metal badges,
    and white metal crest topped with red horsehair.

17th Light Dragoons – Death or Glory Boys

  • Red coat
  • White cuffs, collar, and lapels, trimmed with white lace.
  • White buttons, and white buttonhole lace.
  • Officers had a gold or silver embroidered or laced epaulette with fringe, on each shoulder.
  • Private men of the Light Dragoons had a cloth epaulette in the facing colour,
    with a narrow yellow or white tape round it, and worsted fringe, on each shoulder.
  • White waistcoat, breeches, and turnbacks.
  • White shabraque and pistol housing, edged white with two black stripes, equally spaced.
  • The rank of the regiment, "XVII. L.D." embroided on the housings
    upon a red ground, within a wreath of roses and thistles.
  • Regimental badge on the shabraque:
    • White skull in the center.
    • White crossbones above skull.
    • White scroll below skull, with "Death or Glory" lettering.
  • Pistol holsters covered with black fur.
  • Black leather helmet, with red turban, black shield with white metal skull above crossbones, and white metal crest topped with red horsehair. A detachment of the 17th L.D., serving with Tarleton's Legion, had white fur turbans around their helmets.

In 1782, a Provincial regiment was raised from New York Loyalist, and remnants of units interned at Yorktown. The King's American Dragoons were organized like a regular regiment of Light Dragoons, and they wore a regulation Light Dragoon uniform. The regiment was disbanded in Nova Scotia in 1783.

King's American Dragoons

  • Red coat
  • Blue cuffs, collar, and lapels, trimmed with yellow lace
  • Yellow buttons, and yellow buttonhole lace.
  • White waistcoat, breeches, and turnbacks
  • Brass Light Dragoon helmet, with blue turban, brass shield
    with stamped devices, and brass crest topped with red horsehair.

On campaign, cavalry troopers carried a rolled cloak and blanket behind the saddle.

British Light Dragoons are easy to convert from existing plastic miniatures. The distinctive helmet looks very attractive when painted, particularly with the skull and crossbones device of the 17th Light Dragoons displayed on it. If a grand-tactical game system like Volley & Bayonet is used, a handful of figures will be enough to portray all three regiments fighting in America.

Anthony De Lyall & K. Schultheis

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American Revolutionary War Miniatures