Saturday 31 January 2015

French Infantry

Some thoughts on future plans - probably a looooooooong way off yet.

All quiet on the western front.

The Russians are due out in the the next couple of months, and that should complete the 'close order' infantry for the eastern theater. PA have always planned to get the troops done for the eastern conflict before moving on to the west, however recent discussions, and looking at what troops are already in the moulds has made me wonder what is actually needed for the west?

Certainly the British uniforms were distinctive, particularly the highlanders, so these warrant quite a few new moulds, so quite a major undertaking.

But what about the French, who operated without the British as opponents alongside the Imperial Army as at Rossbach, is much needed to release these?

Is there actually any need for French infantry moulds?

As far as I can see the French uniforms were very similar to the Russians (and to some extent Austrians and Prussians), the main difference being that many, but by no means all, illustrations show the waist belt still worn on the outside; so the Russians would probably be fine provided you are happy with the belts on the inside. (Also, I already have 100's of Karoliners painted up as French, and I suspect so do many others), so is there really a place for French moulds??

The answer is no..........and yes, I don't think they are really needed, however PA want this SYW range to be a stand alone, so yes it is worth doing something.

What to put in?

The answer is probably to treat the French in a similar way to the Austrians, and release a single mould (two bodies and three heads), which has the parts needed to allow the French to be built up using Russian, Austrian and Prussian figures - so what is needed?

For the bodies

I think stick with the old formula:

  • Infantry advancing - waist belt outside
  • Infantry march attack - waist belt outside
  • (Or possibly a drummer without turnbacks?)


  • Two French tricorns
  • A grenadier bearskin

I could do with a bit of help here as I find the information confusing:

  • Would the French tricorns be different from the Russians?
  • Did the French wear mustaches (just grenadiers)?
  • Was the French bearskin different to the Austrian - any pictures welcome (particularly the back)?

As I have said these are only initial thoughts, however it does look as if the French infantry can be covered quite well with a single mould - any thoughts?


  1. One quick comment, The big difference is going to be coats that should not have turhbacks. That would be the main reason for doing distinctive French molds. There are smaller details such as most did not have collars or lapels, at least at the beginning of the war.

    One head with mustache and one without I would think.

  2. I was thinking to have the coats with turn backs, and belt outside, as that seems to have been the most common at start of SYW.

    What was the situation with mustache - did they just do what they wanted?

  3. Coats without turnbacks were out of fashion by1757 as far as I can tell. Useful for teh WAS but not really for the SYW.

    Also afaik, mustaches were one of the marks of a French grenadier, a mustache and a tricorne was normal. Fur caps were rare and probably not sanctioned for line units but possibly worn anyway by some units. I don't think the hanging bag was worn by the French but I could be wrong or it could have been a regimental thing. A fur cap would be useful to convert cavalry as well.

    So I would agree a tricorne - no mustache, a tricorne - with mustache & a fur cap.
    The tricorne itself seems to have been 1/2 way between the Prussian and Austrian/Russian but no pompom. In other words the front peak points up more than ahead but the shape from above is still a triangle not flattish with a bulge.

    The positions seem fine. I agree that one could probably get away without a command pack but it might also be a chance to throw in the minor distinctions and provide different poses that could be converted by those that do.

  4. A further thought. While I like to use the supported musket figures as a rear rank for the advancing ones, at least as late as 1760 the looser coat worn by the French and British could still be worn with lapels buttoned over and turn backs released to make let down to make a full coat in inclement weather. With that in mind one could do 1 pose of each for the French and cover both options, troops with or without turnbacks.

    1. I forgot to say that my preference would be the marching pose without turnbacks.

    2. Ross, Rahway

      Think I got most of that.........


      Firstly, I agree more officers would give variety, however what I was wondering is if I could get PA to slip in a single French mould in the near future as a quick fix to get the French going.


      With regards the tricorn, I have already asked Chris to steepen up the front of the Russian one to about 45 degrees to sit between the Austrian and Prussian, so it will be fine for the French.

      As suggested one with mustache and one without.


      The French bearskin is something I would like to get out there, as it will go on the 'Grenadiers de France' and some of the cavalry units, Kronoskaf shows them both with a bag:

      But any views from the back would be good.


      I've just had a close look at the Prussian and Austrian rank and file - there is very little of the belt area visible, so these will be fine for the ones with turn backs i just paint on the belt.

      So I would suggest that the French mould has NO turn backs.


      One of the figures will be a marching pose ....... leaning forward like the Austrian - or something else?

      For the other one I would suggest the advancing figure (but this would leave the drummer with turn backs - does that matter?)

      As I say I'm only knocking about ideas - further comments appreciated.

  5. Does this help? All cavalry and colonial but it should look the same for infantry.

    Will the coats have horizontal or vertical pockets?

    I added a new hornist photo reference to the light infantry post

  6. No argument with any of the choices proposed here. The closed coat figure would be most welcome I think. I have seen suggestions that many French infantry regiments stopped wearing their swords in the field, saving them for parades. That would make the swordless alternates even more useful but a spare sword scabbard would be an interesting extra tucked in somewhere. Probably not worth the space it would take up though.

    As for pose I would go with the same 2 if that is easiest and cheapest option. Speaking pesonally, I would rather have 2 fusiler poses than 1 + a drummer.

    1. Poses, when you say same to do you mean advancing and march attack as for the Austrians?

    2. Yes, advancing and marching with supported arms as per the Russians. My copy of the French manual of arms does not include the Austrian position except as the 2nd intermediate position when going to the Supported arms position (portez l'arme au bras) The supported arms is like the Russian marching position but you cannot go to any combat position from it, you have to shoulder arms first. (Portez vos armes). The supported arms position was for long marches.

    3. One of the reasons for the way the muskets are supported is to allow the hand to be cast onto the front of the figure to locate the separate arm/musket.

      Of the Russian poses do you prefer the pose suggested for the summer or winter uniform.

    4. I prefer the summer pose, it feels more balanced.

  7. Have only just seen this post and was delighted to hear that the French are finally on the Prince August SYW agenda.

    Just to add my 'two penneth' to the questions posed above:

    - Contrary to one of the comments above, by the time of the SYW, it was general practice for the tails of the coat to be turned back and the coats usually had collars. (Coats without collars or turnbacks were more typical of the WAS);

    - The tricorne did not have a pompom but did have a crepe cockade;

    - only the grenadiers wore moustaches, fusiliers and officers were clean-shaven;

    - grenadiers had started to adopt bearskins but the tricorne was still the predominant headdress for grenadiers;

    - the bearskin did have a bag, similar to that on the Austrian bearskin (the bearskin headdress may well have been something the French copied from the Austrians, after the War of the Austrian Succession);

    - The Grenadiers de France all wore bearskins including officers, ensigns and drummers. Their coats had lapels;

    As to my own wants for the French there would be four types of figure that I'd find particularly useful (I'm happy with the Karolina/Wild Geese figures for the standard line infantry):

    - Grenadier de France in bearskin; march-attack pose (always the most useful I find);

    - Cuirassier du Roi in bearskin and with cuirass worn over the coat;

    - gun team in waistcoats (it was common for the French gunners to remove their coats when serving the guns);

    - a light infantry figure, eg for Chasseurs de Fisher.

    Oh, and a Valliere field gun with all those wonderful details on the barrel would be bliss.

    Anyway, that's my personal wish list.

    I have some Rigo uniform plates, including Grenadiers de France and Cuirassiers du Roi and would be happy to email if useful.

  8. The French will be some way off as there is a lot more to do on the 'eastern theatre' first. However it may be possible to slip one mould in if there is a quick fix.

    How different would the French be from the Russians - I suspect not a lot if there was no baggage?

    I think the Russian tricornes would do for the French fusiliers and officers, they are both clean shaven with just a cockade, one in side curls and the other with hair loose. For the grenadiers moustaches need adding (or painting on).

    The 'Austria' bearskin has hair in 'Hungarian' plaits rather than curls, whereas I suspect the French should have curls. (Chris has already made Austrian/German bearskins with hair in side curls, but there has not been space to fit them in!).

    For the Grenadier de France in bearskin, how far out would a Russian in winter dress with a Hungarian bearskin be? (I think the problem is really lack of baggage.)

    For the Cuirassier du Roi, would an Austrian cuirassier with a Austrian grenadier bearskin be far off the mark?

    Gun teams are giving us a bit of a headache at the moment, as all nations are a bit different, but we cannot make two moulds of gunners per nation. I was thinking of making the gunners more 'generic' in waistcoats as these could cover all nations, and then add in a few officers in more national costume.

    Chasseurs de Fisher; once the 'eastern' light troops are out it may be possible to get pretty close with various bodies and heads.

    Valliere field gun, the plan is to start with something like an Austrian 12pdr and see how it goes.

    Uniform plates, including Grenadiers de France and Cuirassiers du Roi and would be useful.

    1. Steve

      My knowledge of the Prussian, Austrian and Russian uniforms is pretty limited. But from what I can see of the new figures, the Russian uniforms do look similar to the French, bar the sword belt being worn under the coat for the infantrymen. I was certainly thinking the Russian officer could be used for the French, and the Russians in Summer uniforms would be good for the French in North America: in the hot Canadian Summers, they often wore their sleeved waistcoats without coats.

      Concerning French bearskins, irritatingly, very few illustrations give you the rear view. Fortunately, in Rigo’s Ancien Regime series, you can see rear views of both the Grenadier de France and Cuirassier du Roi bearskins. The Grenadier de France bearskin is similar to the Austrian one with its distinctive ‘stepped’ shape at the back, though the cloth part has a domed surface rather than being flat like the Austrian one (hope that description makes sense). But the Cuirassier du Roi headdress is more like a ‘traditional’ bearskin in shape: not cut-away at the back. A red bag is attached to the upper part at the back and the bearskin also has cords and a tassel to the rear left side.

      Looking at the illustrations of Austrian cuirassiers in the Funcken book, I think an Austrian cuirassier body would work very well for the Cuirassiers du Roi, with the addition of a head with the appropriate headdress of course.

      My reservations over using the Russian grenadier as a Grenadier de France centre around his equipment: the sword belt mentioned above + the cartridge pouch looks quite small; French grenadiers’ cartridge pouches were quite substantial affairs, noticeably larger than those carried by the other infantrymen.

      Regarding ‘hairdos’, unlike the Hungarians, the French did not wear pigtails; apart from the hussars of course. And the grenadiers, even the Grenadiers de France, did not wear ‘side curls’. Officers invariably had side curls and so it seems did the Cuirassier du Roi troopers. Also the French don’t seem to have worn the very long queues favoured by the Prussians, Austrians and Russians.

      Of course some of these minor discrepancies in uniforms and appearance could be adjusted with a little work with a file, some Greenstuff or just painting in extra details. The main change I found I had to make to the Karoliner/Wild Geese figures was to the bag, which to my eyes looked too small, neat and satchel-like for the bulkier French haversack. I was able to make something passable out of Greenstuff.

      When PA are closer to producing the French, just let me know and I’ll be happy to send whatever uniform plates you think might be of assistance.

  9. I need French with noturnbacks for my Fontenoy project

    1. The current intention is to produce a SYW range, so I think the French infantry would be with turn backs and belt on outside,

      It might be possible to add some earlier looking types later, but that will be a long way off.

  10. Hello, i've just started a franco indian war projste with PA SYW moulds, they are very good!

    Im' very interrested by a french range with turn backs and outside belts !

    best regards

  11. Paco

    Good to hear you like the figures.

    PA are considering releasing a single French infantry mould (or perhaps two) in the not too distant future. This will contain advancing and marching figures in turn backs with the belt outside the coat, there will be heads with tricorns for fusiliers and grenadiers, and a grenadier bearskin. This is still many months away as getting some cavalry released is more important.

    See Duc de Brouilly's comment of 8 March, for the summer you could consider the Russians in summer dress?

    There are also plans to do SYW British, but not in the near future. The closest are probably Prussians bodies with Russian officers's head (clean shaven), but there is quite a lot wrong such as the bags and the length of the pigtail?

    Let us know how you get on with the project.


    1. Paco

      Ross Painted up some Prussians as British, see post 24 April 2014, which has a link to his blog. (You could also use new Russian head with a slightly less steep tricorn, loose hair and clean shaven).


  12. Thank you for all informations !!

    i will use russian in "summer dress for my "compagnie franche de la marine " and try prussians for british or prussians.Perhaps with some light changes?

    best regards

    1. Paco

      If you use the Russians in summer dress you can use the head for the British.

      I had a look on your blog, I see you collect Mithril figures, had you noticed that Chris Tubb is sculpting these figures?


  13. I've reconised his unique style ! i've got some hundred minis from the old mithril range!

    I'm waiting for prussian moulds, i tryied austrians but the bags and canteens are not very accurate, and they miss a sword with scabbard and belt.

    I've just to sculpt a new head with "bonnet de police" or canadian bonnet for my Compagnies Franches de la Marine!

    best regards

    1. Paco

      How soon do you want the French infantry - PA might be persuaded to do a single infantry mould after the cuirassiers and dragoons?

      What does the "bonnet de police" look like?


  14. Bonet de police : first plate , the soldier in the middle :

    For french mould, the soonest is the best of course, just after cavalry will be very nice !! just infantry man ,one mould two positions, head with tricorne and bearskin (and bonnet de police ?)

    thank you Steve!

    best regards

  15. Paco


    If there is only one mould it will have two tricorns (with and without mustache), and a grenadier bearskin.

    If there was a second mould it might be possible to fit in the bonnet.

    There are no plans for the French, just an idea.


  16. Thank you to be the interphase beetwin Prince august and us!

    i will use some old "wild geese" and new prussians / russians to wait until the french will come!

    best regards