"A horse! A horse! My Kingdom for a horse!"
(Shakespeare, Richard III, 4, 7)
A section dedicated to cavalry might seem rather odd, as this whole affair is dedicated to IDF armour modelling. However, as I took on some sections on infantry, including some notes in cavalry is the obvious thing to do, as the IDF indeed used cavalry units, if only during the War of Independence. Apart from that, I like horsemen!
It is quite difficult to obtain information on the use of cavalry in 1948/49. Apparently, the Givati Brigade had at least one cavalry unit on strength, and this was - among other things - used for patrols in the Negev.
Both pictures show cavalrymen on patrol in the Negev. Note considerable differences in headgear and personal equipment. Interestingly, everybody seems to wear a (white?) scarf. As far as weapons are concerned, there seem to have been no difference to infantry units during the War of Independence (note the rifle holster on the right side of the saddle). Most noticeable is the apparent absence of classic cavalry weapons like sabres or lances, which means they fought mostly on foot.
What a difference between the two previous pictures and this one! Taken during a parade sometime in 1948, it shows cavalrymen dressed up in uniforms apparently of British origin. Note also the helmets, which were absent from the pictures above.
Getting suitable cavalrymen should be fairly easy; getting suitable horses, however, is more difficult than it may seem. Although there is an abundance of cavalry sets available on the market, most of them are either from the Napoleonic age or from the American civil war period. The problem with the horses from such sets lies in their saddle, reins and headgear; in order to bring it all up to WWII standard some maior modifications would be necessary. Only very few sets provide horses usable for the period from WWI onwards. And even these have to be used with care.
The picture above clearly shows two things: First, there is a notable difference between saddle and headgear of the Prussian cavalry horse and the two others, which means that you can leave the Italeri horse unless you want to do some serious cutting and rescribing work. Second, the Artillery horse is more, let's say bulky in his appearance. This brings us to the problem of horse races and their employment with the military. Quite understandably the qualities you need for hauling big artillery pieces are different from those needed for charging across the battlefield, which is the reason why artillery horses are quite different from cavalry horses (which themselves can then be . Therefore using the Revell German Artillery set for normal cavalry is not the best idea. The Cossacks' horses, however, are fine; let's look closer at this set first.
This nice set is unfortunately out of production now. You get 17 horses and 16 riders plus one man standing, all perhaps a tad too small for 1/72 - so perfectly suitable for 1/76!. What I like among the horses is the fact that only 7 of the horses are charging - which is not that useful for diorama purposes. The quality of the moulding is very good; the Cossacks themselves are not that good, with quite indistinct detail. As most of them have a traditional Cossack cape (I don't know it's real name), they are of limited use anyway. Just use their lower half together with some suitable British infantry upper bodies (cf. the infantry sections for more detail on that).
In this set there are three riders provided apart from the horses used for drawing the limber. For the artillery buff, it's excellent value for money, as you get two guns, a complete gun crew and the limber plus ammunition boxes and personal gear. The members of the gun crew are quite tall for 1/72, but then they might all be Aryans... Anyhow, as noted above, the riders are nice, but not really suitable for cavalry. The horses are good, however, for drawing a plow or a wagon.
In this set, which is out of production at the moment but is about to be rereleased by Italeri, you can find one Cossack leading his horse. It is actually quite a nice horse, but as there is only one in this set you would have to collect a lot of Russian soldiers just to get five cavalrymen together...
Long out of production and quite sought after this set has recently been rereleased. It has been widely criticised for being neither accurate for the American Civil War nor for the Indian wars, with most of the figures waving their sabres rather flamboyantly. Nonetheless, the poses are quite nice, and the comparative lack of uniform detail allows for a wide range of conversions from the Franco-Prussian war to the Spanish Civil War and beyond. Therefore, and because it's dirt cheap (where I live at the moment you get three sets for the price of one Imex ACW cavalry set!) it is included here.
still under construction!!