Wars have always been a spur for technological and scientific progress, although usually in the cause of killing naturally. World War II was no exception, and one of the technologies that dramatically advanced over those few short years was that of rocketry. Rockets were nothing new of course; the British had rocket troops during the Napoleonic Wars, and the Chinese had them many centuries before that, but the possibilities of rockets as weapons, despite the difficulty of aiming them accurately, produced a number of new weapons systems that first saw the light of day during World War II. Two of those new rocket weapons are depicted in this set, the 21cm Nebelwerfer 42 and the 8.8cm Raketenwerfer 43, along with a full crew for each.
The major piece in this set is the Nebelwerfer, pictured in our third row. It was a five-tube multiple rocket launcher which was generally used along with others to bombard a fairly large area with high explosives. This model was made, or supplied, by S-Model, and we liked it very much. The instructions are fairly clear, and the model is in a nice hard plastic which makes construction straightforward. It is well detailed, although the instructions did lead us to make a mistake with its arrangement, because we set the front stabiliser, as you would if you were going to fire the weapon, but also had the trails closed and held by the towing eye, which you would do if the weapon is to be moved. Of course you could choose either configuration with this kit, of which we approved.
To crew the Nebelwerfer we have basically the figures in the top row. The last man seems about to signal as he looks at his watch, perhaps waiting for the moment to launch the barrage, but the rest are in generic poses which all suggest either handling the weapon itself or the shell-like rockets pictured next to it. All the poses make sense and look good, once you put something in the open hands, so this is a good selection of crew poses.
The much smaller weapon is the Raketenwerfer, shown in our last row. This too used rockets (though much smaller 8.8 cm ones), but as an anti-tank weapon. The principle was the same as for the famous Panzerschreck, but naturally this was a much more elaborate, and therefore expensive, launcher. As a result it was not made in particularly large numbers, though it did have the advantage of better range and accuracy thanks to the long barrel. Usually it was mounted on an old two-wheeled carriage, but here it has been mounted on skis, perhaps for the Eastern Front. The model is again quite nice and reasonably detailed, though it is made in the same softer plastic as the figures, yet it fits together and glues well.
For the Raketenwerfer we have the figures in the second row. The third man, sitting on the ground, is actually firing the weapon while the first handles a rocket and the last is peering through binoculars. The second is generic but perfectly useful, and all the poses are very appropriate to the task at hand. Indeed some may find them familiar, since they are very similar to the Dragon set of this weapon, which must have been the inspiration here. None have a base, which allows close proximity to the gun though they are generally easy to knock over, but again this is a good crew.
All the men wear more or less the same thing, which is a hooded tunic or anorak and over-trousers with probably short boots. This could be something like the M1942 padded winter tunic and trousers, or later models, or any of several camouflage suits, including snow suits. The weapons here were introduced in 1942 and 1943, so the men should be dressed for the last years of the war, which they are. Most have helmets which do not seem to have a cover, but several have a warm-looking cap with flaps tied across the crown very like the Russian ushanka. So everyone is dressed for the cold, which makes sense with the skis fitted to the anti-tank gun, and everyone is perfectly authentic. Most have no visible kit, which is fine, but the soldier in the bottom row has a bread bag and field flask attached to his waist belt.
The dependable Caesar sculpting is on show here, with good detail and very natural poses, helped by some clever mould work so the figures are anything but flat yet require no assembly. There is no flash or other imperfections, though as we have said the missing bases are a bit annoying.
The last figure is presumably something of a bonus figure as he is not directly related to either weapon. Dressed like the rest and with a fur hat, he holds a rifle but does not appear to be in action. The set is certainly quite small, with only 10 figures and one substantial kit, but what there is is very attractively produced with good poses and entirely authentic. The weapons are useful to have, and the crews make them very usable, so this is yet another fine if small addition to the enormous Caesar WWII German Army range.