Originally a medieval weapon, the mortar had reappeared during the 19th century, but it was the Great War that saw the appearance of a mortar small enough to be used and transported by one person. The static trench warfare of that conflict suited the mortar perfectly, and with this experience the British, like many other powers, already had some good mortars when war broke out again in 1939. This set provides the two most commonly used models.
The first figure in the top row is using the 2-inch mortar, which as can be seen was small and light yet very reliable and an excellent weapon. It was little more than a barrel on a small base, and the operator had to position the barrel at what they considered a suitable angle when firing, using their experience to judge range. The model here is a little simplified naturally but a good representation, with the correct barrel length and the later but more common small base.
The other type of mortar in this set can be seen at the other end of the top row. This is the 3-inch (with a calibre of 81 mm) and is more conventionally designed with a supporting bipod and a sloped base. The 3-inch was also a very common weapon of the War, and again this is a good model of it, with an accurate barrel length and good attempt at the bipod, with relatively little detail missing. The model comes in two parts which fit together securely and well.
The figures are mostly in general poses appropriate to mortars, with a couple of men holding suitable transit cases for the rounds and another apparently about to feed a round into the 3-inch. Yet another is in quite a generic but useful pose for these weapons, which leaves the radio operator and what would seem to be two officers on the bottom row. The first figure in the bottom row, with the peaked cap, could be a Mortar Fire Controller, whose job was to direct the fire of the mortar. He would be within sight of the target (and so usually not close to the mortar itself), and would tell the crew how the bombs were landing so they could adjust their fire. To do this he would normally need either a radio or someone else with one, hence the radio man in the top row. Of course, another radio would be necessary at the mortar, and he would pass on the information to the Command Post Operator who would calculate the adjustments necessary to change the fire of the weapon. The sitting figure in the middle of the lower row, wearing the beret, could be such a man as he seems to be holding a plotting board, in which case he is an NCO.
As regards uniform the men all wear the usual battledress which is largely correctly done here although they all seem to be missing the back pocket. However the capped officer has his jacket buttoned up to the throat when all commissioned ranks always had theirs open to reveal the shirt underneath, and indeed usually had no means of buttoning the top in this way. All the figures are very light on kit, having nothing more than the standard belt and braces with attached ammunition pouches, plus a canteen.
The sculpting is fairly good as is the level of detail, and there is no flash anywhere which is always a relief. The only assembly is the 3-inch and this is a good fit. However the radio is quite crudely done and while it is supposed to be a model of the common No.18 set it is substantially simplified.
With reasonable sculpting and some well chosen poses this set largely delivers what it promises, and should fit quite well into most existing British Infantry sets already on the market, making this a useful addition.