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First To Fight

Set PL1939-018

German Command

Click for larger image
All figures are supplied unpainted    (Numbers of each pose in brackets)
Stats
Date Released 2014
Contents 21 figures
Poses 7 poses
Material Plastic (Fairly Soft)
Colours Grey
Average Height 24 mm (= 1.73 m)

Review

This set comes with number 18 in the series of magazines published by First To Fight covering the 1939 German invasion of Poland, and this time the focus is on the German command and support.

The first figure is of an officer, suitably dressed but not apparently in action as he wears his peaked cap rather than a helmet and has not drawn his pistol. Apart from his pistol holster he has a pair of binoculars round his neck, with the case on a strap over the right shoulder. It is impossible to tell, but he may also have a map case from his belt. Like the rest of these figures the sculpting of this man is not particularly good; the cap in particular has virtually no peak and is not all that convincing.

Next in line there is a more junior officer, who has a pistol but still carries most of the ordinary rifleman’s kit. This man holds his pistol in hand, but still wears a side cap rather than a helmet, and seems more certain to have a map case. Again this figure is typical in not having good detail; his right arm is flat and entirely featureless, while the pose in general does not look natural to us.

The third figure in the top row seems to be a perfectly ordinary rifleman, and is presumably here to make up the numbers in what is a fairly sparse set, but he matches well with the previous set of infantry from this company, wearing the usual assault rig for the 1939 campaign including the anti-gas sheet on the chest and the straps around and across his helmet for camouflage material. This figure suffers a bit more than the rest from flash. All have a noticeable ridge round the mould line, but this figure has more and will need more cleaning up. Also he suffers from a quite poorly-done helmet, which is considerably misshapen.

Last on the top row is an unusual weapon, the German anti-tank rifle known as the Panzerbüchse 39 (PzB 39). Although the magazine suggests this is the PzB 38 it must be the later model because it has the twin magazine pouches, but this is OK as hundreds of this weapon were used in the Polish campaign. As is appropriate for this weapon the gunner wears a pistol and the correct ammunition pouches (although these look rather too thin to us), but is otherwise in standard gear for the time. The gun itself is a reasonable sculpting effort (but lacks the carrying handle), and includes the bipod neatly folded under the barrel, which begs the question of what is supporting it. It must be resting on something, which could be a vehicle side or just about anything else, but it seems the twig affair shown in our second row is intended to fulfil this role, although we did not care for such an arrangement. Though the weapon has been modelled before it is rare in the hobby, partly because it quickly became obsolete as tank armour got better, and was little used after 1940, but it is nice to see one here.

Row two is mainly filled by the tiny mortar and two crewmen. The mortar is the 5cm version that was standard issue in 1939, but it is not a great model. The complex sights and mechanism of the original have been greatly simplified here, and although the mortar only had a barrel length of 49cm that should give this model a barrel of a little under 7mm when in fact it is only 5mm. Coupled with the fact that it has no base whereas the men do, it means it looks incredibly tiny when set next to its crew, who have quite thick and very large bases like everyone else here. The two crewmen are in nice positions; one is feeding a bomb into the weapon while the other passes further ammunition from a case.

Finally there is a radio operator, crouching and clearly using his device. Strangely he has dismounted the radio itself, as usual, but has the battery/accessories case strapped to his own back (normally this was carried by a second man). The radio is pretty basic, with a handful of blobs and lines to suggest the subject rather than any attempt to accurately portray a real model, so while the pose is reasonable this is not one of the better radio operators ever made.

All the poses are reasonable in design but the execution is not the best, and with the sometimes quite poor detail these are not attractive figures. Within the limitations of the sculpting everything looks accurate apart from the unnecessarily small mortar, but it is the unrefined sculpting, noticeable flash and the particularly large, round bases which will put some people off these figures, even though there are still relatively few figures that represent German infantry well for the Polish campaign.


Ratings

Historical Accuracy 9
Pose Quality 7
Pose Number 8
Sculpting 7
Mould 8

Further Reading
Books
"Blitzkrieg" - Concord (Fighting Men series No.6001) - Gordon Rottman - 9789623616010
"Infantry Mortars of World War II" - Osprey (New Vanguard Series No.54) - John Norris - 9781841764146
"Infantry Weapons of World War II" - David & Charles - Jan Suermont - 9780715319253
"The Encyclopedia of Weapons of World War II" - Amber - Chris Bishop - 9781905704460
"The German Army 1939-45 (1) Blitzkrieg" - Osprey (Men-at-Arms Series No.311) - Nigel Thomas - 9781855326392
"World War II Battlefield Communications" - Osprey (Elite Series No.181) - Gordon Rottman - 9781846038471
"World War II Infantry Anti-Tank Tactics" - Osprey (Elite Series No.124) - Gordon Rottman - 9781841768427

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