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Ultima Ratio

Set UR004

WWII Soviet Mountain Troops

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All figures are supplied unpainted    (Numbers of each pose in brackets)
Stats
Date Released 2015
Contents 33 figures
Poses 11 poses
Material Plastic (Medium Consistency)
Colours Tan
Average Height 23.5 mm (= 1.7 m)

Review

By the time of the German invasion of the Soviet Union in the summer of 1941, the Red Army had many mountain divisions, but this did not mean that they were fully trained in mountain warfare, and in the event most were used as ordinary infantry divisions. However the USSR did have specialist mountain troops who were particularly prominent in the campaign in the Caucasus during 1942 and 1943. German mountain troops have been modelled in this scale on several occasions, but this is the first time that their Soviet counterparts have been produced.

Such trained mountain troops were issued a uniform consisting of a double-breasted tunic with a single breast pocket, and matching trousers, both of which were windproof. The tunic could be of various lengths, but here it is waist length, for this is what these figures are wearing. Stout short boots and thick socks complete the basic outfit, but they wear a range of headgear. Not surprisingly, about half wear the ushanka hat, which was very warm, even when the ear flaps were up, as they are in this set. The last figure, an officer, is wearing his old Budionovka cap, and the prone man next to him wears a Finka cap, so may also be an officer. The one surprise is with the man crewing the machine gun in the bottom row, for he wears a Panama hat, which was very much intended for warm weather use, though its use here is not impossible. The officer figure also wears a coat, completing what is a nice and authentic array of clothing.

Naturally equipment is particularly important when operating is such difficult terrain, and we find a number of figures here with ropes and picks to assist their climb. The last figure in the second row is presumably throwing a rope with a grappling hook, but the shape of this is all wrong as it could not possibly work like this. The men have some ammunition pouches appropriate to their weapon, and some water bottles are also visible, while a few also have packs, either the M39 backpack or the simple drawstring pack, which was really just a bag. Again, no problems here.

Weaponry was much the same as for riflemen in the rest of the Red Army. Several here carry rifles, but there are also several of the famous PPSh 41 submachine gun; its size makes it a very handy weapon when everything has to be carried in difficult terrain. The middle figure in the second row carries another submachine gun, a PPS 43, and several are holding or at least carrying grenades too. The machine gun in the bottom row is the DP 1928, so everything here is typical Soviet weaponry and very suitable for these men, while the spread of weapons feels right too.

There are only 11 poses on offer, and most are in combat positions rather than climbing, which is perhaps to be expected. Having a few more poses would have allowed some more interesting non-combat possibilities like those in the Airfix set of Germans, but there is nothing wrong with those that we do find here. Only the man with the non-grappling grappling hook would look out of place in a fight, but given the nature of mountain warfare we liked all the poses here. The gunner with the DP 28 reminded us of the old Esci versions of this pose, as the man is looking down rather than along the barrel of his weapon, and has his left arm to the side in an unlikely arrangement.

The sculpting is pretty good, with good detail and nice proportions. Smaller items such as the grenades in pouches some of the men have on their waist belts can be hard to make out, but faces are OK and quite expressive. The goggles several of the men have on their head would be difficult to do but have been well done here, but we were concerned by some of the weapons. The PPSh 41, modelled here several times, just looks too big, and at 13 mm (about 936 mm) it is indeed about 10% longer than it should be (841 mm). Somehow that 10% makes a lot of difference, but the reverse is true of the DP 28. That has been modelled with a total length of 17 mm (1224 mm), when the real thing was 1290 mm long, so almost the same. Yet somehow it just looks too small, and in particular the space between the magazine and the top of the bipod seems much too short, so the proportions are somewhat astray here. Also we did not care for the very flattened bipod this weapon has been given. Finally, there is a fair amount of flash on these figures, and in some places a good deal, so some cleaning up will be required.

Neither of the officer figures have a case for their binoculars, and we could not identify the items hanging on the left shoulder of the standing officer, though from the box artwork and the original illustration they look like pins (pegs for anchoring tents or ropes perhaps?) and a hammer. However, these figures are largely accurate and well sculpted, though the weapons are an exception already discussed. The poses are good, but a few more would have been welcome, and the amount of flash is a disappointment. Only 33 figures means they do rattle about a lot in the large box, so while it is nice to see these troops getting their own set this is a decent product that still falls short of being great.

Ratings

Historical Accuracy 10
Pose Quality 9
Pose Number 7
Sculpting 9
Mould 7

Further Reading
Books
"Infantry Weapons of World War II" - David & Charles - Jan Suermont - 9780715319253
"Soviet Rifleman 1941-45" - Osprey (Warrior Series No.123) - Gordon L Rottman - 9781846031274
"Stalin's War" - Crowood - Laszlo Bekesi - 9781861268228
"The Red Army of the Great Patriotic War 1941-5" - Osprey (Men-at-Arms Series No.216) - Steven Zaloga - 9780850459395
"The Soviet Soldier of World War II" - Histoire & Collections - Philippe Rio - 9782352501008
"World War II Soviet Armed Forces (2) 1942-43" - Osprey (Men-at-Arms Series No.468) - Nigel Thomas - 9781849084208

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