When German aggression was finally challenged in 1939 and the bullets began to fly, she could call on a number of excellent weapons including many guns. However it was German advanced tactical thinking that brought much of the early successes and in time the Allies would bring to the battlefield a number of guns that were superior to those of Germany. By then, especially on the Russian Front, it was as much about quantity as quality, and over the course of the war Germany used over 200 different types of guns, many of them captured from enemies and used again to serve the Third Reich. Many of those guns have become available in 1/72nd plastic over the years, but most fail to deliver a decent crew to go with them, so this set from Caesar aims to fill that gap.
There are no guns in this set - just a collection of men serving their piece in a variety of poses. Many of them are simply holding something in both hands, and for the most part we would expect these to be shells or part thereof. The set includes the small pieces shown in the last row, which are naturally perfect for placing in all those empty hands. The first item, a shell or projectile, is 10 mm in length (720 mm), while the case or charge is 4 mm long and 2 mm in diameter. The top row also includes a man covering his ears, and there is a man in the second row holding a rammer. However our favourite pose is the man in that row lifting a wicker tube off of some charges - a pose we have not seen before. The third row includes two men that look to be in charge of the gun - certainly the man with hand raised is an officer.
The last row also includes a bicycle and rider, and while this may not be directly related to serving a gun there are plenty of uses for such a figure. Unlike other models which have either solid wheels or no spokes at all, here a few spokes have been included, which does not look ideal to our eyes. Also the bike looks odd because it lacks the top tube that kept the whole frame rigid - we could find no evidence that bikes ever went without this particular component at that time, although folding bikes sometimes exhibit this feature. The rider sits on the bike very well, with both feet on the pedals, so a small base under the front wheel keeps the model upright. The rider is moulded in one piece, which is impressive, but despite a clever mould there are some small problems with pieces of the body missing. He has ammunition pouches on his belt and a rifle slung across his back, but is otherwise without any of the normal items of kit.
The gunners are simply dressed in their standard field tunic and trousers with shortish marching boots. Most have helmets on, but three have the M1943 peaked field cap, so only work for that year and after. No one has any extra equipment, which is good to see since such items were usually laid aside when serving the gun, and we particularly liked the man just in shirt sleeves, as many gunners removed their jackets during this hot work, and often undressed much further.
The sculpting is good, with nice detail and well-proportioned figures. Three figures (second, third and fourth in second row) have one or both arms separate, but these fit well and different shape and size pegs mean you can only fit the right arms in the right man. While many of the figures have clearly benefited from the Caesar flexible mould to produce great natural poses without any excess plastic, those with separate arms are also really well done and easy to assemble too. You will observe that no one has a base, presumably to allow them to be closer to the gun, but the set includes 32 clear plastic bases should you wish your figures to stand. With no flash and no excess plastic these are the normal Caesar excellent quality production.
These figures would be suitable for quite a range of guns. There are some interesting poses, but the main theme is simply of carrying ammunition. So there is not really anyone actually operating their gun, though clearly this would vary greatly depending on the weapon. Even models of guns that come with crew usually fail to provide enough to depict all the man that might be supplying and preparing the ammunition, so this set is a great addition to the hobby. We thought all the poses were good and well realised by the sculptor. The bike is less impressive, and a bit of a mystery, but then something of a bonus anyway. This is a really useful set that will fill a lot of gaps, and greatly improve any modelled German battery.