World War I had shown the importance of infantry support weapons, and the two most important of those, the machine gun and the mortar, were an indispensible part of any army in 1939. The German Army that invaded and occupied Poland in that year had fine examples of both these. The MG 34 has the standard machine gun and used to equip many of the machine gun companies, one of which was part of every typical German battalion of the day. That company was also issued with six 8cm Granatwerfer 34 mortars, and these important weapons are the subject of this support set from First To Fight.
The top row shows the MG 34 with its two crew. This weapon has been modelled many times before, but here it has been given the less often modelled Lafette 34 tripod mount with sight so it is being used as a heavy machine gun. Both gun and mount are pretty reasonable if somewhat simplified models, with the rear legs being a separate part to avoid unwanted plastic, although the fit is less than ideal. One piece that is missing is the trigger mechanism, which is understandable is it is a fiddly small part, but it means the gunner has no means of firing his weapon. The gunner is in any case a rather strange pose as he holds his right hand above his knee, so does not even reach the gun. Like all the rest of the figures, he rests on a large, thick base, but the gun has no base, so his right hand is practically in line with the sight, and a long way from the trigger, which should be on the mount. Even if the gun were elevated to the same level as the man his hand would still be a bit too high. The other man, feeding an ammunition belt, is not the most convincing pose either, but the height of his right hand only works if the gun is not raised up, so the crew simply do not work together.
The mortar has a tube length of 13mm (936mm), so is presumably the 8cm Granatwerfer 34, although this should have a tube length of about 16mm (1143mm). So like the mortar in the command set this one is considerably too small if our guess is correct (smaller models were made for vehicle mounting), and indeed the MG 34 is a shade smaller than it should be. The mortar is a fairly standard simplified but acceptable model, and includes a man about to drop a bomb down the tube and another handling the next one. These are fine, but the third man directing the fire while watching through binoculars is quite flat and not a great piece of sculpting.
The style of these figures is identical to the preceding German sets made by this manufacturer, so the sculpting is reasonable but not great, and the detail is quite good, but some of the proportions and basic anatomy is off to our eye. There is very little flash, and the chosen poses mean there is no extraneous plastic in hard-to-reach places. The unnecessarily large and thick bases are the main annoyance here, although the thick sprue attaches through the helmets, which makes a bit of a mess of these when the figures are first removed.
The accuracy causes no headaches as the men are dressed in the same manner as the previous German sets. The long boots, straps around the helmets and the gas sheet attached to the gas mask strap all point to early war, and so are fine for the 1939 Polish campaign. The rest of the uniform and kit looks good too, although we were surprised that no one here has any sort of a sidearm.
It must be said that you dont get a lot for your money with this set. Just three of what you see above means the sprues rattle around in the box a lot, and more crew members could easily have been supplied for these weapons. This set does not deliver anything the hobby has not seen before, and the quality of the product is adequate but no more. This is a natural addition to the range for First To Fight, but it won’t be generating much excitement in modelling circles in our view.