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Plastic Soldier

Set WW2G20003

German PaK 38 Anti Tank Gun

Click for larger image
All figures are supplied unpainted    (Numbers of each pose in brackets)
Stats
Date Released 2013
Contents 4 guns and 24 figures
Poses 6 poses
Material Plastic (Fairly Hard)
Colours Grey
Average Height 23.5 mm (= 1.7 m)

Review

Even as the newly produced 3.7cm PaK 35/36 was being delivered to the German Army it was realised that something more powerful was likely to be necessary soon, and work on a 5 cm anti-tank gun was well advanced by the time fighting broke out in September 1939. The result was the PaK 38, a 5 cm weapon that first reached the front line in the summer of 1940 – too late to participate in the overrunning of France and the Low Countries. Its first test was to be in the invasion of the Soviet Union the following year, and it proved to be a very good weapon, although in time it too would become outdated as tanks with ever thicker armour appeared. Nevertheless it served for the rest of the war and was made in large numbers, so it is not before time that a 1/72 scale plastic model such as this is produced.

As we have said the PaK 38 soon found itself facing tanks with better armour, and work on what would become the famous 7.5 cm PaK 40 was underway, but the need was felt to be urgent for a better weapon for the Eastern Front. With the fall of France in 1940 the Germans had captured large numbers of the Canon de 75 modele 1897, and it was decided to mount the barrels of these guns on the PaK 38 carriage, add a muzzle brake, and create a reasonable 7.5 cm anti-tank gun quickly and cheaply for the front. The result was named the 7.5 cm PaK 97/38. This started to reach the battle front in the summer of 1942, and remained in use until the end of the war. While not a great weapon it was effective and answered a pressing need.

This set contains the parts necessary to construct four guns, with any of them being either the PaK 38 or the PaK 97/38. Since the carriage is the same this means there is a choice of barrels and the set includes ammunition and boxes for both calibres. Also included are a choice of solid and spoked wheels, which is a welcome option. In our picture the PaK 38 is on the right and the PaK 97/38 on the left, and while both guns are inevitably simplified they make good-looking models and are quick and easy to put together. This is just as well as the box comes with no instructions, although it does identify which parts are for which calibre, and provides a full description of each part, so assembly is not a problem. The guns go together very well and you can move the trail arms and wheels, but not the barrels. Nevertheless these are very well made and appealing models which depict their subject well despite relatively few parts.

One particularly good feature of the PaK 38 carriage was the low profile, so naturally the crew would also have had a low profile while operating it, as we see with the figures here. All are kneeling and in a number of poses which are very appropriate for the operation of the gun and the supply of ammunition. All have some element of assembly, which helps to make the poses very natural, and all have been well done. Several have empty hands for handling the shells – which ones will depend on the type of gun, but we were pleased to see both shells and empty casings provided. None of the crew have bases, and while all will stand as they are, we thought providing some simple bases would have been a worthwhile addition for those that wanted them.

Like the guns the figures are cleanly sculpted and go together easily, with absolutely no flash, and follow the slightly fuller style of the rest of this range. The quite hard plastic takes ordinary cement very well, and while the separate arms pretty much have to go in one position there is a spare head on each sprue, so there is some room for variation. The separate parts make for some natural poses, but some of the chests are still a little lacking in fine detail on the uniform. All wear short boots and anklets, and seem to have a camouflage smock over their ordinary tunics, although this has no hood. Helmets are caps are worn, and the kit is minimal, so everything looks fine here.

These are some nice gun kits, and a crew of six per gun is good too, with all good poses and well made. With the shells and ammo boxes everything has been pretty much thought of here and everything has been done well, so this is a nice, versatile product that definitely recommends itself to those with a need for more anti-tank gunnery for their Wehrmacht armies.

Ratings

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

Further Reading
Books
"Artillery of World War II" - Grange Books - Chris Chant - 9781840134421
"German Artillery at War 1939-45 Vol.1" - Concord (Armor at War Series No.7059) - Frank De Sisto - 9789623611435
"German Soldiers of World War II" - Histoire & Collections - Jean de Lagarde - 9782915239355
"The Encyclopedia of Weapons of World War II" - Amber - Chris Bishop - 9781905704460
"The German Army 1939-45 (3) Eastern Front 1941-43" - Osprey (Men-at-Arms Series No.326) - Nigel Thomas - 9781855327955
"The German Army 1939-45 (4)" - Osprey (Men-at-Arms Series No.330) - Nigel Thomas - 9781855327962
"The German Army 1939-45 (5)" - Osprey (Men-at-Arms Series No.336) - Nigel Thomas - 9781855327979

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