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First To Fight

Set PL1939-056

German Artillery

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All figures are supplied unpainted    (Numbers of each pose in brackets)
Stats
Date Released 2018
Contents 14 figures
Poses 6 poses
Material Plastic (Fairly Hard)
Colours Grey
Average Height 24 mm (= 1.73 m)

Review

After her defeat in 1918, Germany was prohibited from possessing much in the way of artillery under the terms of the Treaty of Versailles, but a number of German companies continued to do work on developing new guns, mostly based in foreign countries. After 1933 she openly continued this work, and over the next few years developed some excellent guns. Since there was little legacy of older guns, this meant that in 1939 German artillery was some of the best in the world, and played an important role in what has become known as Blitzkrieg tactics, despite the higher profile given to air support in propaganda of the time. As well as good guns, Germany used innovative new tactics and made good use of radio communications, making her artillery extremely effective in the Poland campaign.

This set contains no gun, but just 14 figures to serve as a crew. The different guns on the box artwork suggest they are supposed to cover a fairly wide range of ordnance, which implies a lot of compromises, but in fact the poses are pretty generic and could be associated with many guns. Only the two poses carrying shells and the seated man would be more specific, so generally these figures are going to be in the area of a gun but not actually using it. The seated man has legs stretched out before him, as are his arms, so looks like he is operating something like a 2cm FlaK gun, though he put us in mind of the similar figure in the early Airfix German Infantry set. Both arms are separate, so can be adjusted, but everyone else is clearly not operating any device. Two carry a shell, one covers his ears, one is just walking and one holds something, perhaps orders, range charts or almost anything else. The item he carries is smooth, but you could almost believe that it is supposed to be a magazine for a FlaK 30, and just a really poor sculpt! Since all are standing they don’t make sense for the lower guns like the PaK, but would work for the larger guns, or if not in immediate danger such as on anti-aircraft duty.

All the men are simply dressed in tunic, trousers and long boots, and have the classic helmet on the head. This is reasonably well done here. Items of kit on display include bread bag, gasmask canister, water bottle and a couple of bayonets, but kit is sparse, as you might expect of such men.

The sculpting on these hard-plastic figures is quite soft, but everything seems to be present. There is a small amount of flash on all the seams, but nothing too terrible. Apart from the final figure, who comes in four parts, the only other assembly is the separate left leg of the walking man, which fits quite well, and the hard plastic means the glued join is strong. As can be seen, none of the figures has a base, but the set comes with two sprues containing bases, rifles and shells of various sizes. Unfortunately, there is only a total of eight bases, yet all the 12 standing poses need them, which is a bizarre oversight. Also the bases are perfectly round and quite large, so take up quite a lot of space.

This is a fairly unsatisfying collection of figures, much too generic for the most part to be convincing as the crew of most guns, or, if you prefer, bland enough to have many uses. There is no one observing or in communication with forward observers, and only one quite specific pose actually operating a gun, so plenty has been missed. Although there are no accuracy problems the sculpting is not as sharp as we would like, and the large standard bases are not to our taste, even if there had been enough of them (doubtless most people will be able to rustle up suitable extra bases anyway). So a reasonable but quite dull set that won’t do much to make any given gun look like it is in action.


Ratings

Historical Accuracy 10
Pose Quality 6
Pose Number 5
Sculpting 7
Mould 8

Further Reading
Books
"German Artillery at War 1939-45 Vol.1" - Concord (Armor at War Series No.7059) - Frank De Sisto - 9789623611435
"German Artillery at War 1939-45 Vol.2" - Concord (Armor at War Series No.7063) - Frank De Sisto - 9789623611442
"German Heavy Field Artillery" - Schiffer - Joachim Engelmann - 9780887407598
"Poland 1939" - Osprey (Campaign Series No.107) - Steven Zaloga - 9781841764085
"The German Army 1939-45 (1) Blitzkrieg" - Osprey (Men-at-Arms Series No.311) - Nigel Thomas - 9781855326392

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