The machine gun would change the face of battle, and the Vickers .303 machine gun was right at the heart of that movement. Originally designed by Hiram Maxim to be so devastating that it would effectively make future wars unthinkable due to the potential slaughter, it instead simply made future wars something of a slaughter. Nevertheless it served the British Army faithfully from before World War I until the 1960s, an incredibly long lifespan for a weapon in the twentieth century, and of course that includes the campaign in North Africa. It was the primary source of sustained heavy fire support in each infantry battalion, even though it's need for water was a particular problem in such a dry environment.
This small set ventures little but what it does deliver is pretty well done. You get two guns which are made up as shown above. Having the main piece with so much of the ensemble is pretty neat, and what must be a flexible mould permits this model without having excess plastic or much loss of detail. Just visible by the gunner's foot is the rear leg of the gun's tripod - the other two are the first separate part. This fits into a recess under the barrel. although we found these legs were too tall and extend below the bottom of the man's base, so some careful cutting away would be required to get a really good fit. However it is a clever way to deliver a tricky item, as all tripods are, with relatively little hassle. The other component is the condenser, so often ignored in such sets, so having it separate here really helps to position it in a realistic place, so a great idea. The detail and general look of the gun is pretty good, even including the raised rear sight, so while this is not a precision model, it works pretty well for most purposes.
The other two crew for each gun are a man with binoculars apparently pointing out targets to the gunner, and the number two gunner. Both are fairly standard poses for a simple task, but again are well done thanks to the flexible mould. Like the gunner, they wear the 'classic' Desert Rat uniform of shirt, shorts, socks and boots, though no anklets. The steel helmet is of course present, and they all sport the usual '37 pattern webbing with front pouches, water bottle and a bayonet scabbard, the last of which suffers at the hand of the sculptor, who has made it a lot shorter when this is convenient. Nonetheless everything about the uniform and kit is correct, and the quality of the sculpting is reasonably good too. These were originally metal figures, and as such have converted to plastic quite well, though the best plastic figures are still clearly superior. The faces in particular are not the most attractive feature here, but we have certainly seen worse and these are very usable figures.
There is virtually no flash, although there are a few tabs that need to be removed, a task that is easy to perform. Gluing the tripod and condenser is a much more tricky matter however, as this material does not give a good bond using poly cement. Those wishing to put their machine gun crews through rigorous exercise might consider providing a base for the whole thing to add some strength. The little stashes of rifles and kit are a bonus, but in conclusion the set does what it promises, and while these are not the first Vickers to be modelled in the desert environment, they will do very nicely.